Trident II research moves ahead | The Mk48 gets a massive overhaul | Can the Eurofighter get a nuclear certification?Jun 22, 2018 05:00 UTC
- Lockheed Martin is being awarded a contract modification to support the Navy’s Aegis combat system. As the world’s most advanced combat system, Aegis can simultaneously attack land targets, submarines, and surface ships while automatically protecting the fleet against aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. The modification is valued at $18.92 million and provides for the further development of the ‘virtual twin’ for the Aegis Baseline 9 capability. This includes studies, initiatives, support and a Technical Insertion-08 CG upgrade. The ‘virtual twin’ is the entire set of code that makes up the Aegis combat system Baseline 9 housed within a few computer servers that takes up much less room than the actual Aegis combat system on a guided-missile destroyer or cruiser. Work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey, and is expected to be completed by July 2019
- The Southern Research Institute is being tapped to support the US and UK inventory of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM). The cost-plus-fixed-fee contract provides for the thermo-mechanical and aero-thermal ground testing of thermal protection system materials in ballistic re-entry systems and is valued at $9.6 million. The contract also includes the fabrication of flight hardware of such systems. The submarine launched Trident II D5 has been the backbone of US and UK nuclear deterrence since the 1990s. As a launched warhead re-enters the atmosphere it has to withstand temperatures up to 5.500 degrees Fahrenheit. The testing of the missiles’ thermal protection therefore is paramount to the system’ strike capability. This contract combines purchases for the US Navy and the government of the United Kingdom, under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Birmingham, Alabama, and is expected to be completed by June 2019.
- The Navy is contracting Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. for maintenance work on its arsenal of Mk48 heavyweight torpedoes. The $17,9 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost-only contract provides the commanders of the US Atlantic and Pacific fleet’s submarine force with approximately 56,160 man-hours per year to operate the progressive depot-level repair facility and provide depot-level repairable management functions for Mk 48 readiness. The Mk-48 is a huge 19 feet long, 3,500 lb. heavy torpedo with advanced homing, wire guidance capabilities, and devastating consequences when its 600 lb. warhead hits a target. It is designed to kill both fast, deep-diving nuclear submarines and high-performance surface ships, and is carried by US Navy and Royal Australian Navy submarines. These torpedoes can operate with or without wire guidance, and can use active and/or passive homing, and can conduct multiple re-attacks if they miss the target. Cost estimates for this weapon are around $2 million each, rising to almost $3 million in some cases with upgrades factored in. This Work will be performed in Yorktown, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by September, 2018.
Middle East & Africa
- Afghanistan is set to receive further support for its fleet MD 530F helicopters as part of a US foreign military sale. The $38.43 million contract modification provides for performance based, contractor-managed operations to support systems readiness by MD Helicopters. This includes material management, technical data management, repair, engineering support and the procurement of spares. MD Helicopters had won a competition for the Afghan Air Force in 2011. The MD 530F, or OH-6 Cayuse is a legendary light utility helicopter and gunship. It is the ancestor of the AH-6J/M “Little Bird”. Work will be performed in Mesa, Arizona, with an estimated completion by November 2018.
- The Moroccan Royal Armed Forces are currently negotiating the purchase of T-129 attack helicopters from Turkey. The T-129 ATAK is an attack helicopter, but it’s smaller and lighter than classic competitors like Russia’s Mi-28 or the USA’s AH-64 Apache. The T129A EDH carries the nose-mounted 20mm cannon turret with 500 rounds, and 4 pylons for unguided rockets. The T129B version will add Roketsan’s MIZRAK (formerly UMTAS) missiles and CIRIT 70 mm Laser Guided Rockets, and Raytheon’s FIM-92 Stinger air-to-air missiles. The aircraft is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions. Morocco wants to strengthen its helicopter fleet that mainly consists of reconnaissance and combat helicopters of the types Gazelle, Bell 205 and Bell 206, Chinooks and Predator drones. The north African kingdom is an important US strategic partner in the fight against terrorism. The Turkish-made T-129 would boost Morocco’s deterrence capacity.
- The German Navy is ordering Norway’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM). The $26.8 million contract will see for missile delivery by Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace. Kongsberg and Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems will work together to further develop and field the missile on a number of German Navy vessels. The stealth-enhanced Naval Strike Missile aims to be a generation beyond the US GM-84 Harpoon. Once the NSM locks on, it strikes ships or land targets with a 265 lb. titanium warhead and programmable fuse. The number of missiles to be delivered has yet not been specified.
- The German government is currently pressing Washington to clarify whether it would let the Eurofighter Typhoon carry nuclear bombs as part of shared Western defenses. Although not a nuclear power, Germany hosts some US nuclear warheads under NATO’s nuclear-sharing policy. Some of those warheads can be delivered to their target with German Tornado’s. As retirement of those warplanes nears, Germany is looking to replace its fleet of 89 Tornados in a multi-billion-euro tender. Currently Ministry of Defense has several options on the table, including the F-35 and the aforementioned Eurofighter Typhoon. Germany’s defense ministry sent a letter to the US Defense Department in April asking whether certification of the European jets was possible, so far, no clear answer has been given.
- The Bangladesh Air Force is set to receive new K-8W JET Trainer aircraft from China under a G2G agreement. The K-8 jet trainer, also known as the K-8 Karakorum or the Hongdu JL-8, is a joint venture between China’s Nanchang-based Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC). The aircraft has 3 engine options. The most common by production quantity is China’s WS-11, a licensed copy of the Ukranian Ivchenko AI-25TL turbofan. Aircraft so equipped are reportedly designated L-11s. The AI-25TL reportedly delivers 3,600 – 3,800 pounds thrust, and also equips aircraft for most export customers. The jets can carry up to 4 under-wing pylons rated at 500 lb. each. Options include fuel drop tanks, 23mm cannon pods, unguided rockets, unguided bombs, and even short-range air-to-air missiles.
- Airbus is offering a helicopter armed with HForce to Japan’s AH-X contest