Jan 31, 2017 00:58 UTC
- Northrop Grumman has remained coy on their participation in the USAF T-X trainer competition, with CEO Wes Bush remaining non-committal to the program despite having designed and developed a prototype. Bush’s tone shocked some analysts and has led some to speculate that the company would rather lose out on the $16 billion competition than have a price war eat away at its bottom line. Northrop recently won the development contract for the USAF’s next long-range bomber, the B-21 Raider, a greater priority.
- In other T-X news, Raytheon’s withdrawal from collaboration with Leonardo boiled down to pricing disagreements. The team was set to offer a variant of the Italian firm’s M-346 trainer, however Raytheon wanted to drop the cost of the trainer by a third. Disagreements within the camp initially surfaced last October in a row over control of the program, but the final straw seems to have come over the ultimate cost of the procurement.
- A US Navy contract has tasked Charles Stark Draper Laboratory with Trident D5 MK 6 guidance system production. Valued at $53 million, work carried out under the deal will include the performance of several services for the submarine-launched ballistic missile including failure verification, testing, repairs, recertification of inertial measurement units electronic assemblies, and electronic modules. The Trident II D5 program will replace the current Polaris and Poseidon systems currently used by the US and UK armed forces.
Middle East & North Africa
- In what has been a rather hectic week for the White House (and those reporting on it), US Senator John McCain has spoken out against President Trump’s recent travel ban. The measure, according to McCain, will prevent Iraqi F-16 pilots from training with Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing. McCain stated that he has expressed his concerns with director of the Central Intelligence Agency, David Petraeus, saying, “I talked with Gen. Petraeus last night, he is very concerned about the special visas for those interpreters whose lives are literally in danger as we speak.”
- The MiG-35 has been selected by the Russian military to act as their new light multi-purpose fighter. Flight tests on the 4++ generation jet commenced last Thursday and it is expected that serial production of the fighter will commence in 2019. Developed on the basis of the serial-produced MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-29M/M2 aircraft, the MiG-35 will have eight weapons bay points (up from six), and the potential for the integration of new weapon technologies such as lasers.
- Israel and the US government have granted Israeli manufacturer Rafael permission to discuss the David’s Sling air-defense system with Poland as part of a wider export push for co-developed interceptor systems. The announcement comes as the anti-ballistic system was recently cleared during a fifth round of trials. Tel Aviv has been developing multi-tiered missile defense system with US and local industry for some years now, with their Iron Dome, Arrow and David’s Sling systems all being offered to foreign customers.
- North Korea has expressed concern over “mad-cap drills” conducted by US and South Korean marines during recent military drills. Pictures of shirtless marines on the ski slopes of Pyeongchang, site of next year’s Winter Olympics, seemingly worried and/or confused Pyongyang, where up to over 300 marines from the USMC and RoKMC practiced hand-to-hand combat drills. The annual drills will run between Jan. 15 and Feb. 3.
- Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has completed their first swap out of foreign-made equipment on their Hawk MK132 advanced trainer aircraft. Designated as Hawk-i, the jet had imported mission computer and data transfer units upgraded with Indian-made components and includes additional capabilities such as digital map generation. Other additions include a secured voice communication and data link capability by integration of Softnet Radio.
South Korea completes deployment of upgraded AH-64E helicopters:
Jan 30, 2017 00:58 UTC
- US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work has been tasked by new boss Jim Mattis to do a comparison analysis of the F-35C and F/A-18 Super Hornet. The investigation’s spec tasks Work to do a review “that compares F-35C and F/A-18 E/F operational capabilities and assesses the extent that F/A-18 E/F improvements (an advanced Super Hornet) can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative.” In his war on costs, the Trump Administration has suggested the development of an advanced Super Hornet in order to get a better deal on defense procurements.
- Boeing has won a $2.1 billion contract for the provision of 15 KC-46 aerial refueling aircraft to the US Air Force. The contract, awarded on Friday, is in addition to the initial $4.2 billion contract awarded by the USAF to develop and test the aircraft, and an earlier $2.8 billion award for 19 planes. So far, the fixed-price contract has incurred cost-over runs of $2.4 billion, including a recent $201 million after-tax charge that Boeing announced on Wednesday.
Middle East & North Africa
- After meeting President Trump on Friday, UK PM Theresa May was in Turkey for trade and defense talks with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Among the discussions was the inking of a deal for the $125 million to help Turkey build its new TF-X fighter jet. BAE Systems will collaborate with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) on the program and it is hoped by London that it will be the first of many defense deals with Ankara. The deal has been criticized by human rights organizations, citing Erdogan’s recent crackdown and alleged human rights abuses.
- Israel and the US have completed a fifth series of tests on the David’s Sling missile defense system. The Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) collaboration was tested at the Yanat Sea Range in Israel, with the system’s Stunner interceptors successfully engaging its targets. The David’s Sling project is for defense against large-caliber rockets and short-range ballistic missiles.
