Latest updates[?]: Sierra Nevada won a $56 million modification for the MC-130J Airborne Mission Networking program's low-rate initial production. This modification provides for the procurement of production kits, spares, interim-contractor support, program management, and provisioning support. Work will be performed in Centennial, Colorado, and is expected to be completed May 19, 2023. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, is the contracting activity.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
Lockheed Martin won a $29.2 million modification for maintenance, additional tooling and equipment for Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) Lot 19/20. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $1,090,980,036. Work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, and is expected to be completed by January 31, 2026.
Boeing is taking the lead in enhancing the capabilities of the B-1B bomber with its self-funded development of the Load Adaptable Modular (LAM) pylon. This game-changing innovation not only showcases Boeing’s commitment to advancing military aviation but also receives support from the United States Air Force (USAF) in the form of financial contributions towards testing. Boeing’s LAM pylon introduces a remarkable advancement for the B-1B bomber. By leveraging adjustable mounts and attach points that can be easily modified on the flightline, the LAM pylon allows for the seamless transition between different types of weapons.
Middle East & Africa
Qatar has received the fourth Al Zubarah-class corvette from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri at the company’s Muggiano shipyard. The “Semaisma” is the final corvette delivered under a $4.3 billion contract signed in 2016 for seven different surface vehicles. The latest Al Zubarah vessel was launched in March last year. The class’ first and second corvettes were delivered in 2021, while the third was handed over in 2022.
Elbit Systems has received a $305 million deal to supply Precise & Universal Launching System (PULS) artillery rocket systems to the Royal Netherlands Army. The award is part of an agreement supporting the ongoing military cooperation between the Israeli and Dutch defense ministries.
The Ukrainian military is revamping available commercial drones to help destroy Russian tanks and trenches. According to Reuters, a former IT programmer who is now with the Ukrainian Army can turn a four-rotor commercial drone into some kind of loitering munition. He said the unmanned systems bought over the counter for just $300 can be fitted with explosives to help neutralize Russian assets on the frontline.
Spanish defense firm Indra announced Wednesday that it has begun installing a naval variant of its Lanza 3D surveillance radar on an Indian Navy warship. The Lanza 3D was developed based on the Lanza-N radar installed on the Spanish ship Juan Carlos I. It was modified to suit Indian Ocean conditions, ensuring “optimum performance” in high humidity and extreme heat conditions.
WATCH: AGM-158 JASSM: A Large, Stealthy Long-Range Missile
The 2,000 pound AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) is intended to be a stealthy, inexpensive GPS/IIR (Global Positioning system/ Imaging InfraRed) guided cruise missile. It’s designed to attack well-defended targets without putting its carrier aircraft in the crosshairs of new long-range surface to air missile systems. JASSM has experienced a rocky development history, due to long-standing reliability issues. In 2005 it was threatened with cancellation following a series of poor test results. The program went through 2007 on an ongoing roller coaster of ups and downs, and by May 2009 it appeared the program was facing cancellation once again.
A production hiatus did take place between Lot 7 and FY 2010’s Lot 8 in FY 2010, but test results allowed the USAF to move forward, and the missile is beginning to win export orders.
Rockwell Collins won a $10 million modification against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N0001919G0031). This modification provides non-recurring engineering for the development of hardware and software necessary to install Mission Computer Modernization into E-6B Block I aircraft. Work will be performed in Richardson, Texas, and is expected to be completed in February 2026.
US Air Force Airmen from the 509th Weapons Squadron recently conducted integration training at Hurlburt Field, where they tested a groundbreaking prototype known as the Pack and Transport Reloader (PATR) crane. Developed in collaboration with Fairchild Air Force Base’s innovation cell, this crane aims to enhance the capabilities of the KC-135 Stratotanker in terms of cargo loading and unloading. By retrofitting the fleet of KC-135s with the PATR crane, the Air Force can expand their operational reach while maintaining a smaller footprint.
Middle East & Africa
Rheinmetall and Elbit Systems have conducted a live-fire demonstration of an automated 155-millimeter L52 wheeled self-propelled howitzer at the Shivta desert range in southern Israel. The testing builds on a 2022 strategic cooperation deal to jointly develop, produce, and market an automated 155-millimeter wheeled howitzer. Through the partnership, Elbit’s fully-robotic artillery turret was integrated with Rheinmetall’s 155mm L52 gun and electronic components for the fire control unit and sensor suite. The weapon was then mounted onto a Rheinmetall HX 10×10 tactical military truck.
