Variants of the SM-2 Standard missile are the USA’s primary fleet defense anti-air weapon, and serve with 13 navies worldwide. The most common variant is the RIM-66K-L/ SM-2 Standard Block IIIB, which entered service in 1998. The Standard family extends far beyond the SM-2 missile, however; several nations still use the SM-1, the SM-3 is rising to international prominence as a missile defense weapon, and the SM-6 program is on track to supplement the SM-2. These missiles are designed to be paired with the AEGIS radar and combat system, but can be employed independently by ships with older or newer radar systems.
This article covers each variant in the Standard missile family, plus several years worth of American and Foreign Military Sales requests and contracts and key events; and offers the budgetary, technical, and geopolitical background that can help put all that in context.
Nammo Defense Systems won a $498 million contract for the full rate production of M72 Light Assault Weapon variants and components for shoulder-launched munitions training systems. The M72 LAW is a portable, one-shot 66mm unguided anti-tank weapon and was adopted by the US Army and Marine Corps as their primary individual infantry anti-tank weapon in 1963, Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Estimated completion date is December 19, 2026.
The US Navy and Boeing have successfully maneuvered the T1 test asset on an aircraft carrier for the first time – an early step forward in ensuring the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler will seamlessly integrate into carrier operations. During a demonstration aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Navy flight deck directors used standard hand signals to direct T1 just like any other carrier-based aircraft. Instead of a pilot receiving the commands, however, it was a Boeing MQ-25 Deck Handling Operator (DHO) who commanded the aircraft using a new handheld deck control device.
Middle East & Africa
A military agreement between Qatar and Turkey could see the Gulf state deploying its Rafale fighters to Turkey. Turkey hopes that this will bring opportunities for its pilots to train on the Qatari Rafales. Lawmaker Gülüstan Kiliç Koçyi?it was quoted as saying that the agreement allows Qatar to deploy the Rafale in Turkey.
Egypt’s purchase of 16 new air defense batteries, including 10 IRIS-T SLX air defense batteries with a range of 80 km and a height of 30 km, and six IRIS-T SLS batteries with a range of up to 12 km will give it an ability to guard against drones, rockets, aircraft and short range missiles. Made by Diehl Defense of Germany, the IRIS-T sale was approved by the previous Angela Merkel government. The two air defense systems will provide it with capability similar to the ‘Iron Dome’ system in neighbouring Israel.
Rolls-Royce won an $8.8 million task order for C-130J MissionCare propulsion support. The modification provides for the exercise of option period one for an additional 12 months of performance under the task order. Work will be performed at locations as indicated by task/delivery order, and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2024.
Lockheed Martin won a $21.7 million deal for P3-C aircraft mission system hardware, as well as obsolescence studies and technical support to maintain the P3-C mission systems for the government of Taiwan. The P-3C Orion land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft is operational in the airforces of ten countries. Work will take place in New York and Florida. Estimated completion will be by December 2026.
Watch: Qatar Emiri Air Force Rafales joining Turkish exercise
Latest updates[?]: The US Navy and Boeing have successfully maneuvered the T1 test asset on an aircraft carrier for the first time – an early step forward in ensuring the MQ-25 unmanned aerial refueler will seamlessly integrate into carrier operations. During a demonstration aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), Navy flight deck directors used standard hand signals to direct T1 just like any other carrier-based aircraft. Instead of a pilot receiving the commands, however, it was a Boeing MQ-25 Deck Handling Operator (DHO) who commanded the aircraft using a new handheld deck control device.
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.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $21.7 million deal for P3-C aircraft mission system hardware, as well as obsolescence studies and technical support to maintain the P3-C mission systems for the government of Taiwan. The P-3C Orion land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft is operational in the airforces of ten countries. Work will take place in New York and Florida. Estimated completion will be by December 2026.
P-3 Orion, armed –
The P-3 Orion remains the USA’s main maritime patrol aircraft, and is also finding use in overland surveillance roles despite the fleet’s age. Earlier DID articles have noted the extra effort required to preserve the USA’s P-3C Orion maritime surveillance & patrol aircraft, along with radar and weapons upgrades to improve the fleet. Lockheed has even opened a new production line, to deal with planes whose wings that are so aged and worn that they need a full replacement.
The SMIP (Sustainment, Modification, and Installation Program) is intensive depot-level inspection and repair process that includes P-3 airframe and component inspection, identification of problems, and corrective maintenance. The idea is to ensure safe and reliable P-3 use, while trying to get more hours out of each airframe in order to sustain dwindling global fleets. More intensive “MIP” efforts may be launched once inspection results become clear, such as the USA’s P-3 recovery plan and full “ASLEP” re-winging efforts underway in Norway and Canada.
The United States Air Force (USAF) tested a current inventory cruise missile armed with a live warhead as part of the Rapid Dragon program to demonstrate the ability to employ weapons using standard airdrop procedures from cargo aircraft. During the test on December 16, a MC-130J flown by an Air Force Special Operations Command operational flight crew, received new targeting data while in flight which was then routed to the cruise missile flight test vehicle (FTV).
Defense and security company Saab inked a contract for multi-role Sea Giraffe AMB naval radar antenna kits, for the upgrade of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigates. The upgrade is based on the customers’ requirement to sustain the service life and enhance the performance of the Halifax-class frigates. The work will be carried out in Halifax, Canada and Gothenburg, Sweden, starting from 2021 and continuing through 2026.
Middle East & Africa
Iran will spend on its Revolutionary Guard next year more than double the amount allocated in 2021, according to a budget bill submitted by President Ebrahim Raisi to parliament on December 12. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps will receive 930 trillion rials or $22 billion.
A Hungarian government official says the country has signed a deal to buy the IRIS-T dogfight missile for its Gripen C/D fleet. The deal is part of the MS20 Block II upgrade program that will keep the Hungarian Gripen fleet relevant for the next 10 years. The IRIS-T allows Hungary’s fighter fleet to regain the off-boresight lock-on capability that it once had with the MiG-29.
BAE Systems won a $24.5 million deal to provide all necessary material and services required for the procurement and support of an ordnance alteration to modify the MK38 MOD3 machine gun system. The deal combines purchases for the Navy and the Republic of the Philippines under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Work will take place in Israel and Kentucky. Estimated completion will be by May 2023.
Japan’s Yomiuri news reports that Tokyo is finalizing its policy on how to jointly develop the jet engine of its F-X fighter with Britain. The article says the government wishes to have a framework on cooperation established before March of next year. Earlier this year, Asahi reported that Britain’s Rolls-Royce will partner with Japan’s IHI Corporation on the program. Both will also offer the engine for the export market.
Watch: Mk-38 Mod 3 Machine Gun System Chain Drive Cannon Live Fire
Latest updates[?]: Defense and security company Saab inked a contract for multi-role Sea Giraffe AMB naval radar antenna kits, for the upgrade of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigates. The upgrade is based on the customers’ requirement to sustain the service life and enhance the performance of the Halifax-class frigates. The work will be carried out in Halifax, Canada and Gothenburg, Sweden, starting from 2021 and continuing through 2026.
Sea Giraffe 1X 3D
Swedish defense giant Saab is to offer its Sea Giraffe 1X 3D, active electronically scanned array (AESA) naval radar to the US market, showcasing it at the Maritime Security East Conference in Norfolk, Virginia this week. At 650 pounds, the radar is suitable for small patrol boats, giving them the ability to detect unmanned aerial vehicles for the first time. With no forced cooling requirements, and a minimal number of line-replaceable units (LRUs), it requires little power or upkeep. All maintenance, including LRU repair, can be performed by low-level trained engineers.
Contracts & Key Events
FY 2017 – 2021
December 21/21: Canada Defense and security company Saab inked a contract for multi-role Sea Giraffe AMB naval radar antenna kits, for the upgrade of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Halifax-class frigates. The upgrade is based on the customers’ requirement to sustain the service life and enhance the performance of the Halifax-class frigates. The work will be carried out in Halifax, Canada and Gothenburg, Sweden, starting from 2021 and continuing through 2026.
August 26/19: Australia Swedish company Saab said in a press release that it has received an order from the Australian Army to extend the support of their Ground Based Air Defense (GBAD) and Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) systems until 2022. Under the contract Saab will provide support for the range of systems forming the GBAD and CRAM solutions, including the Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam (AMB) radars and RBS-70 very short-range air defense weapon system. The contract value is approximately $19.2 million. The contract is intended to ensure the availability of the GBAD and C-RAM systems. The company’s Australian subsidiary upgraded the army’s short-range air defense system with the identification friend or foe Mode 5 standard. The company integrated Giraffe AMB radar into the system and upgraded the missile firing posts and the tactical command and control system.
