Apr 25, 2019 04:54 UTC
Australia deployed its Airbus Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, Jane’s
reports. On April 21, four Australian Army Tiger helicopters were airlifted to the Royal Malaysian Air Force Air Base at Subang on a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing C-17A Globemaster III strategic airlifter for joint training exercises with Malaysia. The Tiger
is designed to perform armed reconnaissance, air or ground escort, air-to-air combat, ground fire support, destruction and anti-tank warfare, day or night and in adverse conditions. The exercises mark a major milestone for the helicopter given that until very recently Australian auditors were recommending that it not be operated aboard ships due to performance limitations.
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.
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Apr 24, 2019 04:54 UTC
Contributing to NATO’s increased presence in the Baltic states, the UK deployed
five Boeing AH-64
Apache attack helicopters to the Amari Air Base in Estonia. The AH-64s are expected to participate in upcoming NATO military exercises and provide defense coverage for a military base near the Russian border. Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson commented
on the deployment: “It's a very credible threat that we see from Russia and part of the reason that we're deploying five Apache attack helicopters is making sure that we're constantly adapting to a changing situation.“ According to the British Army, the Apaches will be working in tandem with the Wildcat battlefield reconnaissance helicopters to provide valuable training opportunities to NATO allies on Estonia’s annual Exercise Spring Storm and to the UK-led battlegroup deployed on NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence.
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.
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Apr 23, 2019 04:58 UTC
Latest updates[?]: April 23/19: 11th WGS Communication Space Vehicle Boeing won a $605 million modification for the production of the Air Force’s 11th Wideband Global Satellite (WGS) Communication Space Vehicle. The DoD uses the WGS system to communicate with warfighters across the globe. Ten Ka-band and 8 X-band beam can be positioned anywhere in the field of view of each satellite. WGS combines unique commercial spacecraft capabilities that Boeing has developed, including phased array antennas and digital signal processing technology, into a powerful, flexible architecture. United Launch Alliance ULA is scheduled to launch the 11th satellite aboard a Delta IV rocket in November 2023. Since 2001, Boeing has been the prime contractor of the WGS, which was first launched in 2008. GS 4, which was launched off in 2012, was the first Block II series. WGS-10 was meant to be the last of the constellation. But in March 2018, Congress added $600 million for the procurement of WGS-11 and WGS-12. Boeing will perform work under the modification in El Segundo, California and expects completion by November 20, 2023.
The US military needs a bigger data firehose. In an era of streaming data from proliferating UAVs and other persistent surveillance platforms, and the need for control of those systems anywhere in the world, bandwidth is almost as important as fuel. Commercial satellite communications (SATCOM) can fill some of the gaps, but it’s expensive, and may not be available when needed. The Wideband Gapfiller SATCOM (now Wideband Global SATCOM) program began as a way to ease these problems in the near term, but went on to become one of the twin pillars of US military communications, alongside the hardened AEHF constellation. Both satellite types expanded their roles after the super-high bandwidth T-SAT program was canceled. Instead, the USA is adding WGS and AEHF satellites in space, even as it makes both programs multi-national efforts here on earth.
WGS is a set of 13-kilowatt spacecraft based on Boeing’s model 702 commercial satellite. These satellites will handle a significant portion of the USA’s warfighting bandwidth requirements, supporting tactical C4ISR(command, control, communications, and computers; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance); battle management; and combat support needs. Upon its 2007 launch into geosynchronous orbit, WGS Flight 1 became the U.S. Department of Defense’s highest capacity communication satellite. WGS F4, launched in January 2012, offers further improvements, as do satellites from WGS F8. The constellation is set to grow to 10, including international participation.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article covering the WGS program’s specifications, budgets, travails, international partnerships, and contracts, with links to additional research materials.
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Apr 23, 2019 04:56 UTC
The US Army contracted
General Atomics with $99 million in support of the MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAS. The deal provides performance based logistics support services for the Unmanned Aircraft System. The Gray Eagle UAS
addresses the need for a long-endurance, armed, unmanned aircraft system that offers greater range, altitude and payload flexibility over earlier systems. US Army Special Operations Forces and Intelligence and Security Command have two Gray Eagle Extended Range (ER) systems, which include 12 unmanned aircraft, six Universal Ground Control Stations, nine Ground Data Terminals, three Mobile Ground Control Stations, one Satellite Ground Data Terminal, an automated takeoff and landing system, LMTVs, and other ground-support equipment operated and maintained by a company of 165 Soldiers. Work will take place in Poway, California and is scheduled to be completed on April 23, 2024.
Its initial battles were fought within the Pentagon, but the US Army’s high-end UAV has made its transition to the battlefield.
The ER/MP program was part of the US Army’s reinvestment of dollars from the canceled RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program, and directly supports the Army’s Aviation Modernization Plan. The US Air Force saw this Predator derivative as a threat and tried to destroy it, but the program survived the first big “Key West” battle of the 21st century. Now, the MQ-1C “Gray Eagle” is in production as the US Army’s high-end UAV. As CENTCOM’s wars end, however, the Gray Eagle may find that staying in the fleet is as hard as getting there.
This FOCUS article offers a program history, key statistics and budget figures, and ongoing coverage of the program’s contracts and milestones.
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Apr 22, 2019 04:56 UTC
The US Navy awarded
Raytheon a $19 million modification for engineering and technical services on the Standard Missile-2
and Standard Missile-6. The SM-2 missile provides anti-air warfare and limited anti-surface warfare capability against advanced anti-ship missiles and aircraft out to 90 nautical miles. According to Raytheon
, the SM-6 is the only missile considered a "triple threat," with anti-air warfare, anti-surface warfare and sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense enabling the US and its allies to cost-effectively increase the offensive might of surface forces. The missiles are deployed on cruisers and destroyers in the US Navy, as well as by international customers approved by the Defense Department. The combined contract is 90 percent for the Navy, with the rest under Foreign Military Sales for Australia, Germany, Denmark, Korea and Japan. Work will take pace in Tucson, Arizona and is scheduled to be completed by April 2020.
SM-2 Launch, DDG-77
(click to view larger)
Variants of the SM-2 Standard missile are the USA’s primary fleet defense anti-air weapon, and serve with 13 navies worldwide. The most common variant is the RIM-66K-L/ SM-2 Standard Block IIIB, which entered service in 1998. The Standard family extends far beyond the SM-2 missile, however; several nations still use the SM-1, the SM-3 is rising to international prominence as a missile defense weapon, and the SM-6 program is on track to supplement the SM-2. These missiles are designed to be paired with the AEGIS radar and combat system, but can be employed independently by ships with older or newer radar systems.
This article covers each variant in the Standard missile family, plus several years worth of American and Foreign Military Sales requests and contracts and key events; and offers the budgetary, technical, and geopolitical background that can help put all that in context.
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Apr 19, 2019 04:54 UTC
According to local reports
, NATO for the first time launched Italian Air Force Eurofighters based at Gioia del Colle Air Base on April 9. The mission was to intercept a civilian airliner that lost communications with civilian air traffic control over Croatia and was heading south towards Montenegro and Albania. It was established that the loss of communications was related to a misunderstanding between civilian air traffic control and the airliner crew. After resuming regular contact with the civilian controllers, the airliner continued to proceed to its destination to Hurghada, Egypt. On December 16, 2005, the F-2000 Typhoon reached initial operational capability with the Italian Air Force. The Italian Air Force uses the Eurofighter Typhoon
as the main nation's asset for air defense and coalition missions.
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.
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Apr 16, 2019 04:56 UTC
According to Jane’s
, the Navy is continuing to evolve the MQ-8C vertical take-off and landing unmanned aerial vehicle. The MQ-8C is the Bell 407-based variant of the Fire Scout
. It is designed to be deployed from ground and naval platforms to perform missions including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cargo resupply, and communications relay. It provides naval forces with extended over-the-horizon intelligence-gathering capability. The MQ-8C variant has an increased flight time and extended payload capacity as well as a larger airframe than previous variants. The US Navy selected Northrop Grumman as the prime contractor to develop and produce up to eight next-generation MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned air systems in April 2012. It also awarded a $71 million contract to Northrop Grumman in March 2013 to build a further six MQ-8C helicopters. Modifications currently under development include the introduction of a Link 16 datalink to enhance the UAV's ability to network the Lockheed Martin MH-60 Naval helicopter
. This will enable the crew to receive data being collected by the Fire Scout directly instead of relaying it via the Littoral Combat Ship.