- The Serbian government is being gifted eight MiG-29 fighters as well as two Buk air-defense systems from Belarus. While the delivery of the systems are on a no-pay basis, Belgrade will have to pay overhaul and modernization costs for the aging machinery. Bi-lateral talks between both governments are also underway for the purchase of the P and V variants of the S-300 long-range missile defense system, currently owned by Belarus.
- Airbus has signed a $37.5 million one-year lease extension with the German military for its Heron 1 UAV. Used by the German military as a reconnaissance drone in Afghanistan, the Heron 1 has been active in combating Taliban insurgents since 2010, which will now be extended until February next year. Airbus DS Airborne Solutions operates the Heron 1 aircraft system in a consortium with the manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries.
- India’s quest for new carrier-borne fighter jets has kicked off, with a Request for proposals (RFP) released for 57 aircraft. The 57-page RFP outlines significant parameters such as air defense, surface strike, reconnaissance and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as the ability to to fly further via buddy refueling. Indigenous offerings have been ruled out with likely contenders to be Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale M and the MiG-29K.
- New Delhi is also looking at boosting air-defense capabilities and is currently soliciting for vendors to supply approximately 200 missiles for their 2K12 self propelled air defense system. India is working closely with Russian industry to extend the range of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. Based on Russia’s P-800 Oniks (Yakhont) cruise missile, the BrahMos can be launched via vessels, submarines, aircraft, and on land.
Inside Russia’s Don-2N early warning radar site:
Jan 30, 2017 00:55 UTC
Boeing has won a $2.1 billion contract
for the provision of 15 KC-46
aerial refueling aircraft to the US Air Force. The contract, awarded on Friday, is in addition to the initial $4.2 billion contract awarded by the USAF to develop and test the aircraft, and an earlier $2.8 billion award for 19 planes. So far, the fixed-price contract has incurred cost-over runs of $2.4 billion, including a recent $201 million after-tax charge that Boeing announced on Wednesday.
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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Jan 27, 2017 00:58 UTC
- The USAF’s T-X Trainer competition has taken a sudden turn, with Raytheon and Leonardo announcing that they will no longer be collaborating on the program. As a result, Leonardo now has to decide whether to go it alone with the T-100 variant of its Aermacchi M-346 advanced trainer without a US partner, find another US collaborator, or pull out of the $16.3 billion competition altogether. Whatever will happen next?
- A US Army Stryker armored vehicle fitted with a 30mm cannon has been tested for the first time. Testing of the cannon, part of a series of upgrades designed to increase the mission capabilities of US Stryker vehicles, was undertaken in order to verify its combat abilities and make future determinations on the vehicle’s armament. The Pentagon’s decision to upgun a number of its Stryker’s – nicknamed the Dragoon – was taken in response to Russia’s 2015 invasion of Ukraine to close a ground vehicle capability gap, according to service leaders. The Army plans to field first of 83 Dragoons by the end of Fiscal 2018.
- Missile giant Raytheon has revealed a 1.4 percent fall in quarterly revenue, sparked by a drop in sales by its units in charge of missile systems and tracking and navigation sensors. Speaking on the slump, CEO Tom Kennedy said that a renewed campaign against militants of the Islamic State by the Trump administration could boost sales of its precision guided munitions. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman has forecast lower 2017 earnings per share below Wall Street estimates due to lower segment operating margins, which some analysts attributed to costs related to some of its new programs.
Middle East & North Africa
- Textron Systems has been contracted by the USAF to provide maintenance training for the Afghan Air Force. The $9.3 million deal orders the provision of maintenance training to Afghan crew and includes logistics support for 24 aircraft operated by Kabul. Work will be performed in Afghanistan and is expected to be completed by the end of January, 2018.
- Romania has made an additional order with General Dynamics European Land Systems for its Piranha III wheeled armored vehicles. This is the country’s fifth order with GDEL for the vehicle, which has been in service with its armed forces since 2006. Announcing the order, GDEL did not give any further information on the procurement in relation to unit numbers or cost.
- The Croatian government has laid out their defense spending plans for 2017, with a focus on coastal patrol vessels, new howitzers, as well as continuing procurement of second-hand OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopters from the US. An additional $57 million has been added over last year’s figures, representing a 7% increase on funds in 2016. Other defense projects for this year include medium-lift helicopter overhauls, ordnance procurement, and M-84 main battle tank upgrades.
- Taiwan’s Minister of National Defense has announced his government’s ambition to pursue an indigenous stealth fighter once Taipei completes work on its advanced jet trainer. Feng Shih-kua, a former Air Force pilot, said that the Rep. China Air Force’s new aerospace research center will play an important role in the development of the fighter. Military officials later added that the jet will rely on its TFE-1042-70 afterburning turbofan as its power plant.
- A state-run Chinese newspaper has reported that Beijing is testing a new long-range air-to-air missile capable of downing early warning aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft. The munition’s development runs alongside what is described as an “ambitious modernization program” led by President Xi Jinping, including stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and the testing of anti-satellite missiles. While the air force has yet to comment on this new missile, pictures posted on the service’s website, showed a J-11B fighter carrying a large, unidentified missile during drills last year.
