USAF allocates $1.3b for LITENING pod work | Nigeria buys AW109 helos | South Korea’s army resumes Surion flights
Northrop Grumman is being contracted to support the US Air Force. The $1.3 billion IDIQ contract covers sustainment, modernization and development efforts of the LITENING advanced targeting pod. Designed to improve both day and night attack capabilities, AN/AAQ-28 pods provide pilots with advanced image processing for target identification and coordinate generation, a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, charge-coupled device television (CCD-TV) sensors, a laser spot tracker/ range finder, and infrared laser marker/ designators. It is fully operational 24 hours a day and in adverse weather conditions. Work will be performed at Northrop Grumman’s factory in Rolling Meadows, Illinois and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
The Space and Missile Systems Center at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado is awarding an IDIQ contract to Lockheed Martin. The order is priced at $462 million and covers for Global Positioning Systems Control-Segment Sustainment II work. Lockheed will provide the service with depot-level software maintenance; organizational-level hardware and software maintenance; systems engineering; Technical Order Management Agency support; maintenance and sustainment of the consolidated test environment as well as support to and integration of GPS Acquisition Category III programs onto the operational control system platform. The GPS III ground control segment is equipped with ground hardware and software that offers command and control for global satellite operations centres’ networks, ground antennas and monitor stations used to control the massive satellite constellation. DOD’s first most powerful satellite was launched to space with a SpaceX provided rocket on December 23, 2018. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado and is expected to be completed by December 31, 2025.
The US Air Force is ordering support and services for its fleet of MQ-9 Reapers from General Atomics. The cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract is valued at $291 million and provides for program management efforts, logistics support, configuration management, technical manual and software maintenance, contractor field service representative support, inventory control point management, flight operations support, depot repair, and depot field maintenance. The MQ-9 can serve in multiple roles like surveillance and support of ground troops as well as emergency search and rescue and other missions. Work will be performed at GA’s Poway, California factory. Performance is expected to be completed by December 31, 2019.
Middle East & Africa
The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) is buying two AW109 helicopters from Leonardo. The helicopters are the first batch ordered from Italy and arrived in Nigeria earlier this month. The NAF expects to officially induct the AW109s into service sometime in March 2019. The AW109 is a light-weight, twin-engine eight seat multi-purpose helicopter powered by two side-by-side Pratt & Whitney PW-206C engines, allowing for a climb rate of 9.8m per second and a maximum speed of 311 km/h. The AW109 Power can be configured for a range of missions, including search and rescue, law enforcement, air ambulance, coast guard, border patrol, surveillance, passenger transport, advanced training, and emergency medical services. The helicopters can be armed with 70mm rocket pods, a twin 7.62mm machine gun pod or a single 12.7mm gun pod. The AW109s will support Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram in the country’s Northeast.
The Afghan Air Force (AAF) is making good use of its new A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft. As reported by Jane’s, the A-29s conducted a number of night sorties over the past two weeks. Just in September this year, Afghanistan bought several A-29s at a cost of $1.8 billion. Designed to operate in high temperatures and in extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is a highly maneuverable fourth-generation weapons system capable of delivering precision guided munitions. The aircraft is being used by the Afghan Air Force (AAF) for close-air attack, air interdiction, escort and armed reconnaissance. The aircraft’s slow speed and better visibility allow for more precise targeting make it suitable to deploy many kinds of ‘cheap’ non-precision bombs.
Fligth Global reports that Leonardo’s first production-standard M-345 jet trainer successfully performed it first test flight, bringing it one step closer towards service entry with the Italian Air Force in 2020. The M-345 is a training jet aircraft with costs comparable to those of a turboprop aircraft, however it features superior performances compared to other airframes. The aircraft is powered by one Williams International FJ44-4M turbofan engine accelerating it to speeds of up to 460 mp/h. The trainer is equipped with five hardpoints supporting up to 2.205 lbs of external stores in the form of drop bombs, rocket pods, and gun pods. Rome currently has five M-345s on order and could request another 40 in the future. The new jet trainers will replace Italy’s fleet of Aermacchi MB-339s.
South Korea’s Army is again flying its fleet of KUH-1 Surion helicopters. The Army suspended all flying missions of its Surions after a navy version crashed in July this year, killing five of the six Marines aboard and injuring the other. To ensure the safety of the aircraft the Army conducted a comprehensive inspection of the helicopter’s rotor mast and several test flights. The Army has so far checked about a third of its fleet of 90 Surions.
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