Elbit Systems has landed Greece’s first two M-346 training aircraft at the country’s recently-constructed Hellenic International Flight Training Center in Kalamata. The handover is part of a Hellenic Air Force’s program to train and familiarize pilots with the service’s modern fighter jets. The delivery also supports the Greek and Israeli defense ministries’ efforts to enhance strategic aerospace cooperation.
Denmark plans to equip its armed forces with a new mobile short-range air defense system based on Rheinmetall’s Skyranger. The Skyranger is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles and a 30-millimeter machine gun that can intercept ground-based and aerial threats at short and very short ranges. Once delivered, the turret will be mounted on the army’s Piranha 5 armored personnel carriers to maintain their mobility and protect them during combat.
China has integrated “hidden technology” into its military drones to prevent enemies from using them to attack Beijing’s territories, according to South China Morning Post, citing a source close to the military. The device reportedly allows combat and reconnaissance drones to recognize an “electric geofence” enveloping China’s borders. When the geofence is detected, the technology will prevent Chinese-made drones from entering the country and attacking vital military and commercial assets.
Latest updates[?]: Rockwell Collins won a $10 million modification against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N0001919G0031). This modification provides non-recurring engineering for the development of hardware and software necessary to install Mission Computer Modernization into E-6B Block I aircraft. Work will be performed in Richardson, Texas, and is expected to be completed in February 2026.
The USA’s E-6 Mercury (aka. TACAMO, as in TAke Charge And Move Out) “survivable airborne communication system” airplanes support their Navy’s SSBN ballistic missile submarine force and overall strategic forces. With the advent of the new “Tactical Trident” converted Ohio Class special operations subs, their unique capabilities become even more useful. The E-6B version also has a secondary role as a “Looking Glass” Airborne National Command Post, and in recent years they have seen use as communications relay stations over the front lines of combat.
Delivery of the first production E-6 aircraft took place in August 1989, with delivery of the 16th and final airplane coming in May 1992. This is DID’s FOCUS Article concerning the E-6 system, which includes details concerning the capabilities and associated contracts. The latest contracts involve important fleet upgrades, as the Navy tries to drag the jet’s systems into the 21st century.
Rolls Royce Marine North America won a $66.7 million deal in support of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the global engineering and technical support of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) Freedom Variant MT30 gas turbine engines. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would not increase the cumulative value of this contract above $66,679,116. Work will be performed globally and will be defined in each delivery order. Fiscal 2023 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds, which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, will be used for the base year delivery orders. No funding will be obligated at time of award.
In a recent incident at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, a US Air Force F-15D encountered an unexpected situation during landing. During the landing on May 15, the F-15D veered off the runway and came to a halt in the Bureau of Reclamation irrigation canal located on the south side of the runway. Colonel Micah Lambert, the vice commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing, provided reassurance that the situation has been managed effectively, stating, “We don’t believe the aircraft is leaking any petroleum products based on our initial assessment of the water in the canal.” He emphasized that minimizing the environmental impact remains a top priority for the team. As a precautionary measure, absorbent booms have been placed around the aircraft to prevent the flow of fuel or other substances downstream in the event of a leakage.
Middle East & Africa
According to Israel Defense, the Greek Police has been using a “David” armored vehicle made by Israel’s Shladot in its activities along its Northern border. The David was presented in the Greek Police pavilion at the DEFEA 2023 exhibition which took place last week in Athens. The Greek Police’s “David” armored vehicles were built by Shladot utilizing the extensive knowhow and experience gained from the “Davids” used by the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The Greek “David” was tailored to police requirements, built as a 5-door SUV, unlike the IDF 3-door version. The “David” is equipped with a powerful 205 horse power engine, automatic transmission and a unique suspension system, enabling it to maneuver through mountains, forested areas and small villages.
Lockheed Martin won a $15.7 million for computer program development, shipboard testing and installation and live fire and test planning and execution in support of the Norway Program. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $48,201,842. This contract involves Foreign Military Sales to Norway. Work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey (94%); and Norway (6%) and is expected to be completed by July 2026. If all options are exercised, work will be completed by July 2026. Foreign Military Sales (Norway) funds in the amount of $15,651,498 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
A recent missile barrage by Russia targeted a US-made Patriot air defense system in Kyiv, causing damage to the system. The extent of the damage is currently being evaluated, raising concerns about Ukraine’s defense capabilities against escalating Russian missile attacks, CNN reports. The Patriot air defense system appears to have sustained damage but remains intact. The severity of the damage will determine whether the system needs complete withdrawal or can be repaired on-site by Ukrainian forces.
Australia will buy 78 Bushmaster protected vehicles for $106 million to replenish stockpiles sent to Ukraine for its war against Russia. Signed at Thales’ facility in Bendigo, the agreement covers the delivery of the Bushmasters in troop carrier and command variants over the next 18 months.
