Feb 10, 2016 00:16 UTC
MBDA has started deliveries
of a number of Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air missiles (ASRAAM) to the US for integration on the UK's F-35B fighters. The ASRAAMs will be the first British built missiles to be used on the jet, and will be used during test flights and air launches later this year. The missile can be seen in use on the RAF’s Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornados. The British contribution
to the manufacture of the F-35 program stands at about 15% of every fighter, with BAE Systems responsible for the production of the aircraft's horizontal and vertical tails, aft fuselage, and wing tips. 138 F-35Bs will be bought for use by the RAF and Royal Navy.
F-35B: off probation
The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE) Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners,” and Japan as the 1st export customer.
The big question for Lockheed Martin is whether, and when, many of these partner countries will begin placing purchase orders. This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports during 2012-2013.
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Jan 29, 2016 00:19 UTC
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has unveiled to the press their latest ATD-X stealth fighter prototype at their plant in Komaki. The fifth generation stealth fighter was developed
alongside Defense Ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) with the aim of seeing if an indigenously produced stealth fighter could be developed in Japan along with researching the technologies required. With its first test flight due this year, full scale production could be under way as early as 2018. The new jet will replace the aging Mitsubishi F-2 and F-15, while complementing its F-35 acquisition as Japan looks to take more responsibility over defending it's territory and population.
Japan already produces F-15J Eagle aircraft under license from Boeing, and in 1987 they selected Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet as the basis for a “local” design that would replace its 1970s era F-1s. The aim was to produce a less expensive fighter that would complement its F-15s, provide a bridge for key aerospace technology transfers, and give Japan’s aerospace industry experience with cutting-edge manufacturing and component technologies.
The F-2’s increased range is very useful to Japan, given their need to cover large land and maritime areas. Nevertheless, a combination of design decisions and meddling from Washington ensured that these fighters ended up costing almost as much as a twin-engine F-15J Eagle, without delivering the same performance. As a result, production ended early, and the 2011 tsunami made Japan’s fleet even smaller. The remaining fleet will continue to receive upgrades, in order to keep them combat capable for many years to come.
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Jan 22, 2016 00:19 UTC
US Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James has dismissed
ideas that production of F-22 Raptor
would restart after a cap of 187 was made in 2011. Citing the spiraling costs of the development and length of time to produce the aircraft, factors which caused the program's termination, James called a potential reboot "a non-starter". The current fleet, which is currently seeing missions in Syria, will be joined by the F-35, and while very much a different beast, James stated they would compliment the Raptors in use.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
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Jan 20, 2016 00:19 UTC
Latest updates[?]: Testing
of a new blade for the V-22 Osprey
is to take place after the current rotor blades fitted to the aircraft were deemed too labor intensive to manufacture. The new prop rotor blade has been designed as part of the manufacturer Bell's Advanced Technology Tiltrotor (ATTR) program, which aims to reduce production costs for the aircraft. The test has been derived from ongoing development work on the next-generation V-280 with flight testing of the new modified components due to last between 2017-2018.
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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Jan 18, 2016 00:19 UTC
Belgium's government is looking to buy
the Patriot air defense system as part of its new strategic defense plan. The plan, if approved by the parliamentary defense select committee, could potentially see over $600 million used to purchase a battery of the system. Defence minister Steven Vandeput said the system would be used not only as part of Belgium's defense from ballistic missile threats, but could be utilized by other NATO allies in places where such a system is most needed such as on the Turkish-Syrian border. The announcement comes alongside the news that Poland
may also install the system in their country in a procurement that could reach $5 billion.
The USA’s MIM-104 Phased Array Tracking Radar Intercept On Target (PATRIOT) anti-air missile system offers an advanced backbone for medium-range air defense, and short-range ballistic missile defense, to America and its allies. This article covers domestic and foreign purchase requests and contracts for Patriot systems. It also compiles information about the engineering service contracts that upgrade these systems, ensure that they continue to work, and integrate them with wider command and defense systems.
