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.
L3Harris Technologies won a $45.9 million deal, which provides engineering maintenance and repair support services for Advanced Self-Protection Jammer AN/ALQ-165, Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures AN/ALQ-214, and aircraft self-protection optimization software in support of F/A-18 series aircraft for the Navy and Foreign Military Sales customers. The AN/ALQ-214 is the next-generation radio frequency (RF) integrated countermeasure system. The legacy (V)3 version is currently deployed on the US Navy’s F/A-18E/F aircraft to provide self-protection. Work will take place in Clifton, New Jersey. Estimated completion will be in February 2026.
Sikorsky won a $478.6 million contract modification, which exercises options for the procurement of five Lot Three low rate initial production Presidential Helicopters Replacement Program (VH-92A) aircraft, and associated interim contractor support, two cabin interior reconfiguration kits, support equipment, initial spares, and system parts replenishment. The new Marine One, also referred to as VH-92A, is the next-generation presidential transport helicopter being developed for the US Marine Corps (USMC). It will replace the ageing VH-3D presidential helicopter in service with the USMC. Work will take place in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Arizona and Virginia. Estimated completion will be in December 2023.
Middle East & Africa
Dyncorp International LLC won a $42 million contract modification for aviation maintenance services. Fiscal 2021 operation and maintenance (Army) funds in the full amount were obligated at the time of the award. US Army Contracting Command is the contracting activity. Work will take place in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estimated completion date is August 31, 2021.
Greece’s first F-16V has arrived in Belgium and the jet is expected to reach Forth Worth, Texas on February 10. The aircraft had its Hellenic Air Force insignias removed and replaced with US Air Force ones. The plane is registered under the US Air Force so that it can fly with US airspace with less restrictions. The flight from Belgium is expected to take approximately 10 hours and three F-16s from other countries will be joining it.
Kazakhstan has unveiled an indigenous unmanned air vehicle (UAV) dubbed Chagall. The drone is developed by the National University of Defense of Kazakhstan. It has a range of 30 kilometers and an endurance of 2.5 hours. It runs on a rechargeable battery that was developed in-house.
The French Navy is sending its Mistral Class amphibious assault helicopter carrier Tonnerre to Japan from this month. It will be accompanied by La Fayette Class frigate Surcouf during this mission to Asia. Both warships are expected to depart on February 18. They are expected to be back home in July.
Watch: The world’s Top Combat Drones | Ranking the Top Ten
Sikorsky Aircraft won a $19.4 million contract modification, which provides for non-recurring engineering, engineering change order, logistics and programmatic support of the Data Transfer Unit and Defensive Electronic Countermeasure System Replacement and ARC-210 program, to replace existing subsystems within the CH-53K production aircraft. The CH-54K is an all-new heavy-lift helicopter that will expand the fleet’s ability to move more material more rapidly. Work will take place in Iowa, Connecticut and Texas. Estimated completion will be in August 2021.
The 103rd and 139th Airlift Wings of the US Air National Guard recently participated in an Agile Combat Employment exercise at the Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, January 13. This marks the first time that the C-130H has been used in such an exercise with the F-22. The 103rd focused on the refuel operation while the 139th conducted the simulated munitions resupply.
Middle East & Africa
Israel’s IMCO Group recently announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Innocon, a private Israeli company in the unmanned aircraft field. The companies are to promote the establishment of a joint venture, controlled by IMCO, in this field, using the years of manufacturing, development and marketing capabilities of the IMCO Group, combined with the unique technologies of Innocon. Eitan Zait, CEO of IMCO, said, “We are happy to partner with Innocon, an innovative developer of tactical UAVs. IMCO Group, together with its subsidiaries, affiliates, and partners, offers One-Stop-Shopping for end-to-end integrated defense solutions.”
A plan to draw down US troop strength in Germany was put on hold, US European Command chief Gen. Tod Wolters said. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the proposal to remove about 12.000 troops from Germany by former President Donald Trump, who was angered by Germany’s lack of commitment to a pledge for increased NATO funding, Wolters said.
