Zephyr S HAPS breaks world record | US Navy orders torpedo upgrades | Russian Alligators sighted in Egypt
The Air Force is investing in research that seeks to protect aircraft from photonic energy. UES Inc. is being awarded a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with a value of $49 million. The contract provides for research and development as part of the Air Force’s Flash and Laser Airborne Protection System program. Flash and Laser Airborne Protection System program has been devised as means to increase an aircrew’s survivability to flash-blindness and directed energy threats. Laser weapon systems could one day become standard for self-defense capabilities on Air Force aircraft and augment existing kinetic capabilities. It could also be used to better defend non-stealth aircraft that are seen as increasingly vulnerable to advanced anti-aircraft defense systems developed by Russia and China. Directed energy weapons are still considered a nascent market although significant progress has been made on laser weapons for use in naval and ground-based applications, including systems capable of downing drones. UES will be responsible for conducting exploratory and advanced research and development of materials and technologies needed to control, manipulate, and protect airfares against photonic energy. Work will be performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by November 10th, 2024.
Raytheon and Leonardo-DRS are being contracted to support the Army’s FLIR technology. Both companies are each being awarded with a maximum $79.3 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract that provides for the production of spare parts in support of the Second Generation Forward Looking Infrared Block 1 B kit. The SG FLIR 1 B kit is a thermal imaging system developed as part of the Army’s Horizontal Technology Integration (HTI) initiative. B-Kits consist of common components that will be integrated into combat vehicle sights for reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. These B-Kit upgrades will provide combat vehicle crews with a common picture across all host vehicles. Weapon sights that are based on FLIR technology support battlefield surveillance and target acquisition. They allow gunners and field commanders to see, identify and target enemy platforms 24 hours a day, regardless of obscurants such as smoke, fog and dust. FLIR systems are installed on various platforms including the M1 Abrams and the Bradley. Both contracts have a duration of five years and do not include option periods. Work will be performed at the companies locations in Texas and Florida, and is scheduled for completion by August 2023.
The Navy is ordering torpedo replacement kits from Lockheed Martin Sippican. The firm-fixed-price, cost and cost-plus-fixed-fee modification has a value of $59.1 million and provides for the production of G&C sections and CBASS kits used on the Mk48 Mod 7 torpedo. The Mk-48 is a huge 533mm torpedo (19 feet long, 3,500+ pounds) with advanced homing, wire guidance capabilities, and devastating consequences when its 300kg warhead hits a target. The Mk48 Mod 7 CBASS is an upgraded version of the MK 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) Mod 6 Advanced Common Torpedo (ACOT). CBASS includes a Broadband Sonar Analog Receiver, preamplifier and interfacing hardware. This gives the retrofitted torpedoes the ability to transmit and receive over a wide frequency band, and takes advantage of broadband signal processing techniques to improve their targeting & tracking capabilities. According to the Lockheed’s website the company delivers at least 20 Mod 7 CBASS kits per month to the US Navy. This contract combines purchases for the US Navy and international allies. The governments of the Netherlands, Canada and Turkey will each receive the kits under the US foreign military sales program. Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facilities in Marion, Massachusetts; Braintree, Massachusetts and Lemont Furnace, Pennsylvania. The kits are scheduled for delivery by March 2021.
Lockheed Martin is being tapped for work on the F-35 Lot 12. The company is being awarded with a cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order that provides for the procurement of ancillary mission equipment at a cost of $301.9 million. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters. The fifth-generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack and air superiority missions. In May 2017 the DoD awarded Lockheed with a $1.3 billion contract for the low-rate initial production of 130 Lot 12 F-35s, including the provision of parts, maintenance, and other services for the program. This contract combines purchases for the Air Force ($109.7 million), USMC ($50.1 million), Navy ($8.9 million), non-DoD participants ($102.3 million) and FMS customers ($30.8 million). Work will be performed at Lockheed’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas and is expected to be completed by January 2021.
Middle East & Africa
Recent satellite imagery indicates that the Egyptian Air Force has 12 new attack helicopters in its inventory. The helicopters in question are Russian-made Ka-52s. In 2015 Egypt agreed to acquire 46 conventional Ka-52 Alligator helicopters. The Ka-52 Alligator is an all-weather attack helicopter, powered by two Klimov VK-2500 turboshaft engines and designed by Kamov Design Bureau. The platform can destroy enemy armored and unarmored ground targets, low-speed aerial targets and troops at the frontline and in tactical depth. It is also deployed as a surveillance platform and aerial command post for a group of attack helicopters. The Alligator is armed with a 30mm machine gun and comes with six wing-mounted external hard points, its armor can withstands hits from 23 mm projectiles. Pilots are seated in ejection seats. It can also fly when one engine is disabled. About Egyptian 30 pilots and 70 technicians were trained in Russia last year. The country also voiced its interest to acquire a number of navalised Ka-52K Katran helicopters.
Airbus’s Zephyr S could be the holder of a new world record for aerial endurance. The solar-powered unmanned aircraft is developed by Airbus Defense & Space stayed aloft for 25 days 23 hours and 57 minutes. The Zeyphr S is a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite or HAPS, designed to fill the gap between satellites and UAVs. The HAPS is the first UAV to fly in the stratosphere. The aircraft has a wingspan of 82ft and a weight of 165lb and can achieve daytime altitudes of about 74.000ft. The drone was initially developed by UK company QinetiQ and later bought and marketed by Airbus. The UK Ministry of Defence has three Zephyrs on order, being built at a new factory in Farnborough. While the UK MoD has not specified its plans for the aircraft, HAPS are seen as supplementary to satellites for Earth observation. The Zeyphr S can carry a variety of payloads which offer voice, data communications both line of sight and beyond the line of sight, and line of sight high resolution optical imagery. HAPS could be fitted with a mission-specific payload and deployed tactically to provide persistent surveillance in response to a natural or human-caused disaster, or to act as a telecommunications relay station.
The government of Australia is set to receive support services for its destroyers as part of a US foreign military sale valued at $23.9 million. Lockheed Martin will provide the Royal Australian Navy with engineering and logistics support for its Aegis combat system installed on the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer Hobart Class vessels. Australia’s 7,000t destroyers are based strongly on Spain’s 5,800t F-104 Mendez Nunez AEGIS “frigate”, with some features from the subsequent 6,390t F-105 Cristobal Colon. Hobart will provide air defence for accompanying ships in addition to land forces and infrastructure in coastal areas, and for self-protection against missiles and aircraft. The Aegis Combat System incorporating the state-of-the-art phased array radar, AN/SPY 1D(V), in combination with the SM-6 missile, will provide an advanced air defense system capable of engaging enemy aircraft and missiles at ranges in excess of 93 miles. The destroyers can also be deployed in law enforcement operations, defence aid to the civil community, collection of environmental data, rescue operations and diplomatic roles. Work will be performed in Adelaide, Australia and three US locations including Moorestown, New Jersey, among others. Work is scheduled for completion by January 2020.
Indonesia is determined to move ahead with its planned acquisition of 11 Su-35s from Russia, despite the risk of being hit by US sanctions. The Asian nation wants to purchase the fighter jets to replace its ageing fleet of F-5 Tigers. The potential deal has a value of $1.5 billion. Several Asian countries, including Indonesia, India, and Vietnam, are under threat of American sanctions for importing Russian-produced weapons systems. The sanctions aim to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, involvement in the Syrian war, and interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
Watch: IAF Su-30s fly during exercise Pitch Black 2018