Testing systems for the Minuteman III | USAF buys GPS anti-jam receivers | The Luftwaffe needs new heavy transport helicopters
Boeing is being awarded with extra funding in support of the US’ Minuteman III ICBM system. Awarded by the Air Force Nuclear Weapon Center, the additional $70.5 million cover specification changes for the ICBM’s Missile Flight Test, Telemetry, and Termination program. This includes changes to the management plan and flight termination receiver; and to the electromagnetic interference, cable qualification and antenna testing requirements. The Minuteman III has been an essential part of the USA’s nuclear strike capability for decades and will remain in service through 2030. The Minuteman III has a fast launch time, nearly 100 percent testing reliability, and backup airborne launch controllers to preserve retaliatory capabilities. The Minuteman’s telemetry, test, and termination systems are packaged in a wafer-like package called the Mod 7 that fits on test versions of the Minuteman between the missile’s reentry system and missile guidance set. During tests, Mod 7 transmits data from sensors aboard the test missiles that monitor the missile’s behavior before and during flight. The telemetry, test, and termination systems transmit telemetry data in real time on the missile’s critical on-board components like batteries booster stage pressure chambers, and guidance section. Most of the work will be performed in Huntington Beach, California. Performance is expected to be completed by January 29, 2021.
Detyens Shipyards is being tapped to overhaul one of the Navy’s Henry J. Kaiser-class support ships. The $10 million firm-fixed-price contract covers 60 days of shipyard availability for the regular overhaul and dry docking of the USNS Joshua Humphreys, which includes a variety of general services. The Navy’s existing force of fleet oilers consists of 15 Henry J. Kaiser-class ships. The primary role of Navy fleet oilers is to transfer fuel to Navy surface ships that are operating at sea, so as to extend the operating endurance of these surface ships and their embarked aircraft. Work on the T-AO 188 includes providing clean and gas-free tanks, hydro-blast and recoating efforts, flight deck preservation, stability testing, engine overhaul, recertification of lifeboats and winches, propeller system maintenance, overhauling sea valves and underwater hull cleaning and painting. The contract includes a number of options that could raise the total contract value to $11 million. Work will be performed at Detyens’ shipyard in North Charleston, South Carolina, and is expected to be completed by March 17, 2019.
The US Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard will procure upgrades for digital GPS anti-jam receivers installed on its fleet of F-16s. Provided by Rockwell Collins the upgraded receivers will provide the fighter aircraft with reliable navigation while operating in contested electromagnetic environments. The Digital GPS Anti-Jam Receiver (DIGAR) generates 16 simultaneous steered beams that provides airborne platforms with superior jamming immunity in the most severe GPS-challenged environments. The US Air Force is increasingly concerned about GPS jamming and spoofing by its adversaries, especially Russia, China and Iran, who have shown the ability to throw off aircraft navigation by sending receivers false coordinates. “From advanced fifth-generation aircraft to ground and maritime applications, this receiver is the most reliable military-grade GPS solution available due to its unmatched anti-jam protection levels,” said Troy Brunk, vice president and general manager, Communication, Navigation & Electronic Warfare Systems for Rockwell Collins.
The multi-billion F-35 JSF program will soon mark another major milestone. The US DoD expects to order a 12th batch of F-35s from Lockheed Martin by next spring. “Negotiations on the US contract are moving quickly on what is expected be the largest order to date for the F-35”, the Pentagon’s chief arms buyer Ellen Lord told Reuters. Some sources claim that the impending deal will cover the delivery of over 250 F-35 fighter jets to US services an international partners. The JSF program has been widely criticised for its overruns and schedule delays, however in September Lockheed managed to lower the price for the F-35A by 5,4% to $89.2 million, and expects to cut the price to $80 million by 2020.
Middle East & Africa
The Royal Bahraini Air Force is welcoming its first of two ex-UK Royal Air Force C-130Js. The surplus aircraft were acquired via a government-to-government contract. The 19 year old transport aircraft then underwent an excessive overhaul and maintenance process executed by Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group at its Cambridge airport site. The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. The J variant reached its IOC with the US military in 2006 and features a number of key improvements that enhance performance and reduce overall operating costs. Matthew Harvey, International Sales Director Military Aerospace for Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group commented: “Delivery of this aircraft sees the first Government to Government transfer of a C-130J and the Kingdom of Bahrain enter the C-130 community as a new operator – we support more than 15 countries on the C-130 platform and the capability it delivers is proven. We look forward to continuing to support the Kingdom of Bahrain.”
Germany’s parliamentary budget committee is green lighting the Luftwaffe’s future heavy transport helicopter acquisition program. The German MoD needs to replace its ageing fleet of CH-53s by the end of 2020s and is willing to spend about $6.3 billion. Officials have said that Boeing’s CH-47E and Sikorsky’s CH-53K are being considered. In total the Luftwaffe wants to buy 45 to 60 heavy lift helicopters with delivers expected to take place between 2023 and 2029. The contract is expected to be finalized sometime in 2020. According to Jane’s, Air Force Chief General Ingo Gerhartz welcomed the fact “that the government has given more money for the urgently required modernisation of the Luftwaffe, especially for the next generation of transport helicopters, which we need for almost all deployments worldwide”.
Jane’s reports that the Thai MoD is interested in buying several L-39NGs from the Czech Republic. “They [the Thais] are interested in our aircraft, the newest generation of aircraft, something which is considered to be hi-tech military technology,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters on 10 November following a meeting in Brussels earlier this month with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The L-39NG is based on the aerodynamic concept of the current L-39 but utilizes the latest technologies and equipment. It can be used as a trainer and to conduct light combat and reconnaissance missions under all climatic conditions. Powered by a Williams International FJ44-4M engine the L-39NG is suitable as light attack aircraft for countries with a limited air force.
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