HRL Laboratories is receiving additional funding to complete work on the military’s next generation of gallium nitride (GaN) transistors. The $9.1 million contract is awarded by DARPA and is expected to be completed by April 2020. The contract is part of DARPA’s Dynamic Range-enhanced Electronics and Materials (DREaM) program that seeks to develop transistors with much improved linearity and noise figure at reduced power consumption for use in electronic devices that manage the electromagnetic spectrum from radio communications to radar. The company develops ultra-linear GaN transistors working in mm-wave frequencies that enable transmission and reception without distortion across the spectrum. The transistors will enable secure ultra-wideband communications with higher data rates, while reducing their draw on the prime power source of their eventual platforms, such as ships or aircraft. Technologies developed under the DREaM program are currently installed on SEWIP and AMDR systems and will be featured on the DoD’s Space Fence and NGJs. Work will be performed at HRL’s facilities in Malibu, California and Huntington Beach, California.
The US Navy is modifying a contract signed with BAE Systems. An additional $9.5 million are being awarded for engineering and integration services on the Trident II, SSGN attack weapon system and strategic weapon surety. The Trident II (D5) strategic weapons system is installed on US Navy Ohio-class submarines and UK Royal Navy Vanguard-class submarines. Each Vanguard class submarine has 16 missile tubes and ejects missiles by using high-pressure gas. The Ohio-class submarines can carry up to 24 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with multiple independently-targeted warheads. BAE is not just working on the current Ohio-class submarines, but is also working on the integration of the Trident II D5 SLBM into the future Columbia-class submarines, by leading weapon system interface coordination and configuration management. Work will be performed at multiple locations such as, Rockville, Maryland; Barrow, United Kingdom and New Paris, Ohio. The Navy has obligated more than $1 million from FY 2019 Navy research and development test and evaluation funds, in addition to more than $8.4 million in UK funds.
Northrop Grumman is being tapped to advance the Pentagon’s cyber war-fighting capabilities. The $54.6 million contract allows Northrop Grumman to operate as the systems coordinator to continue development, integration and sustainment of the US Cyber Command’s Unified Platform Program (UPP). The system is intended to support cyber defense, planning command-and-control and situational awareness operations. Pentagon officials say that the UPP is one of the largest most critical acquisition programs to date. The Unified Platform will serve as the Cyber Command’s engine room for global cyber operations by combining different cyberspace platforms that offer a quick and easy access to a complete range of cyber capabilities. Work will be performed in San Antonio, Texas, and is expected to be completed by October 31, 2021.
Middle East & Africa
Iraq’s T-50 fighter jet fleet continues to grow. The six new T-50IQs advanced trainers were handed over on October 28. This is the third batch of aircraft, that are being procured under a $1.1 billion deal signed in 2013 for 24 T-50 Golden Eagle fighter jets from South Korean aerospace firm KAI. Since then 18 aircraft have been added to Iraq’s fleet, with the first batch delivered in March 2017 and the second delivery earlier this year. The T-50IQ variant is based on the FA-50 lightweight fighter model that’s fully fitted for lightweight fighter and light attack roles, with a secondary role as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) if necessary. The plane is equipped RWR and NVIS systems, is compatible with JDAMs and LINK-16 and offers more F-16 like attack capabilities than the classic T-50.
The Spanish Navy’s AB-212 life extension program is nearing its end. SENER and Babcock, the companies tasked with overhauling the helicopters have recently delivered the sixth unit to the service. SENER is responsible for major design, integration and engineering works under the project, while Babcock conducts some of the design, installation, and land and flight testing procedure. The LEP adds another 15 years of lifetime to the helicopters that have been operational since 1974. The upgraded AB-212s are being fitted with new electrical components and their analog cockpit is being replaced with a fully digitalized system. Additionally the helicopters are equipped with new radar, GPS, night vision and self-defense systems. The seventh and last unit expected to be delivered by the end of 2018.
Defense News reports that Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) will spend an extra $1.8 billion on three strategic military programs. This includes cyber and anti-submarine warfare developments and the Dreadnought-class nuclear submarine build program. This decision follows a months long battle for extra cash between Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson and Chancellor Philip Hammond. Jon Louth, a RUSI analyst, commented the decision with “It’s welcome, but comes nowhere near addressing the potential funding gap if you add up all the programs in the equipment plan. It does appear to be a significant increase in percentage terms, although the devil will be in the detail.” The MoD is currently trying to bridge a funding gap in its $228 billion 10-year equipment plan.
India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) is being tapped to upgrade the country’s M-46 field guns. The $27.7 million contract covers the upgrade of 300 M-46s to a 155mm calibre. The upgrades to the Soviet-era weapons include the replacement of the barrel and breech block and addition of new sighting systems and a new hydraulic rammer to ease loading of shells. The Indian Army had initiated the upgrade of the Soviet-era guns in 2008 with the contract being awarded to the Israeli firm Soltam, now part of Elbit. Soltam’s contract was suspended midway after allegations that it had bribed officials. Later, the government had decided to throw open the contract for domestic companies. The state-run Ordnance Factories Board participated in the tender issued by the Indian Army, competing with two other private manufacturers.
HII is being contracted to repair one of the Navy’s Arleigh-Burke class destroyers. The firm-fixed-price contract is priced at $44.8 million and covers a combination of maintenance, modernization and repair work on the USS O’Kane. Upgrades to the vessel will revolve around reducing the ship’s workload requirements and increasing war-fighting capabilities while reducing total ownership cost to the Navy. Those improvements will include massive overhauls to combat systems, as well as hull, mechanical and electrical upgrades. This contract also includes options could raise the contract value to $51.5 million. DDG-77 will be overhauled at HII’s shipyard in San Diego, California and is expected to be back at sea by January 2020.
