Nov 15, 2018 04:54 UTC
The Royal Bahraini Air Force is welcoming
its first of two ex-UK Royal Air Force C-130Js. The surplus aircraft were acquired via a government-to-government contract. The 19 year old transport aircraft then underwent an excessive overhaul and maintenance process executed by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group at its Cambridge airport site. The C-130
Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. The J variant reached its IOC with the US military in 2006 and features a number of key improvements that enhance performance and reduce overall operating costs. Matthew Harvey, International Sales Director Military Aerospace for Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group commented: “Delivery of this aircraft sees the first Government to Government transfer of a C-130J and the Kingdom of Bahrain enter the C-130 community as a new operator – we support more than 15 countries on the C-130 platform and the capability it delivers is proven. We look forward to continuing to support the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
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Oct 29, 2018 04:54 UTC
Nigeria is making progress
in its JF-17 fighter jet acquisition program. The country recently signed a $184.3 million contract with Pakistan that covers the production of three PAC/CAC JF-17
Thunder fighters. The Thunder is a joint Chinese-Pakistani project aimed at reduceing Pakistan’s dependence on western firms for advanced fighters, by fielding a low-cost multi-role lightweight fighter that can host modern electronics and precision-guided weapons. The fighter jet
is a single engine, lightweight, multipurpose combat aircraft that costs $20 million per unit. Nigeria earmarked about $54 billion for the JF-17 program in its 2016 and 2018 budgets.
FC-1/ JF-17, armed
The FC-1/ JF-17 Thunder is a joint Chinese-Pakistani project that aimed to reduce Pakistan’s dependence on western firms for advanced fighters, by fielding a low-cost multi-role lightweight fighter that can host modern electronics and precision-guided weapons. It isn’t a top-tier competitor, but it represents a clear step up from Pakistan’s Chinese MiG-19/21 derivatives and French Mirage III/V fighters. This positioning addresses a budget-conscious, “good enough” performance market segment that the West once dominated, but has nearly abandoned in recent decades.
Pakistan has fielded JF-17s in squadron strength, with more on order and a Block II R&D program nearing completion. India’s competing Tejas fighter is overcoming project delays by looking to foreign component sources, but Pakistan and China remain out front with their offering, even though they began their project much later than India did. Pakistan and China have even set up a joint JF-17 marketing agency to promote export sales, which hasn’t paid off as quickly as they had hoped, but it would be unwise to count them out just yet…
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Oct 26, 2018 04:58 UTC
Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, is being contracted to help stem the maintenance burden of the Marine Corps' CH-53 Super Stallion. The contract
is priced at $717.4 million and covers logistics and repair support for 98 components of the CH-53
and MH-53 platforms. H-53 aircraft include the CH-53E Super Stallion medium-heavy transport helicopter that can transport up to 55 troops or 15 tons of cargo, as well as the MH-53E Sea Dragon minesweeper and the MH-53M Pave Low IV CSAR and SOF helicopter. The helicopters have on average a 44:1 maintenance : flying hours ratio. Work will be performed in Cherry Point, North Carolina and Stratford, Connecticut, and is expected to be completed by December 2022.
The U.S. Marines have a problem. They rely on their CH-53E Super Stallion medium-heavy lift helicopters to move troops, vehicles, and supplies off of their ships. But the helicopters are wearing out. Fast. The pace demanded by the Global War on Terror is relentless, and usage rates are 3 times normal. Attrition is taking its toll. Over the past few years, CH-53s have been recalled from “boneyard” storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, in order to maintain fleet numbers in the face of recent losses and forced retirements. Now, there are no flyable spares left.
Enter the Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) program, now known as the CH-53K. It aims to offer notable performance improvements over the CH-53E, in a similar airframe. The question is whether its service entry delay to 2018-2019 will come too late to offset a serious decline in Marine aviation.
