The USA’s F-16 fleet is an aging fleet that is exceeding its “design life” of 8,000 Total Accumulated Cycles by an average 485 TACs. While most of the original F-16s were fitted with the Same Pratt & Whitney F100 engine that’s in the F-15 Eagle fleet, many of the F-16C/Ds were fitted with GE’s more powerful F110 instead.
Now General Electric Aircraft Engines of Cincinnati, OH has received a firm-fixed price contract modification for $15.6 million, to buy redesigned mixing ducts and 2 flame-holder segments. This is a sole source, 4 plus-year requirements type contract, with a basic period of 15 months and 3 one-year options. In combination with the F110 Services Life Extension Program (see $61.2M FY07 contract | $69.7M FY08 contract), this contract is designed to help extend the life of the F110-GE-100/129 engines to 2025. 748 CBSG/PKP at Tinker Air Force Base, OK issued the contract (FA8104-05-D-0042-P00006).
The redesigned hardware is meant to address the fact that…
Sweden’s SEP (Spitterskyddad Enhets Platform, a.k.a. THOR/ Alligator) is a truly innovative land vehicle design. Wheeled or rubber band-track versions offer strong commonality benefits, provide short term tactical options via mix-and-match, and add long term procurement options for a force that buys SEP and later decides they need to complement a wheeled fleet with tracks (vid. Canada and Britain in Afghanistan) or add wheeled vehicles to a tracked fleet (vid. UAE recently). The vehicle consists of three units: (1) a basic platform, either tracked or wheeled; (2) a forward-mounted crew module; and (3) a rear role-specific module which can be exchanged depending on the mission. These removable, interchangeable mission modules allow the SEP to be configured for 24 different roles. An electric transmission system replaces mechanical drive shafts with cables, offering tactical quietness, more internal space, fuel efficiency, reduced life cycle costs, and the ability to place the engines in different places within the vehicle – or even install a second engine. Less weight gives it C-130 transportability, which is unusual for vehicles of its class.
The Swedish FMV gave BAE Hagglunds a development contract in November 2001. In 2003, they took delivery of a wheeled prototype demonstrator, and placed a risk reduction contract to develop a 2nd tracked test vehicle. That vehicle was rolled out in November 2005, and January 2006 saw BAE Hagglunds receive a Chassis Concept (CC) Technology Demonstration Programme contract from Britain’s huge FRES program. July 2006 saw a contract for final development from Sweden, which included delivery of 2 vehicles of each type.
But SEP had a problem. Several problems, actually. A Feb 6/06 report from Sweden indicates that SEP is not dead within BAE itself – but it is on thin ice as a competitive platform.
Detachment 8 of the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM is funding research to better understand and predict “the effects of lasers on various threat targets.” This is useful from a number of perspectives: ballistic missile defense, discussion of concepts like a laser-firing Mk15 Phalanx system or SkyGuard system to protect against rocket attacks such as the ones Israel experiences regularly, the use of modulated lasers to protect commercial aircraft, potential laser threats to civil targets, and more.
Vector Aerospace Corporation of Toronto, Canada has signed a definitive GBP 17 million (about $34 million) purchase and sale agreement with the British Secretary of State for Defence, through its that Vector Aerospace International Limited subsidiary. They will acquire the Defence Aviation and Repair Agency (DARA) Rotary Wing and Components businesses, adding its locations and workers to the firm’s existing facilities in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. Vector’s sites maintain various types of gas turbine engines, components and helicopter structures for commercial and military customers. According to the firm’s release, their goal is to create “a European centre of excellence in helicopter maintenance.”
Lynx repair, Iraq
The UK deal adds the helicopter repair facilities located at Fleetlands, Portsmouth, which performs maintenance, repair and overhaul support for Chinook (CH-47), Lynx and Sea King helicopters; and the helicopter component and repair facilities located at Almondbank that serve a wider variety of helicopter platforms and customers. The transaction is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2008.
