Dec 07, 2016 00:48 UTC
The Pentagon's chief arms buyer, Frank Kendell, is hopeful
that a three-year block buy of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter
will go ahead. Covering some 400 F-35 units for both the US military branches and partner nations, the agreement is expected to generate large savings through bigger economies of scale between the fiscal years 2018 through 2020. Negotiations with lead contractor Lockheed Martin, however, have been slow as seen in the year-long negotiations of the fighter's ninth batch, while the government's chief weapons tester, Michael Gilmore, has long argued about the need to test the planes before buying and building larger quantities.
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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Dec 05, 2016 00:55 UTC
Lockheed Martin has been contracted
to supply two US government-configured C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft to France. Work on the $133.4 million deal is expected to be completed by August 2020. A stretched-out version of the C-130J
, the Super Hercules acquisition comes as France tries to fill a cargo and refueling capability gap created by problems related to the development and delivery of the A400M by Airbus.
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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Oct 18, 2016 00:48 UTC
Bell Helicopters is keen to sell its AH-1Z
attack helicopter as a solution to Japan's AH-X program
. As part of preparations the company has teamed with engineers from Fuji Heavy Industries on modification work to the helicopter aimed at improving transmission performance. If selected, between 60-70 of the Bell 412EPI
-based helicopters would be produced locally in Fuji with the first slated to deliver in 2022. Civilian variants would also be produced in Fuji in an effort to help the production line attain scale.
UH-1Y and AH-1Z
by Neville Dawson
The US Marines’ helicopter force is aging at all levels, from banana-shaped CH-46 Sea Knight transports that are far older than their pilots, to the 1980s-era UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters that make up the Corps’ helicopter assault force. While the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey program has staggered along for almost 2 decades under accidents, technical delays, and cost issues, replacement of the USMC’s backbone helicopter assets has languished. Given the high-demand scenarios inherent in the current war, other efforts are clearly required.
Enter the H-1 program, the USMC’s plan to remanufacture older helicopters into new and improved UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters. The new versions would discard the signature 2-bladed rotors for modern 4-bladed improvements, redo the aircraft’s electronics, and add improved engines and weapons to offer a new level of performance. It seemed simple, but hasn’t quite worked out that way. The H-1 program has encountered its share of delays and issues, but the program survived its review, and continued on into production and deployment.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This article covers the H-1 helicopter programs’ rationales and changes, the upgrades involved in each model, program developments and annual budgets, the full timeline of contracts and key program developments, and related research sources.
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Oct 05, 2016 00:52 UTC
A second batch of mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles have been delivered to Egypt
under the US Excess Defense Articles grant program. While the exact number of vehicles delivered remains unknown, the original shipment contained 762 MRAPs. First used for US operations in Afghanistan, the vehicles will give enhanced levels of protection to Egyptian soldiers tackling Islamist militants in the Sinai desert.
With the acquisition of Force Protection by General Dynamics in November 2011, future purchases will be covered under “General Dynamics MRAPs: Partners and Purchases.”
The Cougar family of medium-sized blast-protected vehicles is produced in both 4-wheel (formerly Cougar H) and 6-wheel (formerly Cougar HE) layouts. Eventually, the wisdom of using survivable vehicles in a theater where land mines were the #1 threat became clearer, and these vehicles have gradually shifted from dedicated engineer and Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) roles to patrol and route-proving/ convoy lead functions as well. Related variants and blast-resistant designs are also produced in response to country-specific requirements (Wolfhound, Mastiff, Ridgeback, ILAV Badger) and other designs cover different operational needs (Buffalo mine-clearance, Cheetah, Ocelot, and JAMMA patrol vehicles). To date, the firm has received orders from Britain, Canada, France, Hungary, Italy, Iraq, and Yemen; and Poland operates some on loan from the USA. Front line testimonials offer evidence of their effectiveness.
Cougar orders predate the USA’s MRAP program to rush mine-resistant vehicles to the front lines; indeed, the performance of Force Protection’s vehicles on the front lines was probably the #1 trigger for the MRAP program’s existence. This FOCUS article describes Force Protection’s vehicles and corporate performance, which became an issue in recent years. It also covers key events and procurements around the world related to Force Protection’s Cougar (MRAP CAT I & II), Buffalo (MRAP CAT III), and related blast-resistant vehicle families.
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Jul 07, 2016 00:46 UTC
Austria is to join France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK in operating BAE System's BvS10
Beowulf military vehicle after signing contracts with the Swedish government
for the delivery of 32 vehicles. While the value of the contract is unknown, deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of 2017 and conclude in 2019. Designed to operate in rugged terrain to deliver personnel or cargo in combat and disaster relief situations, the BvS10 will play a role in Austria's European Union Mountain Training Warfare Initiative where it will host schools, training and support to enhance military effectiveness in mountain terrain.
A Viking comes ashore
The BvS10 is the successor to the wildly popular Bv206, 11,000 of which have been sold to 40 countries around the world – including the USA (M978). Readers may have seen these vehicles elsewhere, too, as a number of Bv206s have post-military careers at ski resorts, in industries like mining and logging, etc. The new BvS-10 is larger and more heavily armored; it’s in use in Britain, France and the Netherlands as a key armored vehicle for their respective Marines, has been bought by Sweden, and is under evaluation elsewhere. International interest includes imitators: Singapore’s Bronco ATTC is a BVS10 competitor, and Finland and Norway have their own local Bv206 variants.
What makes this unusual-looking vehicle family and design so popular? They aren’t like Humvees or similar wheeled mainstays. They aren’t full armored personnel carriers, either – they’re armored, but Bv family vehicles can’t take the kind of punishment that a Bradley or LAV can absorb. Instead, the secret to their success lies in a remarkable all-terrain capability, and their ability to fill a rare and critical role: air-portable and amphibious infantry enhancement. These success factors are discussed below, along with contracts and key developments related to this vehicle family.
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