Latest updates[?]: A recent missile barrage by Russia targeted a US-made Patriot air defense system in Kyiv, causing damage to the system. The extent of the damage is currently being evaluated, raising concerns about Ukraine’s defense capabilities against escalating Russian missile attacks, CNN reports. The Patriot air defense system appears to have sustained damage but remains intact. The severity of the damage will determine whether the system needs complete withdrawal or can be repaired on-site by Ukrainian forces.
The USA’s MIM-104 Phased Array Tracking Radar Intercept On Target (PATRIOT) anti-air missile system offers an advanced backbone for medium-range air defense, and short-range ballistic missile defense, to America and its allies. This article covers domestic and foreign purchase requests and contracts for Patriot systems. It also compiles information about the engineering service contracts that upgrade these systems, ensure that they continue to work, and integrate them with wider command and defense systems.
The Patriot missile franchise’s future appears assured. At present, 12 nations have chosen it as a key component of their air and missile defense systems: the USA, Germany, Greece, Japan, Israel, Kuwait, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the UAE. Poland, Qatar, and Turkey have all indicated varying levels of interest, and some existing customers are looking to upgrade their systems.
Latest updates[?]: Boeing won a $10.4 million modification, which adds scope and provides non-recurring engineering in support of mission systems hardware and software to develop a unique configuration of the P-8A aircraft for the government of Germany. Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington, and is expected to be completed in December 2024.
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?
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems won an $8 million modification under Aegis BMD Weapon Systems contract HQ085121C0002. This modification establishes new Contract Line Item Numbers 0063 and 0066 to support Digital Receive Upgrade urgent material efforts. Obligation in the amount of $8,243,462 using fiscal 2023 research, development, test and evaluation funds will occur at the time of award. The work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey, with period of performance from time of award through February 29, 2024.
The AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System seamlessly integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System for missiles, the SM-3 Standard missile, and the ship’s command and control system, in order to give ships the ability to defend against enemy ballistic missiles. Like its less-capable AEGIS counterpart, AEGIS BMD can also work with other radars on land and sea via Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). That lets it receive cues from other platforms and provide information to them, in order to create a more detailed battle picture than any one radar could produce alone.
AEGIS has become a widely-deployed top-tier air defense system, with customers in the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Spain. In a dawning age of rogue states and proliferation of mass-destruction weapons, the US Navy is being pushed toward a “shield of the nation” role as the USA’s most flexible and most numerous option for missile defense. AEGIS BMD modifications are the keystone of that effort – in the USA, and beyond.
Latest updates[?]: The Royal Australian Navy has awarded Rheinmetall a $138 million contract to deliver anti-ship missile defense systems. The service will deploy the Multi Ammunition Softkill System (MASS) on its Hobart-class destroyers and ANZAC-class frigates with an option to equip its entire fleet for $678 million. The first systems will arrive by the end of 2023 and achieve full operational capability by 2027.
As Asia-Pacific nations invest in submarines, serious regional players also need to invest in anti-submarine capabilities. Aircraft like the P-8A Poseidon are great, but nothing really replaces dedicated and capable ASW ships. Their opponents’ anti-ship missiles are also experiencing a jump in capability, so a secondary air defense role isn’t optional. Australia’s 2 remaining FFG-7 Adelaide-class frigates have finished an expensive and somewhat rickety systems upgrade, but they fall short of what’s needed, and won’t last all that much longer. The Adelaide-class will soon be succeeded by 3 new Hobart-class AWD. The RAN’s 8 ANZAC-class frigates are receiving much smoother ASMD air defense upgrades that will make them quite useful, but their service life will begin ebbing around 2024. Hence Australia’s SEA 5000 Future Frigate program, which may receive an early push from issues with Australia’s naval industrial base…
Latest updates[?]: Northrop Grumman won a $60 million modification, which adds scope to procure long lead parts and associated support for two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye plus up aircraft for the Navy. Work will be performed in Syracuse, New York (25.06%); Rolling Meadows, Illinois (9.52%); Woodland Hill, California (5.87%); Menlo park, California (5.08%); Greenlawn, New York (3.33%); Aire-sur-l'Adour, France (2.02%); Owego, New York (1.79%); Edgewood, New York (1.41%); Melbourne, Florida (1.35%); and various locations within the continental US (44.57%), and is expected to be completed in April 2028.
