Apr 28, 2016 00:45 UTC
France's DCNS has been announced as the winner
of the $38.7 billion Australian Future Submarine contract. The hotly contested tender for the 12 new subs also saw offers from Germany's Thyssen-Krupp Marine Systems and the Government of Japan to carry out the build. The new design will be based on DCNS's Shortfin Barracuda A1
submarine design, a conventionally-powered derivative of the nuclear-powered Suffren-class submarine now under construction for the French Navy. US made combat systems integrator and weapons systems will be installed by either Lockheed Martin or Raytheon in contracts expected to be announced shortly.
Bridge to the future?
In its 2009 White Paper, Australia’s Department of Defence and Labor Party government looked at the progress being made in ship killing surveillance-strike complexes, and at their need to defend large sea lanes, as key drivers shaping future navies. These premises are well accepted, but the White Paper’s conclusion was a surprise. It recommended a doubling of Australia’s submarine fleet to 12 boats by 2030-2040, all of which would be a new successor design that would replace the RAN’s Collins Class submarines.
The surprise, and controversy, stem from Australia’s recent experiences. The Collins Class was designed with the strong cooperation of ThyssenKrupp’s Swedish Kockums subsidiary, and built in Australia by state-owned ASC. The class has had a checkered career, including significant difficulties with its combat systems, issues with acoustic signature and propulsion, major cost growth to A$ 5+ billion, and schedule slippage. Worse still, reports indicated that the RAN can only staff 2 of its 6 submarines. High-level attention led to a report and recommendations to improve the force, but whether they will work remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the nature of Australia’s SEA 1000 future submarine project – and its eventual cost – remain unclear, with estimated costs in the A$ 36-44 billion range. This FOCUS article covers Australia’s options, decisions, and plans, as their future submarine program slowly gets underway.
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Apr 28, 2016 00:40 UTC
Israel's eagerness to customize its orders of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters
has already seen its first app created for the next generation jet
. Utilizing the open-architecture software design found in the Lockheed Martin designed fighter, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has developed its own command, control, communications, and computing (C4) system which will be equipped on the aircraft in December. The software is an upgrade of an existing C4 system
the Israeli air force flies on its F-15 and F-16 fighters.
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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Apr 21, 2016 00:40 UTC
A study has been ordered
by US Lawmakers into potentially restarting
the F-22 Raptor
production line. It's been nearly six years since Lockheed Martin ceased manufacturing the jet; however, due to the growing perception that the US military is losing its technological edge to adversaries like Russia and China, Congress has expressed keen interest throughout this year’s budget season in restarting the line. Only 187 jets were ever produced, falling short of the initial production aims of 749.
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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Apr 21, 2016 00:35 UTC
Afghanistan's National Army has launched
its first ScanEagle
unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The first operational site is in the often volatile Helmand province, and there will be a total of eight sites situated across the country. The systems will provide the Afghan National Army with airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities as it conducts security missions against militants operating within its borders.
ScanEagle’s base Insight UAV platform was originally developed by Washington state’s Insitu, Inc. to track dolphins and tuna from fishing boats, in order to ensure that the fish you buy in supermarkets is “dolphin-safe”. It turns out that the same characteristics needed by fishing boats (able to handle salt water environments, low infrastructure launch and recovery, small size, 20-hour long endurance, automated flight patterns) are equally important for naval operations from larger vessels, and for battlefield surveillance. A partnership with Boeing took ScanEagle to market in those fields, and the USMC’s initial buy in 2004 was the beginning of a market-leading position in its niche.
This article covers recent developments with the ScanEagle UAV system, which is quickly evolving into a mainstay with the US Navy and its allies. Incumbency doesn’t last long in the fast-changing world of UAVs, though. Insitu’s own RQ-21 Integrator is looking to push the ScanEagle aside, and new multiple-award contracts in the USA are creating opportunities for other competitors. Can Insitu’s original stay strong?
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Apr 19, 2016 00:00 UTC
Proposals submitted by BAE Systems, Fincantieri and Navantia have been shortlisted
for the Australian government's program to build nine new frigates for the Royal Australian Navy. France's DCNS of and TKMS of Germany's offering were eliminated from the $27 billion program which will see the ships built in Adelaide, South Australia. The first steel expected to be cut in 2020 and will be fitted with phased array radar systems being developed by Australia’s CEA Technologies. Designs remaining are BAE Systems' Global Combat Ship, based on the Type 26 frigate; Fincantieri’s anti-submarine warfare FREMM (Fregata Europea Multi-Missione) and a redesigned version of Navantia’s Álvaro de Bazán (F100) class vessel.
As Asia-Pacific nations invest in submarines, serious regional players also need to invest in anti-submarine capabilities. Aircraft like the P-8A Poseidon are great, but nothing really replaces dedicated and capable ASW ships. Their opponents’ anti-ship missiles are also experiencing a jump in capability, so a secondary air defense role isn’t optional. Australia’s 4 remaining FFG-7 Adelaide Class frigates have finished an expensive and somewhat rickety systems upgrade, but they fall short of what’s needed, and won’t last all that much longer. The RAN’s 6 ANZAC Class frigates are receiving much smoother ASMD air defense upgrades that will make them quite useful, but their service life will begin ebbing around 2024.
Hence Australia’s SEA 5000 Future Frigate program, which may receive an early push from issues with Australia’s naval industrial base…
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Apr 18, 2016 00:50 UTC
The US Navy has awarded BAE Systems a $22 million contract
to produce Archerfish mine neutralizers. Flown on board the MH-60S, Archerfish is a remotely-controlled underwater vehicle equipped with an explosive warhead to destroy sea mines. Deliveries of the systems are expected to begin in September 2017. The contract also includes further options which, if exercised by the DoD, could bring the total value to over $55.3 million.