June 12/19: More Giraffes for the Cutter Saab announced that the US Navy ordered additional Sea Giraffe Multi Mode Radars (MMR) for the Coast Guard’s offshore patrol cutter. Saab initially won a contract that includes multiple line item options for additional Sea Giraffe MMR systems in 2017. The deal also covered manufacturing, inspection, testing and delivery of the radars, which will be deployed on the Coast Guard’s Heritage class offshore patrol cutter. The Sea Giraffe MMR is a three-dimensional, electronically scanned, phased-array radar that offers high-radiated power, selectable waveforms and modern signal processing abilities. Saab’s Sea Giraffe AMB radar, designated AN/SPS-77 in the US, is currently deployed on the US Navy’s Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship. Saab will deliver the Radars between 2020 and 2022 and will carry out work in Syracuse, New York in the US and Gothenburg, Sweden.
April 17/19: Sea Giraffe for new LCS Ships General Dynamics ordered the Sea Giraffe AMB naval radar from Saab for the US Navy. The radar, designated AN/SPS-77 will be installed in the newest Littoral Combat Ships LCS 36 and LCS 38. The ships will be named USS Kingsville (LCS 36) and USS Pierre (LCS 38). The Sea Giraffe AMB is a medium range, multi-role surveillance radar optimized for detecting small air and surface targets with high update rate in all kinds of environments, including the littorals. It will assist the commander in all kind of naval warfare and give the operators maximum time to react to incoming threats. Saab received the first order for a Sea Giraffe AMB for the LCS in 2005. Since that time, Saab has continuously developed the standard Giraffe AMB sensor. Saab will carry out the work in Syracuse, NY in the US and Gothenburg, Sweden.
February 22/19: C-RAM Australia The Australian Army contracted Saab to update the Wireless Audio Visual Emergency System (WAVES) for the counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar (C-RAM) sense-and-warn systems. C-RAM is a set of systems used to detect or destroy rockets, artillery, and mortar round in the air before they hit their ground targets, or provide early warning. Australia’s C-RAM solution is built around the Saab Giraffe Agile Multi-Beam (AMB) radar which is part of a family of ground-based radars that can detect a range of incoming threats, from mortar and artillery rounds and rockets to small drones and fast moving aircraft. The WAVES equipment provides early warning audible and visual alerts when the C-RAM sensors detect and identify an incoming threat within an exclusion zone.
February 19/19: New Missile System with Giraffe Radar Lockheed Martin targets the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the sale of the Falcon Air Defense System. The US defense firm Lockheed Martin and security firms Diehl Defence and Saab unveiled Falcon, a short and medium range air defense system at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX). They hope the UAE will be the first customer. The new missile system was developed in response to a request from the UAE, which seeks to replace Lockheed’s Hawk Air Defense System. The Falcon is designed to counter threats such as unmanned aerial systems carrying lethal payloads, cruise missiles, and fixed and rotary winged aircraft capable of delivering ordnance at extended ranges. The missile integrates Diehl’s 40-kilometer range infra-red imaging system tail and vector-controlled interceptor and vertical launcher, with Saab’s 360-degree Giraffe radar system and Lockheed’s SkyKeeper command and control battle manager.
October 25/18: Hypersonic Detection Mode Saab is introducing a new hypersonic mode to its Sea Giraffe naval radar. The new Hypersonic Detection Mode enables the radar to detect and track targets travelling at hypersonic speeds, a threat that is persistently increasing. As the company notes in its press release, the HDM capability builds on Saab’s next generation track while scan technology, which enables track start within a fraction of a second for any number of targets, including stealthy ones, in all conditions. “The hypersonic threat is credible and increasing. Navies around the world are asking for a capability to retain their dominant battlespace awareness and to give them crucial time to act. We are able to meet these requirements by using our existing technology, adapting it for the hypersonic challenge”, says Anders Carp, head of Saab’s business area Surveillance.
May 23/18: Philippines The Swedish defense contractor Saab announced on its website that it will deliver its Sea Giraffe AMB naval radar system to the Philippines. The system will be provided to the Philippines by the US Navy in a Foreign Military Sales deal. The Sea Giraffe AMB, designated as AN/SPS-77 in the US Navy inventory, is set to be installed on two Philippine Navy frigates. The Sea Giraffe AMB offers 3D, multi-role, medium-range air and surface surveillance. At 650 pounds, the radar is suitable for small patrol boats, giving them the ability to detect unmanned aerial vehicles for the first time. With no forced cooling requirements, and a minimal number of line-replaceable units (LRUs), it requires little power or upkeep. All maintenance, including LRU repair, can be performed by low-level trained engineers.
