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Military Purchasing News for Defense Procurement Managers and Contractors
Updated: 2 weeks 2 days ago

Global F/A-18 Hornet Fleets: Keeping ‘Em Flying

Fri, 18/12/2015 - 01:19
CF-18: which way?
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The F/A-18 Hornet is the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet‘s predecessor, with the first models introduced in the late 1970s as a spinoff of the USAF’s YF-17 lightweight fighter competitor. Hornets are currently flown by the US Marine Corps as their front-line fighter, by the US Navy as a second-tier fighter behind its larger F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, and by 7 international customers: Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland. The USA’s aircraft were expected to have a service life of 20 years, but that was based on 100 carrier landings per year. The US Navy and Marines have been rather busy during the Hornets’ service life, and so the planes are wearing out faster.

This is forcing the USA to take a number of steps in order to keep their Hornets airworthy: replacing center barrel sections, re-opening production lines, and more. Some of these efforts will also be offered to allied air forces, who have their own refurbishment and upgrade programs.

Contracts & Key Events, 2006 – Present F/A-18 History
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Some of the parts procured under Boeing’s contracts will be produced for allied military services who fly the F/A-18. The Hornet was a McDonnell-Douglas aircraft, so contracts will generally be to that Boeing subsidiary in St Louis, MO, unless otherwise noted.

Note that “center barrel sections” refer to the middle chunk of the plane where the wings joint the body. As one might guess, replacing them is a somewhat involved process, and is also very helpful in extending the airframe’s fatigue-hour limits.

Australian MRO
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There are some gaps in this article’s coverage. National MRO (Maintenance, Repair, & Optimization) initiatives don’t get comprehensive coverage beyond the multi-fleet central contracts announced in the USA, though some coverage and links are present. There’s also a thin line at times between upgrades required to remain survivable and hence useful in national fleets, and airframe life-extension efforts. In theory, they’re different, but in practice they’re often linked. As such, leaving all upgrades out would do readers a disservice, so they occasionally appear when there’s a connection. Again, however, lists of upgrades are not comprehensive.

Note that Hornet fighters use different radars. Raytheon’s APG-65 is installed aboard USN and USMC F/A-18C/D Hornets (both radar types), and the USMC’s AV-8B Harrier II Plus V/STOL fighters. Abroad, it serves in AV-8Bs operated by Spain and Italy, in Spain’s “EF-18A/Bs” and Kuwait’s F/A-18C/Ds, and in German and Greek F-4 Phantom strike fighters.

Raytheon’s APG-73 serves some of the USA’s F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet, and the USN’s F/A-18E/F Block I Super Hornet (APG-73) fighters. It’s also found in Hornets flown by Australia (F/A-18AM/BM), Canada (CF-18AM/BM), Finland (F/A-18C/D), Malaysia (F/A-18D), and Switzerland (F/A-18C/D).

Tests are reportedly going well for active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars to be retrofit to the A, B, C and D F/A-18 models.

2014 – 2015

F/A-18C fires Hydras
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December 18/15: It looks like a very merry Christmas for Lockheed Martin and Boeing, as they came out as the major winners in the announced $1.15 trillion spending bill announced on Wednesday. Funding will see eleven more F-35 Lightning IIs than requested by President Obama in February. The F-35 program will see $1.33 billion additional procurement money as production of the fighters will be ramped up. The F/A-18 production line will also be extended, with seven more EA-18G Growlers and five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets planned.

July 24/15: Boeing is committing to keep its F-18 production line open in response to new and forecast orders from both the US and international customers. The company was worried that insufficient orders for new Super Hornet and Growler aircraft would fail to materialize and keep the production line economically viable. Boeing considered slowing the production rate in March, to extend the time available for more orders to come through the door. Recent orders from the US Navy and Kuwait have bolstered the company’s confidence in keeping the production line open.

Nov 4/14: Support. Boeing in Jacksonville, FL receives a $25.3 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification for depot-level F/A-18A-D service life extension and remanufacturing activities, including associated maintenance support and sustainment capabilities.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL (91.7%), and St. Louis, MO (8.3%), and is expected to be completed in September 2015. Funds will be obligated on individual delivery orders as they are issued. US Navy NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-14-D-0001).

Nov 3/14: Support. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $7.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification, exercising an option for post-production program management, logistics, and engineering services in support of F/A-18 A-F aircraft operated by Switzerland ($2.3M / 31.6%); Finland ($1.7M / 22.9%); Malaysia ($1.1M / 15.8%); Kuwait ($1.0M / 13.7%); Australia ($510,103 / 7%); Canada ($356,677 / 4.9%); and Spain ($298,498 / 4.1%). All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2015. US Navy NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-14-D-0012).

Nov 3/14: USMC Plan. The USMC’s Aviation Plan to 2030 outlines a future in which Hornets will remain in the fleet until 2030, instead of 2025. The main reason? The USMC believes it would be about $1 billion cheaper to retire the AV-8B Harrier fleet 5 years earlier and extend the Hornets 5 years later, based on 2 independent cost/benefit analyses. En route to this future, all West Coast MEUs will have F-35Bs instead of AV-8Bs by the end of FY 2019.

For the Hornet fleet, the Center Barrel Replacement Plus (CBR+) program has already extended the lives of 200 aircraft. A High Flight Hour inspection process is in progress, and a SLEP program will take place in parallel to extend the lives of about 150 hand-picked F/A-18C/Ds to 10,000 flight hours. Unfortunately:

“The USMC F/A-18A-D community is enduring a sustained shortage in excess of 40 aircraft fleet wide due to “Out Of Reporting” (OOR) maintenance. The USMC currently has eleven active squadrons and one reserve squadron that deploy with a full complement of aircraft, but the community is forced to absorb the shortfall during pre-deployment training due to a degraded Primary Mission Aircraft Inventory (PMAI). HQMC AVN is resetting the force by temporarily reducing squadron Flight Line Entitlement (FLE) to 10 aircraft to preserve future combat readiness while meeting today’s current operational requirements. Scalable squadron detachment models are being developed to meet the operational requirement without deploying excess assets, and Marine Corps Aviation is adding a detachment capability to each non-TAI VMFA. Forecasted improvements in aircraft availability will enable USMC F/A-18s to achieve 12 PMAI squadrons beginning in FY 17.”

Meanwhile, a set of fleet upgrades will continue to improve the platform. 2015 will see advanced LITENING G4 surveillance and targeting pods add air-to-air IRST capability, and the addition of the longer-range AIM-120D air-to-air missile with its 2-way datalink and new seeker radar. 2017-18 will add upgraded cockpit displays, AIM-9X short-range air-to-air missiles, and the 70mm APKWS laser-guided rocket. By 2019, APKWS will be able to use the 13.7 pound M822 tri-mode penetrating/ blast/ incendiary warhead. Instead of just 1 AGM-65 Maverick per hardpoint, the Hornet fleet will have 7 anti-armor weapons that can defeat many armored personnel carriers, and all lesser vehicles. Sources: USMC, Marine Aviation Plan 2015 [PDF].

May 18/14: Switzerland. Unsurprisingly, a tepid and convictionless defense of the JAS-39E Gripen NG fighter deal results in a referendum loss, with projections showing about a 53.4% no vote. The only surprise is that the margin was this narrow, indicating a winnable vote. Compare and contrast with the September 2013 referendum, which resulted in the Swiss keeping conscription. Or the government’s success in the referendum that ratified their F/A-18 Hornet buy.

While some governments in Europe will re-run referendums until they get the result they like, the Swiss aren’t like that. The TTE fighter buy is history, but the F-5E/F fleet will still retire, placing more emphasis on their fleet of 30+ Hornets. Switzerland will need to supplement that fleet with French and Italian cooperation for basic airspace protection. Sources: Swissinfo, “Swiss Reject $3.5 Billion Gripen Purchase in Blow to Saab” | Deutsche Welle, “Swiss referendum turns down minimum wage and new fighter jets” | Reuters, “Swiss voters narrowly block deal to buy Saab fighter jets: projection”.

Feb 28/14: Australia. Australia has changed and extended its F404 engine support contract with GE International Inc., to the tune of 4 years and A$ 230 million. This is also good news for local sub-contractor TAE, creating continued employment for 90 people in Williamtown, NSW, and Ipswich, Queensland.

When Australia signed their long-term F404 support contract in 2008, the RAAF’s F/A-18AM/BM fleet was scheduled to begin drawdown in July 2015, and leave service by June 2018. Delays to the F-35 program have forced an interim RAAF buy of 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet Block IIs, and will soon add 12 related EA-18G Growlers. It’s also forcing longer service from the “Classic Hornet” fleet, which won’t leave service until 2022. The new fighters are an obvious cost of the F-35 program, but so are forced extensions like this one. Sources: Australia DoD, “Minister for Defence – Jobs remain in Australia under Hornet contract”.

Jan 31/14: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $26.8 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for the repair of various parts in support of the F/A-18 aircraft.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 USN funds. Work will be performed at Lemoore, CA (55%); Cecil Field, FL (44%); and Philadelphia, PA (1%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/16. The contract was not competitively procured by the US Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support, Philadelphia, PA, per 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c)(1). The a., is the contracting activity (N00383-11-G-001H, DO 0004).

Jan 22/14: SLEP. Boeing in Jacksonville, FL receives a $17.8 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity delivery order contract to support the F/A-18 A-F Depot Level Service Life Extension Program, including both maintenance and remanufacturing work.

Around $250,000 in FY 2014 USN aircraft budgets is committed immediately. Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL (92%) and St. Louis, MO (8%), and is expected to be complete in September 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-14-D-0001).

Dec 30/13: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $46.7 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for integrated logistics support and sustaining engineering for F/A-18A-D, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G aircraft for the U.S. Navy ($36.6M / 78.3%) and Australia ($7M / 15.1%); plus $501,289 / 1.1% each from Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland. Support will include logistics, engineering, provisioning, information systems, technical data updates, support equipment engineering, training and software integration support.

All funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%), and is expected to be complete in December 2014 (N00019-11-G-0001, 0110).

2013

USMC F/A-18C
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Dec 27/13: Raytheon Technical Services Co. in Indianapolis, IN received a maximum $40.9 million delivery order against previously issued basic ordering agreement for the repair of 40 APG-65/73 Radar Weapon Replaceable Assemblies. The contract appears to be limited to the US military.

The APG-65 is installed aboard USN and USMC F/A-18C/D Hornets (both radar types), and the USMC’s AV-8B Harrier II Plus V/STOL fighters. Abroad, it serves in AV-8Bs operated by Spain and Italy, in Spain’s “EF-18A/Bs” and Kuwait’s F/A-18C/Ds, and in German and Greek F-4 Phantom strike fighters.

The APG-73 serves some of the USA’s F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet, and the USN’s F/A-18E/F Block I Super Hornet (APG-73) fighters. It’s also found in Hornets flown by Australia (F/A-18AM/BM), Canada (CF-18AM/BM), Finland (F/A-18C/D), Malaysia (F/A-18D), and Switzerland (F/A-18C/D).

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, Ind. (57%); El Segundo, CA (24%); Forest, MS (17%); Andover, Maine (2%), and work is expected to be completed no later than December 2015. Fiscal 2014 Navy working capital funds in the amount of $20,455,642 will be obligated at the time of award, and will not expire before the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured and is issued on a sole-source basis in accordance with 10 U.SC 2304(c)(1). Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support, Philadelphia, PA manages the contract (N00383-14-G-006D, DO 7000).

Dec 12/13: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a 5-year, maximum $872.8 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for “system upgrades…. deliverables and services based on System Configuration Set life cycle phases for the” F/A-18 A/B, C/D, E/F and EA-18G fighters. Customers include the US Navy ($802.9 million/ 92%) and the governments of Australia ($29.7 million/ 3.4%), Finland ($21.8 million/ 2.5%), Switzerland ($7 million/ 0.8%), Kuwait ($4.4 million/ 0.5%), Malaysia ($4.4 million/ 0.5%), and Canada ($2.6 million/ 0.3%). It is time for USN service life extension work to get going (q.v. Jan 6/11).

Only 100,000 is committed upon award, using FY 2014 USN RDT&E budgets. Work will be performed as required in St. Louis, MO (95%) and China Lake, CA (5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2018. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to the FAR 6.302-1; it’s managed by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA (N68936-14-D-0008).

5-year support contract

2012-2015

Aging in the US, Australia; Avionics. Finnish F/A-18D
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May 7/15: Reuters reported Wednesday that Boeing is on the cusp of being awarded a more than $3 billion contract for 28 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, with the potential customer named as Kuwait. The Kuwaitis currently operate the older F/A-18 Hornet fighter. The sale, combined with a USN request for a dozen of the aircraft, should be sufficient to maintain the company’s St Louis production lines past their slated 2017 closure.

Dec 28/12: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $81.75 million firm-fixed-price delivery order covering integrated logistics support and sustaining engineering services for F/A-18 A-D Hornet and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet fighters, and EA-18G Growler tactical jamming aircraft. They’ll provide in-service engineering, information systems, automated maintenance environment, technical data updates, support equipment engineering, training, and software integration support for the US Navy ($69.5M / 85%); and the Governments of Australia ($9.0M / 10.98%); Canada ($544,992 / .67%); Finland ($544,992 / 0.67%); Kuwait ($544,992 / 0.67%); Malaysia ($544,992 / 0.67%); Spain ($544,992 / 0.67%); and Switzerland ($544,992 / 0.67%)

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013. This contract combines purchases under the Foreign Military Sales Program. All contract funds are committed immediately, and only $342,372 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Dec 19/12: Malaysia ATFLIRs. Raytheon SAS in McKinney, TX receives a $25.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order from Malaysia for 6 Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pods, which will be fitted to their F/A-18 C/D fighters. See “Malaysia Wants ATFLIR Targeting Pods for its F/A-18D Hornets” for full coverage.

Dec 19/12: Engine Improvement. General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA receives a $17.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for engineering and engine system improvement services, as part of the F414 and F404 Engine Component Improvement Programs. $10.8 million are committed immediately, of which $6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 13/13.

This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($13.3M / 75.6%) and the Governments of Sweden ($1.3M / 7.4%); Australia ($832,277 / 4.8%); Canada ($516,877 / 3.0%); Spain ($514,156 / 2.9%); Finland ($380,856 / 2.2%); Korea ($225,793 / 1.3%); Kuwait ($233,955 / 1.3%); Switzerland ($204,030 / 1.2%), and Malaysia ($48,967 / 0.3%), under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Lynn, MA, and is expected to be complete in December 2013. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-G-0009).

Dec 19/12: Avionics. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $8.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement for 285 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) retrofit kits in support of F/A-18C and F/A-18F aircraft.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (56%); Meza, AZ (37%); and El Paso, TX (7%), and is expected to be complete in June 2015. All contract funds are committed immediately, of which $1.35 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

Dec 19/12: Avionics. Boeing in St Louis, MO receives a $16.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for CY 2013 Avionics Repair Facility (ARF) labor support to repair various F/A-18 components. This contract also includes work for Spain and Kuwait (<1%). Work will be performed at ARF Lemoore, CA (48%); ARF Cecil Field, FL (49%), and Hornet Control Center in Philadelphia, PA (3%), and will be complete by Dec 31/13. All contract funds are committed immediately. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with FAR 6.302-1 by US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-11-G-001H, #0003). Dec 19/12: Avionics. Boeing in St Louis, MO receives $8,366,154 firm-fixed-price delivery order for CY 2013 Avionics Repair Facility (ARF) labor support to repair various F/A-18 components.

Work will be performed at ARF Lemoore, CA (48%); ARF Cecil Field, FL (49%), and Hornet Control Center in Philadelphia, PA (3%), and will be complete by Dec 31/13. All contract funds are committed immediately. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with FAR 6.302-1 by US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-11-G-001H, #0002).

Dec 3/12: Engines. General Electric in Lynn MA receives a 3-year, $265 million performance based logistics contract to provide repair, replacement and program support of 35 components used in F404 engines, which equip F/A-18A-D Hornets.

Work will be performed at the Fleet Readiness Center Southeast in Jacksonville, FL and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/15. Funds will be committed as needed. This contract was competitively procured with 6 offers solicited, but just 1 offer received from the solicitation. US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-13-D-001M).

Nov 21/12: USN Life Extension. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $9.8 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification for additional engineering analyses in support of the F/A-18A-D Service Life Extension Program.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (58%) and El Segundo, CA (42%), and is expected to be complete in September 2013. All contract funds are committed by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-12-C-2010).

Nov 19/12: Boeing in St. Louis, MO received a $23.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for one-time F/A-18 “Generator Converter Unit Reliability Improvement” (ECP 6421SOW) engineering services.

Work will be performed in Vandalia, OH (72%); St. Louis, MO (20%); Grand Rapids, MI (5%); Cincinnati, OH (1%); Youngwood, PA (1%); and Morrow, OH (1%), and is expected to be completed in December 2015. All contract funds will be obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-G-0001).

Nov 16/12: Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in Goleta, CA receives a $23.2 firm-fixed-price contract modification for ECM gear. The U.S. Navy is buying another 26 AN/ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers ($22.1M/ 95.5%), and Switzerland is buying 4 of the system’s countermeasure signal processor weapons replacement assemblies ($1.0M/ 4.5%).

The USN flies Super Hornets that use the ALR-67v3, but the Swiss buy can only be for their F/A-18C/D Hornet fleet.

Work will be performed in Forest, MS (32%); Goleta, CA (20%); San Diego, CA (14%); Chatsworth, CA (11%); Sydney, Australia (11%); Lansdale, PA (8%); and McKinney, TX (4%), and is expected to be complete in June 2015. All funds are obligated on this award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-C-0052).

Nov 15/12: USN Life Extension. The US GAO publishes GAO-13-51, “Better Cost Estimates Needed for Extending the Service Life of Selected F-16s and F/A-18s.” The lateness of the F-35, and high flight-hour usage over Iraq and Afghanistan, are making it hard to keep fighter numbers up. Current USAF plans involve $2.61 billion to upgrade at least 300 of 1,020 F-16s to fly another 2,000 hours (est. 6-8 years) each, add more advanced radars, etc. The USN would spend about $2.19 billion to keep 150 of 624 F/A-18A-D Hornet fighters flying for another 1,400 flight hours (est. 5 years) each, alongside a separate buy of 41 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

The alternative is a more expensive approach that would buy new F-16s or Super Hornets. They would cost much more, but last 4x-5x as long. The problem is that the cost of new planes is known, but costs of fixing existing aircraft to cover for additional F-35 delays or add new capabilities aren’t as clear. F-16 upgrades could rise to 650 planes, and F/A-18 Hornet life extension could rise to 280 planes, with the possibility of added capability upgrades.

The US Navy’s 2011 plan for its Hornet fleet would take place over FY 2013-2017. The planes to be upgraded would be specially chosen, presumably for low wear and structural integrity. They would also be individually evaluated for capability enhancements, but those aren’t in the $2.19 billion budget. Current estimates involve another $1.76 million per Hornet for capability upgrades, and an average of $5.64 million more if the Hornets need structural life extension and obsolescence replacement. That gives us a figure of between $2.19 – $3.3 billion if 150 Hornets are upgraded ($14.6 – $22 million per plane), and the upper ends of that figure offer poorer long-term value for money than buying a new Super Hornet in the mid-$60 million range.

If costs are linear, the total for a 280 plane program would be between $4.09 – 6.16 billion, but costs are often not linear. Hence the GAO’s recommendation to do a full sensitivity analysis, so decision makers can fully understand the range of Navy costs between $2.19 – $6.16 billion.

Sept 28/12: Aging in Australia. The Australian reports that the RAAF has been ordered to scale back its usage of its modernized F/A-18AM/BM Hornets, in order to keep them viable until F-35 begin arriving in the early 2020s. Aging is taking a serious toll, and 62/71 fighters had “structure fatigue above that expected for the airframe hours.”

Meanwhile, annual maintenance costs for Australia’s Hornet fleet were A$118 million in 2001, A$ 170 million in 2012, and is expected to be A$ 214 million by 2018. The ANAO sees costs continuing to climb, and says that keeping the fleet flying beyond 2020 could require more structural modifications program and capability upgrades, as well as more frequent inspections. Maintenance for Australia’s new F/A-18F Super Hornets is a separate effort, and does not affect their conclusions.

Sept 27/12: An unfinalized $33 million contract line item number against delivery order under a previously awarded contract for various quantities of new consumable parts to support the F/A-18 aircraft. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and the contract will run until Dec 30/15.

The applicable Navy Working Capital Funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Boeing was the only company solicited for this non-competitive requirement by NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-06-D-001J, #0014).

Aug 29/12: A $27.8 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fee requirements contract modification. Boeing will provide supplies and services for In-Warranty and Out-Of-Warranty depot-level modification installations and In-Service Repairs (ISR).

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL and is expected to be complete in September 2013. No funding is being obligated at time of award; it will be committed as needed. US Naval Air System Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-D-0013).

June 19/12: Raytheon Technical Services Co. in Indianapolis, IN receives $40.3 million for unpriced deliver order 7284, covering the repair of 35 weapons repairable assemblies and shop replaceable assemblies of the APG-65/73 Radar System used on F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. The AN/APG-73 is also used on a dwindling number of F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, as those radars are replaced with AN/APG-79 AESA equipment.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN (56.93%); El Segundo, CA (33.79%); Forest, MS (7.25%); and Andover, MA (2.03%), and is expected to be complete by June 30/14. The contract will use FY 2012 Navy Working Capital Funds, but they won’t expire at the end of the fiscal year. This was a sole-source contract by US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-07-G-008D).

May 30/12: Multinational. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in El Segundo, CA receives a $14 million firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for F-18 aircraft rudders, which they’ll supply to the US Navy (using FY 2014-2015 Navy Stock funds), Finland, Spain, and Switzerland. Work will continue until Oct 30/15. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation in Philadelphia, PA manages the contract (SPRPA1-11-G-002Z, 5036).

2011

USN; Malaysia; Kuwait. Spanish EF-18B
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Dec 29/11: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $9.8 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for supplies and services to support the USA’s F/A-18A-D Service Life Extension Program. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (58%), and El Segundo, CA (42%), and is expected to be complete in February 2013. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6302.1. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-12-C-2010).

Nov 28/11: Malaysia. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $17.3 million firm-fixed-price order for the design, development, and installation of engineering change proposal (ECP 618) retrofit kits for the RMAF’s 8 F/A-18D Hornet fighters, under the Foreign Military Sales Program. This contract action also includes training for ECP 618 and ECP 624, and the installation of other systems that are part of the Malaysian upgrade. Conversations with Boeing explain that:

“This contract includes design, development, and installation of retrofit kits that will provide enhanced navigation and targeting capabilities, along with associated training for maintenance and air crews. The majority of work to be performed under this contract is within the scope defined in the baseline Foreign Military Sales case and not the May 2011 Defense Security Cooperation Agency announcement for the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared [targeting pods, see DID coverage] which itself was an amendment to the existing baseline FMS case.”

That scope includes GPS improvements, a colored moving-map cockpit display, changes to IFF, and the addition of the JHMCS helmet-mounted sight. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%), and Butterworth, Malaysia (30%), and is expected to be complete in April 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD will manage the sale on behalf of its FMS client. See also Boeing.

Nov 8/11: Kuwait. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Kuwait’s request to buy continuing Contractor Engineering & Maintenance Services, Hush House Maintenance Support services, Liaison Office Support Services, and related US government and contract support for their F/A-18C/D Hornets. The estimated cost is $100 million.

The principal contractors will be Boeing in St. Louis, MO; Kay and Associates in Buffalo Grove, IL; Industrial Acoustics Company in Winchester, UK; and General Dynamics in Fairfax, VA.

Nov 7/11: Multinational. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $7.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification, exercising options from for F/A-18 Hornet in-service support on behalf of Switzerland ($2.42 million; 30.7%); Finland ($1.8 million; 22.9%); Canada ($925,000; 11.7%); Kuwait ($919,250; 11.7%); Malaysia ($919,250; 11.7%); Australia ($490,800; 6.2%); and Spain ($404,914; 5.1%). Boeing services will include program management, logistics, engineering support, incidental materials, and technical data.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2012. This is a Foreign Military Sales Program contract, managed by US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-09-D-0010).

Sept 28/11: Boeing in Jacksonville FL received a $31.5 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fee requirements contract. It covers supplies and services for in-warranty and out-of-warranty depot-level modification installations, and in-service repairs incident to modification kit installs, including associated material and services as required to support the continued safe, reliable, and improved operation of the F/A-18 series aircraft.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be complete in September 2012. Funding will be committed as needed, and this contact was not competitively procured by US Naval Air System Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-11-D-0013).

Aug 31/11: Canada. Canada adds up to C$ 111 million (currently around $112 million) to its CF-18 Primary Air Vehicle contract with L-3 Military Aviation Services (L-3 MAS), converting the previous arrangement to a full Optimized Weapon System Support program.

The contract breaks down as another C$ 80 million to 2017 in the base contract (now C$ 547 million), plus a set of extension options that could extend the additional work out to 2020 and raise the total by C$ 111 million, taking the overall contract to C$664 million (currently $676 million). OWSS adds new items to the previous contract’s list of maintained components (vid. Sept 1/10, see also Oct 14/10) by consolidating them under this 1 contract, but doesn’t change contract length or other particulars. Public Works Canada | L-3 MAS [PDF].

Aug 25/11: USN Life Extension. AOL Defense reports that some USMC Hornets are reaching service life limits, which have risen to 9,000 – 10,000 flight hours after the full Service Life Extension Program.

“Headquarters Marine Corps – Aviation, who oversee the service’s aviation budget, were adamant the SLEP effort would go no further than the 9,000- to 10,000-hour extension… [Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Brian] Block told AOL Defense that the highest average flight time on any service F/A-18 Hornet is just over 8,500 hours. “Moreover, not a single F/A-18 Hornet in the Department of the Navy inventory has surpassed the 9,000 hour mark,” Block said… Block said that Marine Corps crews “are conducting routine maintenance at an accelerated pace due to higher utilization”… Maj. Gen. Jon Davis, commander of the 2nd Marine Corps Air Wing [said that] “You cannot keep it up forever.”

March 30/11: A $24.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for “supplies and services to support depot-level modification installations and in-service repairs of [USN/USMC] F/A-18 series aircraft.” Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be complete by September 2011. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00189-08-D-Z028).

March 4/11: Multinational. Martin-Baker Aircraft Co., Ltd. in Middlesex, England receives an $18.3 million firm-fixed price contract modification to exercise an option for 65 Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seats (NACES). They will equip F/A-18 A+/C+ Hornets and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft flown by the U.S. Navy ($18.2M/ 99.4%), and the air forces of Australia (F/A-18A+ and F/A-18F; $51,920/ 0.27%) and Kuwait (F/A-18C+; $61,730; 0.33%). This option also buys associated hardware, equipment, technical data, and production support services.

Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (60%), and Middlesex, England (40%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract. See also Feb 25/11 entry.

March 3/11: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $8.8 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for integrated logistics support; in-service engineering; information systems; technical data; support equipment engineering; automated maintenance environment; training/software integration support; provisioning; and A-D sustaining engineering services in support of the F/A-18 A-D Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and EA-18G Growler aircraft.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%), and is expected to be complete in December 2011. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Feb 28/11: USN Life Extension. A Gannett Navy Times article details the efforts underway to keep the US Navy’s fleet of F/A-18 A-D Hornet fighters in service, until some of them can be replaced by F-35B/C jets.

The USN’s F/A-18 program manager, Capt. Mark Darrah, is quoted as saying that the Hornet fleet is averaging about 330 flight-hours per year, which means they’re consistently about 30% above planned usage. Many have now exceeded even their extended usage figure of 8,000 flight hours. Fortunately, their accident rate remains low.

Carrier Air Wing 7 commander Capt. Roy Kelley adds that the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fleet is also burning through airframe hours, with 73 of the fleet’s 418 aircraft already over 3,000 hours – wich is about half-way through their safe design lifetimes.

The Navy hopes to extend its Hornet airframes to 10,000 safe flight hours, up from the easier target of 8,600. Each plane costs about $15 million when put through the deep inspections and refurbishment program. It’s accompanied by detailed record-keeping, and a constant juggling act among the squadrons. Darrah says that NAVAIR/NAF’s quarterly modification review “literally makes the decisions every quarter on, bureau number by bureau number, what aircraft will be assigned to what units,” based heavily on flight hour and maintenance issues. Once on the carrier, that juggling continues. Networking has made flight data files compilable and accessible across the fleet, allowing for remote analysis by expert teams, and letting squadrons pick less demanding missions for high-hours airframes, in order to even out wear and tear.

Feb 25/11: A $10.8 million order for the US Navy’s F/A-18 A-D Navy aircrew common ejection seat retrofit: 24 multipurpose display indicators; 12 horizontal situation displays; and 37 install kits (AFC-430, AFC-493, and AYC-1363).

Work will be performed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (57%); St. Louis, MO (24%); Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (3%); Grand Rapids, MI (2%); Sylmar, CA (1%); Tempe, AR (1%); El Paso, TX (1%); El Segundo, CA (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (10%); and is expected to be complete in February 2013. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00019-11-G-0001).

Jan 6/11: USN Life Extension. As part of a plan detailing $150 billion in service cuts and funding shifts over the next 5 years, Defense Secretary Robert Gates states that he is placing the Marine Corps’ F-35B on the equivalent of a 2-year probation, extends the F-35 program’s development phase again to 2016, and cuts production of all models over the 2012-2016 time period.

In response, the Navy will add 41 Super Hornets, and perform service life extension work on another 150 F/A-18 A-D Hornets. Pentagon release re: overall plan | Full Gates speech and Gates/Mullen Q&A transcript | F-35 briefing hand-out [PDF] || Aviation Week | Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Sky Talk blog.

2010

Australia; Canada; Finland; Switzerland. Malaysian F/A-18D:
Bersama Shield 2010
(click to view full)

Dec 30/10: FIRST. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $69.1 million delivery order under the F/A-18 Integrated Readiness Support Team (FIRST) Program for continued support of F/A-18 A-D Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and EA-18G Growler fleets of the U.S. Navy ($64.6M/ 93.6%); and the governments of Australia ($1.7M/ 2.5%), Canada ($513,996; 0.7%), Spain ($513,996/ 0.7%), Finland ($513,966/ 0.7%), Switzerland ($513,996; 0.7%), Kuwait ($513,996/ 0.7%), and Malaysia ($256,998/ 0.4%).

Under FIRST, which began in 2001, Boeing manages and forecasts spares and repairs, oversees spares inventories, makes supportability improvements within the budget in order to meet its availability targets, and handles obsolescence management and technology insertion. Like the British “contracting for availability” agreements, the objective is to improve fleet support and aircraft readiness while reducing costs. Boeing will be rewarded for having the aircraft meet in-service readiness targets, rather than getting paid for spare parts or hours worked.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%); and is expected to be complete in December 2011. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Dec 27/10: Finland/ Switzerland. A $66.2 million firm-fixed-price delivery order under the basic ordering agreement for weapon replaceable assemblies and other complex parts used in retrofitting F/A-18C/D aircraft for the governments of Finland (62/ $44.6M/ 67%), and Switzerland (33/ $21.6M/ 33%).

Work will be performed in Cedar Rapids, IA (44.8%); St. Louis, MO (26.8%); Fort Worth, TX (14.9%); Oakland, NJ (6.4%); Grand Rapids, MI (3.3%); Butler, NJ (1.3%); Sylmar, CA (1%); Killdeer, ND (0.5%); Mesa, AZ (0.4%); El Segundo, CA (0.3%); Wallingford, CT (0.2%); and Horsham, PA (0.1%), and is expected to be complete in April 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract on behalf of these Foreign Military Sale clients (N00019-11-G-0001).

Dec 23/10: Multinational. Moog, Inc. in East Aurora, NY receives a $17.3 million order for 1,626 kits required to complete engineering change proposal #1054 for F/A-18 LA-d leading edge flap mechanical drive group system for the US Navy (1,260/ $13.4M/ 77.49%) and the governments of Finland (138/ $1.5M/ 8.49%), Kuwait (94/ $998,374/ 5.78%), Switzerland (68/ $722,228/ 4.18%), Spain (50/ 531,050/ 3.08%), and Malaysia (16/ $169,936/ 0.98%).

Work will be performed in Torrance, CA, and is expected to be completed in November 2014, but $13.4 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages these contracts on behalf of all customers (SPM4A1-06-G-0002).

Dec 22/10: A $10.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order #0010 under previously awarded contract (N00383-06-D-001J) for production of nose landing gears used on the F/A-18 aircraft. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete by January 2015. This contract was not competitively awarded by the Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, PA.

Dec 22/10: Multinational. Raytheon Technical Services in Indianapolis, IN receives $33 million for a priced delivery order of APG-65/73 radar system components used in support of the F/A-18 aircraft. AN/APG-65 radars are exclusive to the F/A-18 A-D Hornet, including Spain and Kuwait’s models; while the AN/APG-73 equips older F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, as well as F/A-18 upgrades and C/D model Hornets flown by the USMC, Australia, Canada, Finland, Malaysia, and Switzerland. Many Super Hornets with APG-73 radars are having them replaced by next-generation AN/APG-79 AESA models, so Super Hornets will form a diminishing base for the older APG-73.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN (65%); El Segundo, CA (20%); Forest, MS (13%); and Andover, MA (2%), and is expected to be complete by January 2015. This contract was not competitively awarded by the US Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, PA, as there’s just 1 manufacturer for these radars (N00383-07-G-008D, #7152).

Dec 21/10: A $13.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for Avionics Repair Facility support, to repair various F/A-18 components. Work will be performed in Lemoore, CA (49%); Cecil Field, FL (49%); and Philadelphia, PA (3%), and is to be complete by December 2011.

This effort includes the governments of Spain, Malaysia, and Kuwait (all less than 1%) under the Foreign Military Sales program, and was not competitively awarded by the US Naval Inventory Control Point in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-07-G-005H, #0012).

Dec 3/10: Kuwait. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $16.9 million delivery order for supplies and services required to upgrade 39 Kuwaiti F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters. The upgrades will add a Miniature Airborne Global Positioning Receiver 2000 with selective availability anti-spoofing module (SAASM), corresponding improvements to the fighters’ moving map displays, and a cockpit pressurization warning system.

Work will be performed in Ahmed Al-Jaber Air Base, Kuwait (90%), and in St. Louis, MO (10%), and is expected to be complete in June 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD will manage this contract on behalf of the Foreign Military Dale customer (N00019-05-G-0026). Kuwait is currently evaluating long-term replacement options for its Hornet fleet, with France’s Rafale billed as a leading contender.

