Latest updates[?]: General Dynamics Electric Boat Corp. won a $2.4 million contract modification to exercise an option for the construction of one Block V Virginia Class submarine with Virginia Payload Module. Electric Boat Corp. will continue to subcontract with Huntington Ingalls Industries – Newport News Shipbuilding. The Virginia-class is a nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarines (NSSN New SSN), currently in service in the United States Navy. Designed by General Dynamics's Electric Boat (EB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries. The US Navy has been procuring Virginia (SSN-774) class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) since FY1998, and a total of 34 have been procured through FY2021 (FY Fiscal Year). Since FY2011, Virginia-class boats have been procured at a rate of two per year. Contract work will occur in Virginia, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Arizona, Pennsylvania and other areas within and outside the US through February 2030.
Virginia Block I-II
(click for SuperSize)
“GDEB Receives $148M as Virginia Class Lead Yard” described changes to the Virginia Class submarine’s design that are expected to reach 20% of the $200 million savings goal by the time orders for the versatile sea attack/ land attack/ special forces submarines rise to 2 per year, in 2012.
The bow changes cover the FY 2009-2013 ships, referred to as Block III. SSN 774 Virginia – SSN 777 North Carolina are Block I, and SSNs 778-783 will be Block II. Block III begins with the 11th ship of class, SSN 784. Long lead time component orders began May 22/08, and the submarine is expected to be ready for delivery around 2015. A fuller explanation of Block III’s extensive bow changes, and an accompanying graphic, may be found below – along with contract updates that include additional improvements and sonar development.
The USA’s electronic attack fighters are a unique, overworked, and nearly obsolete capability. With the retirement of the US Air Force’s long-range EF-111 Raven “Spark ‘Vark,” the aging 4-seat EA-6B Prowlers became the USA’s only remaining fighter for radar jamming, communications jamming and information operations like signals interception . Despite their age and performance limits, they’ve been predictably busy on the front lines, used for everything from escorting strike aircraft against heavily defended targets, to disrupting enemy IED land mine attacks by jamming all radio signals in an area.
All airframes have lifespan limits, however, and the EA-6B is no exception. The USA’s new electronic warfare aircraft will be based on Boeing’s 2-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighter, and has 90% commonality with its counterpart. That will give it decent self-defense capabilities, as well as electronic attack potential. At present, however, the EA-18G is slated to be the only dedicated electronic warfare aircraft in the USA’s future force.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This article describes the EA-18G aircraft and its key systems, outlining the program, and keeping track of ongoing developments, contracts, etc. that affect the program.
Latest updates[?]: Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) completed a series of successful live-fire tests of the Barak air defense system. The tests were carried out to evaluate the system’s capability to deal with a range of scenarios and threats, including the interception of a ballistic target by the Barak ER (extended range) interceptor. The Barak ER missile, part of the Barak family of interceptors developed by IAI, is capable of intercepting ballistic and non-ballistic threats at a range of 150 kilometers. The extended range is made possible in part by adjusting the interceptor and the missile system's MMR radar to a 150 km range, according to the company.
Over a development timeline measured in decades, India’s indigenous “Akash” and “Trishul” programs for surface to air missiles have failed to inspire full confidence. Trishul was eventually canceled entirely. Akash had a a long, difficult development period, but seems to have found customer acceptance and a solid niche in the rugged terrain of the northeast. India still needed longer-range advanced SAMs to equip its navy and army, however, and decided to try to duplicate the success of the partnership model that had fielded the excellent Indo-Russian PJ-10 BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
In February 2006, therefore, Israel and India signed a joint development agreement to create a new Barak-NG medium shipborne air defense missile, as an evolution of the Barak-1 system in service with both navies. In July 2007 the counterpart MR-SAM project began moving forward, aiming to develop a medium range SAM for use with India’s land forces. Both missiles would now be called Barak-8. In between, “India to Buy Israeli “SPYDER” Mobile Air Defense System” covered India’s move to begin buying mobile, short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems for its army, based on the Python and Derby air-to-air missiles in service with its air force and naval aircraft. These projects offer India a way forward to address its critical air defense weaknesses, and upgrade “protection of vital and strategic ground assets and area air defence.” This DID FOCUS article will cover the Barak-8 and closely related programs in India, Israel, and beyond.
