“Dual guidance” bombs are becoming popular. They cost more, but deliver on versatility once all that money has been spent to get its carrying aircraft into position. GPS/INS guidance gives them the ability to bomb through sandstorm, fog, or other obscurement; or from high altitude, or without active targeting. Laser guidance adds other advantages, including improved accuracy and the ability to moving targets that have been “painted” by a laser designator.
Britain’s Paveway-IV project, France’s recent retrofits, Boeing’s LJDAM, and Raytheon’s Enhanced Paveway family weapons all fall into this category. So, too, does RAFAEL’s Spice, though it uses a combination of GPS/INS and imaging infrared (IIR). In October 2008, US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) added another entry when PMA-201 Precision Strike Weapons delivered the first Dual-Mode Laser-Guided Bomb (DMLGB) to the Fleet…
Lockheed Martin’s Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod was selected to equip US Air force aircraft in a competitive flyoff, and the firm has strengthened the AN/AAQ-33’s global position with 9 export customers (Belgium, Britain, Canada, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore). The latest update is a $147 million delivery order from the USAF for additional surveillance and targeting pods, which currently serve in the USAF alongside Northrop Grumman/RAFAEL’s AN/AAQ-28 LITENING AT.
Lockheed Martin’s competitors continue to improve their products, and so does Lockheed. New feature in development include Quint Networking Technology to enable a 2-way data link between other Sniper ATP-equipped aircraft and ground parties; real-time, streaming video via its data link to an Army Apache helicopter using the Video from its VUIT-2 system; improved low-light and infrared capabilities; and algorithm upgrades. Like their competitors, most capabilities are delivered in a single line replaceable unit “black box” to allow fast swap-outs and upgrades. Lockheed Martin release.
The 2006 controversy over the quality of Harrier support notwithstanding, close air support has proven to be a valuable asset to British forces in Afghanistan. When available and on-station, it provides a high-end counter to the standard enemy tactics of concentration and ambush. The cost of operating modern aircraft, however, and the size of modern air fleets, are both working to put a crimp in that option. Full battlefield coverage that can respond to any emergency within a few minutes is either cost-prohibitive, or beyond most militaries’ capabilities.
Fortunately, the rise of precision artillery fire offers an alternative with less reach, but 100% persistence and availability within its range. By 2010, MBDA expects to begin selling a loitering attack UAV called ‘Fire Shadow’ for use in Afghanistan. This one-shot, rocket-boosted UAV sports a range of 165 km, 10-hour endurance, and a 50 pound warhead. To succeed, however, it will have to outclass an already-fielded option: British forces began using the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System’s M30/31 GMLRS 227mm GPS-guided rockets and their 200 pound warheads in 2007, as a significant supplement to the UK’s close support options. British forces have recorded over 140 firings of the rockets in Afghanistan, which have earned GMLRS a nickname: “the 70 km sniper”.
During this period, the M270 MLRS has maintained 100% mission availability, often operating in ‘switched on and ready’ mode for 48 hours at a stretch. That kind of use, under conditions that differ significantly from their originally-envisaged role defending NATO from the USSR, created a March 2007 Urgent Operational Request for changes to the vehicle…
The proliferation of UAVs and fighters equipped with stabilized, high-magnification video pods and imaging radars has a number of corollary consequences. Bandwidth has become a key battlefield constraint. Specialized reconnaissance fighter aircraft are a dead concept. And some poor analyst has to sift through the video tsunami at the other end, in order to find items of interest.
That last item explains why Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control, Orlando, FL kicked off FY 2009 with a $5.5 million cost plus fixed fee contract to “develop and demonstrate a Video and Image Retrieval and analysis tool system for video data exploitation.” One that lets an analyst quickly find and retrieve video content of interest from archives containing thousands of hours of video data. One that also provide alerts of “events of interest” during live operations, forwarding them to an analyst’s attention. That last item is rather double-edged. If it works – which DARPA projects by their very nature cannot say with assurance – it could trigger timely, lifesaving assistance to combat missions. It could also be used for annoying, soldier-killing battlefield micromanagement. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, work will be performed in Cherry Hill, NJ; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Littleton, CO, with an estimated completion date of March 29/10. Bids were solicited via the Web, and 20 bids were received by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, VA (HR0011-09-C-0027).
On Sept 9/08 The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] an official request from Saudi Arabia for 12 AH-64D Block II Apache Longbow Helicopters, and associated items. The request, which could result in $598 million worth of contracts, would be used by the kingdom:
“…for its national security, and protecting its borders and oil infrastructure. The aircraft will provide the Saudi military more advanced targeting and engagement capabilities. The proposed sale will provide for the defense of vital installations and will provide close air support for the Saudi military ground forces. This sale also will increase the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) APACHE sustainability and interoperability with the U.S. Air Force, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and other coalition air forces.”
Saudi Arabia already has 12 AH-64A Apaches, in service with 2 Aviation Battalion at King Khalid Military City, in the country’s northeast near Kuwait. A $400 million August 2006 DSCA request would have upgraded those helicopters to AH-64D status, but DID has seen no follow-on contracts to that effect. This request involves new equipment, including:
Limitations on UAV use are imposed by the threat of collisions between UAVs and manned aircraft. An RQ-7 Shadow UAV is definitely large enough to create real problems if it hits a helicopter or other aircraft, and a UAV’s extremely narrow field of view is a lot less safe than the awareness available to a human in a cockpit. Worse, many UAVs are small enough that a potential collision may not be noticed by other aircraft until it’s too late. There have already been accidents.
