Latest updates[?]: The US government has cleared the sale of eight Bell Boeing MV-22 Block C Osprey tiltrotors to Indonesia. The total estimated price of the deal is $2 billion. The sale, if it is executed, will mark the second foreign air arm to purchase the Osprey, with Japan being the first. The prime contractors will be Bell Textron Inc., Amarillo, Texas and The Boeing Company, Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. The Osprey is the world’s only production tiltrotor aircraft, enabling servicemen and women to conduct diverse missions throughout the most difficult operating environments.
In March 2008, the Bell Boeing Joint Project Office in Amarillo, TX received a $10.4 billion modification that converted the previous N00019-07-C-0001 advance acquisition contract to a fixed-price-incentive-fee, multi-year contract. The new contract rose to $10.92 billion, and was used to buy 143 MV-22 (for USMC) and 31 CV-22 (Air Force Special Operations) Osprey aircraft, plus associated manufacturing tooling to move the aircraft into full production. A follow-on MYP-II contract covered another 99 Ospreys (92 MV-22, 7 CV-22) for $6.524 billion. Totals: $17.444 billion for 235 MV-22s and 38 CV-22s, an average of $63.9 million each.
The V-22 tilt-rotor program has been beset by controversy throughout its 20-year development period. Despite these issues, and the emergence of competitive but more conventional compound helicopter technologies like Piasecki’s X-49 Speedhawk and Sikorsky’s X2, the V-22 program continues to move forward. This DID Spotlight article looks at the V-22’s multi-year purchase contract from 2008-12 and 2013-2017, plus associated contracts for key V-22 systems, program developments, and research sources.
Latest updates[?]: News reports from Japan reportedly say the governments of Japan and United States have started talks on how to proceed with the former’s F-X fighter program. According to the reports, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Lockheed Martin are involved as well. It is said that the other two American companies are Boeing and Northrop Grumman. While Lockheed’ strength is in stealth technology, Boeing has considerable knowledge on composite materials while Northrop can contribute in radar and electronic warfare technology.
In December 2011, Japan picked Lockheed Martin’s new F-35A stealth fighter as its next fighter aircraft, to replace its aging F-4 “Kai” Phantom fleet. The F-35 was actually their 2nd choice.
Back in February 2006, Inside The Air Force (ITAF) reported that momentum was building within the USAF to sell the ultra-advanced F-22A Raptor abroad to trusted US allies, as a way of increasing numbers and production. Japan clearly wanted them, and the Raptor was a topic of diplomatic discussions in several venues, including a 2007 summit meeting. In the end, however, US politics denied export permission for downgraded export variants of the F-22, and its production line was terminated. That left Japan looking at other foreign “F-X” fighter options in the short term, while they considered a domestic stealth fighter design as their long-term project.
In the ensuing F-X competition, the F-35 Lightning II beat BAE’s Eurofighter Typhoon, as well as an upgraded F/A-18E Super Hornet from Boeing. Now Lockheed Martin has to deliver, and so will its Japanese partners. Will the F-35A’s price and program delays create problems in Japan? This article looks at the JASDF’s current force, its future options, and ongoing F-X developments.
Latest updates[?]: An advance in aircraft simulators, allowing F-35 pilots to link with pilots of other aircraft, was announced on Wednesday by Lockheed Martin. For the first time, Lockheed, the F-35 Joint Program Office and the US Air Force successfully connected F-35, F-22, F-16 and E3 airborne warning planes in a simulated environment. Additional platforms, like the F-15, can also connect to the shared virtual environment. The success came during a Distributed Mission Training final acceptance test at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., the company said.
F-35B: off probation
The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners,” and Japan as the 1st export customer.
The big question for Lockheed Martin is whether, and when, many of these partner countries will begin placing purchase orders. This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports during 2012-2013.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon won a $495.1 million (AMRAAM)>deal for advanced medium range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) program support and annual sustainment. The contractor will provide non-warranty repairs, program support, contractor logistics support and service life prediction program analysis supporting the AMRAAM weapon system. AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) is a new generation all-weather, missile manufactured by Raytheon. The AMRAAM is in service with the US Air Force, US Navy, and US-allied nations. Work will take place in Tucson, Arizona. Estimated completion date is June 30, 2026.
AIM-120C from F-22A
(click for test missile zoom)
Raytheon’s AIM-120 Advanced, Medium-Range Air to Air Missile (AMRAAM) has become the world market leader for medium range air-to-air missiles, and is also beginning to make inroads within land-based defense systems. It was designed with the lessons of Vietnam in mind, and of local air combat exercises like ACEVAL and Red Flag. This DID FOCUS article covers successive generations of AMRAAM missiles, international contracts and key events from 2006 onward, and even some of its emerging competitors.
One of the key lessons learned from Vietnam was that a fighter would be likely to encounter multiple enemies, and would need to launch and guide several missiles at once in order to ensure its survival. This had not been possible with the AIM-7 Sparrow, a “semi-active radar homing” missile that required a constant radar lock on one target. To make matters worse, enemy fighters were capable of launching missiles of their own. Pilots who weren’t free to maneuver after launch would often be forced to “break lock,” or be killed – sometimes even by a short-range missile fired during the last phases of their enemy’s approach. Since fighters that could carry radar-guided missiles like the AIM-7 tended to be larger and more expensive, and the Soviets were known to have far more fighters overall, this was not a good trade.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $25.1 million contract modification to exercise an option for Aegis Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA) efforts for the design, development, integration, test and delivery of Advanced Capability Build 20. The Aegis CSEA is responsible for combat system engineering services, including the design, development and life cycle support, for all AEGIS-equipped ships. The deal also includes a replacement or upgrade of combat system computing hardware and associated middleware/firmware. The design development and develops engineering products support ship integration, developmental test and operational test events, develops training and logistics products and provides field technical support for designated Aegis baselines. The systems engineering, development and integration work under this contract begins with ACB 16 and TI 16, and continues with a future ACB/TI through the period of performance of the contract. Work will take place in Moorestown, New Jersey. Work is expected to be complete by December 2020.
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[?]: Japan has finished the deployment of the PAC-3 MSE interceptors at four of its bases between March and June this year. This was disclosed by General Yoshinari Marumo, Chief of the Air Staff of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, during a press briefing on June 12. The four locations are: JGSDF Camp Narashino; JASDF Hamamatsu Base; JASDF Ashiya Base and JASDF Tsuiki base. The deployment of the new missile interceptors were supposed to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics, previously scheduled to be held this year.
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[?]: Taiwan’s deputy defense minister Chang Zhe-Ping has confirmed to legislators that Taipei has decided to acquire the coastal road-mobile variant of the Boeing Harpoon Block II missile. Chang said the missiles should enter service with the Navy’s Hai Feng squadron in 2023. When asked, why the country chose to buy the American weapon when the existing Hsiung Feng II & III missiles are already in service, Chang clarified that studies showed that more missiles are required to destroy 50 percent of the invading force from China. This can only be achieve rapidly by buying new missiles from abroad.
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.
Latest updates[?]: BAE Systems Land $42.8 million for MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) canister production and ancillary hardware. The company will make Mk 41 Vertical Launching System canisters, renew Mk 13 Mod 0 canisters and produce Mk 13 Mod 0, Mk 21 Mods 1 through 3 and Mk 29 Mod 0 canisters under the modification. The Navy initially awarded a potential $954.5M contract to update and repair Mk 41 VLS canisters for the service branch and FMS customers from Denmark, Japan and South Korea. Work will take place in Minnesota and South Dakota. Estimated completion will be by July 2023.
MK 41s in action
The naval MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) hides missiles below decks in vertical slots, with key electronics and venting systems built in. A deck and hatch assembly at the top of the module protects the missile canisters from the elements, and from other hazards during storage. Once the firing sequence begins, the hatches open to permit missile launches of various types. It is also being adapted for land use, as part of the USA’s plan to forward-deploy ballistic missile defense in allied countries.
The Mk.41 is the most widely-used naval VLS in the world, in service with the US Navy and with many countries outside the United States. Lockheed Martin is the system’s prime contractor, with components and canisters provided by BAE Systems Land & Armaments. In September 2011, however, the US Navy assumed the final integrator role.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon won a $13.7 million modification to exercise options in support of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Design Agent, in-service support and technical engineering support services. The ESSM program is an international effort to design, develop and test missiles to improve ship defense. It forms part of an international defense agreement between the US and nine of its military allies. The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) (RIM-162) is a medium-range, surface-to-air missile designed and manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems. The missile is currently in service with the US Navy and some of the 12 NATO Sea Sparrow consortium nations. Work will take place in Arizona, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Australia, West Virginia, Canada, Spain, Turkey and Greece. Expected completion will be by December 2020.
The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is used to protect ships from attacking missiles and aircraft, and is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. Compared to the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow, ESSM is effectively a new missile with a larger, more powerful rocket motor for increased range, a different aerodynamic layout for improved agility, and the latest missile guidance technology. Testing has even shown the ESSM to be effective against fast surface craft, an option that greatly expands the missile’s utility. As a further bonus, the RIM-162 ESSM has the ability to be “quad-packed” in the Mk 41 vertical launching system, allowing 4 missiles to be carried per launch cell instead of loading one larger SM-2 Standard missile or similar equipment.
This is DID’s FOCUS article for the program, containing details about the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile family, and contracts placed under this program since 1999. The Sea Sparrow was widely used aboard NATO warships, so it isn’t surprising that the ESSM is an international program. The NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the USA – as well as non-NATO Australia. Foreign Military Sales ESSM customers outside this consortium include Japan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
Latest updates[?]: CAE USA-Mission Solutions won a $10.6 million modification for the F-15E, F-16 and F-22A contract aircrew training and courseware development contract. The contract modification is for exercising Option Year Three. The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. The F-15E is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter. The F-16 and the F-15 Eagle were the world’s first aircraft able to withstand higher g-forces than the pilots. The F-16 Fighting Falcon entered service in 1979. The F-22A Raptor is an advanced tactical fighter aircraft developed for the US Air Force. It entered service with the USAF in December 2005 to replace the F-15, with emphasis on agility, stealth and range. Work under the contract modification is expected to be finished by April 1, 2020.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.