USAF boosts its hypersonic missile program | Diplomatic crisis threatens Turkish defense deal | German Navy opts for V-200Aug 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