The Brazilian Air Force achieved a major milestone in the effort to modernize its air combat capability with the beginning of the delivery phase of Saab F-39E Gripen multimission fighters. The first six series-produced Gripen E aircraft have left the factory to begin the delivery phase. The aircraft were unveiled on Wednesday, November 24 at Saab’s facilities. The aircraft for the Brazilian Air Force will arrive in Brazil by sea at the port of Navegantes in the middle of December.
Boeing won a $212.6 million contract modification for six MH47-G renew rotary wing aircraft and eight spare shipsets in support of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The Boeing MH-47G belongs to the family of CH-47 Chinook multi-role heavy lift helicopters. The FY2022 budget request for USSOCOM sees the procurement of an extra MH-47G for $135.48 million, bringing its total aircraft inventory to 68. Work will take place in Ridley Park.
Middle East & Africa
Iran’s Navy Commander Rear Admiral Shahram Irani claimed that Russia and China have indicated their readiness to hold joint naval maneuvers with Iran. “We have invited different countries to take part in the drills, and Russia and China have so far voiced their readiness to do so,” Irani said. The three countries staged a four-day joint maritime exercise dubbed ‘Marine Security Belt’ in the Indian Ocean and the Sea of Oman area in December 2019.
Naval Group announced the creation of the Mine CounterMeasures R&D center within its subsidiary, Naval Group Belgium last week. According to the company, the center will work jointly with Belgian partners in a collaborative laboratory called the MCM Lab. Coordinated by Naval Group Belgium, the MCM Lab was launched on November 25 with a first official meeting and the exchange of the signed convention
The French armament procurement agency took delivery of first two new generation landing craft known as EDA-S last week. The craft, Arbalette and Arquebuse, were ordered back in 2019 from the company CNIM for the benefit of the French Navy and the Army. Deliveries of the next twelve EDA-S will run until 2025, the French defense ministry announced. The EDA-S program is part of the renewal of the military’s capabilities included in the 2019-2025 Military Programming Law (LPM) carried by the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
China’s Yunzhou Tech has developed an unmanned high-speed vessel that has achieved a breakthrough in its dynamic cooperative confrontation technology, which could quickly intercept, encircle and expel invasive targets. Compared with manned vessels, ship drones have the advantages of low cost, multiple functions, strong scalability, high mobility and long duration.
Watch: Brazil Receives Series-production F-39 Gripen Fighters…
As a neutral country with a long history of providing for its own defense against all comers, Sweden also has a long tradition of building excellent high-performance fighters with a distinctive look. From the long-serving Saab-35 Draken (“Dragon,” 1955-2005) to the Mach 2, canard-winged Saab-37 Viggen (“Thunderbolt,” 1971-2005), Swedish fighters have stressed short-field launch from dispersed/improvised air fields, world-class performance, and leading-edge design. This record of consistent project success is nothing short of amazing, especially for a country whose population over this period has ranged from 7-9 million people.
This is DID’s FOCUS Article for background, news, and contract awards related to the JAS-39 Gripen (“Griffon”), a canard-winged successor to the Viggen and one of the world’s first 4+ generation fighters. Gripen remains the only lightweight 4+ generation fighter type in service, its performance and operational economics are both world-class, and it has become one of the most recognized fighter aircraft on the planet. Unfortunately for its builders, that recognition has come from its appearance in Saab and Volvo TV commercials, rather than from hoped-for levels of military export success. With its 4+ generation competitors clustered in the $60-120+ million range vs. the Gripen’s claimed $40-60 million, is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Sweden’s lightweight fighter? In 2013 a win in Brazil started to answer that question.
Latest updates[?]: Boeing won a $212.6 million contract modification for six MH47-G renew rotary wing aircraft and eight spare shipsets in support of US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). The Boeing MH-47G belongs to the family of CH-47 Chinook multi-role heavy lift helicopters. The FY2022 budget request for USSOCOM sees the procurement of an extra MH-47G for $135.48 million, bringing its total aircraft inventory to 68. Work will take place in Ridley Park.
CH-47Fs take off
DII FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record; this FOCUS Article covers the CH-47F/MH-47G Chinook helicopter programs, in the USA and abroad. These helicopters’ distinctive “flying banana” twin-rotor design stems from the brilliant work of aviation pioneer Frank Piasecki. It gives Chinooks the ability to adjust their positioning very precisely, while carrying a large airframe whose load capacity has made it the world’s most popular heavy-lift helicopter. The USA expects to be operating Chinooks in their heavy-lift role past 2030.
The CH-47F looks similar to earlier models, but offers a wide range of improvements in almost every aspect of design and performance. While the related HH-47’s $10-15 billion CSAR-X program win was terminated, delivery orders continue for CH-47Fs and for MH-47G Special Forces configuration helicopters. International orders or formal requests have also come in from Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the UAE, with India and other countries expected to follow.
According to Bloomberg News, a Pentagon testing report dated September 28 for the VH-92A Marine One helicopter says the helicopter is not effective for “contingency operation mission,” which means the rotor craft cannot be used during an emergency. For administrative missions, the helicopter is still operational effective, the internal memo said.
The Canadian government informed Boeing that its Super Hornet does not meet the country’s requirements for the fighter competition to replace the F/A-18 legacy Hornet. Three anonymous sources said that the American aerospace company was informed of the decision on November 24.
Middle East & Africa
NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian current task group arrived at the port city of Haifa in northern Israel under a Greek-led flagship for a joint exercise with the Israeli navy. Navyrecognition reported that Hellenic Navy frigate HS Spetsai and Bulgarian Navy frigate Drazki paid a visit to Haifa during their focused patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. For the fourth consecutive year, NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian (OSG) held exercises with the Israeli Navy to develop interoperability and to reinforce its cooperation around maritime security.
Russia has been testing a fly-by-wire flight control system on the MiG-31, it was disclosed during Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko visit to the Sokol aviation plant. The interceptor will also be getting a new canopy that will allow it to reach higher speeds. The current canopy will start melting at high Mach numbers. The plant will also replace all wiring and rubber parts during the modernization of the fighter.
Croatian Republic placed an order for a dozen Rafale fighters previously operated by the French Air Force to replace its aging MiG-21s. The selection of the Rafale by Croatia was first announced on May 28. Two contracts for the acquisition of Rafales and associated logistics support were signed at a ceremony held on November 25 in Zagreb. The ceremony was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of the Croatian Republic Andrej Plenkovi?, French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly and CEO of Dassault Aviation Eric Trappier.
Turkish Aerospace Industries will hand over the first batch of T-129 Tactical Reconnaissance and Attack Helicopter (ATAK) to the Philippines next month. Manila has six T-129s on order. These rotorcraft were purchased for a total contract price of $270 million from TAI through a government-to-government mode of procurement under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana signed the contract for the acquisition of the Turkish attack helicopters in July last year.
Latest updates[?]: According to Bloomberg News, a Pentagon testing report dated September 28 for the VH-92A Marine One helicopter says the helicopter is not effective for “contingency operation mission,” which means the rotor craft cannot be used during an emergency. For administrative missions, the helicopter is still operational effective, the internal memo said.
In January 2005, the U.S. Navy selected the US101 as the new “Marine One” baseline helicopter, for use by the President of the United States. The US101 is an American variant of AgustaWestland’s successful AW101 multi-mission medium helicopter; it beat out Sikorsky’s S-92 Superhawk, which is already in use as a government VIP transport in countries like South Korea.
That $1.7 billion victory was first endangered, and then destroyed, by ongoing changes from the White House staff. In 2008, the program’s ballooning costs and requirements got a temporary reprieve when US Navy agreed to proceed with the VH-71, despite a cost per aircraft equal or greater than the President’s Air Force One 747s. By June 2009, however, the VH-71 program had shot itself down.
