HII contracted to repair USS O’Kane | Belgium’s shopping spree | Russia’s Avangard ICBM, soon to be operational
HII is being contracted to repair one of the Navy’s Arleigh-Burke class destroyers. The firm-fixed-price contract is priced at $44.8 million and covers a combination of maintenance, modernization and repair work on the USS O’Kane. Upgrades to the vessel will revolve around reducing the ship’s workload requirements and increasing war-fighting capabilities while reducing total ownership cost to the Navy. Those improvements will include massive overhauls to combat systems, as well as hull, mechanical and electrical upgrades. This contract also includes options could raise the contract value to $51.5 million. DDG-77 will be overhauled at HII’s shipyard in San Diego, California and is expected to be back at sea by January 2020.
Central Lake Armor Express is being tapped to provide the Marine Corps with additional body armor. The contract is valued at $56.4 million and covers the production of up to 65.469 Plate Carrier Generation III – Soft Armor Inserts and data reports for the Marines. The new generation plate carrier was jointly designed by the US Army and the Marine Corps, after commanders called for lighter armor back in 2016. The new design is “less bulky, lighter in weight, and provides a smaller overall footprint than the current plate carrier while maintaining the same soft armor coverage and protection level,” Barabra Hamby, spokeswoman of MARCORSYSCOM told Marine Corps Times in July 2017. The new carriers come in eight sizes and offers better ballistic protection compared to the current design, its lighter weight helps to cut down on soldier fatigue. Fielding of the new body armor will start in June 2019. Work will be performed at Central Lake’s factory in Michigan and is expected to be completed by October 24, 2023.
The US Army is contracting General Dynamics for work on the M1 Abrams modernization program. The $25.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order is against a five-year contract and provides for the delivery of various electronic components for the M1 Abrams tank. The Pentagon is currently in the process of upgrading several of its tanks to the M1A2 SEPv3 configuration. The new version offers enhanced protection and survivability, as well as a higher lethality than its predecessors. Upgrades include a JSTARS integration, improved power generation and distribution, armor upgrades, a line replaceable redesign and a C-IED suite. “The Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tank will be the foundation for future incremental system upgrades and can host any mature technology the Army deems operationally relevant,” said Lt. Col. Justin Shell, the Army’s product manager for Abrams. Work will be performed at GD’s facilities in Michigan and Florida and is expected to be completed by September 2022.
Middle East & Africa
The US Air Force is extending its force protection contract with AAI Corp. The $23.7 million contract sees for the provision of ISR services at Bagram and Kandahar Airfields in Afghanistan and optionally at Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan. AAI will most likely use its Aerosonde as an advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance solution in order to provide the US military with the capability to effectively execute a number of deployment operations and engineering support activities. The contract is set to run through March 27, 2024.
Belgium’s shopping spree now includes the need for a new MALE UAV platform. A Flight Global report suggests that the European-country is interested in acquiring General Atomics’ MQ-9B Sky Guardian, a NATO-standard variant of the B-model Predator. The Sky Guardian has a 13-foot longer wingspan than the Predator-B, a more damage tolerant composite airframe with double the service life, nearly twice the operational endurance and a greater payload capacity. The new variant is able to fly in civil airspace and is immediately NATO interoperable. Belgian defense minister Steven Vandeput told Flight Global that “MALE drones play an increasingly important role in operations, but at European level there is a shortage of this type of aircraft,” and added “with this purchase, Belgium is joining the future and at the same time we are helping to eliminate a European shortage.” If Belgium opts for the Sky Guardian, it would join existing European MQ-9 operators Italy, France, Spain and the UK.
The Royal Australia Navy (RAN) is continuing to bolster its collaborative air-defense capabilities. The service officially inducted its second Hobart-class air warfare destroyer on October 27. The HMAS Brisbane is part of Australia’s SEA 4000 program to replace the RAN’s fleet of Adelaide Class (heavily upgraded FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class) frigates that have limited air-defense capabilities and could be hard-pressed to survive against modern anti-ship missiles. Australia’s 7,000t destroyers are based strongly on Spain’s 5,800t F-104 Mendez Nunez AEGIS “frigate”, with some features from the subsequent 6,390t F-105 Cristobal Colon. The vessel’s suite of sensors includes the Lockheed Martin and Raytheon AN/SPY 1D(V) phased array radar, and the Northrop Grumman AN/SPQ-9B surface search radar. The ship is currently equipped with SM-2 missile variants and will be able to fire the new SM-6 from 2020 onward.
Russian media agency TASS reports, that the country’s first regiment armed with the newly developed Avangard hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a hypersonic glide vehicle, will be operational by the end of 2019. “The scheduled period for placing the lead regiment on combat duty is the end of 2019. Initially, the regiment will comprise at least two systems but eventually their number will rise to their organic quantity of six units,” a source told TASS. Hypersonic weapons incorporate the speed of a ballistic missile with the maneuvering capabilities of a cruise missile. Hypersonic weapons refer to a class of weapons that travel faster than Mach 5 (ca. 3,800mph) and have the capability to maneuver during the entire flight. The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle that flies at 20 times the speed of sound. It travels through the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching ballistic missile defense systems. The deployment is significant after United States President Donald Trump announced that the US planned to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or the INF Treaty.
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