Latest updates[?]: Two F-5Es had a mid-air collision off Taiwan’s Pingtung County at around 15:06 local time on March 22. The crash on Monday was the third such incident in the past half-year, at a time when the island’s armed forces are having to intercept Chinese aircraft on an almost daily basis. One of the pilots was found unconscious in the sea but could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Rescuers were still searching for the remaining pilot.
Top Gun, redux
In the 1980s movie Top Gun, the revolutionary “MiG-28s” operated by the enemy air force were actually painted F-5E Tiger IIs, derived from a family of fighters whose design concept dates back to the mid 1950s. The F-5 family of aircraft were produced in large numbers, as they were an extremely popular export item. Many are still operated by countries around the world, and the US Air Force used them for many years as “aggressor” aircraft in Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT). They remain excellent for simulating similarly small, low profile adversaries like the MiG-21s and MiG-19s that gave American pilots such trouble over Vietnam. Or the IAF MiG-21s that caused trouble in the 2004 – 2005 COPE India exercises, for that matter.
“F-5Ns” are still routinely flown by American Navy and Marines adversary squadrons in training exercises, where they simulate small, low-cross-section (and hence hard to spot) enemies. Keeping them in service requires maintenance contracts – and some timely help from the Swiss also came in handy. This article covers a multi-year maintenance & support contract from 2008 – 2014, as a representative time period.
The US Air Force has decided to add an active duty component to the 168th Air Refueling Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base. The move will add four additional KC-135s and up to 220 additional active duty personnel. This will make the squadron a total force unit as it increases the total KC-135 aircraft to 12. The personnel will be reassigned from within the Air Force.
F-35A, AF-1, has successfully carried out the in-flight release of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) over at Edwards Air Force Base last month. Forsvarsmateriell, the Norwegian Defense Material Agency, was responsible for conducting successful test drops of the JSM missile from the F-35A in the desert at Edwards Air Force Base in California in February. Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace (KDA) is developing the JSM. The testing took place as part of the programme to integrate the JSM into the F-35, under the JPO (Joint Program Office) which is responsible for the F-35 cooperation programme, and is carried out in close cooperation with US authorities.
Middle East & Africa
According to Israel Defense, Israeli company Mobius Protection Systems, which specializes in the design, development and manufacturing of life-saving, energy-absorbing systems for military vehicles, announced that earlier this year it received another order from the IDF to supply its seats for the new Ofek armored personnel carrier.
The Israeli heavy APC is based on the chassis of the Merkava Mk.2 and Merkava Mk. 3 main battle tanks.
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower arrived in Souda, Crete on March 20 and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will board the ship on March 23. The vessel approached pier K14 with the help of four tug boats at about 11 a.m. According to press reports, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is expected to visit the US aircraft carrier on Tuesday.
The US Department of Defense announced an $11.4 million contract to Foster-Miller for MK 2 Man Transportable Robotic System series systems and Talon systems to Australia.The services under this contract cover the production of systems, depot level repair parts, initial spares kits, consumables, repair parts and approved accessories. The MTRS provides a stand-off capability to locate, identify and clear landmines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices. It can also be equipped with chemical or biological weapons sensors as a scanning device. It is controlled by a remote handheld device and can be integrated with several platforms, allowing commanders to coordinate a larger search for threats.
The Republic of Korea has decided to buy a batch of US-made AGM-114R multi-purpose Hellfire II missiles. The US military’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a press release on March 19, 2021, that announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Republic of Korea of AGM-114R Hellfire missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $36 million. The potential sales, announced on the website of the DSCA, involve hundred eighty-eight AGM-114R Hellfire missiles. Also included are AGM-114R spare parts; US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; repair and return; storage; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
Watch: Know Your Aircraft: The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker
Latest updates[?]: The Republic of Korea has decided to buy a batch of US-made AGM-114R multi-purpose Hellfire II missiles. The US military’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency issued a press release on March 19, 2021, that announced that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Republic of Korea of AGM-114R Hellfire missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $36 million. The potential sales, announced on the website of the DSCA, involve hundred eighty-eight AGM-114R Hellfire missiles. Also included are AGM-114R spare parts; US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; repair and return; storage; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
Latest updates: New 2011-2014 contract; Long-lead buy for AGM-114Rs under previous contract.