Central Lake Armor Express is being tapped to provide the Marine Corps with additional body armor. The contract is valued at $56.4 million and covers the production of up to 65.469 Plate Carrier Generation III – Soft Armor Inserts and data reports for the Marines. The new generation plate carrier was jointly designed by the US Army and the Marine Corps, after commanders called for lighter armor back in 2016. The new design is “less bulky, lighter in weight, and provides a smaller overall footprint than the current plate carrier while maintaining the same soft armor coverage and protection level,” Barabra Hamby, spokeswoman of MARCORSYSCOM told Marine Corps Times in July 2017. The new carriers come in eight sizes and offers better ballistic protection compared to the current design, its lighter weight helps to cut down on soldier fatigue. Fielding of the new body armor will start in June 2019. Work will be performed at Central Lake’s factory in Michigan and is expected to be completed by October 24, 2023.
The US Army is contracting General Dynamics for work on the M1 Abrams modernization program. The $25.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order is against a five-year contract and provides for the delivery of various electronic components for the M1 Abrams tank. The Pentagon is currently in the process of upgrading several of its tanks to the M1A2 SEPv3 configuration. The new version offers enhanced protection and survivability, as well as a higher lethality than its predecessors. Upgrades include a JSTARS integration, improved power generation and distribution, armor upgrades, a line replaceable redesign and a C-IED suite. “The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tank will be the foundation for future incremental system upgrades and can host any mature technology the Army deems operationally relevant,” said Lt. Col. Justin Shell, the Army’s product manager for Abrams. Work will be performed at GD’s facilities in Michigan and Florida and is expected to be completed by September 2022.
Middle East & Africa
The US Air Force is extending its force protection contract with AAI Corp. The $23.7 million contract sees for the provision of ISR services at Bagram and Kandahar Airfields in Afghanistan and optionally at Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan. AAI will most likely use its Aerosonde as an advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solution in order to provide the US military with the capability to effectively execute a number of deployment operations and engineering support activities. The contract is set to run through March 27, 2024.
Belgium’s shopping spree now includes the need for a new MALE UAV platform. A Flight Global report suggests that the European-country is interested in acquiring General Atomics’ MQ-9B Sky Guardian, a NATO-standard variant of the B-model Predator. The Sky Guardian has a 13-foot longer wingspan than the Predator-B, a more damage tolerant composite airframe with double the service life, nearly twice the operational endurance and a greater payload capacity. The new variant is able to fly in civil airspace and is immediately NATO interoperable. Belgian defense minister Steven Vandeput told Flight Global that “MALE drones play an increasingly important role in operations, but at European level there is a shortage of this type of aircraft,” and added “with this purchase, Belgium is joining the future and at the same time we are helping to eliminate a European shortage.” If Belgium opts for the Sky Guardian, it would join existing European MQ-9 operators Italy, France, Spain and the UK.
The Royal Australia Navy (RAN) is continuing to bolster its collaborative air-defense capabilities. The service officially inducted its second Hobart-class air warfare destroyer on October 27. The HMAS Brisbane is part of Australia’s SEA 4000 program to replace the RAN’s fleet of Adelaide Class (heavily upgraded FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class) frigates that have limited air-defense capabilities and could be hard-pressed to survive against modern anti-ship missiles. Australia’s 7,000t destroyers are based strongly on Spain’s 5,800t F-104 Mendez Nunez AEGIS “frigate”, with some features from the subsequent 6,390t F-105 Cristobal Colon. The vessel’s suite of sensors includes the Lockheed Martin and Raytheon AN/SPY 1D(V) phased array radar, and the Northrop Grumman AN/SPQ-9B surface search radar. The ship is currently equipped with SM-2 missile variants and will be able to fire the new SM-6 from 2020 onward.
Russian media agency TASS reports, that the country’s first regiment armed with the newly developed Avangard hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a hypersonic glide vehicle, will be operational by the end of 2019. “The scheduled period for placing the lead regiment on combat duty is the end of 2019. Initially, the regiment will comprise at least two systems but eventually their number will rise to their organic quantity of six units,” a source told TASS. Hypersonic weapons incorporate the speed of a ballistic missile with the maneuvering capabilities of a cruise missile. Hypersonic weapons refer to a class of weapons that travel faster than Mach 5 (ca. 3,800mph) and have the capability to maneuver during the entire flight. The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle that flies at 20 times the speed of sound. It travels through the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching ballistic missile defense systems. The deployment is significant after United States President Donald Trump announced that the US planned to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or the INF Treaty.
Watch: Loading MASSIVE US Plane: McDonnell Douglas C-17 Globemaster III in Action
Boeing is being tapped to upgrade the Navy’s Infrared Search and Track systems. The $131.5 million order covers the procurement and upgrade of weapon replaceable assemblies installed on F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets. The contract calls for Boeing to provide weapon replaceable assemblies that will optimize the Block I low-rate initial production jets, and covers other services such as technical risk reduction and tactics development. Infra-Red Search & Track (IRST) systems provide long range thermal imaging against air and ground targets. The systems can defeat radar stealth in some instances, by focusing on engine exhaust, or on the friction of the aircraft as it powers through the atmosphere. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently called for 80 % of the Navy’s fleet of F/A-18s to be mission capable by end of fiscal 2019. Work will be performed at Boeing’s factories in Orlando, Florida and St. Louis, Missouri. The systems are expected to be completed in April, 2022.
