HERCULES ready to do the heavy lifting…AGAIN! | UK sweeps for mines remotely | Russian drone ready for takeoff?
- Bell Helicopter will receive a contract modification valued at $21.7 million. The modification relates to a contract that provides the US Navy with airframes in support of its MQ-8 Fire Scout program, including the delivery of Bell 407 variant commercial airframes, as well as associated Bell 407 unique components, and preservation and storage associated with the system. Developed by Northrop Grumman, the newer MQ-8C Fire Scout variant is the latest unmanned autonomous helicopter being developed for the Navy for reconnaissance, aerial fire support and other naval missions. It is larger than its predecessors, using the Bell 407 airframe rather than the Sikorsky 330 and 330 airframes used on previous variants. The modification brings the total cumulative face value of the order close to $31.5 million. Work will be performed in Ozark, Alabama, and is expected to be completed in December 2020.
- The US Army Contracting Command is procuring several M88A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift and Evacuation System vehicles. Produced by BAE Systems Land & Armaments the HERCULES addresses a long-standing US Army need to upgrade its recovery vehicles to safely tow and recover battle-damaged, mired or inoperative 70-ton M1 Abrams tanks. Its hull is modified to specification by Anniston Army Depot and includes upgrades to the basic M88 chassis as means to meet the increased demands of towing, winching, and lifting the M1, M1A1, and M1A2 tanks and lighter vehicles like the LAVs, M1133 Strykers, M2/M3 Bradleys. The contract is valued at $120.4 million. Work will be performed in York, Pennsylvania and scheduled for completion by January 2021.
- Rolls Royce is being awarded a $25.9 million contract that sees for the provision of turbofan engines to be used on the Navy’s Triton platform. The MQ-4C Triton or BAMS UAV program is run by NAVAIR’s PMA-263 program management office, it has been devised to work in conjunction with the P-8 Poseidon. Tritons work with the P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft on missions that include maritime surveillance, collection of enemy order of battle information, battle damage assessment, port surveillance, communication relay; plus, support for maritime interdiction, surface warfare, battlespace management, and targeting for maritime and strike missions. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is expected to be completed by December 2021.
- UAV manufacturer Insitu has been awarded a firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement. The $11 million contract provides for the procurement of spare and sustainment parts to maintain the RQ-21A Blackjack unmanned aircraft system in support of the Marine Corps. The RQ-21A is the internal competitor to Insitu’s flagship product, the ScanEagle. The RQ-21A Integrator is the company’s next-generation UAV platform. It boosts endurance to over 24 hours and raises maximum payload to about 50 pounds. Its wingspan rises to 15.8 feet and body length rises to 7 feet. Its sensor package will be a bit more versatile, too, with TV zoom and mid-wave infrared cameras, plus an infrared marker and a laser rangefinder, all in a single package instead of the original ScanEagle’s swap-in options. Launch and recovery methods are the same on both platforms. Work will be performed in Bingen, Washington, and is expected to be completed in January 2019.
Middle East & Africa
- The Kingdom of Morocco will receive an upgrade to its tank fleet as part of US foreign military sales. This $9.4 million deal contracts Northrop Grumman for the provision of eye safe laser range finders for Morocco’s M1A2S tank. Morocco has purchased 220 Abrams tank refurbished for the Kingdom through the US Army’s Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program. An eye safe laser rangefinder improves the tank’s day/night target engagement over a longer range. And is compatible with all current battlefield information systems. Work will be performed in Apopka, Florida, with an estimated completion date of May 1, 2020. The upgrade enhances the combat capabilities of Morocco, a country that is currently facing a variety of security challenges, including the presence of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and several groups affiliated with ISIS.
- Jane’s reports that the UK Royal Navy has taken delivery of an autonomous minesweeping demonstrator system. This marks a significant milestone for the United Kingdom’s Mine Countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability (MHC) program. The minesweeper, designated ARCIMS USV is produced by Atlas Elektronik UK. The company developed the platform under a $17 million, three-year contract with the Ministry of Defense’s Defense Equipment and Support organization. The ARCIMS unmanned surface vessel has a length of 36 feet and has a top speed of 40+ knots. It is designed to fulfill a multitude of naval roles, including minesweeping, mine hunting, mine disposal, force protection and diver support. The USV, named RNMB Hussar, is configured with a power generation module and towed magnetic, acoustic, and electrical influences, including up to three coil auxiliary boats.
- The Russian deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov has confirmed that work on the heavy unmanned aerial vehicle ‘Altius’ will be completed by the end of this year. The ‘Altius’ is Russia’s prestige drone project that tries to fill an important gap in its UAV capabilities. Russia is considered to be seriously behind UAV technology. This problem stems from a weakened defense sector that is still recuperating from devastating budget cutbacks in the 1990s, and a poor track record in miniaturizing machines, producing lightweight components and reliable electronics. The drone was jointly developed by the Kazan enterprise and the St. Petersburg company, which received a $35 million contract, after they won a competition of the Russian Defense Ministry. The ‘Altius’ is a high-winged aircraft with slab-sided rear fuselage and a V-shaped tail and is made of composite materials. Its two V12 diesel engines provide a takeoff power of about 500hp. Its operational range is supposed to be about 6,200 miles with a flight duration of up to 48 hours. The long-endurance UAV is designed to perform a variety of tasks, such as conducting strike missions.
- Taiwan’s Army looking for new short-range air defense system
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