Aug 17, 2018 05:00 UTC
The upcoming FY2019 will be good year for US aerospace companies. The recently signed National Defense Authorization Act allows for the procurement of 413 aircraft at a cost of $39.5 billion. The US Navy is set to order a total of 119 warplanes. This includes 24 Super Hornets, 10 P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft, eight CH-53K helicopters. In addition, the Naval Air Systems Command is being entrusted with a multi-year contract authority for the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft which gives it the right to negotiate bulk discounts with vendors based on a guarantee of several years of orders. The Air Force will buy 15 KC-46 tanker aircraft with a grant of $2.4 billion. The service will also be able to spend a further $300 million to procure aircraft for its Light Attack and Armed Reconnaissance (OA-X) program. Lockheed Martin will provide the Air Force, USMC and Navy with a total of 77 F-35 fighter jets. This $7.6 billion order is the largest appropriation for a single aircraft type. The company will deliver 48 F-35As, 20 F-35Bs and 9 F-35Cs. The total US defense funding rose by 2.4% to a total of $717 billion.
The US Army is investing in IED detection systems. Chemring Sensors and Electronic Systems will provide the service with a number of Husky Mounted Detection System systems. This firm-fixed-price contract has a value of $92.5 million. The Husky was initially developed in the 1970s by South Africa-based RSD, a division of Dorbyl and marketed by Critical Solutions International (CSI). The vehicle is equipped with a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) that detects mines and explosives by using hydraulically-controlled deploy and retract modes. The vehicle is fitted with automatic target recognition algorithms for GPR and metal detection data processing. The Husky’s crew is protected by a V-shaped hull and bulletproof glass. The employment strategy for the VMMD system involves a lead mine-detection vehicle searching for antitank mines. Upon detection, the prime mover would move forward towing the detonation trailers. A squad of engineers could then neutralize the mine or the trailers could detonate the mines in place. Locations of performance and funding will be determined with each order. Work is scheduled for completion by August 15th, 2022.
The Navy is contracting TOTE Services to support SBX-1. The company is being awarded with a firm-fixed-price contract valued at $11.1 million. The company will be responsible for operating and maintaining the Sea-Based X-Band Radar vessel. The X-band radar, also known as the SBX, was originally planned as a land-based system but a sea-based system became possible when the Bush administration withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It constitutes a mid-course fire control radar based on a seagoing semi-submersible vessel. The $815 million, mechanically-slewed, X-band phased array assembly is 280 feet tall, and weighs 2,400 tons. The radome alone weighs 18,000 pounds, stands over 103 feet high, and is 120 feet in diameter. Made entirely of a high-tech synthetic fabric, the radome is supported by air pressure alone, and is designed to withstand 130+ mph winds and a “100-year storm” at sea. The radar performs cued search, precision tracking, object discrimination and missile kill assessment. The in-flight interceptor communication system data terminal transfers commands from the GMD fire control system to the interceptor missile during its engagement with the target missile. This contract is scheduled for completion by September 2019, but does include several options which could extend the contract until end of March, 2024. The total cumulative value of this contract would rise to $65.3 million, if all options are exercised.