USN Heli Plan
The US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawks have always had a naval counterpart. SH-60B/F Seahawk/ LAMPS helicopters were outfitted with maritime radar, sonobuoys, and other specialized equipment that let them perform a wide variety of roles, from supply and transport, to anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and even surface attack with torpedoes or Kongsberg’s AGM-119 Penguin missiles. Like their land-based counterparts, however, the Seahawks are getting older. The Reagan defense build-up is receding into history, and its products are wearing out.
European countries chose to build new designs like the medium-heavy EH101 and the NH90 medium helicopter. They’re larger than the H-60s, make heavy use of corrosion-proof composites, and add new features like rear ramps. The USA, in contrast, decided to upgrade existing H-60 designs for the Army and Navy. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”) Seahawks. MH-60Rs and MH-60Ss will eventually replace all SH-60B/F & HH-60H Seahawks, HH-1N Hueys, UH-3H Sea Kings, and CH-46D Sea Knight helicopters currently in the US Navy’s inventory. Both programs are underway, and will be covered in this DID FOCUS Article.
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Apr 15, 2016 00:25 UTC
Thanks to the legal disruption caused by Lockheed Martin over the US Army's selection of Oshkosh for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV
) program, it is likely that the vehicle won’t reach its initial operational capability
(IOC) on time. Oshkosh came out the victor over Humvee-maker AM General and Lockheed for the $6.7 billion low-rate initial production contract award to build 16,901 vehicles. However, the program had been put on a 97 day halt due to the lawsuit, with work only continuing in December. The Army is now anticipating a six-month delay in reaching its IOC milestone now expected for late 2019.
Ultra APV demonstrator
In an age of non-linear warfare, where front lines are nebulous at best and non-existent at worst, one of the biggest casualties is… the concept of unprotected rear echelon vehicles, designed with the idea that they’d never see serious combat. That imperative is being driven home on 2 fronts. One front is operational. The other front is buying trends.
These trends, and their design imperatives, found their way into the USA’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, which aims to replace many of the US military’s 120,000 or so Humvees. The US military’s goal is a 7-10 ton vehicle that’s lighter than its MRAPs and easier to transport aboard ship, while offering substantially better protection ad durability than existing up-armored Humvees. They’d also like a vehicle that can address front-line issues like power generation, in order to recharge all of the batteries troops require for electronic gadgets like night sights, GPS devices, etc.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. JLTV certainly qualifies, and recent budget planning endorsements have solidifed a future that was looking shaky. Now, can the Army’s program deliver?
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Apr 07, 2016 00:45 UTC
The US Navy has awarded Boeing a $235.2 million modification contract
to obtain long-lead materials and parts required for the P-8A program. The deal will see the company produce and deliver 11 Lot 8 full-rate production IV of the multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft by January 2017. This follows up
on a potential $2.5 billion order for the aircraft
from January for building the aircraft for both the Navy and the government of Australia.
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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Mar 25, 2016 00:55 UTC
The US Navy has begun its "light-off" testing
of an AN/SPQ-9B horizon search radar upgraded with a Periscope Detection and Discrimination (PDD) capability. Testing took place March 13 on board the CG 47 Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Lake Champlain. The upgraded PDD capability represents a noteworthy improvement
in submarine detection, in support of the Navy's overall anti-surface warfare efforts, and represents the culmination of almost a decade of Navy investment in developing a periscope detection mode for the AN/SPQ-9B Radar and the collaborative efforts of NAVSEA agencies, Office of Naval Research, the Naval Research Laboratory, and Naval Surface and Expeditionary Warfare Command.
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Melville, NY makes the AN/SPQ-9B radar system. Its mission is to serve as a primary fire control or backup radar that can detect and track low-flying, high-speed, small radar cross-section anti-ship missile targets in heavy clutter environments. That’s especially useful amidst waves, or close to shore.
The SPQ-9 is not a new radar, though it has received a number of upgrades over the years. It was originally built to be the main air defense radar on several American destroyer and cruiser classes, but over time it has been relegated to a secondary role on advanced air defense ships to fill in coverage gaps, or a slot on some amphibious ship classes as a relatively inexpensive, medium-capability main radar. Orders continue, and the radar received a new lease on life when it was picked as the X-band portion of America’s new dual-band AMDR radar.
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Mar 21, 2016 00:50 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Lockheed Martin is to restart production
on its MK 41 Vertical Launching System with a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned its Middle River plant in Baltimore County, Maryland on March 24. According to an invitation to media, the MK 41 VLS is “the only launching system capable [sic] launching anti-air, anti-submarine, surface-to-surface and strike missiles and can receive orders from multiple weapon control systems to handle every warfighting mission." The news comes as Lockheed was awarded
a potential three-year $197.6 million contract modification to carry out computer program baseline development work on the US Navy's Aegis combat systems, of which the MK 41 is a core component.
MK 41s in action
The naval MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) hides missiles below decks in vertical slots, with key electronics and venting systems built in. A deck and hatch assembly at the top of the module protects the missile canisters from the elements, and from other hazards during storage. Once the firing sequence begins, the hatches open to permit missile launches of various types. It is also being adapted for land use, as part of the USA’s plan to forward-deploy ballistic missile defense in allied countries.
The Mk.41 is the most widely-used naval VLS in the world, in service with the US Navy and with many countries outside the United States. Lockheed Martin is the system’s prime contractor, with components and canisters provided by BAE Systems Land & Armaments. In September 2011, however, the US Navy assumed the final integrator role.
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