Navy wants Cost-Reduction of F-35 | USS Gerald R Ford successfully defends itself | China to build new nuclear aircraft carriers
The Navy tapped Lockheed Martin with a $90.4 million contract modification to reduce the cost of the F-35 Lightning II Air System. The modification provides for the identification and execution of cost reduction initiatives. The F-35 single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters are the most expensive airplanes of all time. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said at the end of January that the program had a lot of opportunity for performance improvements. In late 2018 a Defense Department assessment obtained by Bloomberg news prior to its official release revealed that the F-35B is not projected to meet the expected service life of 8,000 fleet hours but could be as low as 2,100 hours. Lockheed Martin will aim to complete the cost reduction efforts by June 2022.
The Navy contracted Q.E.D. Systems with a $11.5 cost modification for third party advanced planning services in support of Navy service combatant ship classes CG 47 and DD G51. Work includes Chief of Naval Operations Availabilities, Continuous Maintenance Availabilities (CMAVs), inactivation CMAVs, sustainment availabilities, modernization and re-commissioning availabilities as well as continuous maintenance and emergent maintenance windows of opportunity. The CG 47 or USS Ticonderoga is a guided missile cruiser and was the first combatant ship to feature the Aegis combat system. This allows the ship to track and engage multiple targets much more effectively than any ship previously. However, the Ticonderoga-class cruisers were becoming too expensive to continue building, and were too difficult to upgrade: In came the DDG 51 or USS Arleigh Burke. The Arleigh Burke uses a slightly downgraded version of the Aegis combat system, which allows for launching, tracking, and evading missiles simultaneously. Work under the modification will take place in Virginia, California and Washington and is scheduled to be completed by February next year.
Raytheon along with the US Navy successfully completed the first test of the USS Gerald R. Ford’s Ship Self Defense System Integrated Combat System. The live fire test successfully engaged an unmanned aerial vehicle target off the coast of California. The USS Gerald R. Ford or CVN-78 are a new class of aircraft carriers. The ship is equipped with two newly-designed reactors and has 250 percent more electrical capacity than previous carriers. The improvements will allow the ship to load weapons and launch aircraft faster than ever before. The Ship Self Defense System processed the cooperative engagement capability data, determined the appropriate engagement ranges, passed launch commands to the missile and scheduled dual band radar support for the engagement, Raytheon said. The test was the first of several planned for the ship this year.
Middle East & Africa
For the first time ever, German military personnel is stationed in Israel as the training of German Heron Turboprop (TP) medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) remotely piloted aircraft system crews began at the end of last month. The German Luftwaffe is spending eight weeks learning how to operate the Heron TP in the reconnaissance role. The training of the first six crews follows the current regulations and operational capabilities of the system. The training includes the handling of the system in normal operation as well as in case of an error. Germany will lease five Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicles and four ground stations ordered by Airbus Defence & Space Airborne Solutions from Israel Aerospace Industries. They are adapted for Luftwaffe requirements.
Russia is about to receive 12 Uran-6 defining unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs). The Uran-6 is a multi-functional, mine-clearing robot that can be deployed in mine reconnaissance and area clearance operations to detect and remove explosive ordnance as well as anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. The robot was manufactured by JSC 766 UPTK, a subsidiary of Rostec’s Kalashnikov Group, for the Russian Armed Forces. Twelve updated Uran-6 multipurpose mine clearance vehicles will be delivered to the military districts and central units in 2019. The updated Uran-6 maintains the physical dimension of the original model at 4,565 mm long, 2,015 mm wide, and 1,470 mm tall. The vehicle weighs 6 tonnes without its mine clearance subsystems.
China is building four more nuclear aircraft carriers as Beijing is trying to keep up with the US Navy. China currently only has just one carrier in active service – the Liaoning. The US has 10 in operation. America also expects the USS Gerald R. Ford, the biggest carrier in the world, to join its fleet next year. China made it clear it is keen to expand its aircraft carrier battle groups so it can defend its growing overseas interests. Four of at least six aircraft battle groups, China plans to have in service by 2035 will be nuclear-powered, as the country tries to equal the US in naval strength. Each battleship will reportedly be equipped with electromagnetic aircraft catapults similar to those already utilized by the US Navy.
Leonardo is offering to procure a light combat aircraft (LCA) or a fighter lead-in trainer (FLIT) for the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Jane’s reports. This comes after a recent request for information (RFI) from Malaysia. The procurement is expected to feature an initial 12 LCA/FLIT aircraft for an estimated cost of about $300 million, with an option for another 24 units. It is possible, the requirement will be centered around the M-346FA. The M-346FA fighter attack aircraft can be deployed in ground support roles, including air-to-ground attack, tactical, close air support, counter-insurgency, and interdiction with precision guided munitions. The Royal Malaysian Air Force is planning a future modernization program called „Capability 55“ or „CAP55“.
Watch: Amazing Facts About USS Gerald R Ford CVN 78