Sep 25, 2017 04:59 UTC
General Dynamics Electric Boat has landed a $5.1 billion US Navy contract
to commence development work on the Columbia-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine. Announced last Thursday, the award includes component and technology development, missile tube module and reactor compartment bulkhead prototyping and manufacturing efforts, and United Kingdom Strategic Weapon Support System kit manufacturing—which is covered under a foreign military sale— for the Columbia class ballistic missile submarines. Work will be conducted at several US locations and is scheduled for completion by December 2031. 12 Columbia-class submarines are planned by the Navy, and will replace the current fleet of Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The first vessel, the Columbia, is expected to be completed by 2031 at a cost of $10.4 billion counting research and engineering costs. The expected cost of follow-on vessels has been floated at over $5 billion a piece.
Trident II D5 Test Launch
Nuclear tipped missiles were first deployed on board US submarines at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s, to deter a Soviet first strike. The deterrence theorists argued that, unlike their land-based cousins, submarine-based nuclear weapons couldn’t be taken out by a surprise first strike, because the submarines were nearly impossible to locate and target. Which meant that Soviet leaders could not hope to destroy all of America’s nuclear weapons before they could be launched against Soviet territory. SLBM/FBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile/ Fleet Ballistic Missile) offered shorter ranges and less accuracy than their land-based ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) counterparts, but the advent of Trident C4 missiles began extending those ranges, and offering other improvements. The C4s were succeeded by larger Trident II D5 missiles, which added precision accuracy and more payload.
The year that the Trident II D5 ballistic missile was first deployed, 1990, saw the beginning of the end of the missile’s primary mission. Even as the Soviet Union began to implode, the D5’s performance improvements were making the Trident submarine force the new backbone of the USA’s nuclear deterrent – and of Britain’s as well. To ensure that this capability was maintained at peak readiness and safety, the US Navy undertook a program in 2002 to replace aging components of the Trident II D5 missile called the D5 Life Extension (LE) Program. This article covers D5 LE, as well as support and production contracts associated with the American and British Trident missile fleets.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 25, 2017 04:56 UTC
German military authorities have agreed to lift a ban
helicopter operations after a helicopter crashed while on UN deployment in Mali. However, the flights are being resumed with certain conditions such as restrictions on speed, weight and usage of autopilot system. A preliminary investigation of the wreckage of the downed helicopter did not point to a specific cause of the crash, but more thorough examinations are scheduled to take place in the coming weeks. Earlier this month, manufacturer Airbus warned Tiger pilots to be careful of rapid switches from autopilot to manual mode during turbulence, after initial indications showed that such a switch may have played a role in the July crash that killed both crew members.
Tiger HAP & HAC
Eurocopter’s Tiger had always had a very odd setup in that it came in two seemingly incomplete versions (HAP scout and HAC/UHT anti-tank), whose respective deficiencies severely limited multi-role flexibility and hence exports. The new Tiger HAD (Helicoptere Appui Destruction) variant fixes those deficiencies, and looks set to become the default version for new-build EC665 Tiger exports.
The HAD project began in December 2005, as the EU’s OCCAR organization for armament cooperation signed a formal contract in Bonn, Germany and set out initial procurement numbers for Spain. This was followed by the French DGA’s announcing the restructuring of its own 80-helicopter order, and each customer has made its own choices as the new variant has gone from concept to initial delivery.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 22, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Air Force's (USAF) newest gunship, the AC-130J Ghostrider
, will be declared operational
later this month. However, the aircraft will not be combat ready for another two years as the USAF Special Operations Command is behind in training operators. The new configuration has taken the refuelling pods out of an existing MC-130J, replacing them with weapons racks outfitted with precision strike packages. Armaments found on the Block 10 AC-130J configuration includes an internal 30mm gun, GPS-guided small diameter bombs and laser-guided missiles that will launch from the rear cargo door, while the Block 20 adds a 105mm cannon and large aircraft infrared countermeasures. Future updates include the addition of wing-mounted Lockheed AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and radio-frequency countermeasures. A number will have the 30mm gun replaced with a high-energy laser.
