The US Missile Defense Agency’s Low Power Laser Demonstrator program is moving into the design review stage. Lockheed Martin, General Atomics and Boeing are each being awarded with contract modifications, amounting to a total of $69.2 million. Under these modifications, the contractors will each complete a comprehensive design review of their respective laser systems. The MDA is seeking a new high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle with the unique capacity to carry a high energy laser system that can stop enemy missiles when they have barely left the launch pad. Destroying enemy ballistic missiles in boost phase is particularly beneficial because with one shot it could destroy multiple independently targeted missile warheads, as well as decoys designed to foil missile defenses. The LPLD project is to demonstrate the feasibility of firing a laser from a UAV before it gets on to developing a high energy laser system. Lockheed Martin, received $25.5 million and will perform all work at its facility in Sunnyvale, California. General Atomics, received $23.4 million, with work being performed in San Diego, California. Boeing received $20.4 million and will review the design at its facilities in Huntsville, Alabama; Huntington Beach, California; and Albuquerque, New Mexico. The contracts are scheduled to end by July 31, 2019.
Lockheed Martin will perform a variety of engineering services in support of the Navy’s AN/SPY-1 radar. The cost-plus-fixed-fee job order is valued at $12.9 million and is expected to be completed by August 2023. The AN/SPY-1 is at the heart of the Aegis ballistic missile defense system. The 3D air/surface search and tracking radar is able to perform search, track and missile guidance functions simultaneously, and has the ability to track over 100 targets to over 100 miles. Terminal guidance depends on mounted illuminators, since current SM-2 missiles are limited to semi-active radar homing. The effort provides for radar readiness enhancements and improvements. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Moorestown, New Jersey.
The US Army needs new items for its WIN-T network. General Dynamics will procure a number of configuration items for the warfighter information network-tactical program. The contract has a value of $81.8 million and provides for network and pre-priced hardware items. The WIN-T program is the Army’s high-speed, high-capacity tactical communications network to distribute classified and unclassified information through all echelons of Army command by means of voice, data, and real-time video. The program has seen its up and downs over the years, the current WIN-T Increment 2 started fielding in 2012 but hasn’t reached the whole force yet. Army experts are currently looking for alternative systems over fears that WIN-T are not resilient and secure enough to be used in combat against technological advanced adversaries. Work will be performed at GD’s facility in Taunton, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed by August 2020.
Middle East & Africa
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is determined to move ahead with the acquisition of Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries as soon as possible. The S-400 nicknamed Triumf, also known as SA-21 Growler is a long range surface-to-air missile system produced by Almaz-Antey. The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km. The system can simultaneously engage 36 targets. A regular S-400 battalion reportedly consists of at least eight launchers with 32 missiles and a mobile command post. Erdogan’s reaffirmation will likely put a further dent into the already fragile US-Turkish relations and threaten the purchase of several F-35s. Speaking at a graduation ceremony for military officers, Erdogan said Turkey also needs F-35 fighter jets and will continue to pay its installments to procure them from the United States, but would procure jets elsewhere if the United States halts the delivery of the F-35 fighter jets.
Defense News reports that German shipbuilding advocates call for the government to protect the German military ship sector from international competition as means to boost the domestic industry. Germany currently plans to buy four new MKS-180 multi-role frigates at a cost of $4 billion. If the tender goes to an international competitor thousands of jobs in northern Germany would be threatened. Industry representatives want the defense sector to be exempted from European acquisition requirements. The two contenders for the program are Dutch Damen Shipyards and German Naval Yards Kiel. Government officials said protectionism would play no role whatsoever in an eventual award, shortly after it turned down a solo bid for the new frigate by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
The Bangladesh Air Force is now capable of conducting independent maintenance and overhaul work on its fleet of F-7 fighter jets. The Asian-country is currently in the process of implementing its Vision 2041 strategy, a part of which includes the reduction of maintenance and supply costs. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told press representatives during a ceremony “we can reduce costs by 30 to 40 per cent when overhauling aircraft on our own without any foreign technical support. It also saves out time as well”. The J-7 is a single-engine, lightweight fighter aircraft that has 28 domestic variants and 26 export variants. According to Airforce Technology the Bangladesh Air Force purchased 16 F-7MB, 16 F-7BG and eight FT-7B aircraft. These F-7MB aircraft were replaced with 100 beyond visual range-capable F-7BGs through to 2010.
South Korea will soon integrate a new advanced infrared missile countermeasure system onto its helicopters. The directional infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) is being jointly developed by the Defense Acquisition Programs Administration and defense contractor Hanwha Systems. DIRCMs rely on two distinct systems to defend against missile attacks. The first system includes ultraviolet sensors that detect an incoming missile. The second includes the transmitter that directs a beam of infrared energy at the missile’s seeker. Both systems are enclosed within a single compact pod, which mounts to the underside of a jet’s fuselage. When an enemy missile is launched at the aircraft the DIRCM gives an automatic alarm and shoots a high intensity quantum cascade laser at the incoming weapon’s guidance sensor, causing it to loose its lock. The system has been tested in several live firing tests and will now be gradually introduced to a variety of aircraft types.
Watch: Rising Thunder 2018