Latest updates[?]: Viasat and Data Link Solutions each won a $998.8 million deal for the production, retrofits, development and sustainment of the Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) Joint Tactical Radio Systems (JTRS) terminals. Currently, there are three variants of MIDS JTRS terminals: the Concurrent Multi-Netting-4, the Tactical Targeting Network Technology and the F-22 variant. The MIDS JTRS terminal is a line-of-sight radio system for collecting and transmitting broadband, jam-resistant, secure data and voice across a variety of air, sea and ground platforms. These terminals will continue to be procured, sustained and updated for future growth, including JTRS advanced networking waveforms such as: multifunction advanced data link, intra-flight data link and other advanced networking waveforms. The MIDS JTRS terminals make use of high-speed jam-resistant Link-16 tactical data exchange network. The Link 16 allows for real-time transfer of combat data, voice communications, imagery, and relative navigation information between dispersed battle elements, using data encryption and frequency hopping to maintain secure communications. The system facilitates the exchange of data over a common communication link, allowing participants to obtain and share situational awareness information and interoperate within the battlespace. Viasat will perform work in Carlsbad, California. Data Link Solution will perform work in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Expected completion is by May 2025.
PRC-154 with 75th RR
The Pentagon’s JTRS (Joint Tactical Radio System) aimed to replace existing radios in the American military with a single set of software-define radios that could have new frequencies and modes (“waveforms”) added via upload, instead of requiring multiple radio types in ground vehicles, and using circuit board swaps in order to upgrade. Trying to solve that set of problems across the entire American military meant taking on a very a big problem. Maybe too big. JTRS has seen cost overruns and full program restructurings, along with cancellation of some parts of the program.
JTRS HMS (Handheld, Manpack & Small Form-Fit) radios, for use by the individual solder, have survived the tumult, and are now headed into production. They offer soldiers more than just improved communications, and have performed in exercises and on the front lines. Now, production is ramping up.
Latest updates[?]: Sikorsky Aircraft won an $9 million contract modification, which provides support for the integration and transition of Windows 10 and Server 16 into various VH-92A training devices. The Sikorsky/Lockheed Martin VH-92 will replace the US Marine Corps VH-3D and VH-60N helicopters that transport the US president, while operating under the name of Marine One. The VH-92 presidential helicopter has an executive interior and military mission support avionics, including triple electrical power and redundant cockpit flight controls. The Navy awarded a $542 million order to Sikorsky last June for six Lot I VH-92A presidential helicopters. Sikorsky will begin deliveries of the first six VH-92A helicopters in 2021. Work will take place Quantico, Virginia and its expected to be finished by October 2022.
In January 2005, the U.S. Navy selected the US101 as the new “Marine One” baseline helicopter, for use by the President of the United States. The US101 is an American variant of AgustaWestland’s successful AW101 multi-mission medium helicopter; it beat out Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawk, which is already in use as a government VIP transport in countries like South Korea.
That $1.7 billion victory was first endangered, and then destroyed, by ongoing changes from the White House staff. In 2008, the program’s ballooning costs and requirements got a temporary reprieve when US Navy agreed to proceed with the VH-71, despite a cost per aircraft equal or greater than the President’s Air Force One 747s. By June 2009, however, the VH-71 program had shot itself down.
Another round of competition is on the way, and back in 2009 the Pentagon said it was considering buying 2 different helicopters in the VXX follow-on program. Faced with an initial Analysis of Alternatives deemed too expensive, the OSD accepted the Navy’s revised approach in May 2012, setting things in motion for a new program of record.
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[?]: Northrop Grumman won a $217.2 million modification, which provides for Battlefield Airborne Communications Node payload operation and support for payload equipment and services. Under the contract, Northrup Grumman will support payload equipment and services for the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node, a US Air Force relay and gateway system carried by the EQ-48 and Bombardier E-11A aircraft. The node enables real-time information flow across the battlespace in line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight operations. Work will take place in San Diego and at undisclosed overseas locations, with an expected completion date of January 23, 2021.
