May 24, 2017 14:28 UTC
Latest updates[?]: M-346
advanced jet trainers operated by the Israeli Air Force are scheduled for a set of upgrades
that includes the integration of inert training bombs and external fuel tanks. Tel Aviv possesses 30 M-346 trainers—the last of which arrived in 2016—and the upgrades are expected to enable the air force to further streamline its training process. The air force's flight test centre is currently collaborating with manufacturer Leonardo and will oversee the modifications, as well as opening the trainer's full flight envelope, to match the service's operational requirements.
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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May 24, 2017 04:59 UTC
Lockheed Martin has won a $137.8 million contract modification
for cost-reduction programs for the initial low-rate production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
. Fiscal 2016 aircraft procurement funds from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps of $137.8 million will be allocated to the program, none of which will expire at the end of the fiscal year. Eighty percent of the modification will go to the Air Force, with the rest split between the Navy and Marine Corps. Scheduled to be completed by December 2020, work will take place at Waco, Texas, El Segundo, Calif. and Warton, England, with other work being completed across the United States.
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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May 24, 2017 04:58 UTC
In addition to its deal to build Blackhawk helicopters in the kingdom, Lockheed Martin will develop a $28 billion air and missile defense program
that will include the THAAD
ballistic missile defense system, the anti-aircraft missile Patriot, 150 utility Blackhawk helicopters, and other systems and logistical support. The program is projected to support 18,000 skilled jobs in the US, along with thousands of jobs maintaining the equipment in Saudi Arabia for the next 30 years. It had been reported that Riyadh was interested in THAAD ahead of US President Donald Trump's visit last weekend.
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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May 22, 2017 04:56 UTC
General Atomics has received a $$195.2 million contract modification
for the advanced arresting gear of the CVN-80 Enterprise aircraft carrier currently under construction. Built as the the third in the Gerald R. Ford-class
line of aircraft carriers, the contract includes manufacturing, assembly, and testing, while technical data and drawing changes are also part of the program. Work will be completed in primarily in San Diego, Calif., with portions conducted in Tupelo, Miss., Boston, Mass., and other locations across the country. Completion is scheduled for September 2027.
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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May 19, 2017 04:58 UTC
The USAF has awarded a $400 million contract
to General Atomics for the production and delivery of 36 MQ-9 Reaper
UAVs. The contract comes from acquisition funds already appropriated sole-source acquisition funds from Fiscal 2016. Work will take place at Poway, California, and is expected to be complete by Aug. 31, 2020. The Reaper, the larger and more heavily successor to the MQ-1 Predator, the UAV boasts a cruise speed of 230 mph, a flight ceiling up to 50,000 feet, and a range of 1150 miles, and can carry a payload of up to 3750 lbs. Munitions integrated include the Hellfire laser-guided missiles, GBU-12 Paveway bombs, and GPS-guided GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions.
The MQ-9 Reaper UAV, once called “Predator B,” is somewhat similar to the famous Predator. Until you look at the tail. Or its size. Or its weapons. It’s called “Reaper” for a reason: while it packs the same surveillance gear, it’s much more of a hunter-killer design. Some have called it the first fielded Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV).
The Reaper UCAV will play a significant role in the future USAF, even though its capability set makes the MQ-9 considerably more expensive than MQ-1 Predators. Given these high-end capabilities and expenses, one may not have expected the MQ-9 to enjoy better export success than its famous cousin. Nevertheless, that’s what appears to be happening. MQ-9 operators currently include the USA and Britain, who use it in hunter-killer mode, and Italy. Several other countries are expressing interest, and the steady addition of new payloads are expanding the Reaper’s advantage over competitors…
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May 17, 2017 04:55 UTC
BAE Systems has rolled out the lead example
of its Eurofighter Typhoons
destined for delivery to Oman later this year. Muscat's Typhoon order, signed in December 2012, is for nine single-seat aircraft and three two-seat examples to support training activities. A ceremony to mark the occasion was hosted at the firm's final assembly in Lancashire, UK, with the Typhoon joined by Oman's first new-generation Hawk advanced jet trainer, of which eight Mk 166 examples are on order by the Gulf sultanate.
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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May 17, 2017 04:54 UTC
The CEO of French aviation firm Dassault, Eric Trappier, has told French media that the firm expects to sell
an additional 18 Rafale
fighters next year. In an interview with French regional newspaper Sud-Ouest on Sunday, Trappier hinted that the purchaser may by Malaysia, in a deal that could potentially be worth $2 billion. India has also been earmarked as a potential repeat customer after a high profile deal for 36 Rafales was concluded last year
. "India's needs are enormous," said Trappier. "Hence, for its navy, 57 aircraft are considered," he added. Malaysia, however, may be the more likely candidate for a deal to be finalized in the near term as it looks to replace its ageing combat aircraft.
(click for cutaway view)
Will Dassault’s fighter become a fashionably late fighter platform that builds on its parent company’s past successes – or just “the late Rafale”? It all began as a 1985 break-away from the multinational consortium that went on to create EADS’ Eurofighter. The French needed a lighter aircraft that was suitable for carrier use, and were reportedly unwilling to cede design authority over the project. As is so often true of French defense procurement policy, the choice came down to paying additional costs for full independence and exact needs, or losing key industrial capabilities by partnering or buying abroad. France has generally opted for expensive but independent defense choices, and the Rafale was no exception.
Those costs, and associated delays triggered by the end of the Cold War and reduced funding, proved to be very costly indeed. Unlike previous French fighters, which relied on exports to lower their costs and keep production lines humming, the Rafale has yet to secure a single export contract – in part because initial versions were hampered by impaired capabilities in key roles. The Rafale may, at last, be ready to be what its vendors say: a true omnirole aircraft, ready for prime time on the global export stage. The question is whether it’s too late. Rivals like EADS’ Eurofighter, Russia’s Su-27/30 family, and the American “teen series” of F-15/16/18 variants are all well established. Meanwhile, Saab’s versatile and cheaper JAS-39 Gripen remains a stubborn foe in key export competitions, and the multinational F-35 juggernaut is bearing down on it.
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May 16, 2017 04:58 UTC
Embraer has announced
that it will enter its A-29 Super Tucano
into the US Air Force's upcoming OA-X experiment. The Brazilian manufacturer will team with Sierra Nevada Corporation
for the July demonstration, which aims to test low-cost options for acquiring light attack aircraft for the service. Manufactured in Florida and in use by a dozen air forces worldwide, the A-29 is a durable, versatile and powerful turboprop aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of fighter and ISR missions. The USAF-certified A-29 is combat-proven, having seen combat in Afghanistan and in theaters around the globe.
T-27: Smoke & Mirror
Brazil has kicked off the LAAD 2013 expo with a pair of announcements related to their Super Tucano fleet. The first is a 5-year, BRL 252 million (about $127.4 million) contract for Embraer to support the FAB’s 92 remaining “A-29″/EMB-314 Super Tucanos, of the 99 originally purchased. Programa de Suporte Logístico Integrado (PSLI) is a fixed-price contract with performance requirements, mirroring Britain’s recent advances in reducing support costs using “contracting for availability.” PLSI covers materials and planning, supplies for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, repairs, and overhauls of components, support for the landing gear and propeller groups, and specialized technical support. The basic service package is BRL 223 million, with BRL set aside for unexpected services. Embraer.
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May 12, 2017 05:00 UTC
- The US Navy has awarded Rolls Royce a $78.7 million contract to provide logistical and engineering support for originally manufactured engines on the KC-130J tanker aircraft. Under the contract, aircraft in use by the US Marine Corp as well as the government of Kuwait will be affected. The work will primarily be completed in Indianapolis, with smaller contracts spread through other states, as well as Japan and Kuwait. The project is expected to be completed by May 2022.
- Elbit Systems has received a contract from the Brazilian marine corps to provide the service with an advanced C4ISR electronic warfare and communications system. Valued at $40 million, the C4ISR has Battle Management Systems application, C41 systems for artillery units, and advance EW capabilities. It can be mounted on vehicles such as tanks and armored personnel vehicles, and is integrated with command centers. The procurement of the system comes as the Brazilian marine corp transition to the doctrine of Network Centric Warfare—a high-technology concept that integrates command-and-control, logistics, targeting and navigational information, and communications into one system. Work on the contract will be performed over the next two years.