Nov 22/10: Multinational. Boeing receives a $7.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite quantity contract modification, exercising an option for in-service support of F/A-18 Hornet aircraft of the governments of Australia ($464,714; 6%), Canada ($872,514; 12%), Finland ($1.7M; 22%), Kuwait ($874,264; 12%), Malaysia ($864,264; 11%), Spain ($385,847; 5%), and Switzerland ($2.46M; 32%). Services to be provided include program management, logistics, engineering support, and incidental materials and technical data.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and will run to in December 2011. The US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-D-0010).

Oct 14/10: Canada. The Canadian government has contracted Calgary-based Harris Canada Inc. to continue avionics maintenance of its CF-18 fighter jets, until their replacements are ready to fly. The contract is worth up to C$ 273.8 million (currently at rough parity with American dollar) until 2020.

It is more focused than the larger L-3 MAS contract (q.v. Sept 1/10), which covers the entire aircraft, but it’s a similar sort of extension. Canadian Press | The Globe and Mail.

Sept 24/10: Multinational. A $21.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for integrated logistics support, in-service engineering, information systems, technical data, support equipment engineering, automated maintenance environment, training/software integration support, provisioning and sustaining engineering in support of F/A-18 A-D, E/F, and EA-18G aircraft. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($18.5 million; 85.7%) and the governments of Australia ($2.5 million, 11.5%); Canada ($212,300, 1%); Spain ($147,700, 0.7%); Finland ($98,500, 0.5%); Kuwait ($61,500, 0.3%), Switzerland ($52,300, 0.2%), and Malaysia ($12,300; 0.1%), under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (70%); El Segundo, CA (15%); Oklahoma City, OK (6%); Bethpage, NY (5%); and San Diego, CA (4%); and is expected to be complete in December 2010. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00383-06-D-001J).

Sept 22/10: Northrop Grumman Corp., Integrated Systems, El Segundo, CA receives a $35.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 33 F/A-18 A-D center barrel sections, and loose and miscellaneous parts. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA, and is expected to be complete in October 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0052).

Sept 1/10: Canada. The Canadian Prime Minister’s Office announces that the government has extended its CF-18 Systems Engineering Support Contract to L-3 Communications MAS of Mirabel, Quebec until at least 2017. This 7-year contract extension is valued at C$ 467 million, with 3 additional 1-year extension options that could add another C$ 86 million (C$ 553 million total), and stretch the contract until the end of the fleet’s estimated service life in 2020.

The contractor’s primary responsibility for the CF-18 Hornet fleet is development and maintenance work that includes mission software, structural testing, depot-level inspections and repairs, technical support teams, and other engineering services. In addition to their Canadian maintenance work, they’ve also been involved in Australia’s HUG [PDF] Hornet upgrade and life-extension program. Canadian PMO | L-3 MAS [PDF] | CBC | National Post.

June 24/10: Australia. L-3 MAS announces [PDF] the on-time delivery of the last of 10 Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornet aircraft for which it performed Centre Barrel Replacement (CBR) work, under contract to the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO). See March 6/06 entry, which covered initial prototype work, and was followed by a production and integration contract. See also Aug 22/07 entry.

Under the DMO’s Hornet Upgrade Phase 3 (HUG 3) program, the aircraft systems and wings were removed in Williamtown by BAE Systems Australia. The Hornet fuselages were airlifted to the L-3 MAS CBR-dedicated facility in Mirabel, Canada on a leased AN-124 heavy cargo aircraft, then sent back to Williamtown for final assembly and returned to flight status by BAE. See also BAE Systems Australia.BAE Systems Australia.

2009

Australia; Finland; Kuwait. Kuwaiti F/A-18C
(click to view full)

Dec 28/09: Kuwait. DynCorp International LLC in Fort Worth, TX received a $16.9 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-06-C-0308), exercising an option for maintenance services in support of the Kuwaiti Air Force F/A-18 Program under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Kuwait (90%) and Fort Worth, TX (10%), and is expected to be complete in December 2010. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.

Dec 8/09: A $6.6 million not-to-exceed order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for F/A-18 A-D Service Life Extension Program Phase B+ engineering support services. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (55%), and El Segundo, CA (45%), and is expected to be completed in December 2010. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contracts.

Dec 2/09: Kuwait. A $9.5 million order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for the necessary personnel, material and support to repair or replace damaged components of Kuwait F/A-18 aircraft tail number 421 for the government of Kuwait under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Work will be performed at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, and is expected to be complete in December 2012. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

Nov 12/09: Multinational. A $10.8 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-09-D-0010, exercising an option to provide in-service support for Switzerland ($2.7 million; 25%), Australia ($1.6 million; 15%), Finland ($1.6 million; 15%), Canada ($1.6 million; 15%), Kuwait ($1.1 million; 10%), Malaysia ($1.1 million; 10%) and Spain’s ($1.1 million; 10%) F/A-18 Hornets. This effort will include, but is not limited to, program management, engineering and logistics support. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2010. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

Nov 5/09: Finland. A $13.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for 2 F/A-18C/D Mid-Life Upgrade 2 validation-verification kits for the Finnish Air Force under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in September 2011. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

May 28/09: Australia. L-3 MAS and BAE Systems Australia announce a 4-year, A$ 150 million contract to provide long term maintenance and modification support to the Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, with 5 years of additional extension options through 2018. L-3 MAS.

March 18/09: Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. received a $6.6 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026). They will perform for inner wing conversion and reliability improvements required pursuant to Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 609. This ECP will convert existing F/A-18A/B Lots 5-9 Inner Wing assemblies to be compatible with F/A-18 C/D (Lots 10, 11, 12, and up) aircraft. This ECP also defines changes required to convert existing F/A-18 C/D Lots 10 and 11 Inner Wings to be compatible with F/A-18 C/D Lots 12 and up aircraft, addresses reliability issues with 2 fuel tubes by replacing them with heat treated versions, and defining requirements to improve sealing of the inner wing, in order to prevent stress corrosion cracking of the lower spar flanges.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (74%) and Mesa, AZ (26%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

Feb 13/09: Multinational. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. received a $10.4 million cost plus fixed fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract. They will provide program management, logistics, and engineering services and incidental materials and technical data in support of F/A-18s flown by Australia ($927,200/ 8.9%), Canada ($1.6M/ 15.56%), Finland ($2.2M/ 21.32%), Kuwait ($1.3M/ 12.45%), Malaysia ($806,352/ 7.74%), Spain ($362,000/ 3.48%), and Switzerland ($3.2M/ 30.55%). The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-09-D-0010).

2008

Cracks in US fleet. Australia; Finland; Switzerland. Swiss F/A-18C
(click to view full)

Dec 19/08: Multinational. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp in St Louis, MO received cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract with an estimated value of $905.3 million. In return, the firm will provide the support services required to enhance the F/A-18 A-D Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, and EA-18G Growler aircraft with a series of System Configuration Sets (SCS) for F/A-18 family aircraft operated by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the Governments of Canada, Australia, Spain, Kuwait, Switzerland, Finland and Malaysia.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (95%) and at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, CA (5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA issued the contract (N68936-09-D-0002).

Dec 17/08: Switzerland. The Swiss Standerat approves the defense program, including Hornet modernization. Armasuisse release [in German].

Dec 9/08: Australia. Australia’s government announces that the final Hornet Upgrade (HUG) Phase 2.2 aircraft has now been delivered with modifications to the radar system, avionics system, electronic warfare suite and a Hornet aircrew training system. The last of 14 RAAF Hornets to receive the interim electronic warfare upgrade has been successfully delivered under HUG Phase 2.3 with Raytheon’s ALR-67v3 radar warning system. Both upgrade sets were reportedly delivered on time and on budget. The next stage of HUG 2.3 is set to begin in May 2009, and will add a new countermeasures dispensing system, new data recorder and a further software upgrade. Australian DoD release.

Oct 23/08: Cracking up? The US Navy orders inspections across its 636 plane Hornet fleet, after cracks are found in aileron hinges on 15 aircraft. In December 2008, a crash kills 3 people and destroys several San Diego houses – but it appears to be the result of an engine failure. Read “Aging Aircraft: Cracks in USA’s F/A-18 fleet” for more.

Oct 1/08: General Electric in Lynn, MA received a 5-year, $641 million Performance Based Logistics (PBL) requirements contract for the F404 engine used on the F/A-18 A-D aircraft. PBL contracts are structured with bonuses for meeting key performance requirements like readiness, and penalties for failing to meet them.

Repair, replacement, and program support work will be performed at Lynn, MA, and is expected to be complete by December 2012. This effort combines efforts with the U.S. Navy (97%) and the Government of Switzerland (1%); Finland (1%), and Kuwait (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Inventory Control Point.

Sept 26/08: Multinational. A $10.2 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for 703 F/A-18 Cockpit Pressure Warning System kits to equip the U.S. Navy, (590, $7.9 million, 77.8%) and the Governments of Finland, (66, $994,999, 9.8%), Kuwait (39, $863,000, 8.5%) and Malaysia (8, $399,854, 3.9%).

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (85%) and Mesa, AZ (15%), and is expected to be complete in October 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $3.9 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Sept 26/08: A $13.6 million modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-04-C-0014) for incorporation of Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 6318 “Incorporation of upgraded Solid State Recorder (USSR)” to provide “high fidelity recording of the 14 F/A-18E, 9 F/A-18F, and 22 EA-18G 8 x 10 display that retains and expands on the current Solid state Recorder capabilities.”

Despite the references confining the upgrades to Super Hornet family aircraft, this modification/order is said to combine purchases for the U.S. Navy ($7.6 million, 56%) and the Governments of Switzerland ($3 million, 22%) and Finland ($3 million; 22%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The latter 2 countries, of course, fly only F/A-18C/D Hornets. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in November 2010.

Sept 25/08: Switzerland. General Dynamics Information Technology announces a 5-year contract to provide program management services for the Swiss government’s F/A-18 fleet. The contract has a total potential value of $25.7 million if all options are exercised. General Dynamics will provide logistics, information technology (IT) and engineering support, along with communications management and training services.

Sept 25/08: Switzerland/ Finland. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. received a $20.1 million modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-04-D-0015) for new cockpit display suites on behalf of Switzerland and Finland. These suites will be used as lab assets for the design and development of a new cockpit display associated with both countries’ F/A-18C/D upgrade programs. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in December 2011. The US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) manages the contract.

Sept 24/08: Switzerland. The Swiss House of Representatives rejects the PA08 program, dealing a political blow to defence minister Samuel Schmid, and a program blow to F/A-18 modernization. Switzerland’s Senate will vote on it again in December 2008.

The problem is Swiss party politics. While the left-wing Greens and Social-Democrats are reliably opposed to such measures, the right-wing People’s Party (SVP) has threatened to veto and block all new arms expenditures. Samuel Schmid’s personal break with the SVP appears to be paying negative dividends; without SVP support, the centre-right Radicals and Christian Democrats lack the required votes. ISN analysis | Swiss Info story.

Sept 22/08: Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Council announces approval of the country’s SFR 917 million (about $844 million) Armaments Program 2008 (PA 08). Within that program, SFR 404 million is earmarked to maintaining and upgrading Switzerland’s 33 F/A-18C/D fighters.

“[the fleet] must be prepared for the second part of its 30-year service life… to reduce costs, their modernization will be undertaken in parallel with those of other countries. However, because of cost issues, Swiss F/A-18s will not [be] equipped for air-to-ground missions, nor for aerial reconnaissance.”

Read “Switzerland’s Hornet Upgrade 25 Program” for more.

Sept 9/08: Finland. The US DSCA announces Finland’s official request for equipment, to support the 3rd phase of its F-18 Mid-Life Upgrade Program to modernize its 63 F/A-18C and F/A-18D Hornet aircraft. The contracts could be worth up to $406 million. Read “Finland Requests 3rd Upgrade Phase for its F-18s” for full details.

Sept 4/08: Australia. Australia has initially decide to replace 49 center barrel sections in its Hornet fleet, and has already begun the process. In parallel, however, it also ran a full scale fatigue testing program for removed center barrel sections, courtesy of Australia’s DSTO, QinetiQ-Aerostructures, and Fortburn. The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, Australia’s Minister for Defence Science and Personnel under Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon, announced that in light of this testing:

“…the actual life of the Hornet centre barrels is 10%, or 2 years, greater than originally certified… These findings are thanks to Australia’s internationally recognised world-leading expertise in testing and managing ageing aircraft, and is the result of decades of experience developing this capability.”

In response, Australia’s center barrel replacement program may drop from 49 aircraft to 10, a move that would save up to A$ 400 million (currently about $330 million) and leave more aircraft available for missions.

Aug 14/08: Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. received a $17.4 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, cost plus fixed fee contract (N00383-06-D-001J) to incorporate post production and performance based logistics support requirements. This support is designed to ensure the continued safe and effective operations of fielded F/A-18 A-D aircraft in the US Navy and US Marine Corps ($12.6 million; 72%); and by the governments of Australia ($794,520; 5%), Canada ($1.5 million; 8%), Spain ($1 million; 6%), Finland ($677,991; 4%), Switzerland ($360,183; 2%), Kuwait ($423,744; 2%), and Malaysia ($84,749; 1%).

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (76%); El Segundo, CA (21%); Warner Robins, GA (2%); and Santa Clarita, CA (1%), and is expected to be complete in December 2008.

July 10/08: Australia. L-3 Communications MAS in Montreal, Canada announces a contract under Australia’s F/A-18 Centre Barrel Replacement (CBR) program, which is part of their Structural Refurbishment Project Phase 2 (SRP2). L-3 MAS began its SRP relationship with Australia’s DMO in 2002, and Australia’s initial CBR contract with was awarded in December 2005. The second phase of that CBR contract is worth up to USD$ 106 million, and was awarded n June 2008.

Under this new phase, L-3 MAS will deliver 4 low rate initial production (LRIP) aircraft followed by 4 full-rate production aircraft between May 2008 – June 2010, while providing ancillary services such as program management, engineering services, discrete modifications, spares and kits. The aircraft are inducted and prepared by BAE Systems Australia in Williamtown before being airlifted to the L-3 MAS F/A-18 CBR facility in Mirabel, Canada. Once re-spliced and repaired by L-3 MAS, the aircraft are returned to Williamtown for final assembly, flight testing and delivery to the DMO. The contract allows for options that could extend center-barrel replacement production to 2014.

The L-3 release briefly discusses the Mirabel facility’s use of lean manufacturing principles, and makes vague references to a recent contract with Spain involving its EA-18s. “L-3 MAS Wins Second Phase of Major F/A-18 Centre Barrel Contract with Australia and Is Awarded New Contract with Spain” was not posted the web.

July 1/08: General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA received a $30.8 million 3-month extension of a previously awarded requirements contract (N00383-03-D-011M) for repair or replacement components and program support for the F404 engine used on the F/A-18 A-D aircraft.

This award combines an effort between the U.S. Navy (90%) and the Governments of Spain (1%); Canada (1%); Australia (1%); Kuwait (1%); and Switzerland (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. DID is aware that this adds up to 95%, but that’s what was in the DefenseLINK announcement.

Work will be performed in Jacksonville, FL (90%) and Lynn, MA (10%), and is expected to be complete by September 2008. The Naval Inventory Control Point manages this contract.

June 16/08: USN/ Finland. Northrup Grumman Corp Integrated Systems, in El Segundo, CA received a $48.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for 20 center barrel aircraft sections and 6 engine nacelles (5 for the U.S. Navy and 1 for the Government of Finland’s F/A-18 C/D aircraft). In addition, this contract provides for loose and miscellaneous parts.

This contract combines purchases for the United States Navy ($47.2 million; 98%), and Government of Finland ($1.1 million; 2%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (85%); and St. Augustine, FL (15%), and is expected to be complete in November 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $2.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-08-C-0052).

April 30/08: Northrop Grumman Corp. in El Segundo, CA received a ceiling priced $25 million delivery order under a Basic Ordering Agreement (N00383-06-G-032D, #5115) for aircraft rudders which are spares in support of the F/A-18 aircraft. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA and is expected to be complete by April 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Inventory Control Point.

2007

Australia; Canada; Kuwait; Switzerland. Australian F/A-18A
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Dec 18/07: Switzerland. Switzerland’s makes an official request to the USA for up to $535 million in new equipment and refurbishments under its F/A-18C/D Upgrade 25 Program, in order to extend the useful life of 33 Swiss Air Force (SAF) F/A-18C/Ds. The upgrades include significant upgrades to the avionics and mission computer, 20 ATFLIR surveillance and targeting pods, and 44 sets of AN/ALR-67v3 ECM equipment, among other items, follow a successful trip to the USA to test integration of the F-18s’ new AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. See “Switzerland’s Hornet Upgrade 25 Program” for full details.

Dec 18/07: Kuwait. DynCorp International LLC in Fort Worth, TX received a $14.1 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-06-C-0308), exercising an option for maintenance and support services for the Kuwaiti Air Force F/A-18 Program under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Kuwait (90%) and Fort Worth, Texas (10%), and is expected to be complete in December 2008. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.

Nov 15/07: Northrop Grumman Corp. in El Segundo, CA received $8.7 million for firm-fixed-price order #5095 under a previously awarded basic ordering agreement contract (N00383-06-G-032D) for aircraft rudders which are spares in support of the F/A-18 aircraft. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (50%), Wichita, KS (24%), and Emmen, Switzerland (26%); and is expected to be complete by July 2011. This contract was not awarded competitively by the Naval Inventory Control Point.

Nov 9/07: Kuwait. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Kuwait’s formal request for technical/logistics support for F/A-18 aircraft as well as associated equipment and services. The principal contractors are: Boeing Company of St. Louis, MO; and General Dynamics of Fairfax, VA. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $90 million.

The Government of Kuwait has requested a possible sale of continuing logistics support, contractor maintenance, and technical services in support of the F/A-18 aircraft to include contractor engineering technical services, contractor maintenance support, avionics software, engine component improvement and spare parts, technical ground support equipment, spare and repair parts, supply support, publications and technical data, engineering change proposals, U.S. Government and contractor technical and logistics personnel services and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $90 million.

Sept 20/07: Multinational. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis, MO received a $145.1 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N68936-02-C-0043) for continued system configuration set support for the F/A-18 A-D Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler weapons systems for the US Navy and Marine Corps. In addition, this modification provides for unique Foreign Military Sales variants for the governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia, Spain, and Switzerland.

This contract also provides for studies and analysis related to avionics integration and acquisition product activities such as integration and testing. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (95%) and in China Lake, Calif. (5%), and is expected to be complete in January 2009. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, Calif. issued the contract.

Aug 22/07: Australia. Australia’s DoD announces an important Hornet UpGrade program milestone with the recent completion of the first center barrel replacement for Australia’s F/A-18 A/B Hornets. The prototype aircraft was disassembled in Australia and shipped to Canada where the centre barrel was successfully replaced, with up to 25,000 replacement spare parts required. The prototype aircraft has been returned to Australia for reassembly by the Hornet Industry Coalition at RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle.

The initial low rate production of nine aircraft will continue in Canada following the successful prototype. Full rate production is planned for up to 39 aircraft in Australia once the Hornet industry Coalition has developed a mature supply pipeline and industrial capacity, and has recruited and trained additional skilled workforce. Disassembly and reassembly work will continue at Williamtown, and the requirement to conduct additional aircraft work in Canada has no impact on the current Australian workforce.

Aug 20/07: Canada. Boeing and industry partner L-3 Communications MAS, Inc., deliver the first modernized Phase II CF-18 fighter to the Canadian Department of Defense. Boeing previously completed 2 prototype aircraft, while L-3 provided installation services for the program’s remaining 77 aircraft. The Phase II work is done at the L-3 facility in Mirabel (Montreal), Quebec.

Phase I, completed in August 2006, upgraded the Canadian Hornet fleet’s avionics, radio and weapons capabilities. The USD $150 million Phase II of the CF-18 modernization program adds a data link system, a helmet-mounted sight system, new color cockpit displays and a new chaff- and flare-dispensing electronic warfare system to 79 CF-18 (F/A-18 A/B) Hornets. The program is expected to be completed in March 2010.

Aug 17/07: Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Western Region in El Segundo, CA received a $25.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0080) for 15 shipsets of U.S. Navy Inlet Nacelles in support of the Service Life Extension Program for the U.S. Navy F/A-18A/B/C/D aircraft. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (71%) and at various locations throughout the United States (29%), and work is expected to be completed in December 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $2.9 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River MD issued the contract.

Aug 3/07: Canada. Being able to send one’s Hornets into harm’s way is an ancillary aspect of fleet readiness, but it’s worth noting. Canada formally requests ALR-67v3 radar warning receivers for its F/A-18s, then follows that up over time with orders under umbrella contracts that also involve other Hornet operators.

Read “Canada’s Hornet Upgrades: ALR-67 RWRs” to get a spotlight on one Hornet nation’s measures in this area.

April 23/07: Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis, MO received a $9.1 million ceiling priced delivery order (# 7020) under previously awarded basic ordering agreement contract (N00383-07-G-005H) for repair of 27 F/1-18 outer wing panels. Work will be performed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (95%), and Mesa, AZ (5%), and is expected to be completed by April 2008. This contract was not awarded competitively. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity.

March 7/07: Multinational. An $16.3 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0003) for the procurement of CY(Calendar Year) 2007 In Service Support services for the F/A-18 A-D aircraft for the U.S. Navy and the Governments of Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Spain, including program management, engineering, and logistics support.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (76%) and El Segundo, CA (24%) and is expected to be complete in Dec. 2007. Contract funds in the amount of $1.4 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This modification combines purchases for the U. S. Navy ($12.3 million; 75.5%); and the Governments of Canada ($1.2 million; 7.5%); Spain ($799,508; 4.9%); Australia ($667,848; 4.1%); Finland ($569,731; 3.5%); Kuwait ($355,950; 2.2%); Switzerland ($302,571; 1.9%); and Malaysia ($71,085; 0.4%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Systems Command is the contracting activity.

Jan 18/07: USN/ Australia. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. Integrated Systems Western Region in El Segundo, CA received a $28.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0080), exercising an option for 32 shipsets of Center Barrel Replacement Plus (CBR+) hardware for the U.S. Navy (23) and the Royal Australian Air Force (9) in support of the Service Life Extension Program for the F/A-18 A-D aircraft.

Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (83%); Amityville, NY (12.11%); and Ravenswood, WVA (4.89%), and is expected to be complete in December 2009. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($20 million; 70%) and the Government of Australia ($87 million; 30%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD is the contracting activity.

2006

Restarting part production. US F/A-18C, wings folded
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Nov 30/06: Multinational. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. received an $11.2 million modification to previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract #N00019-04-D-0015, exercising an option for unique F/A-18 in-service support for the Governments of Switzerland, Finland, Canada, Australia, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Spain, including program management, engineering, and logistics support. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO and is expected to be complete in December 2007.

This modification combines purchases for the Governments of Switzerland ($2,805,375; 25%); Finland ($2,244,300; 20%); Canada ($1,683,225; 15%); Australia ($1,122,150; 10%); Kuwait ($1,122,150; 10%); Malaysia ($1,122,150; 10%); and Spain ($1,122,150; 10%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. The Naval Air Systems Command issued the contract.

Sept 21/06: A $76 million award to Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas for three firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity orders (#7001, #7002, #7003) under a basic ordering agreement contract (N00383-06-D-004H-7000) for procurement of newly manufactured spares in support of the F/A-18 C/D flight surfaces system. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO and is expected to be complete by July 2011. The Naval Inventory Control Point (NAVICP) issued the contract.

A Nov 8/06 Boeing release note that this order is part of a larger 5-year contract worth up to $391 million. It aims to provide more than 3,000 new flight control surfaces for F/A-18 A-D aircraft, and replaces a previous 5-year agreement. Flight control surfaces are the hinged or movable airfoils designed to change the aircraft’s attitude during flight, and some of the surface pieces in question are as large as a compact car.

The parts will be assembled in St. Louis, MO, with deliveries scheduled to begin this year and continuing through 2013. The total $391 million contract comes in annual increments, with the first year’s order being about $89 million and deliveries starting within 6 months.

June 30/06: Part production restart. NAVICP also issued a $59.5 million contract to Boeing for 23 spare inner wings, restarting a portion of the Hornet production line that had closed in 2000 (the Super Hornet is a larger aircraft that looks similar, but does not use the same wings). The inner wing is the largest portion of the wing system, and it is called that because does not fold up when the plane is stowed on an aircraft carrier. The wings will be built in St. Louis with first delivery scheduled for 2009 and final delivery by September 2010.

March 6/06: Australia. L-3 Communications MAS announces [PDF] a C$ 20 million ($17.6 million) contract from the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) for design and prototype work under the RAAF’s F/A-18 Centre Barrel Replacement (CBR) Program. The work related to this contract actually started on Dec 22/05 and is being performed in the L-3 MAS facilities in Mirabel, QB, Canada.

The CBR prototype efforts are an extension of the structural work being carried out by L-3 MAS under the RAAF Hornet Upgrade Phase 3 (HUGPH3) Structural Refurbishment Program. The center barrel is the aircraft’s mid-fuselage section where the wings attach, and which carries their structural load. The 1st RAAF aircraft is scheduled to arrive Mirabel in April 2006, and the prototype activities are expected to be completed by mid-2007.

Jan 6/06: Northrop Grumman Corp. Air Combat Systems in El Segundo, CA received a $24.8 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0080) for the procurement of 37 shipsets of F/A-18 Hornet Center Barrel Replacement Plus (CBR+) hardware. It was issued to as part of the Service Life Extension Program for the Navy F/A-18 A-D Hornet aircraft.

The “center barrel” is the crucial center part of the aircraft fuselage that supports the wings and landing gear. This part is may be replaced for crash damage, or just because of the continual hard landing damage sustained by aircraft in the “controlled crashes” of carrier landings.

Dec 21/05: Northrop Grumman Corp. Air Combat Systems in El Segundo, CA received a $5.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 37 shipsets of Center Barrel Replacement Plus (CBR+) loose parts in support of the Service Life Extension Program for the U.S. Navy F/A-18A/B/C/D aircraft. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA and is expected to be complete in October 2008. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-06-C-0080).

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South Korea Launches KF-16 Fighter Upgrades Upended

Fri, 18/12/2015 - 01:18
ROKAF KF-16
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In July 2009, The Korea Times reported that ROKAF was looking to upgrade its F-16C/D fleet’s radar and armament, as part of the 2010-2014 arms acquisition and management package submitted to President Lee Myung-bak for approval.

Under the Peace Bridge II and II deals, The ROKAF bought 140 “KF-16” Block 52 fighters, which were assembled in Korea between 1994-2004 under a $5.5 billion licensing agreement. Key upgrades to this fleet will include new radars to replace the existing APG-68v5/v7 systems, modern avionics and computers, and upgrades of the planes’ cabling and databuses to MIL-STD-1760. The centerpiece AESA radar competition has a winner now, and South Korea has picked its contractor for the overall upgrade program. Now the effort is turning that into binding contracts, and beginning the upgrade process. Other countries within the region and beyond are interested in similar high-value F-16 upgrade programs, so the ROk’s experiences will be watched carefully.

Korea’s KF-16 Radar The Benefits of AESA Technology NGC’s SABR
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Active Electronically Scanned Array radars offer dramatic increases in fighter performance, and an equally dramatic drop in maintenance costs, thanks to their large array of independently excitable and steerable transmit/receive modules. Advantages over mechanical phased array radars like the KF-16s’ APG-68 include 2x-3x range or performance, simultaneous ground and air scans, and near-zero maintenance over the fighter’s lifetime. The fixed AESA antenna in American designs cuts out high-maintenance motors and hydraulics, and if one T/R module out of thousands burns out or breaks, it matters so little that it’s just left on. More advanced functions like high speed communications, and even focused electronic disruption of enemy radars, also become possible.

South Korea was very interested in AESA performance, but we were told by contractor sources that their calculations of the long-term maintenance savings over existing mechanically-scanned APG-68 radars helped them decide to make the investment in AESA.

F-16s have several AESA radar versions to choose from.

Northrop Grumman supplies the AN/APG-68 radars that equip most current F-16s, as well as the AN/APG-80 radar that equips the United Arab Emirates’ F-16E/F Desert Falcons. The firm has gone on to develop a more generic AESA system called SABR (Scalable Agile Beam Radar) as a drop-in AESA replacement for existing F-16 radars like the APG-68.

Raytheon has taken similar steps, developing an AESA radar called RACR (Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar) for the same purpose. Their radar won, and will equip up to 134 KF-16s.

A 3rd possible choice is IAI ELta’s EL/M-2052. It was originally developed for Israeli F-16s, and would probably have been fitted to the F-16I if the USA hadn’t threatened to cut of all manufacturer support for the fighters. This raises the specter that the US government would use the same tactics in export competitions, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the M-2052’s most promising sales prospects currently involve non-American fighters in India.

Raytheon’s Speed RACR RACR
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Raytheon’s resizable RACR AESA radar is aimed at a very large potential market, as a retrofit for F-16s and F/A-18 Hornets around the world, and as an option for new planes. Raytheon’s goal was to keep the existing aperture and form of existing F-16 and F/A-18 Hornet radars, and keep the same power requirement. That allows customers to just drop it into the smaller fighters without structural or power changes.

The translation of received data is mostly handled within the RACR modules already, minimizing other changes to the receiving fighter, and this same flexibility is possible for other platforms with previous-generation radars. Aperture sizes can be varied for different platforms by changing the number and arrangement of T/R modules, and power back-ends can be varied as well.

APG-79 LRM removal
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The RACR radar’s core design and architecture owes a large debt to the AN/APG-79 AESA radar that equips F/A-18 family Super Hornets. The APG-79’s in-service reliability record became an important selling point for Raytheon in South Korea, and in discussions, Raytheon representatives referred to their technology maturity as an important edge.

Part of that edge involves the hardware, which has served on American & Australian Super Hornets. RACR uses the same “LRM slice” approach as the Super Hornet’s APG-79, and the modernized F-15E Strike Eagle’s APG-82. This maximizes front line maintenance by using internal diagnostics plus swap out sub-modules, instead of using larger “black box” LRUs that require more Tier 2+ depot maintenance. Many aspects of the architecture and active technologies are also similar between APG-79, APG-82, and RACR.

The other facet of RACR’s value proposition involves software. Raytheon has designed their radar families to maximize the role of software in giving them new “modes” and capabilities, even as they work to ensure a common architecture and set of technologies. Raytheon employees have told DID that it’s possible to develop a radar mode like RCDL high-bandwidth communications for a platform like the F/A-18E/F, and have it made available to RACR or APG-82 customers. For a customer like South Korea, the process would have to go through the usual export control channels as a modification to the original FMS case, but development is no longer an expense, and installation involves minimal engineering work, followed by software reprogramming and relatively quick check-out testing. The reverse would also be true, allowing innovations requested by RACR customers to find their way back to other radar fleets.

The bad news is that the APG-79’s software is known to be buggy, and is the subject of repeated and continuing reports from the Pentagon’s Department of Testing & Evaluation.

AESA After-Effects T-50, 3-view
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Korea Aerospace Industries has a very broad set of cooperation agreements with Lockheed Martin, from licenses to build and maintain the ROKAF’s F-16s, to the T-50 family’s development and international marketing agreements. One of those agreements states that the T-50 family of trainers and lightweight fighters may not be equipped with radars more sophisticated than the ones carried in the ROKAF’s KF-16s.

That clause is what forced KAI to abandon SELEX’s Vixen 500E AESA radar for the FA-50, and select IAI Elta’s EL/M-2032 mechanically-scanned radar instead. Adding AESA radars to the KF-16s would remove those strictures, opening the door for similar additions. The result would be a $30-35 million AESA-equipped FA-50+ lightweight fighter for the global export market, which could be a strong competitor for existing F-16s at $40-55 million each. It could even affect broader F-35 exports (currently $120 million per), thanks to its combination of advanced capabilities and traditional lightweight fighter price.

Contracts and Key Events 2013 – 2014

Korea picks Raytheon’s RACR as their KF-16 AESA radar, Taurus’ KEPD 350 as their long-range cruise missile; Is the BAE deal in trouble? RACR retrofit
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December 18/15: South Korea has selected Lockheed Martin to carry out work on its KF-16 upgrade program. The move comes after the $1.58 billion contract had been initially awarded to BAE Systems but had been on hold over demands for a cost increase by BAE. The work will look to upgrade the radar, armament and other integrated electronic systems of 134 KF-16s currently in service in the SKAF. The new contract also sees the Koreans drop the Raytheon produced AN/APG-68 radar for the AN/APG-83 produced by Northrop Grumman.

Jul 10/15: In a counter-lawsuit, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Agency (DAPA) has filed charges against BAE Systems and Raytheon over the companies’ alleged failure to complete a $1.7 billion KF-16 upgrade program. BAE originally filed a lawsuit in November 2014 to prevent the company from receiving a $43 million penalty over the canceled upgrade program; DAPA also demanded $18 million from Raytheon.

Nov 13/14: Legal. BAE sues in US court to block South Korea’s attempt to make BAE forfeit a $43.25 million Letter of Guarantee:

“That $43 million is a fee that was built into the F-16 contract in case BAE broke its agreement. But BAE is arguing DAPA is punishing the company for not being able to convince the US government that the extra costs created by government requirements for more testing were unnecessary. In BAE’s eyes, that simply isn’t fair.”

What’s remarkable here is the fact that the clear language of the lawsuit is saying that the US government basically destroyed the agreement between BAE and South Korea. That’s not exactly a common event, and must be seen as a major institutional and program failure. There seems to be no discussion occurring about that, in an environment where a major American company had a great deal to gain from any failure. Sources: Defense News, “BAE Sues South Korea Over F-16 Upgrade Cancellation Fees”.

Nov 5/14: Terminated. South Korea has terminated its deal with the US government over the KF-16 upgrade, which means the end of the deal with BAE. The contract was technically terminated “for convenience,” but they’re still going to have to negotiate termination fees.

Lockheed Martin can offer to step in now, and the questions are twofold. Once, will South Korea move to cut the US government out via a Direct Commercial Sale contract next time? Two, if the contract remains a Foreign Military Sale, what will the US government’s price be? An abrupt change in that price would raise a lot of questions. Sources: Defense News, “South Korea, Pentagon Kill BAE F-16 Upgrade Contract”.

Deal terminated

Oct 15/14: Deal dying? Korean media report that a proposed $753 million price hike for the KF-16 upgrade deal could result in cancellation. Lockheed Martin waits in the wings, and is reportedly extending an offer that would include more technical help with the multinational KF-X fighter program if the ROKAF switches.

