Oct 11, 2018 04:56 UTC
The UK plans to buy two unmanned solar-powered aircraft, known as Zephyrs
, which are capable of carrying small payloads that might consist of reconnaissance cameras or communications equipment. The Zephyrs hold the absolute endurance record for un-refuelled aeroplanes staying up for 336 hours, 22 minutes and eight seconds. Developed in the UK by QinetiQ, the technology has been recently bought and marketed by Airbus with the MoD's vote of confidence expected to lead to an increase in sales. High altitude, solar powered planes have often been used for civilian purposes by companies like Google and Facebook to deliver broadband to locations that lack fixed-line connections.
QinetiQ’s Zephyr is a very high-flying, ultra-light solar powered UAV designed to break existing flight length records. It’s one of the contenders in DARPA’s Vulture program, which eventually expects to field an aircraft whose flight length will be measured in years.
The platform also attracted the independent interest of the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ. In May 2009, they issued a $44.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to QinetiQ North America in Arlington, VA for 7 Zephyr UAVs and 1 ground station. Work will be performed in Farnborough Hampshire, United Kingdom, and is expected to be complete in May 2014. This contract was competitively procured via a Broad Agency Announcement (N68335-09-C-0194).
The DefenseLINK release cited “up to 3 months continuous operation” as the performance goal, which matched DARPA’s Phase 2 goals. On the other hand…
- Zephyr, and NAWCAD [NEW]
- Contracts & Key Events [NEW]
- Additional Readings [NEW]
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Oct 10, 2018 05:00 UTC
Raytheon is being contracted to develop a new propulsion system for the US Army’s TOW missile. The contract is valued at $21 million and covers three years of research and development necessary to make required performance improvements to the tube-launched, optically tracked TOW missile. “Improving TOW’s propulsion system will increase range and deliver enhanced protection for ground troops while providing them with more capability,” said Kim Ernzen, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. The wire-guided, operator-controlled BGM-71 TOW missile family external link remains a mainstay thanks to modernization, specialization, improved sighting systems, and pre-existing compatibility with a wide range of ground vehicles. The new propulsion system will be integrated into all TOW missile variants, including the top and direct attack 2B, direct attack 2A and Bunker Buster missiles. The TOW weapon system is scheduled to remain in the US Army’s inventory until the 2050s.
Lockheed Martin is being tapped to introduce a full rate production configuration to the new AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) radar. The US Army is awarding Lockheed with a contract modification that sees for the insertion of Gallium Nitride into the Q-53. The Q-53 is a mobile, maneuverable, fully supportable and easily maintained counterfire target acquisition radar. Compared to currently deployed systems, the new, battle-tested Q-53 offers enhanced performance, including greater mobility, increased reliability and supportability, a lower life-cycle cost, reduced crew size, and the ability to track targets in a full-spectrum environment, a vital capability on today’s battlefield. According to the press release, the transition to GaN will provide the Q-53 with additional power for capabilities including long-range counterfire target acquisition. GaN has the added benefit of increasing system reliability and reducing lifecycle ownership costs. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s factories in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
Flight Global reports, that the new SB-1 Defiant is still on track to make its maiden flight before the end of 2018. The Defiant is a third-generation X2 aircraft jointly developed by Sikorsky and Boeing. It will be their main pitch in the US Government’s Future Vertical Lift program and is a direct rival to Bell’s V-280. The aircraft’s first flight will be conducted with a one-year delay due to problems during the composite blade manufacturing process. The companies have already installed a testbed for the Defiant’s powertrain systems at a West Palm Beach, Florida facility and plan to test the helicopter’s turbines, transmission and rotors in the coming weeks. This Powertrain System Test Bed (PSTB) lets them run the engines at their full combined 9,000 shaft horsepower and show how used components behave under increased stress. The Sikorsky-Boeing team plans to make ground runs with the Defiant in November. Both the Defiant and V-280 are aimed at satisfying the Army’s requirement under capability set-3, or “medium” variant that would be analogous to a legacy UH-60 Black Hawk.
Middle East & Africa
Chinese UAVs are becoming increasingly attractive to Middle-Eastern customers. Chinese arms dealers are especially attractive to those countries in the region which are restricted from purchasing US-manufactured UAVs because of their poor track record in protecting civilian lives during operations. Song Zhongping, a Chinese military analyst and former lecturer at the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force University of Engineering recently told Military Times that “the Chinese product now doesn’t lack technology, it only lacks market share,” and “the United States restricting its arms exports is precisely what gives China a great opportunity.” Preferred Chinese products include CASC’s Cai-Hong 4 and 5 models which are quite similar to General Atomics’ Predator and Reaper drones, but much cheaper. According to Ulrike Franke, an expert on drones and policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, China has sold more than 30 Chai-Hong 4s to countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq in deals worth over $700 million.
Jane’s reports that French shipbuilder Naval Group is one step closer in finishing the last two of the French Navy’s six Aquitaine-class FREMM (frégate européenne multi-mission) anti-submarine warfare (ASW) frigates. The FREMM European multi-mission frigate is a joint programme between France and Italy. It will build 21 FREMM frigates for the French Navy and the Italian Navy. Both the Bretagne and Normandie have now be fitted with the latest Sylver A50 vertical launchers. One Sylver A50 module can carry 8 missiles with a length under 5m, like the self-defense Aster15 and the tactical Aster30 missile. The MBDA Aster15 air defense missile system provides protection against supersonic and subsonic threats. The Aster 30 is an advanced two-stage hypersonic missile system for area defense against aircraft and missile attacks. Both ships are currently at Naval Group’s Lorient shipyard. After the successful completion of a set of sea trials the ships are expected for delivery in 2019. The French DGA confirmed to Jane’s that the decision to install the A50 was made to mitigate the risk created by a gap in the French Navy’s anti-air warfare (AAW) capability between 2020 and 2022/23.
