Latest updates[?]: Raytheon won a $10.1 million delivery order for the repair of the ALE-50 towed decoy system used in support of the F/A-18 Super Hornet warfare air craft. The AN/ALE-50 towed decoy system was developed by Raytheon to protect multiple US military aircraft from radar-guided-missiles. The ALE-50 consists of a launch controller, launcher and towed decoy. It can be used on a variety of platforms without modification. When deployed, the ALE-50's expendable aerial decoy is towed behind the aircraft. The decoy protects the host aircraft providing a more attractive target and steering the radar-guided missile away from the aircraft and right to the decoy. ALE-50 has countered both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. Work will take place in Forest, Mississippi. Expected completion will be by October 2022.
ALE-50 “Little Buddy”
The entire ALE-50 system consists of a launcher and launch controller attached to one of the aircraft’s weapon pylons, containing one or more expendable towed decoys. These trail behind the aircraft when deployed, attracting radar-guided missiles to themselves instead. Each decoy and payout reel is delivered in a sealed canister, and has a 10-year shelf life.
In both flight tests and actual combat, the ALE-50 has successfully countered numerous live firings of both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles. Deagel.com estimates the ALE-50 expendable decoys’ estimated value at $22,000 each – which is certainly a lot cheaper than a B-1 bomber. At least one US pilot who came home safe referred to the ALE-50 as “my little buddy” in a letter to Raytheon…
Latest updates[?]: Colonna Shipyards won an $8.9 million deal for an 80-day shipyard availability for the emergency dry-docking of Navy Ship Spearhead (T-EPF 1). The Spearhead Class Expeditionary Fast Transport shipbuilding program to provide "a platform intended to support users in the Department of the Navy and Department of the Army. The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) program is a cooperative effort for a high-speed, shallow draft vessel intended for rapid intratheater transport of medium-sized cargo payloads. The Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) is a shallow draft, all aluminum, commercial-based catamaran capable of intra-theater personnel and cargo lift, providing combatant commanders high-speed sealift mobility with inherent cargo handling capability and agility to achieve positional advantage over operational distances. Work will take place in Norfolk, Virginia and is expected to be finished 2020.
Austal MRV/JHSV concept
When moving whole units, shipping is always the cheaper, higher-capacity option. Slow speed and port access are the big issues, but what if ship transit times could be cut sharply, and full-service ports weren’t necessary? After Australia led the way by using what amounted to fast car ferries for military operations, the US Army and Navy decided to give it a go. Both services leased Incat TSV/HSV wave-piercing catamaran ship designs, while the Marines’ charged ahead with very successful use of Austal’s Westpac Express high-speed catamaran. These Australian-designed ships all give commanders the ability to roll on a company with full gear and equipment (or roll on a full infantry battalion if used only as a troop transport), haul it intra-theater distances at 38 knots, then move their shallow draft safely into austere ports to roll them off.
Their successful use, and continued success on operations, attracted favorable comment and notice from all services. So favorable that the experiments have led to a $3+ billion program called the Joint High Speed Vessel. These designs may even have uses beyond simple ferrying and transport.
Latest updates[?]: General Atomics won a $25.2 million delivery order, which procures Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) Depot Planning Phase II efforts, including depot level logistics support analysis, engineering support for logistics, supportability analysis, maintenance planning, reliability maintenance, technical manual development and engineering support as it directly correlates to depot planning for the USS Gerald Ford (CVN 78) and USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79). More than 99 percent of the work on this contract will be performed in San Diego, with one-tenth of one percent of work on the contract taking place in Tupelo, Mississippi. Expected completion date is February 2022.
As the US Navy continues to build its new CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class carriers, few technologies are as important to their success as the next-generation EMALS (Electro-MAgnetic Launch System) catapult. The question is whether that technology will be ready in time, in order to avoid either costly delays to the program – or an even more costly redesign of the first ship of class.
Current steam catapult technology is very entertaining when it launches cars more than 100 feet off of a ship, or gives naval fighters the extra boost they need to achieve flight speed within a launch footprint of a few hundred feet. It’s also stressful for the aircraft involved, very maintenance intensive, and not really compatible with modern gas turbine propulsion systems. At present, however, steam is the only option for launching supersonic jet fighters from carrier decks. EMALS aims to leap beyond steam’s limitations, delivering significant efficiency savings, a more survivable system, and improved effectiveness. This free-to-view spotlight article covers the technology, the program, and its progress to date.
Latest updates[?]: Saab has signed an agreement with Australia to provide combat management systems for Navy's surface ships. According to the agreement, Saab will deliver its Next Generation’ Combat Management System (CMS) to Australia’s new Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) and the Supply class auxiliary oiler replenishment (AOR) ships. Saab will also modernize the 9LV CMS currently in use in the Anzac Class frigates and will provide the software for the future tactical interface for the Hobart class air warfare destroyer (AWDs) when their current CMS is modernized.
The FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates make for a fascinating defense procurement case study. To this day, the ships are widely touted as a successful example of cost containment and avoidance of requirements creep – both of which have been major weaknesses in US Navy acquisition. On the other hand, compromises made to meet short-term cost targets resulted in short service lives and decisions to retire, sell, or downgrade the ships instead of upgrading them.
Australia’s 6 ships of this class have served alongside the RAN’s more modern ANZAC Class frigates, which are undergoing upgrades of their own to help them handle the reality of modern anti-ship missiles. With the SEA 4000 Hobart Class air warfare frigates still just a gleam in an admiral’s eye, the government looked for a way to upgrade their FFG-7 “Adelaide Class” to keep them in service until 2020 or so. The SEA 1390 project wasn’t what you’d call a success… but Australia accepted their last frigate in 2010, and the 4 remaining ships will serve until 2020.
Latest updates[?]: The Falkland Islands have welcomed the arrival of new patrol vessel HMS Forth. British Forces South Atlantic Islands say that the ship has taken over the mission from HMS Clyde, which has offered protection to the Falklands and nearby South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands for the past 12 years. The long-term deployment of HMS Forth will see the ship act as the guardian and patrol vessel for the Falkland Islands and Britain’s South Atlantic territories. HMS Forth is a Batch 2 River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel and is fundamentally different in appearance and capabilities from the preceding Batch 1. Notable differences include the longer 90.5 meters long hull, a higher top speed of 24 knots, a Merlin-capable flight deck, a greater displacement of around 2,000 tonnes and greatly expanded capacity for accommodating personnel.
The UK’s forthcoming Ocean Class 90m+ Offshore Patrol Vessels stem from a shipbuilding sector agreement that the UK MoD signed with BAE in November 2013. Britain needed to find an affordable bridge-buy that kept its naval shipyards running in-between completion of existing ships, and delayed construction of the new Type 26 frigates. Rather than paying termination and industrial costs to keep the shipyard idle, the UK government decided to buy 3 OPVs, for delivery by 2017. This would also allow the Royal Navy to retire or gift out the existing River Class OPVs HMS Tyne, HMS Severn and HMS Mersey.
As of August 2014, the contract for these new open-ocean patrol vessels is complete…
Latest updates[?]: Boeing won a $22.5 million contract for Laser Small Diameter Bomb all up rounds and warhead shipping containers. The deal provides 522 all up rounds and 131 warhead shipping containers for use by US Special Operations Detachment 1. The GBU-39 is a 250 pounds precision-guides glide bomb that is intended to provide aircraft with the ability to carry a higher number of more accurate bombs. It uses an advanced anti-jam GPS-aided inertial navigation system to attack fixed or stationary targets, and carries a multipurpose penetrating blast-and-fragmentation warhead with a programmable fuze. Boeing will perform work at St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be complete by February 8, 2021.
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Nov 1/10: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $106.4 million contract modification, exercising the Production Lot 7 (FY 2011) option for GBU-39 small diameter bombs, carriages, and technical support. At this time, the entire amount has been committed by the AAC/EBMK at Eglin Air Force Base, FL (FA8672-11-C-0034). Boeing’s Nov 9/10 release states that Lot 7 covers 2,700 GBU-39s and 280 GBU-61 carriages. Production Lots 1-5 delivered approximately 7,000 bombs and 1,200 carriages to the USAF, and Lot 6 production of 2,613 bombs and 472 carriages is more than 3 months ahead of schedule.
Unlike Raytheon’s GBU-53 SDB-II, Boeing’s SDB-I isn’t designed to attack moving targets. Instead, this GPS-guided weapon is more like the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), with a number of key design modifications. This specially shaped 250-pound bomb’s thin and pointed shape gives it extra punch against buildings and hardened targets, even though its warhead is only 50 pounds of explosive. Its pop-out glide wings and guidance set give it extended range, depending on the launching aircraft’s speed and altitude. The bombs are carried on a smart BRU-61/A 4-rack carriage, or in the internal weapon bay of planes like the F-22A Raptor. Either way, the SDB-I’s weight and compact design let aircraft carry far more smart bombs than they could otherwise.
Contracts & Events
November 11/19: All Up Rounds And Warhead Shipping Containers Boeing won a $22.5 million contract for Laser Small Diameter Bomb all up rounds and warhead shipping containers. The deal provides 522 all up rounds and 131 warhead shipping containers for use by US Special Operations Detachment 1. The GBU-39 is a 250 pounds precision-guides glide bomb that is intended to provide aircraft with the ability to carry a higher number of more accurate bombs. It uses an advanced anti-jam GPS-aided inertial navigation system to attack fixed or stationary targets, and carries a multipurpose penetrating blast-and-fragmentation warhead with a programmable fuze. Boeing will perform work at St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be complete by February 8, 2021.
January 5/18: Contract-FMS Boeing has been awarded a $193 million US Air Force contract by the Department of Defense (DoD), to provide GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb Increment 1 (SBD-1) to several foreign partner nations. Saudi Arabia, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Singapore will all benefit from the deal, and 6,000 SDB 1 all-up-rounds are being produced under the modification to the original Lots 12-14 production order. Production will take place at St. Louis, Mo., and deliveries will be completed by December 2020.
April 8/16: Australia has been cleared to purchase up to 2,950 GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs by the US State Department. The $386 million sale will include the provision of up to 50 Guided Test Vehicles (GTV) with GBU-39 (T-1)/B (Inert Fuze) as well as containers, weapons system support equipment, support and test equipment, site survey, transportation, repair and return warranties, spare and repair parts, publications and technical data, maintenance, personnel training, and training equipment. Included additionally are US Government and contractor representative engineering, logistics, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support.
November 12/15: Boeing has been awarded an Air Force contract modification covering Foreign Military Sales production of GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs. The $130.1 million modification covers deliveries of the weapons to foreign partners, with the contract modification running to 2019. Israel and Italy operate the munition outside of the United States. First initial production of the SDBI began in 2005, after a controversial decision to award Boeing a production order.
Latest updates[?]: BAE Systems Norfolk won a $11.9 million contract modification for additional growth requirements, including actions taken during Hurricane Florence, identified during the execution of the USS Tortuga Fiscal 2018 Modernization Period Chief of Naval Operations availability. USS Tortuga was originally commissioned in November 1990 and has been part of the US Navy’s LSD / CG-class modernization program since 2016. The keel on the vessel was initially laid on 23 March 1987. At the start of the Tortuga modernization process in May 2016, BAE Systems’ Norfolk shipyard was awarded a $17.7 million contract. The Tortuga or LSD 46 is a Whidbey Island Class dock landing ship. Work will take place in Norfolk, Virginia and estimated completion will be in November this year.
LSD 43 off Haiti
The LSD MSMO was developed to provide extended dry docking, modernization, upgrades, and repairs to the LSD-41 Whidbey Island and related LSD-49 Harpers Ferry Classes of amphibious landing ships, which were commissioned between 1985-1998. The classes are highly similar, but the slightly larger Harpers Ferry Class reduces the number of onboard LCAC hovercraft from 4 to 2, in exchange for more cargo capacity. Two ships of these classes are being upgraded each year through 2013, and the last ship will be modernized in 2014. LSD MSMO aims to keep all 12 remaining ships of these classes in service and mission-capable to 2038.
These 186-190m, 14,460-14,850 tonne US Navy LSD ships are designed to carry Marines and equipment close to shore, then land them by launching onboard craft from their well decks. They’re similar in size to the earlier Austin/Cleveland Class LPDs, but are much smaller than either the new LPD-17 San Antonio Class, or the carrier-size LHA-1 Tarawa and LHD-1 Wasp Classes. Despite these characteristics, or perhaps because of them, their flexibility and numbers have made them among the US Navy’s most-used ships for several years running.
