Latest updates[?]: The United States contracted the sale to Jordan of one Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter for royal duties. The Department of Defense announced that Sikorsky had been awarded $13.7 million for a single UH-60M to be delivered by November 30. Fiscal 2010 Foreign Military Sales (Jordan) funds for the full amount were obligated at the time of the award. “The UH-60M will supplement Jordan’s existing Royal Squadron fleet of Black Hawk helicopters and be used to facilitate the movement of the Jordanian royal family in a safe and efficient manner,” the DSCA notification said.
US Army HH-60Ms
In July 2012, the US military signed another huge contract with Sikorsky. With production of the Army’s HH/UH-60M, and the Navy’s MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters, all in full swing, there’s no question about the need for future orders. In that environment, multi-year contracts allow efficiencies in purchasing, and security of staffing, throughout Sikorsky’s supply chain. These new helicopter types are also available to Foreign Military Sales class customers, under the American contract’s advantageous pricing and terms. The UH-60M, MH-60S and MH-60R models have already inked export deals, and official requests indicate that more deals are in the pipeline.
The new multi-year 2013-2017 contract could be worth up to $11.7 billion, and follows a 5-year, multi-service “MYP-VII” contract in December 2007. Like its predecessor, it covers UH-60M Black Hawk troop transport and light cargo helicopters, Army HH-60M SAR (Search And Rescue) / MEDEVAC (MEDical EVACuation) helicopters, and the US Navy’s MH-60S and MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.
Latest updates[?]: The US government made requests in July and August this year to Indonesia for its P-8A to land and refuel in the South East Asian country but those requests were rejected. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo personally rejected those requests, Reuters reports. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US State Department press office and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defence and Indonesia’s foreign minister Retno Marsudi declined to comment. The proposition, which came as the US and China escalated their contest for influence in Southeast Asia, surprised Indonesia’s government, the officials said, because Indonesia has a long-standing policy of foreign policy neutrality. The country has never allowed foreign militaries to operate there.
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 Netherlands is to retire its aging fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules airlifters earlier than planned. The country’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced on October 13 that the four C-130H aircraft operated by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), the oldest of which date back to 1978, are to be replaced as their readiness rates have become so poor as to hinder simultaneous operations. The RNLAF received two new ‘stretched’ C-130H-30 Hercules in 1992 and two surplus ‘standard’ C-130H Hercules in 2005. The MoD had planned to modernize these aircraft, although it has now decided that such a programme would reduce the already poor availability of the fleet further and so an immediate replacement is the best option.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
Latest updates[?]: Science Applications International won a $22.6 million combination cost-plus-fixed-fee, cost reimbursable, and firm-fixed-price type contract. The contract is for the First Article testing and production of the All Up Round MK 28 MOD 2 Exercise and MK 29 MOD 0 Warshot fuel tank assemblies for the MK 48 heavyweight torpedo, engineering services with associated other direct costs and contract data requirements list in support of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport Undersea Warfare Systems. The Mk 48 and its improved Advanced Capability (ADCAP) variant are American heavyweight submarine-launched torpedoes. The Mk-48 torpedo is designed to be launched from submarine torpedo tubes. Work will take place in Indiana and Rhode Island. Estimated completion will be by March 2022.
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 Dynamics Mission Systems won a $17.5 million deal for wide band radomes. The deal provides for production of wide band radomes supporting Air Force F-16 aircraft outfitted with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars. AESA is a phased array system in which the beam of signals can be steered electronically in any direction, without physically moving the antenna. The antenna consists of an array of an array of small antennas each with a separate feed. The beam is steered by electronically by controlling the phase of the radio waves transmitted and received by each of the multiple radiating elements in the antenna. Work will take place in Marion, Virginia and expected completion date is by August 30, 2032.
AN/APG-79 AESA Radar
The AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar began life as a replacement. Initial F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet production batches installed Raytheon’s all-weather, multimode AN/APG-73, but the APG-79 has intrinsic technical features that offered revolutionary increases in capability, reliability, image resolution, and range.
Unlike the APG-73 that equipped the first Super Hornets, the APG-79’s AESA array is composed of numerous solid-state transmit and receive modules that are fixed in place, eliminating a common cause of breakdowns. To move their beams, they rely on electronic changes in each module’s transmissions, creating useful interference patterns in order to aim, focus and shape their output. Other system components include an advanced receiver/exciter, ruggedized commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) processor, and power supplies. With its open systems architecture and compact COTS parts, it changes what both aircrews and maintenance staff can do with a fighter radar – and does so in a smaller, lighter package.
Latest updates[?]: Taiwan decided not to buy three sets of Centurion C-RAM system from the US after it was told by the Pentagon that no evaluation testing data exists for the Centurion. Taiwan had wanted the Centurion to act as an area defensive weapon system to protect its airfields but the system can only do point defense. Therefore, the military has decided to invite the local National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) to modify the Phalanx close-in weapon system (CWIS) for its needs. The institute had previously taken a Phalanx CIWS from the Navy’s Yang-class destroyer and installed it on a mountain top to protect the Songshan radar station on the top of Zhuzi Mountain. A total of seven Gearing-class destroyers transferred to Taiwan as the Yang-class had been upgraded under Wu Chin III program that turn these World War Two ships into guided-missile destroyers. However, since the Air Force’s requirement is for area defense, the new system will have to be integrated with the service’s Sky Guard air defense system. It will modify existing Phalanx CIWS in the inventory for the purpose.
The radar-guided, rapid-firing MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS, pron. “see-whiz”) can fire between 3,000-4,500 20mm cannon rounds per minute, either autonomously or under manual command, as a last-ditch defense against incoming missiles and other targets. Phalanx uses closed-loop spotting with advanced radar and computer technology to locate, identify and direct a stream of armor piercing projectiles toward the target. These capabilities have made the Phalanx CIWS a critical bolt-on sub-system for naval vessels around the world, and led to the C-RAM/Centurion, a land-based system designed to defend against incoming artillery and mortars.
This DID Spotlight article offers updated, in-depth coverage that describes ongoing deployment and research projects within the Phalanx family of weapons, the new land-based system’s new technologies and roles, and international contracts from FY 2005 onward. As of Feb 28/07, more than 895 Phalanx systems had been built and deployed in the navies of 22 nations.
Latest updates[?]: Leidos won a $58.9 million contract modification, which provides for the development of Adaptive Radar Countermeasure (ARC) Software/Firmware (SW/FW) capabilities and integration of ARC SW/FW on the AN/ALQ-214A electronic countermeasure host. ARC SW/FW supplements F/A-18C-F survivability in the presence of radio frequency guided surface-to-air and air-to-air weapons systems. Work will take place in Virginia, New Jersey, California, Missouri, North Carolina and Alabama. Expected completion date is in February 2023.
CF-18: which way?
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The F/A-18 Hornet is the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet‘s predecessor, with the first models introduced in the late 1970s as a spinoff of the USAF’s YF-17 lightweight fighter competitor. Hornets are currently flown by the US Marine Corps as their front-line fighter, by the US Navy as a second-tier fighter behind its larger F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, and by 7 international customers: Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland. The USA’s aircraft were expected to have a service life of 20 years, but that was based on 100 carrier landings per year. The US Navy and Marines have been rather busy during the Hornets’ service life, and so the planes are wearing out faster.
This is forcing the USA to take a number of steps in order to keep their Hornets airworthy: replacing center barrel sections, re-opening production lines, and more. Some of these efforts will also be offered to allied air forces, who have their own refurbishment and upgrade programs.
Latest updates[?]: The Royal Netherlands Air Force resumed flights with its NH90 helicopters after they were grounded following the crash of one into the Caribbean Sea on July 19, Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten told parliament. Meanwhile, the wreck of the crashed RNLAF NH90 has been found. “Based on the first investigation results it seems unlikely that a technical or mechanical failure of the helicopter was the cause of a crash with an NH-90 helicopter on July 19 in the Caribbean Sea whereby two crew members died,” it was stated in a press release.
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.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon won a $47.3 million modification for full rate production of the Javelin weapon system. Javelin is an anti-tank guided munition that can be carried and launched by a single person. It is made by the Javelin Joint Venture, a partnership between Raytheon Missiles & Defense and Lockheed Martin. The weapon can be deployed from multiple platforms and used during the day, at night and in any kind of weather. Work will take place in Tucson, Arizona. Estimated completion date is August 31, 2023.
The FGM-148 Javelin missile system aimed to solve 2 key problems experienced by American forces. One was a series of disastrous experiences in Vietnam, trying to use 66mm M72 LAW rockets against old Soviet tanks. A number of replacement options like the Mk 153 SMAW and the AT4/M136 spun out of that effort in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until electronics had miniaturized for several more cycles that it became possible to solve the next big problem: the need for soldiers to remain exposed to enemy fire while guiding anti-tank missiles to their targets.
Javelin solves both of those problems at once, offering a heavy fire-and-forget missile that will reliably destroy any enemy armored vehicle, and many fortifications as well. While armored threats are less pressing these days, the need to destroy fortified outposts and rooms in buildings remains. Indeed, one of the lessons from both sides of the 2006 war in Lebanon has been the infantry’s use of guided missiles as a form of precision artillery fire. Javelin isn’t an ideal candidate for that latter role, due to its high cost-per-unit; nevertheless, it has often been used this way. Its performance in Iraq has revealed a clear niche on both low and high intensity battlefields, and led to rising popularity with American and international clients.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon Missiles and Defense won a $15.3 million contract modification to exercise options for engineering and technical services and obsolescence solution in support of Standard Missile-2/6. The designation refers to the SM-2, or RIM-166 missile, and its new and upgraded version, designated SM-6 or RIM-174. Each is a surface-to-air missile designed to intercept both hostile aircraft and high-performance anti-ship missiles. The SM-6 variant can be used against fixed and rotary wing aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, land attack cruise missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles. Each is vertically launched and compatible with the Aegis Weapon System. Work will take place in Tucson, Arizona. Estimates completion date will be inJune 2021.
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.