Apr 15, 2009 04:35 UTC
Eurofighter & Meteor
European missile manufacturer MBDA plans adjustments to its long-range Meteor active radar guided air-to-air missile, to make it capable of deployment on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). The MBDA Meteor will compete for orders with Raytheon’s medium range AIM-120C AMRAAM active radar missile, though the Meteor possesses longer range and several additional technological advances.
This move expands the Meteor’s original designated market, which was the Dassault Rafale, EADS Eurofighter Typhoon, and Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen fighter systems. MBDA’s move is interesting for a number of reasons, ranging from the convergence of different fighter system design philosophies to what it implicitly says about their projections re: future fighter exports.
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Apr 13, 2009 18:32 UTC
On March 26/08, the USA’s GAO audit agency released report #GAO-09-466T:
“Defense Management: Key Challenges Should be Addressed When Considering Changes to Missile Defense Agency’s Roles and Missions.” Key excerpt:
“To date, MDA has spent about $56 billion and plans to spend about $50 billion more through 2013 to develop an integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System [including] defensive components such as sensors, radars, interceptors, and command and control… While MDA’s exemption from traditional DOD processes allowed it to quickly develop and field an initial ballistic missile defense capability, this approach has led to several challenges… (1) Incorporating Combatant Command Priorities… (2) Establishing Adequate Baselines to Measure Progress… (3) Planning for Long-Term Operations and Support…”
The US GAO has changed its name from “Government Accounting Office,” but the mentality remains. That does not make its reports wrong by any means, but it is worth taking into account as a consistent lens. See the report’s main page, full PDF version, and accessible text versions online.
Apr 13, 2009 16:42 UTC
F-15C launches AMRAAM
Flight International reports that Lockheed is proposing a $137 million program to adapt its Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles for use on the USAF’s F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters. The missiles would reportedly be used to help the fighters kill ballistic missiles during the boost phase or mid-course phase, instead of hoping for a Patriot’s usual final phase intercept. Patriot PAC-3 missiles also have significantly longer range than the AIM-120 AMRAAM, creating the potential for wider coverage against cruise missiles and other aerial threats. In order to use an AIM-104 Patriot air-launched hit-to-kill (ALHTK) effectively, however, the F-15s would need to add IRST(Infra-Red Search & Track) capability to track enemy missiles outside the atmosphere.
With Boeing’s Airborne Laser in limbo and Ground-based Midcourse Defense missiles headed for a freeze, Lockheed Martin hopes that the US Missile Defense Agency may look to cheaper air-launched solutions, in order to extend ABM coverage while enhancing other military capabilities.
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Apr 13, 2009 12:19 UTC
(click to view larger)
Work is beginning on a $9.9 million Unmanned Anti-Submarine Warfare Support Facility, which will be located at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Newport. A World War II era building, originally built as a steam plant on the waterfront of Narragansett Bay, will be converted to support integrated testing and evaluation of USVs (Unmanned surface Vehicles) and UUVs (Unmanned Undersea Vehicles) on the Narragansett Range. The instrumented range will be used for testing UUVs and USVs, swimmer delivery systems, payloads, torpedoes, targets, underwater surveillance, swimmer defense systems and related undersea technologies.
The architectural and engineering design portion of the project was awarded March 6/09 to AECOM Services, Inc. of Roanoke, VA. Construction is expected to begin in May 2010, with the building’s new tenants expecting to move in around November 2011. US Navy release.
Apr 12, 2009 16:05 UTC
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) recent awarded Enhanced Protection Systems Ltd. (EPS) in Derbyshire a GBP 7 million ($10.3 million equivalent) contract for about 75 of their Springer vehicles. That works out to about GBP $93,300 per vehicle, or about $137,300. The government expects to receive them all by summer 2009.
The Springer is specifically designed for arid desert conditions, and their 1,000 kg/ 2,200 pound capacity far exceeds that of the Kawasaki ATVs recently ordered by US Special Forces. That’s because the Springers will fill a very different role for the British, who use much larger Jackal ATVs for all-terrain Special Forces mobility. Instead, the Springers will be specifically focused on moving combat supplies from helicopter landing sites into British forward operating bases.
From a public perspective, the program has 2 key issues.
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Apr 12, 2009 15:40 UTC
Mule 3010 4×4
UV Country Inc., of Houston, TX received a maximum $28.4 million firm-fixed-price, 5-year indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for 1,625 Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicles – an average of about $17,500 per vehicle. U.S. Special Operations Command will place orders as needed between April 10/09 – April 9/14 (H92222-09-D-0013).