L3 Technologies is being contracted to advance its prototype developed under the Navy’s Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) program. The awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is priced at $35.8 million and provides for the demonstration and test of existing technologies and associated technical data for L3’s NGJ low-band prototype. The NGJ program will eventually replace the AN/ALQ-99 jamming system currently installed on the EA-18G Growler. The broader aim is to develop a more cost effective AEA system with better performance against advanced threats through expanded broadband capability for greater threat coverage. Work will be performed at multiple locations including – but not limited to – Salt Lake City, Utah; Boulder, Colorado and Waco, Texas. L3’s is expected to complete this contract in June 2020.
The US Air Force is awarding Northrop Grumman with a contract for its Precision Real-Time Engagement Combat Identification Sensor Exploitation (PRECISE) program. The $16.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract sees for the development of new technologies that continue to advance combat identification for warfighters. The program seeks to enhance the effectiveness of surveillance radar by blending EO technologies like visible-light, infrared, multispectral, and hyperspectral sensors. Beyond that, PRECISE looks to enhance current radar technologies through signal processing, alternative bandwidths, and similar approaches. Work will be performed at Northrop’s facility in Baltimore, Maryland and is expected to be completed by January 2024.
Middle East & Africa
Nigeria is making progress in its JF-17 fighter jet acquisition program. The country recently signed a $184.3 million contract with Pakistan that covers the production of three PAC/CAC JF-17 Thunder fighters. The Thunder is a joint Chinese-Pakistani project aimed at reduceing Pakistan’s dependence on western firms for advanced fighters, by fielding a low-cost multi-role lightweight fighter that can host modern electronics and precision-guided weapons. The fighter jet is a single engine, lightweight, multipurpose combat aircraft that costs $20 million per unit. Nigeria earmarked about $54 billion for the JF-17 program in its 2016 and 2018 budgets.
Latvia is strengthening its air-defence capabilities. The Latvian National Armed Force recently received the FIM-92A Stinger air-defense system from Denmark. The Stinger missile provides forward, short-range air-defense against low-altitude airborne targets. The Stinger provides Latvia with a SHORAD capability, focused on defending against low-flying aircraft, such as drones and attack helicopters, which present a considerable threat to maneuvering forces. “Currently, we are at a historic stage when Latvia receives significant armaments from allies to strengthen various of its military capabilities. Stinger will significantly contribute to the defense capabilities of Latvian Armed Forces units, opening up new opportunities for our country’s defense,” said Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis. The total contract value and number of units ordered has not been disclosed at this time.
Saab is one step closer to readying the Gripen E for operational use. One of the new JAS-39s successfully completed the first tests to verify the ability to release and launch external payloads earlier this month. During the test one of Saab’s pilots jettisoned one external fuel drop tank and fired an IRIS-T air-to-air missile. “As a pilot, flying with external stores such as drop tank and missiles is important to allow for evaluation of how the aircraft behaves with the stores attached. This test was also used to evaluate the effect on the aircraft when releasing and launching the stores. The highlight was of course to pull the trigger and watch the missile fire away. It also brings us closer to making the aircraft ready for its operational use”, says Marcus Wandt, Experimental Gripen Test Pilot at Saab. The JAS-39 Gripen is an excellent lightweight fighter by all accounts, with attractive flyaway costs and performance. Its canard design allows for quick “slew and point” maneuvers, allowing it to take advantage of the modern trend toward helmet-mounted displays, and air-air missiles with much wider boresight targeting cones.
One of South Korea’s Patriot missiles exploded during recently held annual air defense guided missile practice. South Korean media reports that before it exploded, the PAC-2 missile ascended for about four seconds after being launched at the Daecheon range. South Korea currently fields the PAC-2 GEM variant. This variant still uses the larger PAC-2 fragmentation missile, but have a range of improvements to their guidance systems, fuzes, and so forth. GEM-T is optimized against tactical ballistic missiles, while GEM-C is optimized against cruise missiles. An investigation will try to establish the exact cause of the incident.
The Royal Australian Air Force will soon have one of the world’s most advanced training fleets. BAE Systems Australia is currently upgrading the final Hawk Mk127 aircraft into its Williamtown maintenance facility. The Hawk Mk127 has been in service with the RAAF since 2001, upgrades of the 33 aircraft started in 2016 and are expected to be completed in 2019. The aircraft is an integral part of the air force’s fast jet training system, allowing the RAAF to place highly trained pilots into the cockpits of F/A-18s. The upgraded aircraft come with new training capabilities such as simulated radar, electronic warfare, digital mapping, ground proximity warning system and traffic collision avoidance. The Hawk lead-in fighter jet is prepared to deliver high calibre pilots for the F-35A joint strike fighter fleet.
Sikorsky Aircraft, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, is being contracted to help stem the maintenance burden of the Marine Corps’ CH-53 Super Stallion. The contract is priced at $717.4 million and covers logistics and repair support for 98 components of the CH-53 and MH-53 platforms. H-53 aircraft include the CH-53E Super Stallion medium-heavy transport helicopter that can transport up to 55 troops or 15 tons of cargo, as well as the MH-53E Sea Dragon minesweeper and the MH-53M Pave Low IV CSAR and SOF helicopter. The helicopters have on average a 44:1 maintenance : flying hours ratio. Work will be performed in Cherry Point, North Carolina and Stratford, Connecticut, and is expected to be completed by December 2022.
