Jan 17, 2018 04:58 UTC
Delivery of Thailand's first two T-50TH
trainers will take a further two weeks
, after their ferry flight from South Korea hit turbulent weather and caused their diversion to Kuantan, Malaysia. Now it is being reported that the engines on both of the advanced trainers were badly damaged, and that the Royal Thai Air Force is demanding that manufacturer KAI replace the engines prior to their onward flight to Thailand. Speaking on the incident, RTAF chief ACM Johm Rungswang told reporters that while damage to the aircraft was limited and the planes could still fly, they must be in perfect condition when delivered.
T-50 Golden Eagle
South Korea’s T-50 Golden Eagle family offers the global marketplace a set of high-end supersonic trainer and lightweight fighter aircraft. They’re hitting the international market at a good time: just as many of the world’s jet training fleets are reaching ages of 30 years or more, and high-end fighters are pricing themselves out of reach for many countries.
Most recently, Thailand is increasing its defense budget and the speed of its procurement process to, among other things, procure a replacement for its aging L-39. The T-50 is one of three candidates.
The ROK’s defense industry is advancing on all fronts these days. Its shipbuilding industry, one of the world’s busiest, is beginning to turn out its own LHDs, and even high-end KDX-III AEGIS destroyers. On the armored vehicle front, Korea’s XK2 tank and K9/K10 self propelled howitzer are beginning to win export orders, and its XK-21/KNIFV amphibious infantry fighting vehicle may not be too far behind. All fill key market niches, promising performance at a comparatively inexpensive price. Now its aerospace industry is in flight abroad with the KT-1 turboprop basic trainer, complemented by the T-50 jet trainer, TA-50 LIFT advanced trainer & attack variant, and FA-50 lightweight fighter.
The TA-50 and FA-50 are especially attractive as lightweight export fighters, and the ROKAF’s own F-5E/F Tiger II and F-4 Phantom fighters are more than due for replacement. The key question for the platform is whether it can find corresponding export sales.
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Jan 12, 2018 04:59 UTC
South Korea's Marine Corps has received delivery
of its first two MUH-1 multi-role utility helicopters. Based on KAI's KUH-1 Surion
, the new variant has been cleverly/lazily dubbed the Marineon—Marine, Surion, Marineon, get it?—and features an external fuel tank, specialized radio equipment, flotation devices, as well as a folding main rotor that will allow the helicopter to operate from Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships. 32 units have been ordered as part of efforts to create an independent aviation unit for the marines, while an additional eight will go to the South Korea's navy. Deliveries are expected to continue to until 2023, at least.
South Korea currently owns around 700 helicopters, but more than half are considered outdated, and they need to be replaced. December 2005 marked the endgame for a South Korean competition to produce about 245 utility transport helicopters, which would be developed and produced as a semi-indigenous program. The KHP/ Surion is in the 8-tonne class, and is designed to carry 11 troops. Industrial offsets were also important, as the program is designed to boost Korea’s ability to design and build its own rotary-wing aircraft. EADS Eurocopter was chosen as the cooperating partner.
The Korean government gave its final approval of the contract in June 2006, and the project is underway. Note that while company releases place the program’s value at $6-8 billion, the program hasn’t reached that level yet. The initial contract was for KRW 1.3 trillion ($1.3 billion), and is for research and development only. That development finished in April 2013, and the main production contract is next. It will proceed in parallel with additional contracts to develop Surion specialty versions for Korea’s federal police and Marine Corps, and all of these models will be offered for export through a joint venture with Eurocopter.
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Jan 11, 2018 04:58 UTC
Lockheed Martin announced the receipt
of an undisclosed value US Navy development contract to provide the service's MH-60 helicopters
with an enhanced electronic warfare surveillance and countermeasure capabilities against anti-ship missile (ASM) threats. The firm's Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) Active Mission Payload (AMP) AN/ALQ-248 system, is a self-contained EW pod hosted by an MH-60R or MH-60S, and provides the Navy with advanced ASM detection and response capabilities. The system can work either independently or with the ship’s onboard electronic surveillance sensor, SEWIP Block 2 AN/SLQ-32(V)6, to detect an incoming missile and then evaluate where it is going. AOEW then uses radio frequency countermeasure techniques to deter the missile. Under the terms of the contract, if all options are exercised, Lockheed will deliver up to 18 AOEW AMP AN/ALQ-248 pods to the Navy. The company will start manufacturing in early 2019 with a target to reach initial operational capability in 2021.
