Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $12.8 million contract modification, which exercises options to procure consumable parts and material in support of the C/KC-130J aircraft for the Marine Corps, Marine Corps Reserves, Coast Guard and the government of Kuwait. The KC-130J is a multi-role tanker aircraft designed and developed by Lockheed Martin to replace the KC-130F/R/T aircraft. The KC-130J is in operation with the US Navy, the US Marine Corps (USMC), the Italian Air Force, the Kuwait Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force. Work will take place in Georgia, California, Kuwait, Japan, North Carolina, Texas, New York and South Carolina. Estimated completion will be by December 2023.
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.
Latest updates[?]: Rockwell Collins won a $103.6 million contract to acquire avionics support services and incidental materials for the UH-60M Black Hawk multifunction display avionics suite for UH-60M mission design series and variant helicopters. UH-60 Black Hawk is a multi-mission helicopter developed by Sikorsky that has been operational in the US Army since 1978. The primary mission of the Black Hawk helicopter is as a troop carrier and logistical support aircraft, but the helicopter can also be configured to carry out medical evacuation, command-and-control, search-and-rescue, armed escort, electronic warfare and executive transport missions. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order. Estimated completion date is September 15, 2025.
US Army HH-60Ms
In July 2012, the US military signed another huge contract with Sikorsky. With production of the Army’s HH/UH-60M, and the Navy’s MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters, all in full swing, there’s no question about the need for future orders. In that environment, multi-year contracts allow efficiencies in purchasing, and security of staffing, throughout Sikorsky’s supply chain. These new helicopter types are also available to Foreign Military Sales class customers, under the American contract’s advantageous pricing and terms. The UH-60M, MH-60S and MH-60R models have already inked export deals, and official requests indicate that more deals are in the pipeline.
The new multi-year 2013-2017 contract could be worth up to $11.7 billion, and follows a 5-year, multi-service “MYP-VII” contract in December 2007. Like its predecessor, it covers UH-60M Black Hawk troop transport and light cargo helicopters, Army HH-60M SAR (Search And Rescue) / MEDEVAC (MEDical EVACuation) helicopters, and the US Navy’s MH-60S and MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
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.
Latest updates[?]: The French Navy has formally retired its last Lynx Mk 4 helicopters, bringing the type’s 42-year Aeronavale service career to a close. A last embarkation at sea was completed from 18 to 23 July 2020, when the frigate Latouche-Tréville , the last remaining F70 Georges Leygues Class frigate in Marine Nationale service, sailed with a detachment of two Lynx helicopters for an operational/training mission off Brittany. Forty Lynx helicopters were purchased by the French Navy from the UK as part of a multinational agreement that also involved Puma and the Gazelle helicopters. Entering service in 1978, the Lynx has fulfilled a wide range of missions including anti-submarine warfare (ASW), maritime surveillance, over-the-horizon targeting, search-and-rescue, vertical replenishment, maritime counter terrorism, special forces operations, and disaster relief. In June 2019, it was announced that the retirement of the Lynx Mk 4(FN) would be brought forward from 2022 to 2020 to save money.
Future Lynx naval
In 2006, Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland received a GBP 1 billion (about $1.9 billion at 02/07 rates) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for 70 Future Lynx helicopters, and began a new chapter in a long-running success story. The Lynx is an extremely fast helicopter that entered service in the 1970s, and quickly carved out a niche for itself in the global land and naval markets. The base design has evolved into a number of upgrades and versions, which have been been widely exported around the world.
In Britain, Lynx helicopters are used in a number of British Army (AH7 & AH9) and Fleet Air Arm (Mk 8) roles: reconnaissance, attack, casualty evacuation & troop transport, ferrying supplies, anti-submarine operations, and even command post functions. The Future Lynx program reflects that, and British government and industry are both hoping that its versatility will help it keep or improve the Lynx family’s global market share. This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the AW159 Lynx Wildcat Program, describing its technical and industrial features, schedules, related contracts, and exports.
Latest updates[?]: Triumph Engine Control Systems won a $7.9 million deal for the overhaul and repair of fuel engine controls for the CH-47 Chinook. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. The CH-47D Chinook helicopter transports troops, artillery, supplies and equipment to the battlefield with other applications ranging from medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drop, search and rescue to disaster relief, firefighting and heavy construction. Work will take place in West Hartford, Connecticut with an estimated completion date of July 31, 2021.
CH-47Fs take off
DII FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record; this FOCUS Article covers the CH-47F/MH-47G Chinook helicopter programs, in the USA and abroad. These helicopters’ distinctive “flying banana” twin-rotor design stems from the brilliant work of aviation pioneer Frank Piasecki. It gives Chinooks the ability to adjust their positioning very precisely, while carrying a large airframe whose load capacity has made it the world’s most popular heavy-lift helicopter. The USA expects to be operating Chinooks in their heavy-lift role past 2030.
The CH-47F looks similar to earlier models, but offers a wide range of improvements in almost every aspect of design and performance. While the related HH-47’s $10-15 billion CSAR-X program win was terminated, delivery orders continue for CH-47Fs and for MH-47G Special Forces configuration helicopters. International orders or formal requests have also come in from Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the UAE, with India and other countries expected to follow.