Japan’s submarine program is marking another major milestone. Last week Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Kawasaki Shipbuilding Corporation launched their first Soryu-class submarine. The JS Oryu, is a diesel-electric submarine that uses long-endurance lithium-ion batteries. The diesel-electric propulsion system gives the vessel a smaller acoustic signature, giving it an edge during sensitive and combat operations. MHI says the 84-meter submarines are the world’s largest conventionally powered boats. They are also Japan’s first submarines to be fitted with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems that enable them to remain fully submerged for longer periods of time. Lithium-ion batteries allow submariners to shut off the primary diesel-electric power to switch to batteries for longer-endurance propulsion during sensitive operations. Battery operations can, in theory, significantly reduce the acoustic signature of a given submarine, making them harder to detect. The JS Oryu will be delivered to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2020. Japan has commissioned 9 units in the class so far while a total of 13 are planned to be operated by 2023.
Watch: Marines Connect F-35 Jet to HIMARS System For First Time
Oct 10, 2018 04:56 UTC
Lockheed Martin is being tapped to introduce a full rate production configuration to the new AN/TPQ-53 (Q-53) radar. The US Army is awarding Lockheed with a contract modification
that sees for the insertion of Gallium Nitride into the Q-53. The Q-53
is a mobile, maneuverable, fully supportable and easily maintained counterfire target acquisition radar. Compared to currently deployed systems, the new, battle-tested Q-53 offers enhanced performance, including greater mobility, increased reliability and supportability, a lower life-cycle cost, reduced crew size, and the ability to track targets in a full-spectrum environment, a vital capability on today’s battlefield. According to the press release, the transition to GaN
will provide the Q-53 with additional power for capabilities including long-range counterfire target acquisition. GaN has the added benefit of increasing system reliability and reducing lifecycle ownership costs. Work will be performed at Lockheed's factories in New York, New Jersey and Florida.
Firefinder radars track the path of incoming shells, rockets, mortars, etc., and calculate the point they were fired from. Raytheon’s TPQ-36 radar is specifically designed to counter medium range enemy weapon systems out to a range of 24 kilometers, while the TPQ-37 can locate longer-range systems, and even surface launched missiles, out to 50 kilometers. Michael Yon, embedded with 1-24 (“Deuce Four”) in Mosul, offered a first hand description of counter-battery radars’ effect on enemy tactics in 2005.
Better radar technologies offer a number of potential advantages for this role, including wider fields of view and less maintenance. Not to mention fewer disruptive, time-sucking false positives for deployed troops. In September 2006, Lockheed Martin began a contract to deliver their “Enhanced AN/TPQ-36” (EQ-36) radars. Despite the close official name and designation, this was a wholly new radar system, from a different company. Orders have begun to accumulate, along with deployments – and, finally, a less confusing designation change to AN/TPQ-53.
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Oct 09, 2018 05:00 UTC
The US Air Force is designating its hypersonic research rocket. Formerly known as GOLauncher1, the vehicle now carries the official military designation of X-60A. The rocket is flown by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Aerospace Systems Directorate, High Speed Systems Division and is being developed by Generation Orbit Launch Services. The X-60A is an air-dropped liquid rocket designed for hypersonic flight research, including testing of technologies like scramjet propulsion, high-temperature-resistant materials and autonomous control. The X-60A is a research vehicle designed to capture data complementary to AFRL’s ground testing capability. The captured data helps the laboratory to better understand how material and other technologies behave while flying at more than 5 times the speed of sound. According to the Air Force, the X-60A “enables faster development of both our current hypersonic weapon rapid prototypes and evolving future systems.” The single-stage liquid rocket is powered by Hadley rocket engine and is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions between Mach 5 and Mach 8.
The Canadian government is requesting the purchase of three King Air 350ER aircraft in their ISR configuration. The State Department is determined to approve this possible FMS with a value of $300 million. The King Air 350ER is a multi-mission, twin-engine turboprop aircraft, which can be deployed to conduct SAR, ISR, transport, and monitoring operations. The aircraft is a derivative of the King Air 350 and incorporates advanced technology and a unique and flexible mission package. It is highly reliable and can last for more than 12 hours with extended range. Canada’s unique customer post-modifications for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations include three WESCAM MX-15D EO/IR sensors, three AN/AAR-47B(V)2 MWS, three AN/ALE-47 CMDS, three VORTEX Dual RF Ku LOS Transceivers and a number of different transponder sets. The DSCA release states that “the proposed sale improves Canada’s capability to meet current and future threats; strengthen its homeland defense and the combined defense of North America; and support coalition partners overseas.” Principal contractor will be Beechcraft (Textron Aviation).
The Marine Corps is experimenting with an innovative slew of ways to make its HIMARS more capable. During a recently held test, one of the USMC’s F-35Bs was able to connect with a HIMARS shot for the first time. According to Lt,. Gen. Steven R. Rudder, the F-35 used sensors to create a data link, and then pushed data about the location of the target to a HIMARS system. HIMARS is a highly-mobile artillery rocket system with the purpose to engage and defeat artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and personel carriers. The Marine Corps is currently working on improving and extending its ability to rapidly move the HIMARS by air and destroy a target once landed. A tactic that could prove to be an advantage in the Pacific theatre where Marines will likely be fighting as a distributed force across ships, islands and barges.
Jane’s reports that the Brazilian Air Force is contracting Portuguese aerospace maintenance and aircraft modernisation specialist OGMA to maintain 12 Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. OGMA, a subsidiary of Embraer, will provide the Air Force with depot maintenance, replacement and repair of equipment and parts. The deal is valued at $98.9 million and covers work on eight C-130H, two C-130H2 and two KC-130H aircraft. The Brazilian Air Force is the biggest air force in Latin America; it operates more than 600 aircraft and has more than 50.000 personnel. The Hercules is its main heavy transport aircraft.
Middle East & Africa
The Marine Corps is gaining its first experiences with using the F-35B in combat. One of its JSFs recently conducted its first combat mission over Afghanistan. The F-35 is part of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 currently embarked on the USS Essex, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship. The USMC was the first service to integrate the F-35 into its fleet, when it declared the aircraft operational in 2015. Col. Chandler Nelms, commanding officer of the 13th MEU told Military Times that “the opportunity for us [now, is] to be the first Navy, Marine Corps team to employ the F-35B in support of maneuver forces on the ground, demonstrating one aspect of the capabilities this platform brings to the region, our allies, and our partners.” The B variant of the F-35 allows for short takeoff and vertical landing which is a key requirement for the Marine Corps. Earlier this year, Israel confirmed that it used its F-35A ‘Adir’ for strikes in Syria.
French shipbuilder Naval Group confirms that the French Navy will soon receive a new anti-air warfare (AAW) frigate. The AAW configuration includes the PAAMS (E) area air defense system with the Aster 30 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM). The Frégates de défense aérienne will feature an ASW sensor fit but will not be able to fire naval cruise missiles. The Alsace is set for launch in the first half of 2019 and will, together with its sister ship Lorraine, replace two F70 AA frigates. The new FREDAs are the last of eight Aquitaine-class FREMM frigates for the French Navy. The first six ships are configured to conduct anti-submarine warfare and land-attack missions. The Aquitaine class is a class of multi-mission stealth frigates. The general characteristics of the class is a displacement of 6,000tons, a length of 142m, a beam of 20m, a maximum speed of 28knots and a range of 6,000n.m. with a cruising speed of 15knots. International customers include the Royal Moroccan Navy and Egyptian Navy.
The Russian defense ministry is planning to launch a trainer competition. The ministry wants to procure up-to 230 turboprops for its flight schools. Government officials have yet not disclosed which platform they prefer, however General Alexander Akhlyustin told Mil.Press Today that the Yak-152 has good chances of winning the upcoming tender. The Yak-152 is new-generation primary trainer aircraft developed by Irkut. The aircraft is intended to provide primary pilot training, professional selection, and occupational guidance for future military fighter pilots. The aircraft performed its maiden flight on September 29, 2016. Irkut received a contract from the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) in June 2015 to supply approximately 150 Yak-152 aircraft by 2020.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense will develop its own “cooperative engagement capability” (CEC) system to strengthen its net-centric warfare capabilities. A CEC sensor netting system allows ships, aircraft, and even land radars to pool their radar and sensor information together, creating a very powerful and detailed picture that’s much finer, more wide-ranging, and more consistent than any one of them could generate on its own. With this system troops can share enemy information in real time and carry out joint counterattacks against enemy weapons. The ministry has earmarked about $60 million for the development of high-speed, high-capacity communications devices necessary for a CEC system in tis FY19 budget request. Japan’s Self-Defense Force plans to have a prototype system by 2022 and conduct its first operational tests in 2023. Japan is part of the US CEC system which is integrated on its two latest Maya-class destroyers. The decision to develop a Japanese system stems from concerns about the US system’s hefty price-tag.
Watch: First Time in History US Air Force F 15C Eagle fighter jets arrive in Ukraine
Oct 08, 2018 05:00 UTC
The US Air Force is ordering a large batch of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs) from Lockheed Martin. The firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-fee contract is valued at $390.8 million and covers the delivery of 360 JASSMs, three FMS separation text vehicles and one FMS set consisting of a flight test vehicle, tooling and test equipment. The 2,000 lbs. AGM-158 JASSM is a stealthy, inexpensive cruise missile costing about $1 million per unit. The JASSM is currently integrated on a variety of platforms ranging from B-1B Lancer bombers to F-16 Block 50 fighter jets. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Orlando, Florida and is expected to be completed by October 31, 2021.
General Dynamics is being contracted to upgrade more Strykers for the US Army. The awarded contract modification is priced at $366.9 million and covers the conversion of several Stryker flat-bottom vehicles to the Double V-hull configuration. The V-hull configuration was the Army’s answer to vehicle’s poor performance during IED attacks. The new design channels blast force away from the vehicle and its occupants thus drastically enhancing soldier protection. The Army plans to acquire 742 Stryker DVH vehicles, as retrofits and as new production vehicles. That’s the full extent of the current plan, which was a major step beyond the program’s initial plan of 450 Stryker DVHs. Work will be performed at GD’s factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and is scheduled for completion by April 30, 2021.
