Jun 21, 2017 04:59 UTC
Huntington Ingalls has been awarded a $3 billion contract modification
for the design and construction of the America-class
Landing Helicopter Assault Replacement Amphibious Assault Ship. The majority of work will take place in Pascagoula, Miss., with further work to be carried out at smaller sites. Completion is expected for January 2024. The vessels will go towards the replacing the US navy's fleet of Wasp-class of amphibious assault ships.
Modern U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ships project power and maintain presence by serving as the cornerstone of the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) / Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). LHA/LHD are a key element of the Seapower 21 doctrine pillars of Sea Strike and Sea Basing, transporting, launching, and landing elements of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) via a combination of LCAC hovercraft, amphibious transports and vehicles, helicopters, and aircraft.
Designed to project power and maintain presence, LHA-Replacement (LHA-R, aka. LH-X, and now the New Amphibious Assault Ship or NAAS) large deck amphibious assault ships were slated to replace the US Navy’s 6 LHA-1 Tarawa Class vessels. They are based on the more modern LHD Wasp Class design, with the LHD’s landing craft and well deck removed in favor of more planes and hangar space. While its LHA/LHD predecessors were amphibious assault ships with a secondary aviation element, it’s fair to describe the America Class as escort carriers with a secondary amphibious assault role.
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Jun 21, 2017 04:57 UTC
The Eurofighter consortium has announced
a record year in operations of its Typhoon
fighters, with further sales on the horizon. Operators of Eurofighter fleets have exceeded a combined 400,000 flight hours, including operations by RAF aircraft in Syria and supporting Baltic Air Policing commitments for NATO. The consortium also announced that its fighter will soon commence the first live firings of missile manufacturer MBDA's Brimstone air-to-surface missile.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
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Jun 20, 2017 04:55 UTC
Latest updates[?]: has been unveiled
at the Paris air show. The updated aircraft—the M-346FA
— includes the company's Grifo multi-mode fire control radar, as well as seven pylons for external weapons loads, enabling it to carry 2,000 pounds of external weapons. Leonardo stated that the new fighter was designed to help different air forces meet their needs rapidly by building on a common base, adding that they have found international interest in the plane "specifically in the Far East and South America."
Tornado refuels M346
Alenia’s Aermacchi’s M-346 advanced jet trainer began life in 1993, as a collaboration with Russia. It was also something of a breakthrough for Alenia Aermacchi, confirming that the Finmeccanica subsidiary could design and manufacture advanced aircraft with full authority quadriplex fly-by-wire controls. Those controls, the aircraft’s design for vortex lift aerodynamics, and a thrust:weight ratio of nearly 1:1, allow it to remain fully controllable even at angles of attack over 35 degrees. This is useful for simulating the capabilities of advanced 4+ generation fighters like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter, and Rafale. Not to mention Sukhoi’s SU-30 family, which has made a name for itself at international air shows with remarkable nose-high maneuvers.
The Russian collaboration did not last. For a while, it looked like the Italian jet might not last, either. It did though, and has become a regular contender for advanced jet trainer trainer contracts around the world. Its biggest potential opportunity is in the USA. For now, however, its biggest customer is Israel.
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Jun 19, 2017 04:58 UTC
Saab's latest Gripen E
variant has successfully completed
its maiden flight. The forty minute flight saw the fighter cover functions such as basic avionics and retracting and extending the landing gear, and is the first model of three pre-production planes authorized by the Swedish government. 60 models currently on order with the Swedish military while Brazil has ordered 36 Gripen E and Gripen F two-seater aircraft, and Saab expects to export the aircraft to other countries.
South African JAS-39D
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
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Jun 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
Embraer has commenced a 40-day international sales tour
with its KC-390
tanker/transport plane, first stopping in Sweden before debuting the aircraft at the upcoming Paris air show. The company will first perform some demonstration flights for the Swedish military, as the company looks to sell the aircraft to Stockholm as a potential future replacement for its Lockheed Martin C-130H tactical transports. After Paris, the aircraft will stop off at a number of undisclosed European locations before making its way to New Zealand, where the aircraft is being looked at as a potential transport and maritime patrol platform, before returning to Brazil via stops in southeast Asia and north Africa.
KC-390 refuels AMXs
Global competition in the 20-ton air transport segment continues to intensify, with Brazil’s launch of its KC-390 program. Embraer figures reportedly place the global C-130 replacement market at around 700 aircraft. In response, it will develop a jet-powered rival to compete with Lockheed Martin’s C-130J, the larger Airbus A400M, Russia’s AN-12 and its Chinese copy the Yun-8/9, and the bi-national Irkut/HAL MRTA project. Smaller aircraft like the EADS-CASA C-295M, and Alenia’s C-27J, represent indirect competition.
Embraer is extending its efforts and markets by crafting a jet-powered medium transport with a cargo capacity of around 23 tons, that can be refueled in the air, and can provide refueling services to other aircraft by adding dedicated pods. The KC-390 has now become a multinational program, and may be shaping up as the C-130’s most formidable future competitor. A tie-up with Boeing underscores the seriousness of Embraer’s effort, which is now a production program…
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Jun 19, 2017 04:56 UTC
South Korea has delayed the deployment
of the remaining components of the US Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD
) system. The decision, made by the new South Korean government, will hold off on the installation of the four remaining launchers that recently arrived in the country while a comprehensive environmental impact study is carried out. However, the two launchers already deployed in March will remain. A US administration official added that it didn't "make sense to withdraw the two initial launchers which had already been deployed and installed, but additional installation will be decided after the environmental impact assessment is over."
THAAD: In flight
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is a long-range, land-based theater defense weapon that acts as the upper tier of a basic 2-tiered defense against ballistic missiles. It’s designed to intercept missiles during late mid-course or final stage flight, flying at high altitudes within and even outside the atmosphere. This allows it to provide broad area coverage against threats to critical assets such as population centers and industrial resources as well as military forces, hence its previous “theater (of operations) high altitude area defense” designation.
This capability makes THAAD different from a Patriot PAC-3 or the future MEADS system, which are point defense options with limited range that are designed to hit a missile or warhead just before impact. The SM-3 Standard missile is a far better comparison, and land-based SM-3 programs will make it a direct THAAD competitor. So far, both programs remain underway.
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Jun 19, 2017 04:55 UTC
Bell Helicopters is considering a plan
to manufacture AH-1Z Viper
attack helicopters in Romania within the next 4-5 years. News of the deal comes almost twenty years after a previous attempt to assemble the AH-1 in the country fell through. The announcement follows Bells' signing
of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Romanian company IAR-Ghimbav Brasov Group last November that would see the local firm cover possible maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) of the AH-1Z should it be procured by Bucharest. While Romania has yet to launch a formal tender for their replacement, Bell is just one of several manufacturers, including Airbus, who are positioning themselves for an anticipated requirement.
UH-1Y and AH-1Z
by Neville Dawson
The US Marines’ helicopter force is aging at all levels, from banana-shaped CH-46 Sea Knight transports that are far older than their pilots, to the 1980s-era UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters that make up the Corps’ helicopter assault force. While the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey program has staggered along for almost 2 decades under accidents, technical delays, and cost issues, replacement of the USMC’s backbone helicopter assets has languished. Given the high-demand scenarios inherent in the current war, other efforts are clearly required.
Enter the H-1 program, the USMC’s plan to remanufacture older helicopters into new and improved UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters. The new versions would discard the signature 2-bladed rotors for modern 4-bladed improvements, redo the aircraft’s electronics, and add improved engines and weapons to offer a new level of performance. It seemed simple, but hasn’t quite worked out that way. The H-1 program has encountered its share of delays and issues, but the program survived its review, and continued on into production and deployment.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This article covers the H-1 helicopter programs’ rationales and changes, the upgrades involved in each model, program developments and annual budgets, the full timeline of contracts and key program developments, and related research sources.
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Jun 12, 2017 04:56 UTC
Boeing will provide
seven deployable crew trainers for P-8A Poseidon
maritime patrol aircraft to the US Navy. Delivers of the Deployable Mission Readiness Trainers (DMRTs) will commence in 2019 and includes its Weapons Tactics Trainer system, incorporating sonobuoy and ocean acoustics modeling. The trainers will allow Navy crews to continue simulator training while deployed abroad. The system will also be delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force.