USN Heli Plan
The US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawks have always had a naval counterpart. SH-60B/F Seahawk/ LAMPS helicopters were outfitted with maritime radar, sonobuoys, and other specialized equipment that let them perform a wide variety of roles, from supply and transport, to anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and even surface attack with torpedoes or Kongsberg’s AGM-119 Penguin missiles. Like their land-based counterparts, however, the Seahawks are getting older. The Reagan defense build-up is receding into history, and its products are wearing out.
European countries chose to build new designs like the medium-heavy EH101 and the NH90 medium helicopter. They’re larger than the H-60s, make heavy use of corrosion-proof composites, and add new features like rear ramps. The USA, in contrast, decided to upgrade existing H-60 designs for the Army and Navy. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”) Seahawks. MH-60Rs and MH-60Ss will eventually replace all SH-60B/F & HH-60H Seahawks, HH-1N Hueys, UH-3H Sea Kings, and CH-46D Sea Knight helicopters currently in the US Navy’s inventory. Both programs are underway, and will be covered in this DID FOCUS Article.
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Jan 09, 2018 04:58 UTC
General Atomics received Wednesday, a $14.1 million USAF contract
to supply MQ-9 Reaper
Block 5 kits to the service, that will include extended-range kits, beyond-line-of-sight kits and Barrett Asymmetrical Digital DatalinkComputer Routers. Work will be performed in Poway, California, with an expected completion date of February 21, 2021. The upgrade comes as the USAF starts to phase out the older MQ-1 Predator drone from service, and the kits will go towards upgrading earlier versions of the Reaper to the most modern Block 5 configuration
—which gives the UAVs increased electrical power, secure communications, auto land, increased gross takeoff weight, weapons growth, and streamlined payload integration capabilities.
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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Jan 03, 2018 04:56 UTC
Lockheed Martin received last Thursday, a $20.5 million contract
for upgrades and services for the AEGIS
weapon system (AWS). Under the terms of the agreement, Lockheed will provide for logistics and sustainment support for the in-service AEGIS ship fleet in order to prevent delays in the delivery of the AWS upgrades and schedule and operational impacts to the effected ship availabilities. Options, if exercised, will bring the cumulative value of the contract to $27.05 million. Work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey, with contract completion scheduled for December 2018.
The AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System seamlessly integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System for missiles, the SM-3 Standard missile, and the ship’s command and control system, in order to give ships the ability to defend against enemy ballistic missiles. Like its less-capable AEGIS counterpart, AEGIS BMD can also work with other radars on land and sea via Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). That lets it receive cues from other platforms and provide information to them, in order to create a more detailed battle picture than any one radar could produce alone.
AEGIS has become a widely-deployed top-tier air defense system, with customers in the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Spain. In a dawning age of rogue states and proliferation of mass-destruction weapons, the US Navy is being pushed toward a “shield of the nation” role as the USA’s most flexible and most numerous option for missile defense. AEGIS BMD modifications are the keystone of that effort – in the USA, and beyond.
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Dec 29, 2017 04:57 UTC
The US Air Force (USAF)has awarded
General Atomics a $328.8 million contract for MQ?1 Predator
and MQ?9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft support and services. Under the terms of the agreement, GA will be tasked with "core management, logistics support, configuration management, technical manual and software maintenance, contractor field service representative support, inventory control point management, flight operations support, depot repair, and depot field maintenance," according to the notice published on December 22. Work will take place at Poway, Calif., and is expected to be completed by December 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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Dec 29, 2017 04:56 UTC
USAF test pilots are in Taiwan
as part of ground testing of Republic of China Air Force (RCAF) F-16V Viper fighter aircraft modernized
by the Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (AIDC). Four models have currently been upgraded to the V standard from their original A/B configuration, with improvements to include new mission computers, navigation equipment, large color multifunction displays, Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) transponders, updated electronic warfare suite, and the Link-16 tactical data link, as well as an AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR). Flight testing is to take place in 2018. Also expected next year, are deliveries of AIM-9X air-to-air missiles, which have an improved seeker head capable of high off-boresight cueing via a helmet mounted display, and are more maneuverable and have more range than existing air-to-air missiles currently in Taipei's arsenal.
Despite China’s ominous military buildup across the strait, key weapons sales of P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, Patriot PAC-3 missiles, and diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan had been sabotaged by Taiwanese politics for years – in some cases, since 1997. The KMT party’s flip-flops and determined stalling tactics eventually created a crisis in US-Taiwan relations, which finally soured to the point that the USA refused a Taiwanese request for F-16C/D aircraft.