Boeing is currently in talks with Brazil’s Embraer to set up a KC-390 assembly line in the United States. This round of talks follows a July agreement between the two companies that resulted in Boeing gaining a 80% stake in the Brazilian company’s commercial business. Boeing and Embraer established agreements in 2012 and 2014 that allow the US firm to have a hand in global marketing and logistics support of the KC-390, but a defense related joint venture would allow for a more intensive collaboration. The KC-390 is designed to be a jet-powered rival to compete with Lockheed Martin’s C-130J. The multi-mission aircraft is capable of in-air refueling operations, cargo transport and SOF deployment.
Middle East & Africa
The government of the United Arab Emirates is ordering more attack helicopters for its armed forces. Boeing will provide the Middle-Eastern country with a total of 17 Apache AH-64E aircraft. The $242.1 million contract modification covers the remanufacture of eight, and the production of nine newly build Apaches by Boeing. The AH-64E Guardian Block III is the platform’s next big-leap forward. The upgraded attack helicopter incorporates 26 key new-technology insertions which keep his 1980s airframe at the leading edge of technology. Work will be performed at Boeing’s factory in Mesa, Arizona. Production of the aircraft is estimated to be completed by February 28, 2023.
Iraq is requesting the purchase of five additional Bell 407GX helicopters to support ongoing counter-insurgency operations. The FMS contract has a value of $82.5 million and is currently pending approval by Congress. The possible deal covers the delivery of all helicopters armed with M240 7.62mm Machine Guns. In addition the order also includes options for five M3P .50 caliber machine guns, five M260 rocket launchers in APKWS configuration and five GAU-19 .50 caliber machine guns. The helicopters would be equipped with MX-15Di EO/IR sensors and RF-7850A secure communications radios. Self-Defense measures include the AN/ALE-47 airborne countermeasure dispensing system and AAR-60 MILDS detectors. Installed systems include the Pathfinder MMS, the ARES WMS and MCAS. The DSCA notes that “the addition of five Bell 407GX helicopters will help compensate for the combat loss of seven IA407 helicopters in recent years and increase the Iraqi Security Forces’ combat effectiveness against ISIS and other terrorist elements in Iraq.”
Jane’s reports that Swedish defense contractor Saab and Raytheon are currently co-developing a new round for the Carl-Gustaf reloadable weapon system. The new round would be the first guided one for the 84 mm recoilless weapon and is designated as Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition (GCGM). The Carl-Gustaf, which the Army calls the M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MAAWS), entered service in 1991 and has been a staple infantry support weapon in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MAAWS has similarities to the AT4 shoulder-fired, anti-tank system. But the MAAWS is unique in that the system itself is not disposable, which means it can be used more than once. Jane’s notes that “the GCGM development is effectively an evolutionary progression of the earlier Saab Ultra Light Munition concept, which, under the teaming agreement with Raytheon, has been matured and defined in terms of capability and performance requirements.”
Northrop Grumman confirms that the Italian Air Force successfully completed operational testing of the company’s Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM). The missiles are integrated on Italy’s Tornado fighter jets. A series of flight tests ended with two direct hits on critical air defense targets, this milestone allows for the transition of the AARGMs into operational squadrons. Italy and the US signed a MoU in 2005 to cooperatively develop the AGM-88E AARGM missile. The AARGM is a medium range, supersonic, air-launched tactical missile whose primary job is to attack and kill enemy radars. Italy currently plans to buy a total of 250 AARGMs.
Japan’s ATD-X (X-2) program is taking a new turn. The Japanese Ministry of Defense is determined to develop a new fighter jet, that will eventually replace its fleet of F-2s. Proposals from three American and British companies failed to meet Japan’s costs and capability requirements, hence the decision to indigenously develop a new fighter jet. The companies made offers to upgrade their existing models, Lockheed for the F-22, Boeing for the F-15 and BAE for the Typhoon. Development of the new aircraft could cost trillions of yen and could be a major financial burden on Japan’s defense budget. To mitigate the overall cost the ministry has an eye on a joint development with foreign companies. The government is looking towards British or German-French partners as they are also looking into developing next-generation jets. Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force currently operates 92 F-2s which will begin to reach the end of their service life in the 2030s.
Watch: S-97 hits 200 knots
Oct 05, 2018 05:00 UTC
The US Army launches a major design competition for its Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FVL). The service wants the first prototypes flying by 2023 and expects an initial operational capability by 2028. The Army describes the desired platform as a “knife fighter” of future battlefield capabilities in a “small form factor … with maximized performance.” The next generation rotorcraft should be able to fly manned and unmanned, reduce the cognitive workload of the crew and increase the overall operational tempo while being reliable over extended maintenance free periods. A key element of the new platform will be the focus on net-centric warfare. The FVL must be able to team-up with unmanned systems and a variety of air-launched weapons and decoys. The Army plans to make the helicopter the centrepiece of the integrated air defense system (IADS) breeching team to provide freedom of maneuver in a multi-domain battle. The solicitation is part of the US Army’s effort to procure a whole family of Future Vertical Lift aircraft (FVL) in the early 2030s. The Army plans to spend approximately $15 million per industry participant in the initial design phase. Participants would receive $8.5 million in FY19 and $6.5 million in FY20. The two participants selected to continue into the prototype phase of the program would receive around $735 million each from FY20 to FY23.
The US Air Force is procuring technical support for its Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) from Boeing. Boeing will provide the service with studies and analysis, product improvement efforts, upgrades and integration work at a cost of $45 million. The JDAM program essentially makes ‘dumb’ bombs ‘smart’ by adding sophisticated rear guidance sections. This tail kit includes adjustable tail fins, a control computer, an inertial guidance system and a GPS receiver. Before release, the aircraft tells the bomb its current position and the GPS coordinates of the target. According to the US Air Force, the system is accurate to within 40 feet. One JDAM tail kit costs about $20.000 making it significantly cheaper than laser-guided bombs. Work will be performed at Boeing’s facility in St. Louis, Missouri and is expected to be completed by March 31st, 2019.
DoD is constructing a new Fighter Alert Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Nordic PCL will construct the facility for the 199th Fighter Squadron at a cost of $41.5 million. The effort includes the construction of aircraft alert shelters, alert and maintenance crew quarters, an entry control point and sustainability and energy measures. The 199th Fighter Squadron is a unit of the 154th Wing and operates the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the modern Air Force. The construction of the new F-22 Fighter Alert Facility is expected to be completed by December 2021.
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems successfully completes testing of its Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) in support of a US Navy propeller Aircraft Recovery Bulletin (ARB). The tests included the C-2A Greyhound, E-2C+ Hawkeye and the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. The Advanced Arresting Gear is part of the Navy’s EMALS system developed for the new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers. The AAG sub-program will replace the current Mk 7 hydraulic system used to provide the requisite combination of plane-slowing firmness and necessary flexibility to the carriers’ arresting wires. AAG is intended to allow successful landings with heavier aircraft, reduce manning and maintenance, and add capabilities like self-diagnosis and maintenance alerts.
Middle East & Africa
Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guard Corps launches more missiles towards Syria. Fars News reports that the IRGC launched six ballistic missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria. The missiles used in the attack include the Qiam and Zolfaghar. The Qiam-1 is a liquid fueled, short-range ballistic missile and the indigenous variant of the Shahab-2. The missile was first modified in 2010, alterations include improved guidance system that can more quickly detect and correct changes in its trajectory, removing the need for stabilizing fins in boost phase. The Qiam 1 can deliver a payload of up to 746kg to a distance of 496 miles. The Zolfaghar belongs to the Fateh-110 family of missiles, it has a cluster munition warhead and a range of 434 miles. Iran is retaliating after 25 soldiers were killed in a terror attack involving armed UAVs on September 22.
French defense contractor SAFRAN will remanufacture the landing systems of the US Air Force’s KC-135s. The firm-fixed-price requirements contract is valued at $220.1 million and provides for a 10-year strategic remanufacturing and supply period. Over the next decade SAFRAN will rebuild the Stratotanker’s heat shields, main wheel, carbon brake, torque tube adjustor, assembly, and piston housing. Boeing built 732 KC-135 Stratotankers for the US Air Force between 1957 and 1965. The US Air Force still has about 550 KC-135 Stratotankers in service. Work will be performed at SAFRAN’s factory in Vellzyvillacoublay, France, and is expected to be complete by September 2028.
The Taiwanese Air Force will soon be able to fly the first batch of upgraded F-16s. The first four planes to be delivered are currently undergoing ground-testing at Taiwan’s state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. Taiwan is currently in the process of upgrading its fleet of 144 F-16 A/B jets to the Viper configuration. The $3.64 billion program is considered the most important modernization program ever undertaken by the Air Force and significantly enhances its war fighting capabilities. Upgrades in the V-variant include new mission computers, navigation equipment, large color multifunction displays, Advanced Identification Friend or Foe (AIFF) transponders, updated electronic warfare suite, and the Link-16 tactical data link, as well as an AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR).
India could add two second-hand Mirage 2000 fighter jets to its fleet. The jets are priced at $2 million each and would be later upgraded by India’s state-owned HAL. The airframes reportedly still have about 3.000 flight hours left and would incorporate upgrade kits which were delivered as part of India’s Vajra modernization program. Vajra upgrades include a new RDY-3 radar with greater air-air and air-ground capability, a new night vision compatible all-digital cockpit, and improved electronic warfare systems. If the deal goes through, India would regain its initial fleet strength of 51 Mirage 2000s.
Watch: B-52 Bomber Lands In The United Kingdom
Oct 05, 2018 04:56 UTC
DoD is constructing a new Fighter Alert Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Nordic PCL will construct
the facility for the 199th Fighter Squadron at a cost of $41.5 million. The effort includes
the construction of aircraft alert shelters, alert and maintenance crew quarters, an entry control point and sustainability and energy measures. The 199th Fighter Squadron is a unit of the 154th Wing
and operates the F-22 Raptor. The Raptor
performs both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions allowing full realization of operational concepts vital to the modern Air Force. The construction of the new F-22 Fighter Alert Facility is expected to be completed by December 2021.
Into that good night
The 5th-generation F-22A Raptor fighter program has been the subject of fierce controversy, with advocates and detractors aplenty. On the one hand, the aircraft offers full stealth, revolutionary radar and sensor capabilities, dual air-air and air-ground SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) excellence, the ability to cruise above Mach 1 without afterburners, thrust-vectoring super-maneuverability… and a ridiculously lopsided kill record in exercises against the best American fighters. On the other hand, critics charged that it was too expensive, too limited, and cripples the USAF’s overall force structure.
Meanwhile, close American allies like Australia, Japan and Israel, and other allies like Korea, were pressing the USA to abandon its “no export” policy. Most already fly F-15s, but several were interested in an export version of the F-22 in order to help them deal with advanced – and advancing – Russian-designed aircraft, air-to-air missiles, and surface-to-air missile systems. That would have broadened the F-22 fleet in several important ways, but the US political system would not or could not respond.