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works is being tapped to replace the centralized 400-Hz power distribution system of three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The contract modification has a value of $9.5 million and provides for material and labor needed to add new integrated power node centers on the USS John Basilone (DDG 122), the USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG 124) and on the USS Gallagher (DDG 127). The current centralized 400-Hz power-distribution system, consists of two air-cooled solid state frequency converters. The new integrated power node center combines power transfer, frequency conversion, voltage transformation, power conditioning, and fault protection into one cabinet. Electrical power is at the heart of any modern warship. On destroyers for example they allow the Mk41 VLS to perform its job. For each launcher there are 400-Hz and 60-Hz power distribution units to supply power to the launcher electronics. Work will be performed at the company’s shipyard in Bath, Maine, and is expected to be completed by November 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Reports suggest that the United Arab Emirates is currently deploying one of its Wing Loong II UAVs from its Assab airbase in Eritrea. In October 2017 satellite imagery confirmed the UAE as the first export customer of China’s next-generation medium-altitude long-endurance and strike-capable UAE. The Diplomat states that the Wing Loong II has been primarily designed and developed for export and has been marketed by China’s defense industry as a more cost-effective alternative to the US-made General Atomics MQ-1 Predator. The Wing Loong UAV’s fixed mid-mounted wings with high aspect ratio provide improved performance by reducing the drag. Its fuselage structure is designed to minimise the radar cross-section. It features two vertical tail fins, arranged in a V shape. The tricycle landing gear, with two main wheels under the fuselage and one single wheel under the nose, facilitates safe take-off and landing. The unmanned combat aerial vehicle can be armed with a variety of weapons including laser-guided bombs and missiles to attack and destroy air or ground-based targets. The UAE is currently fighting Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Germany is issuing a long-awaited final request for its multi-national TLVS (Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem) program. MBDA and Lockheed Martin will now negotiate the cost and technical parameters of the program with the Bundeswehr. If the German Bundestag, the country’s parliament, approves the necessary procurement funding, the Bundeswehr would receive its first-ever fielded air-defense system with a built-in 360-degree capability. The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program aimed to replace Patriot missiles in the United States, the older Hawk system in Germany, and Italy’s even older Nike Hercules missiles. MEADS will be designed to kill enemy aircraft, cruise missiles and UAVs within its reach, while providing next-generation point defense capabilities against ballistic missiles. MEADS is the product of a $4 billion development program shared by the US, Germany and Italy that incorporates Lockheed Martin’s hit-to-kill PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missile in a system including 360-degree surveillance and fire control sensors, netted-distributed tactical operations centers, and lightweight launchers. So far, only Germany has chosen to field the system.
Taiwan’s F-16 pilots are set to receive training support as part of a US foreign military sale. L3 Technologies is being awarded with a $25.8 million contract modification for an additional training system to be installed in an F-16 A/B Block 20 Mission Training Center. The Republic of China Air Force operates a total of 150 F-16A/B block 20 aircraft. Twenty F-16A/B Block 20 aircraft are based in the US for testing and training purposes. MTC’s immerse pilots in high-definition, dynamic training scenarios that enables them to practice air-to-air and air-to-ground missions under any condition that might be encountered during actual flight. Each F-16 MTC consists of four simulators that incorporate high-definition displays, image generation, databases and dynamic environments. Work will be performed in Arlington. Texas and is scheduled for completion by end of October, 2024.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is adding 12 L-15 advanced jet trainers to its training school. The PLAN Aviation University was formed in 2017 and is based in Shandong. The Hongdu L-15 Falcon made its maiden flight in 2006 and is intended to train pilots to fly high-performance forth-generation aircraft, such as the J-10 and Su-27. It is also suitable to complete all basic jet flight training courses. The Hongdu L-15 features a full glass cockpit which can accommodate two crew members, either a student pilot and instructor, or an official pilot and weapons systems officer. The jet has six hard points of which four are located under the two wings and two under the wing-tips. It can accommodate 6,000lb of payload. The aircraft can carry short range air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, bombs and rocket pods. The development comes amid Beijing’s general airpower build-up, specifically as it develops air wings for its growing fleet of aircraft carriers.
Watch: Jane’s reports of Merlin helicopter carrier deployment
Aug 16, 2018 05:00 UTC
The US pace and Missile Systems Center is ordering new missile defense satellites. Lockheed Martin will manufacture the three Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Space Vehicles at a cost of $2.9 billion. The satellites will be a follow on to the US Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program. The SBIRS architecture includes a resilient mix of satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO), payloads in highly elliptical orbit (HEO), as well as ground-based hardware and software. The integrated system supports multiple missions simultaneously, while providing robust performance with global, persistent coverage. The Next-Gen OPIR will succeed the current SBIRS by providing improved missile warning capabilities that are more survivable against emerging threats. This order supplements a similar contract to be awarded to Lockheed Martin, that sees for the production of two polar space vehicles. The contract encompasses a variety of tasks ranging from requirements analysis to a system critical design review. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Sunnyvale, California, and is expected to be completed by April 30th, 2021.
