Oct 19, 2018 04:54 UTC
Boeing will miss the delivery deadline of its first KC-46
tanker aircraft to the US Air Force, which was set for October 27th. US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told journalists
in a round-table at Bloomberg headquarters in New York, that the service and the company are currently trying "to lay down the path forward for delivery and to make sure the deficiencies that have been identified are taken care of in a way that brings that aircraft in as promised.” The missed deadline is the latest in a series of missed deadlines, that include unresolved deficiencies with the tanker's system for midair refueling and a delayed FAA certification. The KC-46 acquisition program sees for the delivery of 179 tankers at a cost of $44.3 billion, with the first aircraft expected to be delivered between April and June 2016.
KC-135: Old as the hills…
DID’s FOCUS articles cover major weapons acquisition programs – and no program is more important to the USAF than its aerial tanker fleet renewal. In January 2007, the big question was whether there would be a competition for the USA’s KC-X proposal, covering 175 production aircraft and 4 test platforms. The total cost is now estimated at $52 billion, but America’s aerial tanker fleet demands new planes to replace its KC-135s, whose most recent new delivery was in 1965. Otherwise, unpredictable age or fatigue issues, like the ones that grounded its F-15A-D fighters in 2008, could ground its aerial tankers – and with them, a substantial slice of the USA’s total airpower.
KC-Y and KC-Z buys are supposed to follow in subsequent decades, in order to replace 530 (195 active; ANG 251; Reserve 84) active tankers, as well as the USAF’s 59 heavy KC-10 tankers that were delivered from 1979-1987. Then again, fiscal and demographic realities may mean that the 179 plane KC-X buy is “it” for the USAF. Either way, the KC-X stakes were huge for all concerned.
In the end, it was Team Boeing’s KC-767 NexGen/ KC-46A (767 derivative) vs. EADS North America’s KC-45A (Airbus KC-30/A330-200 derivative), both within the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress. The financial and employment stakes guaranteed a huge political fight no matter which side won. After Airbus won in 2008, that fight ended up sinking and restarting the entire program. Three years later, Boeing won the recompete. Now, they have to deliver their KC-46A.
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Oct 19, 2018 04:52 UTC
Huntington Ingalls Industries is starting the fabrication of the US Navy's next amphibious assault ship. The Bougainville is the third America-class
amphibious assault ship and first Flight I ship constructed for the Navy. The America-class ships are part of the Navy's Seapower 21 doctrine and replace the already decommissioned Tarawa-class LHAs. They are based on the more modern LHD Wasp Class design, with the LHD’s landing craft and well deck removed in favor of more planes and hangar space. The vessels are able to embark F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and V-22 Osprey
aircraft. "Bougainville represents the next generation of amphibious capabilities and is a key component to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy," James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said in a press release
. "The ability to both support Joint Strike Fighter and put Marines ashore will ensure that the Amphibious Fleet remains agile and capable of expeditionary warfare well into the 21st century." The USS Bougainville (LHA 8) is scheduled to be delivered in 2024.
Modern U.S. Navy Amphibious Assault Ships project power and maintain presence by serving as the cornerstone of the Amphibious Readiness Group (ARG) / Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG). LHA/LHD are a key element of the Seapower 21 doctrine pillars of Sea Strike and Sea Basing, transporting, launching, and landing elements of the Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) via a combination of LCAC hovercraft, amphibious transports and vehicles, helicopters, and aircraft.
Designed to project power and maintain presence, LHA-Replacement (LHA-R, aka. LH-X, and now the New Amphibious Assault Ship or NAAS) large deck amphibious assault ships were slated to replace the US Navy’s 6 LHA-1 Tarawa Class vessels. They are based on the more modern LHD Wasp Class design, with the LHD’s landing craft and well deck removed in favor of more planes and hangar space. While its LHA/LHD predecessors were amphibious assault ships with a secondary aviation element, it’s fair to describe the America Class as escort carriers with a secondary amphibious assault role.
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Oct 18, 2018 04:58 UTC
The Navy is modifying a support agreement with Boeing. The $136.9 million contract modification
extends depot level maintenance and repair services for the P-8A's engines. The contract is supporting Poseidon
aircraft that are flown by the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force. Boeing will also be responsible to conduct field assessments and provide technical assistance during engine changes. The P-8A Poseidon is a heavily militarized derivative of the globally deployed, commercially supported Boeing 737-800 airframe and commercial CFM56-7B27A/3 and CFM56-7B27AE series engines. The high-bypass turbofan engines, are each rated at 120kN. The engine
has logged more than 30 million flight hours and maintains a proven high-reliability figure of merit of 0.003% in-flight shut down rate for every 1,000 hours of flight. Work will be performed at Boeing facilities in Atlanta, Georgia and Seattle, Washington. The contract is expected to run through October 2019.
Maritime surveillance and patrol is becoming more and more important, but the USA’s P-3 Orion turboprop fleet is falling apart. The P-7 Long Range Air ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) Capable Aircraft program to create an improved P-3 began in 1988, but cost overruns, slow progress, and interest in opening the competition to commercial designs led to the P-7’s cancellation for default in 1990. The successor MMA program was begun in March 2000, and Boeing beat Lockheed’s “Orion 21” with a P-8 design based on their ubiquitous 737 passenger jet. US Navy squadrons finally began taking P-8A Poseidon deliveries in 2012, but the long delays haven’t done their existing P-3 fleet any favors.
Filling the P-3 Orion’s shoes is no easy task. What missions will the new P-8A Poseidon face? What do we know about the platform, the project team, and ongoing developments? Will the P-3’s wide global adoption give its successor a comparable level of export opportunities? Australia and India have already signed on, but has the larger market shifted in the interim?
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Oct 18, 2018 04:54 UTC
The Philippine Department of National Defense (DND) is choosing
Saab's JAS-39 Gripen to be the country's next supersonic jet fighter. The Philippine Air Force has been looking for new aircraft to replace its retired fleet of US-made F5 Interceptors for over a decade. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) that the country is opting for the Gripen
due to it being cheaper and less expensive in maintenance cost than the also offered F-16. Furthermore the Gripen is a proven supersonic fighter aircraft that has been in service with several countries in Europe and the Middle East. The Philippine Air Force needs the new multi-role jetfighters to counter ongoing Chinese pressure.
South African JAS-39D
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
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Oct 16, 2018 10:58 UTC
Taiwan's department of defense and the navy are currently evaluating
the MQ-8B Fire Scout. Taiwan's acquisition of the Fire Scout is part of a larger agreement with the US that includes more than ten individual military procurement projects. They include the acquisition of M777 155mm precision guided munitions, P-3C ASW aircraft and improved C-130s. Taiwan's navy will soon need to retire its ageing fleet of MD500 anti-submarine helicopters that have been in service for over 40 years, the Fire Scout together with some MH-60Rs
could be chosen as a replacement. The country's navy needs a UAS that can operate at sea and start from a narrow ship deck. The MQ-8B
could be used as a multi-functional weapon system that undertakes maritime patrol reconnaissance missions, and acts as an anti-ship and anti-mine warfare platform. If Taiwan will opt for the Fire Scout is still unclear because some essential steps in the formal procurement process have not been made. Taiwan plans to spend $646 million on its navy in the coming years.
MQ-8B Fire Scout
A helicopter UAV is very handy for naval ships, and for armies who can’t always depend on runways. The USA’s RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has blazed a trail of firsts in this area, but its history is best described as “colorful.” The program was begun by the US Navy, canceled, adopted by the US Army, revived by the Navy, then canceled by the Army. Leaving it back in the hands of the US Navy. Though the Army is thinking about joining again, and the base platform is changing.
The question is, can the MQ-8 leverage its size, first-mover contract opportunity, and “good enough” performance into a secure future with the US Navy – and beyond? DID describes these new VTUAV platforms, clarifies the program’s structure and colorful history, lists all related contracts and events, and offers related research materials.
