Aug 24, 2015 00:08 UTC
Two firms have been awarded contracts totaling $880.8 million
to produce and maintain the tri-service Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Low Volume Terminal (LVT) communications system (MIDS-LVT
). ViaSat Inc. and Data Link Solutions LLC (a Rockwell Collins and BAE Systems joint venture) have been handed IDIQ contracts potentially valuing $514.3 million and $366.5 million respectively, with these lasting five years. The MIDS-LVT system facilitates the exchange of real-time situational awareness data and voice communication using Link 16 connection on various platforms.
Link 16 Display
(click to see situation)
What one sees, all see. Jam-resistant Link-16 radios automatically exchange battlefield information – particularly locations of friendly and enemy aircraft, ships and ground forces – among themselves in a long-range, line-of-sight network. For example, air surveillance tracking data from an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft can be instantly shared with fighter aircraft and air defense units. More than a dozen countries have installed Link 16 terminals on over 19 different land, sea, and air platforms, making it an interoperability success story.
While recent advancements may make AESA radars the future transmitters of choice, Link 16 is the current standard. The Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals (MIDS LVTs) were developed by a multinational consortium to provide Link 16 capability at a lower weight, volume, and cost than the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS). This free-to-view DID Spotlight article throws a spotlight on the program, explaining Link 16, and covering associated contracts around the world.
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Aug 21, 2015 00:14 UTC
The Army launched a JLENS
aerostat on Wednesday
to increase cruise missile early warning coverage of the East Coast, joining one first launched in December last year
. The unmanned, tethered platforms will complement each other through the operation of both broad-area and precision radar systems, providing an over-the-horizon early warning capability. Developed by Raytheon, the two Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) units are part of a three-year evaluation program to assess the capability of JLENS with NORAD's early warning architecture.
Experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrated that even conventional cruise missiles with limited reach could have disruptive tactical effects, in the hands of a determined enemy. Meanwhile, the proliferation of cruise missiles and associated components, combined with a falling technology curve for biological, chemical, or even nuclear agents, is creating longer-term hazards on a whole new scale. Intelligence agencies and analysts believe that the threat of U.S. cities coming under cruise missile attack from ships off the coast is real, and evolving.
Aerial sensors are the best defense against low-flying cruise missiles, because they offer far better detection and tracking range than ground-based systems. The bad news is that keeping planes in the air all the time is very expensive, and so are the aircraft themselves. As cruise missile defense becomes a more prominent political issue, the primary challenge becomes the development of a reliable, affordable, long-flying, look-down platform. One that can detect, track and identify incoming missiles, then support over-the-horizon engagements in a timely manner. The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) certainly looked like that system, but the Pentagon has decided to end it.
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Aug 21, 2015 00:12 UTC
Meanwhile, the heavyweight MQ-4C Triton
UAV is scheduled
to undergo a Navy operational assessment in September, with an initial production contract slated for next year hanging on successful completion of this assessment. The two months of testing could lead to a Milestone C decision and subsequently a production contract, ahead of an anticipated Initial Operation Capability date of 2018. The procurement of up to seven Tritons by Australia, announced in March 2014
, is also dependent on the UAV achieving these milestones.
BAMS Operation Concept
The world’s P-3 Orion fleets have served for a long time, and many are reaching the end of their lifespans. In the USA, and possibly beyond, the new P-8 Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft will take up the P-3’s role. While the P-8’s base 737-based airframe offers strong service & maintenance arguments in its favor, the airframe is expensive enough that the P-3s cannot be replaced on a 1:1 basis.
In order to extend the P-8 fleet’s reach, and provide additional capabilities, the Poseidon was expected to work with at least one companion UAV platform. This DID FOCUS Article explains the winning BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance) concept, the program’s key requirements, and its international angle. We’ll also cover ongoing contracts and key events related to the program, which chose Northrop Grumman’s navalized MQ-4C Triton Global Hawk variant.