What could have been for the USAF: The M-346:
Jan 26, 2017 00:58 UTC
- It seems likely that the KC-46A aerial tanker will not meet its aggressive delivery schedule, with manufacturer Boeing stalling deliveries to the USAF until late 2017. Boeing had already moved its delivery schedule from March to August. The revelations were found in an annual report by the DoD’s Director of Operational Test & Evaluation, which stated “execution of the current schedule assumes historically unrealistic test aircraft fly and re-fly rates.”
- Developments on the new Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) have been given the thumbs up from the US Navy and will be installed on board the next USS John F. Kennedy. Designed to stop carrier-borne aircraft, the decision was made following a thorough review by an AAG Resource Requirements Review Board (R3B) last November. The 350th trap of an F/A-18E Super Hornet fighter was completed in December and the AAG team continues multisite test operations with the next type/model/series and the E-2/C-2 platform.
- Raytheon has been selected to provide SM-6 missiles and spares, to be deployed on AEGIS-equipped cruisers and destroyers. Valued at $235 million, the award comes following several testing and milestone events for the weapon that verified the weapon’s capability to intercept incoming medium-range ballistic missile attacks. This contract represents funding for the fourth year of full-rate production for the multi-mission missile and deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.
- Lockheed Martin has announced that it is close to signing a deal with the F-35 Joint Program Office on the next batch of the Joint Strike Fighter. The announcement was made by CEO Marilyn Hewson to investors on Tuesday, where the company also disclosed that it beat revenue estimates for fourth-quarter 2016/17. Hewson added that the defense giant plans to “drive affordability” in 2017, a reference to ongoing discussions between President Trump and the defense industry to get a “better deal” on government contracts.
Middle East & North Africa
- A rift between the Austrian and Turkish governments has resulted in the scrapping of a collaboration deal on the Altay Main Battle Tank. AVL List, an Austrian engine firm, had previously signed a deal with Turkish counterpart TUMOSAN in 2015 to provide technical support for the engine that the Turkish company had been commissioned to develop for the Altay. However, Ankara insisted that it should finally have the intellectual property rights and export licenses for each part of the engine, something Vienna refused. Matters were made worse following criticisms from the Austrian government (and many others in Europe), in regards to Turkey’s democratic values, following the purge of some 100,000 government employees as a result of the government’s dragnet of conspirators and sympathizers behind last summer’s failed coup. The deal was effectively killed last November, when the Austrian Parliament decided to impose an arms embargo on Turkey. It remains unknown if the decision will affect the time schedule for the Altay’s production.
- Germany is pushing ahead with a plan to procure a new short-range missile defense system, with a decision on the plan due to be made soon. Contenders for the program include the Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System (NASAMS) and a surface-launch variant of the IRIS-T missile made by German manufacturer Diehl Defense. Berlin’s new program is a result of efforts by NATO members to increase defense spending amid pressure from US President Donald Trump for NATO allies to up their contributions to the alliance. Almost $500 million has been earmarked for the initial stages of the sale, but could see extras, such as lasers and radars, added at a later date.
- Pakistani authorities have announced the successful first test of their second nuclear-capable Ababeel ballistic missile in a month. The missile has a maximum range of 1,367 miles, and is capable of carrying multiple warheads using the Multiple Independent Re-entry Vehicle technology. Pakistan’s latest demonstration follows that of their Babur-III launch on January 9, and a number of test-firings conducted by neighboring India, which have contributed to escalating tensions between the historically hostile nations.
- The competition to replace Indonesia’s aging fleet of F-5E Tiger fighters is still open, according to the country’s new Air Force head. Contenders for selection include the Russian Sukhoi Su-35, the US F-16 Block 60 Viper, and Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen, with the eventual winner expected to supply 16 fighters in a deal costing in the region of $1.5 billion. All 16 of Indonesia’s F-5E/F fighter jets have been retired since late 2005, and under reserve for future use.
Pakistan claims successful Ababeel ballistic missile test:
Jan 26, 2017 00:55 UTC
Raytheon has been selected
to provide SM-6
missiles and spares, to be deployed on AEGIS
-equipped cruisers and destroyers. Valued at $235 million, the award comes following several testing and milestone events for the weapon that verified the weapon's capability to intercept incoming medium-range ballistic missile attacks. This contract represents funding for the fourth year of full-rate production for the multi-mission missile and deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.
SM-2 Launch, DDG-77
(click to view larger)
Variants of the SM-2 Standard missile are the USA’s primary fleet defense anti-air weapon, and serve with 13 navies worldwide. The most common variant is the RIM-66K-L/ SM-2 Standard Block IIIB, which entered service in 1998. The Standard family extends far beyond the SM-2 missile, however; several nations still use the SM-1, the SM-3 is rising to international prominence as a missile defense weapon, and the SM-6 program is on track to supplement the SM-2. These missiles are designed to be paired with the AEGIS radar and combat system, but can be employed independently by ships with older or newer radar systems.
This article covers each variant in the Standard missile family, plus several years worth of American and Foreign Military Sales requests and contracts and key events; and offers the budgetary, technical, and geopolitical background that can help put all that in context.
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