Northrop Grumman is being tapped to support the Navy’s ongoing DDG-51 New Construction Ship and DDG-51 Midlife Modernization programs. The company will provide the service with common Integrated Bridge and Navigation Systems (IBNS) at a cost of $18.1 million. The IBNS is a hull, mechanical and electrical upgrade and part of the comprehensive plan to modernize the DDG-51 class to ensure the ships remain combat relevant and affordable throughout their life. The systems to be installed include radar systems, navigation software, ship control software, chart servers, network interface boxes, flat panel displays, global positioning systems, and ship control display systems. Back fit installation of the IBNS systems by the Navy will be conducted at the home ports of the vessels during their modernization windows. This contract also includes a number of options which, if exercises, would raise the total value to $163.9 million. Work will be performed at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The US Air Force is procuring a number of depot level maintenance services from L3 Technologies. The awarded contract is valued at $55.3 million and covers the Organic Depot Activation of MQ-9 communications and data link parts. L3’s tactical common datalink is part of the MQ-9 sensor payload, which can also include General Atomics’ Lynx synthetic aperture radar. A common datalink guarantees the interoperability of military systems and helps the military to achieve information dominance. The common datalink is a family of full duplex, jam-resistant, point-to-point microwave communication links used in imagery and signals intelligence collection systems. Work will be performed at Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania and at the Warner-Robins Air Logistics Complex in Georgia. The contract is set to run through October 21, 2021.
Middle East & Africa
Turkish media confirms that the country will start installing S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in October 2019. National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the Daily Sabah the military is currently selecting the right personnel which will later be sent to Russia for training. Turkey’s $2 billion purchase of the Russian-made systems was seen as a controversial move by many international observers and raised concern among other NATO member countries. Some US politicians even pressed for cancelling the delivery of F-35 JSFs to Turkey. Regarding this issue, Akar said he did not expect any problems with the delivery of the aircraft. Referencing Ankara’s rift with the US over the S-400 deal, Akar said that when taking into account the current political climate and military situation experiencing such an unfavorable row again was highly unlikely and the project is continuing as anticipated. Turkey is a Tier 3 partner in the JSF program and is expected to buy up to 100 F-35As at a cost of $16 billion.
Flight Global reports that the UK’s planned procurement of the E-7 Wedgetail system jointly produced by Boeing and Northrop Grumman is raising major concerns by rival producers of AEW&C aircraft. Defense secretary Gavin Williamson in early October confirmed that the UK is in early discussions with Boeing linked to a potential E-7 purchase, describing the 737-based system as “the stand-out performer in our pursuit of a new battlefield surveillance aircraft”. Saab is fiercely stepping up its efforts to halt the non-competitive acquisition. “We are concerned by the lack of competition and the lack of dialogue and response from MoD,” said Andre Walton, head of Saab UK, who notes that Saab’s “significant investment in the UK” is premised on an understanding that the nation is committed to “fair and transparent, free-market competition”. In a recent letter to Defense Committee chairman Julian Lewis, Walton offered the integration of Saab’s Erieye AESA and mission equipment onto the RAF’s A330 Voyager aircraft, which would reduce program costs by removing the need to acquire new aircraft. Flight Global states that factors behind the UK’s preference for the E-7 system stem from a reluctance to invest in a potentially risky development activity, with an acquisition to instead draw on Australia’s large investment in, and operational experience with the Wedgetail’s capability.
The Italian government is slashing its defense budget to free resources for a new welfare program. Officials in Rome will cut about $512.3 million from the budget which will be announced to parliament in the coming days. As a result Italy will halt all ongoing purchases of NH-90 helicopters in 2019, and will suspend the planned upgrade of its Tornado aircraft. Italy planned to spend about $4.5 billion on 56 NH-90s for its Army and Navy. The country is also putting a $34 million deal for the MBDA Camm-Er missile defense system on hold, but expects its restart in one years time. The only program that makes the cut will be the F-35 although upcoming purchases will be slowed in order to spread out payments.
Raytheon says the the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) conducted five flight tests of the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) interceptor over the summer. During the tests the navy fired three SM-2 Block IIIB missiles to destroy simulated aerial threats. The SM-2 is the most commonly encountered variant, and a long series of upgrades have kept it current over the years. SM-2 Block IIIB is the most popular version at present, swapping ICWI capability for an infrared (IR) guidance mode capability developed by the Missile Homing Improvement Program (MHIP). SM-2 versions are provided as medium range (50 mile) rounds that can be fired from AEGIS rail launchers, AEGIS vertical launch systems, and Tartar rail launchers. Raytheon discontinued production of the missile in 2013, but restarted the SM-2 line in 2017 after demand from Australia, Japan, South Korea and the Netherlands, according to the company.
Watch: Naval Group Latest Innovations at Euronaval 2018
General Atomics is being awarded with a modification to a previously awarded contract. The modification is priced at $192.6 million and provides for continued performance-based logistics services through April 23, 2019. The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is quite similar to the Predator, but it’s a little bit bigger, can carry more weapons, and has an engine that can run on the same “heavy fuel” that fills up the Army’s land vehicles. The drone can fulfil both surveillance and attack roles. The UAVs are now operated by the US Army and by SOCOM’s “Night Stalkers” regiment. Work will be performed at GA’s factory in Poway, California.
General Dynamics is being contracted to continue US, UK submarine fire control systems work. The cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is valued at $18.5 million and covers research and development, and sustainment efforts for the US, UK SSBN Fire Control Sub-system (FCS) and the US SSGN Attack Weapon Control System (AWCS). The new SSBNs will start to replace the current Ohio-class by 2027. The FCS is part of the vessel’s strategic weapons system (SWS) that further includes the Trident II D5 Life Extension missile, launcher, navigation systems, and associated support systems. The SSGN AWCS consists of an integrated Launch Control System interfaced with the Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control System and the Captain’s Information and Control Station, having the capability to launch up to 154 missiles from a maximum of 22 missile tubes. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including Pittsfield, Massachusetts; Kings Bay, Georgia and Dahlgren, Virginia.