Hellfire II cutaway
Hellfire I/II missiles are the USA’s preferred aerial anti-armor missile, and are widely deployed with America’s allies. All use semi-active laser guidance as their base mode. They equip its helicopter fleets (AH-64, AH-1, OH-58D, MH-60S/R), AH-64 and S-70 helicopters flown by its allies, and even Australia and France’s Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Range is officially listed as 9,000 meters, or about 5.6 miles.
While Hellfires lack the fast-jet launch capabilities – and correspondingly extended maximum range – of the UK’s MBDA Brimstone missiles, Lockheed Martin’s missile has carved out unique niches as tripod-launched coastal defense assets in Norway and Sweden, and as the guided missile integrated into American UAVs like the MQ-1 Predator family. This article covers the current set of contracts, which began in 2008:
Northrop Grumman won an $11.4 million contract modification for the exercise of Options Two, Three and Four of the Minuteman III Launch Control Center Block Upgrade production program. The LGM-30G Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, is an element of the nation’s strategic deterrent forces under the control of the Air Force Global Strike Command. Work will take place in Utah. Estimated completion date is July 17, 2023.
The US Marine Corps is now able to download data from an airborne RQ-4 unmanned aerial vehicle after verifying the capability during a field exercise held at Bouge, North Carolina last month. The 2nd Intelligence Battalion of the II Marine Expeditionary Force overcame a hardware failure to obtain the information in a communications denied or degraded environment.
Middle East & Africa
Textron Aviation Defense LLC won a $12.5 million for the Iraq Air Force Peace Dragon Program. This modification adds the six months to Option Year Three of the multi-year basic contract. Work will take place in Wichita, Kansas and is expected to be completed March 31, 2021. The modification involves Foreign Military Sales to Iraq.
The Italian Navy is replacing its Teseo or OTOMAT Mk2/A anti-ship missile with a new design designated as Teseo Mk2/E. This new missile is also capable of attacking land targets and the Italian Navy will Mk2/A version onboard FREMM and Horizon class frigates with the Mk2/E. The new multi-purpose Offshore Patrol Vessels being build will be armed with this missile.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on March 16 that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Norway of Javelin FGM-148 Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $36 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on March 16. The Government of Norway has requested to buy 120 Javelin FGM-148 missiles, and 2 Javelin FGM-148 Missiles Fly to Buy. Also included are 24 Javelin Block 1 Command Launch Units (CLUs) retrofit kits; spare parts; publications and technical documentation; personnel training; US Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated total cost is $36 million.
Taiwan is preparing to induct the F-16V into service with a ceremony later this month. The event will invite President Tsai Ing-wen as guest-of-honor. The ceremony will be held at Chiayi air base and so far, the base has more than 22 F-16Vs.
Watch: Here Comes the F-16V (Thanks to F-35 & F-22 DNA)
Latest updates[?]: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced on March 16 that the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Norway of Javelin FGM-148 Missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $36 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on March 16. The Government of Norway has requested to buy 120 Javelin FGM-148 missiles, and 2 Javelin FGM-148 Missiles Fly to Buy. Also included are 24 Javelin Block 1 Command Launch Units (CLUs) retrofit kits; spare parts; publications and technical documentation; personnel training; US Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated total cost is $36 million.
The FGM-148 Javelin missile system aimed to solve 2 key problems experienced by American forces. One was a series of disastrous experiences in Vietnam, trying to use 66mm M72 LAW rockets against old Soviet tanks. A number of replacement options like the Mk 153 SMAW and the AT4/M136 spun out of that effort in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until electronics had miniaturized for several more cycles that it became possible to solve the next big problem: the need for soldiers to remain exposed to enemy fire while guiding anti-tank missiles to their targets.