The Air Force is boosting its lethality with help from researchers at George Mason University. The University is receiving a cost contract for hardware and software valued at $60.4 million. The objective of this contract is to use existing infrastructure and proven technologies as means to enhance the capabilities of the Mobile Unmanned/Manned Distributed Lethality Airborne Network (MUDLAN) architecture. Under the contract, airborne high-bandwidth, multi-beam common datalink, autonomous connectivity will be demonstrated between tactical data-links and swarming unmanned aircraft systems and small unmanned aircraft systems. First concrete concepts of distributed lethality were introduced in January 2015 as a response to the development of very capable anti-access area-denial (A2/AD) weapons and sensors specifically designed to deny access to a contested area. The plan is to fully interlink submarines, ships, UAVs and fighter jets so that they can track, identify and engage enemy forces simultaneously. Work will be performed in Fairfax, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by August, 2022.
The Air Force One’s little brother is set to receive an interior makeover. The awarded $16 million contract enables Boeing to make all necessary changes to the C-32A so that its interior commensurates with the President’s VC-25A, better known as Air Force One. Changes include new interior elements, cleaning and painting efforts and replacing the current double-seat configuration with a triple-seat configuration. The C-32 is a specially configured version of the Boeing 757-200 commercial intercontinental airliner. The primary customers are the vice president, using the distinctive call sign “Air Force Two,” the first lady, and members of the Cabinet and Congress. Work will be performed at Boeing’s facility in Oklahoma City and is scheduled for completion by August 2019.
Middle East & Africa
Israel will send its ‘Sons of Sa’ar’ to protect its Mediterranean gas fields and its exclusive economic zone. The Israeli Navy is set to receive four next-generation Sa’ar 6 corvettes between 2019 and 2024. The 300-feet-long warships, which are currently being built in Kiel, Germany, will be packed to the gills with highly sensitive detection equipment — to monitor both the surrounding sea and airspace — as well as offensive weapons and defensive missile interceptors. The ships will be equipped with the ‘Naval Dome’, essentially a navalized version of the Iron Dome, with the Barak-8 missile at its core. The Barak-8, and aims to deliver up to 42 mile of range, thanks to a dual-pulse solid rocket motor whose second “pulse” fires as the missile approaches its target. This ensures that the missile isn’t just coasting in the final stages, giving it more than one chance at a fast, maneuvering target. The missile’s most important feature may be its active seeker. Instead of forcing its ship or land-based radar to “paint”/illuminate its target at all times, the Barak 8 can be left alone once it is close to its target. This is an excellent approach for dealing with saturation attacks using older ship radars, which can track many targets but illuminate just a few. The Barak-8 was developed by IAI in collaboration with Israel’s DDR&D, India’s DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization), the navies of both countries, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., IAI’s ELTA Group and local industries in India.
The Spanish Ministry of Defense is looking for UAV systems to be deployed overseas. The military wants to procure a UAS that is light weight (20kg class) and must be suitable for protect troops that are posted on overseas training missions where local protection and security levels are minimal. The running bidding contest states the the country wants to purchase two systems, each consisting of three UAVs and their payload at a cost of $4.9 million. The contract also includes two ground stations and required launching and recovering systems. Currently there are several systems on the market that would fulfil Spain’s requirement. Considering the fact that Spain likes to support its domestic industry one likely contender could be the Fulmar X. Others include Insitu’s ScanEagle and Aerovironment’s Puma AE.
Jane’s reports that the UK is buying counter-unmanned aircraft system developed by Israeli defense contractor Rafael. According to Rafael, Drone Dome is an innovative end-to-end defence system designed to provide effective airspace defence against hostile drones, including micro and nano drones used by terrorist groups to gather intelligence and carry out aerial attacks. The C-UAS provides 360° circular coverage and is designed to detect, track, and neutralize drones classified as threats flying in No-Fly zones. The system integrates subsystems from different Israeli specialist manufacturers, including RADA that provides the RPS-42 Radar and communications intercept unit provide early warning and target detection, coupled with Controp’s MEOS EO/IR observation used for target recognition. The electronic attack segment is represented by C-Guard RD provided by Netline. RAFAEL’s Command and control system integrates these subsystems to enable effective and simple operation by a single user. The Drone Dome is designed to operate autonomously, or from command and control centers. No details pertaining to delivery timelines or contract values were disclosed.