Middle East & North Africa
- Turkey’s Undersecretary for Defence Industries (SSM) has signed a deal with the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) for the supply and deliver of 52 Super Mushshak trainers to the Turkish armed forces. The deal was one of three bilateral defense agreements signed between Turkay and Pakistan with the second being a letter-of-intent (LoI) for the sale of four MILGEM corvettes for the Pakistan Navy and the third a LoI for fresh collaboration between PAC and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). The contracts were inked on the second day of this year’s IDEF 2017 exhibition in Istanbul.
- Sweden’s Saab is looking to finalize a number of near-term sales of the C and D variants of its JAS-39 Gripen fighter. Upcoming competitions in Botswana, Slovakia, and Bulgaria, have all been targeted as potential clients for the C/D models, which if agreements are reached, will boost sales and ensure the continuation of the Gripen’s production line into the future. Of the three countries, Bulgaria is the closest to moving forward with a deal, after its government announced Saab as the preferred option for its MiG-29 replacement program. Slovakia have been in negotiations with Saab since 2015, while in Botswana, a Gripen package is facing off against an offering from Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI) FA-50—the fighter version of its T-50 trainer.
- Leonardo and the UK government have reached an agreement to develop the next generation of decoy counter-measures for fighter aircraft. The firm will partner with the British Royal Air Force’s Rapid Capability Office—an office created to bring new technologies to UK warfighters—and will use Leonardo’s BriteCloud EAD technology for the development of new expendable active decoys. BriteCloud is a second-generation, radar jamming decoy that uses enhanced on-board jamming techniques. It can be deployed from a standard chaff and flare dispenser, and draws an incoming missile away from the targeted aircraft.
- In a world first, Airbus has successfully completed the first test of its automatic air-to-air refueling (AAR) contact system. During the flight, the company’s A330 MRTT demonstrator was successfully steered into the receptacle of a Portuguese air force F-16 using image processing software that the company has been developing for more than a year. As many as six contacts were made over a 75 minute period, at 25,000 feet and 270 knots. The AAR system requires no additional equipment on the receiver and could be introduced on current production A330MRTTs as soon as 2019.
- Amid rising tensions and sabre-rattling in the region, China has announced that it has successfully tested a new missile, launching it into the waters of the Bohoi Gulf, near the Korean peninsula. While the Ministry of National Defense did not mention the new missile by name, analysts believe that it could be the DF-26—an intermediate missile capable of sinking warships, including US aircraft carriers. The test comes a month after Beijing said that is would respond to the deployment of the US THAAD system in South Korea by continuing to test new types of weapons under conditions simulating actual combat. China’s opposition to THAAD comes from the allegation that its radars are capable of peering deep into China, allowing the US and its allies to better detect rocket launches and aircraft movements.
- Israel Weapon Industries and Indian private sector firm Punj Lloyd have began a venture to jointly produce a variety of small arms from the Israeli firearm manufacturer’s product line, of which some are for use by Indian armed forces. Known as Punj Lloyd Raksha Systems (PLR), the new venture is the first private manufacturer of small arms in India that produces equipment for both use by the Indian defense forces and for export, and is expected to take a sizeable portion of India’s $5 billion small firearms market. IWI-designed weapons to be manufactured at the plant include the Tavor carbine, X95 assault rifle, the Galil sniper rifle, and Negev light machine gun. The foundation of the venture also comes as New Delhi faces an immediate requirement for 66,000 assault rifles, with a total requirement is 250,000, and it’s expected that in the next two months, an assault rifle tender worth an estimated $1 billion will be released by the Indian Army.
May 12, 2017 04:59 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
The US Navy has awarded Rolls Royce a $78.7 million contract
to provide logistical and engineering support for originally manufactured engines on the KC-130J
tanker aircraft. Under the contract, aircraft in use by the US Marine Corp as well as the government of Kuwait will be affected. The work will primarily be completed in Indianapolis, with smaller contracts spread through other states, as well as Japan and Kuwait. The project is expected to be completed by May 2022.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
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