Embraer’s KC-390 is now officially certified by the Brazilian aviation authority, Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil. This marks a major milestone in the program. Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, president and chief executive of Embraer notes “the certification of KC-390, the largest and most complex aircraft developed throughout Embraer’s history, expresses the high technological level achieved by the company”, and added “I would like to congratulate the teams that participated in the development of this program in partnership with the Brazilian Air Force.” The Brazilian Air Force currently has 28 multi-role tankers on order, with the first expected to be delivered in the first half of 2019. Embraer hopes that its new aircraft will rival Lockheed Martin’s C-130. There are currently 38 letters of intent from international customers, including six LOIs from Argentina, six from Chile, 12 from Colombia, two from Czech Republic, and six from Portugal.
Middle East & Africa
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is being contracted to supply India’s navy with additional air and missile defense systems. The deal is worth $777 million and covers the delivery of several Barak-8 systems for seven Indian warships. The navalised Barak-8 project aims to give India’s naval defenses a much longer reach, with the intention of eventually making it India’s primary naval SAM. The missile can fly to ranges of up to 42 miles, provides 360° coverage and can engage multiple targets simultaneously. State-owned IAI, Israel’s largest defense firm, said worldwide sales of the Barak-8 system now totalled more than $6 billion. India, which has longstanding territorial disputes with neighbors China and Pakistan, has signed several big-ticket defense deals since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014.
Saab is being awarded with its first contract for the T-X development phase. The $117 million contract covers Saab’s engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the US Air Force’s future trainer platform. The contract runs parallel to Boeing’s efforts in the program and will cover activities running through 2022. The contract is part of an initial $813 million deal for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) portion, which provides for five aircraft and seven simulators. The T-X is designed to bring pilot training into the 21st century, providing an aircraft to train pilots in the pipeline to fly the F-35 Lightning II. The complete program is valued at an estimated $9.2 billion for 351 aircraft.
Saab is introducing a new hypersonic mode to its Sea Giraffe naval radar. The new Hypersonic Detection Mode enables the radar to detect and track targets travelling at hypersonic speeds, a threat that is persistently increasing. As the company notes in its press release, the HDM capability builds on Saab’s next generation track while scan technology, which enables track start within a fraction of a second for any number of targets, including stealthy ones, in all conditions. “The hypersonic threat is credible and increasing. Navies around the world are asking for a capability to retain their dominant battlespace awareness and to give them crucial time to act. We are able to meet these requirements by using our existing technology, adapting it for the hypersonic challenge”, says Anders Carp, head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.
MBDA will soon launch a naval version of its proven MMP 5th generation missile system. MBDA’s Missile Moyenne Portee has been designed to be France’s next portable anti-armor missile for troops and vehicles. Its attack modes include fire and forget, man in the loop mode, re-assignment in flight, and even seeker lock-on after launch. As a medium missile, it needs to kill targets up to an including main battle tanks. The unveiling of the missile at Euronaval follows an operational evaluation campaign carried out at the end of the summer by the French armed forces in Djibouti to confirm the reliability and operational performance of the MMP system in a hot environment, both from the ground and also from a rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) moving at high speed. The new missile variant can be used on fast attack craft or semi-rigid boats for missions against hostile ships, coastal defenses or armored vehicles, especially in support of a landing of small units or Special Forces.
Jane’s reports that the Royal Australian Navy is one step closer towards fully qualifying the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) on board its Canberra-class amphibious assault ships. The service recently held a number of maintenance and flight trials on board HMAS Canberra, testing the helicopter as an embarked platform. Australia’s Tiger version is a modified Tiger in its French HAP variant, equipped with a Nexter 30mm cannon, and a laser designator incorporated in the roof-mounted Sagem Strix sight. The helicopter can fire Hellfire II, Stingers and 70 mm rockets. The Tigers will provide the amphibious assault ship with forward scouting, strike capabilities.
Watch: M1128 Mobile Gun & 30mm Stryker Dragoon (ICVD) In Action
Latest updates[?]: MBDA will soon launch a naval version of its proven MMP 5th generation missile system. MBDA’s Missile Moyenne Portee has been designed to be France's next portable anti-armor missile for troops and vehicles. Its attack modes include fire and forget, man in the loop mode, re-assignment in flight, and even seeker lock-on after launch. As a medium missile, it needs to kill targets up to an including main battle tanks. The unveiling of the missile at Euronaval follows an operational evaluation campaign carried out at the end of the summer by the French armed forces in Djibouti to confirm the reliability and operational performance of the MMP system in a hot environment, both from the ground and also from a rigid hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) moving at high speed. The new missile variant can be used on fast attack craft or semi-rigid boats for missions against hostile ships, coastal defenses or armored vehicles, especially in support of a landing of small units or Special Forces.
MBDA’s Missile Moyenne Portee (MMP, for “middle range missile”) is designed to be France’s next portable anti-armor missile for troops and vehicles. The question is whether it can achieve anything close to its predecessor’s popularity.
France currently relies on wire-guided MILAN portable anti-tank missiles for its troops and vehicles, but the design was first introduced in the early 1970s. Despite a series of version upgrades, and tremendous export success to over 30 countries, the French found themselves forced to buy American Javelin missiles in 2010 as an Urgent Operational Requirement. The MMP program, begun in early 2012, aims to fix that for next time.