Latest updates[?]: Longbow Limited won a $164.6 million contract for AH-64E helicopter mast mounted assembly/radar electronics units. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. The AH-64 Apache is a twin-engine, four bladed, multi-mission attack helicopter designed as a highly stable aerial weapons-delivery platform. With a tandem-seated crew consisting of the pilot, located in the rear cockpit position and the co-pilot gunner (CPG), located in the front position. Work will take place in Orlando, Florida. Estimate completion date is December 31, 2022. Foreign Military Sale Funds to Morocco, India, Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates in the full amount were obligated at the time of the award.
AH-64 in Afghanistan
The AH-64 Apache will remain the US Army’s primary armed helicopter for several more decades, thanks to the collapse of the RAH-66 Comanche program, and the retirement sans replacement of the US Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH). Apaches also serve with a number of American allies, some of whom have already expressed interest in upgrading or expanding their fleets.
The AH-64E Guardian Block III (AB3) is the helicopter’s next big step forward. It incorporates 26 key new-technology insertions that cover flight performance, maintenance costs, sensors & electronics, and even the ability to control UAVs as part of manned-unmanned teaming (MUT). In July 2006, Boeing and U.S. Army officials signed the initial development contract for Block III upgrades to the current and future Apache fleet, via a virtual signing ceremony. By November 2011, the 1st production helicopter had been delivered. So… how many helicopters will be modified under the AH-64 Block III program, what do these modifications include, how is the program structured, and what has been happening since that 2006 award? The short answer is: a lot, including export interest and sales.
Latest updates[?]: Sikorsky won a $25.1 million delivery order, which provides non-recurring engineering for the development of logistics support products for the Maintenance Task Analysis Phase II, a provisioning database of technical information to include 2D drawings that supports all operational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance for the CH-53K helicopter. The CH-53K Super Stallion can be fielded from amphibious assault ships for the transportation of personnel and equipment. It will also be used to carry external cargo loads. The aircraft can be operated from austere and remote forward operating bases. Work will take place in Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, France, Georgia, England, New York, New Jersey and Ohio. Expected completion will be in August 2024.
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.
Latest updates[?]: The Royal Netherlands Air Force resumed flights with its NH90 helicopters after they were grounded following the crash of one into the Caribbean Sea on July 19, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten told parliament. Meanwhile, the wreck of the crashed RNLAF NH90 has been found. “Based on the first investigation results it seems unlikely that a technical or mechanical failure of the helicopter was the cause of a crash with an NH-90 helicopter on July 19 in the Caribbean Sea whereby two crew members died,” it was stated in a press release.
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-60Seahawk/ 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.
Latest updates[?]: AHI, Grand Prairie won a $74 million contract modification for 15 UH-72 D-2 production aircraft and options to procure three additional D-2 production aircraft, 18 jettisonable cockpit doors, 14 engine inlet barrier filters and 14 environmental control units. The UH-72A Lakota is the US Army's multi-mission helicopter. Selected in June 2006 following a rigorous evaluation, it combines operational capability, reliability and affordability, fulfilling all of the Army's requirements for speed, range, endurance and overall performance. Work will take place in Grand Prairie, Texas. Estimated completion date is August 31, 2022.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This is DID’s FOCUS Article regarding the US Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program, covering the program and its objectives, the winning bid team and industrial arrangements, and contracts.
The US Army’s LUH program will finish as a 325 helicopter acquisition program that will be worth about $2.3 billion when all is said and done. It aimed to replace existing UH-1 Hueys and OH-58 Kiowa utility variants in non-combat roles, freeing up larger and more expensive UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for front-line duty. In June 2006, a variant of Eurocopter’s EC145 beat AgustaWestland’s AB139, Bell-Textron’s 412EP Twin Huey, and MD Helicopters’ 902 Explorer NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) design. The win marked EADS’ 1st serious military win in the American market, and their “UH-145” became the “UH-72A Lakota” at an official December 2006 naming ceremony.
Eurocopter has continued to field new mission kits and deliver helicopters from its Mississippi production line, while trying to build on their LUH breakthrough. A training helicopter win will keep the line going for a couple more years…
Latest updates[?]: Testing of the AN/APQ-187 Silent Knight terrain-following/terrain-avoidance K-band radar on the US Air Force’s CV-22B has started last month. The flight took place on June 23 at Eglin Air Force Base. Testing is being performed by 413th Flight Test Squadron. The new radar allows special forces to fly their aircraft at 100ft above ground level in straight and turning flight at speed up to 300kts. It is designed to replace the AN/APQ-174, AN/APQ-186 and AN/APQ-170.
US SOCOM MH-47E
Your mission is to fly from 20-100 feet off the ground, at flight speeds, regardless of rain, snow, or dark of night. These journeys often take place within countries that either don’t want you there, or prefer not to admit that you ever were there. Hostile fire is a distinct possibility. You are very probably a special operations pilot, and the most important tool in whatever aircraft you’re flying is something called a terrain following/terrain avoidance (TF/TA) system that helps keep your plane at the requisite height above ground – without hitting trees, ships, and other obstructions.
As the holiday season approaches, US SOCOM is working on a new present for its future pilots. Raytheon Company Precision Attack and Surveillance Systems in McKinney, TX received a Cost Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) contract with a potential maximum value of $164.2 million for system design and development of the Silent Knight Radar (SKR) in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Up to 6 low-rate initial production units are included as an option, and work will be performed in McKinney, TX from Jan. 1, 2007 through Dec. 30, 2013 (H92222-07-C-0041).