This isn’t just a military problem. It also represents the largest barrier to widespread civil UAV use. Europe’s EDA has a program underway to address deconfliction, the Israelis are looking into it, the US military is funding research from multiple UAV controllers to SWARMs, and even private contractors are busy searching for the key that will unlock a vast UAV market. The ultimate goal is a system that’s small enough to equip smaller and more affordable tactical and civil UAVs, as well as larger and more expensive military UAVs like the MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-4 Global Hawk.
A recent project sponsored by the US Army, and led by Lockheed Martin, is bringing that goal closer – and may have ramifications for the inter-service balance of power.
Now Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri – Cantieri Navali Italiani S.p.A. has signed a definitive acquisition agreement to acquire the Manitowoc Marine Group (MMG), from its parent, The Manitowoc Company, Inc., for about $120 Million in cash. Lockheed Martin Corporation has agreed to be a minority investor with Fincantieri in the proposed acquisition.
Fincantieri is Italy’s leading shipbuilder, building a range of ships from aircraft carriers and frigates to offshore patrol vessels. MMG is a leading mid-tier American shipbuilder, who has worked on commercial, Coast Guard, and naval programs…
Nuclear submarines are extremely expensive, but they offer a very important advantage over conventional diesel. They can remain submerged until their shipboard provisions run out, while operating at full capacity. This is very different from diesel-electric submarines, which must come up periodically for air or “snorkel” near the surface to fuel their engines. Even modern air-independent propulsion systems can’t entirely remove this disadvantage, just lengthen undersea operations to a maximum of 2-3 weeks at significantly reduced speeds.
The problem is that surface and near-surface operations are an especially vulnerable time – many of history’s submarine kills have involved boats in this condition. A surfaced, snorkeling or periscoping submarine can be found by observation, but radar is a much better option. If, of course, one can tell the difference between the massive radar clutter generated by waves et. al., and the particular signatures of submarines that have a small air tube or periscope riding just above or very close to the surface. A fact that explains the latest contract related to the US Navy’s new MH-60R anti-submarine helicopter.
Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego in Owego, NY received a $144 million modification, finalizing a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (N00019-08-C-0005) to a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. This modification provides for the system design and development of the MH-60R Advanced Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination System, to include design, development, integration and test. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (51%) and Farmingdale, NY (49%), and is expected to be complete in September 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages this contract. See also subsequent NAVAIR release.
Back in August 2005, we noted that “ENCORE I.T. Contracts Raise Ceiling to $2.5B Until ENCORE II Arrives.” Services under ENCORE II will include high level enterprise IT policy, integration management, communications engineering, and asset management. According to the Encore II RFP, DISA intends to use the contract to support users in the military services and agencies as they transition from legacy systems to Net-Centric Enterprise Services (NCES), which embodies the new techno-organizational opportunities described above. Encore II will help them effectively use core NCES product lines, including collaboration and discovery tools, and a planned joint services knowledge portal. That’s the vision, anyway. In January 2006, we followed that up with “Pentagon’s $13 Bn “Encore II” RFP Gets Revised, Extended,” explaining the ENCORE vision, its origins, and its likely obstacles.
That wait ended on Jan 31/07, when 6 companies received indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity multiple-awards contracts. They include provisions for Firm, Fixed-Price, Time-and-Materials or Labor-Hour and Cost-Reimbursement (CPFF, CPAF, etc), and will run from March 12/07 through March 11/17. The maximum not-to-exceed value for the ENCORE II contract over a 5-year period, plus its 5 one-year option periods, is $12.225 billion. This is slightly less than the $13 billion projected. Performance will be at various locations within the Continental United States (CONUS), and also outside the CONUS (OCONUS), and each task order issued will be opened to competition among the ENCORE-II winners.
The solicitation was issued as a full and open competitive action with 16 large firm proposals received – but the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization DITCO) at Scott AFB, IL picked just 6 large firm winners with small business awards to follow. Whereupon, the protests began. Now, the small business roster has been added, and the large business roster has been expanded…
Think of RFID as wireless bar codes that don’t need to be swiped individually. The US military has invested heavily in RFID for its supply chain; recent years have begun to feature positive results, as well as the creation of an RFID solutions center near Wright-Patterson AFB, OH. The next-stage challenge is creating logistics networks that interoperate with allies to interoperate with systems like AGATRS to handle shipment, billing, and more.
Now Lockheed Martin subsidiary Savi Technology has been awarded a contract Army Sustainment Command on behalf of the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command (JMC). The initial $4 million contract would use Savi’s Munitions Total Management Systems-Field Module (MTMS-FM) to support depot-level ammunition logistics functions, and additional options that could drive its value higher over time. Savi Technologies release.
Lockheed Martin acquired Savi in May 2006. The firm has worked with the US military for over a decade to build their RF In-Transit Visibility (ITV) network, which spans more than 45 countries and tracks military supplies through 4,000 sites. The current RFID II contract, which totals almost half a billion dollars, belongs to Savi.