The US government is reportedly demanding another WON 500 billion (about $471 million) for unspecified added “risk management,” while BAE is reportedly requesting another WON 300 million ($282 million) to cover a 1-year program delay. DAPA has been talking to the US government about these issues since August 2014, but their public statements are becoming visibly frustrated and distrustful, especially with respect to the risk fee. Words like “ludicrous” are not what you want to hear from an official negotiating partner in an Asian country. The risk for BAE is that cancellation would really hurt its push to export F-16 upgrades as a growth line of business, and Raytheon also stands to lose big by losing its cornerstone customer for the RACR AESA radar. Unfortunately, since it’s a Foreign Military Sale managed by the US military rather than a Direct Commercial Sale process managed by the purchasing government, the US government is inextricably involved in program management and in financial negotiations. That sharply limits maneuvering room for BAE, Raytheon, and South Korea’s DAPA.

Lockheed Martin’s angle is a spinoff from their recent F-35A deal, which will supply 42 aircraft to the ROKAF. Part of their industrial offsets involved help designing the proposed KF-X fighter, which is currently a collaboration between South Korea and Indonesia. They were cautious about providing too much help, but they reportedly see enough benefit in badly wounding an F-16 upgrade competitor to offer another 400 man-years of support for KF-X (total: 700) if the ROKAF switches. Sources: Chosun Ilbo, “U.S. in Massive Price Hike for Fighter Jet Upgrade” | Defense News, “F-16 Upgrade: Problems With S. Korea-BAE Deal Could Open Door to Lockheed” | Korea Times, “Korea may nix BAE’s KF-16 upgrade deal”.

June 25/14: Phase 1. BAE has received a pair of ROKAF F-16s at the company’s Alliance Airport facility in Fort Worth, TX. Phase 1 will see them used as testbeds and prototypes. They’ll be equipped with advanced mission computers, new cockpit displays, advanced radars and targeting sensors, and integrated with advanced weapons. Once the changes are proven out and accepted, Phase 2 will be ready to begin, and BAE believes that will happen before the end of 2014.

BAE says that this will be the first time that any of America’s “teen series” fighters has received a major upgrade that isn’t coming from the original manufacturer. That’s actually a debatable point. The Israelis have made wide-ranging modifications to F-16s, and the cumulative effect of the Falcon-UP and subsequent programs is arguably as extensive as BAE’s work for Korea. Unlike Israel Aerospace’s work creating the clearly superior “F-4 [Phantom II] 2000/2020,” however, it’s possible to argue that Israeli F-16 upgrades were more of an alternative configuration/ refurbishment. The Israelis might disagree. Sources: BAE, “First South Korean F-16s Arrive at BAE Systems for Upgrades”.

May 8/14: Phase 1. BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Service in Rockville, MD receives an unfinalized $140 million firm-fixed-price contract, covering initial development and long lead production of KF-16 upgrades for 134 aircraft. There’s more to come, as the full program is scheduled to be added to this contract in Summer 2014.

$68.6 million is committed immediately. Work will be performed at Ft. Worth, TX and the first upgraded KF-16 aircraft are scheduled for delivery starting 2019. USAF Life Cycle Management Center/WWMK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH (FA8615-14-C-6023).

Phase 1 contract

Dec 22/13: Phase 1. BAE Systems announces that:

“The Republic of Korea has finalized an agreement with the U.S. government for BAE Systems to perform upgrades and systems integration for its fleet of more than 130 F-16 aircraft. The company will now begin the first phase of the work under contract through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Foreign Military Sales program.”

Jan 24/14 sees Raytheon announce a corresponding signed contract with BAE Systems, without disclosing the amount for Phase 1. Raytheon is a sub-contractor, responsible for the RACR radar, ALR-69A all-digital radar warning receiver, advanced mission computing technology, and weapon systems integration. Phase 2, as proposed, would begin in late 2014, and would involve actual production and installation of the 130 upgrade kits over several years. Sources: BAE Systems, “South Korea Finalizes Agreement For BAE Systems To Perform F-16 Upgrades” | Korea Times, “S. Korea finalizes BAE deal to upgrade F-16s” | Raytheon, “Raytheon secures first international customer for its F-16 RACR AESA radar”.

Nov 25/13: Phase 1. Plans change. Instead of a single FMS case, the US DSCA announces that South Korea’s official request to upgrade 134 KF-16C/D Block 52 fighters has been broken in 2.

Phase 1 is worth up to $200 million, and the DSCA request only covers government and contractor services to support the upgrade’s initial design and development, plus some actual work and infrastructure. On the support side, they’ll produce detailed design requirements and reports for the new system design, computers, displays, sensors and weapons, pilot-vehicle interface, Group A engineering installation design, and support and training requirements. They’ll also initiate software design and development, build an avionics systems integration facility with test stations, and secure some long lead-time materials. That seems like little tangible progress for $200 million, but the DSCA doesn’t mention that 2 ROKAF F-16s will be fully outfitted as prototypes.

Phase 2 would be the full fleet upgrade with the RACR radar, updated avionics etc. That will require a separate DSCA notification.

The Koreans picked BAE Systems Technology Solution & Services, Inc. in Arlington, VA as their contractor back in March, and that’s still true. Once a contract is negotiated, implementation will require 1 BAE representative in Korea as an intermediary. Source: DSCA 13-62.

DSCA: Phase 1 upgrade planning

April 10/13: BAE & RACR AESA. South Korea’s DAPA picks Raytheon’s RACR radar to upgrade its locally-built KF-16C/D Block 52 fighters. Actually getting to a contract will be a bit more work. The ROK is using a hybrid Foreign Military Sale (FMS) structure, which retains the USAF’s role as the contract manager, but left the ROKAF to manage the selection process and decision. The ROK has made its picks, and the procedural outcome of the current government-to-government negotiations will be a single FMS case and US DSCA export notice that covers both the lead contractor for the overall KF-16 upgrade (BAE picked, confirmed no contract yet), and the provision of the AESA radar component (Raytheon picked). Once the mandatory 30-day post-notice period has passed, contracts can be issued and work can begin.

Subject to that process, Raytheon will deliver 134 RACR systems to the ROKAF, beginning in late 2016. The ROKAF received a total of 140 F-16 Block 52s/”KF-16s” under the Peace Bridge II and III contracts, on top of the original 40 F-16C/D Block 32s in Peace Bridge I. Some losses are inevitable, from landing mishaps or on-base damage to full-on crashes into the Yellow Sea. The first KF-16s were delivered almost 20 years ago in 1994, and the radar numbers could be taken as a de facto acknowledgement that the ROKAF has about 130-134 KF-16s left in inventory.

This contract’s scope includes “AESA radar development, production of test assets for the system design and development program, and production.” Discussions with Raytheon clarified that this development and testing applies only to integration with the ROKAF’s exact KF-16 configuration, which will differ even from other F-16C/D Block 52s. RACR itself is a finished product. Raytheon release | Raytheon feature.

BAE picked, RACR AESA for KF-16s

April 4/13: Cruise missiles. The ROKAF has taken about 5 years (q.v. May 18/11, April 25/08 entries), but they appear to have picked their long-range cruise missile: Taurus’ KEPD 350, with an expected order of 200 weapons. An ROKAF officer is quoted as saying that they “urgently need more long-range air-to-surface missiles due to the mounting nuclear threat and the increasing possibility of provocations from North Korea.”

It was clear from the outset that the ROKAF was looking beyond the 40 or so Boeing AGM-84K SDLAM-ER missiles in its arsenal, with particular interest in Lockheed Martin’s AGM-158 JASSM/JASSM-ER. Unfortunately, the current administration has made it difficult for South Korea to join Australia as a JASSM export customer. Parliamentary defence committee member Kim Kwan-jin is quoted as saying that:

“U.S. missiles were one of the options we were considering, but because it is difficult for them to be sold to Korea, the only option we have is the Taurus.”

Chalk up another “own goal” for American weapons export processes and administration. The KEPD 350 is currently integrated with the Tornado and F/A-18 Hornet, is partially integrated with Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen, and is expected to be integrated with the Eurofighter by 2015 or so. The ROKAF will have to fund additional integration and testing on its own, in order to use the new missile with its F-15Ks and KF-16s.

Technically, the ROKAF could have ordered MBDA’s Storm Shadow and paid for its integration instead. The thing is, it’s more expensive to buy, thanks to an added level of stealth that isn’t really helpful against North Korea. Storm Shadow also lacks the KEPD 350’s void sensing fuze, which is especially useful against the multi-level bunkers so beloved of North Korea’s tyranny. The KEPD 350’s 500 km/ 310 mile range matches or exceeds the Storm Shadow’s, and almost doubles the SLAM-ER’s reach. Chosun Ilbo | Reuters.

Cruise missile picked: Taurus’ KEPD 350

2011 – 2012

BAE picked for overall KF-16 upgrade; JDAM capability added; South Korea looking for long-range cruise missiles; AESA radar competition. KF-16D, armed
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July 31/12: South Korea picks BAE Systems as the preferred bidder for a 1.3 trillion won (about $1.05 billion) project to upgrade the KF-16s’ mission computers, operating systems, ethernet and other wiring, Link-16/MIDS, etc. They’ll also work to incorporate an AESA radar, once DAPA makes its choice between Raytheon (RACR) and Northrop Grumman (SABR). This isn’t completely unexpected. BAE has won related F-16 work in the USA and Turkey, and already provides about 40% of the mission equipment in the global F-16 fleet.

“Baek Yoon-hyeong, spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said his agency will send a letter of request to the U.S. government in early August for a U.S. foreign military sale (FMS) of the BAE’s KF-16 upgrade package… “DAPA is expected to ink the deal with the U.S. government in December this year,” Baek said, adding that the multi-year project calls for upgrading some 130 KF-16 fighters…

Joe McCabe, president of BAE’s South Korea office, said the strength of his company’s offer was flexibility in terms of technology transfer. He said BAE would seek the U.S. government’s approval for the sharing of share codes of F-16 flight and weapon control operational flight programs with Korea.”

Sharing codes would be a big deal, because it would allow South Korea to integrate its own weapons onto the jets without outside assistance. If negotiations with BAE fail, F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin could step back into the picture, but that seems unlikely. A contract is expected by the end of 2012. If and when it’s signed, most work will be performed in Fort Walton Beach, FL; San Antonio, TX; and Warner Robins, GA, with some additional work at the company’s aviation hangers in Mojave, CA and Crestview, FL. BAE Systems, who is recruiting | Korea Times | AFP | Sky News Australia | Wall Street Journal.

BAE picked for deep upgrade

July 12/12: AESA. Flight International reports that South Korea’s F-16 upgrade RFP involved 132 F-16s, and required a full suite of AESA radar modes, including the interleaving of air-to-air tracking and air-to-ground mapping.

It reportedly left out advanced modes like electronic attack/ protection, but did require an industrial offset package worth 50% of the value of the contract. Raytheon VP of international strategy and business development Jim Hvizd says that they’ll transfer some hardware production to the ROK if they win.

March 14/12: Upgrade lead? Lockheed Martin and BAE are both pushing to perform South Korea’s KF-16 upgrades, which could run up to $1.6 billion for 134 KF-16s. It’s part of a wider competition in this area between the 2 firms. BAE’s recent wins in providing fire-control and advanced ethernet capabilities for 270 US ANG F-16s, and some Turkish planes, sends notice that Lockheed can expect competition in Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore.

In South Korea, DAPA has reportedly accepted bids from both firms, and is expected to pick a winner for the US government to negotiate with by summer 2012. South Korea wants access to AESA technologies, which neither BAE or Lockheed can provide, but Lockheed Martin’s pedigree in advanced avionics may trump BAE’s edge in advanced ethernet networking systems. Defense Update.

Nov 22/11: AESA RFP. Raytheon declares that it is “responding to the Republic of Korea’s official launch of the F-16 radar upgrade competition with the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar system (RACR).”

RACR is designed as a drop-in AESA radar for F-16 fighters, and is based on the technologies in the AN/APG-79 radar that equips US Navy Super Hornets. No word yet on other competitors from Israel (vid. earlier entries) or elsewhere.

AESA upgrade RFP

Oct 27/11: New weapons? Fight International reports on the specifications process for South Korea’s proposed KF-X fighter. The part of the vision that matters to the KF-16 fleet involves a complementary set of South Korean weapons. LiG Nex1 would develop a compatible line of short and medium range air-to-air missiles, strike missiles, and precision weapons to complement the DAPA procurement agency’s 500 pound Korea GPS guided bomb (KGGB).

That weapons array may well survive as a program, even if KF-X itself crashes and burns. Which means DAPA will be thinking hard about how to include compatibility in the KF-16 upgrade program.

May 18/11: Cruise missiles. South Korea is looking for advanced cruise missiles to equip its aircraft. South Korea’s F-15K Slam Eagles are so known because they can carry the AGM-84K Standoff Land Attack Missile – Expanded Response (SLAM-ER), a Harpoon derivative with extra range and dual GPS/IIR guidance. The ROKAF has been looking to buy Lockheed Martin’s stealthy AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile for its fleet of F-15Ks, and presumably its KF-16s as well.

The missiles would give South Korea a way of striking even North Korea’s most heavily defended targets if necessary, while remaining out of range of the North’s air defenses. Indeed, it recently prosecuted an ex-ROKAF Colonel who leaked information about its JASSM plans. JASSM’s long history of technical difficulties have reportedly given South Korea’s DAPA procurement agency pause, however, and an anonymous DAPA official now says that a broader RFP will go out in June 2011.

Likely contenders include Lockheed Martin’s JASSM and JASSM-ER, Boeing’s SLAM-ER, MBDA’s Storm Shadow, the MBDA/Saab Taurus KEPD-350, and Raytheon’s JSOW-ER. Of these contenders, Boeing, Lockheed, and Raytheon have the advantage of owning platforms that have already been integrated for use on the F-16 and F-15 Strike Eagle. MBDA’s products would incur integration costs, but it’s possible that their Storm Shadow’s combat-proven high-end capabilities, or KEPD-350’s combination of reliable capability and lower cost, could still make them attractive buys. Yonhap News | Flight International.

Feb 8/11: JDAM GPS. The Chosun Ilbo quotes the South Korean ROKAF, who says it has integrated the 2,000 pound GBU-31 JDAM GPS-guided bomb with its KF-16 fighters, as well as its F-15K “Slam Eagles.” After developing the software, the ROKAF successfully carried out 3 tests, and finished pilot training at the end of January 2011.

Looks like the F-16 upgrades to allow GPS-guided weapons (vid. May 26/09 entry) have been performed. The report also mentions JDAM wing kits, which are absent from normal JDAMs – but not from the locally-developed KGGB extended range 500-pound GPS-guided bomb.

2009 – 2010

Peace Bridge I F-16C/D Block 32s to be upgraded; KF-X delays make F-16C/D Block 52 upgrades more attractive. ROKAF F-16C, CBU-97s
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June 15/10: KF-X. Indonesia and South Korea will produce a KF-X jet together, with the aim of bringing it into service beginning around 2020. South Korea has bowed to realism and greatly reduced the specifications. Instead of trying to develop an F-35 or F-22 analogue, KF-X aims to begin with its FA-50, and improve on that to produce a jet that’s roughly equivalent to an F-16C/D Block 50, or a Chinese J-10.

The KF-X partners don’t expect to even begin fielding until 2020, and they’ll only reach that date in the unlikely event that technical issues don’t delay the project. That timing makes KF-16 upgrades more attractive as an interim measure. Read “” for full coverage.

Oct 22/09: From KF-X to KF-16+? Flight International reports that the stalled KF-X indigenous fighter program, is contributing to renewed assessments of KF-16 upgrades, in order to keep the existing fighters in service for another decade. KF-X has been hampered by the economic crisis, and by a mismatch between an ambitious wish list and realistic costs. If the ROKAF’s focus shifts to KF-16 upgrades as a substitute, upgraded radars and avionics are said to be the priorities.

The report adds that the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar (RACR) is the only AESA option that the US government has declared to be available for export, and is specifically designed as a drop-in upgrade for the F-16. Note that Northrop Grumman also has its scalable agile beam radar (SABR) drop-in AESA option. Flight International does not cover South Korea’s partnerships with IAI Elta, and the possibility of extending the EL/M-2032 partnership around EL/M-2052 AESA technology.

The other question involves engines. Seoul has opted for a mix the latest GE’s F110 and Pratt & Whitney F100 engines in its Boeing F-15K fighters, and upgrading KF-16 engines to a variant that matches its F-15s would offer longer engine life, and fleet commonality.

July 23/09: EL/M-2032 radar deal. The Korea Times reports that South Korea’s LIG Nex1 will sign a deal with Israel’s IAI Elta Systems on Sept 3/09. That deal will involve the first phase of development for an indigenous radar based on the EL/M-2032 mechanically scanned phased array radar, to equip T/A-50 and F/A-50 aircraft.

An official from the ROK’s DAPA procurement agency told the Times that the radar is expected to be built by the end of 2010, and enter service in 2011. In the mid- to long-term, sources told The Kora Times that the domestically-built radar is likely to be installed on upgraded KF-16 fighters. The Times adds that the effort may even lead to Korean development of an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar under future agreements with IAI Elta, who has also developed the EL/M-2052 AESA. That positions the EL/M-2032 as a potential Plan B for the KF-16s, and could even make IAI Plan A if AESA cooperation picks up.

F-16: AMRAAM launch
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May 26/09: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces the South Korea government’s official request for equipment and services to support the upgrade of 35 F-16 Block 32 Aircraft. The estimated cost is $250 Million.

The announcement is as significant for what it does not contain, as it is for the few details it does mention. There is no mention of radars, which would require notification. Instead, the announcement simply mentions a request:

“…to support the upgrade of 35 F-16 Block 32 aircraft to allow employment of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles [DID: AIM-120 AMRAAM], Improved Data Modem, and Secure Voice capabilities…”

The contract is likely to involve wiring, avionics and computing module upgrades, including the installation of MIL-STD-1760 databuses to accommodate GPS-guided weapons like JDAM, or the WMD variant of the CBU-97 cluster bomb. Test and support equipment, spare and repair parts, and other forms of support are also part of this request. The prime contractor will be F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, TX, and a follow-on contract would require temporary travel for U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the Republic of Korea for in-country support.

The lack of any radar request has 3 possible meanings: 1. Speculation that Korean-Israeli defense ties are about to take another step forward, via a contract for IAI Elta’s EL/M-2032 radars; 2. An AESA radar comeptition to follow; or 3. The low-end, non KF-16 part of the fleet will be brought this high and no higher.

Weapon upgrade request

May 1/09: The Korea Times reports that the ROKAF is looking to upgrade its F-16s, but is having problems obtaining the advanced AESA radars it wants. Israel’s EL/M-2032 radar is mentioned as a likely upgrade instead.

Appendix A: The Long Road to AESA EL/M-2032
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In 2013, South Korea picked their AESA radar. The challenge has been getting to this point.

A 2009 Korea Times report said that US weapons export restrictions were a problem, and when an official 2009 request to the USA didn’t include radars, it lent weight to quotes like this:

“The Air Force actually wanted the more advanced U.S. active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar but modified the plan due to the U.S. law forbidding the export of state-of-the-art and sensitive weapons systems, [the military source] said.”

In the wake of those reports, other reports focused on a non-AESA alternative. IAI’s EL/M-2032 radar has been exported to several countries for use on several different aircraft types, and equips some F-16s. It will equip the ROKAF’s future FA-50 lightweight fighters, and was said to be the basis for a jointly-developed upgrade to ROKAF KF-16s as well.

IAI’s M-2032 radar is still slated to equip the FA-50, in partnership with Korea’s LIG Nex1. By 2011, however, South Korea’s radar options for its F-16 fleet were growing. Development and fielding of AESA radars was underway in several countries, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman had finished private development of drop-in AESA upgrades for F-16s, and the USA had re-thought its position on exporting that equipment to South Korea. A 2011 RFP focused on American AESA radars, therefore, with provisions for a full suite of air and ground radar modes, and industrial offset provisions that were designed to help South Korea gain some expertise manufacturing AESA components.

Northrop Grumman’s SABR and Raytheon’s RACR were the principal competitors in Korea, as they are in Singapore, Taiwan, and in the US Air National Guard’s proposed upgrade. The US State Department has yet to issue a formal export request for the ROK, but after the September 2011 DSCA announcement of an AESA upgrade for Taiwan’s F-16s, export approval for South Korea is expected to be a mere formality.

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AH-64E Apache Block III: Evolving Battlefield Roles

Fri, 18/12/2015 - 01:18
AH-64 in Afghanistan
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The AH-64 Apache will remain the US Army’s primary armed helicopter for several more decades, thanks to the collapse of the RAH-66 Comanche program, and the retirement sans replacement of the US Army’s Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH). Apaches also serve with a number of American allies, some of whom have already expressed interest in upgrading or expanding their fleets.

The AH-64E Guardian Block III (AB3) is the helicopter’s next big step forward. It incorporates 26 key new-technology insertions that cover flight performance, maintenance costs, sensors & electronics, and even the ability to control UAVs as part of manned-unmanned teaming (MUT). In July 2006, Boeing and U.S. Army officials signed the initial development contract for Block III upgrades to the current and future Apache fleet, via a virtual signing ceremony. By November 2011, the 1st production helicopter had been delivered. So… how many helicopters will be modified under the AH-64 Block III program, what do these modifications include, how is the program structured, and what has been happening since that 2006 award? The short answer is: a lot, including export interest and sales.

The AH-64 Apache Program: Sunset, Sunrise Executive Summary

The AH-64E/ Block III has gone from its 2006 development contract to full production, with no major deficiencies noted in testing. By the end of 2014, all Apache helicopters rolling out of Mesa will be AH-64Es. Features like full UAV control are keeping this 1980s airframe at the leading edge of technology, and interest has been brisk.

The AH-64A/D Apache has become a dominant attack helicopter around the globe, in service abroad with Britain, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the UAE. All are strong candidates for AH-64E upgrades at some point, and some have already placed formal export requests.

Work at the Mesa, AZ manufacturing facility has been running steadily since the AH-64 program’s inception in the early 1980s, but a large share has involved less expensive refurbishment and upgrades. The Block III program continues that tradition, and most AH-64Es will be remanufactured. Countries who buy the AH-64 for the first time, or expand their fleets, will receive new-build helicopters.

There is a market for that. In recent decades, Boeing’s AH-64 Apache has eclipsed Bell Helicopters’ AH-1 in the market Bell founded, and has dealt likewise with new competitors like Eurocopter’s Tiger, AgustaWestland’s A/T129, and Russia’s Mi-28/ Ka-52. Russia’s Mi-24/25 family, which also dates back to the 1980s, is the only platform with similar customer reach, but their customer pools don’t overlap much.

The AH-64E/ Block III has been ordered by the USA (701 planned), Indonesia (8) South Korea (36), Saudi Arabia (up to 70), and Taiwan (30).

Formal DSCA export requests without any confirmed orders yet include India (22 new), Qatar (24), and the UAE (60), with more expected to follow.

AB3 Program Excel
download

The US Army aims to perform Block III/ AH-64E upgrades to all of the current Block I and II Apaches, their 68 wartime loss replacements, and recently-built AH-64 Extended Block II/+ helicopters. War replacement helicopters bought after FY 2012 will be new-build AH-64Es.

According to Boeing, Low-Rate Initial production involved 2 lots, and totaled 51 helicopters. LRIP Lot 1 was for 8 helicopters. LRIP Lot 2 was divided up into 3 tranches of 16, 19, and 8 helicopters. The Lot 3 contract was delayed so long that Lots 3-4 began Full Rate Production in 2014.

The original plan involved the AH-64’s 2nd re-manufacture program at around $16 million per helicopter. That isn’t cheap, but it’s much cheaper than a new-build AH-64E’s price tag of $40 million or so. The Army still needed new-build production of 56 helicopters, however, in order to reach the program goal of 690.

International AH-64E sales are expected to be a combination of re-manufacture and new-build orders, depending on whether the countries in question already field AH-64s, and how large they want their fleet to be. To date export customers include Taiwan (30 new-build) and South Korea (36 new-build), and Saudi Arabia has begin placing orders. Formal DSCA requests have been made for up to 183 more by India (22 new), Indonesia (8 new), Qatar (24 new), Saudi Arabia (70, most new) and the UAE (60, incl. 30 new).

The AH-64E Apache Guardian (click for video)

The AH-64E Apache Guardian incorporates 26 new technologies designed to enhance the aircraft’s capabilities.

Flight performance: One set of advances are tied to helicopter’s flight performance. They include enhanced -701D engines with improved digital electronic control (DEC); upgraded drive systems including a split-torque face gear transmission, which increases power throughput by more than 20% (to 3,400 shp) without taking up more room; and a new composite rotor blade. The new composite rotor blades, which successfully completed flight testing in May 2004, work with the improved engines to increase the Apache’s cruise speed, climb rate and payload.

Overall, the front-line payoff is a higher hover ceiling altitude, at greater gross weight, on a 95F-degree day. That’s very useful in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. The new avionics will also help, by allowing the new Block III helicopters to fly in clouds and inclement weather that would have grounded earlier models. Pilots in pre-training noticed the additional power very quickly, and pilots on the front lines found that they could now keep up with CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters on escort missions.

Sensor performance: Block III upgrades are designed to extend the Apache’s sensor range in all domains, and may eventually be paired with new extended range weapons like the planned JAGM Block 1.

The mast-mounted radome that defines the current Apache AH-64D Longbow houses the AN/APG-78 Longbow fire control radar. Its millimeter-wave sensing improves performance under poor visibility conditions, and is less sensitive to ground clutter. The short wavelength also allows a very narrow beam-width, which is more resistant to countermeasures as it’s trying to guide the helicopter’s missiles to their targets. Block III will extend that radar’s range, or give commanders the option of trading it for an Unmanned Aerial Systems Tactical Common Data Link Assembly (UTA) that’s mounted in the same place on the mast.

UAV Synergy: The UTA will provide advanced “Level IV MUM” control of UAVs’ flight, payloads, and even laser designators from inside the helicopter, while streaming their sensor feeds back to the Apache’s displays. That level of control is causing a rewrite of existing tactics, techniques and procedures. U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command capability manager Col. John Lynch offers one example of what can be done when UAV sensor and flight control is added:

“For example, with the Block III Apache you might have a UAS that’s overhead looking down into urban canyons; with Manned-Unmanned Teaming you have the ability to designate targets and you can see what is in the area where you are going to operate.”

That would have been very relevant to operations in Iraq, before the USA’s destruction of Iranian intelligence networks in that country neutralized the shoulder-fired missile threat.

Electronics & displays: Behind those sensors, AH-64D Block IIIs will add open systems architecture electronics to create more standardization and “switchability,” embedded diagnostic sensors to improve maintenance, extended range sensing, wideband network communications for high-bandwidth networking, Link 16 for shared awareness, and high capacity data fusion computers to merge off- and on-board sensor imagery into a single shared picture of the battlefield.

Other electronic systems will be added over time, and will take advantage of the new electronics architecture. A new and improved IHADSS helmet display is one example. The prototype Ground Fire Acquisition System, (GFAS) is another, and will soon undergo a “user evaluation” in theater. GFAS cameras and infrared sensors detect the muzzle flash from ground fire, classify the firing weapon, and move the information through an Aircraft Gateway Processor into the cockpit. Pilots immediately see the enemy icon on their display screen, integrated with Blue Force Tracking maps. GFAS is expected to find its way into the entire US Apache fleet, but the Block III’s open architecture electronics and convenient rebuild status will make it an attractive destination for early installs.

Upgraded versions of the AN/ARC-231 Skyfire system will form the core of its initial radio capability. SATCOM (Satellite Communications) and Link-16 will supplement those capabilities, improving the helicopter’s ability to receive or share data. New AMF JTRS radios won’t become part of the AH-64E’s communications system until the SALT terminal is added; a full production decision is expected in 2016.

Changes in Production Lots 4-6 will include better embedded diagnostics, APG-78 Longbow radar improvements to add range and over-water capability; and STT Link-16 to share the same view of enemy and friendly units with participating fighters, ships, air defense systems, etc. A Cognitive Decision Aiding System (CDAS) is a cumbersome name for a usegful system, designed “to help the pilot and the crew with some of those tasks that tend to get a little cumbersome at times.”

Contracts and Key Events

Unless otherwise noted, the Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL manages these contracts. Note that Longbow LLC is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

FY 2016

Taiwan’s Apache fleet Rusting; First AH-64E destined for South Korea. AH-64E & Mi-35P
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December 18/15: Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $215.7 billion foreign military sale contract to provide Modernized Target Acquisition Designation/Pilot Night Vision Systems (M-TAG/PNVS) for Apache helicopters to India. Work is to be completed by December 31, 2021. The contract follows the September purchase of fifteen Chinook and twenty-two Apache choppers by India, in a deal worth $2.5 billion. The Apache will be India’s first pure attack helicopter in service. The Russian made Mi 35, which has been in operation for years and is soon to be retired, was an assault chopper designed to carry troops into heavily defended areas.

December 15/15: Prosecutors in Greece have brought fresh corruption charges against a businessman and a former high-ranking Greek Defense Ministry official over the purchase of 12 Ah-64 attack helicopters in 2003. Both men are being charged with breach of faith over the contract which amounted to $650 million. Several other former ministry officials are also under investigation. The charges come amid Greece’s attempts to cut down on state corruption and clientism which many blame for the cause of the severity of its economic crash in 2008.

November 11/15: Boeing is reportedly eyeing an Egyptian order for additional AH-64 Apache attack helicopters next year, with other potential deals also covering support services to the country’s existing Apache fleet. Egypt received ten AH-64D Apaches in December 2014, following the lifting of a delivery freeze imposed by the US after the country’s military seized power in July 2013. In May 2009 the Egyptian government requested twelve of the helicopters.

November 4/15: Boeing has rolled-out the first AH-64E Apache attack helicopter destined for service with South Korea. Deliveries to the country are scheduled for the first half of 2016, with the helicopters first undergoing testing with the US Army. The South Korean Defense Acquisition Procurement Administration (DAPA) signed a $1.6 billion Foreign Military Sales contract with the US in April 2013 for 36 of the helicopters. Taiwan recently saw problems with the country’s AH-64Es rusting in the tropical climate.

October 29/15: Taiwan’s AH-64E Apache fleet is reportedly rusting in the country’s tropical climate. The helicopters are now mostly grounded, with manufacturer Boeing investigating oxidation in the rear gearbox responsible for taking out nine of the 29 Apaches in service. A lack of spare parts has also grounded a further twelve, with the country’s Ministry of National Defense notifying the US of the issue in March.

FY 2015

Iraq lets its option lapse; UAV testing goes well; M-LRFD modules being upgraded.

September 30/15: India.Following Cabinet Committee of Security approval earlier this month, India’s Defence Ministry has signed a $3.1 billion contract with Boeing for Apache and Chinook helicopters. The 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook transport helicopters are slated for delivery between 2018 and 2019, with Boeing agreeing to a 30% offset clause in a contract split into a Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) for the airframes and a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract for weapons, training and sensors. The deal’s signature comes two days before the expiration of a price agreed in 2013, with Boeing granting an extension to this price in July.

September 8/15: Lockheed is upgrading laser targeting on the AH-64E Apaches, upgrading the M-LRFD modules. The work will cost $21.7 million.

May 1/15: Boeing has been handed a $247.1 million support contract by the Army for Apache and Chinook airframe and weapons system overhaul, repair and recapitalization. The work is expected to run to 2019.

March 18/15: Dutch shove Apache peg into ISTAR hole.
The Netherlands has been experimenting. The Royal Netherland Air Forces has been using “modifications and operational techniques” to convert their fleet of AH-64 Apache helicopters from their traditional ground-attack and CAS roles to a more ISTAR-oriented platform. Details of exactly what these special changes are remain to be seen.

Feb 23/15: Governors gripe about plan to take Apaches from Reserve units. As was predicted, the governors, through their collective lobby group, are
complaining about the Army plan to move National Guard Apaches over to active service Army units. The argument focuses on the fact that Apaches have been used for domestic emergency management (lightly). Governors’ influence on congressional delegations should not be underestimated.

Feb 13/15: More support.Lockheed wins an $82 million contract for AH-64 Apache sustainment; the third and last possible exercising of one-year optional extensions of the original $111 million contract.

Oct 31/14: Support. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives an unfinalized $121.2 million firm fixed-price, contract, covering performance based logistics for AH-64D/E components services and supplies. $90.9 million is committed immediately, using FY 2014 Army budgets.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/15. Bids were solicited via the Internet, with 1 offer received (W58RGZ-15-C-0017).

Oct 19/14: Taiwan. Taiwan receives the last 6 helicopters, completing delivery of the 30 it ordered under the TWD 59.31 billion ($1.95 billion) contract. It now has 29 available for service, after an April 2014 crash-landing on a residential roof. For full coverage, see DID, “Taiwan’s Force Modernization: The American Side”.

Taiwan deliveries done

Oct 14/14: Maritime upgrade. Apache program manager Col. Jeff Hager says that the Army intends to upgrade the AH-64E’s Longbow radar, “to pick up things in a littoral (shallow water) environment and detect small ships in the water.” The changes would be part of Lot 6 enhancements, and testing of this feature is planned for 2017.

Some use of Apaches is already underway (q.v. July 19/14) in the USA’s own semi-shift to the Pacific theater, and there’s also ample precedent in Britain’s use of AH-64Ds from helicopter carriers during Libyan operations. Not to mention likely demand from new customers like Indonesia and Qatar, whose land-based responsibilities have an intrinsic maritime component.

Meanwhile, American forces are going to run into a difficult problem: the USMC is short of amphibious ships to train its own AH-1 Super Cobra attack helicopters, let alone Army AH-64Es. Sources: AIN, “Maritime Mode Radar Planned for Army’s AH-64E Apache” | DoD Buzz, “Army Configures Apaches for Sea Duty” | Flightglobal, “US Army details combat experience with AH-64E” | IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “AUSA 2014: US Army preps Apaches for sea-basing”.

Oct 14/14: Qatar. Lockheed Martin announces a $90.6 million foreign military sale contract to provide M-TADS/PNVS surveillance and targeting turrets to the Qatar Emiri Air Force. Qatar will be one of the first international customers to receive M-TADS/PNVS systems equipped with the new Modernized Laser Range Finder Designator, which is reportedly 2x as reliable and can be replaced on the flight line.

Qatar marks the M-TADS/PNVS system’s 14th international customer, as the QEAF prepare to receive their AH-64Es (q.v. July 14/14, March 27/14). This sensor sale is structured as an option under the U.S. Army’s Production Lot 9 contract, awarded in May 2014. It extends production in Orlando and Ocala, FL, through 2017. To date, Lockheed Martin has delivered more than 1,250 M-TADS/PNVS systems and spares to the U.S. Army and international customers since 2005. Sources: LMCO, “Lockheed Martin Receives $90 Million Contract for Qatar Apache Targeting and Pilotage Systems”.

Oct 13/14: AH-64 Next? The ATEC, LLC (Advanced Turbine Engine Company), LLC joint venture between Honeywell International, Inc. and Pratt & Whitney has successfully completed testing as part of the Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine (AATE) Science and Technology program (q.v. Oct 21/13).

