Latest updates[?]: Boeing has revealed some of the potential upgrades offered to Japan's F-15Js. The company's defense head in Japan announced that AESA radars, a new mission computer, a new electronic warfare suite, conformal fuel tanks, and additional missiles would all be included as part of any deal. A model on display at Boeing’s stand at this week's Japan Aerospace show depicts an F-15 loaded with 16 Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles: double the load now available.
RF-4EJ, heading out…
Once upon a time, nations produced dedicated reconnaissance aircraft variants of front like fighters, or even dedicated reconnaissance fighter designs. These usually involved airframe modifications to place bulky camera equipment in the aircraft’s nose and/or centerline, and the sacrifice of guns and some stores stations. Anyone who has ever watched the movie “Terminator” and marveled at the bulky devices that used to be called “portable music players” will understand why this sort of thing isn’t necessary any more. Small pods like the RecceLITE, SHARP, LITENING et. al. can be fitted to any fighter, instantly turning it into a reconnaissance and/or targeting platform.
The JASDF(Japanese Air Self Defence Force) 501 Hikotai at Hyakuri AB flies the Japanese contingent of 27 RF-4EJs. Some were originally RF-4E reconnaissance planes, while others are converted F-4EJ fighters. They are scheduled to be decommissioned soon, and to replace them…
Latest updates[?]: Leondardo Helicopters is in talks with the Japanese government over the potential sale of a further 12 AW101 helicopters for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Tokyo already operates seven of an eventual 11-strong fleet of the heavy helicopters configured for minesweeping missions, designated as the MCH-101, plus two of an eventual three CH-101 utility transports. Giovanni Soccodato, Leonardo’s executive vice-president for strategies, markets, and business development, said the company was “close to finalizing” a new contract with the Japanese.
MCH-101 AMCM concept
Japan is a trading and shipping power, so it isn’t unreasonable for them to be very concerned about mines. Helicopters are an important adjunct to Japan’s large fleet of 25+ minesweeping ships, and can even serve as a substitute in some situations. Japan’s fleet of 11 MCH-101 airborne mine counter-measures helicopters are closely derived from AgustaWestland’s 3-engined AW101 heavy maritime helicopter, and most are being built in Japan under license by Kawasaki. Mission equipment will include the AN/AQS-24A mine hunting side scan sonar, the AN/AES-1 airborne laser mine detection system, and the MK-104 acoustic minesweeping system.
ECH-101s have good range, and can operate from shore. As an alternative, they can be embarked aboard Japanese ships, especially the JMSDF’s 19,000 ton Hyuga Class “helicopter destroyers” (LPH anywhere else).
2010 – 2016
DDH-181 Hyuga & USN’s LHD-2, post-tsunami (click to view entire)
June 27/16: Leondardo Helicopters is in talks with the Japanese government over the potential sale of a further 12 AW101 helicopters for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Tokyo already operates seven of an eventual 11-strong fleet of the heavy helicopters configured for minesweeping missions, designated as the MCH-101, plus two of an eventual three CH-101 utility transports. Giovanni Soccodato, Leonardo’s executive vice-president for strategies, markets, and business development, said the company was “close to finalizing” a new contract with the Japanese.
June 18/13: Northrop Grumman announces that they’ve has delivered the 1st of 4 AQS-24A airborne mine-hunting sonars to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (q.v. July 11/12). The 1st ALMDS wide-area laser mine detection system is slated for delivery “later this summer.”
There’s always a follow-on period of training and tactics development, so it will be a little while before Japan can make full use of these new capabilities. NGC.
Nov 6/12: MEDAL. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) announces that Japan has picked its Mine Warfare and Environmental Decision Aids Library (MEDAL) counter-mine software control system, for installation into the corresponding ground system for the JMSDF’s MCH-101 helicopters. MEDAL has played a similar role in the US Navy since the mid-1990s, and the USN’s compatible MEDAL system performs the same mission planning, evaluation, and command and control functions.
SAIC will be assisting with engineering and training services as MEDAL is integrated within NEC Corporation’s broader MCH-101 ground support system.
July 11/12: AQS-24. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces follow-on contracts by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) to supply 3 more AQS-24A airborne mine hunting systems, plus ground-based support equipment. The AN/AQS-24 is a towed sonar with an accompanying laser line scanner for optical identification, and the sonar and laser both operate at the same time. It’s deployed from the rear ramp of helicopters like the US Navy’s MH-53s, and the JMSDF will use all 4 systems ordered to date on its new MCH-101 helicopters.
The award of the airborne electronics work marks the culmination of a technology transition that allows some local manufacturing in Japan, and will eventually enable the JMSDF to provide full logistics support for the AQS-24A systems. Additional follow-on efforts for more systems, electronics and support equipment are anticipated in 2013, and will continue until the JMSDF reaches its full operational inventory objective. NGC.
