As the U.S. decides who will be president for the next four years a review of procurement spending indicates that the Trump Administration has shown little difference in appropriations versus previous administrations, despite claims to have radically increased spending.
The upshot is that the last four years saw about $2.9 in spending appropriated in inflation-adjusted dollars, which was larger than Barak Obama’s second term, but less than the Obama Administration’s first term.
President Trump’s campaign speech claims of spending during his term relative to previous terms are incorrect. President Trump claimed this year that military spending in the 90s “used to be ‘million.’ And then, about 10 years ago, you started hearing ‘billion.’ And now you’re starting to hear ‘trillion,’ right?” Of course, U.S. defense spending hit the billions in the late 1940s, and recent spending has been on pace with spending from the decade previous.
The Trump Administration has done little to change the often-criticized Pentagon trend of investing more money in fewer pieces of equipment, such as fighter jets that cost a quarter billion dollars each when fully kitted out. The navy is running fewer ships that each cost more. Previous administrations did no better in reversing this trend, of course.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden stated multiple times that he has no plans to reduce military spending, but indicated a desire to refocus military budgets and planning on “near-peer” powers Russia and China, while attempting to recover some of the goodwill of allies tested by the Trump Administration’s active skepticism in cooperation with allies, especially the NATO alliance.
Latest updates[?]: General Dynamics Mission Systems won a $17.5 million deal for wide band radomes. The deal provides for production of wide band radomes supporting Air Force F-16 aircraft outfitted with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars. AESA is a phased array system in which the beam of signals can be steered electronically in any direction, without physically moving the antenna. The antenna consists of an array of an array of small antennas each with a separate feed. The beam is steered by electronically by controlling the phase of the radio waves transmitted and received by each of the multiple radiating elements in the antenna. Work will take place in Marion, Virginia and expected completion date is by August 30, 2032.
AN/APG-79 AESA Radar
The AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar began life as a replacement. Initial F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet production batches installed Raytheon’s all-weather, multimode AN/APG-73, but the APG-79 has intrinsic technical features that offered revolutionary increases in capability, reliability, image resolution, and range.
Unlike the APG-73 that equipped the first Super Hornets, the APG-79’s AESA array is composed of numerous solid-state transmit and receive modules that are fixed in place, eliminating a common cause of breakdowns. To move their beams, they rely on electronic changes in each module’s transmissions, creating useful interference patterns in order to aim, focus and shape their output. Other system components include an advanced receiver/exciter, ruggedized commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) processor, and power supplies. With its open systems architecture and compact COTS parts, it changes what both aircrews and maintenance staff can do with a fighter radar – and does so in a smaller, lighter package.
Latest updates[?]: Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) is under pressure from the military to complete the Initial Operational Test & Evaluation of its Hai Chien 2 anti-air missile by this year. The Navy wants to start limited production of the missile from March next year so that the Tuo Chiang Class corvettes can have an anti-air capability. Unfortunately for NCSIST, the institute has run into problems integrating the missile with air defense radar. To meet the deadline by next year, it has to start shipborne testing in the next few months. So far, the missile has only been fired at sea once in 2014. Another effort to have the missile fired from the Mk 41 VLS is also delayed as the indigenous Hsun Lien naval combat systems is behind schedule.
Despite China’s ominous military buildup across the strait, key weapons sales of P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, Patriot PAC-3 missiles, and diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan had been sabotaged by Taiwanese politics for years – in some cases, since 1997. The KMT party’s flip-flops and determined stalling tactics eventually created a crisis in US-Taiwan relations, which finally soured to the point that the USA refused a Taiwanese request for F-16C/D aircraft.
That seems to have brought things to a head. Most of the budget and political issues were eventually sorted out, and after a long delay, some major elements of Taiwan’s requested modernization program appear to be moving forward: P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, UH-60M helicopters, Patriot missile upgrades; and requests for AH-64D attack helicopters, E-2 Hawkeye AWACS planes, minehunting ships, and missiles for defense against aircraft, ships, and tanks. These are must-have capabilities when facing a Chinese government that has vowed to take the country by force, and which is building an extensive submarine fleet, a large array of ballistic missiles, an upgraded fighter fleet, and a number of amphibious-capable divisions. Chinese pressure continues to stall some of Taiwan’s most important upgrades, including diesel-electric submarines, and new American fighter jets. Meanwhile, other purchases from abroad continue.