Deployment of Britain’s carrier strike group to the Indo-Pacific area shows increased Britain-Japanese defense cooperation, the British defense secretary said. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab discussed the deployment of HMS Queen Elizabeth during the ‘2+2’ virtual meeting with their respective Japanese counterparts, Ministers Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi. Both the Foreign and Defence Secretary reaffirmed the UK’s long-term commitment to working closely with Japan to uphold the security of the Indo-Pacific and demonstrate the value of a unified approach to facing global challenges.
South Korea will “determine its stance” on upcoming joint military exercises with the United States to avoid a “serious problem” with North Korea. Unification Minister Lee In-young said Wednesday. The government’s review will consider issues that include COVID-19 and the Biden administration’s policy toward North Korea, and will be “in line with denuclearization and a permanent peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula,” Lee said at a briefing with international journalists in downtown Seoul.
Watch: Here Comes the New CH-53K King Stallion (The Marines’ Expensive Helicopter)
The US Navy’s Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS II) pod made its first flight on December 11, 2020. A flight with the pod on two F/A-18Es took place on December 15. The TCTS II system, developed by Collins, is the first certified encrypted, multi-level security training pod that communicates with both airborne and ground equipment.
The Boeing F-15EX fighter jet completed its first flight Tuesday, paving the way for the early delivery of the first two of the new fighter jet to the Air Force later this quarter, Boeing announced. According to the company, the jet took off from St. Louis Lambert International Airport and completed a 90-minute test flight before returning to the airport. Matt Giese, Boeing F-15’s chief test pilot, checked out the jet’s avionics, advanced systems and software while a test team monitored the data collected during the flight in real time, confirming that the aircraft performed according to plan.
Middle East & Africa
The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, is convinced that the deal for the sale of F-35 stealth fighters to his country will be implemented when the “review” of pending arms deals is finished. The UAE ordered 50 F-35 stealth fighters and 18 armed drones worth a total of $23 billion. During a virtual conference of the Washington Institute on Monday, he said “We did everything by the book and they will discover that once the review is complete and it will proceed,” describing the review as “pro forma”. The State Department announced that the administration is “temporarily pausing the implementation of some pending U.S. defense transfers and sales” to allies. Regarding the move, Ambassador Al Otaiba said “If you are going to have less of a presence and less involvement in the Middle East you can’t at the same time take tools away from your partners who are expected to do more.”
It has been disclosed that Greece’s first upgraded F-16V will be flying to the United States on February 4 for certification purpose. F-16V #005 will make a stop in Belgium before cross the Atlantic Ocean for Fort Worth. It will make 10 mid-air refuelings during the trip.
Over 200 Air Force personnel from Texas’ Dyess Air Force Base are traveling to Norway to support upcoming Bomber Task Force missions out of Norway’s Orland Air Base. US Air Force personnel will travel with an expeditionary B-1 Lancer bomber squadron and train in a variety of areas, US European Command said. The training will include operations in the high north and improving interoperatbility with allies and partners from across Europe.
Kazakhstan has taken delivery of the Buk-M2E air defense missile system that it ordered back in 2018. The Buk missile system is a family of self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile systems. It was developed by the Soviet Union and later the Russian Federation. The system is designed to counter cruise missiles, smart bombs, fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and UAVS.
Rolls-Royce won a $97 million delivery order for C-130J propulsion long-term sustainment. This order provides funding for Option IV. The Lockheed Martin C-130 is the US Air Force’s principal tactical cargo and personnel transport aircraft. The C-130J Hercules is the latest model, featuring a glass cockpit, digital avionics and a new propulsion system with a six-bladed propeller. Work will take place in Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, and is expected to be completed on January 31, 2022.
Northrop Grumman Systems won a $7.8 million task order under the ground subsystems sustainment contract for the Minuteman III Launch Control Center Block Upgrade production for the exercise of Option Year One of Malmstrom Wing I. 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 Ogden, Utah and expected completion date is August 15, 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Israel Aerospace Industries announced that an unnamed country in Asia has signed a contract to lease two of its Heron MK II unmanned air vehicles. Moshe Levy, IAI executive vice president and general manager of the Military Aircraft Group, says the aircraft will “will operate in the terrestrial configuration and will fulfill various tasks, including border protection.”
The White House ordered a pause on arms sales last week, including major sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Antony Blinken, the new Secretary of State for the administration of President Joe Biden called for a review of recent arms sales of some of the most advanced aircraft and munitions made in the United States. At issue are sales of 50 F-35 fighter planes and 18 Reaper drones to the UAE, and precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. The agreements came late in the administration of former President Donald Trump and although Congress questioned whether the sales could conflict with Israel’s legally guaranteed “qualitative military edge” of equipment, legislators took no action.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms treaty with the United States on Friday. The signature came a week before the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was set to expire. The agreement caps the two countries’ deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers to 700 each; deployed warlords on deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers to 1,550 each; and deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers to 800 each. It was first implemented in 2010.
Indian company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has completed the last Su-30MKI that India has contracted from Russia and the 222th aircraft will be delivered to the end user this month. India ordered 272 Su-30MKIs and 50 were produced in Russia. “One aircraft is certified and inducted for BrahMos modification. Another aircraft has been produced and planned to be certified by February end,” a HAL official said. The delivery formalities for acceptance by the customer are being finalized.
Watch: Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI Exercise Pitch Black 2018
Lockheed Martin won a $15.9 million contract modification to develop a second source for the qualification and facilitization of the Electromechanical Control Actuation System for the Hellfire missile. Hellfire is an air-to-ground, laser guided, subsonic missile with significant anti-tank capacity. It can also be used as an air-to-air weapon against helicopters or slow-moving fixed-wing aircraft. Work will take place in Orlando, Florida. Estimated completion date is August 28, 2021.
Rolls-Royce won a $72.9 million contract modification, which exercises an option to procure 33 production AE1107C V-22 Osprey engines; 14 for the Marine Corps and 19 for the Navy for production of MV-22 and CMV-22 tiltrotor aircraft. The V-22 Osprey is a joint-service, medium-lift, multimission tilt-rotor aircraft developed by Boeing and Bell Helicopters. Boeing is responsible for the fuselage, landing gear, avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, performance and flying qualities. Work will take place in Indianapolis, Indiana. Estimated completion will be in December 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Boeing won a $20.3 million contract modification for long lead integrated logistics support, initial spares package and peculiar ground support equipment for the Royal Moroccan Air Force. The Moroccan Air Force was formed in 1956 as Sharifian Royal Aviation with assistance from French advisers. Its first combat aircraft were donated shortly afterward by Iraq, and the force began a steady expansion that continued until the early 1980s. The first jet aircraft were MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighters supplied by the Soviet Union in 1961. Since that time, however, France and the United States have provided the bulk of the FRA’s aircraft and other equipment. Morocco began to receive military equipment from the United States in 1960, but deliveries were limited until the late 1960s. At that time the United States delivered 24 Northrop F-5A and F-5B fighter-bombers and antitank weapons. Later sales included C-130H Hercules transport aircraft, 50 M-48 tanks, and 330 M-113 armored personnel carriers. Work under the current modification will take place in Mesa, Arizona. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2024.
According to the British Army, the ‘Multi-Colored Camouflage Scheme’ (MCDCS) project was launched as a result of troops’ experience in Estonia, lessons gleaned from the Royal Tank Regiment’s ‘Streetfighter’ experiment, and a “long-recognized need to hide, deceive, and survive on the modern battlefield”. The Army said that the experiment was tested practically by soldiers based at the Army’s Armor Center equipped with various types of sensing equipment as well as the naked eye and binoculars.
Sri Lanka Air Force’s No. 5 Squadron was established 30 years ago on February 1, 1991, with four Chinese F-7BS fighters and FT-5 trainers. Another FT-7 was added to the unit later that year. Four F-7GS were added in 2007. At present, the squadron continues to remain on 24 hours readiness with interceptors kept in the quick reaction alert (QRA) readiness to be scrambled at a moment’s notice if any threat is detected within Sri Lankan airspace.
Boeing confirmed that the US government has sanctioned its bid to promote its F-15EX Advanced Eagle combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). This bid will be supported by a new industry initiative, that will seek to develop in India an aerospace hub for Boeing military and commercial aircraft. Seven of the world’s premier fighter manufacturers have already indicated interest in competing for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) ongoing acquisition of 114 medium fighters. The contract is worth an estimated $20-30 billion.
Watch: Here Comes the New F-15EX Fighter (New Weapons and More)
Boeing won a $25.4 million deal to improve the quality of the Apache Attack Helicopter AH-64E and lessen the associated post production maintenance burden. The AH-64 Apache is a twin-engine, four bladed, multi-mission attack helicopter designed as a highly stable aerial weapons-delivery platform. With a tandem-seated crew consisting of the pilot, located in the rear cockpit position and the co-pilot gunner (CPG), located in the front position. With the addition of improved situational awareness, flight performance, and joint interoperability, the AH-64E has become the most advanced aerial fighting vehicle in the world. Work will take place in Mesa, Arizona. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2024.
Sikorsky won a $10.6 million order, which provides for the development of Phase One structural repair manuals for the CH-53K aircraft. The repair manuals address organizational level repairs pertaining to airframe skins, doors and covers, tail cone, main and tail blade erosion repair, as well as non-destructive inspection procedures and standards. The CH-53K is the United States Marine Corps’ (USMC) heavy lift replacement for the CH-53E. Work will take place in Shelton, Connecticut, Stratford, Connecticut and Bohemia, New York. Work will take place in April 2023.
Middle East & Africa
French investigators released their report into the deadly collision between a Cougar and Tiger helicopters in Mali in 2019. The report said both aircrews “did not detect the presence of the other aircraft.” “Listening to the radio exchanges between the aircraft in the minutes preceding the event reveals a disorderly and degraded safety communication,” the report added. Both crews were from different bases and their security briefings were not the same.
Berry Aviation won a $179.5 million contract modification, which provides continued rotary and fixed-wing airlift support services, including passenger, cargo, casualty evacuation, personnel recovery, air drop and limited door-to-door services to US Africa Command. Work will be performed in continental Africa, African islands and countries supporting operations in Africa, such as Germany and Italy. Work will take place in continental Africa, African island and countries supporting operations in Africa, such as Germany and Italy.The option period of performance is from February 2, 2021 to February 1, 2022.
The British HMS Tamar has made extensive use of a small Puma remotely piloted aircraft during trials as the ship practices for ‘constabulary duties’ when she deploys for the first time this summer. According to the Royal Navy that constabulary duties – counter piracy/terrorism/smuggling – are a key role of the new batch of River-class ships. Puma is relatively cheap, easy to launch and recover, is difficult for foes to spot and keeps the ship out of harm’s way.
The first of two C-130Hcargo planes that the Philippines acquire from the United States has arrived home on January 29. Aircraft #5125 arrived at Villamor Air Base, Pasay City and the crew were greeted by vice commander Maj. Gen. Florante M. Amano. The aircraft, which came from Tucson, Arizona and had a tail number of 5125, was welcomed in a simple arrival ceremony in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City that was graced by PAF vice commander Maj. Gen. Florante M. Amano.
Watch: USAF Hercules C-130H Takeoff – Power Back & Awesome Propeller Tip Vortices!
Latest updates[?]: Boeing won a $25.4 million deal to improve the quality of the Apache Attack Helicopter AH-64E and lessen the associated post production maintenance burden. The AH-64 Apache is a twin-engine, four bladed, multi-mission attack helicopter designed as a highly stable aerial weapons-delivery platform. With a tandem-seated crew consisting of the pilot, located in the rear cockpit position and the co-pilot gunner (CPG), located in the front position. With the addition of improved situational awareness, flight performance, and joint interoperability, the AH-64E has become the most advanced aerial fighting vehicle in the world. Work will take place in Mesa, Arizona. Estimated completion date is December 31, 2024.
Latest updates: Total rises to 68.
War takes its toll on equipment, as well as men. In some cases, it wears out. In other cases, enemy fire or accidents destroy equipment. The USA has recognized this fact by funding wartime replacement expenditures as supplemental funding, which is outside the normal budgetary process. The intent is that this money will be spent on replacing equipment that has been worn out, damaged or destroyed, or will be used to provide specialized capabilities like MRAP mine-resistant vehicles that are directly related to front-line demands.