ATEC intends to offer the HPW3000 as a replacement engine for UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-64 Apache helicopters. They’re still touting the target $1 billion in fleet savings over the new engines’ life cycle, along with performance improvements. Their competition is GE’s GE3000, and the question is AATE’s Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) successor will become a real program. If not, at least research into the state-of-the-art has been advanced. Sources: Pratt & whitney, “ATEC Completes Second Test, Achieves Key Milestone on New Helicopter Engine”.

Oct 12/14: Iraq. Iraq may have declined its opportunity to buy AH-64s (q.v. Oct 1/14), but they’re playing a key role anyway:

“The top U.S. military officer [Gen. Martin Dempsey] says the U.S. called in Apache helicopters to prevent Iraqi forces from being overrun by Islamic State militants in a recent fight near Baghdad’s airport.”

AH-64E Apache Guardians are conducting operations with the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush [CVN 77]. Sources: Defense News, “Dempsey: U.S. used Apache helos near Baghdad”.

Oct 1/14: Testing. Redstone Arsenal offers an update into AH-64E UAV tests, which have included full control over both RQ-7B Shadow and MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs.

PEO Aviation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Project Office interoperability lead, Doug Wolfe, adds that the same kinds of technology are leading to a One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) that can control UAV payloads to point where soldiers on the ground want to look, instead of just receiving data. Sources: Redstone Rocket, “Unmanned aircraft soar with new capabilities for Apache”.

Oct 1/14: Iraq. The US Army confirms that Iraq has let its opportunity to buy AH-64D/E helicopters lapse, but the US Department of State says that nothing has been formally canceled. Who is right? The Army is right that there is a time limit to DSCA request’s, and Iraq’s (q.v. Jan 27/14) has expired. The State Department could still end up being correct, if Iraq renews its interest before the pricing changes for the items it’s interested in. If prices do change, the whole process needs to start over with another DSCA export request. Meanwhile:

“The collapse of the proposed sale was confirmed to IHS Jane’s by the US Army on 24 September. A statement by the army said: “The request from Iraq for 24 Apaches was approved by Congress. The Iraqis never accepted the offer and it expired in August…. it appears that Iraq’s latest attempt to secure an Apache sale may have been superseded by the order and start of delivery of attack helicopters from Russia…. as well as already fielding the two Russian types (more of which may now be acquired to compensate for the loss of the Apaches), the Iraqi Army also has 24 armed Bell 407 JetRanger, 20 Airbus EC635, and six Aerospatiale Gazelle helicopters in its inventory for light attack and reconnaissance duties.”

The article adds that once Egypt receives its 10 held-up AH-46Ds, all further Apache builds will be AH-64E Guardians. Sources: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Iraq passes on Apache buy” | Defense News, “Apache Sale to Iraq Thrown Into Doubt Because of Iraqi Inaction” | RIA Novosti, “Iraq Gets Third Batch of Russian Mi-35M Helicopters: Arms Think Tank”.

FY 2014

Orders: USA, Qatar; DSCA requests: Iraq; Competitions: India, Poland; SAR shows program cost increase; IOC reached; USN qualification; Crash in Taiwan; US shift to National Guard triggers controversy; Request for AH-64s as OH-58D combat loss replacements blocked; AH-64E deploys to Afghanistan; AATE program to research better engines; US Army retires OH-58D armed scouts, will use AH-64Es in scout and attack roles now. To Afghanistan

Sept 29/14: Army/NG debate. The Adjutant-General of the Arizona National Guard, Maj. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, pens an article about the proposed shift of all 192 National Guard AH-64 Apaches into the active-duty Army (q.v. Jan 14/14). Needless to say, he isn’t happy.

For one, he sees the removal of war-fighting capability as a slippery slope. The Guard is meant to fight, he says, and they need the tools to fight alongside regular Army formations. On a cost basis, it’s also true that the same equipment in Army National Guard units does cost less to run and maintain.

The second issue is Constitutional, and has to do with the balance envisioned between the federal government and the states. Even assuming the argument that the US Constitution still exists in meaningful form, arguments about the role of the colonial militia will need more depth than this article provides. Sources: National Guard Association of the US, “Apache helicopter debate fraught with veiled consequences”.

Sept 29/14: Weapons. ATK in Plymouth, MN receives a $36.8 million firm-fixed-price, requirements contract for M230 30mm chain guns and 32 types of spare parts, for use with the Apache helicopter. Work location and funding will be determined with each order, and the contract period extends to Sept 28/17. Army Contracting Command – Tank and Automotive, Warren, MI manages the contract (W56HZV-14-D-0148).

Sept 26/14: HMDs. Elbit USA in Fort Worth, TX receives a $12.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising Option #1 for 300 Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets, which are the key part of the IHADSS-21 system.

Work will be performed over a 2-year period and will be conducted at Elbit Systems’ facility in Fort Worth, TX. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract (W58RGZ-12-C-0164, PO 0010). See also Elbit systems, “Elbit Systems of America Awarded $12.7 Million Modification Contract, to Provide Additional Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets to the US Army”.

Sept 23/14: Politics. The House Defense Appropriations subcommittee rejects the Pentagon’s request to shift as much as $1.5 billion in “Overseas Contingency Operations” budgets to buy 8 new F-35A/B fighters and 21 AH-64Es. These kinds of shifts require the approval of 4 (!) Congressional committees to go through, so that’s that.

The shifts aimed to replace lost AV-8B Harrier and F-15 fighters, and OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed scout helicopters, but the subcommittee chair Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen [R-NJ] pushed back against OCO being used to “backfill budgetary shortfalls in acquisition programs that have only tenuous links to the fight in Afghanistan and other current operations…” The Kiowa losses in particular were known to Army planners when they made their January 2014 decisions to retire that fleet wholesale (q.v. Jan 14/14). Sources: Stars and Stripes, “Lawmakers reject Pentagon using war funds on F-35s, Apaches”.

Sept 15/14: +7. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $130 million fixed-price incentive, full rate production contract modification to build 7 new AH-64E helicopters and add appropriate government-furnished equipment. This unfinalized total raises the total contract from $1.1564 billion to $1.2864 billion, and it could rise higher once the contract is finalized. $19.2 million in FY 2013 and FY 2014 funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of March 31/17 (W58RGZ-12-C-0055, PO 0013).

7 AH-64Es

Aug 29/14: India. The new BJP government’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) makes a number of key moves, beginning with cancellation of the 197-helicopter Light Utility Helicopter competition. At the same time, however, DAC effectively cleared the purchase of 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift and 22 AH-64E Apache Guardian attack helicopters, by approving Boeing’s industrial offset proposals. Contracts will follow at some point, as India needs both platforms. Sources: Defense News, “India Cancels $1 Billion Light Helicopter Tender” | Financial Express, “Make in India kicks off with defence deals” | Indian Express, “Centre scraps light utility helicopter tender, opens it to Indian players” | NDTV, “Modi Government Drops Rs 6000-Crore Foreign Chopper Plan, Wants ‘Made in India'”.

Aug 20/14: Indonesia. The Indonesian Ministry of Defence says that they’re prepping a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cover the handling and security of data and communications received by their new AH-64Es (q.v. Sep 21/12, Aug 26/13, Jan 24/14), which are scheduled to begin arriving by 2015. Sources: IHS Jane’s Defence Industry, “Indonesia and US to sign Apache MoU”.

July 19/14: Naval quals. AH-64E Apache Guardians from the 25th Infantry Division’s 25th Combat Aviation Brigade conduct deck landing qualifications aboard USS Peleliu [LHA 5] off the coast of Hawaii during RIMPAC 2014. This is the 1st deck qualification for the AH-64E model, though the AH-64D has done so. The ability to deploy from ship sharply changes deployment possibilities in the Pacific, providing lilly-pad options as an alternative to partial disassembly and carriage inside of large aircraft like the C-5 and C-17.

“Four of the [8] Apaches are scheduled to push further into the Pacific for the Pacific Pathways exercise. The other four aircraft are scheduled to conduct training at the Pohakuloa Training Area in Hawaii prior to returning to Fort Carson [Colorado] in mid August.”

Sources: Pentagon DVIDS, “Apache Guardians perform first deck landing qualifications”.

July 14/14: Qatar. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hosts Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah at the Pentagon, where they sign formal letters of offer and acceptance worth around $11 billion for AH-64E Apache helicopters (q.v. March 27/14 – $2.4 billion for 24), Patriot PAC-3 air and missile defense systems, and FGM-148 Javelin Block 1 anti-tank missiles. Sources: Pentagon, “U.S., Qatar Sign Letters on $11 Billion in Helicopters, Defense Systems”.

July 9/14: Poland. Poland has launched a EUR 1.4 billion tender to upgrade its attack helicopter fleet, which currently consists of 29 Russian Mi-24D/Ws. Submissions for the research phase of market analysis and technical requirements are welcome until Aug 1/14. Read: “Quote the Raven: Poland’s Attack Helicopter Competition” for full coverage.

July 2/14: Iraq. The US State Department is reportedly pushing to sell 4,000 more Hellfire missiles to Iraq. That volume doesn’t make sense for a tiny fleet of AC-208B prop planes carrying 2 missiles each, and a few IA-407 armed scout helicopters; it effectively assumes an AH-64E sale (q.v. Jan 27/14), which doesn’t have a contract yet. The sale would be in addition to the 500 Hellfires from that DSCA request, creating a very large reserve stockpile. One so large that unless deliveries were staggered, it could buffer the effect of any US sanctions if the Iraqi government misused its firepower against broad civilian populations.

It does eventually become a DSCA export request – read “Iraq Wants Hellfires – Lots and Lots of Them“.

June 25/14: Upgrades. Apache PEO Col. Hager discusses pending Lot 4 enhancements:

“…includes the fitting of external crash-worthy fuel tanks and software improvements to the aircraft’s missions systems…. “The Link 16 enables the Apache to receive information from the command-and-control platforms, such as the [Airborne Early Warning and Control System] AWACS and [Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System] JSTARS, and enables it to share this data with all the other services, making it more efficient at locating and prosecuting targets…”

E-3 AWACS and E-8 JSTARS are good intermediaries for sharing data with UAVs outside the Apache’s own radius of UTA control. Link-16 would also let AH-64Es receive information from fighter jets performing close support duties, or send it to those in the vicinity. That’s a big and significant change. With respect to changes already visible in the AH-64E:

“While previously medical evacuation Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters had had to fly slower than they were capable of so as not to outpace their Apache escorts, the AH-64E is able to match the Chinook for speed and altitude in Afghanistan. In addition, the AH-64E’s improved sustainability means that it is being flown at a higher rate of operations that AH-64Ds in theatre.”

Sources: IHS Jane’s International Defence Review , “US Army to begin operational trials of AH-64E Lot 4 enhancements”.

April 27/14: Iraq. Reports arise that Iraq has begun to use AH-64Ds (q.v. Jan 27/14), striking 8 tanker trucks in Wadi Suwab, Syria. Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Saad Maan said that the strike killed at least 8 people, adding that there was no coordination with the Syrian regime. On the other hand, there’s reasons to believe the reports were bogus:

“Maan did not identify the Iraqi helicopters, but photographs of the attacks suggested that they included the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter. In early 2014, the United States said it was sending five Apaches to Baghdad.”

We’ve seen airstrike videos where a fast-moving object could look like an AH-64, but they were Mi-35s when the video was stopped and examined with an informed eye. Iraq has had Russian Mi-35M “Hind” attack helicopters since December 2013, and too many journalists would be hard-pressed to know the difference. Sources: World Tribune, “Iraqi helicopters strike Al Qaida ISIL convoy in Syrian territory”.

April 25/14: Crash. During a training exercise, a Taiwanese AH-64E crash-lands on the roof of a low-rise residential building in Taoyuan county. The Helicopter is a complete wreck, but the pilots suffer only minor injuries, and no residents are hurt. Guys, that’s not what we were supposed to be training today. Subsequent investigations determine that:

“The investigation report shows that the primary causes of the accident were the combination factors of human errors and environment,” Maj. Gen. Huang Kuo-ming told reporters.

The environment refers to fast descending clouds, which disoriented the pilots while they were flying at a low altitude. Still, they should have checked the instruments to maintain adequate height. Taiwan has received 18 of their 30 helicopters, though they only have 17 now. Sources: The Daily Mail, “How did they get out alive? Lucky escape for pilots of Apache attack helicopter after it crashes into a housing block in Taiwan” | South China Morning Post, “Two Taiwan pilots injured as Apache chopper crashes into building” | Defense News follow-on, “Pilots Blamed for Taiwan Apache Crash”.

Taiwan crash

April 24/14: FY15. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $103.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for AH-64E Production Lot 5 long-lead items. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 budgets.

The estimated completion date is Dec 31/14. Bids were solicited via the Internet, with one received. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ. US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-14-C-0018).

April 17/14: SAR. The Pentagon releases its Dec 31/13 Selected Acquisitions Report. It includes:

AH-64E Apache Remanufacture – Program costs increased $1,321.2 million (+9.5%) from $13,760.2 million to $15,081.4 million, due primarily to higher labor and material costs for embedded diagnostics, Link 16, and full provisions for an external fuel system (+$1,870.0 million). These increases were partially offset by lower support costs for transportability kits, helmets, radar frequency interferometer, more efficient engine procurement, and reduced crashworthy external fuel tanks (-$865.5 million).

In then-year dollars that include inflation etc., the current SAR pegs the entire program at $17.72 billion: $15.081 billion for 639 remanufactured AH-64Es, and $2.639 billion for 63 new-build AH-64Es – up from the previous 55. Note that in the past 3 years since the program split in two, then-year cost for the remanufacture program has increased 26.8%. The retirement of the entire OH-58D Kiowa Warrior armed scout fleet without replacement (q.v. Jan 14/14) makes it more plausible that the AH-64E program will actually achieve its production goals, but the US government’s deeply shaky fiscal situation makes nothing certain.

AB3A costs rise

April 8/14: to Afghanistan. The AH-64E Model Apache Guardian makes its debut at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The 16th Combat Aviation Brigade reassembled its flight, electronic and weapons systems on site. Sources: YouTube, “AH 64E Apache Guardian Arrives in Afghanistan”.

March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. The AH-64E isn’t mentioned directly, but its communications will eventually receive an upgrade under the AMF JTRS program. That was actually supposed to happen years ago, but the equipment just wasn’t ready.

As an interim solution, AH-64Es will fly with a Small Tactical Terminal (STT) that runs Link 16, for shared awareness with allied planes and defensive systems (q.v. Aug 28/13). The next step will be the Small Airborne Link 16 Terminal (SALT):

“…SALT is designed to be a 2-channel radio capable of running the Link 16 waveform and the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW). The program plans to introduce production hardware into the Apache AH-64E assembly line in fiscal year 2016…. The Army plans to release the SALT request for proposals in the second quarter of fiscal year 2014 and a full rate production decision is scheduled for fiscal year 2016.”

March 27/14: Qatar. The Gulf Emirate orders 24 AH-64Es, at a reported purchase price of around $2.4 billion. It’s just one part of a $23 billion weapon shopping spree announced at DIMDEX 2014 in Doha, Qatar. No word yet re: their delivery schedule. The formal contract is signed on July 14/14.

Other buys include 22 NH90 medium utility (12) and naval (10) helicopters, air defense and anti-tank missiles, fast attack boats, 2 A330 aerial refueling planes, and 3 E-737 AWACS aircraft. Sources: Al Defaiya, “Qatar Announces Big Defense Deals at DIMDEX 2014” | Arabian Aerospace, “Qatar in $23bn arms order including Apache and NH90 helicopters” | Gulf Times, “Qatar, US sign defence deals worth $11.2bn” | Reuters, “Qatar buys helicopters, missiles in $23 billion arms deals”.

Qatar: 24

March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. The planned removal of the OH-58D Kiowa Warriors from the Army’s fleet has resulted in a big speedup of AH-64 purchases, though the FY 2015 order looks like a cut until the wartime supplemental request is known; based on Apache PMO approval, it will be another 10 (TL 35), a drop of 13 helicopters vs. previous plans. Changes are reflected in the programs and budget graphs, above.

The Apache Remanufacturing Program is all that’s left, and most budget figures through 2019 assume savings associated with a 2017 – 2021 Multi-Year contract, with production assumed to last through FY 2025. They do add that:

“The FY16 AP does not support a Multi-Year contract; however, the Army will adjust FY16 AP [Aircraft Procured] in future budget submissions. The quantities of remanufacture aircraft the Apache PMO approves are FY13, 37; FY14, 35; (based upon 16 Feb 2014 contract negotiation); and FY17, 74. The corresponding AP for all years would need to be adjusted in future budget submissions.”

March 4/14: FY13 – FY14. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $1.156 billion contract modification covering Full Rate Production of 72 remanufactured AH-64Es, 10 new AH-64Es, updates to 5 crew trainers, and full refurbishment of 1 more crew trainer; plus integrated logistics support, peculiar ground support equipment, initial spares, over and above work, and engineering studies.

There have been some advance buys (q.v. Oct 2/12, Jan 3/13, Sept 24/13), but it has taken a while to negotiate these Lot 3 and Lot 4 contracts.

$874.4 million is committed immediately, using a combination of FY 2013 ($380 million) and FY 2014 ($494.3 million) budgets. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, and the estimated completion date is June 30/16. US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL, is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-12-C-0055, PO 0007).

82 AH-64Es

Jan 27/14: Iraq. The US DSCA announces Iraq’s formal export request to buy 24 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and associated items, in a 3-part request with an estimated cost of up to $6.25 billion. Iraq is facing a regrown insurgency in Sunni areas, which has been strengthened by additional battlefield experience gained in Syria. Even so, this announcement immediately attracts opposition in Congress, where Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki’s divisive and Shi’ite sectarian approach has left him short of support. A number of senators, most prominently Sen. Menendez [D-NJ], are opposed to releasing the helicopters for sale, believing that they would be used against Iraqi civilian populations.

#1: AH-64E Longbow Guardian sale.

  • 24 new AH-64E helicopters with AN/APR-48 Modernized Radar Frequency Interferometers, AN/APX-117 Identification Friend-or-Foe Transponders, Embedded Global Positioning Systems with Inertial Navigation with Multi Mode Receiver, MXF-4027 UHF/VHF Radios, and 30mm Automatic Chain Guns.
  • 56 T700-GE-701D Engines.
  • 27 AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sights and 27 AN/AAR-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors; together, they make up the “Arrowhead” system.
  • 12 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars with Radar Electronics Unit (LONGBOW component), which mount on top of the helicopter rotor.
  • 28 AN/AAR-57(V)7 Common Missile Warning Systems.
  • 28 AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets.
  • 28 AN/APR-39A(V)4 or APR-39C(V)2 Radar Signal Detecting Sets.
  • 28 AN/ALQ-136A(V)5 Radar Jammers.
  • 52 AN/AVS-6 Night vision goggles.
  • 90 Apache Aviator Integrated Helmets.
  • 60 M299 HELLFIRE Missile Launchers.
  • 480 AGM-114R HELLFIRE Missiles.
  • An unnamed number of 2.75 in Hydra Rockets and 30mm rounds.
  • Site surveys, design and construction.
  • Aircraft Ground Power Units, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, and US government and contractor engineering, technical, and support services.

If a contract is approved and negotiated, Iraq will need 3 US government and 2 contractor representatives in Iraq to support delivery and initial familiarization. That would be followed by a 12-person Technical Assistance Team (1 military, 11 contractors) for about 3 years. Prime contractors will be:

  • Boeing Company in Mesa, AZ (AH-64)
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL and MS2 in Owego, NY (Hellfires, Arrowhead)
  • General Electric Company in Cincinnati, OH (Engines)
  • Longbow Limited Liability Corporation in Orlando, FL (Joint venture, Longbow radar)
  • Raytheon Corporation in Tucson, AZ

The estimated cost is up to $4.8 billion. That’s very expensive, but note the implicit inclusion of base construction in the request, and the long-term Technical Assistance team whose ongoing security and provisioning also has to be paid for by the Iraqi government these days.

#2: AH-64D Rental. The 2nd component involves support for a more temporary lease of 6 American AH-64Ds as an interim measure, plus associated items and extensive support. That effort could cost up to $1.37 billion, and includes:

  • 3 spare T-700-GE-701D engines
  • 2 spare Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation System (EGI)
  • 3 Arrowhead AN/ASQ-170 Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight (MTADS)/ AN/AAQ-11 Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors (PNVS)
  • 8 AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems
  • 6 AN/AVR-2A/B Laser Warning Detectors
  • 6 AN/APR-39A(V)4 Radar Warning Systems with training Universal Data Modems (UDM)
  • M206 Infrared Countermeasure flares, and M211/ M212 Advanced Infrared Countermeasure Munitions (AIRCM) flares
  • 12 M261 2.75 inch Rocket Launchers
  • 14 HELLFIRE M299 Launchers
  • 152 AGM-114 K-A HELLFIRE Missiles
  • Plus Internal Auxiliary Fuel Systems (IAFS), Aviator’s Night Vision Goggles, Aviation MSion Planning System, training ammunition, helmets, transportation, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, and site surveys.
  • 1 US Government and 67 contractor representatives to provide support.

Key contractors for this effort include Boeing Company in Mesa, AZ; Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL; GE in Cincinnati, OH; and Robertson Fuel Systems, LLC in Tempe, AZ.

More Hellfire Missiles. The 3rd component involves up to $82 million for 500 of Lockheed Martin’s AGM-114K/R Hellfire Missiles, Hellfire Missile conversion, blast fragmentation sleeves and installation kits, containers, transportation, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, and additional US government and contractor support. Iraq already operates Hellfire missiles on its fixed-wing AC-208B Combat Caravans, but it will need more to equip an attack helicopter fleet.

When all Hellfire requests made this day are put together, they total 152 AGM-114 K-As, and up to 980 of the newest AGM-114Rs. Sources: DSCA #13-18, “Iraq – AH-64E APACHE LONGBOW Attack Helicopters” | DSCA #13-29, “Iraq – Support for APACHE Lease” | DSCA #13-78, “Iraq – AGM -114K/R Hellfire Missiles”.

DSCA: Iraq (24 AH-64Es + 6 rental AH-64Ds + Hellfires)

Jan 24/14: Indonesia. Army Chief of Staff General Budiman says that AH-64Es will arrive in Indonesia between 2015 – 2017, and they will be piloted by the Army. While the Aug 26/13 reports focused on $500 million for the deal, Budiman places it at $600 million when pilot and maintenance training is included. Bases are being prepared, but the main base will be in Berau, the northernmost district of East Kalimantan.

Sadly, the article is provably wrong about other things. The AH-64 can’t carry any anti-radar missiles, for instance, or AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles either. Sources: Antara News, “Indonesian military to have Apache combat helicopters”.

OH-58D over Tal Afar
(click to view full)

Jan 14/14: No ARH. The OH-58 fleet will be retired, without a successor. Instead of 15 Combat Aviation Brigades, the Army is likely to drop to 10-13. On the other hand, the odds of actually fielding the full AH-64E program just rose sharply.

US Army Aviation Center of Excellence commander Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum finally discusses the Army’s 2010 ARH Analysis of Alternatives, which recommended a mix of AH-64Es and UAVs to take on the Army’s scout helicopter role. So, why did the Army keep pushing for a new Armed Aerial Scout? Magnum says they didn’t have enough money to buy enough AH-64s. What changed? A smaller Army doesn’t need as many. The current leadership has decided that 698 AH-64Es, who will be able to control the planned fleets of unarmed RQ-7B Shadow and armed MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAVs from the air, will provide an “80% solution.”

The AH-64D to AH-64E upgrades will be funded by avoiding Kiowa modernization or replacement, and the Army also axed 15 military specialties that were unique to the OH-58D. Some rebalancing will need to move more UH-60s to the National Guard, where they can offer useful capabilities during natural disasters etc., while shifting AH-64s to the active-duty force. Gen. Magnum adds that investment of all kinds is going to be slim:

“I tell youngsters who are in the Basic Officer Leader Course that when some of you retire from the Army in 20, we still will not have finished fielding the UH-60M and AH-64E. That’s how far we’ve pushed these programs.”

Especially with AH-64s and UH-60s costing a good deal more to fuel and maintain than Kiowas. The question is whether the sequester’s recent rollback will create pushback on Capitol Hill, if National Guard drawdowns affect local bases. If so, will that pushback be enough? The Army does seem determined to do this. Sources: US Army, “Army aviation flying smarter into fiscal squeeze” | Alabama.com, “Army planning to scrap OH-58 Kiowa Warriors helicopter fleet: Reports” | Jackson Sun, “National Guard: Tennessee could lose 30 OH-58D helicopters, including at Jackson flight facility, under proposed Army plan” | The Motley Fool, “The U.S. Army Is About to Make a Huge Mistake”.

Apaches only: End of the OH-58D scout helicopters

Nov 21/13: IOC. The AH-64E reaches Initial Operational Capability on schedule, spearheaded by the 1-229th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA. The 1-229th flew more than 670 hours over the last month, with an average operational tempo of 27 hours per airframe per month. Sources: US Army, “Army Achieves Initial Operating Capability with the AH-64E Apache”.

AH-64E IOC

Nov 4/13: Taiwan. Taiwan’s first 6 AH-64E attack helicopters have been re-assembled in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Harbor, after arriving by ship. The US reportedly asked Taiwan’s military authorities not to reveal the AH-64E’s cockpit layout or configuration in its Nov 7/13 public display. Unfortunately, that request comes about a week after revelations that Taiwanese officers sold key information about Taiwan’s brand-new E-2 Hawkeye 2000 AEW&C planes to the Chinese.

The AH-64Es will become operational in April 2014, with Guiren Air Force Base in Tainan serving as a training and basing focal point. More than 60 Taiwanese pilots and maintenance personnel returned to Taiwan in August 2013, after completed 20 months of training in the USA that will let them act as instructors. Still, there were limits, which echoed circumstances surrounding the delivery of Taiwan’s AH-1W Cobras over a decade ago:

“While Taiwanese pilots and maintenance personnel managed to get a full understanding of the aircraft software and hardware, the pilots were unable to obtain training in certain special flight skills. The Taiwanese trainees were asked to leave the classroom or training site whenever the American instructors were giving lectures on certain critical courses or special flight maneuvers, the officials said.”

They’ll have to figure those out on their own. A 2nd batch of Apache helicopters is scheduled for delivery to Taiwan in late December 2013, and 3 more batches of 6 will complete deliveries by the end of 2014. Sources: Focus Taiwan, “Taiwan takes delivery of first Apache choppers” | Focus Taiwan, “Talk of the Day — AH-64E Apache choppers debut in Taiwan” | Flight International, “Taiwan receives first batch of AH-64E Apaches” | Focus Taiwan, “Apache choppers to bolster Taiwan’s combat capability: expert”.

Taiwan: AH-64Es arrive

HPW3000 promo
click for video

Oct 21/13: AH-64 Next? The US government’s Advanced Affordable Turbine Engine program (AATE) program begins to show public results, with PW/Honeywell’s ATEC joint venture touting its HPW3000’s performance in early tests. Their competitor is GE’s GE3000.

Within the Army, the application of these technologies will fall under AATE’s follow-on Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP). Its goal is a 3,000 shp turboshaft that also delivers AATE’s desired 25% better fuel efficiency, 20% longer engine life, and 35% maintenance cost improvements. All in a package that could act as a drop-in replacement for the AH-64E’s current T700-GE-701D, which delivers 2,000 shp. Assuming they can deliver, AH-64 on-station time could rise by an hour or so, or see range extensions and better altitude limits. As an alternative, the helicopter could carry about 3,300 more pounds of payload under better conditions. If the companies could deliver on the reliability goals as well, the combined value of those maintenance and longevity improvements for the UH-60 and AH-64 fleets could add up to $1 billion over the engines’ life cycle. Sources: Pratt & Whitney release, Oct 21/13 | Aviation Week, “Teams Test More Powerful Engines For U.S. Army Helicopters” | ATEC JV site | ATEC HPW3000 infographic [PDF] | GE3000 page.

FY 2013

Orders: USA, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan; AH-64E “Guardian”; SAR shows program cost increase; US new-build program effectively terminated; Link 16 purchases begin; AH-64E vulnerable to hackers. Refurb, Step 1
(click to view full)

Sept 24/13: Lot 3-4. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $52.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to procure an estimated 48 AH-64Es under Lot 3 remanufacture, Lot 3 new build, and Lot 4 remanufacture. Obviously, this is just an initial payment.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with funding from FY 2013 “other authority” funds. This contract was a competitive acquisition via the web, but with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0055).

Sept 9/13: South Korea. The Longbow LLC joint venture in Orlando, FL receives a $51.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for 6 Longbow fire control radars, plus associated parts, spares and support. It’s part of Korea’s 36-helicopter buy, which has already seen orders for 36 helicopters, their engines, MTADS-PNVS surveillance and targeting turrets, and now a limited number of Longbow radars. Total announced so far: $1.236 billion, out of a $1.6 billion budget.

The Republic of Korea is the Longbow radar’s 10th international customer, and production under their order is scheduled through 2016. Work will be performed in Orlando, FL; Ocala, FL; and Baltimore, MD. US Army Contracting Command, Aviation at Redstone Arsenal, AL acts as South Korea’s agent (W58RGZ-13-C-0105). Sources: Pentagon | NGC & Lockheed releases, Sept 12/13.

Sept 9/13: Training. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $14.4 million firm-fixed-price, contract for 4 Longbow crew trainers.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, using FY 2011 “other authorization” funds. This contract was done as a competitive acquisition via the web, but just 1 bid was received (W58RGZ-13-C-0086).

Aug 30/13: RDT&E. Boeing receives a $22.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification for continued AH-64E development and demonstration. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ (W58RGZ-05-C-0001, PO 0059).

Aug 28/13: Link 16/STT. Following successful AH-64E flight tests, the Army has decided to pursue a sole source contract with ViaSat for their Small Tactical Terminal (STT). The 16-pound KOR-24A STT provides simultaneous communication, voice or data, using Link 16 and the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW).

Link 16 securely shares locations of identified friendly and enemy forces, so that all equipped units see what any one unit can see, and vice-versa. Knowing that there’s an enemy anti-aircraft unit in place before you fly over the next hill is a big plus. Sources: ViaSat, Aug 28/13 release | ViaSat STT.

Aug 26/13: Indonesia. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro, confirms that the US agrees to Indonesia’s request for 8 Apache helos (q.v. Sep 21/12 entry). The deal is valued at about $500 million, far lower than the $1.4 billion cost in last year’s DSCA request, suggesting it does not cover armament. Different contracts are subsequently announced to provide AGM-114 Hellfire missiles to customers that include Indonesia.

Some human rights groups fear the helicopters will be used to crack down on separatists, and are concerned by the sale of such machines to a military with a recent past of human rights abuses. US DoD | Jakarta Globe, “US to Sell Indonesia 8 Apache Helicopters” | Asia Times, “US sparks Indonesia arms sales concern” | Australia’s ASPI, “Why does Indonesia need Apache gunships?”

Indonesia: 8

Aug 23/13: South Korea. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a firm-fixed price, option eligible, multi-year contract from South Korea, with a cumulative maximum value of $904.4 million for 36 new AH-64E Apache Helicopters. This contract includes initial support, spares and 1 Longbow crew trainer.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with the US Army Contracting Command, Aviation in Redstone Arsenal, AL managing the contract as South Korea’s FMS agent (W58RGZ-13-C-0106). Total so far: $1.185 billion, out of a $1.6 billion budget.

South Korea: 36

Aug 21/13: South Korea. General Electric Aviation in Lynn, MA receives a firm-fixed price, no option contract with a cumulative maximum value of $57.5 million for 72 production T700-GE-701D engines, extended warranties, and four spares and support packages. They’ll be used on South Korea’s 36 new AH-64Es, and represent the 2nd purchase of long-lead items by that country.

Work will be performed in Lynn, MA, and will be managed by the US Army Contracting Command – Aviation in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract on behalf of their ROK client (SPRTA1-12-G-0006). This is the 2nd Pentagon release that refers to a sole-source item as a “competitive acquisition with 3 bids solicited and 3 received”. We can only conclude that they mean the South Korea’s attack helicopter competition generally.

Aug 8/13: Taiwan. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $92.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, as part of Taiwan’s AH-64E buy and associated support. The Pentagon says that this brings the cumulative total face value of this contract to $716.7 million. The original DSCA request, including 30 helicopters, weapons and 6 years of support, had a maximum of $2.532 billion (q.v. Oct 3/08)

FY 2009 procurement funds are being used, which was the year Taiwan placed the order. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL acts as Taiwan’s agent (W58RGZ-09-C-0147, PO 0025).

Aug 1/13: Longbow LLC, Orlando, FL receives a $6.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for services to support Low Rate Initial Production of the Radar Electronics Unit and UAS Tactical Common Data Link Assembly, bringing the cumulative total face value of this contract to $182.3 million. FY 2012 Procurement funds were used by US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-10-C-0005, PO 0035).

Aug 1/13: South Korea. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, FL receives a maximum $223.3 million contract to buy M-TADS/PNVS systems for South Korea (q.v. April 17/13). Lockheed Martin later confirms that this is the 1st announced contract in their 36-machine AH-64E order, covering 36 Arrowhead systems and spares, with production and delivery extending through 2018. Electronics assembly will take place at the Ocala, FL facility, with final assembly performed in Orlando, FL.

South Korea becomes the system’s 12th international customer. Oddly, the Pentagon release says that 3 bids were solicited, with 3 bids received. The system only has 1 manufacturer, and it would be very expensive to integrate a different system on the AH-64. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL acts as South Korea’s agent (W58RGZ-13-C-0104). Lockheed Martin.

June 7/13: Saudi. Longbow LLC in Orlando, FL receives a $39 million firm-fixed-price, foreign-military-sales (FMS) contract modification from Saudi Arabia, buying an undeclared number of AH-64 mast mounted assemblies; the fire control radars that go inside them; and related support equipment.

The Pentagon says that the cumulative total face value of this contract is $333.3 million, but it’s a FY 2006 contract that far predates Saudi AH-64E buys. Based on DID’s tracking of announced contracts, the Saudis have now committed $339 million to their AH-64E buy so far, using several contracts. US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL acts as Saudi Arabia’s agent for this FMS sale (W58RGZ-06-C-0134, PO 0042).

May 24/12: SAR. The Pentagon finally releases its Dec 31/12 Selected Acquisitions Report [PDF]. The AH-64E programs feature prominently, with overall program costs rising by more than $2 billion, vs. the previous figures as reported by the GAO in March:

“AH-64E Apache Remanufacture – Program costs increased $1,791.9 million (+15.0%) from $11,968.3 million to $13,760.2 million, due primarily to reflect a revised Independent Cost Estimate (ICE) by CAPE [DID: Pentagon Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation team] in support of Full Rate Production (FRP) approval in September 2012 (+$1,339.5M). There were additional increases for other support (+$347.8 million) and initial spares (+$151.0 million) to reflect the approved CAPE FRP ICE.”

