As an all-weather, day/night attack helicopter, the AH-64 Apache depends on its integrated targeting optronics for both safe flying and maximum battlefield effectiveness. The TADS/PVNS chin turret was fielded in 1983, however, and was lagging behind state of the art. Enter the new Arrowhead system, first delivered to the US Army in 2005. It’s an advanced electro-optical & fire control system that pilots use for safe flight around trees, power lines, et. al. in day, night, or bad weather missions as well as combat targeting of their Hellfire missiles and other weapons. The Arrowhead is also being fielded with the British Apache fleet.
Lockheed Martin recently announced a Lot 4 follow-on production contract for 158 Arrowhead systems, as well as wartime replacement Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) systems for new aircraft and spares for both systems. It is valued at $311 million, and the contract was signed on February 28th during a ceremony at the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Huntsville, AL. Lockheed Martin will produce Lot 4 in Orlando and Ocala, FL, with final deliveries for Lot 4 production in December 2009. Lockheed Martin release.
BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions in Austin, TX received a $26.5 million firm-fixed-price with time and material and cost contract modification for production lot 13 of QF-4 Full-Scale Aerial Targets (FSAT) and associated technical support. The 20 aircraft will be divided between the USAF (16) and the US Navy (4). This is the 3rd option of 5 exercised under an Air Force contract signed in 1992 and in effect until 2013. Work will be complete July 2009, and the Headquarters Special Applications Systems Group at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8675-04-C-0214/No modification number at this time). See also BAE’s April 12/07 release.
The F-4 Phantom II fighter still flies with a number of air forces, including Egypt, Germany, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and possibly Iran. QF-4s are former F-4s that currently sit in storage at the AMARC “Boneyard” near Tucson, AZ. They are refurbished for flight at AMARC, then flown to BAE in Mojave, CA and fitted with remote-control equipment in a process that takes about 160 days. Once fitted for the UAV role, they are used as aerial targets and decoys for testing against air-air missiles, radars, surface-air missiles, et. al. It’s financially prudent, and fitting for an old warrior – but sad, too, somehow. The 200th QF-4 was delivered in September 2006, and as of April 2007 BAE Systems has converted 217 F-4s to the QF-4 configuration.
UPDATE: Thanks to the readers who wrote in to say that Spain no longer flies Phantoms. DID had believed that some RF-4C reconnaissance variants were still operating, but Spain apparently retired its last RF-4Cs in 2002.
On Nov 9/06, DefenseLINK announced that Force Protection Industries, Inc. in Ladson, SC had received a $125 million letter contract for 100 Joint EOD(Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Rapid Response Vehicles (mine-resistant Cougar JERRVs – see DID FOCUS Article) and 44 Buffalo combat engineering & EOD disposal vehicles (aka. “The Claw”) with associated manuals, deployment kits, field representative support and training. Vehicles will be deployed to and supported in Iraq (M67854-07D-5006).
This contract contained options which would bring the totals to 200 JERRV vehicles and 82 Buffalo vehicles, and the estimated contract value to $200 million. The latest addition is a delivery order for 19 more Buffalos with OCBs. OCBs?!??…
When everything is computerized, managing your weapons starts to look a lot like managing computers, complete with versions, common configuration needs, et. al. ATK Missile Systems Co. in Clearwater, FL received a $10.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification that puts the changes described in Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 001 on contract. ECP 001 upgrades the configuration of the Common Munitions Built-in-Test Reprogramming Equipment (CMBRE), which initiate the Built-In-Test (BIT) of munitions and can be used to reprogram them on an Air Force backshop/flightline or Navy carrier deck. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Work will be complete August 2008. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8626-06-2060/P00002)
The upgrade will transform this equipment from CMBRE to CMBRE+, which will support the fielding of the next generation AIM-120D AMRAAM and Small Diameter Bomb munitions. Among its other uses, facilities with CMBRE capability can maintain one single configuration of compatible weapons for maximum flexibility.
Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $23.7 million, cost-reimbursement contract for long lead material in support of FY 2007 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) production. The components will be used in production for some NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Norway, Spain, USA – the consortium also includes Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Turkey) and Foreign Military Sales customers (the United Arab Emirates). Work will be performed in Australia (26%); The Netherlands (25%); Spain (19%); Tucson, AZ, USA (12%); Norway (6%); Greece (4%); Germany (4%); Canada (2%); Denmark (1%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be completed by Feb. 2010. This contract (N00024-07-C-5431) was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC.