How long will the Knighthawk fly? | ‘Big Lizzie’ sails stateside | Has Germany clipped its wings for too long?
The Army is contracting Foster-Miller to support its counter-IED efforts. The company is being awarded with a hybrid contract valued at $11.6 million. Foster-Miller, doing business as QinetiQ North America will provide the service with a new Route Clearance and Interrogation System (RCIS) Type I. The Route Clearance and Interrogation System Type I essentially involves automation of the High Mobility Engineering Excavator (HMEE) platform. The HMEE-I is a backhoe loader developed by JCB. The vehicle can carry a two-man crew and was specifically developed for the US military, to replace its small emplacement excavator. The HMEE-I can be used to clear roads, lay power lines and create obstacles to hinder enemy forces. It has a lifespan of 25 years. The vehicle can be outfitted with a variety of self-protection kits that can provide ballistic and blast protection protection against small arms fire and improvised explosive devices. Under the RCIS program an operator will be able to wirelessly control the HMEE-I from a separate control vehicle. Work will be performed at the company’s location in Waltham, Massachusetts and is expected to be completed by March 14th, 2025.
The US Army is moving ahead with its Hellfire replacement. Lockheed Martin is being awarded with a contract modification that provides for the procurement of Joint-Air-to-Ground missiles at a cost of $26.4 million. The JAGM was cleared for low-rate initial production on June 27th. Its seeker combines a semi-active laser with millimeter-wave radar sensors that give it the capability to go up against stationary and moving land and maritime targets in bad weather or obscured conditions at ranges up to 16km. Initial operational capability through the Army is expected in early 2019. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Orlando, Florida and is expected to be completed by February 28th, 2020.
BAE Systems is being tapped to provide the US military with additional countermeasure systems for its F-35s as part of the PMA272 Air Expendable Countermeasures Program. The firm-fixed-price delivery order provides for the manufacture of T-1687/ALE-70(V) countermeasures at a cost of $70.4 million. PMA272 Air Expendable Countermeasures are designed to protect aircraft from radio-frequency and infrared targeted weapon systems. The ALE-70 towed radio frequency countermeasure consists of the reel and launcher assembly, tow line, T-1687 countermeasure transmitter, and electronic and mechanical subassemblies. It also has canisters, and explosive cartridges to deploy the decoys. When deployed from the aircraft, the ALE-70’s countermeasure transmitter responds to commands from the countermeasure controller located in the jet and emits waveforms to confuse or decoy adversary radars or radar-guided weapons. The system may be towed or free-flying. Work will be performed in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is scheduled for completion by March 2021.
The Navy is funding research on its fleet of MH-60 Sierra Multi-Mission Helicopters. The aircraft’s manufacturer Sikorsky is being awarded with a cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order valued a $9.7 million. The company will be responsible to conduct engineering efforts necessary to conduct comprehensive fatigue life analysis to define the expected service life of the Knighthawk. The MH-60S entered service in 2002 as a replacement for the US Navy’s Boeing CH-46D Sea Knight, flown mostly in utility roles that involve moving cargo between ships. It is designed specifically for amphibious assault operations but it fulfills multi-role operational capabilities. The MH-60S functions as a heavy-lift capable helicopter for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore transport. Work will be performed at Sikorsky’s facility in Stratford, Connecticut and is expected to be completed in January 2022.
Middle East & Africa
Jane’s reports that the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) is now in possession of over 120 new vehicles. The Central African Republic (CAR) received a variety of vehicles donated by the US and China. The Chinese company Poly Technologies delivered Dongfeng EQ2050 4×4s and Dongfeng CSK131 4×4 protected vehicles, at a total cost of $15 million. The Dongfeng CSK131 has got an armored hull that provides protection against small arms fire and artillery shell fragments. The vehicle can carry 5 troops and a driver and can be fitted with a shielded machine gun position or a remotely-controlled weapon station. The Dongfeng is the Chinese version of the US Humvee. The US delivered 42 Toyota Hilux 4×4 pickups and six Renault K380 utility trucks worth about $8.5 million. The Central African Republic (CAR) has been unstable since its independence from France in 1960. In 2013 the country plummeted into a religiously motivated civil-war when Muslim rebels from the Seleka umbrella group seized power in the majority Christian country. The country is undergoing an internationally supervised transition involving a constitutional referendum as well as presidential and parliamentary elections.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently on her way to the United States. The Royal Navy’s new flagship is sailing from Portsmouth Naval Base to Norfolk, Virginia. During carrier’s 11 weeks at sea two US-based F-35Bs will carry out 500 landings and take-offs. The UK’s second carrier, the HMS Prince of Wales is currently being fitted at Rosyth in Fife. Once the new ships of the Queen Elizabeth Class are complete, Britain will possess a full-size carrier for the first time in several decades. When fielded, the CVF design will be the largest ships in the world to use electric rather than mechanical propulsion drives. The new carriers will have 2 core components in the air wing, and 2 important ancillaries. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to embark on its first operational deployment in 2021.
The German Army’s air-wing is weaker than expected. A new study by the Bundeswehr found that it needs between 70 and 80 new light helicopters to cover shortfalls in flight hours for pilot training and carry out other missions. If the government approves the necessary funding the army could order dozens of Airbus’ H145M light utility helicopter. German Special Forces are already operating 15 of those helicopters and mission readiness is above 99%. According to the company’s website the H145M can be outfitted with a wide range of available optional mission equipment packages. Reconfigurations range from troop transport with seats to armed scout with a set of weapons and ballistic protection.
The Russian Ministry of Defense is issuing the largest defense contract in FY2018. The Ministry is ordering at least 36 Su-30SM fighters at a cost of $1 billion. The Su-30SM fighter was designed in accordance with the requirements of the Russian Air Force. It is being manufactured by IRKUT, a company based in Russia. The multirole Su-30SM can be deployed in counter-air strikes, counter-land and counter-sea missions. It can conduct electronic counter-countermeasures and early warning tasks. The aircraft also acts as a command-and-control platform within a fleet of combat aircraft performing joint missions. Russia has ordered a total of 116 Su-30SM fighter jets in 2012, delivery of which is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
Watch: HMS Queen Elizabeth is leaving for the USA