Admittedly, this hasn’t always been true. Politicians are what they are, and so are large organizations like the military. One area where this ethic has undoubtedly been honored, however, has been the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter fleet. This article covers US Army Wartime Replacement Aircraft (WRA) AH-64D Longbow buys, which are the only truly new attack helicopters in the America’s inventory. That will change with the new Block III model, which is more advanced than the WRAs.
The Air Force, along with with partners Lockheed Martin and Boeing, completed work on the last of 247 planes in the F-22 Structural Repair Program, officials at Hill Air Force Base in Utah announced on Wednesday. Structural modifications, made by the 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron of the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, to the F-22 Raptor added flying serviceability of the fighter plane by an estimated 8,000 hours, according to the Air Force.
Lockheed Martin won a $11.4 million deal, which provides engineering and logistics services in support of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft program to monitor and manage fatigue and obsolescence issues and operational and/or technical problems arising from P-3 fleet usage for the Navy, Foreign Military Sales customers and other US government agencies. The P-3C Orion land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft was first operational in the US Navy in 1962. The P-3C first entered service in 1969 and has been continuously upgraded and updated with new avionics systems and mission equipment. More than 700 P-3 aircraft have been built by Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is operational in the airforces of ten countries. Work will take place in Marietta, Georgia and is expected to be finished in January 2026.
Middle East & Africa
The Times reports that a Pantsir-S1 air defense missile system was captured in Libya and turned over to the United States. A C-17 was sent to Zuwara airport last June to bring the system to Germany. The operation was ordered amid concerns that the Pantsir S-1 missile battery, which can easily bring down civilian aircraft, could fall into the hands of militias or arms smugglers in the war-torn north African country.
A detachment of Spanish Air Force Eurofighter combat aircraft and support staff arrived at Mihail Koglaniceanu Air Base on January 25, marking the service’s first operational deployment to Romania in support of NATO. Six EdAE Eurofighters and 130 personnel arrived at the base on Romania’s Black Sea coast, from where they will perform NATO’s Southern Air Policing mission through to the end of March. “This is the first time that Spain has sent [its] fighters to the southeast of NATO’s territory to support the alliance’s deterrence and defense measures,” NATO’s Allied Air Command said.
Draken International has rebranded its recently acquired Cobham Group Aviation Services UK business, changing the name of the UK-based aviation training provider to Draken Europe. The change has been made to differentiate the business from the Draken US branch of Draken International, and comes four months after the Aviation Services UK business was divested by Cobham Group on 25 September 2020.
Assault ship HMS Albion has transferred the duty of Royal Navy Fleet Flagship to aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. As Fleet Flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth will carry senior naval staff, receive foreign dignitaries, and act as a command and control centre for other Royal Navy vessels. In the last few decades, the flagship has usually been an aircraft carrier but in 2010 the flagship became assault ship HMS Albion, assault ship HMS Bulwark in 2011, helicopter carrier HMS Ocean in June 2015 and then back to HMS Albion in 2018.
Bell Boeing Joint Project Office won a $25.5 million, which adds scope for the production and delivery of nine right aft sponson fuel tank kits in support of V-22 Production Aircraft 9-17 for the government of Japan. Additionally, this modification provides development and updates to existing technical data as well as services in support of aircraft deliveries and aircrew pilot and crew chief training for the government of Japan. The V-22 Osprey is a joint-service, medium-lift, multimission tilt-rotor aircraft developed by Boeing and Bell Helicopters. Boeing is responsible for the fuselage, landing gear, avionics, electrical and hydraulic systems, performance and flying qualities. Work will take place in North Carolina, Japan, Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Texas. Estimated completion will be in March 2024.
Watch: The Ultimate Supersonic Interceptor – F-106 Delta Dart
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin won a $11.4 million deal, which provides engineering and logistics services in support of the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft program to monitor and manage fatigue and obsolescence issues and operational and/or technical problems arising from P-3 fleet usage for the Navy, Foreign Military Sales customers and other US government agencies. The P-3C Orion land-based maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft was first operational in the US Navy in 1962. The P-3C first entered service in 1969 and has been continuously upgraded and updated with new avionics systems and mission equipment. More than 700 P-3 aircraft have been built by Lockheed Martin. The aircraft is operational in the airforces of ten countries. Work will take place in Marietta, Georgia and is expected to be finished in January 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.