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Aug 20, 2015 00:15 UTC
The Navy's new Gerald R. Ford
(CVN-78) carrier will undergo shock testing
, despite this likely causing schedule delays of up to six months
. Previously, Navy officials planned to carry out the tests - designed to replicate extreme combat stress - on the second carrier in class, the John F. Kennedy, due to enter service in the early 2020s, in order to accelerate the Gerald R. Ford's entry into service. Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall reportedly
ordered the Navy to conduct the tests, despite the inevitable delay such testing would produce.
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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Aug 20, 2015 00:12 UTC
The future HMAS Adelaide, the Royal Australian Navy's second Canberra-class
Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessel, has begun final sea trials
ahead of an anticipated commissioning into service next year
. The ten days of trials will take place just south of Sydney, with the RAN's first LHD, the HMAS Canberra, commissioned in November last year. The second LHD was launched in July 2012
. The joint construction of the two vessels by Navantia and BAE Systems follows a $2.8 billion contract announced in October 2007
In May of 2006 the Royal Australian Navy announced its decision to expand its naval expeditionary capabilities. HMAS Manoora and Kanimbla would be replaced with substantially larger and more capable modern designs, featuring strong air support. Navantia and Tenix offered a 27,000t Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) design that resembled the Strategic Projection Ship (Buque de Proyeccion Estrategica) under construction for the Spanish Navy. The DCNS-Thales Australia team, meanwhile, proposed a variation of the 21,300t Mistral Class that is serving successfully with the French Navy.
Navantia’s larger design eventually won, giving the Spanish firm an A$ 11 billion clean sweep of Australia’s “Air Warfare Destroyer” and LHD programs. These 5 ships will be the core of Australia’s future surface navy. The future HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide will be able to serve as amphibious landing ships, helicopter carriers, floating HQs and medical facilities for humanitarian assistance, and launching pads for UAVs or even short/vertical takeoff fighters.
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Aug 20, 2015 00:08 UTC
Russia intends to deliver another pair of Mil Mi-26T2 heavy lift helicopters to Algeria later this year, with another two following in early 2016, according to Russian media reports
. The first two helicopters were delivered to the North African country in July
, with reports indicating that a second contract - covering eight further helicopters of the type - is likely to complete deliveries by the end of 2017, bringing the total of heavy lift helicopters operated by Algeria to 14. The Mi-26T2 re-entered series production in May
, with Algeria also reported
to be ordering attack helicopters from Russia.
A February 2006 report noted that a $4 billion arms sale was brewing between Algeria and Russia involving fighter aircraft, tanks, and air defense systems, with the possibility of additional equipment. Those options came through the following month, as a high-level Russian delegation in Algeria closed up to $7.5 billion worth of arms contracts. The Algerian package remains post-Soviet Russia’s largest single arms deal. As an instructive comparison, annual Russian weapons export orders from all customers were just $5-6 billion per year in 2004 and 2005.
Reuters South Africa quoted Rosoboronexport chief Sergei Chemezov as saying that “Practically all types of arms which we have are included, anti-missile systems, aviation, sea and land technology.” The actual contents of that deal were murky, though DID offers triangulation among several sources to help sort out the confusion. A number of these deals have evolved over time, and other public-source information has helped to sharpen the picture a bit. The subsequent crash of Algeria’s MiG-29 deal, and its ripple effects, are also discussed.
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Aug 19, 2015 00:11 UTC
The mistake earlier this month
involving the accidental insertion of chemicals into the fuel system of the KC-46A
tanker has officially delayed
the aircraft's first flight by a month. The tanker will now see its first flight in late-September or early October, with the program's original timetable calling for this flight to have taken place last year, with this pushed back to April and then again to late August, before this latest setback.
KC-135: Old as the hills…
DID’s FOCUS articles cover major weapons acquisition programs – and no program is more important to the USAF than its aerial tanker fleet renewal. In January 2007, the big question was whether there would be a competition for the USA’s KC-X proposal, covering 175 production aircraft and 4 test platforms. The total cost is now estimated at $52 billion, but America’s aerial tanker fleet demands new planes to replace its KC-135s, whose most recent new delivery was in 1965. Otherwise, unpredictable age or fatigue issues, like the ones that grounded its F-15A-D fighters in 2008, could ground its aerial tankers – and with them, a substantial slice of the USA’s total airpower.
