AF taps SpaceX for AFSC-52 program delivery | Bahrain buys F-16 Viper | The B-52H and its deadly payloadJun 25, 2018 05:00 UTC
- The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center is tapping SpaceX in support of its satellite program. The $130 million contract provides for the delivery of the Air Force Space Command-52 satellite by Elon Musk’s Falcon-Heavy rocket. The launch service contract includes launch vehicle production and mission, as well as integration, launch operations and spaceflight worthiness activities. The relatively low-cost price tag secured the deal for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, beating out main rival United Launch Alliance by tens of millions of dollars and earning praise from the Air Force. The Heavy Falcon can deliver a payload of 70 tons to low-Earth orbit. Work will be performed in Hawthorne, California and McGregor, Texas. The military launch is presently scheduled to occur in September 2020 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
- The US Army is awarding a contract modification to General Dynamics in support of its Stryker vehicles. The modification provides for the upgrade of Stryker flat bottom vehicles to the double V-hull configuration and is valued at $258 million. The 8×8 wheeled Stryker armored vehicle will be the future backbone of 8 US Army and 1 National Guard medium armored brigades. The V-hull configuration is the Army’s answer to a high number of killed or wounded soldiers caused by IED blasts. The Stryker double-v hull design channels blast force away from the vehicle and its occupants thus drastically enhancing soldier protection. Work will be performed in Sterling Heights, Michigan, with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2020.
- The current modernization program of the Air Force’s B-52H aims to make the platform even more lethal. According to a recently published RFI the Air Force plans to equip the B-52H wing pylon to carry a single weapon weighing up to the 20,000lb class, which potentially includes the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB). The new pylon will essentially quadruple the weight of bombs that the Boeing B-52H Stratofortress is able to carry externally. The B-52H subsonic heavy bomber remains the mainstay of the US strategic fleet after more than 50 years of service. The Air Force originally envisioned replacing B-52s with a fleet of supersonic bombers, but the subsonic, long-range H-model has persisted since it entered the fleet in 1961. Instead of transitioning to retirement, the USAF now plans continue operating the fleet until they reach nearly the century-mark in 2060. The RFI provided no details as to planned costs and timelines for the pylon upgrade, except to say that the total effort from development to fielding should be accomplished between 36 and 72 months.
Middle East & Africa
- Israeli defense contractor Elbit is currently presenting its newly developed wide-area acoustic sensing device called May. May is an innovative sensing and analysis system that provides real-time, autonomous, wide-area acoustic based intelligence that significantly enhances situational awareness and response time of security forces operating in urban and border areas. According to the company the system is based on high-end acoustic sensors which operate interactively within an area of interest. Compact and durable, these fixed-installation sensors sustain long-term, outdoor 24/7 operation using either wired or wireless communications. Once it detects an acoustic anomaly such as gun-fire, the system identifies the event, classifies the sound type, pinpoints the geo-location of the signals and automatically provides actionable information to operating forces.
- The Kingdom of Bahrain is set to receive new fighter jets as part of a US foreign military sale. The deal is valued at $1,12 billion and provides for the production of 16 F-16 V Block 70 aircraft by Lockheed Martin. F-16V or Viper is the latest variant of the Fighting Falcon fourth generation, multi-role, fighter aircraft. It integrates advanced capabilities as part of an upgrade package to better interoperate with fifth-generation fighters, including the F-35 and the F-22. The F-16V fighter jet can be deployed in suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) missions, air-to-ground and air-to-air combat, and deep interdiction and maritime interdiction missions. The aircraft features airborne mission role-change capability and can detect and track time-critical hard-to-find targets in all weather conditions. It also reduces operational costs for the users. Work will be performed in Greenville, South Carolina; and Fort Worth, Texas. The work is expected to be complete by September, 2023.
- The German multibillion dollar program to replace the German military’s Tornado aircraft is nearing another round of decisions that could narrow the field of bidders. Discussions are being held about the feasibility of an extended service life for the 1970s-era Tornados for an unspecified amount of time, as well as about the aircrafts successors. A formal competition is expected to begin later this year or early 2019 among those aircraft types still deemed suitable by the government at that time. In the running is the Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, and Boeing’s F-15 and F-18. In the past the German MoD spoke out in favor of the Eurofighter while the Luftwaffe is leaning more towards the F-35. The final decision depends on a variety of factors, including a nuclear certification of the Eurofighter and how generous the government is with its allocation of procurement funds. Considering the ongoing program problems, it remains to be seen if Berlin can stick to its planned Tornado replacement by 2025.
- According to Jane’s, the Australian government will receive upgraded Gulfstream aircraft as part of a US foreign military sale. The 645th Aeronautical Systems Group located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is tapping L-3 Communications for the procurement of two Gulfstream G550 aircraft. The firm-fixed-price contract valued at $83 million. In June 2017 the DoD approved the sale to Australia of up to five G550 aircraft fitted with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and electronic warfare (EW) mission systems, with integration work to be carried out by L-3. Work will be performed in Greenville, Texas; and Savannah, Georgia, and is expected to be complete by August 2021.
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