The M299 missile launcher equips a number of helicopters, including the he AH-64D Apache Longbow, Britain’s WAH-64 MK1 Apache helicopters, the USMC’s new AH-1Z Viper (Cobra family) attack helicopter, Eurocopter’s Tiger scout/attack helicopter, and the SH-60B Seahawk. It weighs 145 pounds and supports 4 Hellfire II laser-guided anti-armor missiles, or up to 4 Longbow Hellfire dual guidance (laser/radar) fire-and-forget missiles, or up to 16 of Lockheed Martin’s new laser-guided DAGR 70mm rockets. Lockheed Martin produces the electronics for the M299 launcher at its facility in Ocala, FL, and Marvin Engineering in Inglewood, CA performs final assembly and test.
In late 2007, Lockheed Martin announced a $51.3 million U.S. Army contract to supply an additional 430 M299 helicopter-mounted missile launchers (402 USA, 38 foreign military sales) and 376 launcher electronic assemblies for U.S. and international forces. The contract from the US Army’s Aviation and Missile Command, at Redstone Arsenal, AL also included multiple spares, engineering services and depot support. That order extended M299 production activity in Ocala and in Inglewood until late 2011, as Deliveries were scheduled to run through the 3rd quarter of 2011.
DAGRs & Hellfires
Now a $31.3 million modification to that Bridge 3 contract award will add 298 M299s (total: 728), 134 launcher electronic assemblies (total: 510) and multiple spares to U.S. and international forces. Lockheed Martin is increasing the rate of production, and deliveries are still scheduled to be completed in 2011. The 2009 release also touts its compatibility with the resurrected JAGM missile program, which features a competition between previous competition winner Lockheed Martin and a Boeing/Raytheon partnership.
What happens when advances in modern electronics mean that sensors like imaging-class radars, advanced day/night cameras, and even more exotic items like hyperspectral sensors, laser radars, etc. are no longer very expensive items that are mounted on dedicated platforms? When a wide array of video cameras, surveillance turrets, ubiquitous radar capabilities, and other systems built into vehicles, aircraft, ships, and unmanned vehicles provide an explosion of sensor data – just as a range of databases related to human patterns or physical infrastructure are also appearing on the scene, in numbers.
In part, it is similar to what happened when the Internet went from an academic platform to a global phenomenon. The good news was, so much more information became available. The bad news was, finding the things we were looking for started to involve a lot more work.
The military has this same problem with sensors, only worse. Most of the time, they’re not necessarily looking for discrete answers, but for an overall picture of what’s going on. That becomes hard as sensors move from a small number deployed on dedicated platforms, to hundreds or thousands of them employed in platforms of every shape and size. For some applications, like domestic security or protecting certain key areas, it gets even harder. The need to include physical surveillance, communications surveillance, information about human activities, and improved geo-awareness all combine to produce a maddeningly complex task.
Moore’s Law of doubling computing power, and Metcalfe’s Law of exponential network power, created this data explosion. Several cycles later, the military is hoping it can begin to offer assistance, by turning massive arrays of data into coherent systems that help humans respond at the speed of events. The first step was data fusion. The next step was sensor fusion. The third step is information fusion… and the US Navy has just set up a center to work on it.
Datalinks are an under-rated but critical technology set for any modern military. In simple terms, a datalink provides virtual circuit and datagram services that guarantee reliable, simultaneous, multi- channel transmissions. They can include voice, data, imagery, and video, and are generally encrypted for obvious reasons. These services may allow a soldier with a V-RAMBO wrist device to get streaming video from a UAV, or a strike aircraft to receive target information directly from troops on the ground via the ROVER system. Weapons with 2-way datalinks can be re-targeted in flight. Advanced uses of datalinks even include implementations like NATO’s Link 16 standard, which allow targets identified by one radar or aircraft to appear on others’ displays.
The Indian Air Force recently put out a contract for datalink development. In the ODL(Operational Data Link) pilot project, the Air Force plans to network selected aircraft and ground stations by 2012, as a first step and training opportunity. Over the next 10 years, they plan to equip their fighter fleets, transport aircraft, helicopters, AWACS and maritime surveillance aircraft, UAVs, and key radars…
Around the world, buyers of light military transport aircraft face 3 main choices: Alenia’s C-27J Spartan, EADS-CASA’s C-295M, or Russia’s AN-32. EADS-CASA began with notable leads in orders and customers over its C-27J rival. Spain, Algeria, Brazil, Finland, Jordan, Poland, and Portugal picked the C-295M, which offers better range, more cost-efficient operation, and more standard cargo pallets in its longer fuselage. Then the USA’s Joint Cargo Aircraft program made Alenia a winner, and will order at least 78 C-27Js. That tipped the production balance, and appears to be adjusting decision calculations as well. The C-27J’s customers now include Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Morocco, Romania, and the USA. Its larger fuselage diameter and reinforced floor let it carry tactical loads like vehicles and small helicopters as well as pallets, and its design gives it both a higher top speed and commonalities with the global C-130J Hercules medium transport fleet. If US Special Operations Command has its way, an AC-27J “Baby Spooky” gunship variant may be next.
Governments like umbrella “multiple award” contracts that let them deal with specific areas on set terms. It cuts administrative overhead costs, creates known pools of familiar competitors, and shortens the gap between requests and service. Hence the US Army’s recent announcement of their $497 million Biometrics Operations and Support Services Unrestricted (BOSS-U) multiple award contract awards, run by the Information Technology, E-commerce and Commercial Contracting Center (ITEC4) on behalf of the Biometrics Task Force.
The opportunity was initially announced on May 23/08, and proposals from 12 offerors were received by the closing date of Aug 18/08. The winners were announced in late December 2008, and include:
Environmental Leader magazine has a pair of stories covering achievements in the defense sector:
Lockheed Martin received several awards in 2008 for its progress towards the aggressive 25% reduction goals for carbon, waste, and water use it had set in 2007. The firm has set 2012 as the target date, and is also expanding its sales of related conservation services. EL story.
Meanwhile, the US Navy has reduced its overall energy consumption level by 12% as of this year. Since few additional funds were allocated, the Navy is using “share-in-savings” where contractors pay for the upgrade and capital costs, then the Navy pays them back through resulting savings in its energy bills. Environmental Leader’s story details some of these arrangements.
On a comparable note, Raytheon’s Enterprise Energy Team received one of Raytheon’s 2007 Excellence in Operation and Quality award in June 2008. The team achieved Raytheon’s 2-year goal and decreased total company-wide energy consumption by 17% during 2007, vs. an adjusted 2005 baseline. The firm saved $10 million in energy costs during 2007, and avoided 104 million kWh. Since energy constitutes 90% of the firm’s greenhouse gas footprint, the firm expects to meet its greenhouse gas reduction goals a year early.
Full disclosure: DID LLC recently signed a financial agreement with Environmental Leader magazine that involves mutual investments. DID’s long-standing coverage of energy issues and their implications for military procurement will continue, and we look forward to working together with Environmental Leader on key trends and stories of interest.
Over the past year, both Norway and the Netherlands have both held competitions for their F-16 fighter replacements. EADS pulled its Eurofighter out of the Norwegian competition in December 2007, amidst rumors that they believed the competition was fixed to a pre-determined outcome. Norway’s recent decision, and the follow-on presentation by Saab’s CEO, certainly add credence to that perception.
The Norwegian competition featured a simulation as an important centerpiece of the competition. The Dutch competition also featured simulations, alongside a comparative study of the F-16 Block 60+, JAS-39NG Gripen, and F-35A. A study whose findings have become a key milestone to the Dutch IOT&E decision, and to its future fighter choice.
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors in Saint Paul, MN received a $525.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract for AN/UYQ-70V Advanced Display Systems.
These systems are part of the Q-70 family of naval displays, computing enclosures, and accompanying software solutions. The Q-70 family is widely used in U.S. Navy applications, and can be found on sea, land, and airborne military platforms. Q-70 gear is also used in naval systems operated by Australia, Germany, Japan, Norway, and Spain. There is also a Q-70 Technology Insertion program, which provides a framework to identify, monitor, and accelerate the introduction of improved commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies.
Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (60%), Clearwater, FL (30%), and St. Paul, MN (10%), and is expected to be complete by August 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the US DoD’s current fiscal year. The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport in Keyport, WA manages the contract (N00024-05-D-5130).
The F-35 Lightning II is a major multinational program intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role strike fighter that will have three 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. System development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3). Now the challenge is agreeing on production phase buys, with initial purchase commitments expected around 2008-2009. Export interest is also beginning to stir in a number of quarters, even though full testing will not be complete until 2014.
The Netherlands is a notable player in the multinational F-35 program, as one of only two Tier 2 program partners, and the future site of a European maintenance hub. The government is still deciding whether it will join the Joint Strike Fighter’s IOTE (Initial Operational Test & Evaluation) phase and purchase 2 aircraft. Meanwhile, what was once a slam-dunk to replace RNLAF F-16s has now become a competition of sorts involving Saab’s JAS-39NG Gripen. To this point, the Dutch have invested over EUR 850 million in the F-35’s development phases.
The financing arrangements involved are highly unusual. They have now become a subject of possible legal action, as the government insists that industry players owe it more than EUR 300 million…