May 22, 2020 04:56 UTC
Austal USA won an $8.2 million contract
modification for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)
industrial post-delivery support for LCS 26. Austal USA will provide shipboard support to implement approved engineering change proposals, approved government-responsible deficiencies identified during test and trials, crew-related activities and preventative maintenance. Austal will also provide program management support and logistics support for technical documentation affected by the work performed. LCS 26 will be an Independence Class LCS. Work will take place in Mobile, Alabama and Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Estimated completion will be by March 2021.
Trimaran LCS Design
(click to enlarge)
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.
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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 18, 2020 04:56 UTC
IDSC Holdings won an $11.1 million contract
. which procures up to 2,064 toolboxes containing 1.423 different types of commercial tools in support of initial outfitting associated with F-35 low rate initial production and maintenance. Meanwhile, the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II’s
modernization is two years behind schedule and its cost has risen by $1.5 billion. The Block 4 upgrade, a modernization of the relatively new stealth fighter’s software and hardware, was initially to be delivered by 2024, but now will not be handed over until 2026, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). IDSC Holdings will perform work in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Expected completion will be by September 2021.
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 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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Apr 16, 2020 04:58 UTC
Raytheon won a $13.7 million modification
to exercise options in support of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM)
Design Agent, in-service support and technical engineering support services. The ESSM program is an international effort to design, develop and test missiles to improve ship defense. It forms part of an international defense agreement between the US and nine of its military allies. The Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) (RIM-162) is a medium-range, surface-to-air missile designed and manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems. The missile is currently in service with the US Navy and some of the 12 NATO Sea Sparrow consortium nations. Work will take place in Arizona, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Australia, West Virginia, Canada, Spain, Turkey and Greece. Expected completion will be by December 2020.
The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is used to protect ships from attacking missiles and aircraft, and is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. Compared to the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow, ESSM is effectively a new missile with a larger, more powerful rocket motor for increased range, a different aerodynamic layout for improved agility, and the latest missile guidance technology. Testing has even shown the ESSM to be effective against fast surface craft, an option that greatly expands the missile’s utility. As a further bonus, the RIM-162 ESSM has the ability to be “quad-packed” in the Mk 41 vertical launching system, allowing 4 missiles to be carried per launch cell instead of loading one larger SM-2 Standard missile or similar equipment.
This is DID’s FOCUS article for the program, containing details about the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile family, and contracts placed under this program since 1999. The Sea Sparrow was widely used aboard NATO warships, so it isn’t surprising that the ESSM is an international program. The NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the USA – as well as non-NATO Australia. Foreign Military Sales ESSM customers outside this consortium include Japan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
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Apr 06, 2020 04:56 UTC
Huntington Ingalls Industries won a $1.5 billion contract modification
for the procurement of the detail design and construction of Landing Platform Dock (LPD) Class 31 and the LPD 17 Flight II ship
. LPD 31 will be the 15th in the San Antonio class and the second Flight II LPD. Ingalls’ LPD Flight II program vendor base consists of more than 600 manufacturers and suppliers in 39 states, including 387 small businesses. More than 1,500 shipbuilders work on each LPD. Ingalls has delivered 11 San Antonio class ships to the Navy, and it has three more under construction. The San Antonio class is a major part of the Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. Work will take place in Mississippi, Virginia, Wisconsin and Louisiana. Work is expected to be finished by February 2027.
LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.
While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.
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Mar 24, 2020 04:56 UTC
Oshkosh Defense LLC won a $17.4 million contract modification
to exercise an option covering priced man-hours, labor, material and fees on material for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)
system technical support JLTV retrofit efforts. Estimated completion date is December 30, 2020. The company also won a $16.8 million modification to exercise options for packaged kits for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle family of vehicles with an expected completion date of November 30, 2023. Oshkosh Defense is a global leader in the design, production and sustainment of best-in-class military vehicles and mobility systems. The company developed its JLTV for the US Army and Marine Corps, to replace the aging fleet of High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV/Humvee). Work will take place in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
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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Mar 20, 2020 04:58 UTC
Next » 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.
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