Latest updates[?]: The State Department also approved a FMS to Denmark for nine AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS) systems and six hundred AN/SSQ-36/53/62 Sonobuoys with support for an estimated cost of $200 million. The AN/AQS-22 ALFS dipping sonar and sonobuoy processing system is the primary anti-submarine warfare sensor of US Navy's MH-60R multi-mission helicopter. It provides mission-critical capabilities, including submarine detection, tracking, localization, classification, acoustic intercept, underwater communication and environmental data collection. The AQS-22 dipping sonar features 4-time greater area coverage than current systems, active or passive sonar modes, active or passive sonobuoys, enhanced shallow water capability, generate high power waveforms and many other advanced characteristics.
MH-60R & ALFS,
The AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low-Frequency Sonar (ALFS) will equip the US Nay’s new MH-60R multi-mission helicopters, serving as their primary anti-submarine sensor. The new FLASH sonar operates using lower frequencies and higher-power waveforms than existing dipping sonars, improving long-range detection. The AQS-22 dipping sonar claims 4x the area coverage of current systems, and includes both active or passive sonar modes to help track, localize, and classify submarines. A winching system with up to 2,500 feet of cable raises and lowers the sonar.
The ALFS system complements the MH-60R’s radar, and works in concert with other equipment including active or passive sonobuoys, signal processing improvements that are especially helpful in shallow water. This Spotlight article highlights ALFS-related contracts from 2002 to the present.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon announced that the US Air Force used the company’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System, known as GPS OCX, to support the launch of its second GPS III satellite into space. The ground system will spend 10 days maneuvering the satellite into its final orbit, demonstrating GPS OCX's ability to simultaneously support multiple GPS III spacecraft on-orbit throughout the checkout and calibration process. GPS III SV02 is the newest generation of GPS satellites designed and built to deliver positioning, navigation and timing information apparently with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability than its predecessor. Prime contractor is Lockheed Martin. The GPS III satellite, also called Magellan, was launched on August 22 after years of delays. United Launch Alliance used a Delta IV rocket to launch the second Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite for the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
GPS IIIA concept
GPS-III satellites, in conjunction with their companion OCX ground control, system are the Global Positioning System (GPS) future. They offer big advantages over existing GPS-II satellites and GCS, but most of all, they have to work. Disruption or decay of the critical capabilities provided by the USA’s Navstar satellites would cripple both the US military, and many aspects of the global economy.
The time-based GPS service is the most-used application of Einstein’s Theories of Relativity. GPS has become part of civilian life in ways that go go far beyond those handy driving maps, including crop planting, timing services for stock trades, and a key role in credit card processing. At the same time, military class (M-code) GPS guidance can now be found in everything from cruise missiles and various precision-guided bombs, to battlefield rockets and even artillery shells. Combat search and rescue radios rely on this line of communication, and so does a broadening array of individual soldier equipment.
This DII FOCUS article looks at the existing constellation, GPS-III improvements, the program’s structure, its progress through contracts and key milestones, and extensive PTN (Positioning, Timing & Navigation)/ GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) research links.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $56 million deal for combat system engineering support on the Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS). Under the contract, the SSDS combat system engineering agent and software design agent primary deliverables will be SSDS tactical computer programs, program updates and associated engineering, development and logistics products. The contract will manage the in-service SSDS configurations as well as adapt and integrate new or upgraded war-fighting capabilities. Lockheed will perform work in Moorestown, New Jersey and San Diego, California. Estimated completion date is in December.
Right now, in many American ships beyond its Navy’s top-tier AEGIS destroyers and cruisers, the detect-to-engage sequence against anti-ship missiles requires a lot of manual steps, involving different ship systems that use different displays. When a Mach 3 missile gives you 45 seconds from appearance on ship’s radar to impact, seconds of delay can be fatal. Seconds of unnecessary delay are unacceptable.
Hence Raytheon’s Ship Self Defense System (SSDS), which is currently funded under the US Navy’s Quick Reaction Combat Capability program. It’s widely used as a combat system in America’s carrier and amphibious fleets. That can be challenging for its developers, given the wide array of hardware and systems it needs to work with. Consistent testing reports indicate that this is indeed the case, and SSDS has its share of gaps and issues. It also has a series of upgrade programs underway, in order to add new capabilities. Managing these demands effectively will have a big impact on the survivability of the US Navy’s most important power projection assets.