This DID FOCUS Article tracks continuing maintenance and fleet upgrade programs, contracts, and timely news. A separate public-access feature offers a profile of the USAF’s most advanced fighter, and covers both sides of the F-22 Raptor program’s controversies.
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Oct 04, 2018 05:00 UTC
AeroVironment is being tapped to keep the US Southern Command’s Raven RQ-11Bs operational. The awarded single-award contract is priced at $13 million and covers a number of recurring requirements for spares, ancillary equipment and training. The Raven is backpackable, can be launched by hand and is quietly powered by an electric-engine. Its lithium-ion batteries can accelerate it to speeds of up to 60 mph for 60 to 90 minutes. The UAV includes a color electro-optical camera, or an infrared camera for night operations. The Raven system can be flown manually or autonomously through set way-points. Work will be performed in Southcom’s area of responsibility, this includes Central America, South America and the Caribbean nations. The contract will run through September 2023.
The Colombian Navy is adding two Airbus Dauphin helicopters to its fleet. The second-hand aircraft are expected to be delivered in December. The 4.5t class helicopter will be embarked on the Colombian Navy’s 20 de Julio-class offshore patrol vessels. Powered by two powerful Arriel 2C turboshaft engines, the AS365 N3 features a forward looking infrared (FLIR), radar, search lights, hailer, hoist, and stretchers. The helicopter’s specially designed cockpit and and a four-axis autopilot optimise the platform for SAR operations in high altitudes and extreme climatic conditions.
Middle East & Africa
Boeing is being contracted to support the training of future Qatar Emiri Air Force pilots. The company will provide Qatar with F-15QA aircrew and maintenance courseware at a cost of $30 million. This includes syllabi, a student tracking system and the overall program management needed to train the country’s future F-15QA pilots. Production of the new F-15s started in August and will run through to at least 2022. Qatar ordered a total of 36 fighter jets at a cost of $12 billion. Work will be performed at Boeing’s location in St. Louis, Missouri, and is expected to be completed Dec. 28, 2020.
The Lebanese Armed Forces will receive six light attack helicopters from MD Helicopters. This is the third delivery order issued against a 5-year $1.4 billion light scout attack helicopter IDIQ contract. The Lebanese MD-530Gs will be equipped with FN Herstal Weapons Management System and the DillonAero Mission Configurable Armament System (MCAS) and other systems and weapons found on the Cayuse Warriors which will be delivered to the Kenyan Air Force. The Lebanese Warriors, however will also have a ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel system, a Wescam laser designator, and Thales’s Scorpion helmet-mounted cueing system. The light-attack helicopter will be able to engage enemy targets with BAE’s 70mm Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) rocket. The MD-530Gs will also feature the Harris Falcon III RF-7850A-MR multi-channel airborne networking radios with advanced encryption standards (AES). Deliveries are scheduled for completion by fall 2020.
Britain’s defense minister confirms that the government is looking into the purchase of a fleet of Wedgetail E-7 AWACS aircraft. In a recent interview, Gavin Williamson said that following an initial market analysis and a series of discussions, the Ministry of Defence can now conclude “that the potential procurement of the E-7 represents the best value for money option for the UK against need”. The UK is also currently in talks with Australia regarding a potential cooperation and collaboration on the Wedgetail program. Australia already operates a fleet of Wedgetails, and a small number of British Royal Air Force personnel have been training on the aircraft since mid-year. Williamson did not specify the timeframe, quantity and cost of the planned procurement, nevertheless it is likely that up to six E-7s will replace the ageing E-3Ds. The program will likely cost more than $2.6 billion, putting more pressure on an already exhausted British defense budget.
France delivers ground-based surveillance radars and short range anti-aircraft missile systems to Georgia. Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said during a conference held on October 1st, that the country’s airspace would now be “more protected and effectively controlled”. Georgia signed two contracts for the delivery of the Mistral air-defense system and the Ground Master 400/200 series back in 2015. The purchases are totalling at $90 million. MBDA’s Mistral Atlas system is a twin-launcher for the Mistral air-defense system. It has been designed to provide greater mobility, flexibility, high fire-power and autonomy and can be installed on many high mobility vehicles or used in a pedestal version. The Ground Master 400 belongs to Thales’ fully digital 3D air-defense radar family. The system fits into a standard ISO 20 container and is especially good in tracking high maneuvering targets at low elevation. Georgia is part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and is one of the few members of the alliance that spends 2% of its GDP on defense.
Australia’s Defense Minister and the French Naval Group are seeking to calm the waters after media reports suggested the impending collapse of a major defense contract between the Australian government and the shipbuilder. The Commonwealth Government announced in the Defence White Paper 2016 that it would double the size of the current fleet of Collins submarines and procure 12 Future Submarines at a cost of more than $36 billion. Key requirements are, a similar range and endurance than the Collins-class, a superior stealth and sensor performance, an upgraded version of the AN/BYG-1 combat system and Mk 48 Mod 7 heavyweight torpedo. The first submarine is slatted to enter service in the early 2030s with construction of the last submarine in the 2050s with sustainment continuing until the 2080s. An ABC report suggested that the planned acquisition of 12 diesel-electric submarines may be cancelled if the strategic partnering agreement is not signed before next year’s election.
