Super Hornets get an IRST upgrade | India joins the ‘nuclear six’ club | Who will compete for the Type 31e?Aug 21, 2018 05:00 UTC
Boeing is being contracted to upgrade the current IRST system on the Navy’s F/A-18E/F aircraft. The cost-plus-incentive-fee contract has a value of $152.4 million and provides for the design, development and integration of the new Infrared Search and Track System (IRST) Block II. The IRST is designed to locate the heat emitted by aircraft engines without the use of active radar, which is easily detected by enemy planes and ships. It also helps countering stealth technology. The new IRST system will be embedded on a special centerline fuel tank as means of giving the fighter jet some parity with peer aircraft. Work will be performed at Boeing’s facilities in Orlando, Florida and St. Louis, Missouri and is scheduled for completion by December 2021.
Lockheed Martin is being tapped to support the US military with further engineering activities associated with the F-35’s logistics system. The order is valued at $26.1 million and provides for the design, development, integration and testing of the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) Security Architecture and the ALIS Sovereign Data Management (SDM) system. ALIS gives F-35 Lightning II operators the ability to plan ahead, to maintain, to plan and sustain its systems over the life of the air vehicle. The system has been criticised in the past due to reliability and security concerns. Last year the USMC had to halt operations of a F-35 squadron due to unspecified ‘anomalies’ in the ALIS software. In addition, some experts have claimed that ALIS could offer an incredibly attractive Achilles heel for enemy hackers to sink their teeth into. This order combines purchases for the Air Force ($10.7 million), Marine Corps ($7.8 million), Navy ($1.9 million), and international partners ($5.4 million). Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facilities in Forth Worth, Texas and Orlando, Florida. The order is expected to be completed in June 2020.
Middle East & Africa
The US Army is awarding Six3 Intelligence Solutions with a modified intelligence support contract. The $125.8 million modification provides for a variety of intelligence support services to US troops in Afghanistan and the Operation Resolute Support director of intelligence. The company’s mission solutions include biometrics, identity intelligence (I2), counterintelligence; command, control, communications, computers, and combat systems intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (C5ISR); and Cyber security and enterprise architectures. There are currently 16.000 US troops deployed in Afghanistan. When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with soldiers in July he reiterated that the Taliban cannot win on the battlefield, cannot wait us out, and will ultimately have to settle their differences with the Afghan government at the negotiating table. Work will be performed in Kabul and is estimated to be completed by end of February, 2020.
Britain’s MoD plans to restart its future frigate contest for the Royal Navy. In February, Britain launched the competition to find a contractor interested in building five frigates, at a total cost of no more than £1.25 billion (roughly $1.6 billion). But the process had to be abandoned in late July when the DE&S said it had failed to attract sufficient compliant bids. A MoD spokesperson said that the government is determined to move ahead with the Type 31e program and that a Prior Information Notice has been issued so that the acquisition process does not lose any momentum. Jane’s described the Type 31e as a “credible frigate” that will cover “maritime security, maritime counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations, escort duties, and naval fire support sitting between the high-end capability delivered by the Type 26 and Type 45, and the constabulary-oriented outputs to be delivered by the five planned River-class Batch 2 OPVs”. There are currently two designs that will we likely contenders. One is the Arrowhead designed by Babcock and the Leander designed by BAE Systems. The Royal Navy is currently in the process of replacing its aged Type 23s with new Type 26 ASWs, the remainder of Type 23s will be replaced by the new Type 31e frigates.
Indian media reports that the country successfully tested its first indigenous nuclear capable Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM). The missile, built under the codename B-05, was launched from the INS Arihant. During the test three missiles were fired from the Arihant at a depth of 20m and about 10km off the Vizag coast. Developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the 10-meter long B-05 has a strike range of about 750 km and weighs ten tonne. The two-stage missile uses solid propellant and can carry a payload of about 1000 kg. The INS Arihant is capable of carrying 12 B-05 or Sagarika missiles as well as torpedoes and cruise missiles. Indian defense scientists have also been testing longer-range K-series submarine-launched strategic missiles for the past few years. The long range (3,500 kilometers) K-4 missiles have so far been tested three times successfully from underwater pontoons, but the last test from a pontoon in December 2017 failed as the missile did not activate properly during the test. India has also started working on the K-5, which has a range of 5,000 kilometers, as well as the K-6, with its range of up to 6,000 km, for nuclear-powered submarines. This successful test heaves India into a quite exclusive club of nuclear countries. India is now the 6th country that has a nuclear triad, meaning that it can fire nuclear tipped missiles, from land, sea and air.
Taiwan is currently deploying its Tien Kung 3 air defense missile. The missile was developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, or NCSIST. The TK III s designed to engage different threats, including: aircrafts, cruise missiles, anti-radiation missiles, and short range tactical missiles. The system is composed of the surface-to-air missiles, the canisters, and the mobile fire control units. The fire control unit includes the phased array radar, communication relay, engagement control station, the launcher, and power plant equipment. The Tien-Kung system provides Taiwan with a domestically produced and highly capable air defense. Each new variant has allowed for greater range of defense. The newest variant, the Tien-Kung III provides medium- to long-range coverage that better ensures Taiwan’s ability to intercept threats earlier in their trajectory when they pose a lower risk. The Tien-Kung III is also capable of providing defense against some ballistic missiles.
Jane’s reports that Australia is ordering several hundred Boxer CRVs from Rheinmetall Defense Australia (RDA). The acquisition of 200 Boxer CRVs is part of Australia’s Project Land 400 Phase 2. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) will introduce several variants of the Boxer with the reconnaissance variant, accounting for 133 of the 211 vehicles. The Boxer’s design is based on a modular structure selected to give the maximum flexibility for multipurpose operations. The vehicle incorporates a high level of standardisation and uses commercially proven automotive components. The 8×8 vehicle provides a load capacity of up to 8t and has an internal capacity of more than 14m³. The contract has a value of $4.1 billion. The vehicles are scheduled for delivery between 2019 and 2026.
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