Javelin solves both of those problems at once, offering a heavy fire-and-forget missile that will reliably destroy any enemy armored vehicle, and many fortifications as well. While armored threats are less pressing these days, the need to destroy fortified outposts and rooms in buildings remains. Indeed, one of the lessons from both sides of the 2006 war in Lebanon has been the infantry’s use of guided missiles as a form of precision artillery fire. Javelin isn’t an ideal candidate for that latter role, due to its high cost-per-unit; nevertheless, it has often been used this way. Its performance in Iraq has revealed a clear niche on both low and high intensity battlefields, and led to rising popularity with American and international clients.
Sikorsky Aircraft won a $9.8 million order, which provides for modifications and updates to the CH-53K 2F243-1 Containerized Flight Training Device. Additionally, this order provides flight test data analysis required to update and validate the CH-53K flight model with available flight test data; produces materials focused on pilot and aircrew conversion courseware and maintainer conversion courseware; and trains the schoolhouse instructors at the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Marine Unit, New River, North Carolina; and Marine Heavy Helicopter Training Squadron 302, in order to support initial operational capability. Work will take place in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Connecticut and New York. Estimated completion will be in September 2022.
According to a strategy the services released on March 16, the Navy and the Marine Corps plan to build a digital infrastructure to integrate drone capabilities. In addition to drone-specific infrastructure plans, the 40-page Unmanned Campaign Plan includes plans to incentivize rapid development and testing of unmanned systems and advance manned-unmanned teaming effects across naval and joint operations.
Middle East & Africa
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Israel Missile Defense Organization in the Israeli Ministry of Defense have successfully completed the third series of tests of the Iron Dome system over the last few months, demonstrating a significant upgrade of the system’s technological capabilities. During the tests, the Iron Dome operated successfully in a range of complex scenarios and intercepted and destroyed targets that simulated existing and emerging threats, including the simultaneous interception of multiple UAVs, as well as a salvo of rockets and missiles.
The US State Department approved two Foreign Military Sales to the Netherlands. The first deal is for CH-47 Pilot Training and Logistics Support and related equipment for an estimated cost of $125 million. The Government of the Netherlands has requested support for the Royal Netherlands Air Force CH-47 training program, to include fuel; base operating support; facilities; publications and technical documentation; pilot training; personnel training and training equipment; weapon system and software support; US Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics personnel services; and other related elements of logistical and program support. The second FMS is for AH-64 Pilot Training and Logistics Support and related equipment for an estimated cost of $190 million. The Government of the Netherlands has requested support for the Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64 training program, to include fuel; base operating support; facilities; publications and technical documentation; pilot training; AH-64D to AH-64E conversion training support; personnel training and training equipment; weapon system and software support; US Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics personnel services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.
The US State Department approved a Foreign Military Sale to North Macedonia for Stryker Vehicles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $210 million. The Government of North Macedonia has requested the possible sale of fifty-four (54) Stryker Vehicles, to include M1126 Infantry Carrier Vehicles (ICV), M1130 Command Vehicles (CV), and M1129 Mortar Carrier Vehicles (MCV). Also included are Also included are M2A1 .50 cal machine guns; M6 Smoke Grenade launchers and associated spares; Harris radios; Common Remote Operated Weapons Station (CROWS); Defense Advanced GPS Receiver; AN/VAS-5 Driver’s Vision Enhancer; spare parts and components; special tools and test equipment; publications and technical manuals; training; field service representatives; US Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistical support services, and other related elements of program and logistical support.
The government has advised the parliamentary standing committee on data know-how that it has the leading edge know-how, commonplace working procedures and processes to sort out any cyber-attack that will come India’s manner. Appearing earlier than the Shashi Tharoor-led House panel on Tuesday, IT secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney advised the committee that India has sturdy cyber safety mechanisms in place and that it’s properly ready to counter and quell any assaults.
Watch: Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion is The Most Powerful Helicopter America
On August 16, 2011, Rafael and Raytheon announced a partnership to market the Iron Dome system in the United States. This rocket interception system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has an all-weather range of up to 70 km (43.5 miles). To make the system mobile, the detection/tracking radar and battle management/control parts of the system are carried on trucks, while the missile firing unit is mounted on a trailer.