New software to make the Lightning II more deadly | SeaSparrow flies for Mexico | Romania orders M142 artillery
Lockheed Martin is receiving a contract modification for the development of F-35 Lighting II upgrades. The modification is valued at $104.9 million and enables Lockheed to mature the design and development of the fighter jet’s Block 4 common capabilities. The upgrades are part of the F-35 Phase 2.2(A)(1) pre-modernization of common capabilities program which will support the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and international partners. The F-35 is only as capable as its code. The Lightning II comes with 8 million lines of code, more than four times the amount of the F-22, the world’s first 5th generation fighter. Now known as Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2), Block 4 will enable the F-35 to employ its full panoply of sensors and munitions. With the wider Block 4 capability to be rolled out in four increments (Block 4.1, 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4). It will will eventually enable the F-35 to fire cutting edge weapons systems such as the Small Diameter Bomb II and GBU-54 – both air-dropped bombs able to destroy targets on-the-move. The whole Block 4 update program is expected to cost $10.8 billion through FY2024. The contract combines purchases for the Air Force ($83.9 million) and for relevant international partners ($21.0 million). Work will be conducted at the Lockheed Martin’s facility on Fort Worth, Texas, and is scheduled for completion by July 2019.
The Navy is procuring upgrade kits for its fleet of submarines. Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems will procure, assemble, integrate and test the AN/BLQ-10 system modernization kits at a cost of $47 million. The AN/BLQ-10 submarine EW system, provides automatic detection, classification, localization, and identification of potentially hostile radar and communications signals at sea. It is designed for Virginia-, Los Angeles-, and Seawolf-class fast-attack submarines, Ohio-class conventional guided-missile submarines, and future Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines, but not for current Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines. When the boat is at periscope depth the system processes the signals that are picked up by the submarine’s imaging mast or periscope. It warns the crew of collisions, helps to avoid detection by enemy forces and is able to provide ISR support to the fleet. Work will be performed in Syracuse, New York; Manassas, Virginia and Moorestown, New Jersey. The systems are expected to be upgraded by December 2020.
The US State Department is determined to approve a foreign military sale to Mexico. The country want to purchase six Evolved Seasparrow tactical missiles (ESSM) and two Evolved Seasparrow telemetry missiles for an estimated cost of $41 million. The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is used to protect ships from attacking missiles and aircraft, and is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. The potential deal would also include one MK56 VLS launcher (for RIM-162D) with eight launching cells and eight MK30 canisters, as well as services ranging from training to engineering support services. The Mexican Navy plans to equip its Sigma 10514 Class ship with the ESSM. The system allows the Navy to better protect critical sea lanes against potential foes while also increasing its maritime partnership potential.
Middle East & Africa
The Turkish Defence Industry Directorate (SSB) is contracting Turkish defense contractor Aselsan to develop a new electronic warfare system. Aselsan says that the system comes with a long-range detection and jamming capability that helps to suppress enemy air defense surveillance during combat operations. The HavaSOJ integrates with radar, giving it the capability to coordinate missions in real time and to counter aerial threats. The system will be probably installed on a business jet, purchase of which Turkey is close to reaching a deal on with an unidentified company. Aselsan expects first deliveries by 2027 and says that the first HavaSOJ will be available to the Turkish Air Force Command by 2023.
The US Army will provide it allies in Syria with Toyota HiLux pick-up trucks as part of CJTF Operation Inherent. Florida company Bukkehave will provide the trucks and spare parts under this $10.2 million firm-fixed-price foreign military sale. The Toyota HiLux a series of light commercial pickup trucks that is manufactured in Japan. The Toyota is considered to be reliable and highly mobile vehicle making it quite popular in the Middle East and Central Asia. It can be used to transport troops or as a light attack vehicle if equipped with a -.50 cal machine gun. In 2015 US counter-terror officials have asked Toyota, the world’s second largest auto maker, to help them determine how ISIS has managed to acquire the large number of Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs seen prominently in the terror group’s propaganda videos. Work will be performed in Fort Lauderdale and is expected to be completed by December 1st, 2018.
Romania is set to procure several HIMARS launchers from Lockheed Martin. The $218 million contract modification provides for 18 M142 launchers, associated training, spares and product improvement modifications. The HIMARS is mounted to a 6 by 6 truck chassis and has been designed to engage and defeat artillery, air defense concentrations, trucks, light armor and troop carriers, as well as support troop and supply concentrations. HIMARS carries a single six-pack of rockets or one ATACMS missile. The basic tactical rocket warhead contains 644 M77 munitions, which are dispensed above the target in mid-air. The dual-purpose bomblets are armed during free-fall and a simple drag ribbon orients the bomblets for impact. Each MLRS launcher can deliver almost 8,000 munitions in fewer than 60 seconds at ranges exceeding 19miles. The ATACMS missile carries 950 baseball-sized M74 submunitions to ranges exceeding 180 miles. Romania will receive $106 million as part of a foreign military sale and will be liable to pay the remaining $112 out of its own funds. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Grand Prairie, Texas. Delivery of the systems is expected by December 2020.
The Philippines and a few other countries are set to receive Paveway bombs as part of a US foreign military sale package. The package costs $110 million and includes activities such as studies, production, certification, integration, and sustainment. The Paveway family of laser-guided bombs are capable of converting “dumb” bombs into precision-guided munitions. The variants include Paveway II and Paveway III that are laser-guidance kits; and the Enhanced Paveway II, Enhanced Paveway III and Paveway IV use both laser and GPS guidance. Work will be performed at Raytheon’s facility in Tucson, Arizona and is expected to be completed by February 2029.
Saab announced that the Royal Thai Air Force is upgrading Thailand’s national Air Command and Control System. Saab will perform all work necessary to upgrade its 9AIR C41. The 9AR C4I is a core part of the country’s air defense capability. The system is in use since 2010 and builds the backbone of Thailand’s network-centric defense system. The upgrade will include new hardware and software necessary to sustain current capabilities. Work will be performed at Saab’s facility in Järfälla, Sweden. Upgrades are expected to be completed by 2020.
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