In June 2012, the US DSCA announced South Korea’s formal request to buy up to 367 CBU-105D/B Wind Corrected Munition Dispenser (WCMD) Sensor Fuzed Weapons and associated parts, equipment, logistical support and training, for an estimated cost of up to $325 million.
South Korea has been moving to modernize its air force, from F-15K Slam Eagle fighter buys, to talk of modernizing its F-16 fleet, to the imminent introduction of its own FA-50 lightweight fighter, in partnership with Lockheed Martin. Its latest move would buy a formidable vehicle and boat-killing weapon that could be used from any of these fighters. So, what is a WCMD?
In July 2010, Vincent Pavlak, a partner in KPMG LLP’s Transactions & Restructuring service group, contributed an article to Defense Industry Daily, titled, “Lessons from the Automotive Supply Chain: Surviving a Downturn.” At the time, the automotive industry was enduring one of the worst economic periods in history, and there were concerns that the aerospace and defense industry could suffer a similar fate. Ultimately, the automotive suppliers that endured the downturn have emerged stronger, due in part to critical efforts undertaken during the crisis. Meanwhile, the aerospace and defense industry has experienced a post-crisis divergence of paths, with commercial aerospace companies enjoying a resurgence parallel to the automotive industry while the defense sector has suffered declining revenues and prospects. Despite differing outlooks now facing each industry, supply chain enhancement presents opportunities for increased competitive advantage for aerospace, defense and other industries across varying economic cycles.
Part 1 looked at supply chain issues and imperatives for aerospace & defense (A&D). Part 2 looks at some implications, trends, and opportunities.
The Royal New Zealand Air Force has made an interesting choice. They’re about to begin replacing their 12 locally-designed CT-4E basic trainers, and 4 leased Beechcraft King Air multi-engine conversion trainers, with 11 Textron Beechcraft T-6C basic/intermediate trainer turboprops. The NZ$ 154 million package includes the planes, 2 CAE operational simulators, computer-based training courseware, and customized RNZAF pilot training syllabi.
It’s an interesting platform choice, since the RNZAF has no high performance aircraft to train for.
In December 2006, Australia bought a new tactical UAV to go with the Israeli Skylark mini-UAV. Australian Minister of Defence Senator Hill said the Government had agreed to the A$ 145 million (USD $109 million) UAV project to provide its Army with a high precision day and night surveillance and targeting capability.
The initial winner was IAI’s short-range I-View Mk. 250 UAV, but that didn’t last. Issues with the platform led to contract cancellation, and the use of leased solutions as interim options on the front lines. JP129 didn’t go away, though. Australia was still interested in owning a tactical UAV solution, and events in Afghanistan upped the urgency level. Finally, an August 2010 deal got them their JP129 UAVs.
The rise of modern terrorism, sharply increasing costs to recruit and equip professional soldiers, and issues of energy security, are forcing 2 imperatives on modern armies. Modern militaries need to be able to watch wide areas for very long periods of time. Not just minutes, or even hours any more, but days if necessary. The second imperative, beyond the need for that persistent, unblinking stare up high in the air, is the need to field aerial platforms whose operating costs won’t bankrupt the budget.
These pressures are forcing an eventual convergence toward very long endurance, low operating cost platforms. Many are lighter-than-air vehicles or hybrid airships, whose technologies have advanced to make them safe and militarily useful again. On the ground near military bases, Raytheon’s RAID program fielded aerostats, and then surveillance towers. Lockheed Martin has also fielded tethered aerostats: TARS along the USA’s southern border, and PTDS aerostats on the front lines. The same trend can be observed in places like Thailand and in Israel; and Israeli experience has led to export orders in Mexico and India. At a higher technical level, Raytheon’s large JLENS aerostats are set to play a major role in American aerial awareness and cruise missile defense, and a huge ground and air scanning ISIS radar is under development under a DARPA project, to pair with Lockheed Martin’s fully mobile High Altitude Airship.
The Army’s Long-Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) project fitted in between RAID and HAA/ISIS, in order to give that service mobile, affordable, very long term surveillance in uncontested airspace. Its technologies and flight data may eventually wind up playing a role in other projects. This would help the Army recoup some of its investment, as it sold its prototype back to its manufacturer in the fall of 2013, for the price of a luxury car.
In July 2013, the US DSCA announced Iraq’s request to buy of 12 Bell 412EP helicopters for search and rescue duties.
This exact type is new to Iraq, but they do have something similar. A 2005 Jordanian donation of 16 UH-1Hs were upgraded to Huey II configuration by adding a Honeywell T53-L-703 engine, modern avionics, and wiring. The twin-blade, single-engine helicopters are already used for search and rescue. In comparison, the 4-blade, twin-engine Bell 412s offer a similar but newer platform with advanced sensors, higher performance, and more lift.
The M1117 armored car is already in use in Afghanistan, with the US Army (esp. Military Police) and with Bulgarian forces. Its combined .50 cal/ 40mm grenade turret offers more firepower than a Humvee, and its shape and construction offer more protection from land mine blasts, albeit less than full MRAP vehicles. Now, Afghanistan is ordering a heavier variant for themselves.
In June 2012, Textron Marine & Land Systems finally described the M1117 Armored Security Vehicle (ASV) variants being provided to Afghanistan via the Foreign Military Sale protocols, and funded externally via Afghan Security Forces Funds.
At the end of February 2012, the US Navy moved to diversify its sources of contracted UAV services. Boeing’s ScanEagle has performed that role since 2004, providing a complete turnkey service for the US Navy and Marines. ScanEagles were involved in some of Iraq’s fiercest fights, the SEAL operation that rescued the Maersk Alabama, and other operations ranging from concept tests to full combat. They’ve also been used by American allies as an outsourced service, with rent-a-UAV customers in Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands.
Under the new umbrella agreement, which could issue up to $874 million in contracts over 5 years, the US Navy and its international partners will be able to choose between 2-3 vendors, each of whom offers a different platform.
RQ-7 Shadow UAVs can be launched via runway or catapult, and land on runways. They’ve become the mainstay tactical-class battalion/ brigade level UAS for the US Army and US Marine Corps, and have also been exported to a number of countries. Italy and Sweden picked it, and Australia bought it under their JP129 program when their original choice didn’t perform.
The RQ-7B offers a longer wingspan and larger tail than the initial RQ-7A, and can carry a payload of 27.2 kg/ 60 pounds. This usually entails IAI Tamam POP-200/300 or L-3 Wescam 11SST surveillance turrets, but add-on kits can insert useful capabilities like laser targeting, the TCDL datalink, communication relays, or other sensors. The US Marines are even investigating weapon options. Meanwhile, that large UAV fleet needs support.
In March 2012, Textron subsidiary AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD received a $180.9 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to support RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aircraft systems serving with the US military and Australia. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, Afghanistan, and Australia with an estimated completion date of Oct 3/12. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract (W58RGZ-12-C-0011).