Northrop Grumman’s E-2C Hawkeye is a carrier-capable “mini-AWACS” aircraft, designed to give long-range warning of incoming aerial threats. Secondary roles include strike command and control, land and maritime surveillance, search and rescue, communications relay, and even civil air traffic control during emergencies. E-2C Hawkeyes began replacing previous Hawkeye versions in 1973. They fly from USN and French carriers, from land bases in the militaries of Egypt, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan; and in a drug interdiction role for the US Naval Reserve. Over 200 Hawkeyes have been produced.
The $17.5 billion E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program aims to build 75 new aircraft with significant radar, engine, and electronics upgrades in order to deal with a world of stealthier cruise missiles, saturation attacks, and a growing need for ground surveillance as well as aerial scans. It looks a lot like the last generation E-2C Hawkeye 2000 upgrade on the outside – but inside, and even outside to some extent, it’s a whole new aircraft.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $180 million modification for the production of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Interceptors and associated one-shot devices to support the US government. The THAAD Interceptors and associated one-shot devices will be procured under fixed-price incentive (firm target) contract line items. THAAD is a United States Army anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase, which is the final stage of their flight before they hit their target. The system uses kinetic energy to destroy incoming missiles by colliding with them in mid-air. It consists of a radar unit, a launcher, and interceptor missiles that can be deployed anywhere in the world to provide protection against ballistic missile threats. The work will be performed in Dallas, Texas; Sunnyvale, California; Huntsville, Alabama; Camden, Arkansas; and Troy, Alabama, with an expected completion date of March 1, 2028.
THAAD: In flight
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is a long-range, land-based theater defense weapon that acts as the upper tier of a basic 2-tiered defense against ballistic missiles. It’s designed to intercept missiles during late mid-course or final stage flight, flying at high altitudes within and even outside the atmosphere. This allows it to provide broad area coverage against threats to critical assets such as population centers and industrial resources as well as military forces, hence its previous “theater (of operations) high altitude area defense” designation.
Latest updates[?]: Brazil is in discussions about the possibility of extending its initial order of Saab Gripen E fighter jets from 36 to 40. The Defense Minister, Jose Mucio, confirmed that the Brazilian Air Force has expressed the need for additional aircraft and they are currently studying the matter. The 2014 agreement between Brazil and Saab, the Swedish manufacturer, aimed to modernize Brazil’s Air Force with an order for 36 fighters. The agreement also included the potential for future production of the aircraft locally. Delivery of the jets have already begun with the first aircraft already delivered to Brazil. Negotiations are underway for the potential expansion of the order. According to an anonymous source, the negotiations could involve forgoing some equipment and ammunition in exchange for credit toward the purchase of four additional aircraft. The exact number of additional aircraft to be purchased has not yet been determined.
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.
Latest updates[?]: Boeing won a $1 billion modification for the Apache AH-64E full-rate production. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, with an estimated completion date of December 31, 2027. The Apache attack helicopter is a combat proven aircraft manufactured by American aerospace and defence company Boeing for the US Armed Forces.
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.
LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.
While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.
Latest updates[?]: Boeing won a $1.2 billion contract action for the E-7A Rapid Prototype program. This contract provides for the initiation of the development activities for the program. Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington, and is expected to be complete by August 2024. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, is the contracting activity. The E-7A Wedgetail “will provide advanced Airborne Moving Target Indication and Battle Management, Command, and Control capabilities, and advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array radar that enhances airborne battle management and enables long-range kill chains with potential peer adversaries,” the Air Force said. The E-7A was originally developed for Australia, and has also been adopted by the U.K. By leveraging allied investment in the E-7A, the US aims to acquire the new AWACS replacements more quickly than would otherwise be possible.
over New South Wales
The island continent of Australia faces a number of unique security challenges that stem from its geography. The continent may be separated from its neighbors by large expanses of ocean, but it also resides within a potential arc of instability, and has a number of important offshore resource sites to protect. Full awareness of what is going on around them, and the ability to push that awareness well offshore, are critical security requirements.
“Project Wedgetail” had 3 finalists, and the winner was a new variant of Boeing’s 737-700, fitted with an MESA (multirole electronically scanned array) radar from Northrop Grumman. That radar exchanges the traditional AWACS rotating dome for the E-7A’s “top hat” stationary antenna. That design, and the project as a whole, have run into severe turbulence, creating problems for Boeing earnings, the ADF, and other export orders for the type. DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This one covers contracts, events, and key milestones within Australia’s E-7A program, from inception to the current day.