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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 24, 2018 04:58 UTC
Boeing is being tapped to arm the Navy's F/A-18E/F
and EA-18G aircraft. The awarded contract modification
is valued at $40.3 million and provides for the procurement of aircraft armament equipment (AAE) in support of 12 Super Hornets and 14 Growlers
. The AAE
program procures, modifies and upgrades common bomb racks, peculiar bomb racks, missile launchers, and provides related support for Navy and Marine Corps platforms. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including - but not limited to - Meza, Arizona; St. Louis, Missouri and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The contract is set to run through November 2022.
The US Navy flies the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, and has begun operating the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare & strike aircraft. Many of these buys have been managed out of common multi-year procurement (MYP) contracts, which aim to reduce overall costs by offering longer-term production commitments, so contractors can negotiate better deals with their suppliers.
The MYP-II contract ran from 2005-2009, and was not renewed because the Pentagon intended to focus on the F-35 fighter program. When it became clear that the F-35 program was going to be late, and had serious program and budgetary issues, pressure built to abandon year-by-year contracting, and negotiate another multi-year deal for the current Super Hornet family. That deal is now final. This entry covers the program as a whole, with a focus on 2010-2015 Super Hornet family purchases. It has been updated to include all announced contracts and events connected with MYP-III, including engines and other separate “government-furnished equipment” that figures prominently in the final price.
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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 07, 2018 04:58 UTC
Northrop Grumman is being tapped
to write the newest software for the USMC's H-1 program
. The company is being awarded with a contract modification that increases its previous ceiling to $89 million dollars. This covers necessary research and development for AH-1Z and UH-1Y System Configuration Sets (SCSs). SCS activities include the design, development and implementation of hardware and software upgrades that are essential to the helicopter's combat readiness. SCS activities for example address key avionics and sensors obsolescence issues and allow for the integration of Target Sight System and advanced weaponry. Work will be performed at three facilities in California, Utah and Maryland. The contract is expected to be completed in April 2020.
UH-1Y and AH-1Z
by Neville Dawson
The US Marines’ helicopter force is aging at all levels, from banana-shaped CH-46 Sea Knight transports that are far older than their pilots, to the 1980s-era UH-1N Hueys and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters that make up the Corps’ helicopter assault force. While the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey program has staggered along for almost 2 decades under accidents, technical delays, and cost issues, replacement of the USMC’s backbone helicopter assets has languished. Given the high-demand scenarios inherent in the current war, other efforts are clearly required.
Enter the H-1 program, the USMC’s plan to remanufacture older helicopters into new and improved UH-1Y utility and AH-1Z attack helicopters. The new versions would discard the signature 2-bladed rotors for modern 4-bladed improvements, redo the aircraft’s electronics, and add improved engines and weapons to offer a new level of performance. It seemed simple, but hasn’t quite worked out that way. The H-1 program has encountered its share of delays and issues, but the program survived its review, and continued on into production and deployment.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This article covers the H-1 helicopter programs’ rationales and changes, the upgrades involved in each model, program developments and annual budgets, the full timeline of contracts and key program developments, and related research sources.
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Aug 27, 2018 04:54 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
The Navy is contracting Technical Systems Integration for the provision of necessary overhaul and modification work on the USMC's Mk-105 minesweeping system. The firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract
has a value of $10.5 million, but also includes options, which if exercises, would bring the face value to roughly $54 million. The Mk-105
Magnetic Influence Minesweeping System is a catamaran hydrofoil which is towed behind the MH-53E
Sea Dragon helicopter. It is used to detect mines that use magnetic sensors to target the metallic hulls of ships before detonating. The twin magnetic tails, consisting of open-electrode magnetic sweeps, are towed behind the sled, detonating mines to clear the water for safe shipping. Work will be performed in Panama City, Florida, and is expected to be completed by August 201
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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