Another round of competition is on the way, and back in 2009 the Pentagon said it was considering buying 2 different helicopters in the VXX follow-on program. Faced with an initial Analysis of Alternatives deemed too expensive, the OSD accepted the Navy’s revised approach in May 2012, setting things in motion for a new program of record.
Huntington Ingalls won an $18 million contract modification for the advance planning requirements to support the refueling complex overhaul of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) is the eighth Nimitz class aircraft carrier in service with the United States Navy. She was launched on September 7, 1996 by Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia, and commissioned on July 25, 1998. Work will take place in Virginia. Estimated completion is in November 2022.
Sikorsky won a $31.2 million modification, which exercises an option to provide non-recurring engineering to include, investigation, systems engineering support, risk analysis and integration development in support of the Data Transfer Unit and Defensive Electronic Countermeasure System replacement within the CH-53K Super Stallion production aircraft. The Super Stallion can be fielded from amphibious assault ships for the transportation of personnel and equipment. It will also be used to carry external cargo loads. The aircraft can be operated from austere and remote forward operating bases. Work will take place in Connecticut, Maryland, Iowa, Texas, Florida and Vermont. Estimated completion will be in March 2025.
Middle East & Africa
Boeing won a $16.3 million modification for GOLDesp enterprise resource planning, Delta support equipment sustainment and survival radios sustainment in support of the 36 F-15QA aircraft. Work will be performed in Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and is expected to be completed by November 30, 2024. Qatar signed a deal to buy 36 F-15QAs in June 2017, and in April 2020 the first jet took its maiden flight.
PZL Mielec, a Lockheed Martin company will build components and assemblies for the latest generation F-16 Block 70/72 starting next year. This will sustain around 200 jobs, with approximately 60 new jobs being created. This development marks a significant new milestone for PZL Mielec, which was last involved in the production of fighter aircraft in the 1960s, Lockheed Martin said in a release today.
MBDA Germany signed an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to cooperate in the field of ground-based air defense system. Under the agreement, which was announced on November 24 at the Berlin Security Conference 2021, both companies will explore offering joint solutions in accordance with the needs of the German armed forces.
The Philippine Air Force will have six T129 attack helicopters in the country next month. This was disclosed by Philippine Air Force (PAF) commander Lt. Gen. Allen Paredes. The T129 is a twin-engine, tandem seat, multi-role, all-weather attack helicopter based on the Agusta A129 Mangusta platform and is designed for advanced attack and reconnaissance missions in hot and high environments and rough geography in both day and night conditions.
Watch: The Philippines to deploy T129 ATAK Helicopter at Trojans
Rolls-Royce won a $23.3 million deal, which provides for the depot repair of T56-A-427A engines installed on E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft for the Navy. The Allison T56 is a single shaft, modular design military turboprop with a 14-stage axial flow compressor driven by a four-stage turbine. The E-2D is a twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Work will take place in Texas, Canada and Indiana. Estimated completion date is in November 2022.
The MQ-25 has been undergoing ground testing at Naval Station Norfolk as the unmanned aircraft prepares to embark on board an aircraft carrier next month. The MQ-25 Stingray introduces unmanned aerial refueling and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the air wing that will extend the range, operational capacity and lethality of the Carrier Air Wing and Carrier Strike Group.
Italy’s Air Force Chief of Staff told members of parliamentary defense committees that Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and Tempest fighter programs will have to merge into one project eventually. “But it is natural that these two realities will merge into one because investing huge financial resources in two equivalent programs is unthinkable,” Gen. Luca Goretti was quoted as saying. He also explained that Italy joined the Tempest program as it offers a larger share of work compared to the FCAS.
Science Applications International Corp. won a $123.7 million contract for the production of MK 48 Mod 7 heavyweight afterbody/tailcones and warshot fuel tank torpedo equipment and support. The MK 48 heavyweight torpedo is equipped with advanced commercial-off-the-shelf technologies to provide superior reliability and performance against challenging threats in both littoral and blue water environments, and can support multi-band operation. Work will take place in Indiana and Rhode Island. Expected completion date is in July 2025.
