On March 23, 2006, NATO put a multinational airlift contract into effect. As things stand now, 6 giant Antonov An-124-100 strategic air lifters will be available to NATO members Belgium (just added), Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, France, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Non-NATO countries Finland and Sweden are also part of the “Strategic Airlift Interim Solution” (SALIS), so named because it is designed as a gap-filler until new A400M tactical airlift planes or other airlift options can be deployed in numbers by around 2025 or so.
Details of this arrangement, the Antonov’s exceptional commercial success in contrast to its American counterpart, and some future possibilities are all covered below.
The U.S. Navy has awarded Lockheed Martin a foreign military sales contract valued at nearly $5.2 million to conduct a nine-month Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) feasibility study for the Israeli Navy. Under the contract Lockheed Martin will examine possible modifications to its modified Fincantieri racing hull design, to see if it can meet specific Israeli naval requirements. This means examining its competing LCS design for hull, mechanical and electrical system compatibility with the Israeli Navy’s combat systems and other requirements – especially important since the Israelis use a lot of indigenous weapons and electronics. This is why Vice President of Lockheed Martin Israel Operations Joshua Shani says that “participation by the Israeli defense industry will be the cornerstone of this program’s success.”
Saar 5 Eilat Class
The successful completion of this study could lead to follow-on contracts to design and build one or two ships for the Israeli Navy, as a follow-on or replacement for its capable and heavily-armed Saar-4.5 Hetz/ Nirit Class missile boats and/or Saar-5 Lahav/ Eilat Class corvettes. It will be interesting to see if the Israelis lean toward the core “LCS modular switch-outs” approach, or elect to create one or more standard multi-mission configurations.
Saar 4.5 INS Hetz
Construction of these ships would occur at Marinette Marine and Bollinger Shipyards in the United States, and Lockheed notes that “several other countries also have expressed interest in Lockheed Martin’s LCS design concept.” There have been rumours that interested parties include Saudi Arabia, but it’s unclear which LCS design they might favour. General Dynamics and Austal, whose fast trimaran design is also being built as an LCS competitor, are remaining tight-lipped about potential foreign order enquiries.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $6.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement N00019-03-G-0003 for the development effort to modify, integrate, test, and qualify an active vibration control system for the MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter.
Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in June 2007.The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems in Goleta, CA received a $7.65 million firm-fixed-price order against previously awarded basic ordering agreement N00164-04-G-8W01 for the restoration of three AN/SLQ-32(B)(V)(2) and two AN/SLQ-32(A)(V)(2) anti-ship missile defense systems, aka. “Slick 32s”. These systems provide anti-ship missile defense capability via electronic jamming to destroyers and frigates. Work will be performed in Goleta, CA and is expected to be complete by March 2008. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN issued the contract.
The SLQ-32 and other ECM systems are used in conjunction with Rapid Blooming Offboard Chaff (RBOC) and other decoys that fire either semi-automatically or on manual direction from a ship’s ECM operators. The four “Slick 32” variants are based on modular building blocks for different types of ships: