Aug 23, 2017 04:59 UTC
An industry team led by Lockheed martin has successfully completed
builder's trials of the future Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ship
USS Little Rock. Conducted on Lake Michigan, LCS 9 Little Rock went through a series of tests and evaluations of its primary systems and propulsion, including reaching flank speeds of over 40 knots. Four Freedom-class LCS vessels have been delivered to the Navy by Lockheed, with the Little Rock and eight others in various stages of production. They will serve alongside the larger Independence-class LCS produced by Austal USA.
Trimaran LCS Design
(click to enlarge)
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.
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Aug 23, 2017 04:58 UTC
Israel has begun an evaluation process
for domestically developed systems and aerial refuelling procedures for its fleet of F-35i 'Adir'
fighter aircraft. As part of the trials, aerial refuelling tests have been conducted from Tel-Nof air base using one of the service's Boeing 707 tankers. The tests are an integral part of the Israel Air Force's work towards declaring the initial operational capability (IOC) for its Joint Strike Fighters.
In an exclusive June 2006 interview, Israeli Air Force (IAF) chief procurement officer Brigadier-General Ze’ev Snir told Israeli media that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was a key part of their IAF recapitalization plans, and that Israel intended to buy over 100 of the fighters to replace their fleet of over 300 F-16s.
Since then, however, the expected cost of that purchase has more than doubled. Israel’s F-35 contract had to deal with that sticker shock, with issues like the incorporation of Israeli technologies and industrial work, and with major schedule slips in the core F-35 program. Israel was even contemplating delaying its purchase, which would have removed an important early adopter for the Lightning II. In the end, however, Israel decided to forego other fighter options, and became the first foreign buyer of operational F-35s. So, how is the “F-35i Adir” shaping up?
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Aug 14, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Air Force has taken a F-22 Raptor out of storage
at Edwards Air Force Base and is expected to be returned to flying status by the end of the year. The aircraft in question, serial number 91-4006, is an engineering, manufacturing and development model aircraft with a Block 10 avionics configuration. In preparation for its first flight, the Raptor is currently undergoing a $25 million upgrade to a Block 20 avionics standard. A total of eight test and 187 operational aircraft were produced by Lockheed Martin for the USAF before the program was mothballed in 2012.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
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Aug 14, 2017 04:58 UTC
Rolls Royce Marine North America has won a $27.3 million US Navy contract
to provide parts and engineering services on power plants for DDG 1000 Zumwalt destroyers
. The agreement includes item orders, mounting equipment and other services for DDG 1000 gas-turbine generators, which provide the destroyer's main source of electric power. Work will be conducted in Indianapolis, Ind., and Walpole, Mass., and is scheduled for completion by September 2022. The power plants are designed for future weapons systems like electromagnetic railguns and lasers, which would require huge amounts of electricity to operate.
67% of the fleet
DID’s FOCUS Article for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyer” program covers the new ships’ capabilities and technologies, key controversies, associated contracts and costs, and related background resources.
The ship’s prime missions are to provide naval gunfire support, and next-generation air defense, in near-shore areas where other large ships hesitate to tread. There has even been talk of using it as an anchor for action groups of stealthy Littoral Combat Ships and submarines, owing to its design for very low radar, infrared, and acoustic signatures. The estimated 14,500t (battlecruiser size) Zumwalt Class will be fully multi-role, however, with undersea warfare, anti-ship, and long-range attack roles. That makes the DDG-1000 suitable for another role – as a “hidden ace card,” using its overall stealth to create uncertainty for enemy forces.
True, or False?
At over $3 billion per ship for construction alone, however, the program faced significant obstacles if it wanted to avoid fulfilling former Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter’s fears for the fleet. From the outset, DID has noted that the Zumwalt Class might face the same fate as the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-expensive SSN-21 Seawolf Class submarines. That appears to have come true, with news of the program’s truncation to just 3 ships. Meanwhile, production continues.
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Aug 07, 2017 04:55 UTC
The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has brought
a A400M Atlas
tactical airlifter to this year's Mobility Guardian exercise in the US, the first time the aircraft has participated in such exercises. Based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash, it will participate in nine missions during the exercise, which aims to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments, and involves over 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners. The RAF plans to induct 22 A400Ms into its tactical and strategic airlift fleet, complimenting the C-17 Globemaster III currently in operation.
A400M rollout, Seville
Airbus’ A400M is a EUR 20+ billion program that aims to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the full size military transport market. A series of smart design decisions were made around capacity (35-37 tonnes/ 38-40 US tons, large enough for survivable armored vehicles), extensive use of modern materials, multi-role capability as a refueling tanker, and a multinational industrial program; all of which leave the aircraft well positioned to take overall market share from Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules. If the USA’s C-17 is allowed to go out of production, the A400M would also have a strong position in the strategic transport market, with only Russian AN-70, IL-76 and AN-124 aircraft as competition.
Airbus’ biggest program issue, by far, has been funding for a project that is more than EUR 7 billion over budget. The next biggest issue is timing, as a combination of A400M delays and Lockheed’s strong push for its C-130J Super Hercules narrow the field for future exports. This DID Spotlight article covers the latest developments, as the A400M Atlas moves into the delivery phase. Will Airbus’ 3rd big issue become its own customers?
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Jul 31, 2017 04:58 UTC
Electromagnetic testing of the KC-46A Pegasus
tanker has been completed
by a joint team involving Boeing, the USAF, and the Naval Air Systems command, moving the aircraft closer to its first delivery. Testing tool place at Naval Air Station Patuxent, Md. electromagnetic pulse laboratory and the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif, which aimed to assess whether the aircraft could safely operate when confronted by the electromagnetic fields generated by equipment like radar. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in March had deemed the tests as one of the two key risk factors that could keep Boeing from meeting its delivery goals. However, Boeing has stated that the timing of the electromagnetic tests would not push back other key milestones and that the company still intends to deliver the first KC-46A this year.
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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Jul 21, 2017 04:56 UTC
Saab's JAS-39 Gripen has been pulled
out of Belgium's fighter competition, leaving Brussels with the choice of either the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, or Lockheed Martin F-35. While Sweden's FMV defence materiel administration had initially touted the Gripen as a cost-effective solution that can easily fill the operational requirements required by Belgium, the request included the requirement that the delivering nation also provides extensive operational support—something that would require a change in both Swedish foreign policy and political mandate. As a result, Sweden and the FMV choose notto submit an answer to the Belgian request.
South African JAS-39D
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
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Jul 18, 2017 04:59 UTC
Airbus Helicopters has received a $35.2 million contract modification
for the supply of parts and logistical support for the US Army's UH-72 Lakota
light utility helicopter. The deal includes orders for spare parts and logistical support to account for higher flying hours by the UH-72 fleet than originally projected. Work will be conducted at Grand Prairie, Texas, with a scheduled completion date set at December 31, 2017. $35.2 million in 2017 Army operations and maintenance funds have been obligated for the project.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This is DID’s FOCUS Article regarding the US Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program, covering the program and its objectives, the winning bid team and industrial arrangements, and contracts.
The US Army’s LUH program will finish as a 325 helicopter acquisition program that will be worth about $2.3 billion when all is said and done. It aimed to replace existing UH-1 Hueys and OH-58 Kiowa utility variants in non-combat roles, freeing up larger and more expensive UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for front-line duty. In June 2006, a variant of Eurocopter’s EC145 beat AgustaWestland’s AB139, Bell-Textron’s 412EP Twin Huey, and MD Helicopters’ 902 Explorer NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) design. The win marked EADS’ 1st serious military win in the American market, and their “UH-145” became the “UH-72A Lakota” at an official December 2006 naming ceremony.
Eurocopter has continued to field new mission kits and deliver helicopters from its Mississippi production line, while trying to build on their LUH breakthrough. A training helicopter win will keep the line going for a couple more years…
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Jul 14, 2017 04:59 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
US Special Operations Command's C-130J
aircraft are scheduled to receive new electronic warfare systems
aimed to enhance the aircrafts' survivability equipment to detect, identify, locate, deny, degrade, disrupt and defeat various threats. BAE Systems will conduct the work, installing its Radio Frequency Countermeasure (RFCM
) system—designed to be integrated on the USAF's AC-130J Ghostrider and MC-130J Commando II aircraft—over the next 30 months in a $67 million contract modification. The contract’s total value, including all options, is expected to exceed $300 million.
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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