US Navy gets two more EPFs | Insitu to support ScanEagle Site in Afghanistan | Germany upgrades Leopard 2
The US Navy awarded Austal USA a $261.8 million contract modification for two additional Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships (EPFs). The modification provides for design and construction and will also definitize the long-lead-time material undefinitized contract actions for EPF 13 and 14. Australian Shipbuilder Austal builds EPF ships in support of the EPF program by the Navy. The 14-ship EPF program has been worth over $2 billion. According to the DOD, the EPF class provides high-speed, shallow-draft transportation capability to support the intra-theater maneuver of personnel, supplies and equipment for the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Army. The vessels are to join coalition force operations of the Army and Navy. The Spearhead-Class EPF ships’ main roles include transportation of troops, military vehicles, cargo and equipment for a range of global missions. They will also support military logistics and humanitarian relief operations. The construction of EPF 13 will start in late 2019 and after that the construction of EPF 14 will commence in the middle of 2020, extending the EPF program to 2022.
The Defense Logistics Agency contracted General Dynamics $93 million for the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) Increment 1 system. The WIN-T Increment 1 was originally known as the JOINT Network Node Network program and is the Army’s high-speed, high-capacity tactical communications network to distribute classified and unclassified information by means of voice, data, and real-time video. Increment 1 is a stationary network for command posts and units. It provides a full range of at-the-halt data, voice, and video communications. Work under the five-year-contract will take place in Massachusetts and is scheduled to be completed by March 24, 2024.
Raytheon announced on March 25, that the company will develop a new version of the Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar on the U2 Dragon Lady. The US Air Force awarded Raytheon the $320 million undefinitized contract. The ASARS-2B is the radar used on the Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft. It contains an active electronically scanned array antenna and is designed to double the surveillance range of the U2. The advanced radar also maintains the mapping and imagery resolution of the existing ASARS-2A system. ASARS-2A is a high-resolution, multimode, long-range, air-to-ground radar that can support all-weather operations during day or night. ASARS-2B provides operators with critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. The U2 Dragon Lady is a single-jet engine, ultra-high altitude reconnaissance aircraft designed for minimum airframe weight. Built from the profile of a traditional sailplane with a long-tapered wing, the plane was designed in the mid-1950s as reconnaissance on Soviet military Activity.
Middle East & Africa
The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division tapped Insitu Inc. with $17.5 million to support ScanEagle Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) sites in Afghanistan. The delivery order provides for technical services, training, site survey and activation teams, and program management to sustain. The Boeing Insitu ScanEagle is a long-endurance, low-altitude UAV used for reconnaissance. The ScanEagle carried a stabilized electro-optical and infrared camera on a lightweight inertial stabilized turret system, and an integrated communications system having a range of over 62 miles. The UAV is launched using a pneumatic launcher known as the „SuperWedge“ launcher. In 2015 Insitu won an award to deliver eight ScanEagle systems to Afghanistan and in 2017 the company was tapped for delivery of five more. In March last year, it was reported that Afghanistan is to receive eight additional UAVs by March 2019. 95 percent of work under the current contract will be performed in Afghanistan and 5 percent in Bingen, Washington. The scheduled completion date is March 2020.
The US Department of State approved a possible sale to Morocco of F-16C/D aircraft. The cost of the deal is estimated at $3.8 billion. Morocco has requested to purchase 25 F-16C/D Block 72 aircraft and other related equipment. According to a press statement, the proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major Non-NATO ally that continues to be an important force for political stability and economic progress in North Africa. Morocco already operates an F-16 fleet and also requested an upgrade of the 23 aircraft to the F-16V configuration. The prime contractor for the sale and the upgrade is Lockheed Martin. According to the company, the F-16 Block 70/72 is the newest and most advanced F-16 configuration to date, with a structural life more than 50 percent beyond that of previous F-16 aircraft.
The budget committee of the German parliament approved $28 million in funding to upgrade German Leopard 2 Main Battle Tanks as well as the same amount for procurement of 155 mm ammunition for the Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000 self-propelled howitzer. According to a statement from the Ministry of Defense, 101 Main Battle Tank Leopard 2 variants A6M A2 and A6 are to be brought to a similar design level as the latest version Leopard 2 A7V. The aim is to adapt to the Leopard 2 A7V in terms of operation and logistics. The tanks’ systems will be standardized to make them more effective, increase protection, and allow for the exchange of crews. 32,000 DM121 shells for the PzH 2000 are to be delivered in a total of eight procurements.
India inducted four CH47 Chinooks heavy-lift helos into the Indian Air Force. The Chinook choppers will be used for various military purposes including deploying of troops and machinery at high-altitude locations along the India-Pakistan border. With this, India will join a long list of 19 countries including the US, UK, Japan, and South Korea that deploys the twin-engined, heavy-lift helicopters. India bought 15 Chinooks at a prize of $1.5 billion. The whole fleet is expected to be inducted by March next year. The CH-47 Chinooks are multi-mission heavy-lift transport helicopters. They will be used to transport troops, artillery, supplies, equipment on the battlefield, ammunition and even barrier materials. They can also be used as disaster relief, search and recovery operations, medical evacuation, fire-fighting and civil development.
Watch: RAAF E-7A Wedgetail tour