SpaceX launches latest Falcon Heavy Rocket | TLVS Bidders Consortium submits Proposal | India approves Neptune Procurement
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy megarocket successfully launched 24 satellites into orbit. The launch, which was part of a complex government mission, marked several firsts for the SpaceX team. It was the first nighttime launch for the Falcon Heavy, the first time this kind of government mission used two SpaceX boosters that have been flown before and the first time ever the military used the world’s most powerful weapon. The rocket blasted off at 2:30 am EDT on June 25. It was the Falcon Heavy’s third overall flight. The rocket carried payloads for universities, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the nonprofit organization The Planetary Society. The aim of the launch was for the rocket to release the satellites in three different orbits over a period of hours. The satellites will orbit Earth near the equator, taking measurements of the tropics and subtropics, and monitoring the ionosphere for the effects of solar storms. Additionally, the Defense Department and NASA will operate the satellites. Some are intended to conduct space environmental monitoring, communications and advanced space technologies. SpaceX founder Elon Musk called the mission the „most difficult“ ever for the company. While the overall launch was successful, SpaceX had to face one mishap: the center core of the rocket crashed into the ocean instead of landing on the drone ship „Of course I love you“. It is unclear why the center core missed its target. The disappointment was evident in the SpaceX headquarters during the livestream as initial celebration gave way to silence after the center core crashed.
L3 Technologies won a $73.7 million contract in support of the submarine photonics mast programs. The deal provides for repair, upgrades and overall services. A photonics mast is a sensor on a submarine that functions much like a periscope but without requiring a periscope tube. This prevents water leakage in the event of damage. The Navy started fitting photonics masts to the Virginia Class submarines in 2004. The Naval Sea Systems Command contracted L-3 with $48.7 million in 2015 to develop and build a new, slimmer version of its photonics mast for the Virginia Class submarines. In the boats, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two Photonics Masts that house color, high-resolution black and white, and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. L3 will perform 98 percent of the work in Northampton, Massachusetts and is expected to be finished by June 2025.
Middle East & Africa
Qatar’s $6.4 billion deal with the UK in 2018 to supply Qatar with 24 Typhoon fighter jets was the largest UK export credit deal ever, the recent UK Export Finance report shows. In the UKEF report, it says: „As well as being its centenary, this has also been a record year for UKEF, with the largest amount of business underwritten in a single year for decades. This included support for the biggest transaction in its history, worth nearly £5 billion for the export of defence equipment to Qatar. As well as supporting BAE Systems, MBDA UK and their thousands of UK employees and suppliers, this contract will strengthen our own defence capabilities and those of an important strategic ally“. According to Jane’s the provision of credit to Qatar continues the UKEF’s trend in recent years to engage primarily with the defense materiel requirements of countries from the Middle East and Asia Pacific.
Lockheed Martin won a $561.8 million FMS contract to Bahrain, Poland and Romania for the Army tactical missile guided missile. The contract for the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS, includes guided missiles and a launching Service Life Extension Program, or SLEP III. According to Lockheed, the rounds will include sensor technology that provides the recently qualified Height-of-Burst capability. They will produce the rounds at the company’s Precision Fires Production Center of Excellence in Camden, Arkansas. Lockheed is expanding its Camden manufacturing facilities to include the capability to produce ATACMS and other upcoming missiles. Estimated completion date is June 30, 2022.
MBDA Germany and Lockheed Martin’s joint venture, the TLVS bidders consortium, submitted its proposal to develop, test and deliver TLVS, Germany’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense system, MBDA said in a news release. The tender proposes an efficient four-phased approach that includes development, integration, testing and delivery of a fielded multi-mission system. The TLVS (Taktisches Luftverteidigungssystem) is designed to replace Germany’s aging, sectored Patriot systems. It will be the first-ever integrated air and missile defense system able to simultaneously detect, track and intercept multiple threat sets, including medium and short-range threats with full 360-degree coverage. According to MBDA, the fielded unit will deliver new capabilities and significant performance enhancements well beyond the MEADS program and all known systems. The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program is aimed to replace Patriot missiles in the United States, the older Hawk system in Germany, and Italy’s even older Nike Hercules missiles.
India’s Ministry of Defense approved the procurement of 10 more Boeing P-8I Neptune long-range maritime multi-mission aircraft for the Indian Navy for a total of $3 billion. The proposed P-8Is are expected to supplement 12 similar platforms, eight of which were ordered in 2009 for $2.1 billion and delivered by 2015. The other four were ordered in 2016 for $1.1 billion and are scheduled for delivery from 2021. The actual contract is scheduled to be signed early next year. First, the deal will have to be cleared by the Defense Acquisition Council, which is headed by defense minister Rajnath Singh and includes the three chiefs and the defense secretary, and then, by the Cabinet Committee on Security, which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and includes the finance, defense, home and external affairs ministers.
Watch: SpaceX successfully launches Falcon Heavy rocket