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Oct 03, 2018 05:00 UTC
Boeing is being contracted to maintain and rebuild stockpiles of US and UK submarine launched ballistic missiles. The awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is valued at at $26.6 million and provides for all necessary work needed to support the navigation subsystem of the Trident II (D5) missile. Trident II D-5 is the sixth generation member of the US Navy’s Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) program. The missile is a three-stage, solid propellant, inertially guided FBM with a range of more than 4,000 nautical miles. The navigation subsystem of the Trident II D5 has been redesigned to achieve accuracy and maintain an extended fix interval. Inertial navigation is achieved with with an electrostatically-supported gyro navigator and with a navigation sonar system that measures velocity. Another addition is a GPS unit and a digital interface with the FBBM weapon system. Work will be performed at Boeing facilities in Huntington Beach, California and Heath, Ohio; with an expected completion date of September 30, 2020.
The US Navy is ordering more production services for its Air and Missile Defense Radar from Raytheon. The awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee modification covers a number of engineering services and associated costs needed to support the low-rate initial production of the AN/SPY-6 at cost of $22.7 million. The new AMDR is being developed to fulfill integrated Air and Missile Defense requirements for multiple ship classes. The AMDR-S radar will provide wide-area volume search, tracking, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) discrimination, and missile communications; while the AMDR-X will provide horizon search, precision tracing, missile communications, and final illumination guidance to targets. It will equip various types of vessels such as DDG-51s in Flight III configuration and Gerald F. Ford-class aircraft carriers. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s Marlborough facility and is expected to be completed by November 2018.
Lockheed Martin is being tapped to provide the Navy with more electronic-warfare suites. The company will deliver a number of AN/BLQ-10 kits and spares to the service at a cost of $9.6 million. The AN/BLQ-10 external link submarine EW system, provides automatic detection, classification, localization, and identification of potentially hostile radar and communications signals at sea. The BLQ-10 is used by attack submarines to aid in self-protection, situation awareness, and intelligence-gathering for battle group support. Battle group dissemination of the information gathered from these signals will be provided via the ship’s combat control system and communications equipment. Work will bet performed in Syracuse, New York and in Manassas, Virginia. Production under this contract is expected to be completed by October 2020.
Middle East & Africa
The Kenyan Defence Force is purchasing several light-attack helicopters for its air-wing. The contract signed between the Kenyan government and MD Helicopters on September 27th covers the delivery of six helicopters. This is the second delivery order issued against its 5-year, $1.4 billion light scout attack helicopter IDIQ contract. The MD 530F Cayuse Warriors will replace the Kenyan Army’s existing MD 500 platforms. The Kenyan Warriors will be equipped with a FN Herstal Weapons Management System; the DillonAero Mission Configurable Armament System (MCAS); the DillonAero fixed-forward sighting system. Its crew will be protected with a 62 mm ballistic armor protection and will be able to engage enemy targets with a 12.7 mm machine gun and 70mm rockets. The helicopter’s communication system includes the Harris RF-7850A and the Rockwell Collins HF-9000D radios. Kenya had requested the $235 million purchase of 12 MD530Fs in May 2017. MD notes on its website that initial deliveries will take place in April 2019, with all aircraft delivered prior to the August 2019 contract completion date. Once delivered, the Cayuse Warriors will likely be used in AMISOM’s counter-insurgency campaign against al-Shabaab.
The Netherlands will receive several air-to-ground missiles as part of a US Foreign Military Sale. Lockheed Martin is being awarded with a $637.8 million contract that sees for the procurement of a variety of Hellfire II missiles. Hellfire II missiles come in several variants. They include the M variant which is designed for the Navy, the N variant equipped with a thermobaric warhead, the multi-purpose R variant, and the P variant designed to be launched from high flying UAVs. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s Orlando facility and is scheduled for completion by September 2021. This contract also includes a FMS to the government of Japan.
Four companies are currently in the run for Bulgaria’s fighter acquisition tender. Bulgaria’s request for proposals sees for the delivery of eight jets at a cost of $1 billion. Lockheed Martin and Boeing are proposing the delivery of their F-16s and F-18s, whereas Saab and Italy are offering new Gripens and second-hand Eurofighters respectively. Deputy Defence Minister Atanas Zapryanov confirmed that two separate committees will have to evaluate the proposals in due time, however declined to give an clear indication on when the winner will be announced. “Our desire is to do it fast. I do not know the contents of the offers, but the committee examining them will have the right to make inquiries with the respective countries,” he added.
The government of Taiwan is set to receive modification kits for its Patriot system as part of a US FMS. The $35 million firm-fixed-price domestic and FMS contract sees for the delivery of Sweep 9 modification kits to the US Army and the Republic of China Army. Those Sweep 9 kits include upgrades for the Antenna Support Group (ASG), Radar Weapon Control Interface Unit (RWCIU), and the Search Track Channel (STC). Taiwan currently fields the Patriot’s PAC-3 variant. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s facility in Andover, Massachusetts and will run through September 2022.
The Australian government starts to look for new light-attack helicopters for its special forces. A recently issued RFI calls for a commercial or military off-the-shelf platform that can operate in dense urban environments. The helicopters must be capable of being equipped with simple, proven, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) equipment and weapons systems; and must capable of being rapidly deployed by air transport in a C-17 Globemaster II. The RFI does not specify how many helicopters will be procured, but suggests that deliveries should start by 2023. Likely contenders will be the Boeing AH-6 Little Bird, or the Airbus Helicopters H125m.
