Army wants THAAD and Patriot connected by 2020 | Pentagon offers F-15 lease to curb Taiwan’s talk of F-35 | Navy wants pricing on two-ship carrier buy
- Shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls has been asked by the US Navy for a detailed pricing on the cost of two new Ford-class aircraft carriers as the service looks to see what possible saving could be made on a multi-vessel buy. Over the last several months the Navy said it has been working to estimate the total savings associated with procuring CVN 80, the USS Enterprise, and CVN 81, still unnamed, as a two-ship buy. Construction of the USS Enterprise began May 2016. The service said it would spend $43 billion in total to build the first three ships in the class, including the USS John F. Kennedy and the USS Enterprise. Speaking on the possibility of multi-ship buys, Huntington CEO Mike Peters said that “the most effective way to reduce cost of aircraft carriers is to take a multi-ship purchase approach and build them every three to four years.” However, James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research development and acquisitions, warned that the two-ship contract was “dependent on significant savings that the shipbuilding industry and government must demonstrate.”
- Lockheed Martin announced Monday, March 19, the successful test-firing of a production-configuration version of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM). The missile was launched from a B-1B bomber from the 337th Test Squadron at the Point Mugu sea range in California. This is the sixth consecutive test of the precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile, which is based on the successful Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER). The LRASM is expected to be integrated on the US Air Force’s B-1B in 2018 and on the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F in 2019.
- Bell Helicopters will provide the US Navy with airframes in support of the MQ-8 Fire Scout program. The work order falls under a $9.8 million contract awarded last Friday, March 16, and calls for the delivery of three Bell 407 variant commercial airframes, as well as associated Bell 407 unique components, and preservation and storage associated with the system. Work will take place at Ozark, Alabama, with a contract completion date set for December 2020. Developed by Northrop Grumman, the newer MQ-8C Fire Scout variant is the latest unmanned autonomous helicopter being developed for the Navy for reconnaissance, aerial fire support and other naval missions. It is larger than its predecessors, using the Bell 407 airframe rather than the Sikorsky 330 and 330 airframes used on previous variants.
- The US Navy has exercised an option to a previously awarded contract to Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems division for additional Trident II (D5) missile production and deployed system support. Awarded by the Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, the contract is valued in excess of $522 million. Work will be carried out at multiple locations across the US, including Magna, Utah, Sunnyvale, California, and Cape Canaveral, Florida. Contract completion is scheduled for September 30, 2022.
Middle East & Africa
- Qatar and Kuwait will receive multiple tactical vehicles from Oshkosh Defense as part of a deal announced by the Pentagon last Friday. Under the terms of the agreement, which falls under a $15.3 million under the terms of a firm-fixed-price foreign military sales contract, the firm will provide both governments with M985A4 guided missile transporters with cranes, an M985A4 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, Multiple-Launch Rocket System resupply trucks, M984A4 HEMTT wreckers, M983A4 HEMTT tractors and training services for the vehicles. Work on the contract will occur in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and is expected to be complete in May 2019.
- The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) has selected a Leonardo-led team to enter a bid for its Air Support to Defence Operational Training (ASDOT) program. In an announcement by Leonardo on March 16, the team—now named Red Aces—expects to see a training package developed that will be operational beyond 2035 and is expected to benefit UK industry by leveraging services already provided to the government, as well as through a yet-to-be-disclosed aggressor aircraft selection. Also in the Red Aces team are the turnkey tactical airborne training provider Top Aces—formerly Discovery Air Defence Services—and Inzpire, who provide large-scale live and synthetic operational training.
- While images of F-35Bs vertically landing on Taiwan may be still a distant dream for its lawmakers, Washington in the meantime seems to have suggested an alternative lease agreement to supply second-hand F-15C Eagle fighters to the island nation. The proposition surfaced on Taiwanese media on Monday, March 19, with additional outlets suggesting that the offer may be a compromise solution between exporting a new fighter to Taiwan, like an advanced Strike Eagle derivative, or even the F-35—risking the ire from neighboring China—and denying Taiwan any additional upgrades in tactical air power fleet—something China would love. Leasing the fighters may also prove a more cost effective fighter option and could allow Taipei to procure more aircraft than if they were to buy them outright. Any aircraft provided would have at least half of their lifespan remaining and could be subject to structural upgrades and modifications to avionics and radar prior to transfer. Previous lease agreements include 40 T-38 advanced jet trainers and Knox-class warships.
- Defense News reports that the US Army is seeking to tie up its THAAD and Patriot air defense units with a common network within a two year framework, as part of efforts to establish a more effective, layered approach to air and missile defense (AMD). The effort is being led in South Korea, where both systems are currently deployed and working side by side. If successful, THAAD’s AN/TPY-2 radar will enable the Patriot missile units to expand their battlespace. It had been previously thought by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) that such integration would not be possible for another four or five years, however, a re-prioritization has allowed for this timeframe to be at halved. The deployment of THAAD to the Korean peninsula in 2017 occurred during a period of high tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile weapon program. It received much criticism from China, who said its powerful radar was capable of penetrating its territory.
- Shoot me clover—A rather surreal St. Patrick’s Day video released by the US Army:
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