The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program may well be the largest single global defense program in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that will have 3 variants: the F-35A conventional version for the US Air Force et. al.; the F-35B Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing for the US Marines, British Royal Navy, et. al.; and the F-35C conventional carrier-launched version for the US Navy. The aircraft is named after Lockheed’s famous WW2 P-38 Lightning, and the Mach 2, stacked-engine English Electric (now BAE)Lightning jet. Lightning II system development partners included The USA & Britain (Tier 1), Italy and the Netherlands (Tier 2), and Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway and Turkey (Tier 3), with Singapore and Israel as “Security Cooperation Partners.” Now the challenge is agreeing on production phase membership and arrangements, to be followed by initial purchase commitments in 2009-2010.
This updated article has expanded to feature more detail regarding the F-35 program, including contracts, sub-contracts, and notable events and reports. Recent events and major programs shifts have been added to this article, in order to ensure maximum continuity and context. 2012 developments are covered in this follow-up article.
Pentagon chief Robert Gates unveils a plan detailing $150 billion in service cuts and cost savings over the next 5 years, which will be reallocated to weapons programs. The most significant-but-overlooked item? Not any weapon, but the paperwork jihad: removal of 60% of all non-statutory reports, April 2012 sunset for any internal report with a commissioning date prior to 2006, and every report must include the cost of its production as of February 2011. Nice! Gates’ full speech | Pentagon release.
In late December 2010, Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Rolling Meadows, IL received a $486 million contract modification from US Naval Air Systems Command. The firm has now confirmed that order’s precise makeup to DID…
As 2011 begins, the French DGA made France the 4th customer nation to place production orders for MBDA’s ramjet-powered Meteor missile, after Britain, Spain, and Sweden. The 200 missile order was placed through the multinational program lead, Britain’s MoD Defence Equipment & Services (DE&S), to MBDA-UK. Price was not mentioned. The first French Meteor missile deliveries are expected in 2018.
MBDA’s Meteor missile was conceived as a longer-range competitor to popular weapons like the Russian R77/AA-12, and American AIM-120 AMRAAM. Its ramjet propulsion is intended to offer the missile a head-on closing range of 120 km, with a 2-way datalink and full powered performance at Mach 4+ throughout its flight, instead of the standard “burn and coast” approach use by rocket-powered counterparts. The intent is to give the Meteor both longer reach, and a wider “no escape” profile.
Boeing’s Mesa, AZ operations recently won about $95 million in contracts to support the overhaul, repair, and recapitalization of the US Army’s AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and CH-47 Chinook heavy transport helicopter fleets. Note that these contracts extend beyond just the new AH-64D Block III and CH-47F models, to include the full range of types in service. Since Boeing is the manufacturer for both helicopter models, one bid was solicited with one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL.
A $50.1 million firm-fixed-price contract will provide services and supplies to assist the overhaul, repair and recapitalization of the USA’s AH-64D Apache attack helicopter fleet. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi, TX, with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/11 (W58RGZ-10-D-0027).
A $44.9 million firm-fixed-price contract will provide services and supplies to assist the overhaul, repair and recapitalization of the USA’s CH-47 Chinook fleet. Work will be performed in Corpus Christi, TX, with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/11 (W58RGZ-10-D-0027).
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has issued new guidance re: organizational conflicts of interest and competition, such as performing a requirements study and then supplying the weapons system that the study addressed. Washington Post.
The Washington Post did a better job reporting on the new “Gorgon Stare” pod, which is being deployed to Afghanistan. It has been tested with the MQ-9 Reaper UAV, but can also be carried by other aircraft.
North Korea has added battle tanks based on the old Soviet Union T-72 to its arsenal and boosted its special forces, artillery pieces, and weapons of mass destruction over the past 2 years, according to South Korea’s 2010 defense white paper. All that said, the South would wipe the floor with them in a full-on war – but at the cost of Seoul.
Washington state defense contractors are adjusting to lower defense spending.
Egypt resisted US pressure to refocus its military to counter “asymmetric threats,” such as terrorism, weapons smuggled into Gaza, and piracy, leaked cable shows.
MIKEL, a Fall River, MA-based sonar signal processing firm, gets a $9.1 million contract to provide research automation and data fusion, target motion analysis, weapon employment, and tactical decision aids for U.S. Navy submarines.