Russia is launching a modernization program for its ageing fleet of Tu-95MS long-range strategic bombers. Despite being a Soviet-era aircraft the Tu-95MS conducted a number of bombing sorties in Syria where it attacked a total of 66 targets with cruise missiles. Between 1979 and 1993 several dozen Tu-95MSs were produced. The ‘Bear’ is powered by four turboprop engines and can be equipped with either 6 or 16 Kh-55 missiles and carry a further eight Kh-101 air-launched cruise missiles or 14 Kh-65 anti-ship missiles. Self-defence capabilities include two 23mm automatic cannons and electronic jamming equipment. The modernization will include an upgraded NK-12MPM engine, new electronics, a new navigation system and enhanced weapon systems. Work will be performed at Tupolev’s Taganrog Aviation Plant, with the first overhauled Tu-95MSM scheduled to be ready for departure by the end of 2019. Russia plans to keep the planes in service until 2040.
The government of the Philippines is receiving a Special Airborne Mission Installation and Response (SABIR) system as part of a US military assistance package. The system has a price-tag of $15 million and will enhance the Philippine military’s maritime domain awareness, airborne command and control, counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) capabilities. The system will be installed on C-130 aircraft and will transform the airframe into a sophisticated C4ISR platform which retains it basic cargo aircraft capacity. SABIR is a system of individual “bolt-on” modular components that can be configured in a number of ways to support various missions, aircraft configurations, and other customer-specific requirements. This SABIR system will be operated by the PAF’s 300 Air Intelligence and Security Wing (300 AISW) out of Benito Ebuen Air Base, Mactan.
Watch: Osprey performs take-off and landing on aircraft-carrier.
Aug 15, 2018 05:00 UTC
The Air Force is quickly moving ahead with its hypersonic missile program. The service is contracting Lockheed Martin’s Missiles and Fire Control division to move ahead with the critical design review and relevant testing of its air-launched rapid response weapon (ARRW). The undefinitized contract has a value of $480 million. The ARRW is one of two current US hypersonic missile research programs. Once completed the ARRW will be able to travel at least five times the speed of sound. Current information suggests that the missile will achieve hypersonic speeds by the use of scramjets, which use an aircraft’s forward motion to shovel air at supersonic speeds into the engine, causing thrust. The hypersonic scramjet will be carried aloft by a large aircraft as a wing-mounted missile. Once the parent aircraft is going fast enough that the scramjet will ignite, it launches the missile. Hypersonic weapons will likely be engineered as “kinetic energy” strike weapons, meaning they will not use explosives but rather rely upon sheer speed and the force of impact to destroy targets. The Air Force is currently investing over one billion dollars to aggressively expedite the ARRW’s and HACSW’s development schedule. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Orlando, Florida and is expected to be completed by November 30th, 2021.
The Navy’s Blue Angels squadron is set to receive new wings. Boeing is being awarded with a firm-fixed-price delivery order valued at $17 million. The contract provides for necessary work needed to convert nine F/A-18E and two F/A-18F aircraft into a Blue Angel configuration. The Blue Angels were formed in 1946 following WWII as a public relations and recruiting tool to inspire airshow crowds to pursue excellence in all of their endeavors and as a recruiting asset to attract potential candidates to join the US Navy. Work is likely to include removing the jet’s 20mm Vulcan cannon, enhancing the the aircraft’s fuel systems for prolonged inverted flight, adding an oil tank and extra plumbing to the Super Hornet’s exhaust for the smoke system, as well as other smaller changes. Flight controls on the Blue Angels’ F/A-18’s are usually modified to make formation and inverted flight easier. The flight control stick between the pilots’ legs uses a spring to exert 40-pounds of forward bias force meaning the pilot constantly exerts slight rearward pressure compared to a normal Hornet to maintain level flight. Work will be performed at Boeing’s facility in St. Louis, Missouri and is scheduled for completion by December, 2021.
Ceradyne is being tapped to support the US Army’s newly developed lightweight helmet. The $34.6 million contract modification provides for the incorporation of additional systems and components in the Integrated Head Protection System (IHPS). The helmet is capable of providing a larger area of protection for the head and face. The new head protection system is also equipped with accessories, such as mandibles, visors, night vision goggle attachment devices, rails and a modular ballistic appliqué that provides protection against fragmentation, 9mm and rifle fire. The Army intends to field 7,000 units of IHPS to separate brigades during the FY2018 before moving to full-rate production. Work will be performed at the company’s location in Irvine, California.
