HII starts construction of the Navy’s future LHA | Boeing misses KC-46 delivery deadline | The Minuteman III gets a cryptography upgrade
Northrop Grumman is being contracted to upgrade the Navy’s electronic warfare aircraft. The awarded contract is valued at $697 million and provides for upgraded EA-18G system configuration sets (SCS) and Airborne Electronic Attack and Electronic Warfare systems. The deal also includes the provision of final upgrades for the EA-6B aircraft, which is expected to be retired in 2019. The order combines purchases for the US Navy and government of Australia under the Foreign Military Sales program. The Growler is the Navy’s land- and carrier-based, radar and communication jamming aircraft. The plane’s Airborne Electronic Attack and Electronic Warfare systems include a new ALQ-218 receiver, a next-generation ALQ-99 jamming pod, am APG-79 AESA radar and an Electronic Attack suite. SCS is operational software that gives the Growler its combat capabilities. Work will be performed at multiple locations, including Point Mugu, California; Baltimore, Maryland; Bethpage, New York and Rolling Meadows, Illinois. The updates are expected to be completed in October 2023.
Boeing is being tapped to support the US Intercontinental Ballistic Missile modernisation program which intends to keep the Minuteman III operational through 2030. The company will deliver eight digital components and 75 message processor drawers in compliance with the government’s minimum requirement for the ICBM program under this $55.6 million undefinitized contract. This action supports the program’s Cryptography Upgrade Increment II, which fully integrates KS-60 capabilities of remote key/code change and irreversible code transformation. Work under the sole-sourced and firm-price-incentive-fee contract will take place in Huntsville, Alabama and Huntington Beach, California. The project is slated for completion on February 11, 2019.
Boeing will miss the delivery deadline of its first KC-46 tanker aircraft to the US Air Force, which was set for October 27th. US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told journalists in a round-table at Bloomberg headquarters in New York, that the service and the company are currently trying “to lay down the path forward for delivery and to make sure the deficiencies that have been identified are taken care of in a way that brings that aircraft in as promised.” The missed deadline is the latest in a series of missed deadlines, that include unresolved deficiencies with the tanker’s system for midair refueling and a delayed FAA certification. The KC-46 acquisition program sees for the delivery of 179 tankers at a cost of $44.3 billion, with the first aircraft expected to be delivered between April and June 2016.
Huntington Ingalls Industries is starting the fabrication of the US Navy’s next amphibious assault ship. The Bougainville is the third America-class amphibious assault ship and first Flight I ship constructed for the Navy. The America-class ships are part of the Navy’s Seapower 21 doctrine and replace the already decommissioned Tarawa-class LHAs. They are based on the more modern LHD Wasp Class design, with the LHD’s landing craft and well deck removed in favor of more planes and hangar space. The vessels are able to embark F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter and V-22 Osprey aircraft. “Bougainville represents the next generation of amphibious capabilities and is a key component to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy,” James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, said in a press release. “The ability to both support Joint Strike Fighter and put Marines ashore will ensure that the Amphibious Fleet remains agile and capable of expeditionary warfare well into the 21st century.” The USS Bougainville (LHA 8) is scheduled to be delivered in 2024.
Middle East & Africa
The government of Iraq will receive a number of new Toyota Land Cruisers as part of a FMS deal. TGS USA will deliver the vehicles and spare parts under this $39.5 million firm-fixed-price contract. The Land Cruiser model comes either as a pickup or as a SUV. The various types offer a flexible set of options with different load carrying capacities and levels of armor.
The Portuguese Air Force is ordering five new helicopters from Leonardo. The company will deliver AW119Kx light-singles for multirole missions under this $23 million contract. The ‘Koalas’ will perform a wide range of roles including training, MEDEVAC, troop transport and short range maritime search and rescue (SAR), the platform may also be used for firefighting. The new aircraft will eventually replace Portugal’s current fleet of eight Aérospatiale SA316 Alouette III light helicopters. Deliveries are set to start in late 2018 from Leonardo’s plant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with completion of deliveries expected by early 2020.
The UK Royal Air Force marks another milestone in its F-35 JSF program. One of the RAF’s B variant was successfully refuelled by a Voyager tanker aircraft. The refuelling took place earlier this week over the North Sea at 19,000 feet. Britain’s Voyager, is an Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) that functions both as an aerial tanker and a transport aircraft. A F-35B pilot told Forces TV that “it’s fantastic to be able to link up the UK’s 5th generation asset with the RAF’s Voyager tanker in UK skies for the first time.”
A team of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is currently training to operate the country’s future CH-47F helicopters. The team is made up of four pilots and four flight engineers who started their training in Delaware on Monday. The CH-47F Chinook is the latest variant in a family of helicopters that first saw service in 1962 during the Vietnam War. The upgraded version includes more powerful engines, reduced vibration, upgraded avionics and self-defense systems, and manufacturing advances designed to improve both mission performance and long term costs. The IAF plans to introduce the Chinooks to its fleet in the near future. India purchased 15 CH-47F Chinook and 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters under a 2014 deal valued at $3.1 billion.
Watch: RAF Voyager refuels F-35B for the first time in the UK