The Patriot missile franchise’s future appears assured. At present, 12 nations have chosen it as a key component of their air and missile defense systems: the USA, Germany, Greece, Japan, Israel, Kuwait, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the UAE. Poland, Qatar, and Turkey have all indicated varying levels of interest, and some existing customers are looking to upgrade their systems.
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Jan 13, 2016 00:18 UTC
The US Navy successfully tested
a Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block II from the SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense system for the first time. SeaRAM, used on the Independence class of Littoral Combat Ships, successfully detected, tracked and engaged an inbound threat, and fired a RAM Block II that successfully intercepted the target. The SeaRam system utilized Raytheon's Phalanx Close-In Weapon System for the test which is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled radar and 20mm gun system that acquires, tracks and destroys enemy threats that have penetrated all other ship defense systems. The two systems combined can also be found on the Navy's destroyers.
Mk-44 firing RAM
The Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) MK-31 guided missile weapon system is co-developed and co-produced under a NATO cooperative program between the United States and German governments to provide a small, all-weather, low-cost self-defense system against aircraft and cruise missiles. The RIM-116 was later called RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), because it spins during flight. To save costs, Designation Systems notes that the RAM was designed to use several existing components, including the rocket motor of the MIM-72 Chaparral, the warhead of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and the Infrared seeker of the FIM-92 Stinger. Cueing is provided by the ship’s radar, or by its ESM signal tracing suite.
RAM is currently installed, or planned for installation, on 78 U.S. Navy and 30 German Navy ships, including American LSD, LHD, LPD and CVN ship types. This number will grow as vessels of the LPD-17 San Antonio Class and Littoral Combat Ships enter the US Navy, and the LCS will sport an upgraded SeaRAM system that will include its own integrated radar and IR sensors. Abroad, the South Korean Navy has adopted RAM for its KDX-II and KDX-III destroyers, and its LPX Dokdo Class amphibious assault ships; other navies using or buying RAM include Egypt, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and the UAE/Dubai.
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Dec 11, 2015 00:18 UTC
Northrop Grumman has completed delivery
of the center fuselage for Japan's F-35 fighter, known as the AX-1. The center fuselage serves as the core structure for the 5th generation multi-role jet. Japan's AX-1 is an F-35A jet which uses conventional take-off and landing. Japan has ordered 42 F-35s from Lockheed Martin. Three more center fuselages will be manufactured in the US, while the final 38 will be manufactured and assembled in Nagoya, Japan.
In December 2011, Japan picked Lockheed Martin’s new F-35A stealth fighter as its next fighter aircraft, to replace its aging F-4 “Kai” Phantom fleet. The F-35 was actually their 2nd choice.
Back in February 2006, Inside The Air Force (ITAF) reported that momentum was building within the USAF to sell the ultra-advanced F-22A Raptor abroad to trusted US allies, as a way of increasing numbers and production. Japan clearly wanted them, and the Raptor was a topic of diplomatic discussions in several venues, including a 2007 summit meeting. In the end, however, US politics denied export permission for downgraded export variants of the F-22, and its production line was terminated. That left Japan looking at other foreign “F-X” fighter options in the short term, while they considered a domestic stealth fighter design as their long-term project.
In the ensuing F-X competition, the F-35 Lightning II beat BAE’s Eurofighter Typhoon, as well as an upgraded F/A-18E Super Hornet from Boeing. Now Lockheed Martin has to deliver, and so will its Japanese partners. Will the F-35A’s price and program delays create problems in Japan? This article looks at the JASDF’s current force, its future options, and ongoing F-X developments.
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Dec 09, 2015 00:19 UTC
The crew of the USS John Paul Jones got quite a workout
while testing the Aegis
combat system during an exercise off Wake Island on October 31. They first intercepted a short range air launch target (SRALT) missile with the THAAD missile defense system. The Aegis was then tested as a C-17 then launched an extended medium range ballistic missile (EMRBM) through the debris of the first intercept. If that wasn't enough, the crew were simultaneously engaging a BQM-74E air-breathing target with a Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA guided missile at the time. The tests were aimed
at improving and enhancing the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, which is the naval component of the Missile Defense Agency's Ballistic Missile Defense System.
The AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System seamlessly integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System for missiles, the SM-3 Standard missile, and the ship’s command and control system, in order to give ships the ability to defend against enemy ballistic missiles. Like its less-capable AEGIS counterpart, AEGIS BMD can also work with other radars on land and sea via Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). That lets it receive cues from other platforms and provide information to them, in order to create a more detailed battle picture than any one radar could produce alone.
AEGIS has become a widely-deployed top-tier air defense system, with customers in the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Spain. In a dawning age of rogue states and proliferation of mass-destruction weapons, the US Navy is being pushed toward a “shield of the nation” role as the USA’s most flexible and most numerous option for missile defense. AEGIS BMD modifications are the keystone of that effort – in the USA, and beyond.
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Dec 04, 2015 00:19 UTC
The US Department of Defense has released
$309 million toward the construction of a new marine base in Guam. Contracts have yet to be awarded for the initial construction of the base and follows $1 billion already put forward by Japan for the base's development. The funding follows a 2006 agreement between the two nations to relocate 5,000 US Marines and 1,700 of their dependents from Okinawa to Guam. The base and its support facilities are expected to cost $8.7 billion in total, and will see millions injected
into the island's local economy.
Past base improvement efforts and other contracts related to the USA’s pacific territory of Guam include construction of an RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV complex for the Pacific Rim, and extensive base improvements/ expansion for Guam’s airfield and harbor. This article will shine a spotlight on contracts related to that territory from the beginning of FY 2007 onward. Military.com offers a broader article detailing the build up; it is useful as a frame for activities to date, and also as a context reference for our ongoing coverage (hyperlink below added to enhance context):
“The 2006 agreement between the United States and Japan to shift 8,000 U.S. Marines from bases in Japan to the island of Guam by 2014 is likely to have more far-reaching implications than just a change of address for some units of the Marine Corps’ III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF). The move is accelerating the return to prominence of Guam in the U.S. defense posture and fostering a higher level of cooperation among the U.S. armed forces in the Pacific region… Congress authorized $193 million in military construction funds for Guam in the fiscal year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, a $31 million increase over 2006 funding. “Guam is likely to see between $400 million and $1 billion in military construction in military construction each year for a period of six to 10 years,” [Guam’s representative in Congress, Madeleine Z. Bordallo] said.”
That has held true.
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Nov 20, 2015 00:18 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Boeing has reached an important milestone in the development of the latest Harpoon Block II+
missile after successful tests carried out by the US Navy. The main feature of the missile is the ability to receive in-flight updates through a network enabled data link as well as an upgraded GPS guidance kit. The missile will receive more rigorous testing in the new year but all seems to be pointing to the positive for Boeing who also this month received increased orders
of its existing systems
from foreign buyers worth $124.6 million.
Harpoon in flight
The sub-sonic, wave-skimming GM-84 Harpoon is the US Navy’s sole anti-shipping missile, with the minor exception of small helicopter-borne AGM-119B Penguin missiles. The Harpoon has been adapted into several variants, and exported to many navies around the world. At present, the Harpoon family includes AGM-84 air, RGM-84 sea/land, and UGM-84 submarine-launched versions. Variants such as the Joint Standoff Land Attack Missiles and the upgraded AGM-84K SLAM – Expanded Response will also be covered in this DID FOCUS Article. It describes the missiles themselves, and covers global contracts involving this family.
The Harpoon family’s best known competitor is the French/MBDA M38/39/40 Exocet, but recent years have witnessed a growing competitive roster at both the subsonic (Israel’s >Gabriel family, Russia’s SS-N-27 Klub family, Saab’s RBS15, Kongsberg’s stealthy NSM, China’s YJ-82/C-802 used by Hezbollah in Lebanon), and supersonic (Russia’s SS-N-22 Sunburn/Moskit, SS-N-26 Yakhont, and some SS-N-27 Klub variants, India’s SS-N-26 derived PJ-10 BrahMos) tiers.
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