The US Army is procuring a number of Inflatable Satellite Antenna (ISA) systems. GATR Technologies will provide the service with the systems, kits, spares and associated training under this $522,4 million contract modification. GATR’s ground-mounted antennas look like giant beach balls with tie-downs to point them in the right direction. The inflatable satellite terminal reduces the tactical footprint of large-aperture satellite communications systems and enables portable high-bandwidth communications in remote areas. The ISA is designed for military ground use in remote areas with harsh weather and where the movement and installation of large standard rigid satellite antennas is challenging. The main advantage of the terminal is portability, the company noted. When the ball is deflated, it rolls up (with the dish inside) like a sleeping bag and weighs 18 pounds. The antenna bag, blower, hoses and plates fit in one transportable case. The modification brings the contract’s total face value to more than $960 million. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order. The contract has an estimated completion date of September 26th, 2023.
Middle East & Africa
Iranian media reports that the Islamic Republic has a new anti-ship ballistic missile in its arsenal. Dubbed Fateh Mobin, the new missile is based on the existing Fateh 110 missile design. The Mobin was recently tested by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The missile flew more than 100 miles on a flight path over the strait to a test range in the Iranian desert. The Fateh 110’s development started in 1995 and was first tested in 2001. According to CSIS the Fateh 110 already comes in two anti-ship variants. In 2014 the IRGC displayed the Hormuz-1 and Hormuz-2 equipped with anti-radiation capabilities for attacking radar systems. Another anti-ship variant of the Fateh is the Khalij Fars, which does have the electro-optical seeker required to improve accuracy enough to potentially hit a moving target. Defense Minister Gen. Hatami recently underlined Iran’s determination to further enhance its defense power in all fields “despite sanctions, pressures and psychological war by enemies”. A message clearly directed towards an US and regional audience.
Turkey may lose a $1.5 billion defense deal as the diplomatic crisis with the US escalates. The contract in question is Pakistan’s planned acquisition of 30 Turkish-made T129 ATAK helicopter gunships. The T129 is produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries but partly uses US-made engine parts for which TAI will need US export licenses. If those licenses are not issued Turkey cannot legally export the gunships to Pakistan. The helicopter is powered by two CTS800-4A turboshaft engines that are manufactured by LHTEC, a joint venture between the American firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce. Turkey and Pakistan signed a deal July 13th for 30 T129 ATAK helicopter gunships.
The German Navy plans to equip its K130 corvettes with the Skeldar V-200 rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Navy is procuring two V-200s and will start to operate them by the end of 2019. The Skeldar is developed by Saab, is capable of being launched from the deck of any vessel, and delivers real-time intelligence and surveillance. The Skeldar V-200’s major mission capabilities include surveillance, reconnaissance, target attainment and transfer of target data to strike platforms. The typical payload configuration includes EO/IR gimbals, a laser pointer, laser range finder (LRF), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), ground moving target indicator (GMTI), electronic warfare, AIS transponder, searchlight, megaphone and cargo hook. The German Navy has its K130s deployed to a variety of naval missions where an increased reconnaissance capability is direly needed. During combat operations the V-200 will assist in guiding ship-launched RBS15 Mk3 missiles to their target.
Vietnam is exporting three radar systems to Laos. The VRS-2DM radar system is produced by Viettel and provides information to air-defense troops and can perform airspace and flight management tasks. Laos purchased the system as means to boost its combat capability.
The government of Australia is set to receive a new engine for one of its P-8 Poseidon aircraft at a cost of $12.8 million. The Poseidon is powered by a CFM56-7B27AE engine is produced by CFM International belongs to the family of high-bypass turbofan aircraft engines. The CFM56-7 first ran on 21 April 1995 and has a takeoff thrust range of 19,500–27,300lb. It powers commercial Next-Generation 737s and military versions of the airframe including the AWACS and C-40 Clipper. Work will be performed at multiple international locations, including Villaroche, France and Durham, North Carolina. Delivery of the engine is scheduled for September 2019.
Watch: Iran unveils ‘Mobin’ missile