The Gremlins are coming | The Gazelles are jumping again in the UK | The German Navy has simulator problems
- The Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) is tapping the Sierra Nevada Corporation for the final phase of the Agency’s Gremlins program. The DARPA project aims to develop a system that is able to launch and recover reusable drone swarms using manned airborne aircraft. The Gremlins’ will give the US forces the ability to send large numbers of small unmanned air systems with coordinated, distributed capabilities. These provide troops with an improved operational flexibility at much lower cost than is possible with today’s expensive, all-in-one platforms. Produced by Dynetics the Gremlins’ expected lifetime of about 20 uses. DARPA awarded Dynetics a 21-month, $38.6 million contract for the third phase the Gremlin program in April. Sierra Nevada Corp. will provide the Gremlin Air Vehicles with an autonomous docking system, allowing the drones to be recovered by a C-130 aircraft.
- The US Army Contracting Command is awarding a contract modification to BAE Systems Land and Armaments in Michigan. The modification provides for cost overrun funding in relation to remanufacture programs for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and is valued at $8.1 million. Introduced in the 1980s during the Reagan defense build-up, the Bradleys were a departure from the usual mold of lightly armed Armored Personnel Carriers. The Bradleys’ high level of protection against anti-tank rockets has proven to be a significant plus, and operational readiness has reportedly exceeded 94%, during urban and cross-country missions that have covered more than 8 million miles. BAE Systems works through its Public Private Partnership with Red River Army Depot in Texas to remanufacture and upgrade these vehicles. Unlike RESET programs, designed to replace all defective or worn parts and restore/service a vehicle back to pre-combat condition, remanufacture is a complete rebuild designed to return it to full “zero miles” condition, and install upgrades. Work will be performed at the company’s’ location in Sterling Heights, Michigan and is scheduled for completion by September 2018.
- The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center will receive tactical reconnaissance pods from UTAS, a division of Goodrich. The $61 million contract modification provides for a ceiling increase in production programs that provide foreign military sales partner nations an ordering vehicle for the DB-110 Tactical Reconnaissance Pod program. This includes the procurement of DB-110 reconnaissance pods, program infrastructure and an airborne data link terminal. The DB-110 reconnaissance pod is a digital, real-time, tactical reconnaissance system. It is a derivative of Goodrich’s Senior Year Electro-Optic Reconnaissance System-2 (SYERS-2) multispectral sensor system. It combines visible and infrared imaging capabilities in a compact, lightweight design. The pod provides day and night, high-resolution, wide-area imaging capabilities for F-16 aircraft, as well as other jet fighters, from up to 80 nautical miles away and can collect more than 10,000 square miles of imagery per hour. The pod provides stand-off and vertical imaging capabilities, along with air-to-ground communication over constrained bandwidth systems. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $135,5 million. Work will be performed in Westford, Massachusetts, and is expected to be completed by May 2021.
Middle East & Africa
- Algeria has acquired several Russian made TOS-1A multiple rocket launchers. The TOS-1A is mounted on a T-72 or T-90 tank chassis and can fire up to 24 220 mm rockets with thermobaric warheads, which are also known as fuel air explosives. The system has a minimum range of 600 meters and a maximum range of six kilometers. Targets are sighted with an optical sight, laser rangefinder and ballistic computer. Algeria is the fifth known TOS-1A export customer after Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Kazakhstan. The Russians describe TOS-1A as a ‘heavy flamethrower’, however its short action radius and limited choice of armament makes the system far less effective compared to other multiple rocket launcher systems, such as the Avibras’ ASTROS or the M142 HIMARS jointly produced by Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems.
- The British government is awarding funds worth $20.3 million to Airbus Helicopters UK. The funds provide for a sustainment program for the UK’s fleet of Aérospatiale Gazelles Helicopters. The original Gazelle helicopter was designed for the French Army as a lightweight observation helicopter, however, early on in the aircraft’s development, the decision was taken to enlarge the helicopter to enable greater versatility and make it more attractive for the export market. Various types of this helicopter have been in service with Royal Armed Forces since 1974. Earlier this year, a senior representative from the UK’s Joint Helicopter Command revealed that early work had begun on identifying a replacement for the 22-strong active fleet which is scheduled to be completed by 2025.
- The German Navy is currently facing delays regarding the introduction of the NH-90 Sea Lion helicopter into its service. So far, the Navy was unable to procure a bespoke simulator system, necessary for training pilots. The Sea Lion simulator is being procured through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. With the requirement comprising infrastructure, a full-mission simulator, and a rear-cabin crew trainer, the bids from industry have all been received and the technical evaluations are in progress but will not be delivered before the first of the 18 ordered helicopters will arrive at its main operating station. The NH-90 Sea Lion can be used as a utility helicopter, or as an anti-submarine helicopter, depending on how they’re built.
- Jane’s reports that Bangladesh is set to receive two C-130J transport aircraft. The country will receive the Hercules from a UK surplus and has already awarded a multi-year support contract to the Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group. This multi-year contract will see Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group deliver a total support solution to the Bangladesh Air Force C-130J covering aircraft maintenance, logistics support including the provision of spare parts and ground support equipment for establishing local capabilities, as well as engineering services to ensure the effective operation of the fleet. The aircraft give the Asian nation better airlift and MEDEVAC capabilities, enabling the Bangladeshi Air Force to carry out tasks within the country and overseas in support of UN missions.
- The Republic of South Korea has launched its new Large-Scale Transport Ship.