Nov 21, 2017 04:58 UTC
General Electric Aviation (GEA) has been awarded a $143.4 million US Navy contract
to provide 22 low-rate initial production Lot 1 and 2 T408-GE-400 turboshaft engines for the CH-53K King Stallion
helicopter. In additional to the engines, the sale will also include associated engine and programmatic support, logistics support, peculiar support equipment, and spares. Work will take place in Lynn, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed in July 2021.
The U.S. Marines have a problem. They rely on their CH-53E Super Stallion medium-heavy lift helicopters to move troops, vehicles, and supplies off of their ships. But the helicopters are wearing out. Fast. The pace demanded by the Global War on Terror is relentless, and usage rates are 3 times normal. Attrition is taking its toll. Over the past few years, CH-53s have been recalled from “boneyard” storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, in order to maintain fleet numbers in the face of recent losses and forced retirements. Now, there are no flyable spares left.
Enter the Heavy Lift Replacement (HLR) program, now known as the CH-53K. It aims to offer notable performance improvements over the CH-53E, in a similar airframe. The question is whether its service entry delay to 2018-2019 will come too late to offset a serious decline in Marine aviation.
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Nov 15, 2017 04:59 UTC
Northrop Grumman announced Friday that it has delivered
the first operational MQ-4C Trition
UAV to the US Navy at its facility at Point Mugu. It will be joined by a second operational Tritonlater this year and both aircraft will be prepared by the maintenance detachment of Unmanned Patrol Squadron based at Point Mugu before deployment to Guam in 2018. In additional to Guam, the Navy's first MQ-4C squadron is based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, with the service planning to deploy Triton squadrons to NAS Mayport, Florida, NAS Sigonella, Italy and the Middle East in the future.
BAMS Operation Concept
The world’s P-3 Orion fleets have served for a long time, and many are reaching the end of their lifespans. In the USA, and possibly beyond, the new P-8 Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft will take up the P-3’s role. While the P-8’s base 737-based airframe offers strong service & maintenance arguments in its favor, the airframe is expensive enough that the P-3s cannot be replaced on a 1:1 basis.
In order to extend the P-8 fleet’s reach, and provide additional capabilities, the Poseidon was expected to work with at least one companion UAV platform. This DID FOCUS Article explains the winning BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance) concept, the program’s key requirements, and its international angle. We’ll also cover ongoing contracts and key events related to the program, which chose Northrop Grumman’s navalized MQ-4C Triton Global Hawk variant.
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Nov 09, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Navy has awarded a $22.4 million contract
to BAE Systems to exercise options for post-shakedown availabilities (PSA) for the USS Little Rock and USS Sioux City littoral combat ships (LCS
). Work will be carried out onboard USS Little Rock LCS-9 and USS Sioux City LCS-11 Freedom-class littoral combat ships at BAE's facility in Jacksonville, Fla., with completion scheduled for February 2019. PSA activities are usually carried out to correct deficiencies found during the shakedown cruise or to accomplish other authorised improvements.
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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Nov 06, 2017 04:58 UTC
Raytheon received Tuesday a modified $29 million contract
for mission systems equipment for the Navy's DDG 1000
, or Zumwalt-class destroyer. The order calls for the firm to deliver total ship computing environment hardware, and software research, test and development for the Zumwalt—the largest and most technologically advanced guided missile surface combatant ship in the world. Work will be performed across the country, with 46 percent place in Portsmouth, Rhode Island., and the work is expected to be completed by September 2018.
67% of the fleet
DID’s FOCUS Article for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyer” program covers the new ships’ capabilities and technologies, key controversies, associated contracts and costs, and related background resources.
The ship’s prime missions are to provide naval gunfire support, and next-generation air defense, in near-shore areas where other large ships hesitate to tread. There has even been talk of using it as an anchor for action groups of stealthy Littoral Combat Ships and submarines, owing to its design for very low radar, infrared, and acoustic signatures. The estimated 14,500t (battlecruiser size) Zumwalt Class will be fully multi-role, however, with undersea warfare, anti-ship, and long-range attack roles. That makes the DDG-1000 suitable for another role – as a “hidden ace card,” using its overall stealth to create uncertainty for enemy forces.
True, or False?
At over $3 billion per ship for construction alone, however, the program faced significant obstacles if it wanted to avoid fulfilling former Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter’s fears for the fleet. From the outset, DID has noted that the Zumwalt Class might face the same fate as the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-expensive SSN-21 Seawolf Class submarines. That appears to have come true, with news of the program’s truncation to just 3 ships. Meanwhile, production continues.
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Oct 30, 2017 04:59 UTC
US Naval Air Systems Command has released the final request for proposals
(RFP) to industry for the unmanned MQ-25 Stingray
unmanned aerial tanker. Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics were all issued the RFP to compete for the air segment of what will be the Navy’s first operational carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle ahead of an anticipated contract award by September of next year. Basic requirements will have the Stingray deliver about 15,000 pounds of fuel 500 nautical miles from the carrier, with a mission of alleviating the strain on the existing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets that are burning through flight hours while serving as a refueling tanker for other aircraft attempting to land on an aircraft carrier.
UCAS-D/ N-UCAS concept
The idea of UAVs with full stealth and combat capabilities has come a long way, quickly. Air forces around the world are pursuing R&D programs, but in the USA, progress is being led by the US Navy.
Their interest is well-founded. A May 2007 non-partisan report discussed the lengthening reach of ship-killers. Meanwhile, the US Navy’s carrier fleet sees its strike range shrinking to 1950s distances, and prepares for a future with fewer carrier air wings than operational carriers. Could UCAV/UCAS vehicles with longer ranges, and indefinite flight time limits via aerial refueling, solve these problems? Some people in the Navy seem to think that they might. Hence UCAS-D/ N-UCAS, which received a major push in the FY 2010 defense review. Now, Northrop Grumman is improving its X-47 UCAS-D under contract, even as emerging privately-developed options expand the Navy’s future choices as it works on its new RFP.
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Oct 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
Airbus has selected Spanish defense electronics firm Indra to develop a tactical and integrated procedures simulation trainer
for pilots of the former's new A330 MRTT
aerial refueling tanker. Indra's Integrated Procedures Trainer (IPT) will be connected to the Partial Training system (PTT) used by boom operators to learn how to handle the refueling tube for supplying fuel to the aircraft, and will allow pilots to familiarize themselves with the systems of the A330 MRTT tanker and practice situations impossible to reproduce using a real plane, such as engine failure, aircraft stall and emergency landings. Previous work with Airbus has seen Indra develop simulators for Airbus' commercial A320 and A330 aircraft and Airbus helicopters' H135, H225, H175, H145 and AS350.
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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Oct 13, 2017 04:59 UTC
General Atomics announced this week
that it has officially switched production of its MQ-1C Gray Eagle
UAV over to the longer-range variant, the MQ-1C ER Gray Eagle Extended Range. The new UAV will be tasked with long range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, in addition to aiding in communications relay and the delivery of weapons to assist ground forces. Recent endurance tests of the new long range drone saw it fly for 41.9 hours, significantly more than the 25-hour capability of the current variant. The firm said the first four MQ-1C ER aircraft are currently beingused for developmental testing and will progress to follow-on operational test and evaluation next spring 2018, with customer deliveries of MQ-1C ER to proceed from summer 2018.
Its initial battles were fought within the Pentagon, but the US Army’s high-end UAV has made its transition to the battlefield.
The ER/MP program was part of the US Army’s reinvestment of dollars from the canceled RAH-66 Comanche helicopter program, and directly supports the Army’s Aviation Modernization Plan. The US Air Force saw this Predator derivative as a threat and tried to destroy it, but the program survived the first big “Key West” battle of the 21st century. Now, the MQ-1C “Gray Eagle” is in production as the US Army’s high-end UAV. As CENTCOM’s wars end, however, the Gray Eagle may find that staying in the fleet is as hard as getting there.
This FOCUS article offers a program history, key statistics and budget figures, and ongoing coverage of the program’s contracts and milestones.
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Sep 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
General Dynamics Land Systems UK has commenced live firing trials
for its AJAX armored vehicle program
. The trials are being held in West Wales, Great Britain, and will last for approximately five months, starting with static firing positions against immobile point targets and gradually progressing to a moving vehicle engaging moving targets. It is armed with the CT 40 autocannon and a coaxial 7.62mm chain gun for lighter targets. Used by both the UK and French armed forces, the CT 40 ustilizes a type of telescoping 40mm ammunition designed to take up less space and reduce the necessary size of the gun. It can fire armor-piercing discarding sabot and high-explosive airburst ammunition out to an effective range of 2500 meters. It has a maximum rate of fire of up to 200 rounds per minute.
Many of Britain’s army vehicles are old and worn, and the necessities of hard service on the battlefield are only accelerating that wear. The multi-billion pound “Future Rapid Effects System” (FRES) aims to recapitalize the core of Britain’s armored vehicle fleet over the next decade or more.
The best one can say is that FRES has gone far better than America’s comparable and canceled “Future Combat System.” That doesn’t mean the rise has been smooth. FRES was spawned by the UK’s withdrawal from the German-Dutch-UK Boxer MRAV modular wheeled APC program, in order to develop a more deployable vehicle that fit Britain’s exact requirements. Those initial requirements were challenging, however, and experience in Iraq and Afghanistan led to decisions that changed an already-late program. So, too, have subsequent budgetary crises…
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Sep 07, 2017 04:58 UTC
French MQ-9 Reapers
UAVS in Mali will soon be armed
. Six Reapers, scheduled for delivery in 2019, will come armed with Hellfire missiles while the six remaining unarmed UAVs will be armed by 2020. France currently has five unarmed Reaper reconnaissance drones positioned in Niger's capital Niamey to support its 4,000-strong Barkhane counter-terrorism operation in Africa, and one in France. The armed drones are expected to offer a quick-response to Islamist militants operating in the Sahara region.
The MQ-9 Reaper UAV, once called “Predator B,” is somewhat similar to the famous Predator. Until you look at the tail. Or its size. Or its weapons. It’s called “Reaper” for a reason: while it packs the same surveillance gear, it’s much more of a hunter-killer design. Some have called it the first fielded Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV).
The Reaper UCAV will play a significant role in the future USAF, even though its capability set makes the MQ-9 considerably more expensive than MQ-1 Predators. Given these high-end capabilities and expenses, one may not have expected the MQ-9 to enjoy better export success than its famous cousin. Nevertheless, that’s what appears to be happening. MQ-9 operators currently include the USA and Britain, who use it in hunter-killer mode, and Italy. Several other countries are expressing interest, and the steady addition of new payloads are expanding the Reaper’s advantage over competitors…
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Aug 14, 2017 04:59 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
The US Air Force has taken a F-22 Raptor out of storage
at Edwards Air Force Base and is expected to be returned to flying status by the end of the year. The aircraft in question, serial number 91-4006, is an engineering, manufacturing and development model aircraft with a Block 10 avionics configuration. In preparation for its first flight, the Raptor is currently undergoing a $25 million upgrade to a Block 20 avionics standard. A total of eight test and 187 operational aircraft were produced by Lockheed Martin for the USAF before the program was mothballed in 2012.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
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