Latest updates[?]: Leonardo successfully demonstrated unique integrated capabilities between a manned aircraft and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). This took place in the UK during Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUMT) trials between a Leonardo AW159 Wildcat helicopter and a semi-autonomous UAV from Callen-Lenz Associates. The demonstration was part of the British Army’s MUMT themed Army Warfighting Experiment (AWE) 19, and was planned and executed by Dstl and took place on Salisbury Plain in September.
Future Lynx naval
In 2006, Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland received a GBP 1 billion (about $1.9 billion at 02/07 rates) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for 70 Future Lynx helicopters, and began a new chapter in a long-running success story. The Lynx is an extremely fast helicopter that entered service in the 1970s, and quickly carved out a niche for itself in the global land and naval markets. The base design has evolved into a number of upgrades and versions, which have been been widely exported around the world.
In Britain, Lynx helicopters are used in a number of British Army (AH7 & AH9) and Fleet Air Arm (Mk 8) roles: reconnaissance, attack, casualty evacuation & troop transport, ferrying supplies, anti-submarine operations, and even command post functions. The Future Lynx program reflects that, and British government and industry are both hoping that its versatility will help it keep or improve the Lynx family’s global market share. This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the AW159 Lynx Wildcat Program, describing its technical and industrial features, schedules, related contracts, and exports.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $138.8 contract modification, which adds scope to continue the development of pilot training device software to align the F-35 air system with continued capability development. Additionally, this modification provides for testing and continuous re-certification activities for dual capable F-35 aircraft as Block 4 capabilities are developed, matured and fielded in support of the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and non-Department of Defense (DOD) participants. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft. Just recently it was reported, that by the end of 2020, F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martins production will be equipped with a modified lightning protection system that will fix problems discovered earlier this year, the company’s head of production said. Work under the current modification will take place in Texas. Expected completion date will be in June 2024.
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[?]: Eurofighter formally submitted to Spain its offer to provide a further 20 Typhoon aircraft under the country’s Project ‘Halcon’ (Falcon). Delivery of the offer, which was disclosed by the consortium on 19 October, came three months after Spain announced that it was seeking to augment its existing Typhoons and to begin the process of replacing its Boeing EF-18 Hornet fleet. “Eurofighter has submitted proposals for the replacement of the Spanish Air Force’s EF-18s which are based on the Canary Islands. Spain is looking to secure 20 new Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to boost its existing fleet under what is called Project Halcon,” the consortium said.
The multi-national Eurofighter Typhoon has been described as the aerodynamic apotheosis of lessons learned from the twin engine “teen series” fighters that began with the F-14 and F-15, continued with the emergence of the F/A-18 Hornet, and extended through to the most recent F/A-18 Super Hornet variants. Aerodynamically, it’s a half generation ahead of all of these examples, and planned evolutions will place the Eurofighter near or beyond parity in electronic systems and weapons.
The 1998 production agreement among its 4 member countries involved 620 aircraft, built with progressively improved capabilities over 3 contract “tranches”. By the end of Tranche 2, however, welfare state programs and debt burdens had made it difficult to afford the 236 fighters remaining in the 4-nation Eurofighter agreement. A 2009 compromise was found in the EUR 9 billion “Tranche 3A” buy, and the program has renewed its efforts to secure serious export sales. Their success will affect the platform’s production line in the near term, and its modernization plans beyond that.
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[?]: Boeing won a maximum $149.6 million delivery order for the KC-46 Commercial Common Program consumable parts. The KC-46 Pegasus is a military refueling and strategic military transport aircraft. The Air Force intends to procure 179 Pegasus aircraft by 2027. The first four KC-46 aircraft were delivered to McConnell AFB, KS, in January 2019. The KC-46A places the boom operator on the flight deck, viewing receivers through a camera-driven display called the Remote Vision System (RVS). Work will take place in Missouri. Estimated completion date is October 7, 2023.
KC-135: Old as the hills…
DID’s FOCUS articles cover major weapons acquisition programs – and no program is more important to the USAF than its aerial tanker fleet renewal. In January 2007, the big question was whether there would be a competition for the USA’s KC-X proposal, covering 175 production aircraft and 4 test platforms. The total cost is now estimated at $52 billion, but America’s aerial tanker fleet demands new planes to replace its KC-135s, whose most recent new delivery was in 1965. Otherwise, unpredictable age or fatigue issues, like the ones that grounded its F-15A-D fighters in 2008, could ground its aerial tankers – and with them, a substantial slice of the USA’s total airpower.
KC-Y and KC-Z buys are supposed to follow in subsequent decades, in order to replace 530 (195 active; ANG 251; Reserve 84) active tankers, as well as the USAF’s 59 heavy KC-10 tankers that were delivered from 1979-1987. Then again, fiscal and demographic realities may mean that the 179 plane KC-X buy is “it” for the USAF. Either way, the KC-X stakes were huge for all concerned.
In the end, it was Team Boeing’s KC-767 NexGen/ KC-46A (767 derivative) vs. EADS North America’s KC-45A (Airbus KC-30/A330-200 derivative), both within the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress. The financial and employment stakes guaranteed a huge political fight no matter which side won. After Airbus won in 2008, that fight ended up sinking and restarting the entire program. Three years later, Boeing won the recompete. Now, they have to deliver their KC-46A.
Latest updates[?]: Germany is establishing a new multinational unit to operate the Airbus A400M transport aircraft, with Hungary committed as its first partner. The Bundeswehr announced that the Multinational Air Transport Unit (MNAU) was being established at Wunstorf Air Base in northern Germany, home to the Luftwaffe’s A400M force. This new international unit will relocate to Lechfeld Air Base in the far south of the country with 10 of the Luftwaffe’s 53 contracted A400Ms, as well as additional A400Ms that might be provided by partner nations.
A400M rollout, Seville
Airbus’ A400M is a EUR 20+ billion program that aims to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the full size military transport market. A series of smart design decisions were made around capacity (35-37 tonnes/ 38-40 US tons, large enough for survivable armored vehicles), extensive use of modern materials, multi-role capability as a refueling tanker, and a multinational industrial program; all of which leave the aircraft well positioned to take overall market share from Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules. If the USA’s C-17 is allowed to go out of production, the A400M would also have a strong position in the strategic transport market, with only Russian AN-70, IL-76 and AN-124 aircraft as competition.
Airbus’ biggest program issue, by far, has been funding for a project that is more than EUR 7 billion over budget. The next biggest issue is timing, as a combination of A400M delays and Lockheed’s strong push for its C-130J Super Hercules narrow the field for future exports. This DID Spotlight article covers the latest developments, as the A400M Atlas moves into the delivery phase. Will Airbus’ 3rd big issue become its own customers?
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[?]: Boeing won a $15.6 million order, which provides for the production and delivery of 25 Harpoon Block II+ captive air training missiles and 24 tactical missiles. Harpoon Block II is an over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile manufactured by Boeing Defence, Space & Security. It is the world’s superior anti-ship missile capable of performing land-strike and anti-ship missions. The all-weather missile can engage a wide variety of land-based targets, including coastal defense sites, surface-to-air missile sites, aircraft, port or industrial facilities, and naval ships anchored in ports. Work will take place in Missouri, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Alabama, Minnesota, Arizona and Iowa. Estimated completion will be in August 2023.
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[?]: Lockheed Martin announced that the AEHF-5 protected communication satellite is now in transfer orbit. The launch on August 8 was successful and the AEHF-5 is now responding to the US Air Force's 4th Space Operations Squadron’s commands. According to Lockheed, the squadron began "flying" the satellite shortly after it separated from its United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket approximately 5 hours and 40 minutes after the rocket's successful 6:13 am ET liftoff. The Advanced Extremely High Frequency 5 or AEHF-5 satellite is the fifth addition to the Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency constellation. The satellites are built by Lockheed Martin and are used to relay secure communications for the Armed Forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands. The first AEHF satellite was launched in 2006 and the most recent, the AEHF-4 in October 2018. The sixth and final AEHF satellite is expected to launch later this year.
The USA’s new Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites will support twice as many tactical networks as the current Milstar II satellites, while providing 10-12 times the bandwidth capacity and 6 times the data rate transfer speed. With the cancellation of the higher-capacity TSAT program, AEHF will form the secure, hardened backbone of the Pentagon’s future Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) architecture, with a mission set that includes nuclear command and control. Its companion Family of Advanced Beyond-line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T) program will give the US military more modern, higher-bandwidth receiving capabilities, and add more flexibility on the front lines. The program has international components, and partners currently include Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands.
This article offers a look at the AEHF system’s rationale and capabilities, while offering insight into some of the program’s problems, and an updated timeline covering over $5 billion worth of contracts since the program’s inception.
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.