Austal tapped to start building EPF 14 | Italian F-35s reach IOC | India leases nuclear submarine from Russia
Austal is being contracted to build another Spearhead-class vessel for the US Navy. The cost-plus-fixed-fee undefinitized contract action is priced at $40.4 million and procures long-lead-time material and production engineering services for Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) 14. EPF ships are the go-to platform for fast, intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment. These vessels bridge the gap between low-speed sealift and high-speed airlift. Their capability to access austere, minor and degraded ports make them very suitable for operations in underdeveloped countries. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including – but not limited to – Novi, Michigan; Chesapeake, Virginia and Iron Mountain, Michigan. The US Navy’s 14th EPF is expected to be completed by July 2022.
Northrop Grumman is receiving more money to increase the operational range of four US Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. The awarded contract modification is valued at $21 million and allows for the installation of aerial refueling retrofit kits on four E-2Ds. The retrofit kits comprise a probe and associated piping, electrical and lighting upgrades, and long endurance seats that will enhance field of view in the cockpit and reduce fatigue over longer missions. The aerial refuelling capability effectively doubles the time the Hawkeye can stay in the air conducting its mission. The upgraded version of the Advanced Hawkeye flew for the first time in December 2016. Work will be performed at Northrop’s factory in St. Augustine, Florida and is expected to be completed in June 2020.
Navy is ordering integrated logistics and engineering support services for itself and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers. The contract modification, worth $10.5 million, exercises an option to provide calendar year 2019 support services for the Harpoon and SLAM-ER weapon systems. The GM-84 Harpoon is the US Navy’s sole anti-shipping missile, which competes with MBDA’s Exocet and Saab’s RBS15, among others. The AGM-84K SLAM-ER is an advanced derivative of the Harpoon missile, and competes with precision attack missiles like Lockheed’s JASSM, and European missiles like the EADS Taurus KEPD 350 and the MBDA Storm Shadow. The modification combines purchases for the Navy totalling at $2.5 million and FMS customers in the amount of $7.9 million. Work will be performed at Boeing facilities in St. Louis, Missouri; St. Charles, Missouri; Yorktown, Virginia and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Performance is set to run through November 2019.
Middle East & Africa
MTU America is being tapped to deliver a number of engines and engine components to Israel. The $7.9 million delivery order is part of a US Foreign Military Sale to support Israeli marine vessels. The company will deliver engines and engine components to multiple engine series: ranging from the M90 to SE84. MTU is the largest supplier of engines to the Israeli Navy. Its engines are found a variety of vessel ranging from Sa’ar-5 missile frigates and Dolphin-class submarines. The order is entirely funded through the FMS program. Work will be performed at MTU’s factory in Brownstown Township, Michigan. Work under this contract is scheduled for completion by September 2019.
Italy’s F-35s have reached their initial operating capability, making it the first European country to do so. “This is an important day, since it is the first concrete integration of fourth and fifth generation aircraft,” General Alberto Rosso, the country’s Air Force chief, told media at Italy’s Amendola Air Base, located in the south, it’s home to 8 Italian JSFs. Italy is a Tier 2 partner in the F-35 program, and is host to a European Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) production line in Cameri. The country’s government recently decided that it will slow down its F-35 acquisitions, decreasing its intake from 10 to 6. Base commander Colonel Davide Marzinotto notes that upgrading the aircraft from Block 3i to Block 3F was a key to achieving the jet’s IOC. The Italian Air Force currently intends to buy a mix of A and B variants, 90 F-35s in total.
Poland plans to accelerate its replacement program of the air force’s Soviet-era aircraft. Fighter jets in service include RAC MiG-29 fighters and Sukhoi Su-22 ground-attack aircraft. The replacement program is part of the country’s Harpia requirement which intends to induct new fighter aircraft from 2024 onwards. Warsaw is reportedly looking for an aircraft that can perform a number of combat roles, including certain maritime operations and electronic warfare missions. Flight Global notes that Boeing may offer the F-15 or F/A-18E/F; Leonardo, acting on behalf of the Eurofighter consortium, will offer the Typhoon; Lockheed Martin could pitch the F-16 or F-35, and Saab could promote its Gripen E. The Polish government intends to complete the analytical and conceptual phase of the Harpia program by the end of February 2019, paving the way for starting the procurement process.
The Indian Navy (IN) agrees to lease one Akula-2 class SSN as part of an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed with Russia. The $3.3 billion deal comes with a six-year refit and rebuild availability, that including nuclear reactor replacement and installation of India-made systems on board the vessel. The INS Chakra, India’s other Akula-2 submarine, is on ten-year lease totalling at $2.5 billion. The Chakra serves as a training vessel with secondary operational capabilities. The navy can now choose between two Akula-2 class submarines: the in 1989 launched K-391 Bratsk, or the K-295 Samara, launched in 1994. In August 2018 India successfully launched a nuclear capable SLBM from INS Arihant – India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine – completing the country’s nuclear triad.
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