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Oct 05, 2018 04:56 UTC
DoD is constructing a new Fighter Alert Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Nordic PCL will construct
the facility for the 199th Fighter Squadron at a cost of $41.5 million. The effort includes
the construction of aircraft alert shelters, alert and maintenance crew quarters, an entry control point and sustainability and energy measures. The 199th Fighter Squadron is a unit of the 154th Wing
and operates the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor
performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the modern Air Force. The construction of the new F-22 Fighter Alert Facility is expected to be completed by December 2021.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
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Sep 25, 2018 04:54 UTC
The Navy is contracting Bell for the delivery of essential parts for its fleet of V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft. The company is being awarded
with two firm-fixed-price delivery orders each valued at $48.4 million. They cover the procurement of V-22 PRGB right- and left hand aircraft assembly parts. The V-22’s
propulsion system's external link consists of dual counter rotating proprotors attached to gearboxes driven by two turboshaft engines. PRBG
, or proprotor gearboxes are an integral part of the Osprey's gearbox system, which also includes one mid-wing gearbox (MWGB), two tilt-axis gearboxes and the emergency reservoir system (ELS).
In March 2008, the Bell Boeing Joint Project Office in Amarillo, TX received a $10.4 billion modification that converted the previous N00019-07-C-0001 advance acquisition contract to a fixed-price-incentive-fee, multi-year contract. The new contract rose to $10.92 billion, and was used to buy 143 MV-22 (for USMC) and 31 CV-22 (Air Force Special Operations) Osprey aircraft, plus associated manufacturing tooling to move the aircraft into full production. A follow-on MYP-II contract covered another 99 Ospreys (92 MV-22, 7 CV-22) for $6.524 billion. Totals: $17.444 billion for 235 MV-22s and 38 CV-22s, an average of $63.9 million each.
The V-22 tilt-rotor program has been beset by controversy throughout its 20-year development period. Despite these issues, and the emergence of competitive but more conventional compound helicopter technologies like Piasecki’s X-49 Speedhawk and Sikorsky’s X2, the V-22 program continues to move forward. This DID Spotlight article looks at the V-22’s multi-year purchase contract from 2008-12 and 2013-2017, plus associated contracts for key V-22 systems, program developments, and research sources.
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Sep 20, 2018 04:50 UTC
Qatar is marking another milestone in its Eurofighter Typhoon acquisition program. The country made its first payment
to BAE Systems on Tuesday, and thus finalises the $6 billion purchase of 24 Eurofighter
jets and 9 Hawk trainers. This deal is the first major defense contract between the Emirate and the UK. In October 2017 the deal was hailed by former UK Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon as “an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence co-operation between our two countries.” The contract also provides for the training of Qatari pilots, facilitated by the British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) No. 12 squadron. This joint UK-Qatari operational squadron will also help to police the skies during he Gulf state’s hosting of World Cup 2022. Deliveries of the fighter aircraft are expected to commence in 2022.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
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Sep 20, 2018 04:48 UTC
Following a report by the FFI defense research institute, the Norwegian government concludes
that it will be able to use its fleet of 14 NH-90 NFHs
for both naval and coastguard operations. This decision reverses an initial plan that would have split the fleet, ultimately assigning 6 helicopters to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions and the remainder for fisheries and border protection missions. The helicopters will need to generate a total of 5,400 flight hours per year. This requirement presumes a good availability of spare parts, a sufficient number of aircraft for maintenance scheduling and a sufficiently large overhaul capacity. The recent FFI analysis suggests, that about 3,900 flight hours will be possible in the first year of operation, albeit at an increased cost of $57 million.
NH90: TTH & NFH
The NH90 emerged from a requirement that created a NATO helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, established NH Industries (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AgustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker) to build the hardware. The NATO Frigate Helicopter was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx or Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NFH design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow.
The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60 Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. Its combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor.
As many business people discover the hard way, however, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset. Certification and acceptance have also been slow, with very few NH90s in service over a decade after the first contracts were signed. Booked orders have actually been sliding backward over the last year, and currently stand at around 500 machines, on behalf of 14 nations.
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Sep 12, 2018 04:54 UTC
L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace is set to support
the Navy's fleet of T-45 Goshawk trainers. The $202.9 million contract modification provides for a mix of maintenance, logistics and engineering support operations needed to keep the trainer aircraft flying. The Goshawk
is used to train US Navy and Marine Corps pilots for conversion into the F/A-18A-D Hornet, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet family, the AV-8B Harrier II Plus, and the EA-6B Prowler. And also serves as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft to future platforms like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants. Work will be performed at multiple Naval Air Stations. They include NAS Kingsville, Texas; NAS Meridian, Mississippi; NAS Pensacola, Florida and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The contract will run through September 2019.
