Mar 27, 2015 02:20 UTC
- In a confusing twist in the development of Turkey’s T-LORAMIDS air defense program, defense procurement officials said that the final decision on which contractor will build the system won’t be made until after the election in June. The Chinese previous stated that they had won the competition, beating out rivals Eurosam and Raytheon/Lockheed Martin. In a further complication, the Turkish officials also reportedly hinted at the possibility of allowing the discarded Russian S-400 bid back into the competition, the same system recently procured by the Chinese at $500 million each.
- The UK announced a five-year £580 million ($860 million) support service contract with AgustaWestland today, which will see the company providing maintenance for the Royal Navy’s Merlin Mk2 and Mk3 helicopters. Today’s contract follows from a similar £570 million contract with AgustaWestland in 2011, which covered the 2011-2016 period.
The AIM-9X Sidewinder missile is tested:
Mar 26, 2015 00:34 UTC
- Following yesterday’s announcement that the Air Force is to procure one MC-12W ISR aircraft, the Navy is following suit, with a $11.7 million contract announced today for one aircraft in the UC-12W variation. The Navy previously ordered six of the model in 2008 for $48.8 million.
- Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $21.8 million contract modification to provide support to the Space Tracking and Surveillance System, bringing the total cumulative value of the contract to around $2.39 billion. The modification will provide on-orbit operations and sustainment.
- Three firms have been awarded contracts to provide tactical data link systems for research, integration, human and a host of other factors, with the three firms having the option to compete for task orders over an initial one-year period. Tactical Engineering & Analysis Inc. was awarded a $19.7 million contract, Computer Sciences Corp. $17.8 million and Odyssey Systems Consulting Group $16 million, totalling approximately $53.5 million. Each of these come with a two-year option period, which if exercised would total approximately $90.7 million. A separate $23.3 million contract was announced today for 5,000 joint chemical agent detectors.
- The F-35’s 2B software requires a testing extension in order to debug flaws, according to media reports. This extension will likely lead to Lockheed Martin losing a portion of the contract’s $300 million incentive fee. This latest speed bump in the F-35 program will reportedly not delay the Marine Corps’ use of the aircraft, with the Corps planning on steaming ahead with the current software package with a view to modifying and/or restricting the use of the aircraft as appropriate until the patch becomes available.
- The test launch of the Air Force’s Super Strypi rail-guided satellite delivery system, originally planned for October 2013, has now been delayed until this coming October following problems with the rocket’s three-stage motor. With the launch vehicle designed by Sandia National Laboratories, the rocket’s problematic propulsion system is designed and produced by Aerojet Rocketdyne.
- Airbus is cutting its share in French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of the Rafale. After dropping its percentage share by 4.2% in November, Airbus announced today that it is selling a further 17.5% of the company. Airbus will still own more than a quarter of Dassault after the transaction.
- Following the news that Turkey is reportedly set to sign a $3.4 billion air defense deal with China, the country’s Prime Minister has called for a focus on developing indigenous missile and space technologies. Turkey’s domestic defense industry is currently involved in several high-profile development programs, including the Altay tank and TF-X fighter projects.
- Taiwanese media is reporting that Myanmar will purchase the JF-17 (AKA the FC-1 Xiaolong) from Pakistan, the love-child of China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. Myanmar has pondered the purchase for a while, previously opting for the MIG-29 over the JF-17 in 2009; this change of heart is likely a result of the difficulties involved with keeping MiG-29s in service.
F-35 trials on the USS Nimitz (CVN-68):
Mar 20, 2015 02:18 UTC
The Pentagon lowered the forecast procurement cost of the F-35 program by 2 percent today – that’s $7.5 billion in savings over a roughly $400 billion program. The fighters are slated now to cost a mere $159.2 million per copy, if the military does indeed purchase 2,457 of them.
In the midst of the hubbub about what will or won’t fit inside an F-35, program leads stated that the aircraft may receive a pod-mounted cyber-attack capability, according to industry reports. Whether this developmental capability is cyber in the sense of using computer networks to attack targets – or whether it is merely an EW system – remains unclear. One reason the military has been concerned about what fits into the F-35’s petite weapons bay is because the weapons affixed to pylons on the outside tend to ruin the stealth capabilities that explain much of the difference between a $20 million F-18 and a $200 million F-35.
Two US bases are likely to remain open following the withdrawal of thousands of US troops later this year. The bases – in Jalalabad and Kandahar – will remain operational principally to support the Afghan Air Force (in Kandahar) and stem the flow of Taliban fighters from Pakistan (Jalalabad).
In contract news, two power companies – TransGen Energy and New Generation Power – were jointly awarded a $7 billion DoD contract today for power purchase agreement task orders until 2023. Bell Helicopter Textron was also awarded a $32.5 million contract for rotary wing blades in a sole-source acquisition.
Turkey will receive China’s HQ-9/FD-2000 air defense system, according to a statement by the Chinese Ministry of National Defense today. The other two bidders in the T-LORAMIDS competition –Raytheon/Lockheed Martin’s Patriot system and the Eurosam consortium’s Aster-30 system – are likely to be very displeased, particularly given the calls by North Atlantic Treaty Organization members to discount the Chinese offering on the basis of integration issues and multiple deadline extensions.
The Russian Navy is to receive upgraded submarines, with a flurry of reports from TASS today. Ten existing Project 971 and Project 949A boats are to be upgraded by 2020, with new “fifth-generation” subs under development for manufacture and deployment post-2020. It is unclear whether these upgraded models will form the “new” fifth generation subs or an entirely new design will be developed. Additionally, a fifth Yasen-class is to be laid-down today, according to the same Russian media source.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the EU’s Athena mechanism have signed an agreement to facilitate easier defense infrastructure procurement and stimulate cooperation between the two organizations.
Singapore is reportedly close to signing a contract with Lockheed Martin to upgrade its F-16s, after a cancelled deal with BAE in November. The country initially confirmed its intention to upgrade the fleet in September 2013. Also today, the US Air Force announced that it has budgeted $25 million for radar upgrades for its own F-16s.
India’s Defense Research & Development Organization is to undergo a restructuring, including the creation of seven Technology Domain groups and a commercial arm, likely to be akin to the UK Ministry of Defence’s infamous Defence Equipment & Support entity.
Malaysian company Airod has proposed an upgrade schedule for the country’s Mig-29s, to raise the ten aircraft to the “Mig-29NM” standard. The main attraction would be the potential 30% increase in operational range, as well as improved commonality with the Malaysian Air Force’s fleet of Su-30MKM fighters.
A BAE-developed 32MJ rail gun is test-fired for the US Navy: