MIDAS – DARPA’s digital touch | JASSM production – running hot | ROK & ESP are negotiating a fighter deal
Lockheed Martin is receiving more money to increase Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) production. Awarded by the Air Force, the $350 million increase to an IDIQ contract provides for lifecycle support for all efforts related to JASSM, Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, JASSM-Extended Range, and any JASSM variant. This includes system upgrades; integration, production and sustainment efforts, as well as management and logistical support. The Joint Air-to Surface Standoff Missile is a long-range, radar-evading cruise missile designed to destroy hostile air defenses before aircraft are within range. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s factory in Orlando, Florida and is expected to be completed by April 2022.
General Atomics is being contracted to build more MQ-9 Reapers for the US Air Force. The company will produce several units in their FY2018 configuration at a cost of $263.4 million. The Reaper is a single-engine, turbo-prop, remotely piloted armed reconnaissance aircraft designed to operate over-the-horizon at medium altitude for long endurance. Funding for US SOCOM procures Special Operations Force-unique kits, payloads and modifications. The MQ-9 UAS is comprised of an aircraft segment, consisting of aircraft configured with an array of sensors that includes day/night Full Motion Video (FMV), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensor payloads; avionics, data links and weapons; a Ground control segment consisting of a Launch and Recovery Element, and a Mission Control Element with embedded Line-of-Sight and Beyond-Line-of-Sight communications equipment. Work will be performed at GA’s factory in Poway, California and is scheduled for completion by November 30, 2021.
Raytheon will support DARPA’s Millimeter-Wave Digital Arrays (MIDAS) program with research and development efforts. The competitive, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract is priced at $11.5 million and will run through November 4, 2020. MIDAS aims to develop element-level digital phased-array technology that will enable next generation DoD millimeter wave systems and advance military secure communication technologies. The program is geared toward finding a common digital array tile for performing multiple-beam directional communications at millimeter-wave frequencies. The MIDAS program is focused on two key technical areas: the development of the silicon integrated circuits (ICs) needed for the core transceiver of the array tile; and the development of wideband antennas, millimeter-wave transmit/receive (T/R) components, and the integration of the various components needed to enable the use of this millimeter-wave technology across a number of different applications. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s facility in El Segundo, California.
FlightSafety International is being selected to provide the US Marine Corps with flight training devices for the AH-1Z and the UH-1Y. The devices will be installed at the Marine Air Corps Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan. FlightSafety’s simulation equipment includes VITAL 1100 Image Generators, a dome visual display with 270 x 80 degree field of view (+30 degrees up and -50 degrees down). The devices will also feature Microsoft Windows 10, advanced Cybersecurity, daily operational readiness test software as well as other computational system upgrades. In addition, the company will modify four existing AH-lZ and UH-IY flight training devices located at Camp Pendleton. This includes a new aft entry area, instructor operating system position and design, a visual display dome and visual turret structure, as well as an expanded vertical field of view and 6-axis degrees of freedom secondary motion system.
Middle East & Africa
One of the Egyptian Air Force’s MiG-29 fighter aircraft crashed during a training flight last Saturday. Military officials have confirmed that the jet crashed due to a “technical glitch in the control tools”, adding the pilot managed to eject safely. The plane was supplied by Russia to Egypt as part of a commercial contract in 2018. The MiG-29M/M2 is a major development of the legacy MiG-29, boasting design changes to the airframe, improved turbofans in the RD-33MK (which is similar in weight to the RD-33, but benefits from a higher thrust rating and full-authority digital engine control), fly-by-wire flight control system, updated avionics and Zhuk-ME pulse-Doppler radar. About 1,600 MiG-29s are currently operational worldwide and approximately 600 MiG-29s and variants are in service with the Russian Air Force.
The UK Ministry of Defence plans to spend over $243 billion over the next ten years as outlined in its 2018 Defence Equipment Plan. According to the paper, the MoD will spend about $600 million more on the UK’s new aircraft-carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and her F-35B fighter aircraft. This significant increase is being offset by reducing the cost of other ongoing MoD programs, such as the P-8 Poseidon program, the Apache sustainment program and the Type-26 frigate acquisition program. However the MoD is also experiencing some problems with other projects. The Royal Army’s Warrior IFV Capability Sustainment Program is already $81 million over budget and 13-months behind schedule. Despite the MoD’s efforts to drive down costs the National Audit Office is less than pleased. The office has noted that the MoD’s plan ‘remains unaffordable and is not sustainable if the Department wants to deliver longer-term value for money’. Current estimates assume that the MoD will have a spending gap of $9 to $19 billion in the next ten years.
Defense News reports that South Korean and Spanish defense officials are currently negotiating a possible trade of trainer and transport aircraft. The deal may involve the exchange of 54 advanced trainer jets built by KAI for four to six A400M transport aircraft. It seems that the initial proposal was made on the sidelines during the Farnborough International Airshow last July. The Spanish Air Force will soon need to replace its ageing fleet of Enaer T-35C Pillan jets, but has a surplus of about 13 A400Ms. If the deal goes through Spain could exchange some of its transporters for 34 KT-1 basic trainers and 20 T-50 advanced trainer jets. The total value of the swap deal is estimated to be $890 million.
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