Latest updates[?]: Viasat won a maximum $8.9 million deal for AV-8B spare parts. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 US Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a three-month contract with no option periods. Using military service is Navy. The Harrier II Plus (AV-8B), manufactured by BAE Systems and Boeing, is a VSTOL fighter and attack aircraft operational with the US Marine Corps, the Spanish Navy and the Italian Navy. The Harrier II Plus extends the capabilities of the Harrier with the introduction of a multi-mode radar and beyond-visual-range missile capability. Location of performance is California, with a September 30, 2020, performance completion date.
AV-8B Harrier II
The USA’s AV-8B Harrier IIs have gone from the most accident-prone fighter aircraft in the fleet to a much safer jet whose hover capability and LITENING surveillance and targeting pods proved extremely effective in the urban warfare scenarios of Iraq. In 2007, the USA, Italy and Spain signed a Harrier Integrated Supply Support (HISS) performance-based support deal, worth up to $400 million.
Is this a step forward in terms of contracting for support? Is the British contracting model of comprehensive through-life support on its way across the Atlantic? The answers are yes, and not exactly.
Latest updates[?]: Sputnik reports that Russia is testing the Su-57 in an unmanned mode with the pilot just monitoring the overall system in the cockpit. The Sukhoi Su-57 is a fighter jet that performs the functions of a strike aircraft and a fighter and is capable of destroying all types of air, ground and naval surface targets. The Russian Defense Ministry placed an order for 76 Su-57 jets during the Army-2019 International Military and Technical Forum.
PAK-FA at MAKS-2011
(click to view larger)
Russia wants a “5th generation” fighter that keeps it competitive with American offerings, and builds on previous aerial and industrial success. India wants to maintain technical superiority over its rivals, and grow its aerospace industry’s capabilities. They hope to work together, and succeed. Will they? And what does “success” mean, exactly?
So far, preliminary cooperation agreements have been signed between Sukhoi/United Aircraft Corporation, for a platform based on Sukhoi’s T50/PAK-FA design. This DID FOCUS article consolidates specific releases and coverage to date, and adds analysis of the program’s current state and future hurdles.
Latest updates[?]: General Atomics won a $25.2 million delivery order, which procures Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) Depot Planning Phase II efforts, including depot level logistics support analysis, engineering support for logistics, supportability analysis, maintenance planning, reliability maintenance, technical manual development and engineering support as it directly correlates to depot planning for the USS Gerald Ford (CVN 78) and USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). More than 99 percent of the work on this contract will be performed in San Diego, with one-tenth of one percent of work on the contract taking place in Tupelo, Mississippi. Expected completion date is February 2022.
As the US Navy continues to build its new CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class carriers, few technologies are as important to their success as the next-generation EMALS (Electro-MAgnetic Launch System) catapult. The question is whether that technology will be ready in time, in order to avoid either costly delays to the program – or an even more costly redesign of the first ship of class.
Current steam catapult technology is very entertaining when it launches cars more than 100 feet off of a ship, or gives naval fighters the extra boost they need to achieve flight speed within a launch footprint of a few hundred feet. It’s also stressful for the aircraft involved, very maintenance intensive, and not really compatible with modern gas turbine propulsion systems. At present, however, steam is the only option for launching supersonic jet fighters from carrier decks. EMALS aims to leap beyond steam’s limitations, delivering significant efficiency savings, a more survivable system, and improved effectiveness. This free-to-view spotlight article covers the technology, the program, and its progress to date.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin Corp. won a $67.6 million contract modification for upgrading Singapore’s F-16s. The aircraft are equipped with with Advanced Medium Range air-to-air missiles linked to a DASH-3 Mounted Sight. The deal modifies a contract awarded in 2015 with options that, if exercised, would bring the total value of the contract to $980.4 million. Upgrades for 60 of Singapore's F-16C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcon fighter jets were approved earlier that year through the US Foreign Military Sales program. Work will take place in Fort Worth, Texas and in Singapore. Estimated completion date is June 30, 2023.
In September 2013, Singapore confirmed its much-anticipated intent to upgrade its F-16C/Ds with improved radars and other changes. By January 2014, that was a published DSCA request. There’s no firm timeline just yet, but the proposal is part of wider-ranging military improvements underway in Singapore. It’s also seen as an early example to many other F-16 operators around the world, who respect Singapore’s as a discerning buyer and may wish to do the same thing.
That decision is expected to launch at least 2 fierce competitions. One will be between Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems. The other will be between Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
Latest updates[?]: Vedomosti is reporting that Vietnam has placed an order for at least 12 Yak-130 jet trainers. The contract is reportedly worth $350 million. The article added that the jets will be assigned to the 915th aviation training regiment. Previously, at the International Air and Marine Exhibition (LIMA-2017), the Vietnamese high-level military delegation had visited the site of the Yak-130 combat training ground. This is the type of aircraft that has been rumored by the Russian and international media that Vietnam is planning to buy. The Yak-130 combat trainer was selected as the winner of the trainer competition of the Voyenno Vozdushnyye Sily, Russian Federation Air Force, in April 2002. The aircraft is also actively marketed for export by Yakovlev, the Irkut company, and by Rosoboronexport. The Yak-130 is of classical swept-wing and empennage monoplane design and light alloy construction with carbon-fibre control surfaces. Kevlar armour protection is fitted to the engines, cockpit and avionics compartment.
Russia’s air force (VVS) aged badly in the wake of the Cold War, and the recapitalization drought soon made itself felt in all areas. One of those areas involved advanced jet trainers, which form the last rung on the ladder before assignment to fighters. Russia’s Czech-made L-29 and L-39 trainers were left with questionable access to spare parts, and a competition that began in the 1990s finally saw Yakolev’s Yak-130 collaboration with Italy’s Finmeccanica beat the MiG-AT in 2002. Unfortunately, Russian budget realities allowed orders for just a dozen early production Yak-130s, even as the VVS’s L-39 fleet dwindled drastically.
The Yak-130’s multi-mission capabilities in training, air policing, and counterinsurgency make it an attractive option for some customers beyond Russia. Initial export successes helped keep Yak-130 production going in those early years, mostly via a confirmed order from Algeria (16). In December 2011, however, Russia finally placed a significant order that got production started in earnest. Russia continues to promote the aircraft abroad, and now that the plane’s future is secure, interest and orders are picking up…
Latest updates[?]: Northrop Grumman won a $217.2 million modification, which provides for Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payload operation and support for payload equipment and services. Under the contract, Northrup Grumman will support payload equipment and services for the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, a US Air Force relay and gateway system carried by the EQ-48 and Bombardier E-11A aircraft. The node enables real-time information flow across the battlespace in line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight operations. Work will take place in San Diego and at undisclosed overseas locations, with an expected completion date of January 23, 2021.
In late June 2009, the USAF awarded Northrop Grumman Defense Mission Systems Inc., of San Diego, CA an urgent requirement contract for its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) System. Under current plans, Northrop Grumman will help the USAF deploy BACN in up to 4 “E-11” Bombardier BD-700 Global Express (see also BACN-modified photo) ultra-long-range business jets, and in up to 4 EQ-4B Global Hawk Block 20 UAVs, for sustained deployment through 2015.
BACN is an airborne communications relay that extends communications ranges, bridges between radio frequencies, and “translates” among incompatible communications systems. That may sound trivial, but on a tactical level, it definitely isn’t.
Latest updates[?]: The indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (N) Mk1 has made a successful arrested landing on the India's biggest warship INS Vikramaditya on January 11. "With this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck based fighter operations have been proven," Indian Navy Spokesperson Vivek Madhwal told IANS. This will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the twin engine deck based fighter for the Indian Navy, he said. The Navy has created an aircraft carrier setting on the ground at its air base in Goa to operate these deck-based fighters, which use ski jump to take off and are recovered by arrestor wires on a carrier or STOBAR (short takeoff but arrested recovery) in Navy parlance.
Adm. Gorshkov: Before.
This free-to-view DID Spotlight article offers an in-depth look at India’s troubled attempt to convert and field a full-size aircraft carrier, before time and wear force it to retire its existing naval aviation and ships.
India faced 2 major challenges. One was slipping timelines, which risked leaving them with no aircraft carriers at all. The other challenge involved Vikramaditya’s 3-fold cost increase, as Russia demanded a re-negotiated contract once India was deeper into the commitment trap. The carrier purchase has now become the subject of high level diplomacy, involving a shipyard that can’t even execute on commercial contracts. A revised deal was finally signed in March 2010, even as deliveries of India’s new MiG-29K naval fighters got underway – but now Russia still has to make good. This article tracks the changes India is making to its new aircraft carrier, key characteristics, and a full history of contracts and events affecting this carrier and its planned aircraft contingent.