“Bushmaster Bonanza at Bendigo” read the August 2007 DoD headline, as Liberal Party Minister for Defence Dr. Brendan Nelson announced that Australia would buy at least 250 more Bushmaster vehicles. The final contract was actually larger than that, in order to meet Protected Mobility Medium requirements for Project Overlander’s Phase 3. In 2011, the government placed an order for even more Bushmasters. Now 2012 has seen that intention repeated, in order to keep the workforce occupied…
June 28/12: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Kuwait’s request for 300 AGM-114R3 Hellfire II missiles, with the new triple-mode fragmentation/ blast/ armor piercing warhead. The Kuwaitis are also requesting missile containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, repair and return support, training, Quality Assurance Team support services, and other engineering and technical support. The estimated cost is $49 million.
The prime contractor is Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL, and implementation of this proposed sale won’t require the assignment of U.S. Government or contractor representatives. The Kuwaiti Air Force owns 16 AH-64D Apache attack helicopters that already use these missiles, just not the latest version.
Recent years have seen a variety of unmanned helicopter options introduced into the market. Boeing’s entry lays a breathtaking challenge before the field: what could the military do with a helicopter-like, autonomously-flown UAV with a range of 2,500 nautical miles and endurance of 16-24 hours, carrying a payload of 1,000-2,500 pounds, and doing it all more quietly than conventional helicopters? For that matter, imagine what disaster relief officials could do with something that had all the positive search characteristics of a helicopter, but much longer endurance.
Enter the A160 Hummingbird Warrior (YMQ-18), which was snapped up in one of Boeing’s corporate acquisition deals. It uses a very unconventional rotor technology, and Boeing’s Phantom Works division continues to develop it as a revolutionary technology demonstrator and future UAV platform. With the Navy’s VTUAV locked up by the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout, Boeing’s sales options may seem thin. Their platform’s capabilities may interest US Special Operations Command and the Department of Homeland Security, and exceptional performance gains will always create market opportunities in the civil and military space. At least, Boeing hopes so.
Latest updates: New helicopters arrive; Crash in Afghanistan.
RAAF & US CH-47Ds
After decades as a largely unheralded workhorse, the distinctive, twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook medium-heavy lift helicopter has suddenly become the belle of the ball. Nations that have them are keeping them, and upgrading them. Boeing’s main customers in the US military plan to keep versions of the CH-47 in service past 2030. Nations that don’t have Chinooks, want them; but like a Harley-Davidson Screamin’ Eagle Fat Boy, those who step up to buy one know that second hand models aren’t exactly plentiful – and if you want new, you’ll probably have to wait a bit.
DID does not publish on July 4th. We hope our readers in Canada and the USA have enjoyed the period from Canada Day on July 1st to Independence Day on July 4th, celebrating freedom, friendship and long-standing peace across the world’s longest undefended border.
Fortunately, the Americans elected not to hold a grudge over the 1814 expedition that put the Presidential residence and other nearby landmarks to the torch during the burning of Washington. That residence was later restored and painted in white, hence its current name. North of the border, the war’s events prompted Upper Canada to move its administrative center from York (now Toronto) on Lake Ontario, to the frigid swamps of Ottawa near Lower Canada. Ottawa is now the world’s 2nd coldest national capital, ahead of Moscow and behind only Mongolia’s Ulan Bator. America’s second most divisive war had left little appetite for further hostilities, and some wags quip that its “capital punishment” on both sides of the border was seen as sufficient requite by both sides.