See April 10/13 entry to explain our lack of faith that future US Army new-build orders will ever materialize. Officially, however:

“AH-64E Apache New Build – Program costs increased $328.7 million (+15.3%) from $2,155.8 million to $2,484.5 million, due primarily to a stretch-out of the procurement buy profile (+$260.0 million). Since Milestone C in September 2010, 46 of the 56 AH-64E New Build aircraft have been shifted outside the Future Year Defense Program to higher priority programs. There were additional increases for other support (+$78.5 million) and initial spares (+$26.6 million) to reflect a revised Independent Cost Estimate by Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) in support of full rate production approval in March 2013. These increases were partially offset by a quantity decrease of 2 Overseas Contingency Operations-funded aircraft [DID: lost helo replacements] from 58 to 56 aircraft (- $111.2 million) and associated schedule and estimating allocations ($+46.3 million).”

SAR – program costs rise

May 22/13: Saudi. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $69.2 million firm-fixed-price, foreign-military-sales contract modification for Saudi Arabia’s Apache Block III aircraft and associated parts and services. The US Army reports the total cumulative value of this contract so far as $259.4 million; when other known Saudi contracts are added, contract value to date is somewhere between $296-300 million. Given Saudi AH-64E export requests for up to 60 helicopters, and known helicopter prices, this is just a drop in the bucket.

US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract on behalf of its Saudi client (W58RGZ-12-C-0089, PO 0008).

May 22/13: Saudi. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $14.3 million firm-fixed-price, foreign-military-sales contract modification for Saudi Arabia’s Apache Block III aircraft and associated parts and services. The US Army reports the total cumulative value of this contract so far as $35.2 million. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract on behalf of its Saudi client (W58RGZ-12-C-0113, PO 0003).

April 17/13: South Korea picks AH-64E. South Korea announces that the AH-64E Guardian has beaten the AH-1Z Viper and T-129 ATAK helicopters for a 1.8 trillion won ($1.6 billion), 36-machine order to replace their existing fleet of AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters. The ROK hopes to have the helicopters between 2016 and 2018. The Apaches are useful for countering heavy armor formations, and might have an important role against artillery in Korea, but the Korea Herald offers another interesting possibility: a duel between fast moving aerial and land opponents:

“In Goampo, Hwanghae Province, the North has built a unit to house some 60 hovercrafts whose infiltrations operations could be countered by the attack helicopters. The communist state is known to have some 130 hovercrafts that can travel through mudflats into the border islands at a speed of 100 kilometers per hour.”

The attack helicopter decision had been due in October 2012, but was put on hold until after the elections. The AH-1Z would have represented continuity with the existing fleet, and was the subject of a September 2012 DSCA export request. The Italo-Turkish T-129 would have been a reciprocal deal with a major arms export customer. A DAPA official is quoted as saying that the AH-64E’s superior target acquisition capability, power, and weapons load gave it the edge, and so South Korea will begin the acquisition process. The weapons load issue is debatable, but the Apache is certainly much more heavily armored than its counterparts, and its combination of modernized optics and MMW radar or UAV control does give it an edge in target acquisition.

The ROK is a bit behind on approvals and other concrete arrangements for the AH-64E, but KAI’s existing position as a major AH-64E subcontractor will help a bit. US Army | Korea Herald | Reuters.

South Korea picks AH-64E

April 12/13: Rotors. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $36.6 firm-fixed-price contract modification, buying composite main rotor blades and associated support equipment for the Block III configuration. The performance enhancing composite blades are part of the AH-64E’s efficiency changes. The award uses FY 2012 procurement contract funds (W58RGZ-10-G-0006, 0013).

April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. See ongoing DID coverage.

The AH-64E submission marks a big shift. Previous 2014 procurement plans involved 48 machines: 10 new-build helicopters ($475.2 million) and 38 remanufactured ($618.8 million) machines, for a total of $1.094 billion. The new plan involves 42 remanufactured helicopter and no new machines, for a total of just $759.4 million and an overall drop of 30.59%. The Pentagon didn’t even deliver its war supplemental budget, so those numbers could rise. The program as a whole has dropped from the still-official 634 helicopters to 628, but there are still a limited number of airframes to work with. Adding AB3-R Apaches now means subtracting them later, which may be attractive if the Army sees even more problems in future years.

This is a long term shift, because the AB3B new-build program has essentially been terminated. Foreign buyers can still get them, and the US Army’s official fiction is that the remaining 45 new-build helicopters of their 55-helicopter goal will be bought after 2018, creating 683 AH-64Es for $15.33 billion. Anyone who believes that plan is asked to email us, in order to receive the attractive terms of our toll bridge investment opportunity near Brooklyn.

The reality? AH-64E is now a 638 helicopter program, worth $12.53 billion.

Major program shift: de facto termination for AB3 New-build

March 15/13: Support. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $7.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for AH-64E contractor logistics support. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Nov 30/14. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-09-C-0161).

March 5/13: SDD. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $41.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification that adds to the AH-64 Apache Block III’s SDD contract.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/14. The original bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-05-C-0001).

Jan 9/13: Guardian. The US Army shares that the designation for the AH-64E Apache is “Guardian,” written/ referenced as “AH-64E Apache Guardian.”

The AH-64D was known as the AH-64D Apache Longbow, due to its radar mast that provides fire and forget operation when using AGM-114L Hellfire Longbow missiles with millimeter-wave guidance. US Army.

“Guardian”

Jan 17/13: DOT&E testing. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The AH-64E is included, and the news is almost all good. It’s operationally effective, and better than its predecessors. It’s also operationally suitable, surpassing reliability thresholds with statistical confidence and meeting all current maintainability requirements. Survivability is at least as good as the AH-64D, and increased power margins also do their bit to improve flight safety.

Now, the lone piece of bad news: The AH-64E is vulnerable to computer network attack. An Army threat computer network operations team conducted limited penetration testing against the Blue Force Tracker, the Aviation Mission Planning System, and aircraft maintenance ports. Threat team activities were limited to computer network scanning (passive and active) while the AB3 aircraft were on the ground, but they were successful in gaining access to AB3 systems.

Jan 9/13: Lot 4-6 Enhancements. US Army Apache program manager Col. Jeff Hager talks to Flight International about the AH-64E.

Boeing has delivered 28 of 51 low-rate initial production AH-64Es so far, and will start full-rate production in 2013. Changes in Production Lots 4-6 will include better embedded diagnostics, APG-78 Longbow radar improvements to add range and over-water capability; and Link-16 to share the same view of enemy and friendly units with participating fighters, ships, air defense systems, etc. A Cognitive Decision Aiding System (CDAS), is a cumbersome name, for a system designed “to help the pilot and the crew with some of those tasks that tend to get a little cumbersome at times.” Flight International.

Jan 3/13: Taiwan? Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $71 million firm-fixed-price contract modification “to procure Apache AH-64D helicopters in support of Foreign Military Sales.” We asked for further details to clarify which customer, but neither Boeing nor the US military will provide those any longer, except through Freedom of Information Act requests. The contract number does match Taiwan’s 30-helicopter order, and the USA seems to be using a different contract number for them, but that conclusion isn’t 100% certain.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/17. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-09-C-0147).

Jan 3/13: Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $39.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. Boeing tells us that this is additional advance procurement funding for the US Army.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0055).

Jan 3/13: FMS. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives an $18.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification “to procure Apache Block III Aircraft in support of Foreign Military Sales.” We asked for further details to clarify which customer, but neither Boeing nor the US military will provide those any longer, except through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of April 30/13. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0089).

Nov 1/12: Taiwan? Boeing receives a $66.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification “to procure Apache Block III aircraft and related support.” We asked about this contract, which turns out to be a Foreign Military Sale order, even though it wasn’t announced as such. Neither Boeing nor the US military will provide those any longer, except through Freedom of Information Act requests. The contract number does match Taiwan’s 30-helicopter order, and the USA seems to be using a different contract number for them, but that conclusion isn’t 100% certain.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/17. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-09-C-0147).

Oct 24/12: AH-64E. The US Army formally renames the AH-64D Block III the “AH-64E,” in accordance with a USAF memo received in September. It also formally announces the program’s full-rate production decision, which the Defense Acquisition Board granted in August 2012.

As part of that decision, the AH-64E becomes an ACAT C program with oversight from the Army (Heidi Shyu), instead of an ACAT D program with oversight from the US Department of Defense.AOL Defense.

AH-64E, FRP

Oct 2/12: ? Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $69.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for “Apache Block III aircraft.” Boeing could not provide additional details by the time of publication.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Feb 28/13. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0055).

FY 2012

RDT&E funding; Taiwan orders; Indonesia & Qatar requests; UTA mast controls MQ-1C UAV; Alone in India. KAI’s new fuselage
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Sept 21/12: Indonesia. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Indonesia’s official request for AH-64D Block III Apache helicopters, ancillary equipment, and weapons. The DSCA says that: “Indonesia will use these APACHE helicopters to defend its borders, conduct counterterrorism and counter-piracy operations, and control the free flow of shipping through the Strait of Malacca.”

The proposed cost is very, very high – up to $1.42 billion for 8 new-build helicopters plus initial support, or about $177.5 million for each operational, fully-equipped helicopter. By comparison, India’s similar DSCA request involved up to $1.4 billion for 22 machines and equipment. The request is somewhat controversial in Indonesia, where the chairman of the House of Representatives Commission overseeing defense and foreign affairs has said that heavy-lift CH-47 Chinook helicopters would be far more helpful. He isn’t against the Apaches per se, just believes that Chinooks would make a bigger difference to one of the military’s main roles, which is distributing relief supplies after natural disasters. He’s right, but that isn’t what they asked for; instead, it’s:

  • 8 AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III attack helicopters
  • 19 T-700-GE-701D Engines (16 installed and 3 spares)
  • 9 “Arrowhead” MTADS/PNVS night vision and targeting turrets
  • 24 Integrated Helmet and Display Sight Systems (IHDSS-21), which allow pilots to target missiles by moving their gaze.
  • 4 AN/APG-78 Longbow Fire Control Radars (FCR) with Radar Electronics Units
  • 4 AN/APR-48A Radar Frequency Interferometers
  • 10 AAR-57v3/5 Common Missile Warning Systems (CMWS), with a 5th Sensor and the Improved Countermeasure Dispenser
  • 10 AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets
  • 10 AN/APR-39Av4 Radar Signal Detecting Sets
  • Identification Friend or Foe transponders
  • 32 M299A1 Hellfire Missile Launchers
  • 140 Hellfire AGM-114R3 “universal warhead” missiles
  • M230 30mm guns and ammunition
  • Plus helicopter transportation to Indonesia, communication equipment, tools and test equipment, training devices, simulators, generators, associated wheeled vehicles, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, and US government and contractor support services.

Many of the items above are produced by sub-contractors like ATK, BAE, Northrop Grumman, et. al., but the prime contractors will be:

  • Boeing in Mesa, AZ (Helicopter)
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL (Hellfire missiles & launchers)
  • General Electric Company in Cincinnati, OH (Engines)
  • Lockheed Martin Millimeter Technology in Owego, NY (Longbow radars)
  • Longbow Limited Liability Corporation in Orlando, Florida (Longbow radars)

Implementation of this proposed sale may require 5 U.S. contractor representatives and 3 U.S. Government representatives in country, full-time, for equipment checkout, fielding, and technical support.

DSCA: Indonesia request (8)

Sept 6/12: Support. Longbow LLC in Orlando, FL receives a $39 million firm-fixed-price contract to support the helicopter’s Radar Electronic Unit and Unmanned Aerial System Tactical Common Data Link Assembly.

Work will be performed in Orlando, FL until Aug 31/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-12-C-0049).

Aug 28/12: Support. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $17.7 million firm-fixed-price contract “for the procurement of Apache Block III aircraft and related support.”

Work will be performed in Mesa, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0113).

Aug 21/12: India. The Times of India quotes a Ministry of defence official, who says that:

“It’s just a matter of time before the contract is inked for the Apaches after final commercial negotiations. Most of the hurdles have been cleared.”

It’s hard to tell whether that means anything. In India, “just a matter of time” can easily be measured in years. Meanwhile, Boeing and Russia will be competing for another Indian contract, pitting Boeing’s CH-47F heavy-lift helicopter against the even larger Mi-26.

July 13/12: Support. An $84.6 million firm-fixed-price contract covers production and support services for the Apache Block III aircraft. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of Jan 31/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0055).

July 12/12: Sub-contractors. Boeing announces that they’ve received the first 10 new Block III fuselages from long-time supplier Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). This milestone paves the way for delivery of the 1st new-build Apache Block III in 2013.

Boeing is a huge customer for KAI, who supplies parts for commercial jets, F-15s, A-10 wings, etc. KAI have been delivering AH-64 fuselages for over a decade from their facility in Sacheon, South Korea, and the Republic of Korea has expressed some interest in buying new AH-64D Block III helicopters of their own (vid. Sept 24/08 entry).

July 12/12: Qatar wants 24. The US DSCA announces Qatar’s official request to buy 24 AH-64D Block III helicopters, plus associated equipment, support, and weapons, including Hellfire anti-tank and Stinger air-to-air missiles. The total estimated cost, if a contract is signed, is up to $3.13 billion for all requests. The main request includes 24 Block III attack helicopters, which would more than replace its existing 14 SA342 Gazelle light armed scouts.

Read “Qatar: The Emir’s New Helicopters” for full coverage.

DSCA: Qatar request (24)

May 29/12: Taiwan. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $97.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification “of an existing contract to procure Block III Apache AH-64D attack helicopters in support of Foreign Military Sales.” Which means Taiwan. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 30/17. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-09-C-0147).

The contract number does match Taiwan’s 30-helicopter order, and the USA seems to be using a different contract number for them, but that conclusion isn’t 100% certain. If it is Taiwan, it brings total ROC Apache Block III contracts to $624.5 million so far, of the maximum $2.532 billion noted in the October 2008 DSCA request. If air-launched Stinger missiles are included, on the grounds that they were part of Taiwan’s request, the total so far rises to $683.8 million.

May 6/12: LRIP-2B. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $486.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for “AH-64D Apache Block III low rate initial production and related support.” This appears to be the FY 2012 base order, per plans to buy 19 more Block IIIs as the 2nd tranche of LRIP Lot 2.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Nov 30/14. The original bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-09-C-0161).

LRIP Lot 2B

May 6/12: Taiwan. A $171.8 million firm-fixed-price contract “for the procurement of Apache Block III aircraft and related services in support of Foreign Military Sales.” The Pentagon does not mention which country, but conversations with industry sources indicate that this is almost certainly for Taiwan’s 30-helicopter order.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 30/14. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL acts as Taiwan’s agent (W58RGZ-12-C-0089).

April 3/12: IOT&E. The AH-64 Apache Block III is finishing up its Initial Operational Test and Evaluation at Fort Irwin, CA, and has performed “extremely well.” Col. Shane Openshaw, US Army project manager, Apache Attack Helicopters, is confident that the new variant will be ready to deploy in 2013, even as new technologies like UTA and GFAS begin their own journey into the fleet.

The Army has taken delivery of 10 Block IIIs so far. US Army.

IOT&E done

March 16/12: RDT&E. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $187 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract, to fund Apache Block III development, integration and testing. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of July 31/14. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-05-C-0001).

Jan 17/12: DOT&E testing. The Pentagon releases the FY 2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). Most performance levels looked good as of Sept 30/11, after 1,587 developmental flight test hours, and the new helicopter got good marks for supportability, but formal IOT&E is scheduled for April 2012.

The helicopter meets all thresholds, except for 99% performance in Hover Out of Ground Effect. The new radar met or exceeded 37/44 specification thresholds, and even for the other 7, performance was at or above the existing AH-64D radar. Remaining improvements are mostly focused on 3 key sensors: the IHADSS helmet-mounted display, the MTADS “Arrowhead” sensor turret, and UAV interoperability:

“…the program redesigned the IHADSS helmet to improve its fit and functionality, and has made software corrections to make it easier to adjust radio squelch, provide feedback to the pilot while changing radio frequencies, simplify UAS linkup procedures, and achieve compliance with interoperability standard… M-TADS video vibrates excessively during certain flight regimes. Subsequent testing revealed that the cause of the vibration was the natural frequency of the TADS Electronics Display and Control overlays with the main rotor frequency. The Army is exploring options to correct the problem.”

January 2012: India. India Strategic quotes Raytheon’s Business Development Manager for missile systems Brad Barnard, who says that Raytheon’s FIM-92F Block 1 Stinger ATAS helicopter-mounter anti-aircraft missiles could also be made available for other Indian helicopters, beyond the requested AH-64D Block III buy (vid. Oct 25/11, Dec 27/10).

Missile candidates would include India’s HAL Dhruv helicopters, and HAL’s LCH scout and light attack helicopter.

UTA: UAV mast-er
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Dec 30/11: Mast sensors for Taiwan & US. Longbow Limited Liability Corp. in Orlando, FL receives an announced $64.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, but Longbow LLC pegs its actual value at $181 million, with options to extend performance past 2015, to 2017.

It’s said to include 15 Longbow Block III mast-mounted Fire Control Radar assemblies for Taiwan’s AH-64Ds, marking the Block III version’s 1st export order.

For the US Army, the order includes 14 Block III Radar Electronics Units, which are smaller than their predecessors, and offer lower weight, maintenance and power requirements. The Army is also buying 14 Unmanned Aerial System Tactical Common Data Link Assembly (UTA) systems and spares, which provide a 2-way, high-bandwidth data link that lets the helicopter crew control nearby UAV flight paths, sensors and lasers at long ranges, while receiving high-quality imagery from the UAVs on the helicopters’ own displays.

Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract, including its work as Taiwan’s FMS agent (W58RGZ-10-C-0005). Lockheed Martin | Northrop Grumman.

Dec 30/11: Training. The US Army discusses AH-64D Block III improvements, as the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division prepares to be the 1st unit in the Army to field a force with only AH-64D Block III machines.

The differences are extensive enough that existing 1-1 pilots are getting a 3-week course at Boeing’s Mesa, AZ facility, including 28 hours of academics, 24 hours in the new simulator, and 8.5 hours flying in the Block III helicopter. Maintenance test pilots get an additional 22 hours of academics and 3 additional hours in the aircraft.

Dec 7/11: Taiwan contract. Boeing in Mesa, AZ received a $141.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for “services in support of 30 Apache AH-64D attack helicopters for Taiwan.” This appears to confirm the report in the June 10/11 entry.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 30/17. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL, who is acting as Taiwan’s agent (W58RGZ-09-C-0147).

Taiwan’s 30 begin

Dec 7/11: Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $7.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for “logistics support services for the AH-64D Apache low rate initial production.” DID is checking, but believes that only Block III is back at the LRIP phase.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Feb 28/14. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-09-C-0161).

Nov 9/11: UAV Mast-a. An AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter fitted with the Unmanned Aerial Systems Tactical Common Data Link Assembly (UTA) atop its mast has controlled the payload and flight of an MQ-1C Grey Eagle UAV while both are in flight. This marks the 1st time an unmanned vehicle has been controlled from the cockpit of an Apache helicopter.

Lockheed Martin says that the test program proved the UTA’s design, adding that: “All goals of this phase of UTA testing were completed with 100 percent success.”

UAV level IV control

Nov 2/11: 1st handover. Boeing hands the 1st of 51 Low-Rate Initial Production AH-64D Apache Block IIIs over to the U.S. Army at a ceremony in Mesa, AZ. Boeing.

1st delivery

Oct 25/11: Alone in India. Reports surface that Russia’s Mi-28N Night Hunter has lost the competition for India’s proposed buy of 22 attack helicopters (vid. Dec 27/10 entry). Unnamed sources say that it fell short in 20 technical areas, and that the AH-64D displayed better maneuverability, multi-role capability, and capacity to accept upgrades.

That will be bad news for MBDA & Diehl, as well; their new PARS 3/TRIGAT LR anti-tank missile was reportedly going to be the Mi-28N’s counterpart to Lockheed Martin’s AGM-114 Hellfire missile family on the Apache. The question now is whether the Indian military’s recommendation will be accepted and approved, then turned into a contract. That often takes a long time in India. Economic Times of India | Russia’s Pravda | RIA Novosti | Monsters & Critics | The Hindu re: PARS 3.

FY 2011

Program split into remanufactured & new; Low Rate Initial Production approved; LRIP-1 & 2 orders; Taiwan deal; Requests from India, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. AH-64Ds, Afghanistan
(click to view full)

Aug 30/11: LRIP-1. A $16 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to buy support for AH-64D Apache Block III Low Rate Initial Production, Lot 1A and 1B. Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Feb 28/14. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-09-C-0161).

July 25/11: LRIP-2. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $189.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification of an existing contract to provide “16 AH-64D Apache aircraft and related support.” Discussions with Boeing explain the award in detail as unfinalized contracts for Block III Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 2A production and spares/ ground support/ logistics support; increased Advanced Procurement Funding for LRIP Lot 2B production and spares/ ground support/ logistics support/ training devices, and LRIP Lot 2C production and spares.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Feb 28/14. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-09-C-0161).

LRIP Lot 2 base

June 10/11: Taiwan deal? Reports surface that Taiwan has signed a contract for 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III attack helicopters under its Sky Eagle program, making it the type’s 1st export customer. US Army AH-64 project manager Col. Shane Openshaw is quoted as the source for the news, and says that Taiwan’s first new-build helicopter will enter the production line in October 2011 as the very 1st new-build Block III, with deliveries expected in 2012-2013. The signing is consistent with April 2011 reports, but no branch of the US government, or Boeing, has made any public announcement yet; and there have been no media reports in Taiwan. On the other hand, subsequent entries strongly suggest a contract.

Per earlier contracts & requests, Taiwanese AH-64s will include Hellfire Longbow fire-and-forget light strike missiles and Stinger anti-aircraft missiles among its weapon options. In exercises, helicopters have proven to be very challenging opponents for fixed-wing aircraft, and the growing aerial imbalance over the China Strait makes some form of aerial engagement capability a necessity for any Taiwanese attack helicopter. The Dec 3/08 DSCA entry set a maximum estimated price of $2.532 billion for 30 helicopters, all associated equipment and initial support, and requested stocks of Stinger and Hellfire Longbow missiles.

Boeing’ VP attack helicopter programs, David Koopersmith, told Shephard’s Rotorhub that the first 3 remanufactured Block IIIs were on the line, and they still expect to deliver the 1st production remanufactured Block III helicopter to the US Army in October 2011. Once the remaining AH-64D Block II line converts over, Koopersmith believes that Boeing could deliver 7-8 Block III helicopters per month on the 2 lines at Mesa, AZ. The Rotorhub report expects the US Army to eventually request 786 AH-64D Block IIIs, 96 above the current program plan of 690. Flight International | Rotorhub | Asian Skies blog.

April 15/11: SAR split. The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 30/10 includes a small change, for reporting purposes:

“The AB3 (Apache Block III) program was divided into two separate programs (AB3A Remanufacture and AB3B New Build).”

Looking at the accompanying tables [PDF], that brings the program from its 2010 figure of $9.371 billion for 658 helicopters (602 rebuild, 56 new), to $FY10 12.582 billion for 690 helicopters (639 rebuild, 57 new). The AB3 Remanufacture program cost has increased 43.9%, a jump of 28.3% per helicopter to about FY10$ 11.74 – 16.36 million each for PAUC (Program Acquisition Unit Cost, includes amortized R&D). On the other hand, the AB3 New-Build line has actually seen costs drop 8.3%, from $FY10 41.2 – 37.84 million PAUC, despite adding 1 helicopter.

SAR – the program splits

April 12/11: Taiwan. Defense News reports that representatives from the U.S. government and Boeing will arrive in Taipei in May 2011, to wrap up the AH-64 Block III Foreign Military Sale deal. Author Wendell Minnick.

March 16/11: UTA. Longbow, LLC in Orlando, FL received a $10 million firm-fixed-price contract for radar electronics units and unmanned aerial system tactical common data link assembly units, in support of the Apache Block III helicopter fire control radar. This equipment set helps the helicopter work with unmanned drones. The Block III’s desired “Level IV” control means the Apache pilots see what the UAV sees, and can control a UAV to do anything except launch itself, or land itself. Boeing has equipped the Block IIIs with basic systems for UAV control in anticipation of the day when the battlefield procedures and software, are deemed ready.

Work will be performed in Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2015. One bid was solicited with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-10-C-0005).

Dec 27/10: India. India’s attack helicopter competition. The US DSCA announces [PDF] India’s formal request to approve Boeing’s AH-64D Block III attack helicopter for sale, as part of that country’s multinational attack helicopter competition, to supplement and eventually replace India’s existing fleet of 32 Mi-24/35 helicopters. If the Boeing-U.S. Army proposal wins, the Government of India will request a possible sale of 22 AH-64D Block III attack helicopters under Direct Commercial Sale terms, plus up to:

  • 50 T700-GE-701D engines.
  • 23 “Arrowhead” Modernized TADS/PVNS sensor & targeting turrets
  • 12 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars. Used in the AH-64’s “top hat” above the rotors.
  • 12 AN/APR-48A Radar Frequency Interferometers. Actually a defensive system; detects and classifies enemy radar emissions. Of course, that information can be used to attack those air defense systems.
  • 812 AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow missiles. These use APG-78’s millimeter-wave radar guidance.
  • 542 AGM-114R-3 Hellfire II missiles. The new “Romeo” missiles use semi-active laser guidance, and carry a triple-threat warhead that can deal armor-destroying, blast, and fragmentation effects.
  • 245 FIM-92 Stinger Block I-92H missiles. A variant of the shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile for use on helicopters.
  • Rockets (presumably 70mm), training and dummy missiles, 30mm ammunition for the Mk44 chain gun.
  • Transponders, simulators, GPS/inertial navigation systems, communication equipment, spare and repair parts; tools and test equipment, support equipment, repair and return support, personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.

The estimated cost of these items, excluding the helicopters, is up to $1.4 billion. The prime contractors will be GE in Cincinnati Ohio (engines); Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL and Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY (APR-48, Arrowhead, Hellfire missiles); Longbow Limited Liability Corporation joint venture in Orlando, FL (Radar); and Raytheon Company in Tucson, AZ (Stinger missiles). Implementation of this proposed sale would require the assignment of 1 U.S. Government and 7 contractor representatives to India for one week to conduct a detailed discussion of the various aspects of the hybrid program with Government of India representatives.

India’s competition has also attracted interest from AgustaWestland (A-129i/T-129 Mongoose), EADS Eurocopter (EC665 Tiger) and Russia (Mi-28 NE Havoc). A previous attempt to buy the 22 attack helicopters also featured interest from Bell Helicopter (AH-1Z Viper), before both Bell and Boeing quit that competition. The 2 American companies had quit because India was insisting on Direct Commercial Sale type procedures, but their offerings required at least some Foreign Military Sale procedures under US law. India ended up canceling the initial competition in 2009, when only Eurocopter was left bidding at the end, but they issued another RFP in early 2010. As is true for other Indian buys of this scale, industrial offsets worth at least 30% of the contract’s value will be required.

DSCA: India request (22)

Nov 8/10: UAE request. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] a formal request for 60 AH-64D Block III Apache Longbow attack helicopters. Of the 60, 30 will be re-manufactured AH-64D Block IIs, while the other 30 will be new-build helicopters. The total contract set could run as high as $5 billion, and could include:

  • 30 re-manufactured & upgraded AH-64D Block II lot 10s. These have already been upgraded once, from AH-64A status to AH-64D Block II.
  • 30 new-build AH-64D Block III Apache helicopters
  • 120 T700-GE-701D engines. At 2 per helicopter, this is an exact buy.
  • 76 “Arrowhead” Modernized Target Acquisition and Designation Sight/Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensors
  • 30mm automatic weapons
  • 70 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars with Radar Electronics Units,
  • 70 AN/ALQ-144Av3 Infrared Jammers,
  • 70 AN/APR-39Av4 Radar Signal Detecting Sets,
  • 70 AN/ALQ-136v5 Radar Jammers
  • 70 AAR-57v3/5 Common Missile Warning Systems
  • Plus improved counter measure dispensers, communication and support equipment, improved helmet display sight systems (IHADSS), trainer upgrades, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.

The prime contractors will be The Boeing Company in Mesa, AZ and Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL. Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the UAE, but that isn’t defined yet. U.S. Government and contractor representatives will also participate in program management and technical reviews for one-week intervals, twice semi-annually. Finally, this note from the DSCA was interesting. The UAE does have troops in Afghanistan, where AH-64s are always in demand:

“The UAE is currently deployed in support of U.S. regional operations, and plans to provide future deployment support.”

DSCA: UAE request (60)

Oct 25/10: LRIP-1 order. Boeing announces a $247 million contract to begin Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) for the U.S. Army’s AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter. The Oct 22/10 LRIP Lot 1 contract covers production of 8 AH-64D Block IIIs. The helicopters will be assembled, flight tested and delivered from the Boeing Global Strike facility in Mesa, AZ, and first delivery is scheduled for October 2011. Boeing | Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

LRIP Lot 1

Oct 20/10: Saudi request. Saudi Arabia submits official weapons export requests for up to 70 AH-64D Block III helicopters: 10 for the Royal Guard, 24 for the Army, and 36 for the National Guard. Some of these helicopters would have the Longbow mast mounted sights, and mounted weapons will include laser-guided rockets as well as AGM-114R Hellfire II missiles.

DSCA: Saudi request (70)

Oct 7/10: LRIP clearance. A Pentagon Milestone C Acquisition Decision Memorandum authorizes the AH-64D Block III program to enter the LRIP phase to produce 51 aircraft, and the current Army acquisition objective is for 690 helicopters across LRIP and Full Rate Production. Source.

Milestone C

FY 2008 – 2010

Taiwan request; South Korean interest; 1st prototype flight; 1st test aircraft flight; Limited User Test done; Howard Hughes Award. Block-III testing
(click to view full)

Jan 13/10: Sub-contractors. Boeing announces that Science Engineering Services Inc. (SES) is joining its Block II industry team. SES will receive U.S. Army Apache helicopters at the SES West Aviation and Integration Facility near Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL. They will be disassembled, inspected and repaired as necessary, then components and airframes will be shipped to Boeing in Mesa, AZ, for integration into the AH-64D Apache Block III.

The program will create approximately 70 new positions for aviation and avionics mechanics, structural installers, and aviation quality inspectors within SES.

Nov 23/09: Testing Boeing completes the 1st flight of its AH-64D Apache Block III program structures test aircraft in Mesa, AZ. The tests demonstrate flight characteristics and handling maneuvers, and test technologies including the composite main rotor blade, composite horizontal stabilator, and -701D engines with enhanced digital electronic control. The aircraft also features a split-torque face gear transmission that increases power throughput by more than 20%, without taking up more room.

The Army and Boeing continue to work toward an anticipated US Department of Defense Milestone C decision in April 2010, which would begin production. Boeing release.

November 2009: Block III LUT. Boeing’s AH-64D Apache Block III program avionics test aircraft completes the Army’s Limited User Test according to schedule. Source.

LUT

June 2008: Testing. Boeing completes the first flight of the AH-64D Apache Block III program’s avionics test helicopter ahead of schedule, at the Yuma Proving Ground, AZ. Source.

Dec 3/08: Sub-contractors. Presagis, a Canadian firm which specializes in providing commercial-off-the shelf (COTS) modeling, simulation and embedded display graphics software, announced that Boeing has selected their Lyra image generator to support the development of the next-generation Apache helicopter simulator. Boeing will use Lyra in its new Block III Apache Engineering Development Simulator (EDS), the virtual simulation of the Apache weapon system. Ottawa Citizen – Defence Watch.

Oct 2/08: Taiwan request. Taiwan’s official request [PDF] is placed for 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III attack helicopters and associated equipment. The estimated purchase price is $2.532 billion. Taiwan currently fields AH-1W Cobras in this role, and the AH-64D beat Bell’s AH-1Z Viper on the grounds that it was battle proven, while the AH-1Z remains developmental.

The helicopters will be ordered with 30 Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (MTADS/PNVS “Arrowhead“), 17 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars and AN/APR-48 Radar Frequency Interferometer (FCR/RFI), 69 T700-GE-701D Turbine Engines. Composite horizontal stabilators, crew and maintenance trainers, depot maintenance, all necessary support equipment, tools and test equipment, integration and checkout, spares and repair parts, training and training equipment, and other forms of support.

The request also includes applicable weapons: 173 FIM-92F Stinger Block I Air-to-Air Missiles, 35 Stinger air-air missile Captive Flight Trainers with live guidance systems but no rocket motors, 1,000 AGM-114L Longbow Hellfire anti-tank missiles that can use the APG-78 and their own radar’s millimeter-wave guidance for “fire and forget” capability, and 66 M299 Hellfire missile launchers.

Taiwan has requested industrial offsets, which will be defined in direct negotiations with the contractor(s). Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 2 U.S. Government personnel for a period of 6 years to provide intensive coordination, monitoring, and technical assistance. In addition, 6 contractor representatives will be in country serving as Contractor Field Service Representatives for a period of 5 years, with the possibility of a 5-year extension. The principal contractors will be:

  • The Boeing Company in Mesa, AZ and St Louis, MO (AH-64)
  • General Electric in Lynn, MA (Engines)
  • Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, FL (Longbow Hellfires, M299, Arrowheads)
  • Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation in Baltimore, MD (Longbow Hellfires)
  • Raytheon Company in Tucson, AZ (Stinger missiles)
  • Inter-Coastal Electronics in Mesa, AZ
  • BAE Systems in Rockville, MD

DSCA: Taiwan request (30)

Sept 14/08: South Korea. South Korea’s Yonhap News reports that the USA has offered to sell 36 used Apache attack helicopters to South Korea at less than 60% of the out-of-factory price, with upgrades to Block III status plus include a new frame and engines, resetting their life span to 10,000 flight hours.

The deal, if signed, is expected to be worth around $811 million. Its size is causing hesitation in Korea, which needs to replace its aging fleet of 500MD Defender helicopters and has backed off of its previous plans for an indigenous attack helicopter program. Politics is an uncertain game, and dates are rarely dependable. A government decision was expected by the end of 2008, but remained unmade as 2012 began. Seoul Times article | DID coverage: “US Army Apaches for Auction?

July 11/08: 1st flight. The Boeing Company and assembled guests celebrate the first flight of the AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter in Mesa, AZ. The aircraft was flown by two Apache-rated aviators: U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody, and Army experimental test pilot (Chief Warrant Officer 5) Rucie Moore.

Actually the demonstration flight on this day was the second flight. As one might expect given the passenger involved, a U.S. Army soldier and a Boeing teammate initially flew this Block III prototype aircraft over the Arizona desert on June 27/08 in preparation for this day’s ceremony. Boeing’s release states that it plans to begin Low Rate Initial Production in April 2010, and to deliver the first production AH-64D Apache Block III in June 2011.

A follow-on Lockheed Martin release notes the debut of its Arrowhead surveillance and targeting sensors, and Longbow Unmanned Aerial Systems Tactical Common Data Link Assembly (UTA) on the new helicopters. The Longbow UTA can control up to 4 UAVs.

1st flight

April 30/08: Award. A team comprised of The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], the U.S. Army’s Aviation Applied Technology Directorate, AMRDEC Aviation Systems Integration Facility, Harris Corp. and Rockwell Collins receive the American Helicopter Society’s (AHS) 2008 Howard Hughes Award during the AHS International Annual Forum in Montreal, Canada. The AH-64D Block III’s progress figures prominently in that award.

One hopes that the award’s annual winners will have better luck with aircraft development than Howard Hughes. Boeing release.

Jan 17/08: Longbow LLC in Orlando FL received a $15.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for Apache Block III radar electronics unit and an unmanned aerial vehicle tactical common data link assembly. The latter item would allow the helicopter’s pilots to share data with UAVs, and could allow full control depending on the technologies used.

Work will be performed in Baltimore, MD and Orlando, FL and is expected to be complete by June 30/09. One bid was solicited on Jan 20/06, and 1 bid was received (W58RGZ-05-C-0239).

FY 2007 and Earlier

Initial development contract; Advance electronics contracts. AH-64D Longbow
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July 14/06: Development. Boeing and U.S. Army officials sign a $619.3 million development contract for Block III upgrades to the current and future Apache fleet, via a virtual signing ceremony in Washington, DC; Huntsville, AL; and Mesa, AZ.

Those upgrades are described earlier in the article.Boeing release

Block III SDD contract

Jan 25/06: Longbow LLC in Orlando, FL received a $76 million increment as part of a $100 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for Apache Block III Radar Electronics Units.

Work will be performed in Baltimore, MD (50%), and Orlando, FL (50%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 30/08. This was a sole source contract initiated on Jan 11/06 (W58RGZ-05-C-0239).

July 13/05: Longbow LLC in Orlando, FL receives a $15 million increment as part of a $17.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Apache Fire Control Radar Electronics Unit.

Work will be performed in Baltimore, MD (50%), and Orlando, FL (50%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 15/05. This was a sole source contract initiated on July 22/04 (W58RGZ-05-C-0239).

Appendix A: Apache’s (Re) Production History No sunset yet.
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Of the 937 AH-64As ever built, 821 were built for US Army. Over 500 of those were remanufactured to AH-64D status over a 10-year period, under 2 multi-year contracts that ran for 5 years each. Subsequent contracts drew in more AH-64As, and as of April 2012, only 8 AH-64As remained in the US Army.

  • 284 helicopters were fielded as AH-64D Block Is. The first multi-year remanufacture contract was for 232 helicopters, and covered Lots I-V. The Lot VI helicopters from the 2nd multi-year contract were also built to the AH-64D Block I standard, which included the “Longbow” radar mast, compatible dual-mode Hellfire II missile capability, updated self-protection suites, and better cockpit displays. These initial AH-64D helicopters received equipment upgrades, and were also rebuilt to “zero flight hours” condition.

  • Another 217 helicopters in Lots VII-X built AH-64As to the AH-64D Block II standard, which adds improved electronics and software to include the “Longbow” radar mast, compatible dual-mode Hellfire II missile capability, color cockpit displays including moving digital maps, and even more up to date self-protection suites. All were built during the 2nd multi-year contract period, which covered 269 Block I and Block II helicopters in total.

  • The lateness of the JTRS radio program, and other issues, have delayed the future Block III model, and so January 2007 saw a contract to convert another 96 American AH-64As to the AH-64D “Extended Block II” standard, followed by additional contracts for Extended Block II+, where the plus simply indicates that “we’re still producing this model, past our expected schedule”. Boeing has received orders for 278 of these so far: 117 for the Army, 95 for the National Guard, and 66 War Replacement helicopters. In 2013, this production line is expected to switch to Block IIIs.

Observant readers will note that adding up all of the above cohorts makes 779 AH-64Ds produced (284 + 217 + 278) – but that counts the 66 war replacement helicopters twice, so the real total is 713. 713 – 690 = 23 unconverted AH-64Ds for whatever reason, be it unreplaced losses, budgets, or a safety margin to account for future losses and accidents. The Block III program was also supposed to manufacture 56 new-build helicopters as a separate program, but the FY 2014 budget throws the “AB3B” program into doubt. Unless Congress changes the Pentagon’s plans, the new-build program will end at just 8-10 helicopters.

Additional Readings

Readers with corrections, comments, or information to contribute are encouraged to contact DID’s Founding Editor, Joe Katzman. We understand the industry – you will only be publicly recognized if you tell us that it’s OK to do so.

Background: AH-64 Apache

 

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Listening Sticks: US Navy Sonobuoy Contracts

Fri, 18/12/2015 - 01:17
P-8A: Sonobuoy drop
(click to view full)

Sonobuoys are used to detect and identify moving underwater objects by either listening for the sounds produced by propellers and machinery (passive detection), or by bouncing a sonar “ping” off the surface of a submarine (active detection). They usually float, or have at least some part of them that does. Specialized sonobuoys can also detect electric fields, magnetic anomalies, and bioluminescence (light emitted by microscopic organisms disturbed by a passing submarine); as well as measuring environmental parameters like water temperature versus depth, air temperature, barometric pressure, and wave height.

Sonobuoys are generally dropped from aircraft or helicopters that are equipped with a means to launch them, and electronic equipment to receive and process data sent by the sonobuoy. They can also be launched from ships. This entry will discuss some of the new sonobuoys in use, and cover related contracts.

Sonobuoy Types Sonobuoys

Sonobuoys are classified by size (A, B, C, etc.), type, and model. Most U.S.-manufactured sonobuoys are A-size (about 4 7/8″ x 36″). Some countries have moved to half-size, or A/2, as a preferred configuration.

In the broadest sense, sonobuoys fall into 2 type categories. Active sonobuoys emit pings or otherwise create an effect that will bounce off of underwater objects like submarines. Passive sonobuoys simply sit and listen to sound emissions, or sense other telltale signs they’ve been programmed to monitor. Models include:

AN/SSQ-36B: A passive bathythermograph sonobuoy, which is a fancy way of saying “ocean thermometer”. Water tends to distribute itself in coherent layers with different temperature ranges, and that in turn affects sonar and acoustic ranging. Knowing the local “temperature geography” is an excellent idea before launching any other sonobuoys. This buoy survives for about 12 minutes, taking readings down to about 2,625 ft/ 800 m at a descent rate of about 5 feet per second, with an accuracy to about a degree Fahrenheit. The data is transmitted to the launch aircraft by an RF transmitter at 1/4 watt, over 1 of 99 selectable channels, for processing and display. The AN/SSQ-36B Bathythermograph can be air launched at air speeds up to 370 knots, and at altitudes up to 30,000 ft. Air descent is controlled and stabilized by a parachute.

AN/SSQ-53F DIFAR (“Pointer”): The latest generation passive sonobuoy for the US Navy and several allies, replacing both the AN/SSQ-57 and the AN/SSQ-53. Combines the functionality of a calibrated omni sensor with that of the AN/SSQ-53E DIFAR (Directed Frequency Analysis and Ranging), and adds on board embedded Digital Sound Processors. The DSPs improve acoustic detection performance, and permit all AN/SSQ-53F sonobuoys to be calibrated to a common sensitivity levels. Additional flexibility is achieved through the use of Command Function Select (CFS), which allows various operating parameters to be modified after the sonobuoy has been dropped.

AN/SSQ-62E (“Cadillac”): The current generation of the DICASS (Directional Command-Activated Sonobuoy System) family of active sonobuoys. This is an active sonobuoy.

The AN/SSQ-62 is composed of 2 main sections. The surface unit receives commands from the controlling aircraft via a UHF receiver, and sends target information to the aircraft, via a VHF transmitter. The subsurface unit transmits sonar pulses in the ocean upon command from the aircraft, and receives sonar target echoes for transmission to the aircraft. The sonobuoy will accept command signals only after a decoder identifies the correct address code; commands can include mid-depth or deep depth selection, sonar ping, and scuttle (naval term for self-destruction).

The key advantage of the AN/SSQ-62E is that it permits each sonobuoy to transmit on any of 4 acoustic channels and their respective RF channels. Optional thermal battery technology allows DICASS sonobuoys to be shipped and stored in a relatively unrestricted manner with an extended shelf life, as this battery does not degrade significantly with time. AN/SSQ62E is in large scale production, and has been bought by customers that include the USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, and Spain.

AN/SSQ-101 IEER: Part of the Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) system. IEER was developed in for large-area search capability against small submarines operating in littoral waters, and uses explosive charges to generate noise. The system combines a new sensor, the AN/SSQ-101 Air Deployed Active Receiver (ADAR) sonobuoy, with improved software in the P-3C Orion Anti-surface Warfare Improvement aircraft. The ADAR sonobuoy employs a multi-element planar hydrophone array to improve detection in shallow littoral waters. When coupled with the P-3C’s powerful USQ-78A acoustic post-processor, it improves the US military’s ability to perform the difficult task of finding quiet submarines amidst the clutter and confusing echoes of shallow littoral waters.

AN/SSQ-125: MAC. Also part of the Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) system, but with a different mode of operation. It will also be part of the P-8’s new Multi-static Active Coherent approach. This NATO “A” size sonobuoy is capable of generating a variety of waveforms upon command, including low-frequency coherent tones which can propagate for long distances. Echoes can be detected by multiple receiver sonobuoys, which nullifies a submarine’s standard profile-minimizing head-on maneuver, and the tone’s coherence allows doppler shift equations to calculate the contact’s speed and heading. GPS receivers in source and receiver sonobuoys can sharpen targeting further, which is very useful in conjunction with high-altitude, GPS-guided torpedo kits like HAASW.

Before it’s deployed, the AN/SSQ-125’s RF channel can be programmed to any of the standard sonobuoy operating channels. At any time after deployment, it can be commanded via CFS to change its operating parameters or depth (deeper only), generate a ping, or scuttle itself. It’s designed to work with the AN/SSQ-53F, AN/SSQ-77C and AN/SSQ-101 (ADAR) sonobuoys.

Note that this chart of orders from 2009 ends in July 2014, when the US government switched to a multi-year block-buy and no longer detailed sonobuoy orders:

Competing Payloads? Turais launch concept
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One interesting ancillary trend involves the concept of launching other things from sonobuoy tubes – such as UAVs or UUVs.

Piasecki Aircraft has been demonstrating its WBBL “Turais” UAV, under a Phase II US Navy SBIR contract. Turais deploys with a drag parachute just like a sonobuoy, but then pops out tail fins, rotates its wings into position, and fires up a turbojet engine. It has a 200 pound payload capacity, an expected 6 hour endurance, and was successful in its initial flight demonstration on Jan 5/10.

Projects of that sort will not be covered in this article, but we include it to remind our readers that rising surveillance needs of all kinds are leading to some non-standard, category-crossing solutions.

Contracts & Key Events

ERAPSCO is joint venture between Florida’s Sparton Corporation and Indiana’s Ultra Electronics. Unless otherwise noted, all contracts are issued by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN.

Note that the sonobuoys described here are also sold to foreign governments. This article does not cover those sales, unless they are explicitly intertwined with a US Navy sale.

FY 2016

Multi-year buy; Sentinel USV begins an important new category. Sentinel USVs
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December 17/15: The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) laboratories and the Anti-submarine Warfare Systems program office (PMA-264) rapidly developed a new sonobuoy launching system over the summer and fall which was delivered this November. The new system was developed as the existing system, the S-3, was being retired. A bit of brainstorming resulted in putting two SH-60B launchers on a pallet to roll on and off from a KC-130 tanker operated by the VX-30 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron.

October 28/15: The service also awarded a $178.6 million contract modification for hundreds of thousands of sonobuoys. These include 6,000 passive athythermograph AN/SSQ-36s; 95,000 passive AN/SSQ-53s; 15,500 active AN/SSQ-62s; 10,000 Improved Extended Echo Ranging (IEER) AN/SSQ-101s; and 10,000 Multi-static Active Coherent (MAC) AN/SSQ-125s. The contractor – ERAPSCO – is a Sparton Corp. and Ultra Electronics joint venture.

FY 2014 – 2015

Multi-year buy; Sentinel USV begins an important new category.

Nov 7/14: FY 15-16. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN receives a $195.2 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification, exercising an option under the current multi-year contract (q.v. July 16/14) for up to 141,500 AN/SSQ series sonobuoys, and 10,000 MK-84 signal underwater sound devices. Funds will be committed on individual delivery orders as they are issued.

Work will be performed in De Leon Springs, FL (51.7%), and Columbia City, IN (48.3%), and is expected to be complete in September 2016. US Navy NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-14-D-0025).

July 16/14: Multi-year buy. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN receives a 5+ year, firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, worth up to $810 million. The $166 million base-year deal covers up to 141,263 AN/SSQ Series sonobuoys, and 5,000 MK-84 Signal Underwater Sound devices. All base-year funds are technically committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy budgets. ERAPSCO will subcontract $90.5 million of that base order to Sparton in DeLeon Springs, FL, and $75.5 million to Ultra Electronics USSI.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (51.7%), and Columbia City, IN (48.3%), and the contract will run until October 2019. This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, and 1 offer was received by US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-14-D-0025). See also Sparton, “Sparton Corporation and Ultra Electronics USSI Joint Venture (ERAPSCO) Awarded $166 Million for U.S. Navy Sonobuoy Contract”

Multi-year buy

April 8/14: New option – Sentinel. Instead of sonobuoys, Ultra Electronics and Liquid Robotics are developing a persistent Sentinel robot that combines some of USSI’s sonobuoy technologies with the principles behind Liquid Robotics wave-powered, ultra long endurance Wave Glider robots.

“The sensor/software suite is designed to acoustically detect, track and form contact reports on waterborne targets that are transmitted to a command and control node on shore, ship or aircraft platform. Contact reports will contain spatial information that allows for data fusion with other sensor sources to achieve an affordable common operational picture that will provide the user maximum situational awareness. Applications for this product are vast and include area surveillance, perimeter trip wire notification, marine mammal monitoring and data collection, environmental data collection and defense and military mission capability sets.”

This isn’t an exact sonobuoy competitor, because the network of Sentinels will move very slowly. If you’re trying to scan ahead in uncovered waters, or pinpoint a fleeting contact, sonobuoys will still be the way. On the other hand, good planning may remove some of the need for sonobuoys at key waypoints or chokepoints. It’s also the thin edge of a trend that will require new kinds of compatibility from sonobuoys and naval mission systems alike. Sources: USSI, “Ultra Electronics USSI And Liquid Robotics Announce The Development Of Long Duration, Maritime Security Solution”.

FY 2012 – 2013

Sonobuoy orders of various types; Torpedo compatibility. Loading a P-3C
(click to view full)

Aug 5/13: SSQ-53. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN receives a $7.2 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract, exercising an option to buy 9,400 AN/SSQ-53F Sonobuoys for the US Navy. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN (50%) and DeLeon Springs, FL (50%), and is expected to be complete in April 2015. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., manages the contract (N00421-11-C-0030).

Feb 8/13: HAASW. ERAPSCO Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $7.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification for engineering and manufacturing development services in support of the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare system. This is actually an Increment 2 upgrade to the new P-8A sea control aircraft. It makes drops more accurate by using a GPS-based algorithm; receives, processes, and stores in-buoy GPS data received from AN/SSQ-53, AN/SSQ-62, and AN/SSQ-101B sonobuoys; and will remotely send commands, and receive and process data from the AN/SSQ-101B’s digital datalink.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (52%) and Columbia City, IN (48%), and is expected to be complete in May 2014. $890,000 in FY 2013 Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation, Navy contract funds are committed immediately. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-11-D-0029). See also Military Aerospace.

Dec 11/12: SSQ-125. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN receives a $17.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for the procurement of 2,999 AN/SSQ-125 MAC active IEER sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in De Leon Springs, FL (55%) and Columbia City, IN (45%) and is expected to be completed in March 2015. All contract funds are committed, and will be managed by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-12-C-0049).

Dec 4/12: 53F/ 62E. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $71.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 76,000 AN/SSQ-53F passive and 7,500 AN/SSQ-62E active US Navy sonobouys.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN (59%) and DeLeon Springs, FL (41%), and is expected to be completed in January 2015. All contract funds are committed. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-11-C-0030).

Nov 15/12: SSQ-101A. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $9.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 1,800 AN/SSQ-101A ADAR IEER sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN (53%) and DeLeon Springs, FL (47%), and is expected to be complete in November 2014. All contract funds are committed, but $414,645 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-12-C-0047).

June 11/12: SSQ-125. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a sole-source $25.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for 4,628 AN/SSQ-125 MAC IEER sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (53%), and Columbia City, IN (47%), and is expected to be complete in June 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to the FAR 6.302-1 (N00421-12-C-0049).

April 26/12: SSQ-101A. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a sole-source $10.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for 2,006 AN/SSQ-101A sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, Fla. (53%), and Columbia City, Ind. (47%), and is expected to be completed in April 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $257,421 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00421-12-C-0047).

Mar 29/12: 36B/53F/62B. Sparton Corporation announces ERAPSCO subcontracts worth $24.9 Million: $18.1 million for SSQ-53F passive, $4.7 million for SSQ-62E active, and $2.1 million for SSQ-36B bathythermograph sonobuoys. Production is expected to be completed by January 2014.

March 13/12: SSQ-53F. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $13 million modification firm-fixed-price, performance-based contract modification, exercising a US Navy option for 17,000 AN/SSQ-53F passive sonobuoys. This brings total US Navy expenditures on all sonobuoys since the beginning of 2006 to around $510 million.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN (53%), and DeLeon Springs, FL (47%), and is expected to be complete in January 2014. $811,296 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00421-11-C-0030).

Jan 27/12: SSQ-53F. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $38.4 million firm-fixed-price, performance based contract modification, exercising options for 50,430 AN/SSQ-53F DIFAR passive sonobuoys for the US Navy (49,990/ $38.1M/ 99.1%) and Taiwan (440/ $335,283/ 0.9$%).

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN (53%), and DeLeon Springs, FL (47%), and is expected to be complete in January 2014 (N00421-11-C-0030).

Nov 7/11: 36B/62F. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $15.6 million firm-fixed-price, performance-based contract modification, exercising options for 3,544 AN/SSQ-36B bathythermograph sonobuoys and 8,588 AN/SSQ-62E DICASS active sonobuoys. The U.S. Navy is ordering 3,500 AN/SSQ-36s and 8,500 AN/SSQ-62s ($15.5 million/ 98.9%), while Taiwan is ordering 44 AN/SSQ-36s and 88 AN/SSQ-62s for training support ($164,745; 1.1%).

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (53%), and Columbia City, IN (47%), and is expected to be complete in April 2014. $57,219 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00421-11-C-0030).

FY 2009 – 2011

Various sonobuoy orders; Market review; On SH-60F helicopter
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April 8/11: 36B/53F/62B. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN received a $55.5 million firm-fixed-price, performance-based contract for 65,230 items: 3,211 AN/SSQ-36B bathythermograph sonobuoys; 51,733 AN/SSQ-53F DIFAR passive sonobuoys; and 10,286 AN/SSQ-62E DICASS active sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (53%), and Columbia City, IN (47%), and is expected to be complete in April 2014. $546,096 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposals, with 3 firms solicited and 1 offer received by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-11-C-0030).

Nov 29/10: R&D. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN received a $33.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to provide ongoing sonobuoy R&D and engineering services for the next 5 years.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (51%), and Columbia City, IN (49%), and is expected to be complete in November 2015. $244,419 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. This contract was not competitively procured (N00421-11-D-0029).

Nov 2/10: SSQ-101A. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN received a $26.8 million option for 4,999 AN/SSQ-101A sonobuoys, under a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (61%), and Columbia City, IN (39%), and is expected to be complete in November 2012. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-10-D-0010). See also Sparton release.

Sept 28/10: R&D. Sparton Electronics Florida, Inc. in DeLeon Springs, FL receives an $11.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for research and development, and production engineering services in support of sonobuoy technology upgrades.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL, and is expected to be complete in September 2015. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-10-D-0024). See also Sparton release [PDF].

Sept 27/10: SSQ-125. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN receives a $5.8 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification for up to 1,000 AN/SSQ-125 production representative sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (52%); and Columbia City, IN (48%) and is expected to be complete in August 2012. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-09-C-0073). See also Sparton press release [PDF].

May 6/10: Sparton Corporation in Schaumburg, IL announces a $28 million subcontract from ERAPSCO, to manufacture 33,604 total AN/SSQ-53F, AN/SSQ-62E, and AN/SSQ-36B sonobuoys or the US Navy.

These sonobuoys will be manufactured at Sparton’s DeLeon Springs, FL, facility and production is expected to be complete by September 2011.

March 31/10: Sparton Corp. in Schaumburg, IL announces a $14.5 million subcontract from ERAPSCO to make sub-components for the AN/SSQ-101A (Q-101A) Air Deployable Active Receiver (ADAR) sonobuoys. Production will be finished by the end of 2011.

March 25/10: 36B/53F/62B. ERAPSCO, Inc. in Columbia City, IN receives a $60 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for up to 70,294 sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (52%), and Columbia City, IN (48%), and is expected to be complete in March 2012. $192,293 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured by a limited source Lowest Price Technically Acceptable competition, with 3 firms solicited and 1 offer received by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-10-D-0011). Production will include:

  • 7,096 AN/SSQ-36B sonobuoys
  • 48,749 AN/SSQ-53F sonobuoys
  • 14,449 AN/SSQ-62E sonobuoys

March 3/10: SSQ-101A. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN received a $34 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for 7,500 AN/SSQ-101A sonobuoys.

Work will be performed in De Leon Springs, FL (61%), and Columbia City, IN (39%), and is expected to be complete in March 2012. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to the FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD issued this contract (N00421-10-D-0010).

Oct 2/09: Market. According to Forecast International’s annual review of the market for airborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sensors, the next 10 years will see production of more than 199,000 systems valued at $6.1 billion. Sonobuoys are benefiting from faster processors that improve filtering, and low-cost datalinks that make information sharing easier. They will have a large share of this segment – by volume, anyway:

“Sonobuoys still represent 99.4 percent of the airborne ASW market, with the sale of 198,046 units projected over the next 10 years. Yet, in terms of value of production, these units represent only $212.35 million, or 3.50 percent of the market. The average cost of the units in this category is about $1,000, stressing the very low-cost/high-volume aspect of this segment.”

Sales of radar sets optimized for periscope and snort detection, and electronic support measures (ESM) equipment designed to localize radar and communications transmissions from submarines and dipping sonars, are expected to make up the lion’s share of this segment by value. Raytheon ($1.9 billion, 31.5%), Telephonics ($559 million, 9.22%) and L3 ($300 million, 4.95%) are expected to lead the sales race, but the field as a whole has just 8 major participants.

June 22/09: Sparton. Sparton Electronics announces a $19.3 million subcontract to help manufacture sonobuoys for the United States Navy, as part of the ERAPSCO joint venture. Sparton will produce subassemblies for more than 7,320 AN/SSQ-101A sonobuoys, with on-board digital signal processing and a Sparton Digital Compass for bearing determination.

Production and testing will be performed at Sparton’s DeLeon Springs, FL facility and is expected to be complete in May 2011. Sparton release.

Recent months have not been smooth for Sparton. In March 2009, declining fortunes set in motion the closure of plants in London, Ontario, Canada and in Jackson, MI, while significant changes were made within the executive team. April 2009 even saw a threatened NYSE de-listing, because the firm’s market capitalization had fallen below a $75 million average over a 30-day trading period. June 2009 developments allowed Sparton to continue trading, but only because the NYSE dropped its limit to $50 million. June 2009 also saw an extension of Sparton’s credit facility from National City Bank.

Feb 9/09: 36B/53F/62B. Two contracts worth a total of $68.8 million are issued, with purchases split between the vendors in amounts related to their offer prices, covering sonobuoys for the US Navy (4,150 AN/SSQ-36B; 61,697 AN/SSQ-53F; and 17,880 AN/SSQ-62E) and Pakistan (45 AN/SSQ-36B, 350 AN/SSQ-53F, 50 AN/SSQ-62E).

They are detailed below.

Feb 9/09: 36B/53F/62B. Undersea Sensor Systems, Inc., in Columbia City, IN receive a $34.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for 3 types of sonobuoys. They will deliver 4,195 AN/SSQ-36B sonobuoys, split between the U.S. Navy (4,150) and the Government of Pakistan (45); along with another 30,454 AN/SSQ-53F sonobuoys split between the U.S. Navy (30,104), and the Government of Pakistan (350). A 3rd set of 8,302 AN/SSQ-62E sonobuoys will be purchased exclusively for the U.S. Navy. Overall, this contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($34.5 million, 99.25%) and for the Government of Pakistan ($259,880, 0.75%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN (90%) and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (10%) and is expected to be complete in February 2011. This contract was competitively procured by electronic request for proposals, and 2 offers were received. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-09-C-0040).

Feb 9/09: 53F/62E.Sparton Electronics in DeLeon Springs, FL received a $34.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for 2 types of sonobuoys. They will deliver 31,593 AN/SSQ-53F sonobuoys to the U.S. Navy, and another 9,578 AN/SSQ-62E sonobuoys will be split between the U.S. Navy (9,528) and the Government of Pakistan (50). Overall, this contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($34 million, 99.74%), and for the Government of Pakistan ($86,555, 0.26%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL, and is expected to be completed in February 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $251,010 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured by electronic request for proposals, and two offers were received by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00421-09-C-0039).

FY 2006 – 2008

Various sonobuoy orders; Sonobuoy R&D.

Aug 18/08: SSQ-101. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN received an $11.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for AN/SSQ-101 sonobuoys and associated data. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $17.2 million. Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL (66%) and Columbia City, IN (34%), and is expected to be complete by August 2010. This contract was not competitively procured by The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-08-C-GP03).

June 5/08: Sonotube-launched UAVs. Small business qualifier Lite Machines Corp. in West Lafayette, IN won a not-to-exceed $10.5 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for a Phase III Small Business Technology Transfer Program contract under Topic N04-T004, entitled “Sonobuoy Tube Launched UAV.” Phase III SBIR projects are the last stage before commercialization.

Lite Machines will provide services and materials for engineering tasks, including research and development, and prototype and testing of their rotary wing UAV. Work will be performed in West Lafayette, IN and is expected to be complete in June 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $796,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured using the STTR Program Solicitation under Topic N042-T004, and 41 offers were received by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-08-D-0010).

Feb 8/08: SSQ-125. The Us Navy issues FBO solicitation #N00421-08-R-0044: Develop and Procure the AN/SSQ-125 Sonobuoy:

“AN/SSQ-125 sonobuoys as the coherent source sonobuoy for the Air Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) multi-static acoustic program – Advanced Extended Echo Ranging (AEER). AEER is an airborne ASW detection system being developed to provide large-area, subsurface search and detection capability. AEER will be employed in the U.S. Navy P-3C aircraft. The sonobuoy shall be capable of being deployed from all platforms capable of launching “A” sized sonobuoys. This effort will include design, development, fabrication, and testing of an “A” sized air-launched, disposable (expendable) sonobuoy. The development will include testing, certification, and qualifications to meet the technical and safety operational requirements. A quantity of sonobuoys will be manufactured for lot testing to meet the sonobuoy reliability requirements.

ERAPSCO is the only known responsible source that can provide the required products and services which includes a required delivery of 100 EDM units 3 to 5 months after contract award. The estimated award date is February 2009.”

Feb 7/08: SSQ-62E. Undersea Sensor Systems Inc. in Columbia City, IN won a $9.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of AN/SSQ-62E sonobuoys. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $18.9 million.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN and is expected to be complete by February 2010. This contract was competitively procured through Government-wide Points of Entry, Navy Electronic Commerce On-line, and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 2 contractors solicited and 2 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-08-C-GP02).

Jan 24/08: SSQ-53F. Undersea Sensor Systems Incorporated in Columbia City, IN won a $13.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for AN/SSQ-53F Sonobuoys from the United States Navy. This contract includes options which could bring its cumulative value to $20.5 million.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, Ind., and is expected to be completed by Feb. 2010. This contract was sort of competitively procured, with 1 proposal solicited and 2 offers received via Government-wide Points of Entry, Navy Electronic Commerce On-line, and Federal Business Opportunities websites (N00164-08-C-GP08).

Aug 31/07: R&D. Undersea Sensor Systems Inc. in Columbia City, IN won a maximum $6.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for up to 51,340 hours of research and development technical services. They will help resolve technical and engineering issues associated with the design, construction, and use of sonobuoys, and their results will provide data for Government engineers and program management personnel to use in evaluating the technical and economic benefits of potential improvements to various sonobuoy types.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN and is expected to be complete by May 2011. The contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Internet, with 2 firms solicited and 2 offers received by The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane IN (N00164-07-D-6781)

April 13/07: SSQ-101. ERAPSCO in Columbia City, IN received an $11.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for AN/SSQ-101 sonobuoys and associated data. Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN. (50%) and DeLeon Springs, FL (50%), and is expected to be complete by April 2009. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane IN (N00164-07-C-6788).

Jan 23/07: SSQ-53F. Undersea Sensor Systems Inc. in Columbia City, IN received a $19 million firm-fixed-price contract for passive AN/SSQ-53F sonobuoys and associated data. This contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $30.3 million.

Work will be performed in Columbia City, IN, and is expected to be completed by February 2009. This contract was competitively procured with 2 proposals solicited and 2 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, IN (N00164-07-C-6785).

Jan 23/07: SSQ-53F. Sparton Electronics in DeLeon Springs, FlL received a $13.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for AN/SSQ-53F sonobuoys and associated data. This contract includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $19.6 million.

Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL and is expected to be completed by February 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured with 2 proposals solicited and 2 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, Crane, IN (N00164-07-C-6793).

Feb 6/06: SSQ-53F. Sparton Electronics in DeLeon Springs, FL received a $20 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00164-05-C-6760) for procurement of passive AN/SSQ-53F DIFAR sonobuoys [PDF format] and associated data. Work will be performed in DeLeon Springs, FL and is expected to be complete by February 2008.

Feb 6/06: SSQ-53F. Undersea Sensor Systems Inc. in Columbia City, IN received a $14.2 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00164-05-C-6769) for procurement of passive AN/SSQ-53F DIFAR sonobuoys and associated data.

That firm, which is a subsidiary of Ultra Electronics Holdings PLC, was also awarded an $8 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00164-05-C-6770) for procurement of active AN/SSQ-62E sonobuoys [PDF format] and associated data. Work on both contract modifications will be performed in Columbia City, IN and is expected to be completed by February 2008.

Additional Readings

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

GAO Dismisses LM’s Objection to Oshkosh LTV Award | IAF Retires Skyhawks After 48 Years | Obama Admin Authorizes: Arms Sale of $1.83B to Taiwan

Thu, 17/12/2015 - 01:20
Americas

  • Oshkosh Corporation has been allowed to resume building tactical vehicles for the US Army. The go ahead was given after the company was forced to halt production of 17,000 Light Tactical Vehicles specified on the $6.75 billion contract which was awarded in August. Rival bidder Lockheed Martin had challenged the decision to award Oshkosh Corp the tender, bringing it to the watchdog Government Accountability Office. The GAO dismissed Lockheed’s objections, allowing the production to continue.

  • Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training and Charles Stark Draper Laboratories have each been awarded contracts to carry out support and engineering services for the US and UK Navies’ Trident systems. Lockheed was awarded $72.47 million to provide Trident (D-5) II navigation sub-system engineering support services and that contract may contain add ons that amount to a total of $147.3 million if options are exercised. CSD Labs will provide specialized tactical engineering services, logistics services, fleet support services, and guidance SSP alteration services to test, repair and maintain guidance subsystems, test equipment, and related support equipment of existing Trident (D-5) weapon systems. The contract with CSD Labs is for $54.3 million, but with options could total $392.9 million.

Middle East North Africa

  • The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has just retired their fleet of A-4 Skyhawks after 48 years of service. The aircraft have taken part in every single military campaign since 1967. In total, 236 have been in operation over the years and after their replacement as active fighters by the F-15s and F-16s, they remained as trainer jets. Thirty of the jets remained in service until they were retired from service on December 13.

  • A Spanish operated NATO Patriot missile battery is to continue being stationed in southern Turkey until 2017. The battery was expected to cease service at the end of this year, but is to be extended at the request of the Turkish government to counter the deployment of Russian S-400 batteries in Syria. Turkey is currently in the process of looking to procure a temporary air defense system as it develops its own indigenous batteries.

Europe

  • Testing of a Russian cruise missile went awry in the northern city of Archangel after it hit an apartment building. Testing was being conducted by industry specialists NPO Mashinostroyeniya rocket design bureau when the incident occurred. According to the Ministry of Defence, “as a result of an abnormal situation, the missile diverged from the set trajectory and fell near the inhabited locality of Nenoksa”. Luckily, no casualties were reported, but the roof and four apartments of a three story house were damaged. Let’s see who gets fired for that blunder.

Asia Pacific

  • The Obama administration has approved a $1.83 billion arms sale to Taiwan, the first between the two countries in four years. Congress is expected to give final approval within the next thirty days, but few objections are expected. The package sees a major transfer of equipment including two frigates, anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles, and amphibious assault equipment. Details of the potential deal had been known for the last few weeks, but official Pentagon approval has been met with the expected swift condemnation from China. They claimed the sale would damage the relations across the Taiwan Strait which have been growing steadily over the last two decades, especially under the China-friendly administration of Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou.

  • The assembly of the first Japanese-built F-35 has begun in their Nagoya plant. Dubbed the AX-5, the “mate” process began on Tuesday when its wings, fuselage and tails were joined together for the first time to form the structure of the aircraft. The announcement marks an important milestone in the international F-35 program. Thirty-eight of Japan’s forty-two F-35 fleet will be manufactured indigenously, with the first four aircraft, to be delivered in 2018, produced in the US.

  • Airbus has completed the final deliveries of the H-135 helicopters for the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. The two delivered brings the total to 15 now in operation since operations began in 2011. Japan has approximately 80 H-135 helicopters in use across a variety of fields including emergency services, civilian news networks, VIP travel, and business aviation.

