Latest updates[?]: The US Air Force has awarded engineering firm KBR a $69.2 million contract to support the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane and Naval Air Systems Command all-weather airborne early-warning fleet. Work for the program will focus on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, E-2C Hawkeye and C-2A Greyhound aircraft. Under the agreement, KBR will develop and integrate new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting (ISR&T) capabilities for the fleet.
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[?]: Northrop Grumman Systems won an $9 million deal for the manufacture of initiating propellant used on the MK48 heavyweight torpedo. This contract includes a three-year ordering period with no options. All work will be performed in Elkton, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by November 2025. Weapons procurement (Navy) funds in the amount of $2,203,980 will be issued for delivery order N00104-22-F-ZN01 that will be awarded concurrently with the contract and funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. In July 2017, Northrop was awarded a $50.1 million contract to manufacture 45 torpedo transducer array and nose shell assemblies for the heavyweight torpedo.
Mk 48: Before and After
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The Mk-48 is the standard heavyweight torpedo used by the US military, and is mounted primarily on submarines. Surface ships use the smaller Mk46 or Mk50. The Mk-54, in contrast, stemmed from the need for a smaller, lighter, and cost effective advanced torpedo – one that could be dropped from helicopters, planes, and smaller ships. In recent years, the US has moved to modernize and maintain its Mk-48 inventory; the Mk-54 also requires servicing and spares.
Many of these contracts were issued under a total enterprise partnership between Raytheon and the US Navy called Team Torpedo, dedicated to meeting the needs of U.S. and allied naval fleets. Team Torpedo combines Raytheon’s manufacturing, design engineering, and support services expertise with the systems engineering and testing capabilities of Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) operations in Newport, RI, and Keyport, WA. Now, a new provider has entered the picture. DID has the complete set of contracts below… plus more details regarding the torpedoes involved, and the answer to the question “what the heck is CBASS standard”?
Latest updates[?]: General Electric won a $1 billion requirements contract for repair, replacement, and program support of 784 F414 engine components in support of F/A-18 aircraft. This contract includes a five-year base with no options. Naval Supply Systems Command Weapon Systems Support is the contracting activity. Work will take place in various continental US contractor locations that cannot be determined at this time, and in Florida. Work is expected to be completed by October 2027.
The US Navy flies the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, and has begun operating the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare & strike aircraft. Many of these buys have been managed out of common multi-year procurement (MYP) contracts, which aim to reduce overall costs by offering longer-term production commitments, so contractors can negotiate better deals with their suppliers.
The MYP-II contract ran from 2005-2009, and was not renewed because the Pentagon intended to focus on the F-35 fighter program. When it became clear that the F-35 program was going to be late, and had serious program and budgetary issues, pressure built to abandon year-by-year contracting, and negotiate another multi-year deal for the current Super Hornet family. That deal is now final. This entry covers the program as a whole, with a focus on 2010-2015 Super Hornet family purchases. It has been updated to include all announced contracts and events connected with MYP-III, including engines and other separate “government-furnished equipment” that figures prominently in the final price.
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[?]: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on October 20 that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Japan of Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) Block I missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $450 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this sale. The Government of Japan has requested to buy up to thirty-two (32) Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) Block I missiles (in two tranches of 16). Also included are Mk 21 Vertical Launch System (VLS) canisters; obsolescence engineering, integration and test activity; canister handling equipment, spares, training and training equipment/aids; technical publications/data; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistical support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated total program cost is $450 million.
SM-2 Launch, DDG-77
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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.
Latest updates[?]: The Navy awarded Insitu a $191.8 million modification, which procures 13 RQ-21A Blackjack air vehicles, 25 ScanEagle air vehicles, 48 RQ-21A and ScanEagle payloads and turrets, support equipment, spares and sustainment spares and tools in support of RQ-21A Blackjack and ScanEagle unmanned aircraft platforms for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Foreign Military Sales customers. Work will take place in Washington. Estimated completion will be in June 2026.
ScanEagle’s base Insight UAV platform was originally developed by Washington state’s Insitu, Inc. to track dolphins and tuna from fishing boats, in order to ensure that the fish you buy in supermarkets is “dolphin-safe”. It turns out that the same characteristics needed by fishing boats (able to handle salt water environments, low infrastructure launch and recovery, small size, 20-hour long endurance, automated flight patterns) are equally important for naval operations from larger vessels, and for battlefield surveillance. A partnership with Boeing took ScanEagle to market in those fields, and the USMC’s initial buy in 2004 was the beginning of a market-leading position in its niche.
This article covers recent developments with the ScanEagle UAV system, which is quickly evolving into a mainstay with the US Navy and its allies. Incumbency doesn’t last long in the fast-changing world of UAVs, though. Insitu’s own RQ-21 Integrator is looking to push the ScanEagle aside, and new multiple-award contracts in the USA are creating opportunities for other competitors. Can Insitu’s original stay strong?
Latest updates[?]: Boeing won an $18.6 million delivery order to procure the long lead components and parts in support of MH-47G rotary wing aircraft. The MH-47G aircraft provides US Special Operations Forces (SOF) heavy assault, rotary wing aircraft support. This contract action supports a requirement for replacement of the aging fleet of remanufactured MH-47G aircraft that has airframe components dating back more than 45 years and maximize commonality with the US Army’s CH-47F Block II aircraft. The Boeing MH-47G is a special operations variant of the CH-47 Chinook multi-role, heavy-lift helicopter. It is in service with the US Army Special Operations Aviation Command. The majority of the work will be performed in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. US Special Operations Command headquarters, Tampa, Florida, is the contracting activity.
CH-47Fs take off
DII FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record; this FOCUS Article covers the CH-47F/MH-47G Chinook helicopter programs, in the USA and abroad. These helicopters’ distinctive “flying banana” twin-rotor design stems from the brilliant work of aviation pioneer Frank Piasecki. It gives Chinooks the ability to adjust their positioning very precisely, while carrying a large airframe whose load capacity has made it the world’s most popular heavy-lift helicopter. The USA expects to be operating Chinooks in their heavy-lift role past 2030.
The CH-47F looks similar to earlier models, but offers a wide range of improvements in almost every aspect of design and performance. While the related HH-47’s $10-15 billion CSAR-X program win was terminated, delivery orders continue for CH-47Fs and for MH-47G Special Forces configuration helicopters. International orders or formal requests have also come in from Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the UAE, with India and other countries expected to follow.
Latest updates[?]: The Qatar Air Force took delivery of the first NH90 Tactical Transport Helicopter (TTH) recently, manufacturer Leonardo has announced. The first TTH version helicopter for land-based tasks was delivered on 11 December, in line with contractual commitments, and will be followed in the coming months by the first NFH, dedicated to naval operations, after qualifications. Deliveries will continue until 2025.
NH90: TTH & NFH
The NH90 emerged from a requirement that created a NATO helicopter development and procurement agency in 1992 and, at almost the same time, established NH Industries (62.5% EADS Eurocopter, 32.5% AgustaWestland, and 5% Stork Fokker) to build the hardware. The NATO Frigate Helicopter was originally developed to fit between light naval helicopters like AW’s Lynx or Eurocopter’s Panther, and medium-heavy naval helicopters like the European EH101. A quick look at the NFH design showed definite possibilities as a troop transport helicopter, however, and soon the NH90 project had branched into 2 versions, with more to follow.
The nearest equivalent would be Sikorsky’s popular H-60Seahawk/ Black Hawk family, but the NH90 includes a set of innovative features that give it some distinguishing selling points. Its combination of corrosion-proofing, lower maintenance, greater troop or load capacity, and the flexibility offered by that rear ramp have made the NH90 a popular global competitor.
As many business people discover the hard way, however, success can be almost as dangerous as failure. NH Industries has had great difficulty ramping up production fast enough to meet promised deliveries, which has left several buyers upset. Certification and acceptance have also been slow, with very few NH90s in service over a decade after the first contracts were signed. Booked orders have actually been sliding backward over the last year, and currently stand at around 500 machines, on behalf of 14 nations.
The US military’s long run of unquestioned air superiority has led to shortcuts in mobile land-based air defenses, and the US Marines are no exception. A December 2005 release from Sen. Schumer’s office [D-NY] said that:
“Current radar performance does not meet operational forces requirements… consequences could potentially allow opposing forces to gain air and ground superiority in future operational areas.”
One of the programs in the works to address this gap is the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR mobile radar system. It’s actually the result of fusing 2 programs: the Multi-Role Radar System (MRRS), and Ground Weapons Locator Radar (GWLR) requirements. When the last G/ATOR software upgrade becomes operational, it will replace and consolidate numerous legacy radars, including the AN/TPS-63 air surveillance, AN/MPQ-62 force control, AN/TPS-73 air traffic control, AN/UPS-3 air defense, and AN/TPQ-36/37 artillery tracking & locating radar systems.
Latest updates[?]: Hindustan Aeronautics has completed the spin and night flight testing portion for the HTT-40 basic trainer and the light aircraft will head for certification clearance. Intended to replace the HPT-32 (Hindustan Piston Trainer), the HTT-40 is a basic training aircraft developed for the first stage of the training of rookie pilots in the Indian Air Force.
India’s stalled defense procurements have become an international joke, but they’re not funny to front-line participants. The country’s attempts to buy simple artillery pieces have become infamous, but their current problem with trainer aircraft is arguably a more significant wound.
You can’t produce pilots properly without appropriate training, but the IAF’s fleet of 114 locally-designed HPT-32 Deepak basic trainers has been grounded since August 2009, because they aren’t seen as reliable enough or safe enough to fly. Since then, equally aged HJT-16 Kiran jets are being used for both Stage-I and Stage-II fighter training. That yawning gap has added urgency to a replacement buy, but progress has been predictably slow. With its high-end Hawk AJT jet trainer deals behind them after 20+ years of effort, can the IAF take the next step, and plug the hole in the middle of its training? In May 2012, it did.