DefenseTech notes that a draft plan from the US Air Force plan (“program budget decision 720”) intends to retire the USA’s 33 U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, its 55 F-117 stealth fighters, 38 of its 76 C-21 Learjets, and about 40% of its B-52 bomber fleet between FY 2007-2011, in order to free up around $2.6 billion for the purchase of more F-22 Raptor fighters. The EB-52 SOJ [stand-off jammer] aircraft project would also be cancelled.
Some of these measures will be more controversial than others…
In September 2005, DID wrote an article pointing out that the need for data transfer speed was taking military avionics in two directions – one that depended on the old reliable MIL-STD-1553 data bus standard, and another that looked to faster protocols like IEEE 1394 (Firewire) et. al. Now an industry team of Boeing Phantom works, Honeywell Aerospace, and Data Device Corp. has demonstrated a third approach, one familiar to computer users with USB or Ethernet: speed up the old protocol.
The new data “bus” technology, which uses existing aircraft wiring, has proven it can transfer electronic data at least 40 times faster than current data bus technology. Data Device Corp.’s HyPer-1553(TM) is similar to Digital Subscriber Line technology that’s used to expand the data-carrying capability of ordinary telephone lines – without replacing the wiring. In a December 17, 2005 test using an F-15E1 ATD test aircraft, HyPer-1553 transferred data at 40 megabits per second in parallel with MIL-STD-1553 data being transferred at 1 megabit per second. The team also transferred data at 40, 80 and 120 megabits per second on a second bus dedicated to the higher speed data. Given the relative cheapness of HyPer1553(TM) upgrades compared to just about any other approach, this team may have a winner. Read the Boeing release.
In November 2005, DID covered over $3 billion in contracts related to the F-22 Raptor, mostly related to production of the Lot 5 batch production of 24 aircraft. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, TX has now been awarded a pair of support contracts by the Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH to help get ready for the F-22’s Lot 6 production batch.
DID does its best to cover global developments, but language barriers and less transparency sometimes make it harder to cover certain countries. In July 2005, we covered about $1.2 billion in planned Belgian defense purchases. Fortunately a Belgian reader named David Vandenberghe was happy to step up to the plate recently to let us know about some other recent announcements from his country, then lend us a hand digging up the information we needed.
David notes that “Getting a dollar or Euro figure is hard certainly for Belgium, there seems to be an unwillingless to specify the acquisition cost and there certainly is political unwill towards more open information (FOIA-type) on ‘who gets what piece of the industrial/commercial cake’.” Nevertheless, he has done a commendable job. Thanks to some additional research by DID, we can now flesh out some of Belgium’s recent purchases, from NH-90 helicopters to Iveco trucks and even the two frigates we mentioned in July 2005.