Columbia-class resurfaces: prelude to construction | Royal Seahawk touches base in Saudi Arabia | ROK shields itself with PAC-3 MSESep 17, 2018 05:00 UTC
General Dynamics Electric Boat is receiving additional funding to advance with work on the Navy’s new-class of ballistic missile submarines. The cost-plus-fixed-fee modification is valued at $480.6 million and provides for advance procurement and construction of the Columbia-class submarines. The USA aims to begin construction of the new SSBN in 2021, and have the new type enter service with the fleet in 2031. A total of 12 boats would be produced, with the last boat expected to leave service around 2085. The new Columbia-class boats will field 16 Trident II D5 nuclear ballistic missiles, along with torpedoes for self-defense. Work will be performed at multiple locations including Quonset, Rhode Island; Newport News, Virginia and Groton, Connecticut. This modification will be subsumed into the lead ship construction contract in October 2020.
The US Air Force is contracting Raytheon for materials needed to keep its AIM-9X infrared missile and Captive Air Training Missiles flying. The $24.7 million contract provides for the procurement of urgent spares, containers, and materials needed to repair and refurbish the missile systems. The AIM-9X is the USA’s newest short-range air-to-air missile, using an advanced array seeker that widens the missile’s “boresight” cone, and allows a TV-like “imaging infrared” picture that’s much harder to fool with decoys. The Captive Air Training Missiles is designed to simulate the weight and operations of the AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided missile for training purposes. The contract includes the procurement of four active optical target detectors (AOTD) and radio frequency (RF) data links, four tactical guidance units, eight CATM guidance units, five AOTD containers, one Block I propulsion steering section (PSS), one Block 2 PSS for the Navy, and similar acquisitions for the Air Force. Work will be performed at multiple national and international locations including Cheshire, Connecticut; Tucson, Arizona and Heilbronn, Germany and is set to run through March 2021.
The Missile Defense Agency needs more Intercontinental Ballistic Missile target kits. Orbital Sciences will provide three ICBM Stage 0 conversion kits and and associated support services at a cost of $34.2 million. Orbital’s target ICBMs are needed to test the Ground-based Midcourse Defense interceptor designed to protect the US from incoming missiles. The awarded modification increases the total value of the contract to $1.2 billion. To date, Orbital ATK has designed and developed more than 200 targets, which include air-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) target, the inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) target and the patriot target vehicle (PTV). Work will be performed at Orbital’s facility in Chandler, Arizona and at a missile test range in Promontory, Utah. The contract will run from September 2018 through December 2023.
Middle East & Africa
The Royal Saudi Navy now flies the first of its new MH-60R helicopters. The helicopter was handed over at a ceremony last Thursday, marking a major milestone in the Saudi naval multirole helicopter acquisition program. The MH-60R is designed to handle all surface attack and anti-submarine roles by itself, and can fulfil secondary missions that include directing naval surface fire support, search and rescue, vertical replenishment, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation and communications and data relay. Saudi Arabia’s $1.9 billion purchase of 10 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters was finalised in 2015.
The Hellenic Air Force is upgrading its ageing fleet of F-16 fighter jets. Lockheed Martin is being contracted to upgrade a total of 85 Greek F-16s to the Block 70/72 Viper configuration. The Block 70/72 is the latest evolution of the venerable F-16 fighter designed in the 1970s. The core of the F-16V configuration is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a large-format, high-resolution display; and a high-volume, high-speed data bus. The F-16V fighter jet can be deployed in suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions, air-to-ground and air-to-air combat, and deep interdiction and maritime interdiction missions. Purchase of the F-16V will provide Greece with a fourth generation fighter aircraft that is inter-operable with various international partner nations.
Jane’s reports that the Portuguese Army is ordering 12 RQ-11B Raven DDL UAS to strengthen its ISTAR Battalion’s surveillance systems company. The contract has a value of $6.9 million and also includes the acquisition of equipment and services. The RQ-11 Raven is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched UAV that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. The man-portable Raven system features 3 UAVs, a ground control unit, a remote video terminal, transit cases and support equipment. Deliveries are scheduled to take place from March 2019 to January 2021.
The State Department is determined to approve a FMS to the Republic of Korea. The Asian-nation wants to buy up to 64 Patriot PAC-3 MSE missiles for an estimated cost of $501 million. The PAC-3 MSE is the follow-on variant of the PAC-3 missile and is designed to be a longer range missile that is more agile, and able to counter both tactical ballistic missiles and more conventional threats. The PAC-3 MSEs improved capability is achieved through a higher performance solid rocket motor, modified lethality enhancer, more responsive control surfaces, upgraded guidance software, and insensitive munitions improvements. The deal would also include the purchase of two PAC-MSE Test Missiles, range and test programs and other services. South Korea needs those upgraded missiles to enhance its missile defense capabilities. The Korean peninsula has been a contested space for decades. Recently South and North Korean relations started to harmonise, with both sides granting concessions to each other.
According to a Defense News report, Indonesia is moving ahead with its gradual drive to modernize its military. Indonesia’s defense minister confirms that the country intends to buy new tactical air transport planes and heavy-lift helicopters from the United States. The expected procurement will likely include five C-130Js and three to five CH-47 Chinooks. The C-130J is the latest variant of the combat-proven Hercules, and comes with better performance and a lower operational costs than its predecessors. Indonesia plans to completely renew its fleet of ageing B and H variants – the oldest of which first flew in the early 1960s – by 2024. It is yet unclear if Indonesia already formally submitted a FMS request to the US State Department.
Watch: USAF CV-22 Osprey Demo Flight at Yokota Air Base, Japan