South Korea’s National Defense Committee has cut back next year’s defense budget by $375 million. The budget of $12 million for the program to buy new attack helicopters was crossed out. It was reported in April that the defense project promotion committee has approved the purchase of around 36 attack helicopters. The committee also cut $279 million from the budget to buy more airborne early warning aircraft. The project to upgrade the F-35A lost $16.9 million in funding.
Watch: Turkey could become the first country to develop an aircraft carrier specifically designed for drone
Latest updates[?]: Rolls-Royce won a $23.3 million deal, which provides for the depot repair of T56-A-427A engines installed on E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft for the Navy. The Allison T56 is a single shaft, modular design military turboprop with a 14-stage axial flow compressor driven by a four-stage turbine. The E-2D is a twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Work will take place in Texas, Canada and Indiana. Estimated completion date is in November 2022.
Northrop Grumman’s E-2C Hawkeye is a carrier-capable “mini-AWACS” aircraft, designed to give long-range warning of incoming aerial threats. Secondary roles include strike command and control, land and maritime surveillance, search and rescue, communications relay, and even civil air traffic control during emergencies. E-2C Hawkeyes began replacing previous Hawkeye versions in 1973. They fly from USN and French carriers, from land bases in the militaries of Egypt, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan; and in a drug interdiction role for the US Naval Reserve. Over 200 Hawkeyes have been produced.
The $17.5 billion E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program aims to build 75 new aircraft with significant radar, engine, and electronics upgrades in order to deal with a world of stealthier cruise missiles, saturation attacks, and a growing need for ground surveillance as well as aerial scans. It looks a lot like the last generation E-2C Hawkeye 2000 upgrade on the outside – but inside, and even outside to some extent, it’s a whole new aircraft.
Latest updates[?]: The MQ-25 has been undergoing ground testing at Naval Station Norfolk as the unmanned aircraft prepares to embark on board an aircraft carrier next month. The MQ-25 Stingray introduces unmanned aerial refueling and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the air wing that will extend the range, operational capacity and lethality of the Carrier Air Wing and Carrier Strike Group.
UCAS-D/ N-UCAS concept
The idea of UAVs with full stealth and combat capabilities has come a long way, quickly. Air forces around the world are pursuing R&D programs, but in the USA, progress is being led by the US Navy.
Their interest is well-founded. A May 2007 non-partisan report discussed the lengthening reach of ship-killers. Meanwhile, the US Navy’s carrier fleet sees its strike range shrinking to 1950s distances, and prepares for a future with fewer carrier air wings than operational carriers. Could UCAV/UCAS vehicles with longer ranges, and indefinite flight time limits via aerial refueling, solve these problems? Some people in the Navy seem to think that they might. Hence UCAS-D/ N-UCAS, which received a major push in the FY 2010 defense review. Now, Northrop Grumman is improving its X-47 UCAS-D under contract, even as emerging privately-developed options expand the Navy’s future choices as it works on its new RFP.
The Mk-48 is the standard heavyweight torpedo used by the US military, and is mounted primarily on submarines. Surface ships use the smaller Mk46 or Mk50. The Mk-54, in contrast, stemmed from the need for a smaller, lighter, and cost effective advanced torpedo – one that could be dropped from helicopters, planes, and smaller ships. In recent years, the US has moved to modernize and maintain its Mk-48 inventory; the Mk-54 also requires servicing and spares.
Many of these contracts were issued under a total enterprise partnership between Raytheon and the US Navy called Team Torpedo, dedicated to meeting the needs of U.S. and allied naval fleets. Team Torpedo combines Raytheon’s manufacturing, design engineering, and support services expertise with the systems engineering and testing capabilities of Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) operations in Newport, RI, and Keyport, WA. Now, a new provider has entered the picture. DID has the complete set of contracts below… plus more details regarding the torpedoes involved, and the answer to the question “what the heck is CBASS standard”?