The RAF’s 9 Lockheed L-1011 Tristars serve as the high end of their tanker fleet, and are easily recognizable by their unique 3-engine profile. These aircraft once served with British Airways and Pan-Am; these days, they are operated by No 216 Squadron at Brize Norton. The RAF’s 2 Tristar K1s and 4 KC1s can carry a total fuel load of 139,700 kg, using only one of their 2 hosedrum refueling units at any given time. Notice the above picture of a RAF Tristar refueling only one of the F/A-18Cs from the USS Ronald Reagan [CVN 76], as the 2 fighters head over to Afghanistan. The KC1s also have cargo or passenger capacity, while the K1 can carry only passengers in addition to its refueling duties. An additional set of 3 RAF Tristar KC2/KC2As carry up to 266 passengers, and do not perform refueling tasks at all.
The UK has signed the world’s largest military public/private partnership to date, in order to replace its 28 Tristars and VC10 jets with a fleet of 14 modern Airbus A330-200 MRTTs. These new FSTA tankers will begin entering full service in 2014. Meanwhile, the existing VC10 fleet is already under a full “future contracting for availability” contract, which pays for available aircraft rather than hours or spares. Until the Tristars drop out of service, they too require maintenance. Hence the GBP 97 million (about $156 million) TRistar Integrated Operational Support (TRIOS) contract, which is intended to help the RAF maintain its fleet until 2015.
The TRIOS contract was announced on Oct 29/08, and brings together Marshall Aerospace of Cambridge, UK; Flight Support Services (FSS) of Fergus, Ontario, Canada; and Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) of the UAE. Marshall will act as the hub for TRIOS, linking engineering, supply, aircraft maintenance and program management. Flight Support Services will act as the Prime Spares Supplier, while ADAT will deliver aircraft ‘Availability-from-Depth’ covering heavy maintenance and modification work. Both will operate under new incentivised sub-contracting arrangements, to reward the achievement of key performance targets on behalf of the UK MoD. UK MoD | Marshall Aerospace.
The HF-2E variant is derived in part from the Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missile that equips its surface vessels, but it nearly quadruples the missile’s range from about 160 km to almost 600 km. The HF-2E is designed to be fired from land-based emplacements as well as ships, and GPS guidance is expected given its use in some modernized HF-2 missiles. The HF-2E’s range brings some of China’s southern ports within range of Taiwanese missile strikes against key staging areas, or even against retaliatory targets, if the PRC should invade.
Military Transformation has been a hot buzzword over the past decade, fueled by underlying trends that are driving a regular drumbeat of quantum leaps in electronics capability, and by an confluence of international trends that have severely weakened the nation-state. As force planners try to look ahead and assess how to adapt, the question naturally arises – how should the military change?
One view revolves around the concept of Net-Centric Warfare, which can be crudely described as information/awareness dominance leading to military dominance. Under one interpretation of that concept, smaller, lighter networked forces with advanced electronics and precision munitions would be used to outmaneuver and destroy heavier, less advanced forces. Hence the USA’s $160+ billion Future Combat Systems program, with its 27-20 ton tanks and armored vehicles, as the expected backbone of America’s future Army.
That approach does not enjoy universal acceptance. Experiences like Objective Peach in Iraq, war experiences before and since in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon, are causing some officers to question it. DID brings our reader a pair of thought-provoking essays on this topic. One looks at current US Army transformation plans in light of recent combat experience. The other looks for lessons from the last revolution in military affairs – before World War 2…
The collapse of the Soviet Union triggered a twin collapse for Russia’s vast arms industries. On the one hand, revelation of the state’s bankruptcy collapsed domestic arms spending. As a follow-up punch, it also collapsed aid-financed exports to dependent Soviet client states. Russia’s arms industry has been clawing its way back ever since. During the 1990s, China effectively replaced Russia as the industry’s core domestic market, underwriting the R&D base and creating a springboard for further exports.
Letterkenny Army Depot recently chose VSE Corporation as its prime contractor for a $194 million contract to maintain and modernize Route Clearance Vehicles (RCVs). These vehicles serve as convoy leads and advance scouts over roads that might be mined, inspecting them and sometimes transporting specialized engineering teams who will remove any land mines found. RCVs include vehicles bought under the mine-resistant MRAP program, as well vehicles purchased beforehand (RG-31s, Cougars) or even outside of MRAP altogether (Huskies). Many are being modernized to incorporate design improvements, and uprated armor, or simply need depot-level maintenance after being used so heavily in difficult conditions.
The effort will be managed by a Letterkenny Army Depot team, and VSE Corporation will the a new facility in Kuwait that will be operational in early 2009. This facility will allow the Army to repair and modernize the RCVs in theater, eliminating the need to ship the vehicles back home and leaving a higher percentage ready for duty at any given time. Repairs and modernization will include Army, Marine corps, Navy, and USAF vehicles. The operation is completely funded by the Program Manager – Assured Mobility System (PM-AMS) and supports the Army Central Command (ARCENT) efforts to modernize all Route Clearance Vehicles being used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
VSE’s Team includes Boeing, McLane Advanced Technologies, LLC (MAT), ManTech Telecommunications and Information Systems Corporation (MTISC); PWC Logistics Services Company, KSC(c) (Agility); and Quality Enterprise Solutions Trading and Contracting Company (QUEST). VSE CEO Mo Gauthier had nice way of putting it in their release:
“We are pleased and humbled by the confidence our TACOM customer has placed in us.”
Western militaries are quickly coming to the realization that the light Land Rover, G-Wagen, and HMMWV type flat bottom vehicles deployed as light troop transports are no longer adequate on a non-linear battlefield with no defined front lines, in a world where the technology for making improvised and professional land mines is proliferating globally. Spain has been late to this realization, and the Ministerio de Defensa has been the target of criticism for that lateness. Spanish soldiers have also been targets: 4 successful land mine attacks in the 16 months leading up to Spain’s MRAP decision had killed 10 soldiers and a translator (6 in Lebanon, 5 in Afghanistan).
In November 2007, with 4 months to go before elections, the situation in Spain shifted. The Spanish Council of Ministers announcement amounted to a major MRAP(Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected) Class I and Class II program for Spain. The program will replace/supplement its VAMTAC (Vehiculo de Alta Movilidad Ta¡ctica, a licensed HMMWV) and recently-acquired Anibal (Land Rover derivative) vehicles by 2009. Over the longer term, Spain will also replace its 6×6 BMR(Blindados Medios de Ruedas = Armored Medium Wheeled) Armored Personnel Carriers. The 575+ vehicle acquisition program is sketched out, the finalists are lined up, and a program to buy wheeled APCs will follow.
While the winners for the first 2 phases are clear, purchase and delivery are taking a long time. The winning vehicles have yet to be deployed to the front lines, and the issue has become a political controversy in Spain. Meanwhile, the government has signed a contract now for RG-51 Mk5E stretched vehicles. They’ve also started deploying the Iveco MLV to Afghanistan…
United Technologies subsidiary Pratt & Whitney is well known around the world as a manufacturer of turbine engines for aircraft, helicopters, and even industrial uses. Within that firm, its Canadian subsidiary has a well established reputation of its own, as a global leader for turboprop and turboshaft engines used in helicopters, military trainer aircraft, and commercial/industrial planes. That status has made them a top-tier R&D player within Canada’s large aerospace industry, working on over 300 research projects with a wide array of universities, research centres and other organizations.
On Oct 20/08, Quebec’s Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade announced that Investissement Québec will invest C$ 125 million over the next 3 years to support the firm research and development activities in Longueuil, Quebec. The investment is repayable from royalties on sales. Pratt & Whitney Canada then announced an investment program of its own: over C$ 360 million in research and development in the Montreal area over the next 3 years. Their R&D investment will be aimed at “further improving engine technology required to surpass the world’s most stringent environmental standards, while delivering outstanding performance, durability and operating economics.”
P&WC’s primary R&D are located and Mississauga, Ontario, and the Montreal suburb of Longueuil which will receive the C$ 485 million (about $395 million) injection. Together, they employ about 1,500 engineers. Pratt & Whitney Canada release.
American Science and Engineering’s Z Backscatter Van(TM) (ZBV) is a low-cost, extremely maneuverable short-range screening system built into a commercially available delivery van. The ZBV employs AS&E’s patented Z Backscatter technology, which reveals contraband that transmission X-rays miss – such as explosives (including car bombs), plastic weapons, and people – providing photo-like imaging for rapid analysis.
The Z-Backscatter Van is also capable of identifying low levels of radioactivity from both gamma rays and neutrons with optional Radioactive Threat Detection (RTD) technology. This article explains how it works, and provides an illustrative slice of coverage regarding contracts and key events from FY 2005 to the end of FY 2008. The latest set of additions wraps up DID’s coverage…
In October 2008, Boeing announced that its majority-owned partner Alsalam Aircraft Co. in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia has received a 3-year, $29 million contract. Alsalam will provide programmed depot maintenance (repairs, inspections, maintenance, modifications and repainting) for the Royal Saudi Air Force’s fleet of 50 C-130s.
Alsalam involvement in the RSAF’s C-130 PDM began in 1993, with a subcontract from prime contractor Lockheed Martin Middle East Services (LMMES). The firm has expanded its size and share over the intervening years. They currently handle RSAF F-15 and Tornado fighters, AH-64 Apache helicopters, E-3A AWACS, and C-130s; and work to modify and maintain commercial airplanes.
In October 2006, Vector Aerospace Engine Services UK, Ltd. was named the preferred bidder to maintain the Saudi C-130 fleet’s T56 engines.