The Naval Warfare Center Weapons Division awarded Raytheon a $88.4 million contract for the modification and upgrade of the sensor system software and hardware of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft to incorporate updates, improvements, and enhancements of tactical capabilities. The deal includes technical support for hardware and software anomaly investigation, design, development, documentation, integration, test, and evaluation of systems and support equipment. The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet are twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The Super Hornet is able to carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. The Growler is a specialized version of the Super Hornet. It is a carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft with the ability to perform escort jamming as well as the traditional standoff jamming mission. Work under the contract will take place in El Segundo, California and is scheduled to be finished by February 2024.
The Navy contracted the management consulting firm McKinsey with a $15.7 million modification in support of the F-35 Lightning II affordability campaign for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The F-35 Lightning II was designed to be an affordable 5th Generation fighter. The program received considerable criticism for cost overruns during development and for the total projected cost of the program over the lifetime of the jets. By 2017, the program was expected over its lifetime (until 2070) to cost $406.5 billion for acquisition of the jets and $1.1 trillion for operations and maintenance. The modification provides for maturation of the current effort through expansion and refinement of existing scope, including strategic sourcing, senior leadership team offsite, and major contract actions. Work will take place in Arlington, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by June this year.
Middle East & Africa
Turkey launched its first test and training ship on February 9 at Tuzla shipyard near Istanbul. The ship, which was previously unnamed, is called A-591 TCG Ufuk. Ufuk is 99.5 meters long, 14.4 meters wide, displaces 2,400 tonnes, and has a draft of 3.6 meters. It can attain a speed in excess of 18 kt and has a landing pad that can accommodate a 10-tonne helicopter. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan describes the ship as the country’s first „intelligence corvette“. The ship will have an endurance at sea of 45 days, allowing it to detect threats to Turkish national security instantly and without interruption. Turkish defense technology and engineering company STM is the main contractor in the Ufuk corvette project, with Aselsan developing its command-and-control, electronic, and test/training systems. The commissioning of TCG Ufuk is scheduled for July 2020.
Spain joins France and Germany on the project to build a new combat fighter plane in replacement of the Eurofighter and the Rafale. The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) launched in July 2017 and also plans to include drones and cruise missiles. Just last week the French and German Defense Ministers Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen signed the first ever contract to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the FCAS. The new fighter jet will replace the Eurofighter which is assembled in Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy, and the French Rafale around 2040 and will compete with the US F-35 or its successor. Spain, where Airbus’s military transport planes are assembled, had sent a letter in December to Paris and Berlin asking to be associated with the project.
The US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $211.9 million contract modification for incorporation of remaining Baseline J7 scope for new-construction DDG Aegis Weapons System J7 Baseline development and integration in support of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Per the deal, Lockheed Martin will provide full operational capability at the development test sites, integration of Japanese domestic ship systems, support and provision of technical manuals, logistics, and staging activities. Lockheed is developing an Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) variant computer program, referred to as J7, for deployment on Japan’s Aegis destroyers—which is a centralized, automated, command-and-control weapon system used to rapidly detect and track more than 100 targets at once. Aegis is the world’s most advanced combat system. The computer-based command and decision providing ability is the key element of the AEGIS combat system. The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system is the primary sea-based component of the U.S. missile defense system. Work will take place in the USA as well as Japan and is scheduled to be completed by October 2021.
Despite the controversy, the Rafale fighter jet procurement process is on schedule and the first aircraft will be delivered to the Indian Air Force in September this year. The delivery of the aircraft is set to take place in France and will be brought to India. The French twin-engine, multirole fighter was one of six aircraft competing in the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition, which was a competition to supply 126 multirole combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). In 2012 the IAF announced Rafale as the preferred bidder. However, this sparked a political controversy.
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