Aug 17, 2017 04:57 UTC
The British Royal Navy's biggest and latest battleship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth
, has berthed at its home port of Portsmouth
for the first time. Greeting the new aircraft carrier was a crowd of ten thousand people, among them UK Prime Minister Teresa May, who hailed the vessel as "a clear signal that as Britain forges a new, positive, confident role on the world stage in the years ahead we are determined to remain a fully engaged global power, working closely with our friends and allies around the world." The vessel and its crew had just returned from a round of sea trails and training with US naval personnel.
RN CVF Concept
Britain’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) announced a big leap forward for the Royal Navy: plans to replace the current set of 3 Invincible Class 22,000t escort carriers with 2 larger, more capable Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) ships that could operate a more powerful force. These new carriers would be joint-service platforms, operating F-35B aircraft, plus helicopters and UAVs from all 3 services. Roles could include ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance), force projection and logistics support, close air support, anti-submarine/ anti-surface naval warfare, and land attack.
The scale of the CVF effort relative to Britain’s past experiences means that the program structure is rather complex. It has passed through several stages already, and is being run and conducted within an industrial alliance framework. There is also a parallel international framework, involving cooperation with France on its PA2 carrier as a derivative of the CVF design. This DID FOCUS article covers that structure and framework, ongoing developments, and the ships themselves as they move slowly through construction, and eventual fielding.
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Aug 08, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Navy has awarded Boeing a $11.1 million contract modification
to conduct additional ground repair work on the P-8A Poseidon
maritime patrol aircraft operated by the service. Work will be carried out at Jacksonville, Fla., as well as other sites throughout the United States and locations in Japan, Australia and Italy, with a scheduled completion of June 2018. The Navy currently operates a fleet of 50 Poseidons and expect future deliveries to bring the fleet to 109 as it replaces its older P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
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?
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Aug 07, 2017 04:55 UTC
The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has brought
a A400M Atlas
tactical airlifter to this year's Mobility Guardian exercise in the US, the first time the aircraft has participated in such exercises. Based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash, it will participate in nine missions during the exercise, which aims to test the abilities of the Mobility Air Forces to execute rapid global mobility missions in dynamic, contested environments, and involves over 3,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and international partners. The RAF plans to induct 22 A400Ms into its tactical and strategic airlift fleet, complimenting the C-17 Globemaster III currently in operation.
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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Aug 03, 2017 04:56 UTC
The latest order of the Joint light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV
) program has been made by the US Army, with the service requesting the production and delivery
of 748 vehicles and 2,359 installed and packaged kits from manufacturer Oshkosh. Valued at $195 million, this has been the fifth JLTV buy since 2015 as part of Low Rate Initial Production orders, while testing and evaluation of the new landvehicle continues. It is anticipated that a decision on Full Rate Production of the JLTV will be made in fiscal year 2019 and first units delivered to the Army later that year.
Ultra APV demonstrator
In an age of non-linear warfare, where front lines are nebulous at best and non-existent at worst, one of the biggest casualties is… the concept of unprotected rear echelon vehicles, designed with the idea that they’d never see serious combat. That imperative is being driven home on 2 fronts. One front is operational. The other front is buying trends.
These trends, and their design imperatives, found their way into the USA’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program, which aims to replace many of the US military’s 120,000 or so Humvees. The US military’s goal is a 7-10 ton vehicle that’s lighter than its MRAPs and easier to transport aboard ship, while offering substantially better protection ad durability than existing up-armored Humvees. They’d also like a vehicle that can address front-line issues like power generation, in order to recharge all of the batteries troops require for electronic gadgets like night sights, GPS devices, etc.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. JLTV certainly qualifies, and recent budget planning endorsements have solidifed a future that was looking shaky. Now, can the Army’s program deliver?
