Jun 09, 2013 13:00 UTC
Latest updates[?]: The Bismarck - really?; Full names roster; USNS Choctaw County delivered; JHSV 3 launched; JHSV 4 keel laid.
Austal MRV/JHSV concept
When moving whole units, shipping is always the cheaper, higher-capacity option. Slow speed and port access are the big issues, but what if ship transit times could be cut sharply, and full-service ports weren’t necessary? After Australia led the way by using what amounted to fast car ferries for military operations, the US Army and Navy decided to give it a go. Both services leased Incat TSV/HSV wave-piercing catamaran ship designs, while the Marines’ charged ahead with very successful use of Austal’s Westpac Express high-speed catamaran. These Australian-designed ships all give commanders the ability to roll on a company with full gear and equipment (or roll on a full infantry battalion if used only as a troop transport), haul it intra-theater distances at 38 knots, then move their shallow draft safely into austere ports to roll them off.
Their successful use, and continued success on operations, attracted favorable comment and notice from all services. So favorable that the experiments have led to a $3+ billion program called the Joint High Speed Vessel. These designs may even have uses beyond simple ferrying and transport.
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May 02, 2013 18:55 UTC
Latest updates[?]: Budgets 2012-2018; Training system contract makes Warren Buffett happy; The perils of restructuring KC-X; Basing options and contenders; USAF plans higher usage for KC-46As than KC-135s.
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 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.
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Apr 21, 2013 15:25 UTC
Latest updates[?]: DSCA: major support contract request; C-17 support shifted to new contract arrangements.
SAC 01: Come to Papa!
The long-range C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport aircraft remains the backbone of US Air Mobility Command inter-theater transport around the world, and its ability to operate from shorter and rougher runways has made it especially useful during the Global War on Terror. Recent buys by Australia, Britain, and Canada have broadened the plane’s its global use. Now NATO, who has relied on the SALIS arrangement and its leased super-giant AN-124s from Russia, is looking to buy and own 3 C-17s as NATO pooled assets with multinational crews. Participating countries will receive allocated flight hours relative to their participation, and thus far they include 12 nations: Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States.
This order will not materially change the coming shut-down of C-17 production, but it does look like the inauguration of a pool that will fill a gaping hole in Europe’s defense capabilities – its complete lack of heavy airlift. This article covers NATO C-17 acquisition program, including its structure and ongoing announcements.
Program is now an adequate name, as NATO SAC has signed a contract, all 3 aircraft have been delivered, and SAC C-17s have been busy on missions for a couple of years now.
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