Latest updates[?]: The US Army Contracting Command awarded Textron Systems with a $7.1 million contract modification for contractor logistics support of the One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) for Australia. The OSRVT delivers dismounted troops full-motion video and telemetry from the aircraft’s payload, just as it can be seen from the ground control station. It is able to receive information from a very wide range of UAVs and sources. The modification is part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, Maryland and is expected to be completed by May 7 this year.
Can the Army create a universal ground control system for UAVs? The ability to use hundreds of comparatively cheap UAVs from different manufacturers has been a blessing to ground forces, who finally have the comprehensive aerial coverage they want. It can also be a curse. If each system has its own unique controller and vehicle – or worse, its own receiver and screen – the result will be chaos.
Enter AAI’s One System ground control offerings, which are a step toward a more universal future. This Spotlight article covers the One System concept, its ongoing development, its current reach, and future technology initiatives and requirements that will affect UAV ground control.
The Navy tapped Lockheed Martin with a $90.4 million contract modification to reduce the cost of the F-35 Lightning II Air System. The modification provides for the identification and execution of cost reduction initiatives. The F-35 single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters are the most expensive airplanes of all time. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said at the end of January that the program had a lot of opportunity for performance improvements. In late 2018 a Defense Department assessment obtained by Bloomberg news prior to its official release revealed that the F-35B is not projected to meet the expected service life of 8,000 fleet hours but could be as low as 2,100 hours. Lockheed Martin will aim to complete the cost reduction efforts by June 2022.
The Navy contracted Q.E.D. Systems with a $11.5 cost modification for third party advanced planning services in support of Navy service combatant ship classes CG 47 and DD G51. Work includes Chief of Naval Operations Availabilities, Continuous Maintenance Availabilities (CMAVs), inactivation CMAVs, sustainment availabilities, modernization and re-commissioning availabilities as well as continuous maintenance and emergent maintenance windows of opportunity. The CG 47 or USS Ticonderoga is a guided missile cruiser and was the first combatant ship to feature the Aegis combat system. This allows the ship to track and engage multiple targets much more effectively than any ship previously. However, the Ticonderoga-class cruisers were becoming too expensive to continue building, and were too difficult to upgrade: In came the DDG 51 or USS Arleigh Burke. The Arleigh Burke uses a slightly downgraded version of the Aegis combat system, which allows for launching, tracking, and evading missiles simultaneously. Work under the modification will take place in Virginia, California and Washington and is scheduled to be completed by February next year.
Raytheon along with the US Navy successfully completed the first test of the USS Gerald R. Ford’s Ship Self Defense System Integrated Combat System. The live fire test successfully engaged an unmanned aerial vehicle target off the coast of California. The USS Gerald R. Ford or CVN-78 are a new class of aircraft carriers. The ship is equipped with two newly-designed reactors and has 250 percent more electrical capacity than previous carriers. The improvements will allow the ship to load weapons and launch aircraft faster than ever before. The Ship Self Defense System processed the cooperative engagement capability data, determined the appropriate engagement ranges, passed launch commands to the missile and scheduled dual band radar support for the engagement, Raytheon said. The test was the first of several planned for the ship this year.
Middle East & Africa
For the first time ever, German military personnel is stationed in Israel as the training of German Heron Turboprop (TP) medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) remotely piloted aircraft system crews began at the end of last month. The German Luftwaffe is spending eight weeks learning how to operate the Heron TP in the reconnaissance role. The training of the first six crews follows the current regulations and operational capabilities of the system. The training includes the handling of the system in normal operation as well as in case of an error. Germany will lease five Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicles and four ground stations ordered by Airbus Defence & Space Airborne Solutions from Israel Aerospace Industries. They are adapted for Luftwaffe requirements.
Russia is about to receive 12 Uran-6 defining unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). The Uran-6 is a multi-functional, mine-clearing robot that can be deployed in mine reconnaissance and area clearance operations to detect and remove explosive ordnance as well as anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. The robot was manufactured by JSC 766 UPTK, a subsidiary of Rostec’s Kalashnikov Group, for the Russian Armed Forces. Twelve updated Uran-6 multipurpose mine clearance vehicles will be delivered to the military districts and central units in 2019. The updated Uran-6 maintains the physical dimension of the original model at 4,565 mm long, 2,015 mm wide, and 1,470 mm tall. The vehicle weighs 6 tonnes without its mine clearance subsystems.
China is building four more nuclear aircraft carriers as Beijing is trying to keep up with the US Navy. China currently only has just one carrier in active service – the Liaoning. The US has 10 in operation. America also expects the USS Gerald R. Ford, the biggest carrier in the world, to join its fleet next year. China made it clear it is keen to expand its aircraft carrier battle groups so it can defend its growing overseas interests. Four of at least six aircraft battle groups, China plans to have in service by 2035 will be nuclear-powered, as the country tries to equal the US in naval strength. Each battleship will reportedly be equipped with electromagnetic aircraft catapults similar to those already utilized by the US Navy.
Leonardo is offering to procure a light combat aircraft (LCA) or a fighter lead-in trainer (FLIT) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Jane’s reports. This comes after a recent request for information (RFI) from Malaysia. The procurement is expected to feature an initial 12 LCA/FLIT aircraft for an estimated cost of about $300 million, with an option for another 24 units. It is possible, the requirement will be centered around the M-346FA. The M-346FA fighter attack aircraft can be deployed in ground support roles, including air-to-ground attack, tactical, close air support, counter-insurgency, and interdiction with precision guided munitions. The Royal Malaysian Air Force is planning a future modernization program called „Capability 55“ or „CAP55“.
Watch: Amazing Facts About USS Gerald R Ford CVN 78
The Navy contracted General Dynamics Bath Iron Works a $126.2 million contract for DDG 51 class integrated planning yard services. The DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. The ships were designed to fulfill the strategic land strike role with Tomahawk missiles, antiaircraft warfare role with powerful Aegis radar and surface-to-air missiles, antisubmarine warfare and antisurface warfare. Planning yard services include design, material kitting, logistics, planning and execution. The majority of the Planning Yard services work will be performed in Maine. Bath Iron Works, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, also currently manages post-delivery maintenance and modernization activities for DDG 1000-class ships and LCS-class ships.
The Navy awarded Swiftships LLC a $26.7 million contract modification to build two more Landing Craft, Utility (LCU) vessels. The newly-ordered LCU 1701 and 1702 are the second and third in their class. A contract for the first LCU 1700 was awarded back in April. Landing Craft Utility is a type of boat used by amphibious forces to transport tracked or wheeled vehicles and troops from assault ships to beachheads or piers. LCU 1700 is supposed to replace the existing LCU 1610 class of amphibious landing craft on a one for one base. The 1700 will be a rugged steel craft with a design life of 30 years. It will include a highly reliable and fuel efficient heavy lift platform whose capability will be complementary to the faster air cushion landing craft which have a significantly shorter range, smaller payload capacity, no habitability, and operating hour limitations. Work under the contract modification will take place in Louisiana and is scheduled to be completed by May 2021.
Canadian Commercial Corp. won a $11.4 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract from the Navy to support Navy ship and weapons systems test events like target presentations, planning and conducting of test, and analysis and evaluation of the assigned surface weapons systems during test events. The deal also includes systems engineering and program management support. Canadian Commercial Corp. (CCC) is mandated to facilitate international trade on behalf of the Canadian Industry. The company has two core lines of business: International Commercial Business and Global Defense and Security. CCC supports Canadian companies contracting into the defense sector primarily with the United States and Canadian exporters. Work under the contract is scheduled to be finished by February 2024.
Middle East & Africa
Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems test-launched its SPIKE NLOS air-deployable missile launcher from a Tomcar light buggy. The SPIKE NLOS missile, also know as Tamuz 5 is precision-guided and able to hit a target up to 30km away. It is part of the fifth generation electro-optical SPIKE family, used in 31 countries worldwide. NLOS stands for „Non Line of Sight“ and the NLOS is indeed significantly larger than other SPIKE variants. It weighs 70 kg and uses a fiber optic link similar to other Spike versions, but only out to 8 km, after which it employs a radio data link for command guidance. The Tomcar, which carries the air-deployable missile launcher, weighs 1,350kg and holds up to eight rounds. This technology gives armed forces a low-weight, maneuverable precision element that can be dropped into enemy territory and identify static and mobile targets with high precision and without the use of GPS.
The Russian Armed Forces are about to receive its first Tu-160M modernized strategic bomber in 2021. The Tupolev Tu-160 is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed by the Russian Aerospace and Defense Company Tupolev. It is the largest Mach 2+ supersonic aircraft ever built. For two decades the Tu-160 was the USSR’s, and later Russia’s, only supersonic, nuclear-armed strategic bomber. In the early 2000s, Moscow paid Kazan, a subsidiary of Tupolev, to finish assembly of two incomplete Tu-160 airframes. The Tu-160M will be equipped with advanced on-board defense systems, a modern communications system with enhanced anti-jamming capability and advanced weapons to enhance its combat capabilities. The aircraft will be powered by NK-32 second series engines, which will considerably increase its flight range and duration.
The British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Tornado jets returned home for the last time after almost 40 years in service. The stalwart of Britain’s bomber force since the days of the Cold War carried out its last operational strike on January 26, when a pair of Tornados hit five positions in Syria, all of which were being used by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The last operational sortie by Tornado GR4s was on January 31. Two Tornados flew an uneventful patrol over Syria, recovering safely to base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus after a mission lasting six and a half hours. The weapons capabilities of the soon-to-retire Tornados are now being delivered by RAF Typhoon jets. The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, multirole fighter designed as an air superiority fighter.
The US Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a $11.7 million contract modification in support of the Japanese government. The modification is for non-recurring engineering to incorporate the Multifunctional Information Distribution System/Joint Tactical Radio System into the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. The Multifunctional Information Distribution System/Joint Tactical Radio System is a four-channel radio. It runs the Link 16 waveform and up to three additional communication protocols, including the Airborne Networking Waveform. The system enhances operational effectiveness without consuming more space, weight or power. The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the latest version of the E-2 featuring the new AN/APY-9 radar, radio suite, mission computer, integrated satellite communications, flight management system, and improved T56-A-427A engines. In October 2018 Japan has greenlighted the purchase of nine E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft from the US. Work under the modification will take place within the USA and is expected to be completed in June 2020.
Australia is developing the special forces role of the NH90 or MRH90 transport and assault helicopter, Jane’s reports. The Australian Defense Force began cross-decking the social operations forces role from the Sikorsky S-70A Black Hawk to the MRH90. The NH90 is a medium-sized, twin-engine, multirole helicopter developed in response to NATO requirements for battlefield helos, which would also be capable of being operated in naval environments. It is the first production helicopter to feature fly by wire flight controls. A four-axis autopilot is also integrated with the fly-by-wire system, as are mission and navigation systems to enable greater autonomy during operations and to reduce pilot workload. The flight envelope of the NH90 is capable of all-weather day-and-night operations, ship-borne operations during high sea states, across a temperature range from ?40 °C to +50 °C, and up to a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet. The standing up of the MRH90’s SOF capabilities is part of a wider enhancement of Australia’s special operations helicopter forces.
Watch: RAFAEL’s SPIKE NLOS Air-Deployable Launcher ? Firing Test
Latest updates[?]: The British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) Tornado jets returned home for the last time after almost 40 years in service. The stalwart of Britain’s bomber force since the days of the Cold War carried out its last operational strike on January 26, when a pair of Tornados hit five positions in Syria, all of which were being used by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The last operational sortie by Tornado GR4s was on January 31. Two Tornados flew an uneventful patrol over Syria, recovering safely to base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus after a mission lasting six and a half hours. The weapons capabilities of the soon-to-retire Tornados are now being delivered by RAF Typhoon jets. The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, multirole fighter designed as an air superiority fighter.
The F3s are being pushed aside by the Eurofighters, but the GR4s were expected to remain in place until 2025. A 2007 effort added LITENING surveillance and targeting pods, to improve the aircraft’s close air support capabilities on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now a GBP 253 million (about $496 million) “Capability Upgrade Strategy (Pilot)” program seeks to take the next steps, and is intermeshed with the Tornado fleet’s successful ATTAC fixed-price through-life maintenance program…
The Naval Sea Systems Command Washington awarded Rolls-Royce a $42 million contract modification to procure 20 Marine Turbine (MT7) engines for the Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 100 Class craft in support of the Ship to Shore program. The LCAC-100 is a new class of landing hovercraft being developed by Textron Marine and Land Systems for the U.S. Navy. The craft are to replace the aging LCACs (landing craft, air cushion) in U.S. service. The LCAC 100 will enhance the US amphibious force’s ship-to-shore capacity with a rated load capacity per craft of 74 short tonnes. LCAC-1s have a 60-short tonne-rated payload. The landing craft was originally designated the Ship-to-Shore Connector and is intended to support the rapid movement of Marine expeditionary forces from naval vessels to shore and will be able to tactically deliver personnel and heavy equipment. The LCAC 100 craft consists of four MT7 turbines. The Rolls-Royce MT7 delivers between 4 to 5 MW and shares common core architecture with the AE1107C-Liberty aero engine that powers the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Work under the modification includes production of the MT7 engines and delivery to Textron Marine Systems for assembly, and will take place in Indiana. Completion of the work is expected to be in December 2020.
