In January 2005, the USA used ITAR resale restrictions on military-designated technologies to block a EUR 500 million sale of 12 CASA aircraft to Venezuela – 10 C-295 light transport aircraft and 2 CN-235MPA Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Sources were telling media outlets that the deal was dead, but later reports revealed a possibility that Spain would go ahead and substitute non-US technology. Politics and job-creation (job transfer, really) can create some odd contortions, so the idea wasn’t entirely surprising. Nevertheless, there were significant US market implications for EADS if the deal went forward – and in any really involved drama, there’s always another twist. This was starting to look like a real Latin American soap opera, so DID grabbed some popcorn. And waited.
Lo and behold, more twists have indeed followed. Including a side-story involving Brazil. Are we on, or are we off – and if the answer is “off,” who might step into the breach? Since it’s impossible to resist a rocky relationship like this one on Valentine’s Day, DID decided to update our readers…
As part of a USD $4.9 billion deal, Russia and India signed a contract in November 1996 for the delivery of 50 big Su-30 multi-purpose twin-seat fighters, the newest member of Sukhoi’s SU-27 Flanker family. The first 18 aircraft had the same capabilities as the Su-30K air superiority variant, but follow-up aircraft offered the multi-role SU-30MKI configuration upgraded with thrust vectoring AL-31FP engines, improved avionics and canards. India received 18 of the early SU-30K standard, and they have been featured at COPE India 2004 and COPE India 2005 exercises with the USA. India has also received 32 of the later-model SU-30MKI aircraft from Irkut and has 140 more on order, to be produced under license by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) with some assistance from Sukhoi kits.
COPE India 2004: SU-30K, F-15C, Mirage 2000
As HAL production of the SU-30MKI begins, India is now selling off its 18 SU-30K fighters to Belarus for a reported $300 million. At under $17 million per plane, that figure represents a significant bargain to Belarus, which currently operates 23 related SU-27P aircraft and will upgrade the new planes to an SU-30KN standard. India, meanwhile, earns money it can put to other uses, and avoids the need to add an SU-30K upgrade program to its existing full pattern. India Defence has further details.
The AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) program waged a difficult battle to survive with proposed Congressional cuts that would have eliminated its procurement budget. This would have forced the USAF to go with the Navy’s choice for this mission: the SLAM-ER. Yet the FY 2006 budget ended up going with the US Senate’s approach, appropriating the requested $67 million for continued research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) and another $98.7 million from the $150 million requested for procurement of 75 missiles. eDefense Online notes that $165+ million in funding, plus two recent test flight successes, appear to have put JASSM back on track. Meanwhile, Lockheed has found innovative approaches re: mating the missile to its strike aircraft systems, as its efforts morph toward a Universal Armaments Interface (UAI) that would lower costs and development time.
eDefense [ed: link no longer available] notes that Lockheed Martin is recommending an allocation of $70 million to continued JASSM production in FY 2006. The other $30 million would be put towards reliability improvements such as replacing obsolete subsystems et. al., and making upgrades based on operational experience with the B-1 “Bone” and B-52 bombers. Meanwhile, longer-endurance versions (JASSM-ER, JASSM-XR) are under R&D development; and $20 million has been earmarked for a weapon datalink that would allow in-flight updates of the missile status and targeting, plus the transmission of weapon position data up to the time of impact.
To date, some 330 JASSMs have been delivered to the Air Force. The FY 2007 US defense budget request includes $187.2 million for 234 more JASSMs, plus $40.4 million for continued R&D.
Lockheed Martin Corp. in Fort Worth, TX is being awarded a $165.7 million cost-plus incentive-fee contract. The purpose of this delivery order is to establish M5/M5 + Phase III Avionics Development – Hardware and Software. The M5/M5+ program will update the Modular Mission Computer based avionics system on the USAF’s F-16C/D Block 40/42 and 50/52 aircraft, and the Mid-Life Update avionics system on the European Participating Air Force F-16A/B Block 10/15 aircraft. This effort is part of the F-16 Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP), which aims to keep F-16 fleets modernized and current throughout their service life.
This effort supports the USAF, and also foreign military sales to Belgium, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Solicitations and negotiations were completed in December 2005, and work will be complete by September 2009. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (F42620-01-D-0058 SC76).
DOSS Aviation Inc. in Colorado Springs, CO is being awarded a $178.2 million firm-fixed-price contract to support the USAF’s Initial Flight Screening program. Actual award of a contract will be contingent upon completion of a successful national Environmental Policy Act analysis by the Air Force at the offeror’s proposed training location in Pueblo, CO, before mobilization and performance begins. The contract is structured to screen between 1,200-1,700 students per year once the program is operating at full capacity. As a point of comparison, consider DID’s November 25, 2005 article covering the “Canada Wings Aviation Training Centre” for Canadian and foreign students near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
The contract will include a six-month mobilization effort, one basic year and nine one-year options and will provide ground school and flight training for Air Force officers with follow-on assignments to undergraduate flying training courses (Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training and Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training). The contractor will furnish all aircraft, aircraft maintenance, fire/crash/rescue support, labor (to include certified flight instructors), training facilities, physical and personnel security, lodging, dining, local transportation and physical fitness facilities for the students. In addition, the contractor will provide office space for a permanent-party military cadre that will oversee the students while they are in residence at the contractor’s training facility. Solicitations began August 2004, negotiations were complete in October 2005, and work will be complete by September 2006. The Headquarters Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, TX issued the contract (FA3002-06-C-0002).
Britain’s Royal Air Force had a problem. How were they to keep their helicopters operating on the front lines by delivering fuel to them in the field, rather than forcing them to divert back to remote base for fuel or doing it on metalled roads up to 100 miles away. The USA uses portable “drop and go” systems like the AAFARS, but Britain is going with a slightly different approach: a big, honkin’ 10-wheeled armored truck from Oshkosh. The MOD worked with Oshkosh to develop the vehicles, then bought 58 aviation fuel versions at a cost of about GBP 500,000 each (about GBP 29 million total, or $51 million at current conversion).
“It’s an impressive vehicle, and the improvement in capability will be severely tested in the forthcoming Afghanistan deployment, where dirt tracks and mountain passes are the norm,” said Squadron Leader Geoff Maple, Deputy Commander of the RAF’s Tactical Supply Wing (TSW), RAF Stafford. “…So far they have proved themselves extremely capable of going virtually anywhere that a tank can go.” Crews are being trained in preparation for the upcoming commitment, and the added capability for in-field refueling with rotors turning will be appreciated. On the flip side, Afghanistan will also be a stern test of the armored trucks’ survivability. Will they be able to practice safe supply? Read the full UK MoD story.
We’ll begin by showing our readers some love this Valentine’s Day. A lot of you were interested in the detailed description of all the improvements made to the US Army’s new uniform and associated production contracts, but a glitch broke the link to the full-size graphic until a reader emailed us with their problem.
It’s all fixed now, and our readers can see the full picture in all locations – including this post.