Maritime surveillance and patrol is becoming more and more important, but the USA’s P-3 Orion turboprop fleet is falling apart. The P-7 Long Range Air ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) Capable Aircraft program to create an improved P-3 began in 1988, but cost overruns, slow progress, and interest in opening the competition to commercial designs led to the P-7’s cancellation for default in 1990. The successor MMA program was begun in March 2000, and Boeing beat Lockheed’s “Orion 21” with a P-8 design based on their ubiquitous 737 passenger jet. US Navy squadrons finally began taking P-8A Poseidon deliveries in 2012, but the long delays haven’t done their existing P-3 fleet any favors.
Filling the P-3 Orion’s shoes is no easy task. What missions will the new P-8A Poseidon face? What do we know about the platform, the project team, and ongoing developments? Will the P-3’s wide global adoption give its successor a comparable level of export opportunities? Australia and India have already signed on, but has the larger market shifted in the interim?
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Jun 06, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Navy has received delivery
of the air carrier USS Gerald R. Ford
from Huntington Ingalls Industries after completing acceptance trials on May 26. It is the first aircraft carrier to join the fleet since USS George H. W. Bush in 2009, and features a larger flight deck, the ability to host more aircraft, additional weapons and aviation fuel storage, and the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear, giving the Navy increased sortie rates by one-third when compared to Nimitz-class vessels. The Ford will be commissioned later this summer and will be declared operational in 2020.
USA’s Nimitz Class &
UK’s Invincible Class
Some nations have aircraft carriers. The USA has super-carriers. The French Charles De Gaulle Class nuclear carriers displace about 43,000t. India’s new Vikramaditya/ Admiral Gorshkov Class will have a similar displacement. The future British CVF Queen Elizabeth Class and related French PA2 Project are expected to displace about 65,000t, while the British Invincible Class carriers that participated in the Falklands War weigh in at just 22,000t. Invincible actually compares well to Italy’s excellent new Cavour Class (27,000t), and Spain’s Principe de Asturias Class (17,000t). The USA’s Nimitz Class and CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class, in contrast, fall in the 90,000+ tonne range. Hence their unofficial designation: “super-carriers”. Just one of these ships packs a more potent air force than many nations.
Nimitz Class cutaway
As the successor to the 102,000 ton Nimitz Class super-carriers, the CVN-21 program aimed to increase aircraft sortie generation rates by 20%, increase survivability to better handle future threats, require fewer sailors, and have depot maintenance requirements that could support an increase of up to 25% in operational availability. The combination of a new design nuclear propulsion plant and an improved electric plant are expected to provide 2-3 times the electrical generation capacity of previous carriers, which in turn enables systems like an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS, replacing steam-driven catapults), Advanced Arresting Gear, and integrated combat electronics that will leverage advances in open systems architecture. Other CVN-21 features include an enhanced flight deck, improved weapons handling and aircraft servicing efficiency, and a flexible island arrangement allowing for future technology insertion. This graphic points out many of the key improvements.
DID’s CVN-21 FOCUS Article offers a detailed look at a number of the program’s key innovations, as well as a list of relevant contract awards and events.
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Jun 02, 2017 04:59 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Lockheed Martin has successfully completed
an Air Vehicle CriticalDesign Review for the USAF's Combat Rescue Helicopter program, allowing the firm to continue with the manufacture and testing of the HH-60W
helicopter. The milestone moves forward the $1.28 billion development program, which will see Lockheed produce at least 112 HH-60Ws in order to replace the service's existing fleet of HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. The June 2014 contract includes test aircraft, maintenance, training and simulation suites, and a $203 million modification in January 2017 brought the total number of test helicopters to nine.
In 2006 the US Air Force awarded Boeing a contract worth north of $10 billion for 141 HH-47 combat search-and-rescue helicopters, but by mid-2009 the CSAR-X program was cancelled during its System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase by the Pentagon. At the time Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wrote that this program had “a troubled acquisition history and raises the fundamental question of whether this important mission can only be accomplished by yet another single-service solution.”
That cancellation may have been warranted, but the underlying operational constraints are increasing as years go by, with a tentative replacement for aging helicopters that keeps slipping. In 2012, the Air Force got the green light to take another crack at it. The competition narrowed to a single bidder, and after wobbly budgetary announcements, the program was greenlighted. By the end of 2014 it was officially designated as HH-60W.
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