Stop us if you’ve had a laptop and heard this refrain before: your battery draws down when not being used. If it’s recharged, it may “remember” the level it was at and can’t be brought back to full capacity. The maximum level of charge also keeps dropping. This means more frequent battery replacements if you want them to be of much use. Turns out the US Navy has heard this one too, only the NiCad batteries weren’t in laptops. They were in F-5 “aggressor” aircraft at Top Gun, powering the inertial navigation system and emergency wingtip speed brakes on EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, running fire suppression and emergency exit lighting on H-53 helicopters, and offering last-chance backup for items like aircraft flight-control computers in case the main engine-driven generator should fail.
On the H-53 heavy lift helicopters, for example, 1 in 12 NiCad batteries failed every month because of poor design. Constant charging, maintenance to remove “memory effect,” and replacement was taking a costly toll in batteries. At 37,000 hours a year for the H-53 fleet, it was also taking a heavy toll on maintenance time. Something had to be done – and NAVAIR’s Propulsion and Power Department had an idea…
DARPA’s “Tango Bravo” project, aims to break a number of fundamental submarine design constraints, and create much smaller submarines via breakthrough technologies. In contrast, the Concept Formulation (CONFORM) contract is aimed at a more evolutionary set of improvements in manufacturability, maintainability, producibility, reliability, manning, survivability, hull integrity, performance, structural, weight/margin, stability, arrangements, machinery systems, acoustics, hydrodynamics, ship control, logistics, human factors, materials, weapons handling and stowage, submarine safety, and affordability of current and future submarine platforms; which can be applied to current and future submarine designs.
If all options under CONFORM were exercised, the program’s potential value was $78.5 million. Contracts under this banner include…
Alion Science and Technology in Chicago, IL received a $9.8 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for research and development activities associated with the development of Integrated Power Systems Advanced Modules and Conceptual Engineering/Ship Implementation. The Contractor will develop shipboard electrical system architectures and characterize Next Generation Integrated Power System components. Work will be performed in Annapolis, MD and is expected to be completed by January 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $162,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via Broad Agency Announcement; 68 white papers were received, 19 proposals were requested, and 18 awards have been made. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC is the contracting activity (N00024-08-C-4201).
That’s a lot of activity. Why so much? Part of the reason is the strong trend, in the US Navy and in the rest of the world, toward all-electric ships that replace all steam powered, hydraulically powered, or pneumatically/mechanically powered components with electrically-driven components. These components, and the propulsion drive, would be powered as a single pool by a single set of generators linked to the ship’s turbines. The result would be a ship that is quieter, easier to maintain (with additional help from the F-35 program’s ‘intelligent wiring’ advances), has more internal space available, and uses less fuel. The cruise ship industry has led the transition toward all electric ships, the new T-AKE cargo ships employ a modified version of those advances, and the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers/ light cruisers would be the first American ship with all-electric drive and fully integrated power management. Meanwhile, research into tougher electronics that can take advantage of this power continues, as does more overtly offensive research around electro-magnetic weapons like rail guns. See the NDIA’s “All-Electric Ship Could Begin to Take Shape By 2012” for additional background.
The KC-10 Extender is a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Series 30CF variant converted to the aerial tanker role. It beat Boeing’s Model 747 aerial tanker variant to win Advanced Tanker Cargo Aircraft competition in 1977, and 60 of them were delivered to the USAF between March 1981 – November 1988. The KC-10s serve as the USAF’s current “heavy tanker” option, with much greater fuel and cargo capacity than the Eisenhower-era KC-135/707s. The KC-10s also have an unusual ability within the US tanker fleet – they can take on fuel from other aerial tankers to fill themselves up, then send the others back to base. The USA’s new KC-X tankers will also have this ability, but the older KC-135s do not, except for a handful of KC-135R/T models.
Every fleet requires maintenance, of course, and this latest contract is the last round of the current 10-year contract. Meanwhile, a big competition is underway for the next 10-year order…