WATCH: UK and Dutch pledge fighter jet support for Ukraine | DW News
Latest updates[?]: Rolls Royce Marine North America won a $66.7 million deal in support of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for the global engineering and technical support of the Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) Freedom Variant MT30 gas turbine engines. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would not increase the cumulative value of this contract above $66,679,116. Work will be performed globally and will be defined in each delivery order. Fiscal 2023 operations and maintenance (Navy) funds, which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, will be used for the base year delivery orders. No funding will be obligated at time of award.
Trimaran LCS Design
(click to enlarge)
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.
Latest updates[?]: A recent missile barrage by Russia targeted a US-made Patriot air defense system in Kyiv, causing damage to the system. The extent of the damage is currently being evaluated, raising concerns about Ukraine’s defense capabilities against escalating Russian missile attacks, CNN reports. The Patriot air defense system appears to have sustained damage but remains intact. The severity of the damage will determine whether the system needs complete withdrawal or can be repaired on-site by Ukrainian forces.
The USA’s MIM-104 Phased Array Tracking Radar Intercept On Target (PATRIOT) anti-air missile system offers an advanced backbone for medium-range air defense, and short-range ballistic missile defense, to America and its allies. This article covers domestic and foreign purchase requests and contracts for Patriot systems. It also compiles information about the engineering service contracts that upgrade these systems, ensure that they continue to work, and integrate them with wider command and defense systems.
The Patriot missile franchise’s future appears assured. At present, 12 nations have chosen it as a key component of their air and missile defense systems: the USA, Germany, Greece, Japan, Israel, Kuwait, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan and the UAE. Poland, Qatar, and Turkey have all indicated varying levels of interest, and some existing customers are looking to upgrade their systems.
US Hardware Supply ($12.6 million) and Worldwide Equipment ($12,3 million) each won a deal for M1A1 Abrams tank parts kits. These are three-year contracts with no option periods. This was a competitive acquisition with three offers received. The performance completion date is May 14, 2026. Using military services are Army and Marine Corps.
Computer Technology Associates won a $26.3 million for F/A-18 EA-18G Integrated Product Team Management Information System Suite consisting of multiple applications and tools supporting business operation efforts to include planning, estimation, risk management, event scheduling (including flight test events), event tracking, project execution, project monitoring and control, and reporting. Work will take place in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado, Oregon, California, Indiana, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Utah, Indiana. Expected completion date will be in May 2028.
Middle East & Africa
Elbit Systems has received a $21.8 million contract to supply mortar munition systems and training solutions to Montenegro. The agreement is part of the ongoing Israili government’s efforts to enhance its military cooperation with the Balkan government. Under the contract, Elbit will deliver 120-millimeter mortar munition systems compatible with 4×4 armored vehicle mounts.
Northrop Grumman has delivered key Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) components to Poland for its new medium-range air defense program. According to company vice president Rebecca Torzone, the IBCS will provide the country’s air defenders with the ability to make faster, better-informed decisions to defeat a wide variety of threats.
Romania has retired its MiG-21 fighter fleet during ceremonies at the 71st and 86th Air Bases. The MiG-21 LanceR jets embarked on their final flights at a ceremony on Monday. During the communist regime, Romania had around 400 MiG-21s. The current number is confidential, but unofficial estimates say it now stands at around 25.
The United States Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has delivered the highly advanced SM-3 Block 2A interceptor to Japan. This collaborative effort between the two nations marks a significant milestone in bolstering their defense alliances and enhancing regional security. The delivery took place in March, and it is set to reinforce Japan’s capabilities to counter evolving ballistic missile threats. Japan’s Aegis ships, operated by the Maritime Self-Defense Force, will be equipped with the advanced SM-3 Block 2A intercept missiles. The deployment of SM-3 Block 2A missiles on Japan’s Aegis ships will take place in a sequential manner. As per the plans, the Maya and Atago-class ships, based in Yokosuka (Kanagawa Prefecture), Maizuru (Kyoto Prefecture), and Sasebo (Nagasaki Prefecture), will be among the first to receive these advanced intercept missiles.
WATCH: Northrop Grumman delivers first Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) to Poland
America’s M1 Abrams tanks come in a number of versions. In addition to the M1A1 that is now standard, the US Army is beginning to field its M1 TUSK for urban warfare. It also operates the M1A2 System Enhancement Program (SEP), currently the most advanced standard variant.
This Spotlight article covers the M1A2 Abrams SEP upgrade program, and will be updated and backfilled as new contracts are issued and key events take place.