October 05/17: The US Navy has ordered two Sea Giraffe Agile Multi Beam Multi-Mode Radar systems from Saab for use on the US Coastguard’s newest class of vessels, Offshore Patrol Cutter. Valued at $16.8 million, the agreement includes options for additional radars that if fully exercised, would raise the contract to as much as $118.5 million. Saab added that the deal will will contribute new jobs to SDAS’ Sensor Systems facility in Syracuse, NY. The Sea Giraffe MMR is a 3D, electronically scanned phased array radar that provides high radiated power, selectable waveforms, and modern signal processing. Saab already supplies its AN/SPS-77 radar for the Navy’s Independence-class Littoral Combat Ship and is currently developing a derivative of the radar, the AN/SPN-50, to meet the Air Traffic Control needs on aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships.
L3 Technologies won a $9.5 million deal to develop a Weapon Data Link prototype for the Joint Air Force to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). JASSM is a cruise missile built by Lockheed Martin and designed to counter both fixed and relocatable targets from long ranges. Work will take place in Utah. Estimate completion date is July 1, 2022.
The Pentagon awarded AgustaWestland USA a $159,4 million deal for the production and delivery of 36 TH-73A helicopters Lot III and initial spares in support of the Advanced Helicopter Training System program. The TH-73A is the aircraft portion of the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS). AHTS improves pilot training and skills by using current cockpit technologies and modernized training curriculum that reflect the capabilities in the current Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard inventory. Work will take place in Pennsylvania and Texas. Estimated completion will be in December 2023.
Middle East & Africa
Boeing won a $398 million deal for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Modernization Program, Phase 2. The deal provides for production, training and installation and checkout, in order to keep the RSAF E-3 AWACS fleet interoperable with the US Air Force and functionally viable through its expected end of life in 2040. Work will take place in Oklahoma and Saudi Arabia. Estimated completion date is February 21, 2026.
The final flight of Belgium’s C-130 fleet took place on December 17. Three aircraft were supposed to fly on a three-hour trip across the country but bad weather prevented that from happening. Instead, the three planes went on separate directions with the press on onboard.
The South Korean army has introduced a new 7.62 mm-calibre machine guns, the K-16 to replace K-3 and M60 gun used by its troops earlier. The K-16 gun’s operational range is 30-percent more than that of the K-3 gun and its destructive power is about double that of the K-3, according to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in a release. The military plans to deploy the new rifles to all armed services by 2024.
Northrop Grumman Corporation recently completed a significant milestone in the production of Australia’s first MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) aircraft when the aircraft fuselage was mounted onto Triton’s unique one-piece wing. Once completed and delivered, Triton’s powerful payload and endurance will provide the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with the ability to detect and analyze threats that were previously undetectable.
Watch: Australia’s First MQ-4C Triton Fuselage Joins its Wing
Boeing won an $11.4 million contract modification for the repair of B-52 Control Assembly contract line item numbers 0003 and 0004.The B-52H is the US Air Force’s long-range, large-payload multirole bomber and is known as the Stratofortress or the Buff (short for big ugly fat fellow). Work will take place in Missouri. Estimated completion date is February 28, 2024.
Raytheon won a $15.1 million delivery order for the repair of pod aircraft unit components of the advanced targeting forward-looking infrared radar system in support of the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. The F/A-18 Hornet is an all-weather jet aircraft that is used by the US Navy and Marine Corps as both a fighter and attack platform. Work will take place in England and Texas. Estimated completion will be by May 2025.
Middle East & Africa
On December 14, the United Arab Emirates interrupted talks on a $23 billion deal to buy the USA’s F-35s as well es armed drones and other equipment, in a dispute between Washington and a key US ally in the Persian Gulf. Emirati officials blame an American insistence on restrictions on how and where the F-35s could be used and say they are a violation of the UAE’s sovereignty. The US and UAE inked the deal in January 2021, right at the end of Donald Trump’s tenure and was a part of the former president’s efforts to arm strategic US allies in the middle east. The deal closely followed the “Abraham Accords”. The Accords marked the normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel. The Abraham Accords were signed by the leaders of Bahrain, Israel and the UAE in September 2020.
Bell Textron won a $21.6 million order, which provides engineering and logistics support, to include support for AH-1Z production aircraft and sustainment efforts for UH-1Y and AH-1Z aircraft for the Marine Corps; support for AH-1Z production aircraft for the government of Bahrain; and support for UH-1Y and AH-1Z production aircraft for the government of the Czech Republic. Work will take place in Texas and Maryland. Estimated completion date is in February 2023.
A report from the UK’s Ministry of Defense discusses the progress made on the Dreadnought submarine programme in the last year. The Dreadnought class will carry the UK’s Trident nuclear missiles, replacing the Vanguard class submarines.
