Jun 29, 2015 01:00 UTC
The Royal Navy's future carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth
, saw its propulsion system powered up
for the first time at the back-end of last week. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Marine 36MW MT30 gas turbine alternators and four diesel engines, the total power reaches approximately 110 megawatts. The carrier will be equipped with F-35B fighters
, with a joint US-UK team testing the jet on a replica of the Elizabeth-class carrier's ski-jump last week
RN CVF Concept
Britain’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) announced a big leap forward for the Royal Navy: plans to replace the current set of 3 Invincible Class 22,000t escort carriers with 2 larger, more capable Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) ships that could operate a more powerful force. These new carriers would be joint-service platforms, operating F-35B aircraft, plus helicopters and UAVs from all 3 services. Roles could include ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance), force projection and logistics support, close air support, anti-submarine/ anti-surface naval warfare, and land attack.
The scale of the CVF effort relative to Britain’s past experiences means that the program structure is rather complex. It has passed through several stages already, and is being run and conducted within an industrial alliance framework. There is also a parallel international framework, involving cooperation with France on its PA2 carrier as a derivative of the CVF design. This DID FOCUS article covers that structure and framework, ongoing developments, and the ships themselves as they move slowly through construction, and eventual fielding.
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Jun 26, 2015 00:06 UTC
The Government Accountability Office slammed the Air Force's body of evidence and cost projections used to make the case for retiring the A-10
. A report published on Thursday
claims that the Air Force did not fully quantify the economic argument for favoring more advanced multi-role aircraft over the time-tested A-10. Manufacturer Boeing recently floated the idea
of selling refurbished US A-10s to international customers.
A-10A over Germany
The Precision Engagement modification is the largest single upgrade effort ever undertaken for the USA’s unique A-10 “Warthog” close air support aircraft fleet. While existing A/OA-10 aircraft continue to outperform technology-packed rivals on the battlefield, this set of upgrades is expected to make them more flexible, and help keep the aircraft current until the fleet’s planned phase-out in 2028. When complete, A-10C PE will give USAF A-10s precision strike capability sooner than planned, combining multiple upgrades into 1 time and money-saving program, rather than executing them as standalone projects. Indeed, the USAF accelerated the PE program by 9 months as a result of its experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the PE program, and for other modifications to the A-10 fleet. It covers the A-10’s battlefield performance and advantages, the elements of the PE program, other planned modifications, related refurbishment efforts to keep the fleet in the air, and the contracts that have been issued each step of the way.
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Jun 23, 2015 00:10 UTC
The Swedish planned procurement of Saab Kockums A26 submarines
may be delayed owing to inflating cost forecasts, according to Swedish press reports
. The government announced its intention to acquire the boats in March
, allocating $1 billion for the acquisition of two A26 submarines, alongside upgrades to the Swedish Navy's Gotland-class subs.
A26 SOF concept
Submarines remain the ultimate maritime insurance policy, which is why so many countries treat the ability to build or design them as a strategic capability. Sweden is trying to recover from a disastrous pair of assumptions in the early 21st century, and preserve both their industrial capabilities and their country’s defenses.
The narrow, shallow Baltic seas present their own special challenges, but Swedish designs have proven themselves very capable. In order to field their next-generation design, however, Sweden may have to do something unusual: partner with other countries…
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Jun 22, 2015 00:50 UTC
Belgium's fleet of NH90
tactical transport helicopters has achieved Initial Operating Capability, following a procurement contract in 2007. The fourth and final NH90 helicopter was handed to the Belgian military last November
. The country has also ordered four naval variants of the helicopter. France announced last week that it intends to modify
some of its NH90s for Special Forces use, including installing electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) systems and data links.
NH90: TTH & NFH
The NH90 emerged from a requirement that created a NATO helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, established NH Industries (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AgustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker) to build the hardware. The NATO Frigate Helicopter was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx or Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NFH design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow.
The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60 Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. Its combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor.
As many business people discover the hard way, however, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset. Certification and acceptance have also been slow, with very few NH90s in service over a decade after the first contracts were signed. Booked orders have actually been sliding backward over the last year, and currently stand at around 500 machines, on behalf of 14 nations.
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Jun 11, 2015 00:33 UTC
Raytheon has completed lab testing
of the Advanced, Medium Range Air to Air Missile - Extended Range (AMRAAM-ER), a ground-based air defense missile based on the AIM-120D
and designed to be integrated with the Kongsberg NASAMS
launcher. These latest tests validate that the missile can be integrated with the launcher, which will team with the AN/MPQ-64F1 Improved Sentinel radar
to provide a highly capable air defense system. Raytheon is also taking the motor from its Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile
and integrating it into the AMRAAM-ER to improve the missile's range and engagement ceiling.