  • US defense officials have claimed that a Chinese submarine simulated a targeting of the USS Ronald Reagan during operations in October. The submarine allegedly simulated an anti-ship cruise missile attack which is against the 2014 multi-national commitment Code of Unplanned Encounters at Sea. The code, while non-binding, aims to prevent mishaps and misunderstandings at sea. The targeting was a response to assumed US naval incursions near disputed Chinese islands in the South China Sea by the USS Lassen, which was criticized by Beijing.

Today’s Video

  • IDF GoPro footage of the A-4 Skyjet:

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Trident D-5 SLBM Maintenance: Rocket Motors, Guidance

Thu, 17/12/2015 - 01:19
Trident II D-5

Carried on SSBN-726 Ohio Class submarines, The Trident II D-5 is the US Navy’s submarine launched nuclear missile, with exceptional range for a sea-launched weapon and accuracy figures that rival or even exceed land-based ICBMs. These missiles are arguably the most important and effective component of the US nuclear deterrent, and they constitute Britain’s entire nuclear deterrent as well. They were first deployed in 1990, and are planned for continuous deployment to 2042.

The US Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs in Washington, DC and Lockheed Martin recently issued over $100 million in contracts related to the Trident II D-5 SLBMs, in order to maintain their propulsion and guidance systems.

Ohio class, 6 tubes open

Alliant Techsystems received a $76 million contract from Lockheed Martin to produce solid propulsion systems for all three stages of the U.S. Navy’s Trident II (D-5) missile. Under the terms of the contract, ATK will continue to supply Trident solid propulsion systems to Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Sunnyvale, CA through 2010. LMSS is the Trident II (D-5) Missile System’s Prime Contractor,

ATK has a 50-year history of producing solid propulsion systems for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, beginning with the original Polaris missile. The company’s solid rocket portfolio ranges from 3-inch diameter spin motors to the Space Shuttle’s Reusable Solid Rocket Motors (RSRM).

Meanwhile, the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA received a $26.9 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to provide repair and recertification of MK-6 guidance systems, including pendulous integrating gyroscopic accelerometers, inertial measurement units, electronic assemblies, inertial measurement units electronics, repair parts, test equipment maintenance, and related hardware. Work will be performed in Cambridge, MA and is expected to be complete September 2006. The contract was not competitively procured by the US Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs in Arlington, VA (N000-30-06-C-0002).

DID has covered work on the aging MK-6 guidance systems before, including key subcontracters to Draper’s efforts. We have also noted the efforts underway to develop a modernized Mk6 LE guidance system that dispenses with obsolete 1980s era electronics, and how that fits into overall Trident II modernization activities.

Contracts & Events

December 17/15: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training and Charles Stark Draper Laboratories have each been awarded contracts to carry out support and engineering services for the US and UK Navies’ Trident systems. Lockheed was awarded $72.47 million to provide Trident (D-5) II navigation sub-system engineering support services and that contract may contain add ons that amount to a total of $147.3 million if options are exercised. CSD Labs will provide specialized tactical engineering services, logistics services, fleet support services, and guidance SSP alteration services to test, repair and maintain guidance subsystems, test equipment, and related support equipment of existing Trident (D-5) weapon systems. The contract with CSD Labs is for $54.3 million, but with options could total $392.9 million.

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Pentagon Orders 29 More Seahawks in $354M Deal | Orbital ATK to Produce Rocket Motors for AF Sidewinders | Turkey Gets $70M in JDAMs for NATO Mission Support

Wed, 09/12/2015 - 01:20
Americas

  • Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $318.3 million modification to a foreign military sales contract. The deal is to provide Hellfire II missile hardware/component production for South Korea, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, India, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Indonesia, with completion expected by October 2018. Fiscal 2015 other procurement (Army) funds in the amount of $56,590,878 were obligated at the time of the award. The contract comes as US allies are rushing to increase stockpiles of cruise missiles and other military hardware which has had manufacturers struggling to fill orders.

  • The Pentagon has ordered 29 more MH-60R Seahawk helicopters in a deal worth $354 million. The contract was awarded to Lockheed subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft Corp on Monday. Work is to be completed by the end of 2017 and is “for funding for the Navy’s fifth program year” for the helicopters and to “fund associated program and logistics support”. Seahawks are expected to remain in Navy service until the 2030s. As of late, the US Navy has been discussing the future of Naval strategy and plans to increase its fleet size by 20% over the next five years.

  • Canadian Commercial Corp (CCC) is to conduct the Landing Gear Remanufacturer 3 (LGR3) program for the US Air Force. The $147 million contract will upgrade F-condition assets to A-condition with a completion date of January 2021. Work will take place on KC-135 Stratotanker, C-130 Hercules and E-3 Sentry aircraft. CCC is the international procurement and contracting agency for the Canadian government and works to promote Canadian firms as suppliers to both NASA and the US Department of Defense.

  • Aerospace manufacturer Orbital ATK has announced that they are to produce the rocket motor for the AIM-9P Sidewinder for the US Air Force. The motors will be under contract as part of the Foreign Military Sales program and will be exported to foreign air forces who possess stocks of the missiles. The motor upgrades will allow these nations to increase the lifespan of existing stockpiles. The value of the contract has yet to be revealed, but Orbital stated that they already signed a $10 million Direct Commercial Sales contract to supply AIM-9P motors and other components with an unnamed allied nation. Variants of the Aim-9 missile are used by over 40 air forces around the world.

Middle East North Africa

  • Turkey is to receive $70 million worth of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) and associated equipment, parts and technical support after being approved by the US State Department. The approval was procured through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) with the aim of helping with Turkish participation in NATO missions in the region. Sales of JDAM kits have been an extremely popular order from foreign nations as they allow for the cheap conversion of unguided bombs into smart munition. The kits are to be supplied by Boeing.

Europe

  • The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has received the final of their 14 ordered Mk 6 Chinook helicopters from Boeing. The delivery marks the 35th anniversary of Chinook operations in the UK. The latest batch was ordered back in 2009 with first deliveries taking place in June 2014 as part of a $666 million uplift of the fleet. At present, 60 Chinooks are in operation in the RAF with the latest orders to be operational by early 2017. Boeing has been looking to increase their market share in Britain as of late. It was recently reported that they attempted to purchase Britain’s last helicopter manufacturer Westland off parent company Finmeccanica. Unfortunately for Boeing, it was an offer the Italians could easily refuse.

Asia Pacific

  • India is to transfer four Mi-25 gunships to Afghanistan marking the first time New Delhi has sent lethal weapon systems to Kabul. The move comes after Russia, the initial manufacturer, gave consent for the transfer this week. Until now, India has limited itself to providing training and non-offensive supplies to Afghanistan, amid concerns that it may attract a backlash of terrorist activity along with regional tensions with Pakistan. The 2006 train bombings and the 2008 attacks, both in Mumbai, were conducted by Pakistan based Islamic militants. The US reaction to Indian participation has confused matters at times. The Pentagon plays a regional balancing act as it both encourages India’s increased participation in the region, but with a need to pay heed to Pakistan’s concerns and sensibilities.

  • The crew of the USS John Paul Jones got quite a workout while testing the Aegis combat system during an exercise off Wake Island on October 31. They first intercepted a short range air launch target (SRALT) missile with the THAAD missile defense system. The Aegis was then tested as a C-17 then launched an extended medium range ballistic missile (EMRBM) through the debris of the first intercept. If that wasn’t enough, the crew were simultaneously engaging a BQM-74E air-breathing target with a Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA guided missile at the time. The tests were aimed at improving and enhancing the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, which is the naval component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Today’s Video

  • A look at the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile:

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

AIM-9X Block II & Beyond: The New Sidewinder Missiles

Wed, 09/12/2015 - 01:19
AIM-9X test, F-18C
(click for close-up)

Raytheon’s AIM-9X Block II would have made Top Gun a very short movie. It’s the USA’s most advanced short range air-air missile, capable of using its datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker to hit targets behind the launching fighter. Unlike previous AIM-9 models, the AIM-9X can even be used against targets on the ground.

These changes will help keep it competitive against foreign missiles like MBDA UK’s AIM-132 ASRAAM, RAFAEL of Israel’s Python 5, the multinational German-led IRIS-T, and Russia’s R73/ AA-11 Archer. So far, only American fighter types can use AIM-9X missiles, but that hasn’t stopped a slew of export requests and sales, especially in the Middle East.

AIM-9X: The Program AIM-9X Variants AIM-9X sees QF-4
(click to view full)

The AIM-9X is the USA’s newest short-range air-to-air missile, using an advanced array seeker that widens the missile’s “boresight” cone, and allows a TV-like “imaging infrared” picture that’s much harder to fool with decoys. The missile’s maneuvering fins are smaller than previous Sidewinders, lowering aerodynamic drag in flight, but the missile compensates with thrust vectoring in the rocket’s exhaust for added maneuverability. The final piece of the puzzle is lock-on after launch capability (the key Block II improvement), which takes full advantage of the 9X’s improved sighting cone, maneuverability, and low drag. By telling the missile to fly to a designated location and look for a target, kills have even been scored behind the firing aircraft.

On the maintenance end, the AIM-9X avoids the need for argon cooling, and the missiles are field reprogrammable rather than forcing a hardware swap out of the circuit cards.

These new capabilities came with one significant cost: because the AIM-9X is all-digital, aircraft that want to fire it need integration work to make them fully compatible. At present, F-16C/D Vipers, F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet family aircraft, F-15C/D Eagles, and some F-15 Strike Eagle variants can use the AIM-9X. It has been bought for F-15 Strike Eagles flown by Singapore (F-15SG) and South Korea (F-15K), and will be integrated with Saudi Arabia’s forthcoming F-15SA Strike Eagles.

Other American aircraft, and foreign aircraft that can fire Sidewinders, are limited to previous-generation AIM-9Ms for now. Note that this list even includes the F-22A Raptor, until its Increment 3.2B upgrade program is fielded around 2017. The missile is being tested on the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, but that combination won’t be operational for a few years. Other prospective customers include UAE’s standing request (but no contract, yet) to equip its F-16E/F Block 60 “Desert Falcons” with the AIM-9X.

AIM-9X
(click to view full)

AIM-9X Block I. The AIM-9X Block I (missile)/ OFS 8.220 (software load) combination includes limited lock-on-after-launch, full envelope off-boresight capability without a JHMCS helmet mounted display, and improved flare rejection performance against countermeasures. It uses the warhead, fuze, and rocket motor from the previous AIM-9M missile, but adds thrust-vectoring, a new body, a new imaging infrared seeker, a new digital processor, and a new autopilot.

The USA bought 3,097 Block I missiles: 1,745 were USAF, incl. 67 modified from AIM-9Ms in FY 2001. The US Navy bought 1,352, inc. 63 modified from AIM-9Ms in FY 2001. AIM-9X Block I export customers included Australia, Denmark, Finland, Poland, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Block I production was terminated early by the US military, and orders ended in FY 2011. Because it was separated out as its own program and terminated early, we don’t cover it here.

AIM-9X engagements

AIM-9X-2. This variant swaps in a new processor, a new ignition battery for the rocket motor, an electronic ignition safety/arm device, better all weather laser fusing against small targets, and the DSU-41/B Active Optical Target Detector (AOTD) fuze/datalink assembly. None of these things radically change performance by themselves, but OFS 8.3 software upgrades help bring them all together.

AIM-9X Block II. A combination of AIM-9X-2 hardware and OFS 8.3+ software. OFS 8.3 added trajectory management to improve range, makes full use of the datalink with the launching aircraft, and improves lock-on-after-launch and target re-acquisition performance. Those capabilities have been refined further in OFS 9.3.

Overall, the Block II has about 85% parts commonality with the Block I. The 2-way datalink is the most significant single Block II change, as it allows the missile to fly toward targets its seeker can’t yet see, using target position tracking from its fighter. Improved seeker lock-on-after-launch and re-acquisition makes the missile harder to evade, and the new ‘lofting’ fly-out profile boosts the Block II enough to give it some capabilities beyond visual range.

AIM-9X Block III. US NAVAIR is pushing for an AIM-9X Block III, with Initial Operational Capability by 2022. The Block III aims for a 60% range boost from a new rocket motor and better flight programming, and a new insensitive munitions warhead for safer use at sea. That range would start to push the AIM-9X into comparable territory to France’s MICA, a medium-range missile with radar and IR-guided versions. The decision represents the military’s growing recognition that the prospect of enemy stealth planes, and of advanced DRFM radar jammers on advanced fighters, make it a bad idea to rely too heavily on radar-guided AIM-120 AMRAAMs.

Block II+ Program and Sales Moroccan F-16C
(click to view full)

AIM-9X Block II production began in June 2011. In 2012 the Pentagon moved to terminate the Block I program entirely, in favor of the Block II. The Block II was slated for a full-rate production decision in April 2014, and Initial Operational Capability was scheduled for September 2014, but technical problems have delayed the full-rate decision until Q2 2015.

The American Block II program is tracking close to December 2011 baseline cost estimates, which placed it at about $3.99 billion (incl. $178.8 million for R&D) to buy 6,000 missiles. It’s still early days, with another $113.2 million in R&D and 5,321 missiles/ $4.167 billion in US procurement funding left to go as of September 2013. The Block II program experienced its big shift in 2012, so tracking its early days through American budgets is somewhat tricky, but American buys since FY 2011 have revolved exclusively around the Block II:

Excel
download

The USA will buy 6,000 total Block II missiles, under current plans. The USAF will buy 3,352, while the US Navy will buy 2,648. Foreign buys are added over and above, and will help drive down prices thanks to volume production. The current Pentagon budget estimate is roughly $600,000 per missile overall, but current orders are running closer to $500,000, and those prices will drop with enough foreign sales.

Foreign customers for AIM-9X-2 and AIM-9X Block II missiles include Belgium (F-16 MLU), Kuwait (F/A-18C/D), Malaysia (F/A-18D), the Netherlands (F-16 MLU), Morocco (F-16C/Ds), Saudi Arabia (F-15s), and Singapore (F-15SG, could add to F-16s).

AIM-9X Block II Export requests are pending from Australia (F/A-18F and F-35A), Israel (F-16s and F-15 variants, F-35A), Oman (F-16C/D), South Korea (1 no platform, 1 part of F-35A request), and the UAE (F-16E/F).

Contracts & Key Events USAF on AIM-9X

Note that this article only covers export requests, contracts, etc. that involve or include the AIM-9X Block II and AIM-9X-2, since the latter will presumably receive the software upgrade. Unless otherwise noted, Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ is the contractor, and US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, MD manages the contracts.

Finally, some quick terminology may be helpful:

  • All-Up Rounds include both the live missile and its storage container.
  • CATM (captive air training missiles) have no warhead or rocket motor: a dummy back end and live front end.
  • NATMs are fully live missiles with a telemetry package in place of the warhead, and are used for test shots.
  • “Propulsion Steering Sections” include the rocket motor, internal thrust vectoring vanes, and control actuation system for the tail fins.
  • A Guidance Section is the missile seeker and all electronics.
  • An “Active Optical Target Detector” is the mechanism that tells the missile when it’s within lethal range of its target for detonation.

FY 2015 – 2016

F-22 integration work. F-22 shows AIM-9M
(click to view full)

December 9/15: Aerospace manufacturer Orbital ATK has announced that they are to produce the rocket motor for the AIM-9P Sidewinder for the US Air Force. The motors will be under contract as part of the Foreign Military Sales program and will be exported to foreign air forces who possess stocks of the missiles. The motor upgrades will allow these nations to increase the lifespan of existing stockpiles. The value of the contract has yet to be revealed, but Orbital stated that they already signed a $10 million Direct Commercial Sales contract to supply AIM-9P motors and other components with an unnamed allied nation. Variants of the Aim-9 missile are used by over 40 air forces around the world.

September 28/15: Raytheon has been awarded a $264.8 million contract for improvement works to the AIM-9X air-to-air missile, with these destined for the Air Force, Navy and six Foreign Military Sales customers. The Block II missile recently entered full rate production, with Friday’s contract announcement intended to assist in bringing up some Block I stockpiles up to the Block II standard, including new components and software upgrades.

Also on Friday the company received a $227.1 million contract for the production of 447 AIM-9X missiles, with these headed for the Navy, Air Force and four Foreign Military Sales customers. The contract also covers the delivery of 129 training missiles, with these scheduled for delivery to multiple governments, including Switzerland, Morocco, Israel and Oman.

September 1/15: The AIM-9X Sidewinder Block II got the full production go-ahead.

May 13/15: The Air Force has test fired two AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles from a F-22 Raptor fighter. This test-firing is a step towards the F-22’s Increment 3.2B upgrade program, with Lockheed Martin awarded a contract last October to modify 220 F-22 Configurable Rail Launchers to accommodate the AIM-9X. Full operational fielding of the AIM-9X by the F-22 is not expected until 2017.

Oct 24/14: F-22. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, TX receives a maximum $33.4 million unfinalized contract for AIM-9X Configurable Rail Launcher (CRL) modification to the F-22. They’ll provide upgrade to 220 AIM-9 CRLs with AIM-9X capability. $5.8 million is committed immediately, using FY 2014 USAF aircraft budgets.

The ability to fire AIM-9X missiles is part of the F-22A’s Increment 3.2B upgrade program, and limited testing has begin (q.v. July 30/12) but a fielded capability isn’t expected until at least 2017. The lack of a corresponding helmet-mounted display is a concern for Raptor pilots (q.v. Jan 31/13).

Work will be performed at Fort Worth, TX, and is expected to be completed by Feb 28/17. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center at Hill AFB, UT manages the contract (FA8611-08-C-2897, PO 0559).

FY 2014

Orders from USA, Belgium, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey; Export requests from Australia, Israel, South Korea; USN has suspended deliveries. AIM-9X on USAF F-15
(click to view full)

Sept 29/14: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $13.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to a previously awarded for Lot 14 AIM-9X Block I/II spare parts in support of the USAF (8.4M / 61.62%); US Navy ($3.7M / 27.3%); and the governments of Saudi Arabia ($404,762 / 2.96%); Oman ($311,377 / 2.28%); Korea ($305,031 / 2.23%); Kuwait ($111,282 / 0.82%); Morocco ($95,772 / 0.70%); Malaysia ($93,405 / 0.68%); Turkey ($71,263 / 0.52%); Finland ($41,228 / 0.30%); Switzerland ($32,612 / 0.24%); Poland ($29,241 / 0.21%); and Denmark ($18,562 / 0.14%) All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete in February 2016. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD; manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0001).

July 14/14: Israel. The US DSCA announces Israel’s export request for up to 600 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles, 50 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles, and 4 Dummy Air Training Missiles; plus containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, and support. The estimated cost is up to $544 million, and Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ is the main contractor.

Israel operates a number of different F-16 and F-15 fighter variants, and will soon begin taking delivery of F-35s. Israel would become a new AIM-9X customer, but all the DSCA will say is that “The Israeli Air Force is modernizing its fighter aircraft to better support its own air defense needs.” They could achieve similar performance using their own RAFAEL Python-4 and Python-5 missiles, but AIM-9Xs can be bought with foreign aid dollars, and the F-35A’s initial configuration will only accept AIM-9Xs as its (externally-mounted) short-range air-to-air missile. Sources: DSCA #14-31, “Israel – AIM-9X Sidewinder Missiles”.

DSCA request: Israel (600)

June 25/14: Lot 14. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $223.1 million fixed-price-incentive-firm contract for 485 AIM-9X Block II All Up Round missiles, and more. The USAF and USN are using FY 2014 missile budgets:

USAF ($74.1 million, 33.24%)

  • 158 AIM-9X Block II AUR
  • 55 CATM-9X Block II
  • 12 Special Air Training Missiles
  • 60 All Up Round storage containers

US Navy ($74.1 million, 33.2%)

  • 161 AIM-9X Block II AUR
  • 47 CATM-9X Block II
  • 13 Special Air Training Missiles
  • 59 All Up Round storage containers

Kuwait ($390,283, 0.18%, q.v. Feb 27/12 request)

  • 1 AIM-9X Block II AUR

Morocco ($522,442, 0.23%, q.v. July 8/12 request)

  • 2 CATM-9X Block II
  • 1 All Up Round storage container
  • 1 Spare Advanced Optical Target Detector

Netherlands ($16.5 million, 7.38%, q.v. Oct 17/12 request)

  • 28 AIM-9X Block II AUR
  • 2 Spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 20 CATM-9X Block II
  • 2 Spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 2 Special Air Training Missiles
  • 18 All Up Round storage containers

Singapore ($10.6 million, 4.74%, q.v. April 4/13 request)

  • 20 AIM-9X Block II AUR
  • 2 Spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 8 CATM-9X Block II
  • 5 Spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 8 All Up Round storage containers
  • 1 Spare Advanced Optical Target Detector

Turkey (46.9 million, 21.03%, q.v. Dec 4/12 request)

  • 117 AIM-9X Block II AUR
  • 34 All Up Round storage containers
  • 6 Spare Tactical Guidance Units

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (43.74%); Andover, MA (10.08%); Valencia, CA (6.10%); Midland, Ontario, Canada (5.54%); Rocket Center, West VA (5.49%); Vancouver, WA (5.07%); Goleta, CA (2.86%); Cheshire, CT (2.05%); Heilbronn, DE, Germany (1.88%); Simsbury, CT (1.61%); Cincinnati, OH (1.22%); San Jose, CA (1.48%); Anniston, AL (1.31%); Maniago, Italy (1.21%); Chatsworth, CA (1.11%); San Diego, CA (1.04%); Montgomery, AL (0.60%); Orlando, FL (0.55%); Valencia, CA (0.53%); Newbury Park, CA (0.50%); El Segundo, CA (0.50%); Claremont, CA (0.43%); Joplin, MO (0.39%); Lombard, IL (0.28%); El Cajon, CA (0.15%); and various locations inside and outside the continental United States (3.98 and 0.30%, respectively). Work is expected to be complete in December 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, i.e. no-one else makes these missiles. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages all contracts, either directly or as an FMS agent (N00019-14-C-0053).

June 25/14: Lot 14. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $28.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 774 AIM-9X Production Inertial Measurement Units retrofits and upgrades, and an engineering investigation for the U.S. Navy ($2.9 million, 10.2%, FY 2013) and USAF ($3.4 million, 12.1%, FY 2012).

This modification also covers a $21.9 million purchase from Belgium, as part of Production Lot 14. That should get them going (q.v. Sept 26/13 request):

  • 30 AIM-9X Block II AUR
  • 2 Spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 30 CATM-9X Block II
  • 8 Spare CATM-9X Block II Guidance Units
  • 18 All Up Round Containers
  • 1 Spare Advanced Optical Target Detector
  • 1 lot of tooling

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (43.74%); Andover, MA (10.08%); Valencia, CA (6.10%); Midland, Ontario, Canada (5.54%); Rocket Center, West VA (5.49%); Vancouver, WA (5.07%); Goleta, CA (2.86%); Cheshire, CT (2.05%); Heilbronn, DE, Germany (1.88%); Simsbury, CT (1.61%); Cincinnati, OH (1.22%); San Jose, CA (1.48%); Anniston, AL (1.31%); Maniago, Italy (1.21%); Chatsworth, CA (1.11%); San Diego, CA (1.04%); Montgomery, AL (0.60%); Orlando, FL (0.55%); Valencia, CA (0.53%); Newbury Park, CA (0.50%); El Segundo, CA (0.50%); Claremont, CA (0.43%); Joplin, MO (0.39%); Lombard, IL (0.28%); El Cajon, CA (0.15%); and various locations inside and outside the continental United States (3.98 and 0.30%, respectively). Work is expected to be complete in December 2016. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-11-C-0001).

Lot 14 order: USA, Belgium, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands, Singapore, Turkey

May 13/14: Australia. The US DSCA announces customer Australia’s official export request for more advanced AIM-9X-2 missiles, beyond their existing AIM-9X Block I stockpile. The estimated cost is up to $534 million, but one of the addenda was equally significant:

“These missiles will be used on the RAAF’s F/A-18 aircraft (and eventually F-35 aircraft) and will maintain the RAAF’s air-to-air capability….”

Australia uses ASRAAMs on its F/A-18AM/BM Hornets, and if they don’t add them to the F-35As, they’ll need to phase out their stock when the Hornets retire in 2022. F-35A Block-2/-3s come integrated with the AIM-9X missile for external carriage. For stealth-maximizing internal carriage, Australia will either have to rely on AIM-120 AMRAAM radar-guided missiles, or pay extra to add the same internal AIM-132 ASRAAM infrared-guided missile capability that Britain is incorporating into its F-35B STOVL aircraft. It’s not an either/or decision, as Australia could integrate ASRAAM and AIM-9X, but this request is another step toward a possible single-SRAAM future for the RAAF. The request includes up to:

  • 350 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder missiles
  • 22 AIM-9X-2 Tactical Guidance Units
  • 95 AIM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs)
  • 19 CATM-9X-2 Guidance Units
  • 35 AIM-9X Special Air Training Missiles (NATMs) for test shots
  • 3 DATM-9X telemetry units
  • Plus containers, test sets and support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documents, personnel training and training equipment, and other forms of US Government and contractor support.

The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ. If a deal is negotiated, additional US Government or contractor representatives will participate in bi-annual, 1-week program management and technical reviews in Australia. They may also be called on to provide technical and logistics support for 2 years. Sources: DSCA #14-12, “Australia – AIM 9X-2 Sidewinder Missiles”.

DSCA request: Australia (350)

April 7/14: Korea. The US DSCA announces a formal request from South Korea for up to $98 million in AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Missiles and associated equipment. The request includes:

  • 76 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles
  • 4 AIM-9X-2 Block II spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 24 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles
  • 8 CATM-9X-2 Block II spare Missile Guidance Units
  • Plus containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and other US government and contractor support.

South Korea is already an AIM-9X Block I customer. This request doesn’t specify the platform, but the ROKAF’s F-16s haven’t been upgraded yet, which means it’s likely to represent additional AIM-9X orders for their F-15K Strike Eagles. The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ, and no additional personnel will be needed in the ROK. US Government or contractor personnel will conduct in-country visits on occasion, per management oversight and support requirements. Sources: DSCA #14-06, “Korea – AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Missiles”.

DSCA: South Korea request

April 7/14: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $9.6 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification to provide AIM-9X Sidewinder mission support and sustainment. Customers include the USAF and US Navy, and the governments of Singapore, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Turkey, South Korea, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and Poland under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete in April 2015. Funds will be committed as individual delivery orders are issued. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-D-0004).

March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. There’s good news and bad news for the AIM-9X:

“The “should-cost” initiative, introduced through DOD’s “Better Buying Power” initiatives, emphasizes the importance of driving cost improvements during contract negotiation and program execution to control costs, improvements that could lead to program efficiencies which increase buying power. For example, the AIM-9X Block II Air-to-Air Missile program realized a procurement cost decrease of approximately $327 million with no change in quantity over the past year and also reported $128 million in “should-cost” savings that are expected in the future.”

“….In July 2013, the Navy suspended operational testing for the AIM-9X Block II due to two issues with missile performance. According to the program office, [target acquisition time] has been resolved with a software fix. However, the root cause for the second issue, related to probability of kill, a key performance requirement, was still under investigation during our review. The program has stopped accepting missiles until the root cause analysis is complete and the program determines what, if any, fixes to those missiles may be needed. The program also expects to delay the full-rate production decision from April 2014 until the second quarter of fiscal year 2015.”

March 4-11/14: Budgets. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. The US Navy is decreasing the planned rate of production over the next few years, but that’s offset somewhat by an increase in USAF orders. The figures have been added to the article’s charts, along with Foreign Military Sale figures from those same documents. Note that export sales figures can be expected to rise as we come closer to any specific year, and new countries decide to place orders. Sources: USN, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF] | USAF, Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Overview.

FY 2013

Lot 13 order for USA, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland; Export requests from Turkey & the Netherlands; Multinational support contract; GAO report. AIM-9X Sidewinder
(click to view full)

Sept 26/13: Belgium. The US DSCA announces Belgium’s formal request to buy 40 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II All-Up-Round Missiles, 36 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles, 2 CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance Units, and 10 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, 4 Dummy Air Training Missiles, plus containers, missile support and test equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and US Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $68 million.

The Belgian Air Component cooperates with the Royal Netherlands Air Force, which operates the same F-16 MLUs and also has an AIM-9X-2 request underway. Even so, a future contract will require some level of additional US government and contractor support. A successful deal is expected to cement the Belgian military’s status as the world’s best-armed pension fund. Sources: US DSCA.

DSCA: Belgium request

Sept 18/13: A $10.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for AIM-9X Block II Engineering Analysis, including program protection implementation plans, technical studies, and services. $6.3 million is committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete in March 2014. Oddly, the Pentagon release divides the award on multiple occasions as being between the USAF ($8.65M / 84%) and the US Army ($1,648,129 / 16%). Unless the Army is working to adapt the missile to the top-tier AFPS upgrade for its Avenger mobile air defense systems, the US Navy would be the logical 2nd service (N00019-12-C-2002).

Aug 12/13: FY 2013. A $200.5 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract modification for FY 2013 procurement of 354 AIM-9X Block II All Up Round missiles and Active Optical Target Detectors, 20 spare Tactical Guidance Units, 3 spare Advanced Optical Target Detectors, 3 spare Propulsion Steering Sections, 1 spare Inertial Measuring Unit, 178 Block II Captive Air Training Missiles, 26 spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units, 9 Special Air Training Missiles, 147 All Up Round Containers, 19 Guidance Unit Containers, and 1 spare Missile Tube Assembly. All funds are committed immediately (N00019-11-C-0001). Customers include:

USAF ($52.45 million, 26.16%)

  • 92 AIM-9X Block II missiles
  • 4 spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 2 spare Advanced Optical Target Detectors
  • 1 spare Propulsion Steering Section
  • 58 CATM-9X Block IIs
  • 8 spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 39 All Up Round missile containers

USN ($54.7 million, 27.27%)

  • 92 AIM-9X Block II missiles
  • 4 spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 1 spare Advanced Optical Target Detector
  • 1 spare Propulsion Steering Section
  • 58 CATM-9X Block IIs
  • 4 spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 9 Special Air Training Missiles
  • 43 All Up Round missile containers

Kuwait ($40.2 million, 20.04%)

  • 80 AIM-9X Block II missiles
  • 2 spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 20 CATM-9X Block IIs
  • 2 spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 28 All Up Round missile containers
  • 6 Guidance Containers

Malaysia ($11.5 million, 5.71%)

  • 20 AIM-9X Block II missiles
  • 2 spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 8 CATM-9X Block IIs
  • 4 spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 8 All Up Round missile containers
  • 6 Guidance Containers

Morocco ($12 million, 5.97%)

  • 20 AIM-9X Block II missiles
  • 2 spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 1 spare Propulsion Steering Section
  • 1 spare Missile Tube Assembly
  • 10 CATM-9X Block IIs
  • 4 spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 9 All Up Round missile containers

Oman ($28.8 million, 14.37%)

  • 50 AIM-9X Block II missiles
  • 6 spare Tactical Guidance Units
  • 24 CATM-9X Block IIs
  • 4 spare Captive Air Training Missile Guidance Units
  • 19 All Up Round missile containers
  • 7 Guidance Containers

Saudi Arabia ($880,023, 0.44%)

  • 2 Special Air Training Missiles
  • 1 All Up Round missile container

Switzerland ($76,400, 0.04%)

  • 2 Special Air Training Missiles
  • 1 spare Inertial Measuring Unit

Work is expected to be complete in August 2015, and will be performed in Tucson, AZ (43.74%); Andover, MA (10.08%); Valencia, CA (6.10%); Rocket Center, WVA (5.49%); Vancouver, WA (5.07%); Goleta, CA (2.86%); Cheshire, CT (2.05%); Simsbury, CT (1.61%); Cincinnati, OH (1.22%); San Jose, CA (1.48%); Anniston, AL (1.31%); Chatsworth, CA (1.11%); San Diego, CA (1.04%); Montgomery, AL (0.60%); Orlando, FL (0.55%); Valencia, CA (0.53%); Newbury Park, CA (0.50%); El Segundo, CA (0.50%); Claremont, CA (0.43%); Joplin, Mo. (0.39%); Lombard, IL (0.28%); El Cajon (0.15%); Midland, Ontario, Canada (5.54%); Heilbronn, Germany (1.88%); Maniago, Italy (1.21%); and other various locations inside and outside the United States (4.28%).

Lot 13 order: USA, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Switzerland

Aug 24/12: Upgrades. Military & Aerospace Electronics reports that Raytheon has received a minor sole-source contract to begin developing AIM-9X upgrades. Longer range and an insensitive warhead that burns rather than exploding if subjected to hot fires are reportedly the priorities.

July 18/13: Block 3 plans. Flight Global reports that US NAVAIR is pushing for an AIM-9X Block III, with a 60% range boost from a new rocket motor and better flight programming. That would push the AIM-9X farther into comparable territory to France’s MICA, a medium-range missile with radar and IR-guided versions. The other major change would be an insensitive munitions warhead, for safer use at sea, per the Aug 24/12 entry.

US NAVAIR intends to launch the Block III’s EMD development phase in 2016, developmental testing in 2018, and operational tests in 2020, followed by Initial Operational Capability in 2022.

Part of the reported justification for Block III involves the proliferation of digital radar jammers on enemy fighters, which lowers the AIM-120 AMRAAM’s odds of a successful radar lock and strike. NAVAIR doesn’t say it, but the F-35’s provision for just 2 internal air-to-air missiles forces all weapon options to be more versatile – which sometimes means more expensive. Unfortunately, programs like the “Triple Target Terminator” were seen as too expensive. Raytheon’s NCADE was another alternative, which would have placed a larger AIM-9X seeker on an AMRAAM missile. NCADE offered even longer range air warfare strikes, some capability against launching ballistic missiles, and no additional integration work for AMRAAM-qualified planes, but the US military hasn’t pursued it.

May 31/13: Support. A $19.6 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for the design and engineering analysis of the AIM-9X Block II Missile System for the U.S. Navy ($8.3 million / 42.6%), the U.S. Air Force ($5.7 million/ 29%), and the Government of Saudi Arabia ($5.6 million / 28.4%). $7.5 million in American and Saudi funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (96%); Andover, MA (3%); and various locations inside and outside of the United States (1%), and is expected to be complete in June 2014 (N00019-12-C-2002).

May 22/13: South Korea. The US DSCA forwards South Korea’s official weapons export request for up to $823 million worth of weapons to equip F-15SE Silent Eagles [PDF], or up to $793 million in weapons for F-35As [PDF], if either plane is picked as the winner of the F-X-3 fighter competition. The AIM-9X Block II is common to both requests, and involves 154 missiles, 14 spare tactical guidance units, 33 CATM training missiles, and 7 spare CATM guidance units.

