Lockheed tapped to mitigate F-35 processor obsolescence | Finland’s H-X contest completes 1st phase | Global Hawks will soar above Japan
Lockheed Martin is being contracted to mitigate the upcoming obsolescence of F-35 JSF essential semiconductors. Awarded by the Naval Air Systems Command, the $41.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order provides for procurement of new Xilinx and Intel-Altera field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). An FPGA is an integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing. They are configurable computer processors with large amounts of logic gates and RAM blocks to implement complex digital computations. The devices can carry out any logical function similar to an application-specific integrated circuit. The F-35s communication, navigation, and identification friend or foe (IFF) avionics rely on FPGAs, as do other critical electronic subsystems aboard the advanced fighter aircraft. The contract combines purchases for the US Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, as well as to FMS customers. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed in February 2019.
The US Navy is procuring a number of Identification Friend or Foe Interrogator (IFFI) units for its P-8A Poseidon aircraft. Telephonics will deliver up-to 50 IFFIs and their associated mounting trays at a cost of $15.1 million. This contract also includes purchases for partner countries and FMS customers. The AN/UPX-43 is a Mark XIIA monopulse and AIMS-certified IFF interrogator for command and control. It enables air traffic controllers and air defenders to identify military and civilian aircraft, verify forces as friendly, and determine their bearing and range. The first order under this IDIQ contract combines purchases for the Navy ($2.7 million) and for the British Royal Air Force ($900 million). Work will be performed at Telephonics’ factory in Farmingdale, New York, and is expected to be completed in November 2021.
Thales Air Traffic Management is being tapped to support worldwide aircraft deployment by the US military. The awarded firm-fixed-price contract option provides for 9 Deployable-Instrument Landing System (D-ILS) production units and has a value of $30.6 million. The highly mobile D-ILS units will be used in airfield environments to precisely guide pilots on their final approach during low-visibility or low-ceiling weather conditions. The Thales D-ILS essentially provides the equivalent of fixed-based Instrument Landing System capability at tactical airfields and environmentally diverse regions such as sites hit by natural disasters. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $126 million. Work will be performed in Clarksburg, Maryland, and is expected to be completed by September, 2020.
Middle East & Africa
Israeli military officials are satisfied with the performance of the country’s Iron Dome air-defense system. Iron Dome is an effective, truck-towed mobile air defense system developed to counter very short range rockets and artillery shell (155mm) threats with ranges of up to 70km. During a recent escalation several militant organisations in the Gaza Strip launched a barrage of missile and mortar fire into Israel. From the 12th to the 13th of November about 460 107mm and 122mm short-range rockets and mortars were launched towards southern Israel. An IDF source told Jane’s that the Iron Dome batteries “performed in an excellent manner” by intercepting more than 100 projectiles heading towards civilian built-up areas in Israel.
The US State Department is determined to approve a FMS to NATO. Requested by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency the potential $320.5 million contract sees for the sale of various precision guided munitions kits. This includes the delivery of 2040 JDAM kits for GBU-31 2000 lbs and GBU-38 500lbs bombs. The contract further includes the delivery of required Munitions Adapter Units, Enhanced Computer Control Groups and Joint Programmable Fuzes for the weapon systems. Prime contractors Boeing and Raytheon will also provide NATO with laser kits, proximity sensors, Wireless Paveway Avionics Kit (WIPAK) interfaces and logistic services. This order will support following NATO members: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. This sale increases the quantity of precision-guided munitions within NATO and allows for their pre-coordinated transfer in support of national and NATO requirements.
The Finnish government is concluding the pre-bid dialogue phase of its H-X contest which seeks to find a suitable replacement for the country’s fleet of 62 Boeing F/A-18C/Ds. During this phase the government held a series of talks with industry with the aim to outline the contract parameters and the industrial offset proposed for Finnish industry. Shortlisted companies include Boeing with its F-18 Super Hornet, Dassault with its Rafale, Lockheed Martin and its F-35 JSF, Saab’s Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Helsinki expect preliminary offers early next year, with improved bids leading to a final decision in 2021. First deliveries are expected to commence in 2025. Project manager Lauri Puranen wrote in a blog on the Finnish MoD website that “all the manufacturers have taken the challenge seriously and are striving to provide Finland with the best possible overall package,” adding that “none of the candidates have a better or worse status”.
Tokyo is ordering the RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Northrop Grumman. The $489 million contract includes the delivery of three RQ-4 Block 30i air vehicles, two ground control elements, spares, support equipment and other program activities. Each UAV will contain an enhanced integrated sensor suite payload (EEIS). Developed by Raytheon, the EISS comprises an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, synthetic aperture radar imagery, and ground moving target indicator elements. The Global Hawk’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of ISR collection capability to support joint combatant forces in worldwide peacetime, contingency and wartime operations. The Global Hawk provides persistent near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence (IMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT) and moving target indicator (MTI) sensors. Work will be performed at Northrop Grumman’s factory in San Diego and will run through September 2022.
The Royal Australian Air Force is fitting external fuel tanks on its C-130J Hercules aircraft in an attempt to boost its ability to perform a range of missions. The fuel tanks increase the fuel capacity of a Hercules from 19 tonnes to 27 tonnes. “Extra fuel is useful during Forward Arming and Refuelling Point operations, where the crew land and offload fuel to another aircraft, vehicle or storage tank,” Air Commodore William Kourelakos said in a statement. Flown by the Air Mobility Group, the effectiveness of the external tanks will be tested in December, where one C-130J will support Operation Christmas Drop in Guam. This involves the delivery of donated gifts to remote island communities in the West Pacific. “Some of these missions are to islands more than 2000km from Guam, where there’s very limited options to divert in the event of an emergency. Carrying that extra fuel would make some aspects of mission planning easier, allow crews to deliver to more island communities, or increase the amount of time loitering at a Drop Zone,” the Air Commodore concluded.
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