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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Jun 09, 2015 00:30 UTC
Raytheon has been awarded a $10.6 million contract
to provide testing equipment for assessing the Small Diameter Bomb II
on the FA-18E/F Super Hornet
aircraft, including jettison test vehicles and instrumented measurement vehicles, with these presumably to assess the future viability of using the SDBII with Super Hornets. The SDBII recently passed Milestone C
, facilitating its progression to low rate initial production by manufacturer Raytheon.
The US Navy flies the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, and has begun operating the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare & strike aircraft. Many of these buys have been managed out of common multi-year procurement (MYP) contracts, which aim to reduce overall costs by offering longer-term production commitments, so contractors can negotiate better deals with their suppliers.
The MYP-II contract ran from 2005-2009, and was not renewed because the Pentagon intended to focus on the F-35 fighter program. When it became clear that the F-35 program was going to be late, and had serious program and budgetary issues, pressure built to abandon year-by-year contracting, and negotiate another multi-year deal for the current Super Hornet family. That deal is now final. This entry covers the program as a whole, with a focus on 2010-2015 Super Hornet family purchases. It has been updated to include all announced contracts and events connected with MYP-III, including engines and other separate “government-furnished equipment” that figures prominently in the final price.
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Jun 08, 2015 00:24 UTC
Huntington Ingalls was awarded $4.3 billion
through two contracts on Friday, with the shipyard handed a $3.35 billion detail design and construction contract for CVN-79, a member of the Navy's new class of super-carriers
. The subsidiary of Newport News Shipyard also received a $941.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract in support of CVN-79, also known as the USS John F. Kennedy. The new class of carriers was recently criticized
for being too expensive, with Huntington Ingalls the sole manufacturer of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The John F. Kennedy is the second ship in the class, under construction with a cost-cap of $11.5 billion
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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Jun 02, 2015 00:01 UTC
Japan has requested
four E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
early warning and control aircraft from the US, following a decision in November
to procure the aircraft along with V-22 Ospreys and Global Hawk UAVs. The Japanese already operate the E-2C version of the Hawkeye, with this potential sale worth an estimated $1.7 billion.
Northrop Grumman’s E-2C Hawkeye is a carrier-capable “mini-AWACS” aircraft, designed to give long-range warning of incoming aerial threats. Secondary roles include strike command and control, land and maritime surveillance, search and rescue, communications relay, and even civil air traffic control during emergencies. E-2C Hawkeyes began replacing previous Hawkeye versions in 1973. They fly from USN and French carriers, from land bases in the militaries of Egypt, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan; and in a drug interdiction role for the US Naval Reserve. Over 200 Hawkeyes have been produced.
The $17.5 billion E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program aims to build 75 new aircraft with significant radar, engine, and electronics upgrades in order to deal with a world of stealthier cruise missiles, saturation attacks, and a growing need for ground surveillance as well as aerial scans. It looks a lot like the last generation E-2C Hawkeye 2000 upgrade on the outside – but inside, and even outside to some extent, it’s a whole new aircraft.
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May 19, 2015 01:58 UTC
Indian firms are pushing
for a greater slice of the M777
contract pie awarded last week
. The prospect of a much larger order than the 145-gun contract - potentially reaching around a thousand guns if the Indian Army replaces all its current legacy systems - would be boost to the Indian defense industry, with manufacturer BAE System likely to increase the Indian work share of a larger future contract.
M777: dragon’s breath
The M777 ultra-lightweight towed 155mm howitzer has an integrated digital fire control system, and can fire all existing 155mm projectiles. Nothing new there. What is new is the fact that this 9,700 pound howitzer saves over 6,000 pounds of weight by making extensive use of titanium and advanced aluminum alloys, allowing it to be carried by Marine Corps MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft or medium helicopters, and/or airdropped by C-130 aircraft. The new gun is a joint program between the US Army and Marine Corps to replace existing 155mm M198s, and will perform fire support for U.S. Marine Air Ground Task Forces and U.S. Army Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.
Britain is the USA’s M777 LWH co-development partner, but Canada became the first country to field it in combat, thanks to an emergency buy before their 2006 “Operation Archer” deployment to Afghanistan. Customers now include the US Army & USMC, Australia, and Canada – but not Britain.
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