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.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 20, 2017 04:56 UTC
A new electronic warfare suite for the JAS-39 Gripen E/F
fighter has been launched
by Saab. The Arexis electronic warfare (EW) suite comprises of a radar warning receiver (RWR), enabling the equipped fighter with situational awareness of enemy radar tracking activity. It also includes Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM)-based Electronic Countermeasures (EC) systems for jamming against enemy radars, be it onboard enemy aircraft or air-to-air missiles (AAM). For dedicated EA roles, the Arexis can be packaged into a pod, which Saab states, “provides high output power” for dedicated EW/EA roles.
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.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 19, 2017 04:58 UTC
Airbus has refuted claims
levelled at it by Austrian prosecutors that it carried out fraud and willful deception during a $2 billion Eurofighter Typhoon
deal. The aerospace giant went on to threaten legal action at Austria’s Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil, accusing the minister of disregarding the presumption of innocence in the case and therefore violated the firm's rights. A final report of a parliamentary inquiry into the 2003 jet purchase, how side deals were awarded and whether bribes were paid, is expected on Tuesday.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
General Dynamics Land Systems UK has commenced live firing trials
for its AJAX armored vehicle program
. The trials are being held in West Wales, Great Britain, and will last for approximately five months, starting with static firing positions against immobile point targets and gradually progressing to a moving vehicle engaging moving targets. It is armed with the CT 40 autocannon and a coaxial 7.62mm chain gun for lighter targets. Used by both the UK and French armed forces, the CT 40 ustilizes a type of telescoping 40mm ammunition designed to take up less space and reduce the necessary size of the gun. It can fire armor-piercing discarding sabot and high-explosive airburst ammunition out to an effective range of 2500 meters. It has a maximum rate of fire of up to 200 rounds per minute.
Many of Britain’s army vehicles are old and worn, and the necessities of hard service on the battlefield are only accelerating that wear. The multi-billion pound “Future Rapid Effects System” (FRES) aims to recapitalize the core of Britain’s armored vehicle fleet over the next decade or more.
The best one can say is that FRES has gone far better than America’s comparable and canceled “Future Combat System.” That doesn’t mean the rise has been smooth. FRES was spawned by the UK’s withdrawal from the German-Dutch-UK Boxer MRAV modular wheeled APC program, in order to develop a more deployable vehicle that fit Britain’s exact requirements. Those initial requirements were challenging, however, and experience in Iraq and Afghanistan led to decisions that changed an already-late program. So, too, have subsequent budgetary crises…
Continue Reading… »
Sep 19, 2017 04:56 UTC
The British Royal Navy has rolled back
on a decision to retire the Harpoon
anti-ship missile in 2018 and will keep it in service until at least 2020. The Ministry of Defense had earlier announce the plan to retire the Boeing weapon from its Type 23 frigates in 2018 without a replacement. Speaking at last week's Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) 2017 defence exhibition in London, on service source added that “there is work ongoing to look at options for longer extension in service.”
Harpoon in flight
The sub-sonic, wave-skimming GM-84 Harpoon is the US Navy’s sole anti-shipping missile, with the minor exception of small helicopter-borne AGM-119B Penguin missiles. The Harpoon has been adapted into several variants, and exported to many navies around the world. At present, the Harpoon family includes AGM-84 air, RGM-84 sea/land, and UGM-84 submarine-launched versions. Variants such as the Joint Standoff Land Attack Missiles and the upgraded AGM-84K SLAM – Expanded Response will also be covered in this DID FOCUS Article. It describes the missiles themselves, and covers global contracts involving this family.
The Harpoon family’s best known competitor is the French/MBDA M38/39/40 Exocet, but recent years have witnessed a growing competitive roster at both the subsonic (Israel’s >Gabriel family, Russia’s SS-N-27 Klub family, Saab’s RBS15, Kongsberg’s stealthy NSM, China’s YJ-82/C-802 used by Hezbollah in Lebanon), and supersonic (Russia’s SS-N-22 Sunburn/Moskit, SS-N-26 Yakhont, and some SS-N-27 Klub variants, India’s SS-N-26 derived PJ-10 BrahMos) tiers.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 18, 2017 04:59 UTC
he US Navy's newest America-class
amphibious assault ship has been christened
the USS Tripoli (LHA7). During a ceremony in Pascagoula, Miss., on Saturday, acting Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Dee said the vessel "will be a force multiplier, and her crew will proudly serve our country for decades to come. I am grateful to the men and women of Ingalls Shipbuilding for their dedication and to the citizens of Pascagoula for their unwavering support as we continue to make our Navy stronger." The Tripoli is an enlarged version of the America-class of amphibious assault ships. It is 844 feet long, displaces 45,000 tons and has larger hangars and storage capacity for aircraft and helicopters. Once operational, the US Marine Corps is expected to to deploy their vertical take-off and landing version of the F-35 Lightning II on the ship.
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.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 15, 2017 04:59 UTC
Oshkosh Defense has brought its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV
) to the DSEI show
in London, England. In anticipation of a forthcoming sale to the UK, the model brought was given an obligatory coat of British Army green paint, and came equipped with an in-service Kongsberg remote weapon station, AmSafe Bridport anti-rocket-propelled grenade armor and a Harris radio. George Mansfield, the vice president of international programs at Oshkosh Defence, said the configuration was meant to give a glimpse of the sort of items the British could fit based on those already in the inventory. He noted it wasn’t representative of any particular requirement. While the US State Department have already cleared the foreign military sale (FMS), the MoD does not expect a final decision on the FMS proposal until “early 2018.” The final go-ahead for the deal may have to await the results of a largely financially driven capability review due for completion by the end of the year by the British government.
Ultra APV demonstrator
In an age of non-linear warfare, where front lines are nebulous at best and non-existent at worst, one of the biggest casualties is… the concept of unprotected rear echelon vehicles, designed with the idea that they’d never see serious combat. That imperative is being driven home on 2 fronts. One front is operational. The other front is buying trends.
These trends, and their design imperatives, found their way into the USA’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, which aims to replace many of the US military’s 120,000 or so Humvees. The US military’s goal is a 7-10 ton vehicle that’s lighter than its MRAPs and easier to transport aboard ship, while offering substantially better protection ad durability than existing up-armored Humvees. They’d also like a vehicle that can address front-line issues like power generation, in order to recharge all of the batteries troops require for electronic gadgets like night sights, GPS devices, etc.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. JLTV certainly qualifies, and recent budget planning endorsements have solidifed a future that was looking shaky. Now, can the Army’s program deliver?
Continue Reading… »
Sep 12, 2017 04:58 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Lockheed Martin has received a $27 million modification
to an existing US Navy contract for the supply of retrofitting kits for the 60 Automatic Radar Periscope Detect and Discrimination (ARPDD) program. The firm will deliver 11 standard and 5 SEED kits for the program, which will provide a series of radar upgrades for use on MH-60 Seahawk
helicopters to help spot and discriminate enemy submarine periscopes. Work will primarily take place in Farmingdale, NY and Oswego, NY, with completion by October 2020. ARPDD has been in use with the Navy since 2009 and upgraded several times since then. It is one of the few systems available that are capable of identifying and tracking submarine periscopes.
USN Heli Plan
The US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawks have always had a naval counterpart. SH-60B/F Seahawk/ LAMPS helicopters were outfitted with maritime radar, sonobuoys, and other specialized equipment that let them perform a wide variety of roles, from supply and transport, to anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and even surface attack with torpedoes or Kongsberg’s AGM-119 Penguin missiles. Like their land-based counterparts, however, the Seahawks are getting older. The Reagan defense build-up is receding into history, and its products are wearing out.
European countries chose to build new designs like the medium-heavy EH101 and the NH90 medium helicopter. They’re larger than the H-60s, make heavy use of corrosion-proof composites, and add new features like rear ramps. The USA, in contrast, decided to upgrade existing H-60 designs for the Army and Navy. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”) Seahawks. MH-60Rs and MH-60Ss will eventually replace all SH-60B/F & HH-60H Seahawks, HH-1N Hueys, UH-3H Sea Kings, and CH-46D Sea Knight helicopters currently in the US Navy’s inventory. Both programs are underway, and will be covered in this DID FOCUS Article.
Continue Reading… »