50% remaining – CVN 79 is making progress | Super Tucanos will soar over Afghanistan | Lockheed Martin and Tata are teaming up
The US Air Force needs to overhaul the digital countermeasure receivers installed on the B-2 Spirit bombers. Lockheed Martin will be responsible to repair and modernize a number of those receivers under this $47.5 million firm-fixed-price requirements contract. The B-2 is a low-observable, strategic, long-range, heavy bomber capable of penetrating sophisticated and dense air-defence shields. The plane is equipped with a radar warning receiver, a defensive aids system and the Lockheed Martin AN/APR-50 defensive management system (DMS). The system, in conjunction with the radar warning receiver, detects electronic threats encountered by the B-2 and provides situational awareness to its air crew. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Oswego, New York and is expected to be completed by August, 2023
General Atomics is set to boost the surveillance capabilities of the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The company is being awarded with a sole source indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract that has a value of up to $15 million. The order provides for the integration and testing of items needed for the MQ-9 MALET and MQ-1C Special Operations Forces peculiar. SOCOM flies MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predators. Both are referred to as Medium Altitude Long Endurance Tactical (MALET) platforms. The 160th SOAR introduced the MQ-1C Gray Eagle in November 2013. Both UAVs are enhanced variants of their respective base platforms and are equipped with improved video transmission, infrared modifications and signals intelligence payloads, and are suitable for the “delivery of low collateral damage weapons.” Work will be performed in Poway, California and is scheduled for completion by September 2023.
The Navy’s CVN-21 program hits another milestone. Huntington Ingalls Industries has managed to significantly reduce the construction time of the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. The USS John F. Kennedy is now 14 months ahead of schedule. To make the construction process more efficient, most of each super carrier is assembled in separate modular pieces called superlifts. Each superlift may contain many compartments, spanning multiple decks, and they can weigh anywhere from 80 to 1000 tons. Each superlift undergoes an extensive pre-outfitting process and is then installed in the carrier with the help of massive cranes. The Kennedy comes with a $13 billion pricet-tag and will be christened in late 2019.
Middle East & Africa
The Afghan Air Force will see a massive boost to its counter-insurgency capabilities with the help of appropriated Afghanistan Security Forces funds. Sierra Nevada Corp is receiving a $1.8 billion indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract that provides for the procurement of several A-29 Super Tucano aircraft. Designed to operate in high temperatures and in extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is a highly maneuverable fourth-generation weapons system capable of delivering precision guided munitions. The aircraft is being used by the Afghan Air Force (AAF) for close-air attack, air interdiction, escort and armed reconnaissance. Afghanistan currently has 14 A-29s in its service. Work will be performed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, as well as at Kabul, Kandahar, and Mazari Sharif Air Bases in Afghanistan. The contract will run until December 2024.
Missile canisters for Israel Aerospace Industries’ Arrow-3 system are currently manufactured by Mississippi-based company Stark. Stark recently delivered the first canister to IAI. Israel’s Arrow differs from US systems like THAAD, PAC-3 and SM-3, because it relies on a directed fragmentation warhead instead of “hit to kill” technology. The exoatmospheric, 2-stage Arrow-3 is the latest version of the combat proven system. Arrow-3 is a highly maneuverable missile that can reach more than double the height of existing Arrow-2 interceptors, using a lower-weight missile increases the systems operational range. Stark is one of many US vendors that produce high-end components to Israel’s Arrow, David’s Sling and Iron Dome systems.
Jane’s reports that the French Air Force (FAF) now has two new PC-21 training aircraft. The Pilatus PC-21 is a turboprop advanced trainer that made its maiden flight back in 2002. Airforce Technology notes that the aircraft combines the procurement and operating costs of current-generation turboprop aircraft with a jet training capability. It has a higher wing loading that is more characteristic of a jet and the engine’s power output is scheduled by using a sophisticated power management system. According to Pilatus, the PC-21 was specifically designed and built to train the next generation of military pilots. The PC-21 can be used from day one in flight school, eliminating the need for an elementary flying training fleet. France’s defence procurement agency ordered 17 PC-21s, two full mission and three training simulators from Babcock Mission Critical Services France in December 2016.
The Spanish government halts the delivery of 400 laser-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia, amid fears that the weapons could be used in the fight against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. A defense ministry spokesman confirmed during a radio report that Spain’s Socialist government will return the $10.6 million already paid by the Saudis for the arms under a deal signed by the previous conservative administration. Spain is a longtime commercial ally of Saudi Arabia, and is the fourth-largest provider of military equipment and weapons to the Gulf state.
Lockheed Martin is teaming up with India’s Tata Advanced Systems Limited in an attempt to land a major defense contract. Lockheed and Tata will jointly produce wings for the F-16 fighter jet. Lockheed is currently bidding for a contract to supply the Indian air force with 114 combat planes. The order has an estimated value of more than $15 billion, but comes with the pre-condition that all planes must be manufactured locally. This pre-condition is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship “Make in India” program, devised to foster local industry, create jobs and end the the military’s dependence on imports. Vivek Lall, vice president of strategy and business development at Lockheed, said “if India buys the F-16 then it becomes the center of manufacturing for the global market”. If the deal goes through Lockheed and Tata could open the production line in Hyderabad starting from 2020.
Watch: Boeing is Ready to Take the MQ-25 to the Flight Deck