That seems to have brought things to a head. Most of the budget and political issues were eventually sorted out, and after a long delay, some major elements of Taiwan’s requested modernization program appear to be moving forward: P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, UH-60M helicopters, Patriot missile upgrades; and requests for AH-64D attack helicopters, E-2 Hawkeye AWACS planes, minehunting ships, and missiles for defense against aircraft, ships, and tanks. These are must-have capabilities when facing a Chinese government that has vowed to take the country by force, and which is building an extensive submarine fleet, a large array of ballistic missiles, an upgraded fighter fleet, and a number of amphibious-capable divisions. Chinese pressure continues to stall some of Taiwan’s most important upgrades, including diesel-electric submarines, and new American fighter jets. Meanwhile, other purchases from abroad continue.
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Dec 27, 2017 04:59 UTC
On December 21, Airbus announced
that its A400M
tactical airlifter conducted the successful refueling of six Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters during a single flight. The mission was undertaken on December 13 as part of an air-to-air refuelling (AAR) human factors certification flight, and involved a complex series of AAR scenarios such as changes of area, receivers with unknown priorities, and unexpected increases in numbers of receivers. The six fighters that participated in the flight came from the Spanish Air Force Test Centre (CLAEX) and the 12th Operational Wing based at Torrejón, and simulated a fleet of eight. A total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel was dispensed using both the underwing pods and the centre hose refuelling unit, and certification authorities on board confirmed good results and the flight validated the A400M two-crew cockpit concept for tanker missions.
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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Dec 27, 2017 04:58 UTC
Lockheed Martin landed a $7 billion contract
to provide F-22 Raptor
sustainment services. The agreement has a five-year base ordering period calling for comprehensive F-22 air vehicle sustainment—to be completed by December 31 2027—with work to be carried out at five operational US Air Force (USAF) and joint service bases and five US military installation support bases across the USA, as well as some undisclosed overseas locations. The deal follows last week's $6.7 billion award to United Technologies for sustainment activities on the Raptor's Pratt and Whitney F-119 engine.
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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Dec 22, 2017 04:57 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
Two Ford-class aircraft carriers
may be block-bought by the US Navy, according to Vice Adm. Tom Moore, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command. Speaking to USNI News
, Moore said such a dual-purchase would allow the service “to get (CVN) 81 [The future USS Enterprise] quicker” as materials can be ordered for both ships at the same time, while also cutting costs. The procurement program is one of six selected—the others being the MDA's Standard Missile program, the USAF's C-130-J retrofit kits, the Japanese Global Hawk FMS program, and two classified programs—under a new DoD pilot program aimed at slashing acquisition timelines to help improve lethality and readiness in the military. Each program will look to have a contract signed within 210 days of the request for proposal being issued, with an ultimate goal of getting major programs on contract within 180 days of the RFP’s release.
USA’s Nimitz Class &
UK’s Invincible Class
Some nations have aircraft carriers. The USA has super-carriers. The French Charles De Gaulle Class nuclear carriers displace about 43,000t. India’s new Vikramaditya/ Admiral Gorshkov Class will have a similar displacement. The future British CVF Queen Elizabeth Class and related French PA2 Project are expected to displace about 65,000t, while the British Invincible Class carriers that participated in the Falklands War weigh in at just 22,000t. Invincible actually compares well to Italy’s excellent new Cavour Class (27,000t), and Spain’s Principe de Asturias Class (17,000t). The USA’s Nimitz Class and CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class, in contrast, fall in the 90,000+ tonne range. Hence their unofficial designation: “super-carriers”. Just one of these ships packs a more potent air force than many nations.
Nimitz Class cutaway
As the successor to the 102,000 ton Nimitz Class super-carriers, the CVN-21 program aimed to increase aircraft sortie generation rates by 20%, increase survivability to better handle future threats, require fewer sailors, and have depot maintenance requirements that could support an increase of up to 25% in operational availability. The combination of a new design nuclear propulsion plant and an improved electric plant are expected to provide 2-3 times the electrical generation capacity of previous carriers, which in turn enables systems like an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS, replacing steam-driven catapults), Advanced Arresting Gear, and integrated combat electronics that will leverage advances in open systems architecture. Other CVN-21 features include an enhanced flight deck, improved weapons handling and aircraft servicing efficiency, and a flexible island arrangement allowing for future technology insertion. This graphic points out many of the key improvements.
DID’s CVN-21 FOCUS Article offers a detailed look at a number of the program’s key innovations, as well as a list of relevant contract awards and events.
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