Mar 25, 2015 00:33 UTC
Raytheon received a contract modification totaling $528.8 million
for the production of AMRAAM
air-to-air missiles, a portion of which are earmarked for Foreign Military Sales. The company recently announced
that it has begun development of an extended-range variant of the missile, with tests scheduled for later this year.
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 04, 2015 04:10 UTC
Now that the U.S. has green-lighted UAV sales to additional allies, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. and Spanish engineering firm SENER are partnering
to bring the Predator B to Iberia.
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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Jan 30, 2015 08:38 UTC
Maj. Gen. Michael Lundy, the Army's aviation chief, indicated that in facing two competing technologies from two vendors for the medium-capacity variant of the Future Vertical Lift program, the Army would like both. One can be fitted for the troop carrying role, and the other for the attack/reconnaissance role. The Bell V-280 Valor (tilt rotor) has been theoretically competing against the Sikorsky/Boeing SB>1Defiant. Lundy told BreakingDefense.com
that the decision was akin to the split between the Apache versus the Black Hawk.
The plan depends on the assumption
- that other services have not been quite as bold in making - that sequestration will be lifted for FY 2016 onward. Lundy's tone was fatalistic, indicating that the Army was planning for that one rosy scenario because the others - however likely - wouldn't suit: "If we went to the worst case, it would affect almost every modernization program we’ve got in our branch."
In addition to vanquishing sequestration, the Army's modernization plans hinge on Congress approving their ARI plan, which involves shelving Kiowas and replacing that reconnaissance capacity with Apaches taken from reserve units, among other decisions that would be unpopular in many individual congressional districts.
The future is now
The JMR-TD program is the science and technology precursor to the Department of Defense’s estimated $100 billion Future Vertical Lift program, which is expected to replace between 2,000-4,000 medium class UH-60 utility and AH-64 attack helicopters after 2030.
In reality, FVL will fall far short of that number if it ever goes ahead, but those figures are the current official fantasy. While they’re at it, the Pentagon wants breakthrough performance that includes the same hovering capability as smaller armed scout helicopters, and a 100+ knot improvement in cruising speed to 230+ knots. That’s almost certainly achievable, thanks to new developments that involve very different helicopter designs.
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Nov 16, 2014 17:52 UTC
Latest updates[?]: COBRA Block I order.
MH-53E & Mk-105 sled
The US Navy currently uses large CH-53/MH-53 helicopters and towed sleds to help with mine clearance work, but they hope to replace those old systems with something smaller and newer. The MH-60S helicopter’s Airborne Mine Counter-Measures (AMCM) system adds an operator’s station to the helicopter cabin, additional internal fuel stores, and towing capability, accompanied by a suite of carried systems that can be mixed and matched. AMCM is actually 5 different air, surface and sub-surface mine countermeasures systems, all deployed and integrated together in the helicopter.
While the US Navy develops AMCM, and complementary ship-launched systems for use on the new Littoral Combat Ships, new minehunter ship classes like the Ospreys are being retired by the US Navy and sold. All in an era where the threat of mines is arguably rising, along with tensions around key chokepoints like the Suez Canal and Strait of Hormuz.
This article explains the components involved (AQS-20, ALMDS, AMNS, OASIS, RAMICS; COBRA, RMS, SMCM), chronicles their progress through reports and contracts, and provides additional links for research.
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