Do you feel lucky…?
The T-45 Training System includes T-45 Goshawk aircraft, advanced flight simulators, computer-assisted instructional programs, a computerized training integration system, and a contractor logistics support package. The integration of all 5 elements is designed to produce a superior pilot in less time and at lower cost than previous training systems.
The US Navy uses the Hawk-based T-45TS system to train its pilots for the transition from T-6A Texan II/ JPATS aircraft to modern jet fighters – and carrier landings. This is not a risk-free assignment, by any means. Nevertheless, it is a critical link in the naval aviation chain. This DID FOCUS article covers the T-45TS, and associated contracts to buy and maintain these systems, from 2006 to the end of FY 2014.
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May 24, 2018 04:52 UTC
Italy’s Piaggio Aerospace has announced that it will deliver its first P.1HH Hammerhead unmanned aircraft system this summer. The first units will be delivered to the United Arab Emirates, the company’s launch customer. The P.1HH Hammerhead
is based on Piaggio’s sleek, Ferrari-approved P180 Avanti II business turboprop. Rapid deployment inside larger aircraft is engineered by adding a quickly detachable joint for the outer wings, and the high aspect ratio laminar wings have been stretched to a 50’10” wingspan. The Hammerhead was initially designed as a surveillance only UAV, but there is more than sufficient space for weapons if customers choose this option. The only key limitation to equipping the drone is its 500 kg payload maximum. Piaggio is already
looking in to the development of its next UAS, designated P.2HH. The P.2HH will bring about increased capability by way of key design changes, namely a larger fuselage structure for increased internal volume and all-new, wider-spanning composite wings for increased endurance. Deliveries of the new system are scheduled for early-2020.
At present, the USA and Israel have strong global leads in the UAV field, especially in the area of plane-sized Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class or larger machines. That lead is eroding quickly, however, as new countries and firms decide that UAVs offer a useful niche with manageable development costs.
Poor US policy is also helping to drive this trend, and the new P.1HH “Hammerhead” UAV is a classic example. Italy is likely to become the initial customer for this high-performance UAV, but the platform itself and the Italian firm that makes it have strong connections to the UAE…
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Apr 17, 2018 04:55 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
India’s indigenous LCA Tejas
fighter has participated
in its first major combat exercise—Gagan Shakti. The exercise is taking place between April 10 to 23 and will see the Indian Air Force will mobilise more than 1100 combat, transport and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft in order to practice the real time scenario, to be conducted day and night, of Combat with the enemy encompassing along Pakistan border in the Western areas and along China border in the Northern areas. During the event, the Tejas is expected to take part in both offensive and defensive roles from a forwarding base and will be tested on its air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities.
India’s Light Combat Aircraft program is meant to boost its aviation industry, but it must also solve a pressing military problem. The IAF’s fighter strength has been declining as the MiG-21s that form the bulk of its fleet are lost in crashes, or retired due to age and wear. Most of India’s other Cold War vintage aircraft face similar problems.
In response, some MiG-21s have been modernized to MiG-21 ‘Bison’ configuration, and other current fighter types are undergoing modernization programs of their own. The IAF’s hope is that they can maintain an adequate force until the multi-billion dollar 126+ plane MMRCA competition delivers replacements, and more SU-30MKIs arrive from HAL. Which still leaves India without an affordable fighter solution. MMRCA can replace some of India’s mid-range fighters, but what about the MiG-21s? The MiG-21 Bison program adds years of life to those airframes, but even so, they’re likely to be gone by 2020.
That’s why India’s own Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project is so important to the IAF’s future prospects. It’s also why India’s rigid domestic-only policies are gradually being relaxed, in order to field an operational and competitive aircraft. Even with that help, the program’s delays are a growing problem for the IAF. Meanwhile, the west’s near-abandonment of the global lightweight fighter market opens a global opportunity, if India can seize it with a compelling and timely product.
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