May 28, 2020 04:58 UTC
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics won a $16 million deal
, which procures support to manage diminishing manufacturing sources in support of the F-35 program for the Air Force, Navy and non-Department of Defense participants. The F-35
program has been supported by an international team of leading aerospace majors. Notably, Northrop Grumman NOC rendered its expertise in carrier aircraft and low-observable stealth technology to this program. BAE Systems’ BAESY short takeoff and vertical landing experience, and air systems sustainment supported the jet’s combat capabilities. These features have enabled F-35 jet to dominate the combat aircraft market buoyed by solid demand as evident from the program’s frequent contract wins, both from Pentagon and other US allies. For instance, this January, Lockheed clinched a reimbursable contract worth $1.93 billion for providing a consortium of services involving the F-35 program. Work under the new cost-plus-fixed-fee order will take place in Fort Worth, Texas. Estimated completion will be by June 2020.
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.
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May 27, 2020 04:58 UTC
The UK Royal Navy completed
a series of live firing trials of the new Martlet lightweight precision strike missile from a Wildcat
HMA2 helicopter. Undertaken at the UK Ministry of Defense Aberporth Range on the west coast of Wales, the firings, which were conducted as part of the UK’s Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon program, demonstrated the integration of the Martlet system onto the Wildcat platform ahead of service entry. The system is due to enter service with the RN in January 2021, according to the Defense Equipment Plan 2019 financial summary released in February 2020.
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.
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May 25, 2020 04:56 UTC
Three US senators called on the Government Accountability Office on May 22 to investigate delays keeping the KC-46
military aircraft from use in missions. In a letter
James Lankford, Janne Shaheen, and Maggie Hassan demanded "periodic assessments" of the progress made by builder Boeing to fix longstanding problems of the cargo and refueling plane, notably its refueling boom and its rearward-facing remote vision system. In addition, the plane was prone to cargo locks becoming unlocked while mid-flight. Also, inspections have found tools, rubbish, leftover parts and loose fittings in planes delivered by Boeing since January 2019.
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.
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May 21, 2020 04:54 UTC
Lithuanian, German and Norwegian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) carried out training
with Royal Air Force Eurofighters
and Spanish F/A-18s
at Kazl? R?da training ground on May 11. The German and Norwegian JTACs are part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in Lithuania. The British and Spanish air force contingents operate from Šiauliai Air Base and help guard the skies over the Baltic region as part of NATO’s Air Policing mission. NATO’s battlegroup in Lithuania is composed of around 1,200 personnel from Germany, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Norway. The battlegroup is part of the biggest reinforcement of the Alliance’s collective defense in a generation.
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.
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May 20, 2020 04:58 UTC
BAE Systems announced
a $26.7 million Navy contract to fit its infrared countermeasures system onto KC-130J
cargo and refueling planes. The contract calls for the installation of the Navy's Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures system, or LAIRCM, the aircraft. The system is a defensive warning package combining a missile warning system and infrared laser jammer countermeasure system to protect the aircraft from guided missiles. Up to 19 KC-130J planes of the Navy will receive the system, which will be installed in Crestview, Florida., in conjunction with Vertex Aerospace LLC. The KC-130 series, built by Lockheed Martin, is capable of aircraft carrier landings despite its size, and is in use by the militaries of 17 countries. France received its second, a refueling plane, in February.
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.
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May 19, 2020 04:54 UTC
NATO’s Multinational MRTT Fleet will take delivery
of its first two A330
MRTT aircraft next month. The handover is at the Main Operating Base in Eindhoven. The third and fourth aircraft are currently under conversion at the Airbus Defense facilities in Getafe, Madrid. The fifth A330 was flown from Toulouse to Getafe earlier this month. Six countries have signed up for the program to operate 8 aircraft. The contract includes options for 3 more tankers.
Voyager & friends
Back in 2005, Great Britain was considering a public-private partnership to buy, equip, and operate the RAF’s future aerial tanker fleet. The RAF would fly the 14 Airbus A330-MRTT aircraft on operational missions, and receive absolute preferential access to the planes. A private contractor would handle maintenance, receive payment from the RAF on a per-use basis – and operate them as passenger charter or transport aircraft when the RAF didn’t need them.
The deal became politically controversial, and negotiations on the 27-year, multi-billion pound deal charted new territory for both the government, and for private industry. Which may help to explain why a contract to move ahead on a “Private Financing Initiative” basis had yet to be issued, and procurement had yet to begin, over 7 years after the program began. In March 2008, however, Britain issued the world’s largest-ever Defence Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. This FOCUS Article describes the current British fleet, the aircraft they chose to replace them, how the new fleet will compare, the innovative deal structure they’ve chosen, and ongoing FSTA developments.
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May 19, 2020 04:50 UTC
Raytheon Missiles and Defense won a $17.4 million modification
for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile program. This modification provides for procurement of two new final assembly test sets and upgrade of two existing final assembly test sets. The AMRAAM
system is designed to function as a baseline weapon for the NASAMS missile launcher and engage in air-to-air as well as surface-launch combat. Thirty-seven countries have adopted the weapon to date. Work will take place in Tucson, Arizona. Expected completion date is May 21, 2023.
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.
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May 13, 2020 04:58 UTC
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.
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May 08, 2020 04:56 UTC
A French Air Force A400M arrived
in Auckland, New Zealand on May 6. This is the first time that type of French aircraft had landed in the country. The mission was to bring home around 20 French Polynesians stranded in New Zealand to Tahiti. It was deployed to Tahiti from Paris late in April, carrying medical supplies and cash for banks. The deployment is part of Operation Resilience, launched by French President Emmanuel Macron to battle the spread of Covid-19.
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?
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May 01, 2020 04:58 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Physical Optics won a $17.8 million order
, which provides non-recurring engineering for the production, test, integration and delivery of the T-45
Head-Up Display (HUD) and its associated internal software. The T-45A/C Goshawk is the US Navy’s two-seat advanced jet trainer. The aircraft is jointly manufactured by Boeing and BAE Systems. The T-45A was selected to meet the US Navy requirement for an undergraduate jet pilot trainer to replace the TA-4J Skyhawk and T-2C Buckeye. The TA-4J was retired in 2003 and the T-2C in August 2008. Work will take place in Torrance, California. Estimated completion date is in April 2022.
Do you feel lucky…?
The T-45 Training System includes T-45 Goshawk aircraft, advanced flight simulators, computer-assisted instructional programs, a computerized training integration system, and a contractor logistics support package. The integration of all 5 elements is designed to produce a superior pilot in less time and at lower cost than previous training systems.
The US Navy uses the Hawk-based T-45TS system to train its pilots for the transition from T-6A Texan II/ JPATS aircraft to modern jet fighters – and carrier landings. This is not a risk-free assignment, by any means. Nevertheless, it is a critical link in the naval aviation chain. This DID FOCUS article covers the T-45TS, and associated contracts to buy and maintain these systems, from 2006 to the end of FY 2014.
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