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Aug 01, 2017 04:58 UTC
BAE Systems, in conjunction with the British Royal Air Force (RAF), are testing a new package
of advanced weapons, software and avionics enhancements for the Eurofighter Typhoon
as part of its Project Centurion program. Upgrades already tested during the program—which looks to provide a seamless transition between use of the GR4 Tornado
and Typhoon—have included the successful live firing of the Brimstone air-to-surface missile. The ongoing operational testing and evaluation of the upgrades, known as the Project Centurion Phase 1 capability package, includes trials of MBDA’s Meteor ‘beyond visual range’ air-to-air and Storm Shadow deep attack air-to-surface missile software systems.
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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Aug 01, 2017 04:56 UTC
The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) have moved forward
with its purchase of a further eight T-50TH
advanced jet trainers from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), adding to four first ordered in 2015. Valued at $260 million, KAI said that the first two models in the deal will arrive in November 2019, with deliveries to continue up until May 2020. The company added that the latest deal will also give a boost to the company's plan to sell the jet to more countries, including the United States, Argentina and Botswana. Indonesia, Iraq, and the Philippines have all made purchases of the trainer, bringing to 64 the total number of exports sold by KAI.
T-50 Golden Eagle
South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle family offers the global marketplace a set of high-end supersonic trainer and lightweight fighter aircraft. They’re hitting the international market at a good time: just as many of the world’s jet training fleets are reaching ages of 30 years or more, and high-end fighters are pricing themselves out of reach for many countries.
Most recently, Thailand is increasing its defense budget and the speed of its procurement process to, among other things, procure a replacement for its aging L-39. The T-50 is one of three candidates.
The ROK’s defense industry is advancing on all fronts these days. Its shipbuilding industry, one of the world’s busiest, is beginning to turn out its own LHDs, and even high-end KDX-III AEGIS destroyers. On the armored vehicle front, Korea’s XK2 tank and K9/K10 self propelled howitzer are beginning to win export orders, and its XK-21/KNIFV amphibious infantry fighting vehicle may not be too far behind. All fill key market niches, promising performance at a comparatively inexpensive price. Now its aerospace industry is in flight abroad with the KT-1 turboprop basic trainer, complemented by the T-50 jet trainer, TA-50 LIFT advanced trainer & attack variant, and FA-50 lightweight fighter.
The TA-50 and FA-50 are especially attractive as lightweight export fighters, and the ROKAF’s own F-5E/F Tiger II and F-4 Phantom fighters are more than due for replacement. The key question for the platform is whether it can find corresponding export sales.
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Jul 24, 2017 04:54 UTC
Ha Sung-yong, the CEO of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), has offered to step down
after Korean prosecutors raided his company's offices to gather evidence as part of the Surion
utility helicopter scandal. Allegations levelled at the firm include that charge that the company inflated expenses for the development of the Surion military helicotper and pocketed illicit gains—to the tune of $21 million—in the process. Ha, who last year said he would resign if KAI's T-50 was not selected for the USAF's T-X trainer program, offered to resign again during a board of directors meeting, and a successor will be chosen at an extraordinary shareholders' meeting, to be arranged for as soon as possible.
South Korea currently owns around 700 helicopters, but more than half are considered outdated, and they need to be replaced. December 2005 marked the endgame for a South Korean competition to produce about 245 utility transport helicopters, which would be developed and produced as a semi-indigenous program. The KHP/ Surion is in the 8-tonne class, and is designed to carry 11 troops. Industrial offsets were also important, as the program is designed to boost Korea’s ability to design and build its own rotary-wing aircraft. EADS Eurocopter was chosen as the cooperating partner.
The Korean government gave its final approval of the contract in June 2006, and the project is underway. Note that while company releases place the program’s value at $6-8 billion, the program hasn’t reached that level yet. The initial contract was for KRW 1.3 trillion ($1.3 billion), and is for research and development only. That development finished in April 2013, and the main production contract is next. It will proceed in parallel with additional contracts to develop Surion specialty versions for Korea’s federal police and Marine Corps, and all of these models will be offered for export through a joint venture with Eurocopter.
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Jul 20, 2017 04:58 UTC
Three Turkish defense firms will be asked to submit proposals
to Turkey's Altay
tank program, which could reach beyond $10 billion. BMC, Otokar and FNSS—all private companies—will bid to secure a contract for the serial production of an initial batch of 250 Altay tanks, which could be extended Turkish plans to produce a total of 1,000. Ankara's decision to include three bidders in the program comes after Otokar produced and successfully completed qualification tests of an Altay prototype, including mobility and endurance testing on rough terrain and climatic conditions, firing tests with various scenarios, and survivability testing. However, last month, the Turkish procurement agency deemed Otokar's serial production sole-source offer as too expensive, instead opening up the competition to include other bidders.
South Korea’s XK2
Turkey’s tank fleet is currently made up of American M-48s and M-60s, some of which have been modernized with Israeli cooperation into M-60 Sabra tanks, plus a large contingent of German Leopard 1s and Leopard 2s. That is hardy surprising. America and Germany are Turkey’s 2 most important geopolitical relationships, and this is reflected in Turkey’s choice of defense industry partners. The country’s industrial offset requirements ensure that these manufacturers have a long history of local partnerships to draw upon.
In recent years, however, a pair of new players have begun to make an impact on the Turkish defense scene. One was Israel, whose firms specialized in sub-systems, upgrades, and UAVs. The other is the Republic of [South] Korea, who has made inroads in the Turkish market with turboprop training aircraft, mobile howitzers… and now, main battle tanks.
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Jul 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
Israel has increased the scope
of its Leonardo Aermacchi M-346
"Lavi" advanced jet trainers after the successful upgrade of the aircraft's software. Additional external fuel tanks have already been added to the trainers with future enhancements planned includes the addition of live bombs which will allow for advanced training of air-to-surface strike missions. The aircraft are also being employed to support advanced training involving "fourth-generation" fighters.
Tornado refuels M346
Alenia’s Aermacchi’s M-346 advanced jet trainer began life in 1993, as a collaboration with Russia. It was also something of a breakthrough for Alenia Aermacchi, confirming that the Finmeccanica subsidiary could design and manufacture advanced aircraft with full authority quadriplex fly-by-wire controls. Those controls, the aircraft’s design for vortex lift aerodynamics, and a thrust:weight ratio of nearly 1:1, allow it to remain fully controllable even at angles of attack over 35 degrees. This is useful for simulating the capabilities of advanced 4+ generation fighters like the F/A-18 Super Hornet, Eurofighter, and Rafale. Not to mention Sukhoi’s SU-30 family, which has made a name for itself at international air shows with remarkable nose-high maneuvers.
The Russian collaboration did not last. For a while, it looked like the Italian jet might not last, either. It did though, and has become a regular contender for advanced jet trainer trainer contracts around the world. Its biggest potential opportunity is in the USA. For now, however, its biggest customer is Israel.
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Jul 18, 2017 04:59 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Airbus Helicopters has received a $35.2 million contract modification
for the supply of parts and logistical support for the US Army's UH-72 Lakota
light utility helicopter. The deal includes orders for spare parts and logistical support to account for higher flying hours by the UH-72 fleet than originally projected. Work will be conducted at Grand Prairie, Texas, with a scheduled completion date set at December 31, 2017. $35.2 million in 2017 Army operations and maintenance funds have been obligated for the project.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This is DID’s FOCUS Article regarding the US Army’s Light Utility Helicopter program, covering the program and its objectives, the winning bid team and industrial arrangements, and contracts.
The US Army’s LUH program will finish as a 325 helicopter acquisition program that will be worth about $2.3 billion when all is said and done. It aimed to replace existing UH-1 Hueys and OH-58 Kiowa utility variants in non-combat roles, freeing up larger and more expensive UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for front-line duty. In June 2006, a variant of Eurocopter’s EC145 beat AgustaWestland’s AB139, Bell-Textron’s 412EP Twin Huey, and MD Helicopters’ 902 Explorer NOTAR (No Tail Rotor) design. The win marked EADS’ 1st serious military win in the American market, and their “UH-145” became the “UH-72A Lakota” at an official December 2006 naming ceremony.
Eurocopter has continued to field new mission kits and deliver helicopters from its Mississippi production line, while trying to build on their LUH breakthrough. A training helicopter win will keep the line going for a couple more years…
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