In yesterday’s issue, DID covered a request from Australia’s military for information re: combat ID and forward air controller equipment, in preparation for a procurement initiative in that area. Seems only fair that the sharing should go both ways. In “Elec Tricks: Turning AESA Radars Into Broadband Comlinks,” DID chronicled some very intriguing work by Northrop Grumman and L-3 that turns advanced AESA devices into secure broadband data and communications links, as well as extremely effective radars. Dr. Carlo Kopp of Air Power Australia recently wrote to DID with this interesting addendum:
“My PhD thesis project completed in 1999 involved the theoretical modelling required for the adaptation of AESAs as high speed long range datalinks and their adaptation to networking. It was a monster project involving around 1000 large scale simulation runs on a 60 CPU cluster (eq to a Cray) and ended up with a 480 page thesis… In practical terms Northrop-Grumman and L-3 have yet to hit the really hard problems…”
DID has covered the performance of Britain’s Harrier IIs before, and also Britain’s procurement trend toward “Future Contracting for Availability,” i.e. all-encompassing, performance-based lifecycle maintenance contracts. Now Flight International reports that BAE Systems is to receive a GBP 400 million ($706 million at current conversion) availability-based contract to provide support for the UK’s Harrier II GR9/9A (most advanced AV-8B counterpart) until the type leaves service around 2018.
The Joint Availability Support Solution (JASS) deal will apparently be agreed with prime contractor BAE by May 2007, following the completion of an assessment phase launched in July 2005. The contract will reportedly have BAE oversee the in-service support of “repairable avionics, structures, general systems components and consumable articles” for the 60-aircraft GR9/9A fleet, while Rolls-Royce will receive a contract to support the Harriers’ Pegasus engines. See Flight International for further details, and DID’s June 2007 coverage for the follow-up.
One of the quiet factors driving maintenance costs in modern militaries is electronics; not just the cost of procuring them, but the cost of ‘repairing’ them. As these components have become more complex, replacement has become the preferred option for dealing with problems. This drives both expanded inventories of expensive finished assemblies, and an increased load on rear depots and the logistics chain that reaches to them.
The Wasp Class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge [LHD 3] was recently recognized for some worthy successes in addressing this problem, and is currently undergoing refits in order to achieve a new milestone in US naval aviation…
Agence France Presse reports that Vietnam will invest $500 million in a new military port in the northeastern city of Haiphong, 120 kilometers (74 miles) east of Hanoi. An official at the city’s party committee told AFP that construction will start at the beginning of 2007 after research on its impact on the environment and tourism. The project will need the formal approval of the prime minister, but Vietnam is still ruled by its communist party and so that can safely be treated as a mere formality.
The new Haiphong naval port will cover about 3,000 hectares (7,410 acres) and will reportedly be able to receive 40,000-ton warships, which currently only dock at Cam Ranh Bay in southern Vietnam. The construction at Haiphong may be part of a transition, however; the party has said that it wants to use Cam Ranh for civilian national development purposes.