In April 2006, Thailand made an official request to buy up to 6 MH-60S Seahawk helicopters, making them the 1st country to request this updated naval utility rotorcraft. They offer a number of advances over previous SH-60B/F machines, but they replace those helicopters’ anti-submarine equipment with advanced day/night surveillance sensors, ground-attack weapons capability, and a more explicit utility/cargo role.
The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $246 million, but Thailand became the type’s 1st export customer with a smaller 2007 order for just 2 machines. So, why the MH-60S? And what’s the status of the order?
June 24/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] the United Arab Emirates’ formal request for 5 UH-60M Black Hawk VIP helicopters. The move will bring the UAE’s UH-60M fleet to 45 helicopters, which breaks down as at least 17 standard transports, up to 23 modified and armed AH-60M Battlehawks, and 5 VIP helicopters. It will also keep pace with Jordan’s monarchy, which recently bought a pair of UH-60M VIP machines. With nearby Bahrain as a UH-60M customer, and Saudi Arbia submitting a major buy request for the type, the UH-60M is quickly becoming the Gulf Cooperation Council’s referenceable standard.
The estimated cost is $217 million, but actual costs will depend on negotiated contracts. The complete request involves…
The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners.” Now the challenge is agreeing on production phase membership and arrangements, to be followed by initial purchase commitments in 2009-2010.
This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports. Recent events and major programs shifts have been added to this article, in order to ensure maximum continuity and context. 2012 developments are covered in this follow-up article.
General Electric Aviation of Cincinnati, OH received a $50.5 million contract modification which will provide newly redesigned High Pressure Compressor and High Pressure Turbine assemblies, newly redesigned Aging Engine Upgrade Components, initial provisioning spares, and new technical data to support the F110-GE-100/-129 jet engines’ Service Life Extension Plan (SLEP) and Aging Engine Upgrade initiatives. At this time, the entire amount has been committed by the 448th SCMG/PKBC at Tinker Air Force Base, OK.
The F110-GE-100 engine flies in USAF F-16C/D Block 30 and Block 40 aircraft. The F110-GE-129 engine, which first entered service in 1992, equips F-16 Block 50 aircraft, which is the most recent USAF production version. Although Pratt & Whitney’s F100 was the initial engine for all F-16s, its maintenance and performance problems escalated to the point that the USAF began buying the newly-developed GE F110 engine instead, which featured more reliability and higher thrust. It also required a larger air inlet, hence the “bigmouth” F-16 designs from Block 30/32 onward. The resulting competition has spurred both manufacturers to improve their products over the years, and Pratt & Whitney’s F100-PW-229 has scored a number of recent wins among international F-16 customers, but most serving USAF F-16s fly with GE’s F110 engine.
As the 2005 contract date implies, this award is just one of a long series. The F110 SLEP upgrade uses technology from the CFM56-7 commercial engine core in use by modern 737s, 3D aero technology, and a redesigned flow path with changes to the combustor and high-pressure turbine. GE believes these changes provide up to a 25% improvement in cost-per-flying-hour, a significant time-on-wing increase, and elimination of special inspections, and estimates the potential life-long savings at approximately $1 billion for 800 F110 engines (FA8104-05-C-0053, PO0018).
On Sept 30/10, the US DSCA announced [PDF] Spain’s formal request to buy 6 refurbished SH-60F Seahawk helicopters listed as “Excess Defense Articles” by the US Navy. The refurbished helicopters would include the required inspections and modifications, 13 T700-GE-401C engines (12 installed and 1 spare), and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is $155 million, and engine maker General Electric in Lynn, MA would be the prime contractor if a contract is signed, though SH-60F manufacturer Sikorsky will certainly be involved.
While the DSCA says that Spain already has 12 SH-60s in its inventory, it doesn’t mention an important point: they’re SH-60Bs. In the US Navy’s division of labor, the SH-60F traditionally handles the advanced dipping sonar, and performs utility and rescue tasks, while the SH-60B uses its radar for wider anti-submarine sweeps, and is armed with a wider array of weapons beyond torpedoes and door guns. That division of labor is being erased by the MH-60R, which can handle all surface attack and anti-submarine roles by itself. Its MH-60S counterpart will have a wide variety of available weapons and fittings, for roles from combat search and rescue, to surface attack, and even counter-mine roles. Spain evidently looked at its options, and decided to pursue refurbished machines, rather than buying new.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require 2 contractor representatives in Spain for familiarization training for a period of 2 years. U.S. Government and contractor representatives will also be required to participate in program management and technical reviews, training, and maintenance support for 1 week intervals, semi-annually, for a period of 3 years. See also Flight International.
GE, United Technologies win Phase II contracts. (July 6/10)
It might not be a Vulcan mind-meld, but it’s pretty close. The Department of Defense’s technology brain trust, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has given 4 contractors the go-ahead to develop the advanced Vulcan combination engine system for hypersonic flight.
The Vulcan engine will integrate a traditional jet turbine engine that performs well at low speeds, with a constant volume combustion (CVC) engine that performs well at higher speeds. The combination will help the vehicles go from standing starts to Mach 4 or so, where hypersonic engines can take over. DARPA’s ultimate goal is to design, build, and fly Mach 6+ re-usable, air-breathing, turbine-based hypersonic vehicles.
What current engines will the Vulcan program modify? What are the program’s goals? What is its structure? DID has answers…
In May 2009, Egypt made its official request to buy another 10 AH-64D Apache Block II attack helicopters. These helicopters would join 35-42 AH-64s already operated by the Egyptian Air Force, which have already been upgraded to AH-64D Block I status. The estimated cost for this order is up to $820 million, but a DSCA request is not the same thing as a formal contract. The exact details any follow-on sales are always a matter for future negotiations, unless Congress blocks the sale within 30 days.
They did not, and initial contracts are beginning.
General Electric Engine Services in Cincinnati, OH received a $9.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for the overhaul and upgrade of 20 T700-GE-701C turbine engines to the T700-GE-701D configuration applicable to the UH-60 Blackhawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters.
The US Army’s program to upgrade its fleet of UH-60A and UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters to the UH-60M configuration includes upgrading the aircraft’s T700-GE-700 engines using GE kits to the T700-GE-701D configuration…
On Nov 14/06, a US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notice hinted that Saudi Arabia was about to become the first F-15 operator to switch its Pratt & Whitney F100 jet engines for General Electric’s F110, as part of a wider-ranging upgrade program for Saudi Arabia’s multi-role air superiority and strike fighters.
There’s often a long delay between the DSCA announcement and a contract, let alone delivery. Saudi Arabia’s F-15S variant did become the first fleet to perform a re-engining switch, however, and other upgrades are also underway.
General Electric Aircraft Engines business group in Lynn, MA received a $326 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0088), exercising an option for 80 F-414-GE-400 engines and modules and 2 spare engines for the US Navy.