Feb 10, 2017 00:50 UTC
Despite not having a US-based partner and prime contractor, Leonardo is to go it alone in the USAF T-X trainer competition
. Raytheon withdrew from the partnership last month. The Italian firm's US-subsidary, Leonardo DRS, will now act as prime contractor, although it remains unclear where the T-100 advanced jet trainer will be assembled if the company secures the contract.
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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Jan 30, 2017 00:55 UTC
Boeing has won a $2.1 billion contract
for the provision of 15 KC-46
aerial refueling aircraft to the US Air Force. The contract, awarded on Friday, is in addition to the initial $4.2 billion contract awarded by the USAF to develop and test the aircraft, and an earlier $2.8 billion award for 19 planes. So far, the fixed-price contract has incurred cost-over runs of $2.4 billion, including a recent $201 million after-tax charge that Boeing announced on Wednesday.
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 KC-X 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 their KC-46A.
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Jan 26, 2017 00:55 UTC
Raytheon has been selected
to provide SM-6
missiles and spares, to be deployed on AEGIS
-equipped cruisers and destroyers. Valued at $235 million, the award comes following several testing and milestone events for the weapon that verified the weapon's capability to intercept incoming medium-range ballistic missile attacks. This contract represents funding for the fourth year of full-rate production for the multi-mission missile and deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.
SM-2 Launch, DDG-77
(click to view larger)
Variants of the SM-2 Standard missile are the USA’s primary fleet defense anti-air weapon, and serve with 13 navies worldwide. The most common variant is the RIM-66K-L/ SM-2 Standard Block IIIB, which entered service in 1998. The Standard family extends far beyond the SM-2 missile, however; several nations still use the SM-1, the SM-3 is rising to international prominence as a missile defense weapon, and the SM-6 program is on track to supplement the SM-2. These missiles are designed to be paired with the AEGIS radar and combat system, but can be employed independently by ships with older or newer radar systems.
This article covers each variant in the Standard missile family, plus several years worth of American and Foreign Military Sales requests and contracts and key events; and offers the budgetary, technical, and geopolitical background that can help put all that in context.
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Dec 23, 2016 00:55 UTC
BAE Systems has announced that they have completed
the third and final series of flight tests of the Taranis Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV). Its development comes as the UK aims to keep indigenous UAV/UCAV construction capabilities. The test, according to BAE group managing director of programs and support, Nigel Whitehead, "met all test objectives". The development
of the Taranis is part of an Anglo-French contract agreement which aims at developing a joint UCAV, combined with the development of the French Dassault nEUROn, for a joint European UCAV
The European nEUROn project joins Britain’s Taranis UCAV, Russia’s MiG SKAT, Boeing’s X-45 Phantom Ray, and the US Navy’s X-47 UCAS-D program as unmanned aircraft projects with fighter-substitution potential.
Multinational projects are often fraught affairs, and Europe’s stealth Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) had its own close calls. In November 2005, a Forecast International report on the future UAV market saw political trouble coming for the proposed 6-nation nEUROn project, unless the partner nations could get their act together and agree. In the end, the project got rolling with committed funding of EUR 535 million and counting, and the French DGA (Délégation Générale pour l’Armement) procurement agency acting as the program executive. This FOCUS article covers the Neuron program’s 3-fold goals, envisioned platform, program structure and schedule, and ongoing contracts and developments. In the wake a Franco-British joint UCAV development memo, Britain’s Taranis project has been added to this article in a separate coverage stream.
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