The Navy tapped Raytheon with a $15.9 million contract modification in support of the Zumwalt Class combat systems program office. The modification includes a provisioned items order of DDG 1000 class mission systems equipment interim spares. The DDG 1000 or USS Zumwalt is the lead ship of the Zumwalt class and a multi-mission surface combatant designed to fulfill volume firepower and precision strike requirements. DDG 1000 has a ‘tumblehome’ hull form, a design in which hull slopes inward from above the waterline. This significantly reduces the radar cross section since such a slope returns a much less defined radar image rather than a more hard-angled hull form.The Zumwalt is equipped with two Advanced Gun Systems, which can fire the Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). LRLAP was originally meant to be one of a range of land attack and ballistic projectiles for the Advanced Gun Systems. However, LRLAP procurement was cancelled in 2016.
The Navy contracted Northrop Grumman $11.3 million for aerial refueling envelope expansion and objective tanker qualification testing in support of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the latest version of the American all-weather, carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning E-2 Hawkeye aircraft. It features a new avionics suite including the new AN/APY-9 radar, radio suite, mission computer, integrated satellite communications, flight management system, improved T56-A-427A engines, a glass cockpit and planned changes are to enable aerial refueling. Work under the deal will be performed in Maryland and Florida and is scheduled to be completed by January 2021.
Middle East & Africa
The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Devision in Maryland contracted Kay and Associates Inc. with a $63 million contract modification to exercise an option for maintenance and support services for F/A-18 C/D and associated equipment in support of the government of Kuwait. Developed by Boeing, the F/A-18 C/D aircraft are the two variants of the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is a twin-engine, supersonic, all weather multirole fighter jet. The Kuwait Air Force ordered 32 F/A-18C and eight F/A-18D Hornets in 1988. However, the country’s F/A-18C/D fleet is supposed to be replaced by a mix of Super Hornets and Typhoons. Kay and Associates provides maintenance and engineering services to industry and government customers. It offers aircraft maintenance, armament, and rotary-wing weapons systems as well as maintenance and production support services for army tactical and non-tactical ground vehicles and support equipment. Work under the contract, which is expected to be completed by January 2020, takes place at the Almed Al-Jaber Air Base, the Kuwaiti Air Force Headquarters, the Air Insitute/Air Defense Base and the Subhan/Air Defense Base.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed deals worth $93 million to provide India with naval Medium Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) systems. The contracts were signed with the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard Limited. The company will supply complementary systems for the Indian Navy’s Barak-8 air- and missile-defense system. The MRSAM system is jointly developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization in close collaboration with IAI’s Elta, Rafael and additional companies in both countries. It is used by Israel’s navy as well as by India’s naval, air and ground forces. Each MRSAM system includes several state-of-the-art systems such as digital radar, a command and control system, tracking radar, interceptors with advanced homing seekers and mobile launcher systems.
The Finnish Ministry of Defense received responses from five manufacturers as part of its its Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet replacement program HX-FP. The program envisages an acquisition of 64 aircraft, with the information packages soliciting information on aircraft, training systems, maintenance tools, testing equipment, weapons, and sensors. HX-FP is valued at $8.03 billion. The Air Force wants to retire its fleet of F/A-18 C/D Hornet jets between 2025 and 2029. Sweden, USA, France and Britain made proposals. The aircraft types covered in the proposals are Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-35, France’s Dassault Rafale, the British-made Eurofighter and the Swedish Saab Gripen. The Saab proposal includes both the single-seat Gripen E and the dual-seat Gripen F versions.
In Russia’s Khabarovsk Region close to the Chinese border, Su-35S fighter jets practiced interception of mock enemy aircraft that violated airspace during the exercise. The pilots trained offensive and defensive maneuvers in a wide range of altitudes and improved their combat skills as part of tactical flight missions. The Sukhoi Su-35 is a single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable aircraft. The introduction of the Su-35S into service with the Russian Air Force is part of Russia’s state armament program for 2011-2020. In January 2016, four of Russia’s Su-35S were deployed for the first time to Syria.
Watch: USS MICHAEL MONSOOR – FULL CAPABILITY ANALYSIS
The Navy awarded Northrop Grumman with a $55.1 million contract modification for the procurement of five Fire Scout MQ-8C unmanned air systems (UAS) and two lightweight fuel cells. The Fire Scout is a next-generation, unmanned air system designed to support land and sea-based military operations. It is meant to perform missions including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cargo resupply, and communications relay. It provides naval forces with extended over-the-horizon intelligence-gathering capability. The MQ-8C Fire Scout’s airframe is based on the commercial Bell 407, a mature helicopter with more than 1,400 airframes produced and over 4 million flight hours. The MQ-8C Fire Scout is an upgrade to the existing “B” variant. With a larger airframe and its ability to autonomously take-off and land on any aviation-capable ship, the “C” can fly nearly twice as long and carry three times more payload than its predecessor. On the contract awarded to Northrop, the company will do the work in California, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, and various other US locations and should be finished by August 2021.
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest contracted RQ Construction Inc. with $41.4 million to design and construct a maintenance hangar in support of the EA-18 Growler aircraft at Naval Air Station in Whidbey, Washington. RQ Construction specializes in design-build projects in federal, public and private markets. The EA-18G Growler is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet and provides tactical jamming and electronic protection to US military forces and allies around the world. The Boeing EA-18G Growler replaced the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler in service with the US Navy. Since 2017 the EA-18Gs are also in service with the Royal Australian Air Force. The Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is the only location where Growler pilots receive training of “touch-and-go” passes that simulate landing on aircraft carriers. The new facility by RQ Construction will provide high-bay space for aircraft maintenance, maintenance shops, and open bay warehouse space for aircraft equipment and administrative spaces. Work will take place in Oak Harbor, Washington, and is expected to be completed by July 2021.
The Navy tapped Nordam Group Inc. with a $7.9 million firm-fixed-priced contract for testing in support of the Super Hornet F/A-18 E-G 11 flight control surfaces. The Super Hornet are twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The F/A-18E Super Hornet is a single seat version of the fighter, while the F/A-18F has two seats in tandem. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system. Work will be performed in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is scheduled to be completed by January 2020.
Middle East & Africa
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center awarded Sallyport Global Holdings a not-to-exceed $375 million contract action to provide base operations support, base life support, and security services in support of the Iraq F-16 program. Sallyport Global provides contingency operation support services to support individuals and business enterprises working in Iraq. The company offers fire and emergency, environmental, power production, protective, operations and maintenance, training, procurement and logistics, and design and constructive services. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine supersonic multirole fighter aircraft developed by General Dynamics. In September 2010, a possible Foreign Military Sale of 18 F-16IQ aircraft with the associated equipment and services to the newly reformed Iraqi Air Force was made public. Last year the Iraqi Air Force announced, that it will receive 13 additional F-16 aircraft in 2019 bringing the fleet to a total of 34 fighters. Work under the current contract will take place in Balad Air Base, Iraq and is scheduled to be finished by end of January, 2020.
British Defense Contractor BAE Systems received a contract by the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) to supply 155mm smoke and illuminating artillery rounds. The deal is valued at $20.9 million. BAE Systems will produce the shell bodies at its UK facility in Washington, England, and assemble the smoke and illuminating artillery rounds into the shells at the Glascoed facility in South Wales. The company will employ the existing Assegai Carrier design developed by German tank manufacturer Rheinmetall for the manufacture of the shell body instead of designing a completely new round. According to BAE Systems, this approach saves time and money. The smoke and illuminating rounds are designed to offer a longer burn duration and intensity. They are utilized in the battlefield for obscuring or lighting during day and night operations.
Lockheed Martin rolled out the first operational F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter for the Netherlands. The aircraft will be temporarily based at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where it will join the USAF’s 308 Fighter Squadron for international training before being transferred to Leeuwarden in the Netherlands this year. The Royal Netherlands Air Force is procuring the F-35A to replace its Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons. With the first of 37 aircraft set to enter operational service at Leeuwarden later in 2019, the type’s second operating station at Volkel is expected to open in 2021. Until now, more than 360 F-35s have been delivered internationally and are now operating from 16 bases worldwide. Ten nations are flying the F-35, seven countries have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil, five services have declared Initial Operating Capability, and two services have announced their F-35s were utilized in combat operations. According to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the F-35 program already generated more than $1 billion in contracts for Netherland’s industry.
Indian President Ram Naht Kovind announced today, that the Indian Air Force is preparing to welcome the Rafale fighter aircraft in its fleet in order of strengthening its strike capabilities. Rafale is a French twin-engine, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation. The aircraft is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The Rafale was one of six aircraft competing in the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition, which was a competition to supply 126 multirole combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force. In 2012 the Indian Air Force announced Rafale as the preferred bidder. However, this sparked a political controversy. The Congress and other opposition parties have been attacking the government over the Rafale deal, alleging corruption and accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of favoritism. The government has denied the allegations.
Watch: High Alert! US Navy Spy Plane Intercepted by Russian Su-27 fighter jet over Baltic Sea