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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Apr 16, 2019 04:54 UTC
According to reports
, Philippines’ president Duterte announced that Jordan will donate a third attack helicopter to the Philippines. The Jordanian government earlier donated two Bell AH-1 Cobra
attack helicopters that are supposed to strengthen counterterrorism measures in the Philippines. The choppers will be delivered in July this year. The AH-1 Cobra is a two-blade, single-engine attack helicopter. Jordan obtained 24 AH-1Fs in the late 1980s, and in 2001 obtained nine additional ex-US Army Cobras. In 2010, Jordan transferred 16 AH-1F helicopters to Pakistan, under a US-sponsored support program that provided Islamabad with 40 AH-1 refurbished helicopters.
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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Apr 16, 2019 04:52 UTC
The Philippine Navy inspected the country’s first two anti-submarine choppers
in the UK. According to reports, the test and pre-delivery inspection of the AW-159 Wildcat was going smoothly. In 2016, the country contracted AugustaWestland with a $114 million contract to manufacture the helicopters at the manufacturer’s Yeovil, UK site. The deal also includes training and support. The Wildcat is in service with the UK's Royal Navy and Army Air Corps. The AW159 Wildcat
features a ferry range of 963 kilometers and has an endurance of one-and-a-half hours, or four-and-a-half hours when provided with auxiliary fuel. It has a range of 777 kilometers and is capable of travelling at speeds of 291 kilometers per hour. The two AW159s will join Manilla’s modest naval rotorcraft fleet, which consists of five AgustaWestland AW109Es.
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.
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Apr 15, 2019 04:56 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Sikorsky won a $9.5 million contract modification
to upgrade the Mission Communications System of the VH-92A presidential helicopter. The modification is for the integration of the Mission Communications System Version 3.0 hardware changes. Sikorsky will perform work in Patuxent River, Maryland and is expecting completion in April 2020. The VH-92
is currently under development and is supposed to replace the Marine Corps’ Marine One US Presidential transport fleet. According to a new report from the Government Accountability Office
, the VH-92A program will cost less than initially anticipated. The cost has declined from $5.18 billion to $4.95 billion since 2014. The Navy previously attempted to replace this aging fleet starting in 2002, selecting a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101 called the VH-71. However, the Navy terminated the contract in 2009 due to schedule delays, performance issues, and a doubling of cost estimates, from $6.5 billion to $13 billion. The VH-92A program has also seen some delays. Specifically, the Milestone C review to authorize low-rate initial production has been pushed back five months, from January to June 2019, and the initial operational test and evaluation start has been pushed back from October 2019 to March 2020. An initial operational capability decision is now anticipated in October 2020, three months later than originally expected.
In January 2005, the U.S. Navy selected the US101 as the new “Marine One” baseline helicopter, for use by the President of the United States. The US101 is an American variant of AgustaWestland’s successful AW101 multi-mission medium helicopter; it beat out Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawk, which is already in use as a government VIP transport in countries like South Korea.
That $1.7 billion victory was first endangered, and then destroyed, by ongoing changes from the White House staff. In 2008, the program’s ballooning costs and requirements got a temporary reprieve when US Navy agreed to proceed with the VH-71, despite a cost per aircraft equal or greater than the President’s Air Force One 747s. By June 2009, however, the VH-71 program had shot itself down.
Another round of competition is on the way, and back in 2009 the Pentagon said it was considering buying 2 different helicopters in the VXX follow-on program. Faced with an initial Analysis of Alternatives deemed too expensive, the OSD accepted the Navy’s revised approach in May 2012, setting things in motion for a new program of record.
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