Naval UUV Research is cruising ahead | Belgian fighter options still unclear | Will the German Lynx go to Australia?
- US Marine Corps Task Force Southwest is contracting General Atomics Aeronautical Systems to boost its UAS system intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance surge. The un-definitized contract is valued at $39.56 million and will see for General Atomics to fly its own unarmed MQ-9 Reapers in support of US Marines missions in the US Central Command area of operation. General Atomics will provide a single “orbit” supplying coverage over one particular area 16 hours a day, seven days a week. The company could have to conduct missions lasting 24-hours or more in certain cases, but with advance notice. In January NAVAIR awarded a similar contract in support of USMC deployment in Afghanistan. The Marines currently conduct advisory missions in Afghanistan’s infamous Helmand province, as well as portions of neighboring Nimroz province, both of which border Pakistan. Work will be performed in Yuma, Arizona and Poway, California, the CENTCOM’s area of operatio, and is expected to be completed in November 2018.
- Metron Inc. is being tapped by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for an effort titled advanced modular payloads for unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs). The $8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract includes options, which if exercised, will bring the contract value to $21 million. This contract is part of a wider US Navy research project that seeks to develop certain kinds of software and hardware for advanced UUV autonomy and deployment. Future UUV’s will be able to operate in the open ocean and in coastal waters and harbors on missions lasting more than 70 days to gather intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) information. UUVs will be launched from a pier or a variety of platforms, including the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Virginia class nuclear submarine via its payload module or an enhanced dry deck shelter. Work will be performed in Reston, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by December 2019.
- The US Navy is awarding a cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to General Dynamics Electric Boat. The modification is valued at $225 million and provides for work on the next nine Block V Virginia-class attack submarines. Block V submarines will be longer than previously built Virginia-class subs, to accommodate four Virginia Payload Module (VPM) tubes, which will each contain seven Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs). The VPM offers exceptional flexibility as well for the integration of future payload types, such as unmanned systems or next-generation weapons. Work will be performed at various sites throughout the US, including Spring Grove, Illinois; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and Jacksonville, Florida, among others. It is expected to be completed by January 2019. The deal will see General Dynamics provide economic ordering quantity material for work in fiscal 2019 through 2023.
Middle East & Africa
- The government of the United Arab Emirates is placing a $38.8 million order with Saab in support of its advanced airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) solution GlobalEye. The Erieye family of Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft offer of small size, lower purchase price, dual air/sea scan capabilities, and comparatively cheap operating costs are making it one of the world’s most popular AEW systems. Saab is currently producing the GlobalEye AEW&C, combining air, maritime and ground surveillance in one single solution. GlobalEye combines a full suite of sophisticated sensors including the powerful new extended range radar (Erieye ER), with the ultra-long range Global 6000 jet aircraft. According to Saab, the Erieye ER gives the aircraft a 70% increase of the detection range (about 403 miles) compared to the previous version. The radar provides wide-area moving target indication (GMTI) as well as improved performance against small targets such as stealth aircraft, unmanned aircraft, cruise missiles or submarine periscopes. GlobalEye brings extended detection range, endurance and the ability to perform multiple roles, including tasks such as search and rescue, border surveillance and military operations.
- Jane’s reports that Belgium’s Air Combat Capability Program (ACCaP) is currently facing another roadblock, as the government considers a previously disregarded option to upgrade its incumbent fleet and not necessarily acquire a new-build aircraft. The ACCaP began in December 2015 when the Belgian government confirmed a requirement for 34 new multi-role combat aircraft to replace the 54 ageing Belgian F-16s in the 2023 to 2028 timeframe. Two offerings were being considered for the replacement of the F-16AM/BM fleet under the program, including the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Final bids for the two aircraft were offered to the Belgian government under the formal acquisition process in February 2018.
- French defense manufacturer Nexter is currently developing its Katana family of 155 mm precision guided munitions (PGMs). According to the company the Katana munitions can be fired from all 52 caliber artillery systems, while retaining the traditional artillery qualities: continuous fire, all-weather capability, high cost/efficiency ratio. Its specific architecture, allows for Katana to be used for close support and will treat all types of targets thanks to its multi-mode rocket. The rocket is programmable to operate by proximity, impact, or with delay. With a maximum range between 18 miles for the first generation and 37 miles for the next, Katana will be able to strike targets with pinpoint precision. The projectile’s guidance is ensured by a hybridization between a GNSS signal receiver and an inertial measurement unit. In the future, meter scale precision will be accessible through the addition of an optional semi-active laser distance gauge.
- The Australian Department of Defense is currently entering Phase 3 of its Land 400 procurement project. Phase 3 looks into ensuring the Army’s Close Combat Capability, primarily enabled by the current Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and MSV mission systems. One likely contender will be German defense contractor Rheinmetall with its Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicle. Along with the Lynx KF41 family of vehicles, Rheinmetall has also designed a companion Lance 2.0 turret, which the German designer said will result “in a revolutionary IFV with a level of adaptability, survivability and capacity not seen before in an IFV family”. The modular survivability systems of the Lynx will also provide unprecedented flexibility for armed forces to cope with the wide variety of threats faced across the spectrum of conflict, Rheinmetall said. Should Rheinmetall be selected for the LAND 400 Phase 3 project, the Lynx vehicles will be built in Ipswich, Queensland.
- Recent video footage suggests that China is now able to deploy the submarine-launched version of its YJ-18 anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM). The YJ-18 is a vertically-launched missile that can travel at supersonic speeds of up to Mach 3 and has a range of 335 miles. It carries a 661 lb. warhead that can take out a destroyer-sized ship and severely damage a carrier-sized vessel. The YJ-18 system is designed for the destruction of various surface ships from an enemy’s landing squadrons, convoys, carrier strike groups, as well as single vessels and land-based radiocontrast targets in conditions of intensive fire and electronic countermeasures. The YJ-18’s ability to accelerate to supersonic speeds close to its target makes it difficult for ships to destroy the incoming missile with on-board guns. This ASCM also increases the stand-off distance for Chinese vessels and contributes to their anti-access area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. China’s A2/AD capabilities could prove critical during a conflict in the western Pacific and adds to its growing arsenal of anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles.
- Skunk Works celebrates its 75th anniversary
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