The Reaper’s sensors are tingling | The Raptors are soaring over Norway | Can the Dodko-class operate the F-35?Aug 22, 2018 05:00 UTC
One of the Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruises is getting an overhaul. BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair is being contracted to modernize the USS Gettysburg (CG 64) at a cost of $146.3 million. The company is responsible to provide the Navy with ‘long-term’ availability that combines maintenance, modernisation and repair work on the vessel. The Ticonderoga Class remains critical to American seapower, functioning as the fleet’s most powerful anti-air defense, and contributing substantial anti-ship and anti-submarine combat power to its assigned naval groups. The Cruiser Modernization program aims to improve the CG 47 Ticonderoga class by modernizing the computing and display infrastructure and the Hull, Mechanical and Electrical (HM&E) systems. Weapons and sensor sets will also be improved, in order to upgrade their anti-submarine capabilities, add short range electro-optical systems that can monitor the ship’s surroundings without the use of radar emissions, as well as routine machinery upgrades to improve all areas of ship functionality. The modernized cruisers are expected to become more cost efficient to operate, as their lives are extended to serve in the fleet through the year 2030. Work will be performed at BAE’s shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia and is expected to be completed by March 2020.
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems is set to develop a new sensor for the Missile Defense Agency’s MQ-9 UAVs. The cost-plus-award fee contract has a total value of $133.9 million and provides for finalising the development, integration and flight testing of an advanced sensor. The sensor will be evaluated in realistic test scenarios, to be held at various locations inside and outside the continental US. The MQ-9 Reaper is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily against dynamic execution targets and secondarily as an intelligence collection asset. The new sensor technology has been in the works for some time. It is designed to significantly improve the ability to track cold body targets through their time of flight and enhance discrimination. The MDA is also planning to equip the MQ-9 with high-energy laser systems that could destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles in the boost phase at long standoff ranges. The sensor will be manufactured at GA’s facility in San Diego California from August 2018 through October 2021.
Camber Corp is being tapped to support the USMC’s CBRN contingency efforts. The awarded $15.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification allows the company to perform a variety of technical and engineering services in support of the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Consequence Management Program. CCMRF is a robust federal entry force that is scalable and task-organized to mitigate further loss of life and relieve suffering in response to a CBRNE disaster. It supports local and state requests for assistance as part of a federal response. The USMC’s Chemical Biological Incident Response Force is capable of deploying as a battalion task force consisting of two subordinate initial response forces (IRFs) with approximately 150 personnel each. In the event of a CBRNE attack, the battalion will deploy Marines who specialize in identification and detection, and they will gather the first wave of intelligence that will be used to define the manner in which the mission will be accomplished. Work will be performed in Washington DC until August 22nd, 2019.
Middle East & Africa
The Qatari Air Force is ordering 28 NH-90 helicopters from Italian defense contractor Leonardo. The deal has a value of $3.4 billion and includes 12 NFH naval helicopters, 16 TTH troop transports, and a number of training services. The NH-90 began life as a leap-ahead competitor that would create a compelling alternative to Sikorsky’s 1980-era H-60 family airframe designs. The NH-90 TTH is the base variant for land and air forces. The platform can carry 12-20 troops and can be configured to perform SOF, MEDEVAC and CSAR missions. The NH-90 NFH an be used as a utility helicopter like the TTH, or as an anti-submarine helicopter. In its ASW configuration the helicopter is equipped with a naval radar, a dipping sonar, sonobuoys, a magnetic anomaly detector, and up to 2 light anti-ship missiles or torpedoes on side pylons. The naval variant will be manufactured at Leonardo’s facility in Venice, while the troop transporters will be assembled at a non-disclosed Airbus location. The helicopters are scheduled for delivery between 2022 and 2025.
Norway is currently testing its newly acquired F-35 JSFs. Two of Norway’s F-35s recently competed against two US F-22 stealth fighters in a number of simulated dogfights. The F-22s are among 13 jets currently deployed in Europe. Norway is a Tier 3 partner in the JSF program, has ordered a total 52 aircraft and is developing a stealthy Joint Strike Missile with the F-35 as its explicit target. The JSM/NSM is produced by Kongsberg, it can strike land or sea targets and and can be carried inside the F-35A/C weapons bay. The Raptor is considered to be the first 5th generation fighter, even though the aircraft is out of production, the program itself will continue to attract spending on maintenance, spares, and upgrades. The F-22’s deployment is part of US efforts to reassure European allies after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
South Korea’s Navy is funding a research project to explore the possibility of operating F-35Bs aboard its amphibious landing ships. The project aims to devise a feasible and affordable options to remodel the country’s 14,000-ton Dokdo-class vessel. Necessary work is likely to include retrofitting the ship with a ski-jump ramp, similarly to the one seen on the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, and adapting the flight deck so that used materials can withstand the high-temperatures caused by fighter jet operations. In 2014, South Korea decided to acquire 40 F-35As at a cost of $6.4 billion, some experts speculate that the country will also opt for a few F-35Bs as means to mitigate the dangers of a future shortage of warplanes caused by decommissioning its ageing fleet of F-4s and F-5s.
The Singapore Air Force is adding a new multi-role transport aircraft to its fleet. Recent social media posts indicate that the aircraft recently landed at Changi West Air Base. The Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) was designed from the outset to be able to function as an aerial tanker and a transport aircraft at the same time. The A330 MRTT has a maximum fuel capacity of 246.000 lbs. and has the capacity to carry 43,000 kg of cargo, including up to 32 463L cargo pallets, or up to 272 passengers, while carrying a full fuel load. The aircraft is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60EP engines, has a hose-and-drogue refuelling pod on both wings and a refuelling boom. Singapore has five additional A330 MRTT’s on order.
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