AQS-24 detection sonars
Feb 2/12: ALMDS. Japan becomes the AN/AES-1 ALMDS’ first export customer, buying 4 of the laser mine detection pods to equip its MCH-101 (AW101) medium-heavy naval helicopters. Northrop Grumman will work with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., and Fujitsu Ltd. on delivery and installation.
ALMDS uses a fan-shaped beam of laser light detection and ranging (LIDAR) to detect, classify and localize near-surface moored sea mines. The forward motion of the helicopter sweeps the light over the water in a “push broom” manner, and 4 cameras are arranged to cover the same swath illuminated by the laser fan beam. As images are received by the system, an automatic target recognition algorithm picks out potential mine-like objects and stores their images for later classification by fleet operators, using computer-aided post-mission analysis tools. The new system has had some trouble in American tests with false positives, but Japan has worked with Northrop Grumman for a long time, and seems willing to go ahead anyway. Northrop Grumman | Read more in “LCS & MH-60S Mine Counter-Measures Continue Development“.
ALMDS laser mine detection pods
Oct 24/11: AQS-24. Northrop Grumman announces that its AN/AQS-24 towed mine-hunting sonar has been “competitively selected” by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Under the initial contract, Northrop Grumman’s Undersea Systems business unit will deliver 1 system to Kawasaki Heavy Industries, for integration into Japan’s new Airborne Mine Countermeasures MCH-101 helicopter.
The AQS-24 is currently deployed aboard the US Navy’s even larger MH-53E mine hunting helicopters.
1994 – 2009
From initial teaming through 1st delivery; 1st assembled in Japan MCH-101.
MCH-101 click for video
June 17/09: Local spares.AgustaWestland announces an agreement with Marubeni Aerospace Corporation of Tokyo, Japan to establish a local MCH-101/ CH-101 Spare Parts Depot. That will certainly cut turnaround time for spares.
The Spare Parts Depot has been privately funded and will operate initially for a period of 5 years.
March 26/07: Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) has delivered the JMSDF’s 1st licence-built MCH-101. It’s the first EH101/AW101 to be assembled outside AgustaWestland’s production facilities in Italy and the UK, and has 35% local content. Flight International.
March 2006: Japan takes delivery of its 1st MCH-101. It was assembled at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil, UK plan before undergoing conversion at Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ Gifu works. Source.
1st MCH-101 delivery
2003: The first of 14 MCH-101 (Airborne Mine Counter Measures, 11) and CH-101 (Antarctic Support, 3) helicopters was delivered to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. Subsequent releases indicate that it was a CH-101. Source.
1st AW101 delivery
2002: The ECH-101 partners enter into a general consultancy and distributorship agreement for the promotion and sales of the AW101. Source.
1994: Teaming agreement signed by AgustaWestland, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Marubeni to compete for Japan’s mine warfare helicopter needs. Source.
Latest updates[?]: The US Department of Defense has released $309 million toward the construction of a new marine base in Guam. Contracts have yet to be awarded for the initial construction of the base and follows $1 billion already put forward by Japan for the base's development. The funding follows a 2006 agreement between the two nations to relocate 5,000 US Marines and 1,700 of their dependents from Okinawa to Guam. The base and its support facilities are expected to cost $8.7 billion in total, and will see millions injected into the island's local economy.
Past base improvement efforts and other contracts related to the USA’s pacific territory of Guam include construction of an RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV complex for the Pacific Rim, and extensive base improvements/ expansion for Guam’s airfield and harbor. This article will shine a spotlight on contracts related to that territory from the beginning of FY 2007 onward. Military.com offers a broader article detailing the build up; it is useful as a frame for activities to date, and also as a context reference for our ongoing coverage (hyperlink below added to enhance context):
“The 2006 agreement between the United States and Japan to shift 8,000 U.S. Marines from bases in Japan to the island of Guam by 2014 is likely to have more far-reaching implications than just a change of address for some units of the Marine Corps’ III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF). The move is accelerating the return to prominence of Guam in the U.S. defense posture and fostering a higher level of cooperation among the U.S. armed forces in the Pacific region… Congress authorized $193 million in military construction funds for Guam in the fiscal year 2007 National Defense Authorization Act, a $31 million increase over 2006 funding. “Guam is likely to see between $400 million and $1 billion in military construction in military construction each year for a period of six to 10 years,” [Guam’s representative in Congress, Madeleine Z. Bordallo] said.”
Lockheed Martin Maritime Sensors and Systems won a $124 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification to upgrade Japan’s Kongo-Class AEGIS destroyer JS Kongo [DDG-173] to give it AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense Block 2004 capability. Japan’s Kongo-Class destroyers are based on the USA’s Flight II DDG 51 Arleigh Burke Class, but feature many modifications both internally and externally. The Kirishima itself was posted to the Indian Ocean as part of Japan’s contribution to the war on terror, acting as flagship for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.
Latest updates[?]: The Secretary of the Navy
issued letters of censure to three rear admirals - all of whom are retiring - for involvement in the "Fat Leonard" scandal that involved officers steering ships to particular port facilities in return for gifts and sexual favors. A review concluded that the three admirals improperly accepted gifts between 2006 and 2007 and that their improper familiarity with Leonard "Fat Leonard" Francis "cultivated an unacceptable ethical climate within the respective commands."
The Secretary of the Navy issued letters of censure to three rear admirals – all of whom are retiring – for involvement in the “Fat Leonard” scandal that involved officers steering ships to particular port facilities in return for gifts and sexual favors. A review concluded that the three admirals improperly accepted gifts between 2006 and 2007 and that their improper familiarity with Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis “cultivated an unacceptable ethical climate within the respective commands.”
Rear Admirals Michael Miller, then a commander serving on the USS Ronald Reagan; Terry Kraft, CO of the same carrier; and David Pimpo, the Reagan’s supply officer, have all asked to retire. The Navy’s issuance of reprimands does not preclude criminal charges. Secretary Mabus promised to set up an ethical disciplinary process to follow up with Navy officers who are not charged criminally, or whose ethical lapses aren’t addressed directly in criminal proceedings. Navy officials previously indicated that the scandal will grow wider as leads are followed up.
Francis, proprietor of a Malaysian naval resupply and refit firm named Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. pleaded guilty to various corruption charges, having been successfully lured to the U.S. in a San Diego hotel sting, and after finally losing the services of a bribed senior official in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who had previously been tipping him off. Francis’s firm aggressively sought Navy business, bribed officials for secret ship movement information and for favorable contracting decisions and overcharged for services. Allegations have been made as well that Francis was effective in changing the schedules and destinations for certain Navy deployments.
Francis has been cooperating in recent weeks, according to the Washington Post.
Francis has agreed to pay back $35 million in money made through the scheme, and awaits sentencing of up to 25 years in prison.
Navy captain Daniel Dusek pleaded guilty to giving Francis secret information in exchange for money, prostitution services and travel services around the Pacific. Dusek was relieved of his relatively new command of the Bonhomme Richard in 2013 when he was first suspected of involvement. Dusek is one of five navy officials to plead guilty, and the most senior so far.
He has admitted to, in at least one instance, to change the movements of a carrier and strike group to ensure that they stopped at Francis’s Port Klang facility in Malaysia.
A couple months before Dusek’s arrest, a former commander of the USS Mustin, Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, was arrested for bribery, about the same time that Naval Criminal Investigative Service supervisory agent John Bertrand Beliveau II was arrested.
Misiewicz allegedly attempted reschedule port visits to include Francis’s firms facilities, adopting routes that included Sepangar, Malaysia, and Laem Chebang, Thailand.
Already, several mid-level officers have been found guilty, including one who pleaded guilty only last week.
In documents presented to the court using Francis’s own words, the scheme was designed to “drive the big decks into our fat revenue” facilities.
The Westpac Express fast ferry ship has been instrumental in changing the way the US Navy approaches sealift in the Western Pacific. It’s fast enough to substitute for airlift in many cases, and large enough to move a Marine battalion with its gear. Early trials went very well, and the innovative designs and performance of Australian shipbuilders Austal and Incat laid a foundation of manufacturing experience and customer comfort that led to the innovative GD/Austal trimaran design for the new Independence Class “Flight 0” Littoral Combat Ship, while spawning a major acquisition program in the Joint High-Speed Vessel (JHSV).
HSV Westpac Express isn’t a Navy-owned ship; technically, it’s a chartered vessel. In July 2005, we noted an 18-month extension to its charter. In 2006, that service period was extended still further via a new charter, lasting up to 5 years. During that charter’s period, a bankruptcy in Hawaii created an opportunity to buy the Austal-built catamaran Superferry MV Huakai, which will replace Westpac Express in the Pacific. Until then, the USMC needs one more contract extension.
As missile defense imperatives get stronger, and western defense budgets get weaker, one might expect both competition and cooperation to increase within this sector. That should be especially true around naval platforms, where multinational deployments are the normal operating mode. There are early signs that this is coming true.
In September 2011, Raytheon announced successful testing for a prototype dual-band datalink, allowing ships that use either Lockheed Martin’s SPY-1/ AEGIS system, or Thales Nederland’s APAR radars, to employ the full range of long-range Standard Missiles for air defense. That matters, because the SM-x family also includes a number of options with missile defense capabilities…
Forthcoming acquisition reform in India may in effect ease the use of imported parts and decrease offset obligations, according to the Business Standard.
Japan wants to know why a CV-22 crashed last week in Florida before getting any MV-22s on its soil. The US will share the results of its investigation of the accident but is not otherwise changing its plans.
General Dynamics Land Systems joined the contenders for US SOCOM’s Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV 1.1) competition.