India’s Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) received a $315 million order from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the supply of 20 types of airborne electronic systems to be fitted on the LCA Tejas Mk1A fighter aircraft. The order spanning five years from 2023 to 2028 involves supply of critical avionic Line Replaceable Units (LRUs) related to Digital Flight Control Computers, Air Data Computers, Weapon Computers, LRUs related to Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and Head Up Display.
Watch: Essential Geopolitics: Is the UAE-US F 35 Deal Off?
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics won a $9.3 million contract modification, which increases the ceiling to partially definitize fiscal 2021 air vehicle initial spares, to include global spares packages, base spares packages, deployment spares packages, and afloat spares packages in support F-35 Lightning II Air Vehicle deliveries for the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, non-US Department of Defense participants, and Foreign Military Sales customers. Work will take place in Texas. Estimated completion is in December 2021.
Raytheon won a $13.9 million deal to procure contractor logistics support maintainers and engineering reach back support of the AN/ALQ-249(V)1 Next Generation Jammer-Mid Band (NGJ-MB) during development, test and evaluation. The AN/ALQ-249(V)1 Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band system is part of a larger NGJ system that will augment, and ultimately replace the legacy ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System currently used on the EA-18G Growler aircraft for Airborne Electronic Attack. Work will take place in Maryland and California. Estimated completion date is in June 2023.
Middle East & Africa
BIRD Aerosystems, a global provider of defense technology and solutions for air, sea, and land fleets of governments and related agencies, has received a Supplemental Type Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel for its Cessna CJ3 ASIO Special Mission Aircraft. The granted STC follows a modification of the aircraft into a special mission configuration and includes all the structural and electrical changes to the aircraft to support the installation of the airborne surveillance sensors (Radar, EOP, AIS), multiple communication equipment, and BIRD’s operator workstations and pilot display.
The first two Eurofighter Typhoons out of an order for 28 aircraft for the Air force of Kuwait landed in Kuwait City. The Eurofighter Typhoon for the Kuwait Air Force feature a wide range of operational capabilities, built by Leonardo according to the specific requirements of the Kuwaiti Air Force.
The German representative on the supervisory board of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has blocked the delivery of anti-drone jamming guns to Ukraine which were already paid for by Kiev. The shipment of these anti-drone mitigation systems was being procured from Lithuania, according to Ukrainian newspaper Dzerkalo Tyzhnia.
South Korea’s Hanwha Defense inked a contract to supply the Australian Army with advanced self-propelled howitzers and ammunition resupply vehicles. The deal is worth about $730 million, representing the highest-valued export of Hanwha’s K9 self-propelled howitzer, nicknamed Thunder and known in Australia as the AS9.
Watch: Ultra Powerful South Korean K9 Thunder Artillery Mass Live Fire vs Mountain
Bell Boeing won a $18 million contract modification, which exercises an option to provide systems integration, technical analysis, and engineering support for the V-22 aircraft. The V-22 Osprey is a joint-service, medium-lift, multimission tilt-rotor aircraft, which operates as a helicopter when taking off and landing vertically. The nacelles rotate 90° forward once airborne, converting the aircraft into a turboprop aircraft. Work will take place in Texas and Pennsylvania. Estimated completion is in December 2022.
The Pentagon has given Northrop Grumman Corporation a task order to start engineering and planning work to reconfigure four EQ-4 Block 20 aircraft for the SkyRange program. These four aircraft will be fitted with sensors to collect data in order to support the testing of US hypersonic systems. Conversion will take place at Northrop Grumman’s Grand Sky facility near Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Middle East & Africa
Israeli media says Tel Aviv asked Washington for the immediate delivery of two KC-46A aerial refueling tankers. The original schedule is for Israel to receive the first two tankers in 2023. However, the United States reportedly denied the request. Back in July 2020, it was reported that Israel had also asked for the delivery of the planes to take place this year.
The Royal Moroccan Air Force is reportedly planning to buy 8 H225M Caracal helicopter from France. Morocco is currently negotiating with Airbus for eight H225Ms, as per reports. A dozen of these helicopters along with 80 Rafale fighter jets were purchased by the United Arab Emirates recently.
Greece’s Hellenic Air Force will commence operations with the first six Rafale fighters next month. The jets will be ready for operational missions immediately after arriving at 114th Combat Wing as the crew have completed their training.
China’s J-20 stealth jet has reportedly entered mass production after all technical issues concerning the domestically-made WS-10 engine having been solved; state-media reported quoting a statement from Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force displayed J-20s equipped with domestically developed engines at Airshow China 2021.