KC-Y and KC-Z buys are supposed to follow in subsequent decades, in order to replace 530 (195 active; ANG 251; Reserve 84) active tankers, as well as the USAF’s 59 heavy KC-10 tankers that were delivered from 1979-1987. Then again, fiscal and demographic realities may mean that the 179 plane KC-X buy is “it” for the USAF. Either way, the KC-X stakes were huge for all concerned.
In the end, it was Team Boeing’s KC-767 NexGen/ KC-46A (767 derivative) vs. EADS North America’s KC-45A (Airbus KC-30/A330-200 derivative), both within the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress. The financial and employment stakes guaranteed a huge political fight no matter which side won. After Airbus won in 2008, that fight ended up sinking and restarting the entire program. Three years later, Boeing won the recompete. Now, they have to deliver their KC-46A.
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Aug 19, 2015 00:08 UTC
The H-1 helicopter
fleet of both the Navy and Pakistan will receive a boost through a $85.5 million contract
to develop weapons systems for the aircraft as part of its system configuration set (SCS). The SCS intends to create prototypes for emerging operational requirements, with the majority of this contract covering acquisitions for the US Navy, with the contract set to run to 2020.
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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Aug 17, 2015 00:05 UTC
The Marines are exploring
possible upgrades to their fleet of V-22 Osprey
tilt-rotor aircraft. This plan would involve bringing 131 A and B model Ospreys up to the C spec in order to access the higher availability rates offered by the C variant. The C model boasts a variety of improvements
on earlier models, including a redesigned Environmental Control System (ECS) to keep devices and troops from overheating. The Marines are now reportedly in talks with manufacturer Boeing to establish the likely costs of these upgrades.
In March 2008, the Bell Boeing Joint Project Office in Amarillo, TX received a $10.4 billion modification that converted the previous N00019-07-C-0001 advance acquisition contract to a fixed-price-incentive-fee, multi-year contract. The new contract rose to $10.92 billion, and was used to buy 143 MV-22 (for USMC) and 31 CV-22 (Air Force Special Operations) Osprey aircraft, plus associated manufacturing tooling to move the aircraft into full production. A follow-on MYP-II contract covered another 99 Ospreys (92 MV-22, 7 CV-22) for $6.524 billion. Totals: $17.444 billion for 235 MV-22s and 38 CV-22s, an average of $63.9 million each.
The V-22 tilt-rotor program has been beset by controversy throughout its 20-year development period. Despite these issues, and the emergence of competitive but more conventional compound helicopter technologies like Piasecki’s X-49 Speedhawk and Sikorsky’s X2, the V-22 program continues to move forward. This DID Spotlight article looks at the V-22’s multi-year purchase contract from 2008-12 and 2013-2017, plus associated contracts for key V-22 systems, program developments, and research sources.
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Aug 14, 2015 00:06 UTC
On Thursday the Navy handed M. C. Dean Inc and Honeywell Technology Solutions two multiple-award contracts
totalling $1.66 billion for the installation and certification of C4ISR systems, while Rockwell Collins-ESA Vision Systems was handed a $20.9 million contract
for 120 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) Night Vision Cueing and Display (NVCD
(click to view larger)
In the 1970s, fighter aircraft began to appear with Head-Up Displays (HUD) that projected key information, targeting crosshairs etc. onto a seemingly clear piece of glass. HUDs allowed pilots to keep their eyes in the sky, instead of looking down at their instruments. In the 1990s, another innovation appeared: helmet-mounted displays (HMDs) put the HUD inside the pilot’s helmet, providing this information even when the pilot wasn’t looking straight ahead. The Israelis were already pioneering a system called DASH (Display And Sight Helmet) when a set of former East German MiG-29s, equipped with Soviet HMDs, slaughtered USAF F-16s in NATO exercises. Suddenly, helmet-mounted displays became must-haves for modern fighters – and a key partnership positioned Elbit to take DASH to the next level.
This DID Spotlight article offers insights into the rocky past, successful present, and competitive future of a program that has experienced its share of snags and controversy – but went on to become the #1 helmet-mounted sight in the world. It also details the game-changing effects of Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems on air combat, its production sets and known customers, and all contracts since full-rate production began.
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