Playing the field: Only weeks after the US Congress broke the deadlock on $100 million in military aid to Lebanon, Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri visits Tehran and appeals for closer military cooperation with Iran.
Red flag: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says China is not doing enough to restrain North Korea, calls for “significant penalties” against North.
Scorpion’s sting: France’s DGA awards a contract worth up to EUR 21 million to a consortium of Thales, Nexter, and Sagem for the architectural phase of the EUR 10 billion Scorpion program to modernize the French Army’s 8 combined arms brigades.
Closing the deal: Veritas Capital completes purchase of Lockheed Martin’s Enterprise Integration Group, a supplier of management and engineering services to the US DoD and other federal agencies, for $815 million in cash.
What’s in a name?: Huntington Ingalls Industries would be the new name of Northrop Grumman’s shipbuilding business, if the company chooses a spinoff rather than sale.
Sweden’s Saab Bofors Dynamics recently announced a SEK 150 million ($18.6M/ EUR 14M) order for its AT4-CS infantry rockets. This is France’s 4th order for the unguided system, following purchases in 1996, 2000, and 2003. The AT4-CS fills a niche as a lighter alternative to Giat/Nexter’s 112mm APILAS, which has some disadvantages that hamper its use.
The 84mm AT4 will not defeat modern tanks, but it will destroy light vehicles and some medium armor. It’s also extremely useful against fortified enemy positions. That’s currently its most common use, hence Saab’s designation as an “Anti-Structure Weapon.” In the US Army and USMC, a modified version is known as the M136, which has been license-manufactured by ATK, and also bought via direct order. The AT4-CS is now the standard version sold around the world, and the CS means “confined space,” thanks to the clever use of a saltwater mass in the back. As the firing pin hits the ammunition and the normally large and dangerous backblast begins, it turns the counter-mass into spray, baffling and slowing the pressure wave to make it safe for use in confined spaces like buildings.
General Electric Aviation of Cincinnati, OH received a $50.5 million contract modification which will provide newly redesigned High Pressure Compressor and High Pressure Turbine assemblies, newly redesigned Aging Engine Upgrade Components, initial provisioning spares, and new technical data to support the F110-GE-100/-129 jet engines’ Service Life Extension Plan (SLEP) and Aging Engine Upgrade initiatives. At this time, the entire amount has been committed by the 448th SCMG/PKBC at Tinker Air Force Base, OK.
The F110-GE-100 engine flies in USAF F-16C/D Block 30 and Block 40 aircraft. The F110-GE-129 engine, which first entered service in 1992, equips F-16 Block 50 aircraft, which is the most recent USAF production version. Although Pratt & Whitney’s F100 was the initial engine for all F-16s, its maintenance and performance problems escalated to the point that the USAF began buying the newly-developed GE F110 engine instead, which featured more reliability and higher thrust. It also required a larger air inlet, hence the “bigmouth” F-16 designs from Block 30/32 onward. The resulting competition has spurred both manufacturers to improve their products over the years, and Pratt & Whitney’s F100-PW-229 has scored a number of recent wins among international F-16 customers, but most serving USAF F-16s fly with GE’s F110 engine.
As the 2005 contract date implies, this award is just one of a long series. The F110 SLEP upgrade uses technology from the CFM56-7 commercial engine core in use by modern 737s, 3D aero technology, and a redesigned flow path with changes to the combustor and high-pressure turbine. GE believes these changes provide up to a 25% improvement in cost-per-flying-hour, a significant time-on-wing increase, and elimination of special inspections, and estimates the potential life-long savings at approximately $1 billion for 800 F110 engines (FA8104-05-C-0053, PO0018).