ATVs have become popular with hunters and outdoor types, for their ability to carry gear into rugged, remote areas. Special Forces troops, who have the same needs, have happily adopted and adapted these small off-road vehicles to their own uses. UV Country carries Kawasaki products. The Mule 4010 4×4 weighs about 1,430 pounds, and can carry up to 1,330 pounds of gear on rear and roof platforms. The firm also carries Kawasaki’s Teryx “Recreational Utility Vehicle,” which has a very similar size and weight, but offers less cargo capacity (500 pounds, no roof rack) in exchange for an uprated engine that improves its mobility and towing capacity (1,300 pounds vs. 1,200).
Apr 08, 2009 16:56 UTC
On April 6/09, in his FY 2010 budget preview, American defense secretary Robert M. Gates said that:
“…in this request, we will include funds to complete the buy of two navy destroyers in FY10. These plans depend on being able to work out contracts to allow the Navy to efficiently build all three DDG-1000 class ships at Bath Iron Works in Maine and to smoothly restart the DDG-51 Aegis Destroyer program at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi. Even if these arrangements work out, the DDG-1000 program would end with the third ship and the DDG-51 would continue to be built in both yards.
If our efforts with industry are unsuccessful, the department will likely build only a single prototype DDG-1000 at Bath and then review our options for restarting production of the DDG-51. If the department is left to pursue this alternative, it would unfortunately reduce our overall procurement of ships and cut workload in both shipyards.”
Well, that was fast…
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Apr 07, 2009 21:09 UTC
Software is a growing slice of military production budgets, and it isn’t always found in obvious places. On the ground, BAE Systems’ FMTV medium trucks seem prosaic, but a look under the hood reveals an astonishing level of software code in each vehicle. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, a big winner in the Pentagon’s FY 2010 budget recommendations, considers the aircraft’s code to be one of its most important – and most secret – aspects. In the Navy, a movement toward open electronic architectures is culminating in the DDG-1000 “destroyer” and its Total Ship Computing Environment – an area recently identified by the US GAO audit office as a significant program risk.
The commercial world is moving toward Agile Programming models, in part as a solution to its perennial problems with late and over-budget releases. For various reasons, that could prove to be a difficult transition in the defense industry.
(click for presentation)
Former Microsoft and Corbis development manager David Anderson offers an intriguing way forward, using an approach that builds on key methods already in use within the defense industry: Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints, Kanban, and Lean business. David’s results were impressive. His QCon 2009 presentation is enlightening, as he explains the systems used, his approach to implementation, and the results.
Apr 07, 2009 11:29 UTC
Northrop Grumman has disposed of 2 lawsuits involving the US government by setting them off against each other.
The first matter involved a lawsuit filed by Northrop Grumman in December 1996 against the U.S. government for recovery of uncompensated costs, investments and a reasonable profit related to the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile (TSSAM) program that the government canceled for convenience in 1995. Under the terms of the agreement, the Department of Justice valued Northrop Grumman’s TSSAM claims at $325 million.
The second matter involved a U.S. Department of Justice claim related to certain microelectronics parts produced by the former TRW Inc., prior to its acquisition by Northrop Grumman in 2002, based on allegations contained in a False Claims Act case. Under the terms of the agreement, the Department of Justice valued its claims regarding the microelectronics matter at $325 million.
The net is, of course, zero. Note that in Q3 2006, the company had recorded a legal provision for settlement and legal expenses related to the microelectronics claim. Northrop Grumman release.
Apr 06, 2009 23:42 UTC
Gates & Cartwright
On April 6/09, US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates did something unusual: he convened a press conference to announce key budget recommendations in advance. That’s a substantial departure from normal procedure, in which the Office of the President’s submitted budget is the first official public notification of key funding decisions. Gates’ departure was done with full official approval, however, as the Pentagon and White House begin their efforts to convince Congress.
That’s likely to be a difficult task. Congress (the US House of Representatives and Senate) has full budgetary authority within the American system, subject only to the threat of Presidential veto. In the past, this has kept a number of programs alive despite the Pentagon’s best efforts to kill them. Sometimes, that stubbornness has improved America’s defense posture. Sometimes, it has done the opposite. For good or ill, that process has now begun. Again.
Gates’ announcement, made in the presence of Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright, USMC, aims to make significant changes to America’s defense programs. Several would be ended or terminated. Others would be stretched out over a longer period. Still others will gain resources.
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