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Pentagon seeks to decrease F-35 sustainment costs | Bahrain set to buy AH-1Z’s | Hawk Trainer deal falls through

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Americas * The Pentagon seeks to drastically decrease the sustainment costs of it F-35 Lightning II program. The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program is considered to be the largest single global defense programs in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that comes in 3 variants. […]
Americas

* The Pentagon seeks to drastically decrease the sustainment costs of it F-35 Lightning II program. The $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike fighter program is considered to be the largest single global defense programs in history. This major multinational program is intended to produce an “affordably stealthy” multi-role fighter that comes in 3 variants. Considering that the cost of a single plane ranges between $94.6 and $121.8 million, this advanced fighter jet comes with a hefty price tag. Additionally the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimates that the F-35 sustainment for the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy is expected to cost about $1.12 trillion over the next 60 years. Dr. Will Roper, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition is planning to decrease the F-35 sustainment costs by introducing software for predictive maintenance. Knowing when maintenance should be done on the jet could significantly drive down sustainment costs. In the long-term the Pentagon may be able to make artificial intelligence and 3D printing cornerstones of its preventative maintenance toolkit.

* Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc., of Monroeville, Pennsylvania has been awarded two cost-plus-fixed-fee modifications to previously awarded contracts. They provide for various naval nuclear propulsion components and have a cumulative cost of over $250 million. The USA has had an all-nuclear submarine fleet for over 50 years, a policy that dates back to the visionary Admiral Hyman Rickover. On the surface, America’s aircraft carriers became an all-nuclear fleet with the retirement of the USS Kitty Hawk. Currently a 5-year, $17 billion deal is building 10 Virginia Class Block IV fast attack submarines for the US Navy, bringing production to 2 boats per year. Work will be performed in Monroeville, Pennsylvania and Schenectady, New York. Fiscal 2018 shipbuilding and conversion funding is being obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. No completion date or additional information is provided on Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program contracts.

Middle East & Africa

* The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has announced that Bahrain will buy several AH-1Z attack helicopters. The AH-1Z Viper, also called “Zulu Cobra”, is a twin-engine attack helicopter. Based on the AH-1W SuperCobra, the Viper features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system. The contract is valued at $911.4 million and provides for 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters, 14 AGM-114 Hellfire Missiles, 56 Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II WGU-59Bs and other items such as GPS, M197 20mm gun systems and various countermeasure and communications equipment. The principal contractors will be Bell Helicopter, Textron, Fort Worth, Texas; and General Electric Company, Lynn, Massachusetts. The deal with Bahrain comes at a time of heightened geo-strategic partners between major powers such as Russia and Iran and can be seen as part of a wider U.S. strategy that sees for the military support of strategic partners in the region as means of stabilization.

* The Nigerian Airforce (NAF) has received its second batch of Mi-35M Helicopter supplied by Russia. The Mi-24 attack helicopter is manufactured by the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, based in Moscow, Russia. It entered service with the Soviet Union in the late 1970s, and more than 2,500 have been produced. The Mi-24 gained fame in a number of conflicts including Afghanistan and in Chechnya. The Mi-35M is a later version comes with night-flying capabilities and is armed with anti-tank missile systems for the engagement of moving armored targets, weapon emplacements and slow-moving air targets. The brand-new aircrafts greatly enhance the operational capability of the NAF which will add impetus to the current security challenges posed by Boko Haram, an affiliate of the Islamic State, and criminal gangs.

* Jane’s reports that three US senators have introduced a bill that aims to prevent the sale of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s to Turkey. This bill is a response to the imprisonment of US nationals. Turkey is a Tier 3 partner in the F-35 program and is supposed to purchase up to 100 F-35A fighter planes as a long-term replacement for its 240-plane F-16 fleet. The overall program is expected to cost of around $16 billion. Most recently Turkey has been criticized by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

Europe

* The Finnish government has issued a request for quotation (RfQ) to four nations in order to find potential bidders for Helsinki’s HX fighter replacement program. Finland is phasing out its Hornet Fleet from 2025 and a replacement selection is expected to be made in 2021. The government is seeking to purchase 64 aircraft with weapons and sensors, and has requested bids from France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Those bidding for the replacement are Boeing with its upgraded F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; Dassault with the Rafale; Eurofighter with the Typhoon; Saab with the Gripen; and Lockheed Martin with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The next phase following the RfQ issue is to begin in the second half of 2019, when final offers will be negotiated with each of the bidders. The final quotations would be requested in 2020. The bids will be assessed based on the ability to meet five military scenarios: counter-air; counter-land; counter-sea; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and long-range strike.

Asia-Pacific

* A defense deal valued at over $300 million for the provision of 20 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer’s to the Indian Air Force (IAF) could fall through as the negotiations for it have been stuck for almost three years now, mostly due to a steep price hike by the vendors. The induction of advanced jet trainers into India’s Air Force has been a long and difficult process. A 20-year procurement process came to an end in 2004, when India selected BAE’s Hawk as its future advanced jet trainer. The 66-plane order was worth about $1.2 billion. The IAF has made clear that it is not interested in the offer to upgrade the fleet of its 120 Hawk planes as proposed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). HAL had offered to upgrade the Hawk fleet of the Air Force to Hawk India jets by adding combat capabilities, however the price offered is more than 60% of what the Indian Ministry of Defense is willing to pay.

Today’s Video

* Drones & fighter jets: Berlin air show assembles latest in European aviation technology

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