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Oct 02, 2018 05:00 UTC
The US Army is contracting Syracuse Research Corp to keep the Silent Archer System operational. The awarded contract modification is priced at $25.7 million and provides for logistics and engineering support services of the Counter-UAV systems in US Army areas of operation, as well as for continued development, production, integration, delivery and deployment. Silent Archer is a lightweight system designed to hunt down and neutralize enemy unmanned aerial systems of any size, it can be modified to fit on a tactical vehicle or even a commercial-model pickup truck. The system consists of an air surveillance radar system, an electronic warfare (EW) suite, a direction-finding unit and an electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) camera that helps to positively identify drone threats. Work will be performed at SRC’s factory in North Syracuse, New York, and is scheduled for completion by January 31st, 2019.
Raytheon’s SM-6 naval defense missile enters full rate production. The US Navy is awarding the company with a $395.6 million contract modification that provides for the missile’s procurement in FY17 and FY18. The SM-6 ERAM is a next-generation air defense missile, which will eventually supplement SM-2 missiles in the air/surface defense role against cruise missiles and aircraft. The SM-6 comes with an “over-the-horizon” targeting mode, where it’s cued by other ships or even aircraft, then uses its own seeker for the final approach. The missile incorporates technology from existing technologies such as the the airframe of the SM-2 Block IV, and advanced seeker technology derived from the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). Work will be performed at multiple locations, including – but not limited to – Tucson, Arizona; Wolverhampton, United Kingdom and Anaheim, California. Initial production for this order is expected to be completed by September 2022.
Lockheed Martin announces a significant price drop of the F-35 JSF. The company recently received an $11.5 billion order for 141 F-35s from the Pentagon. This is the biggest batch ordered yet, and includes the purchase of 91 aircraft for US services, 28 for international development partners and 22 for FMS customers. The F-35A version sees a drop of 5.4%, now costing $89.2 million per unit. The F-35B, which is considered to be the most expensive variant of the JSF drops by 5.7% to a price of $115.5 million and the F-35C, designed for carrier operations, drops 11.1% to 107.7 million. The F-35 JSF fighter program is considered to be the most expensive procurement program in history and is expected to cost $1.5 trillion over its projected 55-year lifetime. Production of the aircraft started this year and deliveries will begin in 2019.
Middle East & Africa
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will receive continued support for the radars used to control its THAAD systems. Raytheon will provide the country with radar sustainment and technical support services as part of this $59.1 million contract modification. This modification brings the total value of the FMS contract to $800 million. THAAD is controlled by Raytheon’s AN/TPY-2 X-Band, phased array, solid-state, long-range air defense radar. For THAAD, targeting information from the TPY-2 is uploaded to the missile immediately before launch, and continuously updated in flight via datalinks. The TPY-2 is always deployed with THAAD, but it can also be used independently as part of any ABM (anti ballistic missile) infrastructure. The UAE acquired THAAD in 2011 and uses it alongside the Patriot PAC-3 as a lower-tier ABM-capable complement. Work will be performed in United Arab Emirates and will run from now until September 2020.
The Jordanian armed forces will receive a repaired Integrated Fire Control System (IFCS) from Raytheon. The cost-plus-fixed-fee Foreign Military Sales contract is valued at $8.9 million and is expected to be completed by September 2021. The IFCS upgrade kits will be fitted onto Jordan’s fleet of M60 MBTs. The IFCS is a full director fire control and stabilized synchronized cannon sighting system, which features an advanced forward-looking infrared thermal sight, an eye-safe laser rangefinder, a digital ballistic computer and an improved turret stabilization system. Raytheon already upgraded 180 M60A3 tanks of the armed services of Jordan with the (IFCS), which took the tank to Phoenix level 1 standard. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s facility in Indianapolis.
The French procurement office and the Navy are currently in the process of building a basic frame of reference for France’s future aircraft carrier. Defense News reports that the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) and the Navy have been working on a “reflection for definition studies,” with those studies required to launch the carrier project. The studies will outline the future carrier’s must have capabilities including the embarkment of Rafale fighter jets, its successors and UAVs. A first study was launched on August, examining lessons learned on aircraft carriers in operation and the second study will focus on technology and overall architecture. The overall dossier comprising the two studies is expected to be completed at the end of 2019 or early 2020, and will allow the authorities to decide the capabilities of the ship. Fance has been interested in building another aircraft carrier for many years, however it cancelled its promising PA2/CVF carrier project due to financial constraints back in 2013.
A China Central Television (CCTV) report suggests that China’s newly developed KLJ-7A radar is now fully operational. Developed by the No.14 Research Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, the light active phased array radar will be used to enhance the combat capacity of the FC-1 Xiaolong fighter jet. The KLJ-7A can detect and track multiple targets at ranges in excess of 170km. The report further claims that the radar has a similar performance to the radar used on US-made F-35s. It further states, that the upgraded FC-1 may now have an advantage over the F-16 C/Ds in mid-range aerial confrontations.
As Boeing wins the US T-X competition, Korea Aerospace Industries shares plunge. KAI had partnered with Lockheed Martin to offer the T-50A for the competition set to replace the nearly six-decades-old T-38 Talons. After having lost the bid to Boeing, KAI share plunged by 29.8% to $32. A KAI spokesman told Korea Times that “Boeing’s bidding price was unbeatably low,” but the company will strengthen its presence in overseas plane markets by pitching its multipurpose T-50 to countries in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa.
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