In late June 2009, the USAF awarded Northrop Grumman Defense Mission Systems Inc., of San Diego, CA an urgent requirement contract for its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) System. Under current plans, Northrop Grumman will help the USAF deploy BACN in up to 4 “E-11” Bombardier BD-700 Global Express (see also BACN-modified photo) ultra-long-range business jets, and in up to 4 EQ-4B Global Hawk Block 20 UAVs, for sustained deployment through 2015.
BACN is an airborne communications relay that extends communications ranges, bridges between radio frequencies, and “translates” among incompatible communications systems. That may sound trivial, but on a tactical level, it definitely isn’t.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon won a $442.3 million deal for the force element terminal (FET) development effort. The contract provides for the design, development, testing, integration, and logistical support of a FET system that will transition the B-52 and RC-135 hardened communication terminals from the Military Strategic Tactical Relay satellite communications satellite constellation to the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite constellation. According to the US Air Force’s latest strategic bomber guidance document, the B-52H Stratofortress are no longer approved to carry nuclear gravity bombs. There have long been concerns that the B-52 lacks the capability to penetrate modern air defenses to deliver a nuclear strike with gravity bombs. The B-52 Stratofortress entered into service in the 1950s. With the Cold War in full swing, the bomber became an integral part of the US’ nuclear deterrent as a part of the Nuclear Triad, alongside intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear-armed submarines. Decades later the aircraft is still integral in this role. Boeing RC-135 is a four engine, medium weight reconnaissance aircraft designed and manufactured by Boeing Defence and Integrated Systems for the USAF. Work will take place at Raytheon's facilities in Marlborough, Massachusetts; and Largo, Florida, and is expected to be completed by August 2023.
Nimrod R1 & E-3D AWACS
Land and sea surveillance, and electronic surveillance, are missions no government can ignore. To keep its capabilities, Great Britain launched a parallel set of efforts to update its Nimrod fleet. One multi-billion pound program sought to upgrade 12 of its unique Nimrod Mk2 maritime patrol aircraft to Nimrod MRA4 status. The other effort, named Project HELIX, sought to keep its related Nimrod R1 electronic and signals intelligence/ relay aircraft fleet flying until 2025.
Both failed. The Nimrod MR2 fleet was retired in 2010, with several almost-complete MRA4s scrapped, leaving Britain with no long-range maritime surveillance aircraft. The first sign of trouble for the Nimrod R1s was an October 2008 DSCA request, conveying Britain’s official $1+ billion request to field 3 RC-135V/W Rivet Joint ELINT/SIGINT aircraft. That, too, became final, and the R1s will now leave service in 2011 – to be replaced by a joint RAF/USAF “Airseeker” program centered on the RC-135W Rivet Joint.
Latest updates[?]: Raytheon won a $61.5 million delivery contract for Global Positioning System-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Services (GPNTS) software support. GPNTS is used to receive, process and distribute three-dimensional position, velocity, acceleration, attitude, time and frequency in the formats required by shipboard user systems. The software support will include development, integration and test of improvements, correction of deficiencies, preparation and delivery of engineering interim/final software builds and inputs for the GPNTS software requirements and configuration baseline. The delivery contract includes a base ordering period of five years, with a subsequent three-year option and a final two-year option for a total of 10 years should all options be exercised. Raytheon will perform work in San Diego, California and is expected to be finished by November, 2024.
At the end of June 2010, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA received a 4-year, $32.2 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to design, develop, test and deliver the Global Positioning System Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Service (GPNTS). If all options are exercised, work could continue until June 2021, and run the contract to $77.1 million. $4.6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (88%), and Fairfax, VA (12%), while the competitively procured contract will be managed by US Space and Naval Warfare Command in San Diego, CA (N00039-11-C-0089).
The DoD description said that “…GPNTS will support mission critical real-time positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) data services for weapons, combat, navigation, and other C4I systems requiring PNT information.” That’s technically true, but misleading. Discussions with Raytheon confirm that GPNTS systems will replace existing NAVSSI integrated navigation systems on board US Navy ships. They receive GPS data from the ship’s receivers, and act as a shipboard navigation data distribution hub. That could mean loading current coordinates from the ship into an aircraft or a GPS/INS-guided weapon, working with an aircraft carrier’s precision GPS landing system, or just handling routine navigation and reporting systems on board.
Contracts & Updates
November 19/19: Software Support Raytheon won a $61.5 million delivery contract for Global Positioning System-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Services (GPNTS) software support. GPNTS is used to receive, process and distribute three-dimensional position, velocity, acceleration, attitude, time and frequency in the formats required by shipboard user systems. The software support will include development, integration and test of improvements, correction of deficiencies, preparation and delivery of engineering interim/final software builds and inputs for the GPNTS software requirements and configuration baseline. The delivery contract includes a base ordering period of five years, with a subsequent three-year option and a final two-year option for a total of 10 years should all options be exercised. Raytheon will perform work in San Diego, California and is expected to be finished by November, 2024.
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.
Latest updates[?]: The US Navy contracted Data Link Solutions with a $75 million modification for the Block Upgrade II retrofit of Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) low volume terminals (LVTs). The MIDS LVT is a low-cost fighter terminal with flexible, open-architecture designs. It provides the critical airborne, ground, and maritime link that allows for simultaneous coordination of forces and situational awareness in battlefield operations. The MIDS program was inaugurated via a Memorandum of Understanding amongst the founding MIDS nations, namely Germany, Italy, Spain, France, and the United States. The terminals provide secure, high-capacity, jam-resistant, digital data and voice communications capability for Navy, Air Force and Army platforms, and for Foreign Military Sales customers. Work will take place in Wayne, New Jersey and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Estimated completion date is in December 2026.
Link 16 Display
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What one sees, all see. Jam-resistant Link-16 radios automatically exchange battlefield information – particularly locations of friendly and enemy aircraft, ships and ground forces – among themselves in a long-range, line-of-sight network. For example, air surveillance tracking data from an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft can be instantly shared with fighter aircraft and air defense units. More than a dozen countries have installed Link 16 terminals on over 19 different land, sea, and air platforms, making it an interoperability success story.
While recent advancements may make AESA radars the future transmitters of choice, Link 16 is the current standard. The Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Low Volume Terminals (MIDS LVTs) were developed by a multinational consortium to provide Link 16 capability at a lower weight, volume, and cost than the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS). This free-to-view DID Spotlight article throws a spotlight on the program, explaining Link 16, and covering associated contracts around the world.
Latest updates[?]: The American State Department approved a possible Sale to the Republic of Korea for Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPS). The deal is worth $950 million. The contract would enable the Republic of Korea to sustain and operate its fleet of RQ-4 Block 30 remotely piloted aircraft and will significantly advance US interests in standardization with the Republic of Korea’s Armed Forces. In 2014 South Korea signed a deal to purchase Global Hawks with production starting in 2015 and delivery expected to start last year. Due to cyber security concerns, delivery was delayed. Northrop Grumman is the principal contractor on the contract.
Euro Hawk UAV
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Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV has gone from a developmental platform to the next generation of American aerial reconnaissance. Flying at 60,000 feet, the RQ-4’s use their advanced synthetic aperture radar and other sensors to provide high-resolution images, unaffected by clouds or similar impediments. A larger RQ-4B model has been developed, and forms the backbone of current deliveries.
The transatlantic Euro Hawk project aimed to produce an RQ-4B with additional capabilities in signals intelligence collection (SIGINT), to complement its native ground surveillance capabilities. The 4-5 UAVs would provide the ability to detect and collect information from electronic intelligence (ELINT) radar emitters and communications emitters, and would be connected to ground stations that can receive and analyze the data. An MoU was signed in May 2006, followed by a firm system development contract on Jan 31/07. The Euro Hawk flew, and was performing on a technical level, but regulatory barriers killed the program in May 2013.