A major component of the B61-12 nuclear bomb will now be produced at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. The Complex is one of the nation’s most important national security assets. The 811 acre site contains the world’s largest stockpile of highly enriched uranium, enough to build 14.000 nuclear warheads. Y-12 is now qualified to manufacture the B61-12’s canned subassembly, which is the second stage of a modern thermonuclear weapon, and is also part of the nuclear explosives package. Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal said, “We are delivering a key contribution to global security through this program. I couldn’t be more proud of how all organizations pulled together to accomplish this difficult task.” The B-61 is currently undergoing a life extension program, which will consolidate four versions of the bomb into one. The nuke can be launched from B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and PA-200 aircraft. Delivery of the first production unit is scheduled for March 2019.
Colonna’s Shipyard is being contracted to work on the Navy’s first Spearhead-class ship during the ship’s upcoming regular overhaul and dry docking phase. The firm-fixed-price contract is valued at $7.9 million and provides for a 67-calendar day shipyard availability. The contractor will be responsible to conduct structural inspection of the hull, perform a variety of repairs, support the main propulsion engine’s overhaul, replace heater exchangers and perform gear maintenance. The USNS Spearhead is an Expeditionary Fast Transport ship that was launched in 2011, it is designed for the fast, intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment with aviation support. Work will be performed at Colonna’s shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia. The Regular Overhaul availability is expected to be completed by January, 2019.
National Industries for the Blind is being awarded with a contract modification that extends a one-year base contract for the second year in a row. The modification is priced at $13.1 million and allows for the continued production for the advanced combat helmet (ACH) pad suspension system. The ACH is made of a new type of Kevlar to provide improved ballistic and impact protection. The helmets are also designed to allow an unobstructed field of view and increased ambient hearing capabilities for the wearer. Modular, flame-retardant, and moisture-resistant pads act as the suspension system between the wearer’s head and the helmet. This allows a soldier to fight more effectively when wearing body armor. Work will be performed at facilities in Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. This second option period is set to run through October 26, 2019.
Contitech is being tapped to provide the US Army with vehicle tracks for its M109 Paladin artillery system. The firm-fixed-price contract is valued at $20.1 million and will run through July 8, 2021. The M109 family of systems has been in service since 1962. The latest variant is the BAE produced Paladin M109A7 next-generation artillery system. The new variant incorporates upgrades to hull, turret, engine, and suspension systems that offer increased reliability, survivability and performance over its predecessor. The 155 mm cannon is mounted on the chassis structure common to the Bradley tracked fighting vehicle. Work will be performed at Contitech’s factory in Fairlawn, Ohio.
Middle East & Africa
Saudi Arabia may be blocked from future arms purchases as world leaders are calling on the government to provide more information on the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. German chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that future weapon deliveries to the Middle-Eastern nation are highly unlikely until an investigation into the journalist’s death has been carried out. The German parliament approved exports worth $416.4 million to Saudi Arabia in 2018 alone, making it Germany’s second biggest defense customer, right after Algeria. One of the largest deals in recent year included the Saudi purchase of 270 Leopard A2 Main Battle Tanks. Germany is currently calling on other countries to consider setting up bans on the sales of arms to Riyadh.
Belgian news agency, Belga reports that the country has chosen Lockheed Martin’s F-35 JSF over the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its old fleet of F-16s. Despite the final deadline being set for October 29, government sources are confident that the US-made fighter jet will make the cut. Lockheed spokeswoman Carolyn Nelson told Reuters that “the F-35 offers transformational capability for the Belgian Air Force and, if selected, will align them with a global coalition operating the world’s most advanced aircraft.” The potential deal could also strengthen Lockheed’s position in forthcoming tenders in Switzerland, Finland and Germany. The order for jets due for delivery from 2023 is estimated to be worth $4.14 billion. European countries that currently fly the F-35 include Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy and Norway.
Jane’s reports that the Romanian Ministry of Defence is expected to soon make a decision on the procurement of new multirole corvettes. The planned acquisition program sees for the delivery of four corvettes at a cost if $1.85 billion. The new 2.500 ton-class vessels must come with capabilities across the ASW, anti-surface warfare, AAW, EW, SAR and naval gunfire support spectrum. Current bidders include Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding of the Netherlands, Italy’s Fincantieri, and France’s Naval Group. All bidders are currently in line with Romanian stipulations for local industry participation. The French Naval Group, has associated with local Constanta Shipyard, Dutch group Damen Shipyards, owns the Galati shipyard and is in the process of acquiring the Mangalia shipyard, Italian group Fincatieri, controls the Tulcea and Braila shipyards. The corvette program is the centrepiece of Romania’s naval modernization process that seeks to mitigate the growing Russian military threat in the Black Sea.
India’s sole operational aircraft carrier will start sea trials by the start of next week. The INS Vikramaditya recently completed its second refitment at Cochin Shipyard, a process which cost close to $96 million. Captain Puruvir Das, the carrier’s commanding officer, told the New Indian Express “soon, we will start the sea trials, which will take place off the Kochi and Goa coasts. We are hopeful of returning to the Western Naval Command without delay.” During the refitment major work was carried out, including an extensive hull survey and repainting, as well as some large scale repair of the ship’s shaft system. “The refitment will enhance the operations of Vikramaditya. It will be ready for sea operations once the trials are completed,” added Captain Das. The Kiev-class former Russian Navy aircraft carrier has been in service since 2013 and upgrade of its infrastructure were started in September 2016.
The US Air Force is procuring more updated Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) from Raytheon. The awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee option is valued at $62 million and provides for more missiles that integrate the Form, Fit, Function Refresh (F3R) of the AMRAAM guidance section. Friday’s contract involves foreign military sales to Norway, Turkey, Japan, Romania, and Australia. The Air Force’s AMRAAM F3R project is a comprehensive effort to mitigate the effects of parts obsolescence and diminishing manufacturing sources in the missile’s guidance section to extend the missile’s lifetime well into the 2020s. The F3R effort includes the substantial redesign of subsystems that include a new ASIC design, new hardware and a new signal processor. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s factory in Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be completed by December 2020.
Honeywell International is being tapped to support the Air Force’s fleet of C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft. Under this $7.8 million firm-fixed-priced order the company will be responsible to upgrade 85 Versatile Integrated Avionics/Avionics Integrated Units (VIA/AIU) to the 905 configuration. The upgrades are part of the Galaxy’s Global Air Traffic Management (GATM) avionics program. The VIA software system has six primary “partitions” or applications that include flight management, com/nav/surveillance/identification (CNSI), communication management, display services and all-weather flight control. The C-5M VIA/AIU repair and upgrade effort is a key component to the overall Core Mission Computer/Weather Radar aircraft modification/installation kit that replaces the current mission computer, and replaces the weather radar with a commercial off-the-shelf color weather radar. Work will be perfumed at Honeywell’s location in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is expected to be completed by June 14, 2020.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp will support the Directed Energy Directorate with Solid State Laser Effects and Modeling efforts. The awarded cost-reimbursement type contract is priced at $36 million and allows the company to develop innovative diagnostic and test methods, increase the fidelity, realism and confidence of predictive models, measure and consolidate laser vulnerability data and support the general high energy laser system research environment. The Directorate focuses on four research areas: Laser Systems, High Power Electro magnetics, Weapons Modeling, Simulation and Analysis, and Directed Energy and Electro-Optics for Space Superiority. Among other things, the Directorate develops future offensive and defensive laser concepts, and models the synergy of directed energy and kinetic weapons at mission level. Work will be performed at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Work under this contract is expected to be completed by October 2022.
Canada’s Surface Combatants program is picking up pace as Lockheed emerges as the preferred bidder to design the next fleet of Royal Canadian Navy ships. This brings Lockheed one step closer to land the potential contract worth more than $45 billion. The company pitched BAE’s Type 26 design to the government of Canada and Irving Shipbuilders, a Canadian firm that would actually build the ships. BAE and Lockheed are now set to negotiate the specific terms of the deal, which would cover the construction of 15 frigates and associated equipment and services. What follows now is a due diligence process, which includes negotiations with Lockheed on intellectual property rights, an assessment of combat systems performance an assessment of the company’s financial capability to deliver the project and verification of various other administrative matters. If all goes well the Canadian government could award the contract in 2019 with construction expected to be begin by the early 2020s.
Middle East & Africa
South Africa’s Denel Vehicle Systems is adding a new version of the RG31 Mk5 to its portfolio. The baseline of the 4 by 4 MRAP is usually used as an armoured personnel carrier (APC), the new version however integrates the Tactical Remote Turret 30 (TRT-30). The remodelled vehicle’s TRT-30 armament suite consists of a Russian 30 mm 2A42 dual-feed cannon and a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun. The gunner can remotely control the weapons via a flat-screen man machine interface (MMI) and twin control handles. The TRT is also fitted with an automatic target tracker (ATT) that gives the gunner more accuracy while the vehicle os moving. Dubbed the Ibululu, the platform is equipped with a 205 kW Cummins engine that accelerates the 16 ton vehicle to speeds of up to 62 mph, and an Axle Tech 4000 (5G) suspension that allows for cross-country mobility.
Aero Vodochody is taking first orders for its new L-39NG jet trainers. Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar recently announced that the country will buy six L-39NGs to replace its outdated fleet of L-39 Albatros aircraft. “The Ministry of Defence and the military are interested in these aircraft, negotiations are, of course, already taking place and we will acquire these aircraft,” Metnar told Ceska Televize. The NG is the latest multi-role, advanced jet trainer aircraft designed by the company and is intended to provide enhanced military flight training capabilities required for fourth and fifth-generation fighters. The company hopes to export the new platform to various global customers and estimates that it could deliver more than 100 L-39NGs over the next decade.
The Indonesian government plans to renegotiate its partnership with South Korea in the K-FX development program. The agreement between the two countries was formalised in 2014, and outlined that Indonesia will contribute about $1.9 billion to the project which has an overall value of $7.9 billion. Indonesia’s coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs is seeking to negotiate a way for Indonesia to pay its contribution, of which about $200 million is unpaid. Reuters says that “Indonesia’s request on the financial terms of the deal comes as it is trying to support the rupiah, which is trading near a 20-year-low, and to reduce the use of foreign exchange reserves.” The KF-X program will likely be South Korea’s largest defense acquisition program, that sees for the delivery of 120 jets for its own air force, and 80 to Indonesia.
Watch: AUSA 2018 Association U.S. Army defense exhibition
Navistar Defense is being contracted by the US Army to provide technical support to its MRAP fleet. The contract modification is priced at $19.7 million and provides for technical support for the in-production and out-of-production MaxxPro family of vehicles. MRAP vehicles are designed from the outset for blast-resistance against land mines and even car bombs. These vehicles normally serve a variety of roles including as armored personnel or weapons carrier, convoy protection platform, key leader vehicle and command post and armored ambulance. This contract combines a number of orders that will run through March 2020.
Austal is being tapped to start building the Navy’s next Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) ship. The undefinitized contract action is valued at $57.8 million and allows for the procurement of long-lead-time material and production engineering services. The Spearhead-class vessels are designed for the fast, intra-theater transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment with aviation support. Bridging the gap between low-speed sealift and high-speed airlift, EPFs transport personnel, equipment and supplies over operational distances with access to littoral offload points including austere, minor and degraded ports often found in developing countries. The vessels are able to transport 600 short tons of military equipment to a range of 1.200 nautical miles at speeds of up to 35 knots. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including – but not limited to – Novi, Michigan; Mobile, Alabama and Rhinelander, Wisconsin. The US Navy’s 13th EPF is expected to be completed by November 2021.
The Air Force plans to procure another Bombardier business jet for its Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) program. BACN is an airborne communications relay that extends communications ranges, bridges between radio frequencies, and “translates” among incompatible communications systems. The BACN modified Bombardier Global 6000 would be outfitted with a specialised mission package that includes antennas, radios, flight-tracker inhibition systems and more. Dubbed the E-11A, the aircraft allows ground troops to reach needed support over mountainous terrain with imagery, video, voice and data, and it can also act as a high-altitude relay, including airdrop and airstrike operations. If the acquisition is approved the jet would be the fifth of its kind in the BACN fleet, which would grow to nine aircraft in total.
Middle East & Africa
The Qatari government will not proceed with its planned acquisition of three Boeing produced E-737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft. At the end of DIMDEX 2014 in late March, reports surfaced that Qatar had embarked on a $23 billion shopping spree that would have included the purchase of the three E-737s at cost of $1.8 billion. The Gulf state has chosen not to complete the transaction, Boeing told Jane’s on October 18th. The Wedgetail operates at an altitude of 30,000ft to 40,000f and is flown by two flight crew with between six and ten mission crew members. The aircraft is fitted with an MESA (multirole electronically scanned array) radar from Northrop Grumman. That radar exchanges the traditional AWACS rotating dome for the E-7A’s “top hat” stationary antenna. The Qatar Emiri Air Force currently has no airborne early warning capability, it is yet unclear if Qatar will purchase an alternative platform or if it has decided not to field an airborne early warning capability altogether.
The UK is requesting the purchase of sixteen H-47 Chinooks from Boeing. The potential Foreign Military Sales contract is priced at $3.5 billion and would include the delivery of the helicopters equipped with GPS, missile warning systems, radio-frequency countermeasures, multi-mode radars, electro-optical sensor systems and other equipment. The extended range Chinooks will be armed with M-134D-T mini guns and M240H machine guns. The CH-47F Chinook is the latest variant of the combat proven platform. Renewals include a new Robertson Aviation Extended Range Fuel System of internal auxiliary fuel tanks that gives the helicopter a mission radius greater than 400 miles. The Royal Air Force’s current operational Chinook fleet comprises Mk 4 and Mk 6 aircraft, fitted with digital glass cockpits. The UK’s Chinook Sustainment Programme aims to build on the platform’s success, recapitalising existing airframes and extending the capability out to 2040.
Reuters reports that Belgium will likely make a decision on which fighter jet to buy to replace its ageing F-16s by the end of this month. The country’s multi-billion contract will see for the purchase of 34 fighter jets. Current contestant are Lockheed Martin with its F-35 and BAE with the Eurofighter. “The Belgian competition is the F-35’s to lose,” Harry Breach, a London-based analyst told Reuters. He further added that the Typhoon would be a more expensive option and that smaller countries tend to pick a jet with lower size, payload and range for affordability reasons. France is not running with the Rafale, but has an interest in preventing the further spread of the F-35 in Europe. Lockheed’s proposal reportedly includes significant opportunities for Belgian companies to contribute to the global F-35 enterprise, BAE on the other hand offers Belgium a possible role in future European combat jet developments if it picks the Eurofighter over the F-35.
Poland plans to move ahead with the planned acquisition of the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) as part of its HOMAR program. The program sees for the purchase of three squadron-level units 18 launchers each, plus 2 launchers for training operations. HIMARS is a lighter version of the M270 MLRS multiple launch rocket system. Poland would be second European country to purchase the system, with Romania being the first. Both countries are NATO members and are currently strengthening their air-defense systems to deter Russia. The potential acquisition of the 56 HIMARS launchers is priced at $250 million, with the first units expected to be delivered by 2022.
Russian media outlet, TASS reports that the Russian Army will now be able to fire a new missile from the S-400 Triumf system. Dubbed the 40N6 hypersonic long-range surface-to-air missile is designed to engage low flying aerial targets at ranges of up to 400 kilometers. The 40N6 is designed to strike early warning and electronic warfare aircraft, airborne command posts, strategic bombers, and hypersonic cruise and ballistic missiles. The missile’s destruction range is up to 380 km for aerial targets and up to 15km for ballistic weapons at an altitude ranging from 10 m to 35 km. The average flight speed is 1,190 m/s. With its new homing head, the missile can destroy aircraft beyond the boundaries of the radio visibility of ground-based radars. Russia plans to purchase over one thousand missiles through 2027.
Watch: A Ride Out To The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)
Navistar subsidiary International Military and Government LLC (IMG) in, Warrenville, IL has won billions of dollars in MRAP program contracts, to produce several variants of its blast-resistant vehicles. The Category I MRUV vehicle’s role is similar to a Hummer’s, albeit with more carrying capacity and much more protection. That has become a staple for IMG’s entry, dubbed the “MaxxPro” by its manufacturer. Their collaboration with an Israeli firm who provides up-armored vehicles for the Marines successfully overcame lukewarm initial interest, but even successful survivors of Aberdeen’s tests where challenged to offer enough protection against the ERP class of land mines that began to appear in Iraq.
Nevertheless, the MRAP program became a production race – and Navistar did very well under those competitive terms. In the end the military’s desire for standardization of its fleets exerted something of a gravitation pull on the competition. A July 2007 order vaulted Navistar into 1st place for initial MRAP Program vehicles ordered, but the US Army is divesting many of its vehicles – creating opportunities for foreign buyers…