In “Retired RAAF Vice-Marshal: Abandon F-35, Buy F-22s,” DID covered the controversy over the F-35A Lightning II’s suitability for Australia’s strategic needs, amidst a flurry of criticism from opposition party critics, the media, and even retired military officials. Australia’s Liberal Party government under Prime Minister John Howard went ahead and signed the F-35 Production MoU in November 2006, which doesn’t commit them to buy the aircraft just yet. Then it went ahead and submitted a USD $3.1+ billion order without a competition process for 24 Super Hornets, in order to address Australia’s air capability gap until the F-35As arrive.
In November 2007, Australia elected the Labor Party to government, though the Liberal Party still holds a balance of power in the Senate. Now, the rumblings of opposition have turned into a formal review – and everything appears to be up for grabs, including the F/A-18F contract, Australia’s F-35 buy, and a potential request for an export version of the F-22 Raptor. The review will be conducted in two stages…
BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services in Rockville, MD won a contract to provide integration, engineering, procurement, fabrication, assembly, test, inspection, delivery, and limited installation services for integrated Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) electronics aboard new construction ships. The company will also support various Navy and other United States Government shipbuilding programs including modernization and Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) efforts, which usually involve significant electronics upgrades procured from various sources. This award doesn’t make BAE the exclusive provider of this equipment, but it does make them the preferred integrator in many cases.
Feb 6/08: The initial $242 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive fee, firm-fixed-priced, performance-based Enterprise Platform Integration Contract has a 5-year base period, and also includes 3 one-year options that would bring the total potential value to $344.4 million. The contract was competitively procured with an unlimited number of proposals solicited via the Commerce Business Daily’s Federal Business Opportunities website and the SPAWAR e-Commerce Central website, with 3 offers received. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, CA issued the contract, on behalf of its organizational partner, the Navy’s Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence systems (PEO-C4SI) (N00039-08-D-0002).
BAE Systems will provide the technical expertise and personnel for execution of these services in Charleston, San Diego, California, and various shipyard locations throughout the United States. Work will be performed in North Charleston, SC (75.5%); New Orleans, LA (4.7%); Pascagoula, MS (4.2%); San Diego, CA (3.7%); Mobile, AL (3.6%); Green Bay, WI (3.5%); Norfolk, VA (2.4%), and Washington, DC (2.4%), and work is expected be complete by February 2013. If all options are exercised, work will continue until February 2016. BAE release Feb 14/08.
The US Air Force has repeatedly tried to kill the The F136 alternate engine program in favor of the Pratt & Whitney F135 that powers the existing fleet. In response, Congress looked at the success of dual-engine programs for the F-16 and now the F-15 as well, and voted twice to restore funding.
F136 engine tests continue at a unique, new test facility, located at a GE center at Peebles, OH (normal & STOVL engines) as well as at the US Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee (basic F136 + F-35 exhaust nozzle). F-35 system development is scheduled to run through 2013, with the first production 40,000+ thrust F136 engines scheduled for delivery in “late 2012,” during F-35 Lot IV production.
Until then, all F-35s will fly with the Pratt & Whitney’s F135 engine, whose version for the F-35B STOVL fighter uses the same Rolls Royce Lift System add-ins that would be found in the F136…
Northrop Grumman recently announced that tests aboard a company BAC 1-11 test aircraft have successfully demonstrated the AN/APG-77v1 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar’s ability to generate high-resolution, in-flight synthetic aperture radar (SAR) ground maps and moving target tracking. The test flights are the first phase of a planned multi-year contract with Boeing to add SAR capability to the existing fleet of F-22A Raptor stealth fighters, and incorporate them into new production aircraft. SAR capabilities can already be found in most multi-role fighter radars, and current image resolutions for aircraft like advanced F-15E Strike Eagles, F/A-18E/F Hornet Block IIs, et. al. are under 1 meter.
No details have been released, but the APG-77 can be expected to demonstrate similar performance, along with “agile beam” technology that makes it very hard to trace the origins of its radar scans. This is very different from conventional radars, which have been described as being akin to turning on a flashlight in a dark warehouse – enemies can see you long before you see them.
Directly identifying and targeting enemy ground defenses and mobile forces using its AESA radar will expand the Raptor’s offensive and defensive capabilities. On the offensive end, they make it possible for the F-22s to target ground installations and moving targets on the fly, in response to events during a mission. On the defensive end, the addition of SAR/GTMI lets the radar provide complete coverage of ground threats as well as aerial threats. While the aircraft’s electronic intercept capabilities and ability to share information from other military assets via Link 16, the new AESA Radar Common Data Link et. al. already provided some capabilities in this regard, the addition of high-resolution, agile-beam active radar scans adds an important piece to the puzzle. Northrop Grumman release.
Washington’s Birthday began as a federal holiday in 1880 in the District of Columbia. It expanded in 1885 to include all federal offices, and popular tradition began to expand the holiday to cover Abraham Lincoln’s birthday as well. On Jan 1/71, the federal holiday was shifted to the 3rd Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and it is observed by government employees and some private businesses in the USA. The term “Presidents Day” began popular usage in the 1980s.
The concept of holidays on Canada Day, Bastille Day, Waitangi Day/ Bob Marley’s birthday (Feb 6) et. al. was extremely appealing. In the end, however, DID decided to standardize on American public holidays as non-publication days, along with Remembrance Day (known as Veterans’ Day in the US). Publication will resume tomorrow.