Mar 06, 2014 16:33 UTC
Latest updates[?]: Acquisition plans for FY 2015 - 2019; Testing contract, as AIM-120D approaches service; Background improved; Additional Readings sections updated & upgraded.
AIM-120C from F-22A
(click for test missile zoom)
Raytheon’s AIM-120 Advanced, Medium-Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) has become the world market leader for medium range air-to-air missiles, and is also beginning to make inroads within land-based defense systems. It was designed with the lessons of Vietnam in mind, and of local air combat exercises like ACEVAL and Red Flag. This DID FOCUS article covers successive generations of AMRAAM missiles, international contracts and key events from 2006 onward, and even some of its emerging competitors.
One of the key lessons learned from Vietnam was that a fighter would be likely to encounter multiple enemies, and would need to launch and guide several missiles at once in order to ensure its survival. This had not been possible with the AIM-7 Sparrow, a “semi-active radar homing” missile that required a constant radar lock on one target. To make matters worse, enemy fighters were capable of launching missiles of their own. Pilots who weren’t free to maneuver after launch would often be forced to “break lock,” or be killed – sometimes even by a short-range missile fired during the last phases of their enemy’s approach. Since fighters that could carry radar-guided missiles like the AIM-7 tended to be larger and more expensive, and the Soviets were known to have far more fighters overall, this was not a good trade…
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Mar 05, 2014 15:29 UTC
Latest updates[?]: Initial release to service, as flight control moves from the UTacS JV to the British Army; Opportunity in Poland?
Britain has given the green light to the Watchkeeper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Program. The initial August 2005 contract award to Thales UK’s joint venture was worth around GBP 700 million, and the program expected to create or sustain up to 2,100 high-quality manufacturing jobs in the UK. The Watchkeeper platform is based on Elbit Systems’ Hermes 450 UAV platform, which is serving as a contractor-operated interim solution on the front lines of battle.
Watchkeeper will be an important system, working as the likely medium-range mainstay within a complementary suite of manned (vid. ASTOR Sentinel R1) and unmanned (Buster, Desert Hawk, MQ-9 Reaper) aerial Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition Reconnaissance (ISTAR) systems. This will make it a core element of the UK Ministry of Defence’s Network-Enabled Capability strategy.
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Jan 26, 2014 15:29 UTC
Latest updates[?]: 3rd plane delivered; Pentagon testers says that the P-8A has big problems. It could still be very useful to India - though there is ONE problem that really has to be fixed.
India’s fleet of Soviet-era maritime patrol aircraft has been upgraded, but it needs to be replaced. Indian naval responsibilities are growing, and the 2008 terrorist atrocities in Mumbai made it crystal-clear that control of their coasts was a necessity. Fortunately, they already had a competition underway. In December 2005, after an attempted buy of Lockheed Martin P-3s fell through, India’s navy had floated an RFP for at least 8 new sea control aircraft. Bids from a variety of contenders, including Lockheed Martin, were submitted in April 2007. Subsequent statements by India’s Admiral Prakash suggested that they could be looking for as many as 30 aircraft by 2020.
The plan had been for price negotiations to be completed in 2007, with first deliveries to commence within 48 months. India’s Ministry of Defence has extreme problems with announced schedules, but their existing fleet was wearing out, international requests for India’s maritime patrol help are rising, and Mumbai’s events provided an extra shove. By January 2009, India had picked its aircraft: the 737-derivative P-8i Neptune, a variant of the P-8A that’s readying for service as the P-3′s successor within the US Navy. DID discusses the geopolitical drivers, the current fleet, the known competitors, Boeing’s P-8i, and key contracts and events.
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