Latest updates[?]: Taiwan is unlikely to take delivery of the Harpoon Coastal Defense System in 2024 after the United States inform the island that Boeing can only start delivery of equipment in 2025, Up Media reported. Also, the delivery of the missiles will only take place in 2026 and Taiwan will also have to purchase communications equipment that was not included in the original Foreign Military Sale package. The news report added that Taipei had requested to buy the RGM-84Q-4 Harpoon Block II+ ER missile but Washington only agreed to sell the RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II. It was also pointed out that the entire purchase, from formulation to approval, took only three months and it was not part of the Navy’s weapon acquisition work plan for 2020. This lead to speculation that the sales contract to Boeing was forced on the Navy.
Harpoon in flight
The sub-sonic, wave-skimming GM-84 Harpoon is the US Navy’s sole anti-shipping missile, with the minor exception of small helicopter-borne AGM-119B Penguin missiles. The Harpoon has been adapted into several variants, and exported to many navies around the world. At present, the Harpoon family includes AGM-84 air, RGM-84 sea/land, and UGM-84 submarine-launched versions. Variants such as the Joint Standoff Land Attack Missiles and the upgraded AGM-84K SLAM – Expanded Response will also be covered in this DID FOCUS Article. It describes the missiles themselves, and covers global contracts involving this family.
The Harpoon family’s best known competitor is the French/MBDA M38/39/40 Exocet, but recent years have witnessed a growing competitive roster at both the subsonic (Israel’s >Gabriel family, Russia’s SS-N-27 Klub family, Saab’s RBS15, Kongsberg’s stealthy NSM, China’s YJ-82/C-802 used by Hezbollah in Lebanon), and supersonic (Russia’s SS-N-22 Sunburn/Moskit, SS-N-26 Yakhont, and some SS-N-27 Klub variants, India’s SS-N-26 derived PJ-10 BrahMos) tiers.
Lockheed Martin won a $38.7 million contract modification, which exercises an option for ordering emerging capabilities and analysis systems engineering to include programmatic and logistics tasks that will analyze the F-35 air system’s ability to meet future operational requirements, investigating cost and weight reduction program options and conducting modeling and simulation activities. Additional assessments may include such efforts as analyzing changes to design life, operational readiness, reliability and air system design and configuration. Work will take place in Fort Worth, Texas. Estimated completion is in December 2021.
The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron recently flew an F-15E carrying six JDAMs on a single side of the fighter to prove a concept for Agile Combat Employment (ACE). The test proves that the Strike Eagle can now carry up to 15 JDAMs, up from nine previously, to a remote location and use those bombs to reload itself or other fighter aircraft. Previously, it took two C-130s to carry the necessary munitions and personnel to a remote location for the loading. And those JDAMs had to be assembled once they arrived. With this new approach, the requirement for onsite bomb building is now longer needed. Only one C-130 will be used instead.
Middle East & Africa
Ten rockets were fired March 3 at a military base in Iraq that hosts US forces, the Defense Department said. Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said the rockets landed at the Ain Ain al-Asad air base. The base, which is located just north of Baghdad, hosts US, Iraqi and coalition troops. No US service members died or sustained injuries in the attack, but a US civilian contractor had a “cardiac episode” while sheltering and died, Kirby added.
Thales UK has won a £98.4 million contract to maintain Short-Range Air Defense (SHORAD) capabilities for the British Army and Royal Marines. The Ministry of Defense says that SHORAD is made up of “High Velocity and Lightweight Multi-role Missile systems that can intercept air threats including fast jets, attack helicopters and unmanned air systems in a matter of seconds”. Thales UK won the initial contract in 2018, helping to modernize and develop the missile systems as part of the Future Air Defense Availability Project (F-ADAPT).
Philippine Defense Undersecretary Raymund Elefante and Indian Ambassador Shambu Kumaran have signed an agreement that will support Manila’s potential purchase of the BrahMos supersonic missile. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who witnessed the signing ceremony, told reporters that the country is buying the BrahMos. The agreement involved the procurement of defense materiel and equipment by the Philippines from India.
Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force will now scramble fighters to intercept Chinese aircraft less frequently and only do so when the planes are threatening to violate the country’s airspace, Kydo News reports. The report says this is in order to reduce the burden on personnel and free up resources in order to conduct more training on the F-35.
Watch: Indian Navy’s Stealth Destroyer Successfully Test Fired BrahMos Supersonic Missile
BAE Systems was awarded a $58 million contract from Boeing. The deal is to start low rate initial production of the F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System for the US Air Force. “The start of EPAWSS production marks a critical milestone and is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our industry team,” said Jerry Wohletz, BAE’s VP/GM of Electronic Combat Solutions, in a press statement. “Our technology is cutting-edge, our factories are world-class, and our people are innovative and mission-focused.” The all-digital system EPAWSS enables pilots to monitor, jam and deceive threats in contested airspace and combines multispectral sensors and countermeasures, industry-leading signal processing, microelectronics, and intelligent algorithms to deliver fully integrated radar warning, situational awareness, geolocation and self-protection capabilities.
The Wasp Class amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge departed Naval Station Norfolk for sea trials Monday, the Navy announced. The crew will test critical systems, operations and personnel requirements needed for deployment. Planned tests include an anchor drop test, a live-fire demonstration using the ship’s close-in weapons system, a small boat recovery evolution, and they will test the aqueous film forming foam fire suppression system.
Middle East & Africa
The Indian Air Force sent six Su-30MKI fighters, two C-17s and one Il-78 aerial tanker to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 3 to participate in exercise Desert Flag. The exercise will take place at Al Dhafra airbase and run till 21st of this month. United States, France, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Bahrain are participating as well.
Rolls-Royce has been awarded funding by the UK Ministry of Defense to further develop and demonstrate the ‘Artificial Chief Engineer’ technology. The tech is essentially an autonomous machinery control system which “allows naval vessels to undertake long endurance missions with less human interaction”. The funding to continue the development, has been awarded under the MoD’s Defense and Security Accelerator ‘Intelligent Ship Phase Two’ programme, which is used to de-risk and evaluate technologies and approaches to enhance the armed forces’ technical advantage.
French company MBDA has been awarded a first contract for Albatros NG, a brand new CAMM-ER based air defense system. According to the company, the first order, from an undisclosed international customer, marks a “further validation of the wide appeal of the CAMM air defense family on the global marketplace and paves the way to further acquisitions by the same customer and other Navies”. The CAMM-ER missile is capable of providing self and local area defense against the evolving airborne threat at ranges exceeding 40km; it will be integrated in the new ground based air defense systems for the Italian Army and Italian Air Force. CAMM family systems have already been delivered to the British Army, to the Royal Navy and to several export nations.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received three new Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters on February 11, the Australian Department of Defense announced in March. The aircraft, which arrived at RAAF Base Williamtown, north of Sydney, after completing a three-day journey from the United States as part of ‘Exercise Lightning Ferry 21-1’, are the first to join the fleet since the F-35A reached initial operational capability in December 2020. The three F-35As had previously been based at Luke Air Force Base in the US state of Arizona, where they were used for pilot training.
Watch: USS Kearsarge – US Navy Amphibious Assault Ship
Lockheed Martin Space won a $128.7 million contract to support the integration of the Trident II (D5) Missile and Reentry Subsystems into the Common Missile Compartment (CMC) for the US/United Kingdom Columbia/Dreadnought Submarine construction programs. The Trident II D-5 is a three-stage, solid propellant, inertially guided FBM with a range of more than 4,000 nautical miles (4,600 statute miles or 7,360 km). Work will take place in Florida, Colorado, California, Utah and Tennessee. Estimated completion date is February 28, 2027.
According to the US Navy, Sailors aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg are among the first to test a stress-mitigation initiative. The Expanded Operational Stress Control, or E-OSC, Program using stress mitigation leveraging techniques with standardized support structures at the command level, according to the Navy. Personnel will be taught to better manage their own stress support their fellow shipmates.
Middle East & Africa
Israel’s Elbit Systems announced that it was awarded an approximately $300 million contract by a country in Asia to provide Hermes 900 unmanned aircraft systems. The contract will be performed over a period of five years. Under the contract, the company will supply its Hermes 900 and associated sub-systems, as well as maintenance and support services. The UAS has now been selected by 12 countries, attesting to its competitive edge that combines technological sophistication, reliability, open architecture and solid growth path, according to Elbit.
A $125 million defense package to Ukraine includes armored patrol boats, radar units and military medical equipment, the Defense Department said on Monday. The funding is part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, planned since 2020 and “conditional on Ukraine’s progress on defense reforms, will provide equipment to support ongoing training programs and operational needs,” a statement in June 2020 from the US Embassy in Kiev said. Another $150 million in supplies will be released when the US State Department certifies that Ukraine has made sufficient progress on key defense reforms this year, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act.
Boeing Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have conducted the maiden flight of the Airpower Teaming System (ATS) loyal wingman aircraft. The maiden sortie involved the unmanned aircraft flying a pre-set course at different speeds and altitudes to assess the design’s flight functionality and performance, says Boeing. A Boeing test pilot monitored the flight from a ground control station at the Woomera test range. “The Loyal Wingman’s first flight is a major step in this long-term, significant project for the air force and Boeing Australia, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the successful test,” said Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts, RAAF head of air force capability.
According to South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA), the assembly of the first prototype of the Korean Fighter eXperimental (KF-X) fighter aircraft is almost complete, with manufacturer Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) set to formally roll out the platform in April. Jung Kwang-sun, head of the KF-X programme at DAPA, said the planned rollout event of the twin-engined multirole fighter will be a “landmark moment” for the country and the aerospace industry.
Watch: Australia’s First Loyal Wingman Completes Maiden Flight
CAE USA-Mission Solutions won a $10.8 million contract modification for the F-15E, F-16 and F-22A contract aircrew training and courseware development contract. The modification is for exercising Option Year Four. The Boeing F-15E dual-role fighter is an advanced long-range interdiction fighter and tactical aircraft. The F-15E is the latest version of the Eagle, a Mach 2.5-class twin-engine fighter. The F-16, the mainstay of the Air Force aerial combat fleet, has been adapted to complete a number of missions, including air-to-air fighting, ground attack and electronic warfare. The F-22A Raptor is an advanced tactical fighter aircraft. Work will be performed at Joint Base (JB) Langley-Eustis, Virginia; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; Shaw AFB, South Carolina; Tyndall AFB, Florida; Nellis AFB, Nevada; Hill AFB, Utah; and Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and is expected to be completed March 31, 2022.
Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture won a $18.6 million contract modification for support services for the Javelin Weapon System. Javelin is a versatile, man-portable, fire-and-forget weapon system. It is an anti-tank guided munition. According to Raytheon, the weapon can be deployed from multiple platforms and used during the day, at night and in any kind of weather. The program has also demonstrated that Javelin can be fired from a remote launcher mounted on an unmanned ground vehicle. Work will take place in Arizona. Estimated completion date is February 28, 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has completed the development of the ground-based Air Defense version of the I-Derby ER (Extended Range) air-to-air missile last month. Rafael’s I-Derby ER missile is a an over 100 km long-range air-to-air missile with a dual-pulse rocket motor and an active radar seeker. Launched from the ground, the I-Derby ER missile doubles the existing missile range, and allows target interception within a range of up to 40 km without a booster, and 80 km with a booster.
B-1 bombers flew the first Bomber Task Force mission since deployment to Norway, the US Air Force said on Friday. The two bombers arrived in Norway early last week. Support aircraft and over 200 Air Force personnel arrived at Orland Air Base, where Norway’s F-35 fleet is also stationed, in the first week of February.
An RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft from Royal Air Force 51 Squadron took part in a major US-led demonstration exercise in Europe with other European NATO Allies. RC-135W Rivet Joint is a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft that can be employed on strategic and tactical missions. Its sensors ‘soak up’ electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems. The aircraft is part of the RAF’s Intelligence Surveillance Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance Force. The Rivet Joint aircraft joined other aircraft from the US Air Force, US Navy, and The Royal Netherlands Air Force to conduct two exercise scenarios.
According to a report, Vietnam strengthened its outposts in the disputed South China Sea with improved fortifications and infrastructure. Emplacements for anti-aircraft and coastal protection programs have been constructed on reclaimed land at West Reef and Sin Cowe Island, in accordance with the report by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, or AMTI, which is a part of the Washington-based Heart for Strategic and Worldwide Research. It reportedly made its assessments based on analysis of satellite imagery in cooperation with Simularity. According to Simularity’s website, its software “automatically analyzes geospatial imagery and data to automatically find and classify unusual changes.”
Watch: Rafael Develops Ground-Based Air Defense Variant of I-Derby ER Missile
Lockheed Martin won an $8.3 million deal to exercise an option for Aegis Combat System Engineering Agent efforts for the design, development, integration, test and delivery of Advanced Capability Build 20. Under this contract, the Aegis Combat System Engineering Agent (CSEA) develops, integrates, tests and delivers computer program baseline Advanced Capability Builds (ACBs) and supports Technology Insertions – a replacement and/or upgrade of combat system computing hardware and associated middleware/firmware. The Aegis CSEA also develops engineering products to support ship integration, supports developmental test/operational test events, develops training and logistics products and provides field technical support for designated Aegis baselines. Work will take place in New Jersey. Estimated completion will be by December 2021.
Sikorsky won a $53.9 million contract modification for four UH-60M aircraft. UH-60 Black Hawk is a multi-mission helicopter developed by Sikorsky that has been operational in the US Army since 1978. The export version of the UH-60 Black Hawk is designated as S-70A. The primary mission of the Black Hawk helicopter is as a troop carrier and logistical support aircraft, but the helicopter can also be configured to carry out medical evacuation, command-and-control, search-and-rescue, armed escort, electronic warfare and executive transport missions. Work will take place in Connecticut. Estimated completion date is June 30, 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Leidos won a $10 million modification for Class V munitions supply support for all ammunition stocks accounted for by 1st Sustainment Command. Class V munitions supply includes ammunition of all types, bombs, explosives, mines, fuses, detonators, pyrotechnics, missiles, rockets, propellants, and associated items.
An Irish Air Corps PC-9 suffered an in-flight engine failure on February 26 during a training mission in the afternoon. The instructor was able to glide the aircraft for 30km to make a safe landing at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel. The two-person PC-9 aircraft was conducting a training mission when its single engine gave out some 30km from Baldonnel. The pilots were unharmed aside from being “slightly shaken”, said a military source.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) says its Sentinel R1 aircraft has carried out the last operational flight from RAF Waddington. The aircraft, which has an Airborne Stand-off Radar (ASTOR) from Raytheon, has been in service for 14 years. The aircraft first saw service during Operation HERRICK in 2008. Five aircraft were acquired and V (AC) Squadron was reformed to operate the aircraft.
Textron recently delivered a Beechcraft King Air 350i aircraft equipped with multiple special mission modifications to Japcon Incorporated. The aircraft is destined for the Japan Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF). The aircraft has a removable, belly-mounted Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) installation, devices for video transmission and infrared night-vision. Textron says the plane will be operated by the Renraku Teisatsu Hikotai, a JGSDF Communication and Reconnaissance Squadron, based at Kisarazu Airfield in the Chiba Prefecture.
Watch: RAF Sentinel Surveillance Aircraft Retired This Week