Their competitor, EADS’ Eurofighter, isn’t integrated with the AIM-9X. It would either use the ROKAF’s existing stocks of previous-generation AIM-9 Sidewinders, or trigger a separate purchase of the AIM-9X equivalent IRIS-T or ASRAAM.

April 15/13: SIP. An $8.6 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract services in support of the Phase II AIM-9X System Improvement Program for the USAF ($5.5M/ 64%), US Navy ($1.7M/ 19.77%), and the government of Saudi Arabia ($1.4M/ 16.23%), including hardware and software development activities and implementation of security architecture requirements.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ using FY 2012 Navy RDT&E and FY 2013 USAF RDT&E budgets. and is expected to be complete in March 2014. $4 million is committed immediately, $529,748 of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/13 (N00019-11-C-0026).

April 4/13: Singapore. The US DSCA announces [PDF] that Singapore has requested export clearance for 20 AIM 9X-2 SIDEWINDER Block II All Up Round Missiles, 8 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles, 5 CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance units, 2 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance units, containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support.

The prime contractor is Raytheon in Tucson, AZ, of course, and the cost is estimated at up to $36 million. Singapore has already purchased AIM-9X-2s, and they won’t need any additional support.

Singapore request

March 28/13: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” for 2013. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. GAO cites the AIM-9X Block II as a ready program, with mature critical technologies and a stable design.

The biggest issue is production processes, which are described as “not in control,” with the missile a bit below expected reliability targets. The program plans to demonstrate process control before the 2014 full-rate production decision. GAO adds that:

“The program expects to realize over $595 million in cost savings over the life of the program by implementing “should cost” initiatives, such as improvements to the design and production of key missile components…. The program office estimated that it has already realized $21 million in savings on the first low-rate initial production contract. To achieve these savings, the program office analyzed cost drivers and prioritized opportunities to reduce cost by considering factors such as the up-front investment costs, ease of implementation, time to realize savings, and magnitude of the unit cost benefits. The program has implemented technical initiatives, such as active optical target detector design and production improvements and non-technical initiatives, such as accelerated production rates.”

March 25/13: Support. A $20.1 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification to provide AIM-9X Sidewinder mission support and sustainment activities for the USAF, US Navy, and the governments of Singapore, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Turkey, South Korea, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, and Poland under the Foreign Military Sales program. This support includes both Block I and Block II missiles.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete in March 2014. Funds will be obligated on individual delivery orders as they are issued (N00019-11-D-0004).

Jan 31/13: F-22. Increment 3.2B upgrades are supposed to deliver AIM-9X Sidewinder missile capabilities to the F-22A fleet, but pilots are concerned that the short-range air combat missile will fall short of required performance without a Helmet Mounted Display, and leave the F-22A at a disadvantage in close-in fights. One Raptor pilot told Flight International that:

“We’ve been screaming for years that the F-22 needs to have the capability fielded, and fast… Once the jets transitions from BVR [beyond visual range] to WVR [within visual range] with only AIM-9M-9s it is hugely vulnerable…”

The pilots like the AIM-9X’s added range, which extends to beyond visual range levels when launched at supercruise speed, and its ability to lock-on after launch. The problem is that without an HMD like the JHMCS I/II on other USAF fighters, or the Thales (Gentex) Scorpion that equips A-10s and some Air National Guard F-16s, the pilots can’t take full advantage of the missile’s full targeting cone. It doesn’t help that AIM-9X Block II’s one cited deficiency is helmetless high off-boresight (HHOBS) performance, but a fix can be expected by 2017.

The Raptor may be able to out-turn anyone, but an opponent with 30 degrees more sighting cone to work with doesn’t have to maneuver as hard. As experiences with the Eurofighter show (q.v. June 30/12 entry), some 4+ generation aircraft do approach the F-22’s capabilities in close. Russian thrust-vectoring designs like the MiG-35, SU-30SM, and SU-35 may also fall into this category, and top-end SRAAMs can even create openings against the F-22’s infrared masking countermeasures.

Jan 17/13: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). With respect to the AIM-9X Block II, the services had accomplished 5,460 total captive-carry hours as of mid-November 2012, with 23 failures. That’s a Mean Time Between Captive-Carry Failure (MTBCCF) of 237 hours. The goal is 1 per 500 hours by 80,000 flight hours, and the missile is slightly below that expected growth curve.

In testing, 8/12 missile shots have been successful, and at least 2 of the failures have involved lock-on after launch mode. A 3rd failure involved the fuze. Those failures are being investigated, and the USAF has a concern involving Helmet-less High Off-Boresight (HHOBS, means wide-angle pickup with no JHMCS helmet) performance. They believe that Block II is slower to acquire targets in HHOBS than Block I was, instead of being equal or better.

Dec 24/12: Turkey. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Turkey’s official request to buy AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles and associated equipment, as part of a larger modernization drive for the country’s fighter fleet. Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ is the prime contractor, and implementation of this proposed sale will require an unspecified number of U.S. Government or contractor representatives on a temporary basis for support and oversight. The request includes:

  • 117 AIM-9X Block II All-Up-Round Missiles
  • 6 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units
  • 6 “Dummy Air Training Missiles” (could be CATMs, or loading practice rounds)
  • 130 LAU-129 Launchers
  • Plus containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and support.

Turkey already deploys the AIM-9X Block I. The estimated cost of this contract is up to $140 million, but the exact price will depend on negotiations.

Turkey request: 117

Oct 17/12: Dutch. The US DSCA announces [PDF] the Netherlands’ request to buy AIM-9X-2 Block II Sidewinder missiles and accessories, as an initial order to equip its modernized F-16 MLUs and improve its air defense capabilities. The estimated cost is up to $60 million, but will depend on contract negotiations. The request includes:

  • 28 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II AUR missiles
  • 20 CATM-9X-2s
  • 2 CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance Units
  • 2 AIM-9X-2 NATMs
  • 2 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units
  • 2 Dummy Air Training Missiles
  • Plus containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and US Government and contractor support.

Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ is the prime contractor, and implementation of this proposed sale will require US Government or contractor representatives in the Netherlands on a temporary basis for program technical support and management oversight.

Dutch request: 20

FY 2012

Purchases by the USA, Morocco, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, & South Korea; Export requests from Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman; Block II software upgrades for USA. F-15SG, armed
(click to view full)

Aug 31/12: Software. A $13.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to update AIM-9X software from version 8.220 to 8.300 for USAF ($9.6M/ 71%) and US Navy ($3.9M/ 29%). $5.4 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

As noted above, this software update creates the Block II missile. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete in December 2013. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-12-C-0111).

July 30/12: F-22. An F-22A performs the 1st supersonic launch of an AIM-9X short range air to air missile over the Sea Test Range at Point Mugu, CA. The first launch of an AIM-9X from the F-22 was carried out in May 2012.

Note that these are mechanical and aerodynamic tests, to ensure safe separation, ignition, etc. F-22As won’t be able to really use the AIM-9X in combat until the Increment 3.2B upgrade, which is expected to debut in 2017. Lockheed Martin @ Flickr.

July 8/12: Morocco. The May 19/11 DSCA request leads to a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) to buy Raytheon’s AIM-9X Block II short range air-to-air missile for Morocco’s new F-16C/Ds. Numbers and prices are an “undisclosed quantity,” but can be inferred by consulting the DSCA request: 20 + training missiles.

The RMAF will be the 4th country using the Block II version with the added datalink and lock-on after launch capability, after the USA, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea. Raytheon.

Morocco (20?)

June 13/12: Oman. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Oman’s formal request for 55 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder All-Up-Round Missiles, 6 spare AIM-9X Block II Tactical Guidance Units, 36 inert AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM) for exercises, 4 spare AIM-9X Block II CATM Guidance Units, 1 Dummy Air Training Missile for loading practice, plus containers, weapon support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, and other US government & contractor support.

Oman will negotiate with Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ is the prime contractor, and the estimated cost is up to $86 million. Implementation of this proposed sale would require multiple trips to Oman involving U.S. Government or contractor representatives for program and technical support, and management oversight.

The RAFO flies 12 compatible F-16C/D Block 50s, and ordered 12 more in December 2011. There’s no point in updating their Jaguars, but in December 2012, they’ll buy some Eurofighter Typhoons to serve as the high end of their air force. The Typhoons are AIM-9 compatible, but only up to the AIM-9M.

Oman request: 55

March 30/12: The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 31/11 includes the AIM-9X Block I. It’s being canceled, which creates a critical cost breach – but since the cause is program cancellation, it doesn’t matter. See Jan 17/12 entry for why it’s being cancelled.

“AIM-9X Block I – The Program Acquisition Unit Cost (PAUC) increased 49.3% to the current APB and 71.8% to the original APB as a result of an adjustment to the program of record quantities from 10,142 to 3,142 missiles. Based on direction from Navy and Air Force requirements offices, there are no future production contracts for Block I after Lot 10 deliveries are complete. The approval of Block II to enter Low Rate Initial Production ends new production for Block I missiles, and shifts new production to Block II missiles. Since the critical Nunn-McCurdy breach is due to cancellation of the Block I program, no certification determination by the USD AT&L is required pursuant to section 2433 of title 10, United States Code.”

Block I done

March 30/12: ROKAF & RSAF. A $97.1 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract modification, buying Lot 12 low rate initial production (LRIP-2) equipment for South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

South Korea: $11.8 million, 12.15%. 19 AIM-9X Block II AUR missiles; 5 more containers. This is test-size lot.

Saudi Arabia: $85.3 million, 87.85%. 120 AIM-9X Block II AUR missiles; 42 more containers; 33 Block II CATMs. Saudi Arabia’s huge Oct 20/10 DSCA request to upgrade and grow its F-15 Strike Eagle fleet included 300 AIM-9X missiles, 25 CATMs, and 25 NATMs, but did not specify which AIM-9X block. They already field AIM-9X missiles, which could be compatible with the F-15C/D Eagle air superiority fighters, or their multi-role F-15S Strike Eagles.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ. (41.40%); Andover, MA (10.12%); various locations in and outside the continental United States (6.56%); Valencia, CA (5.71%); Midland, Ontario, Canada (5.40%); Rocket Center, WVA (5.24%); Vancouver, WA (5.08%); Goleta, CA (2.99%); El Segundo, CA (2.81%); Cheshire, CT (2.30%); Simsbury, CT (1.60%); Cincinnati, Ohio (1.53%); Heilbronn, Germany (1.52%); El Cajon, CA (1.48%); San Jose, CA (1.45%); Anniston, AL (1.16%); San Diego, CA (0.87%); Chatsworth, CA (0.80%); Newbury Park, CA (0.74%); Orlando, Fla. (0.66%); and Montgomery, AL (0.58%). Work is expected to be completed in August 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD acts as the agent for its Foreign Military Sale clients (N00019-11-C-0001).

Lot 12: Singapore (19) & Saudi Arabia (120)

March 27/12: Exports. US NAVAIR discusses the AIM-9X’s “heightened interest in foreign military sales (FMS),” and what that means for the USA:

“The future is bright for the AIM-9X program as robust international sales lower the procurement costs for all purchasers, including the U.S. government,” said Rick Cooley deputy program manager for international programs for the Navy’s Air-to-Air Missile program office (PMA-259) here. In recent years, international sales for the joint Navy and Air Force AIM-9X Sidewinder program have comprised almost half [emphasis DID’s] of the program’s production. The Sidewinder is the most widely used air-to-air missile currently employed by more than 40 nations throughout the world.

In a surge of FMS agreements in late December 2011, Saudi Arabia and South Korea became the first international purchasers of the latest generation of the Sidewinder family, the infrared-guided AIM-9X-2 (Block II) missile system, for employment on their unique F-15 aircraft. “

Feb 27/12: Kuwait. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Kuwait’s official request to buy up to 80 AIM-9X-2 Sidewinder Block II AUR Missiles, 26 CATM AIM-9X-2s, 2 CATM Block II Missile Guidance Units, 8 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, 2 Dummy Air Training Missiles; plus containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, and US Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $105 million.

The prime contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ, and implementation of this proposed sale will require an undetermined number of US Government or contractor representatives.

Kuwait flies 35 F/A-18C/Ds, and is considering how to replace them. All non-American competitors would be unable to use the AIM-9X without custom integration work.

Kuwait request: 80

Jan 31/12: Lot 12 additional. A $39.6 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract modification to AIM-9X Lot 12 low rate initial production. It adds “special test equipment and various spare components,” plus…

USAF ($35.5 million, 89.57%)

  • 42 AIM-9X Block II all up round missiles (now 108)
  • 42 Block II active optical target detectors (now 108)
  • 51 CATM-9X Block II, with no motor or warhead (now 51)
  • 27 containers (now 45)

US Navy ($4.1 million, 10.43%)

  • 5 AIM-9X Block II all up round missiles (now 54)
  • 5 Block II active optical target detectors (now 54)
  • 2 containers (now 26)

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (41.42%); Andover, MA (10.12%); various locations in the continental United States (6.31%); Valencia, CA (5.71%); Ontario, Canada (5.40%); Rocket Center, WVA (5.24%); Vancouver, WA (5.08%); Goleta, CA (2.99%); El Segundo, CA (2.81%); Cheshire, CT (2.30%); Simsbury, CT (1.60%); Cincinnati, OH (1.53%); Heilbronn, Germany (1.52%); El Cajon, CA (1.48%); San Jose, CA (1.45%); Anniston, AL (1.16%); San Diego, CA (0.87%); Chatsworth, CA (0.80%); Newbury Park, CA (0.74%); Orlando, FL (0.66%); Montgomery, AL (0.58%); and various location outside the continental United States (0.23%), and is expected to be complete in January 2014 (N00019-11-C-0001).

Lot 12 order

Jan 17/12: DOT&E testing report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The AIM-9X is included, and the report reveals that the Navy has asked to re-baseline the AIM-9X Block II as a new program entering a pre-Milestone C decision. When it does pass Milestone C, production of the Block I missile will end.

“This decision was primarily driven by a cost per unit increase due to the new DSU-41/B AOTD fuze/datalink assembly, reductions in Service funding, software costs, and schedule delays.”

DOT&E’s one serious concern:

“Recent captive-carry testing has revealed declining missile reliability due to communication problems in 9.303 software and host aircraft compatibility deficiencies. The program office plans to fix these deficiencies, along with software changes in OFS 9.308. Raytheon plans another software build prior to the [Operational Test Readiness Review]… in April 2012. The schedule of live fire events required before the OTRR is aggressive; the Navy and Air Force must execute five more live flight tests prior to the OTRR. Testing delays could result in a delayed OTRR.”

Dec 29/11: Lot 12 Main. A $68.9 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract modification, for Lot 12 low rate initial production of AIM-9X Sidewinder short range missiles. Customers and ordered items include…

USAF ($36 million, 52.3%)

  • 66 AIM-9X Block II AUR missiles
  • 66 Block II active optical target detectors
  • 18 containers

US Navy ($32.8 million, 47.7%)

  • 49 AIM-9X Block II AUR missiles
  • 49 Block II active optical target detectors
  • 29 CATM AIM-9X Block II, with no motor or warhead
  • 24 containers

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (41.42%); Andover, MA (10.12%); various locations in the continental United States (6.31%); Valencia, CA (5.71%); Ontario, Canada (5.40%); Rocket Center, WVA (5.24%); Vancouver, WA (5.08%); Goleta, CA (2.99%); El Segundo, CA (2.81%); Cheshire, CT (2.30%); Simsbury, CT (1.60%); Cincinnati, OH (1.53%); Heilbronn, Germany (1.52%); El Cajon, CA (1.48%); San Jose, CA (1.45%); Anniston, AL (1.16%); San Diego, CA (0.87%); Chatsworth, CA (0.80%); Newbury Park, CA (0.74%); Orlando, FL (0.66%); Montgomery, AL (0.58%); and various location outside the continental United States (0.23%), and is expected to be complete in January 2014 (N00019-11-C-0001).

Lot 12 order

Nov 8/11: Malaysia. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Malaysia’s official request for 20 AIM-9X-2 All-Up-Round Missiles, 8 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles with no rocket motor or warhead, 4 CATM-9X-2 Block II Missile Guidance Units, 2 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, 2 Dummy Air Training Missiles, containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and other U.S. Government and contractor support.

If the sale is not blocked by Congress, and a contract is signed, the prime contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ. Implementation of this proposed sale will require travel of U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Malaysia on a temporary basis for program technical support and management oversight.

Malaysia request: 20

FY 2011 and Earlier

From program start to Milestone C; Initial US orders in Lot 10 & 11; Export requests from Morocco & UAE.

Sept 29/11: Lot 11. The $61.9 million Lot 11 order is placed. It includes:

USAF ($34.5 million, 55.83% of the order)

  • 30 AIM-9X Block II AUR missiles
  • 40 CATM AIM-9X Block IIs
  • 30 active optical target detectors
  • 20 additional containers for the missiles
  • Associated tooling

US Navy ($27.3 million, 44.17% of the order)

  • 30 AIM-9X Block II AUR missiles
  • 20 CATM AIM-9X Block IIs
  • 30 active optical target detectors
  • 14 additional containers for the missiles
  • Associated tooling

Work will be performed at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ (39.85%); Andover, MA (14.36%); Midland, Ontario, Canada (6.60%); Vancouver, WA (6.21%); various locations inside the continental United States (5.89%); Goleta, CA (4.04%); Rocket Center, WVA (2.95%); Valencia, CA (2.81%); Heilbronn, Germany (2.20%); El Cajon, CA (2.13%); Cheshire, CT (2.03%); Chatsworth, CA (1.89%); Cincinnati, Ohio (1.80%); San Jose, CA (1.60%); Montgomery, Ala (1.40%); Anniston, AL (1.18%); Newbury Park, CA (1.08%); San Diego, CA (0.94%); Orlando, FL (0.77%); and various locations outside the continental United States (0.27%). Work is expected to be complete in April 2013. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302.1, as Raytheon is the only source (N00019-11-C-0001).

Lot 11 order

Sept 1/11: Testing. US NAVAIR finishes a pair of successful live fire AIM-9X Block II test missions by VX-31 Squadron at Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA. Both missions achieve their objectives, which makes the new missile 9/9 in tests so far.

Both F/A-18 test missions involve a jet-powered BQM-74 target drone. The 1st kill involved the drone flying at low altitudes over the desert, approaching “at an extended beyond visual range.” The second kill had the test pilot flying at 1,000 feet below clouds, with the target above the clouds. NAVAIR was equally pleased by the new GPS-enabled AN/DKT-89-3 Airborne Telemetry Equipment inside, which was designed and built by the government team in China Lake. Instead of having to estimate how close the missile came to the target, they now know.

The AIM-9X Block II was approved for Milestone C / low rate initial production in June 2011, and is scheduled to enter operational test in spring 2012. US NAVAIR.

June 2011: Milestone C. AIM-9X Block II is approved for low-rate initial production. Source: GAO.

Milestone C/ LRIP

May 19/11: AIM-9X missile request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Morocco’s official request to buy 20 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder short range air-to-air missiles, plus 10 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missile All-Up-Rounds (missiles with seekers and wiring, but no motor, in their case), 8 CATM-9X-2 Missile Guidance Units, 8 AIM-9X-2 Block II Tactical Guidance Units, 2 Dummy Air Training Missiles, plus containers, missile support and test equipment, provisioning, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.

Morocco’s July 9/08 DSCA request for F-16s involved AIM-9Ms, which still equip many American aircraft and are inferior to the Vympel R-73/AA-11 Archer missiles flown on Algerian fighters. This initial number of AIM-9X missiles would give the RMAF’s new F-16s enough missiles to train with, and field a very preliminary operational capability to match their neighbor’s.

The estimated cost is up to $50 million, with exact totals to be negotiated if a contract is signed with prime contractor Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ. Implementation of this proposed sale will require travel of U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Morocco on a temporary basis for program technical support and management oversight, but the DSCA has no estimate of how many yet.

Morocco request: 20

April 19/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] the United Arab Emirates’ formal request to buy 218 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles, another 18 AIM-9X-2 WGU-51/B Tactical Guidance Units, 40 CATM-9X-2 Captive Air Training Missiles (CATMs) without rocket motors, another 8 CATM-9X-2 WGU-51/B Guidance Units, 8 Dummy Air Training Missiles for loading practice and such, plus containers, support and test equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support.

The AIM-9X isn’t a fit for their Hawks or Mirage 2000s, so the UAE’s F-16E/F Desert Falcon fleet is their sole realistic deployment option. The UAE already fits earlier-model Sidewinders to its F-16 fleet, and the DSCA doesn’t believe that they’ll have any difficulty absorbing these newer-model missiles. The estimated cost is up to $251 million, but exact amounts must wait until/if a contract is negotiated with Raytheon Missiles Systems in Tucson, AZ.

UAE request: 218

June 28/10: Lot 10. $128.6 million in contracts for Lot 10 production. The contracts were announces as 2 separate orders, even though they took place under the same contract number (N00019-09-C-0061), and were both managed by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD. The first order was for the USAF and ROKAF. The second order covered the US Navy, RAAF, ROKAF and RSAF. Totals and percentages below are amalgamated.

For the USAF ($60.2 million, 46.82%):

  • 65 Block I all-up-round tactical missiles
  • 15 Block I NATM special air training missiles
  • 21 Block II NATM special air training missiles
  • 7 Block II CATM training missiles
  • 5 Block I guidance units
  • 15 Block II guidance units
  • 7 Block II Active Optical Target Detectors
  • 6 Block I propulsion steering sections
  • 30 missile containers
  • Associated tooling and test equipment

For the US Navy ($35.7 million, 27.82%):

  • 54 Block I all-up-round tactical missiles
  • 4 Block I propulsion steering sections
  • 15 Block II NATM special air training missiles
  • 4 Block II CATM training missiles
  • 7 Block II guidance units
  • 3 Block II Active Optical Target Detectors
  • Associated tooling and test equipment

Australia and Singapore also have pieces of this contract, but they’re for Block I equipment.

Lot 10 order: USA, Australia, Singapore.

Sept. 2007: CDR. Critical Design Review held and passed. Source: GAO.

March 2007: PDR. Preliminary Design Review held and passed. Source: GAO.

2004: Program start. Source: GAO.

Additional Readings

Background: AIM-9 Sidewinder

Background: Competitors

  • MBDA – ASRAAM. The USA’s pullout led to development of AIM-9X, and Germany’s led to the IRIS-T. Integrated with Eurofighter Typhoon, F/A-18 Hornet, Tornado, and Jaguar DARIN-III fighters.

  • Air Power Australia (1998) – Matra-BAe AIM-132 ASRAAM – The RAAF’s New WVR AAM. The capabilities described are no longer unique to the ASRAAM.

  • Diehl Defence – IRIS-T. Integrated with Eurofighter Typhoon, F-16, JAS-39 Gripen, and Tornado.

  • RAFAEL – Python-5. Python-4/-5 missiles serve on F-5, F-15, and F-16 aircraft. There are rumors that it has also been integrated on India’s Mirage 2000s and some Jaguar varieties.

  • Tactical Missiles Corporation JSC – R-73E/R-73EL Air-to-Air Guided Missiles. Kicked off the entire wave of advanced SRAAM development after its introduction in 1982. The R-73M/ RVV-MD is the current export variant. Serves on many Russian aircraft: upgraded MiG-21s, MiG-23s, Su-24 and Su-25 planes; plus MiG-29, MiG-31, MiG-35, and the entire “Flanker family” of Su-27 to Su-35 fighters.

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

MH-60R/S: The USA’s New Naval Workhorse Helicopters

Wed, 09/12/2015 - 01:19
USN Heli Plan
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The US Army’s UH-60 Black Hawks have always had a naval counterpart. SH-60B/F Seahawk/ LAMPS helicopters were outfitted with maritime radar, sonobuoys, and other specialized equipment that let them perform a wide variety of roles, from supply and transport, to anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, medical evacuation, and even surface attack with torpedoes or Kongsberg’s AGM-119 Penguin missiles. Like their land-based counterparts, however, the Seahawks are getting older. The Reagan defense build-up is receding into history, and its products are wearing out.

European countries chose to build new designs like the medium-heavy EH101 and the NH90 medium helicopter. They’re larger than the H-60s, make heavy use of corrosion-proof composites, and add new features like rear ramps. The USA, in contrast, decided to upgrade existing H-60 designs for the Army and Navy. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”) Seahawks. MH-60Rs and MH-60Ss will eventually replace all SH-60B/F & HH-60H Seahawks, HH-1N Hueys, UH-3H Sea Kings, and CH-46D Sea Knight helicopters currently in the US Navy’s inventory. Both programs are underway, and will be covered in this DID FOCUS Article.

The New Sikorsky Seahawks Romeo, Armed: The MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter MH-60R

Before this program began, MH- was the traditional designation for special forces aircraft, but the Navy has now adopted it to stand for “multi-mission.” Confusing nomenclature aside, the new MH-60R/S helicopters will be the backbone of the US Navy’s future helicopter force.

The ‘Romeo’ multi-mission Seahawks will erase a previous division of labor. The previous SH-60F traditionally handled the advanced dipping sonar, and performed utility and rescue tasks, while the SH-60B used its radar for wider anti-submarine sweeps, and was armed with a wider array of weapons beyond torpedoes and door guns. That division of labor is being erased by the MH-60R, which can handle all surface attack and anti-submarine roles by itself. Secondary missions that include directing naval surface fire support, search and rescue, vertical replenishment, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation and communications and data relay. At one time, it was informally known as the “Strikehawk.” The MH-60R will replace the faster and longer-range S-3 Viking sea control jet, as well as existing Seahawks.

The U.S. Navy had planned to convert all of its SH-60B/Fs to multi-mission H-60Rs (“R” for “remanufactured”). The new version would feature a multi-mode, long-range search radar that can automatically detect and track an increased number of surface vessels, low frequency dipping sonar that provides significantly increased range for detecting submarines, an advanced electro-optical surveillance and target designation turret, the addition of Hellfire anti-armor missile capabilities, an integrated self-defense suite, and a host of other improvements that include a new cabin, a service life extension for the tail, and new avionics including Link 16 datalink connectivity.

SH-60F over CG 55
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In 2001, the US Navy restructured the SH-60R program from a remanufacture of the existing U. S. Navy SH-60 fleet to a new procurement program that would remanufacture only 7 helicopters, and build the rest new. This would keep existing SH-60s available for duty, while supplying new-generation helicopters with longer wear lifespans.

Initial production MH-60Rs were delivered to U.S. Navy training squadron HSM-41, at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, CA. The first MH-60R operational squadron was the HSM-71 “Raptors,” also based at NAS North Island in San Diego, CA. The squadron stood up in October 2007, and made their first deployment in April 2009 as part of the USS John C. Stennis [CVN 74] aircraft carrier strike group.

Australia became the MH-60R’s 1st export customer in 2011, with an order for 24, but the RAN doesn’t have any serving helicopters yet. Formal requests have also been placed by Denmark (2010, for 10), Qatar (2012, for 10), and South Korea (2011, for 8). India and Saudi Arabia are other countries that have reportedly evaluated the MH-60R, but haven’t placed a formal export request.

Avionics & Sensors Common cockpit
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Mission systems and integration are bought as a separate item, through a multi-year contract with Lockheed Martin Systems Integration of Owego, NY (see Aug 15/07 entry). They include:

Common cockpit: The new MH-60R common “glass” cockpit is based on display screens rather than dials, and will be shared with the MH-60S. This will allow pilots to switch from one aircraft type to another with greater ease and will reduce the logistic support infrastructure, resulting in lower cost of ownership. It integrates 4 Night Vision Device compatible 8×10 inch color active matrix liquid crystal displays, and provides the operators with: Dual integrated programmable keysets for data entry and mission management; Dual prime/backup flight management computers allowing redundancy for all flight critical operations; Audio management computer providing digital audio for flight communications and sensors; Dual embedded global positioning inertial navigation (EGI) system that includes all weather coupled hover operations.

In the MH-60R models and MH-60S Block 2A+ configurations, one of the flight management computers is replaced with a mission computer providing all flight related capabilities plus multiple sensor/weapon data fusion. The cockpit as a whole received Instrument Flight Conditions certification in September 2001, the first NAVAIR IMC certification issued to a glass cockpit.

MTS EO: Like the MH-60S, the “Romeos” feature an advanced multi-spectral electro-optical turret, but they use the more advanced Raytheon AN/AAS-52 MTS (Multi-spectral Targeting System) with a wider field of view.

Radar: Unlike their MH-60S counterparts, however, the MH-60Rs can be distinguished by the cylindrical naval radar profile on their undersides, characteristic of anti-submarine helicopters around the world. Telephonics’ AN/APS-147 (now APS-153) radar was designed to meet both blue water and shallow/coastal littoral performance requirements in all weather conditions. Its day and night maritime domain surveillance that includes small target detection even amidst wave clutter, thanks to Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR) imaging that uses the motion of the contact to create a picture of the contact. The radar also includes an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) interrogator, which is readily upgradeable and fully integrated with the helicopter’s combat systems. The AN/APS-153 upgrade adds hardware and software to create an Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination System (APRDDS), which automatically discriminates between periscopes and other small surface objects.

Sonar: The MH-60Rs will also have full sonar capabilities via their Raytheon/Thales AN/AQS-22 Airborne Low-Frequency Sonar (ALFS) and on-board sonobuoys, a big change from the past when bulky electronics forced Sikorsky to split the radar and sonar roles between the SH-60B (radar) and SH-60F (sonar). HSM-71’s Cmdr. Michael K. Nortier has said that this fusion, plus other advances, enables his MH-60R squadron to provide 5x-10x better coverage of the strike group than previous helicopters, and ALFS itself is proving to be much more sensitive than previous systems.

Weapons & Upgrades MH-60Rs fire Hellfire
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Weapons: Current MH-60R armament includes Mk.46 or Mk.54 lightweight torpedoes, AGM-114 Hellfire light strike missiles, DAGR or APKWS laser-guided 70mm rockets (in progress), and machine guns. The MH-60R cannot use the AGM-119 Penguin short-range anti-ship missiles that equipped earlier SH-60F/ S-70 machines.

Upgrades: Lot I-II production MH-60R helicopters were equipped with SysConfig 19.9 software, as well as all of the advanced equipment originally planned for the type. Part-way through Lot III (6 helicopters), after around 10 production helicopters, the software leaped ahead to SysConfig 46. Those helicopters added IMDS prognostics in key mechanical areas, along with updates to the ALE-47 countermeasures. These are MH-60R Block 1.

MH-60Rs were later built or upgraded to next-generation SysConfig 58 software, and add an array of new equipment. These “Block 2” [DID reference] helicopters will add the DoD-wide Joint Mission Planning System, improved internal wireless, satellite, and radio communications, and:

  • A Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) with audible alerts like “roll left,” “pull up!” etc.

  • Link-16, for a common tactical picture shared with other ships and aircraft;

  • A “SAASM EGI” Embedded GPS Inertial Navigation System with better resistance to countermeasures;

  • Upgrades to the Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) system via Mode 5 IFF’s much improved algorithm, encryption, range, and civil compatibility. It also adds “lethal interrogation” as a must-respond last chance, and the ability to see individual aircraft even when they’re close together. The further addition of Mode S assigns a discrete ‘squawk’ which is unique to that aircraft. Together, they improve combat identification and enable unrestricted flight in civilian airspace.

Upgrades planned after 2010 include electronic surveillance capabilities (Copperfield 2 ELINT and Dragonfly COMINT), the AN/APS-153 maritime radar with a periscope detection mode, integration of conventional 70mm and APKWS-II laser-guided rockets into MH-60R and MH-60S Block 3s, and ongoing reliability improvements to the ALFS dipping sonar. Several of these are in progress.

Hawklink: The other component of note is a project called “Hawklink,” which aims to improve the helicopters’ Common Data Link. Why does Hawklink matter? In a word, bandwidth. MH-60R and SH-60B Seahawks currently send data across the C-band microwave frequency range. Using the Ku band and the high definition SAU 07000 Ship Air Upgrade interface will create point-to-point Internet-equivalent connectivity between the MH-60R and ships up to 100 nmi away, enabling both to publish and subscribe for information. That would allow a ship or strike group to request data from the helicopter’s sensors, including sonobuoy data or real-time video, while sending other messages and data to the helicopter.

The AN/ARQ-59 system is mounted on the helicopter. The AN/SRQ-4 is its shipboard counterpart, mounted on American cruisers, destroyers, frigates/ LCS, and carriers. Terminals can also be configured for interoperability with several generations of CDL surface terminals deployed by the US Army, US Air Force, and American allies.

MH-60R Lite. While the USA is looking for ongoing upgrades, some countries are more interested in downgrades. In 2011, reports surfaced of a planned “MH-60R Lite” variant, which would make the ALFS dipping sonar a removable option. That would improve its range, and increase cabin space from 3 people to 8, at the expense of limiting its anti-submarine capability without ALFS. Lockheed Martin was even contemplating a version that also removes the sonobuoy launcher and acoustic processors, leaving a helicopter with just surface attack, search and rescue, and utility helicopter capabilities. It would really be more of an MH-60S+, with an advanced maritime radar and other electronics improvements.

Denmark ended up buying that full downgrade in 2012. Their helicopters will be missing both ALFS and sonobuoys.

Blue Collar Sierra: The MH-60S MH60S & CH-46E
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The MH-60S entered service in 2002 as a replacement for the US Navy’s Boeing CH-46D Sea Knight, flown mostly in utility roles that involve moving cargo between ships. There was a fair bit of discussion about renaming it the “MH-60S Knighthawk” in honor of its predecessor, a move that would also have distinguished it from the MH-60R Seahawk; indeed, several official Navy releases featured this nomenclature. Unfortunately, the Navy decided to add type confusion to the special forces nomenclature confusion by referring to both MH-60 helicopters as “Seahawks.”

With the addition of the MH-60S program, the U.S. Navy will become an all H-60 helicopter fleet. Its roles will encompass troop transport, search and rescue, and other standard roles. The ‘Sierras’ will also become the Navy’s primary mine countermeasures platform. The US Marines, in contrast, are scheduled to replace their CH-46Es with MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors. If the Navy continues to decline investment in 48 HV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft of its own for combat search and rescue, special warfare, and fleet logistics support duties, the MH-60S will formally add its already-emerging assignment as the primary naval helicopter for those roles.

The US Navy expects to buy 275 MH-60S helicopters:

  • 50 Block 1
  • 225 Block 3, with all Block 2s scheduled for retrofit

MH-60S: Block 1 to Block 3 AMCM Components
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Block 1. Initial MH-60S deliveries, with glass cockpits and data buses, but little specialized mission equipment. They appear to be destined for supply, utility, and training roles only, as they will be the only helicopters without Link 16’s common tactical picture capability at the program’s end.

Block 2. Structurally strengthened Block 2A and 2B helicopters added the “common console,” an auxiliary fuel tank, and the ability to carry the Airborne Mine Counter-Measures (AMCM) kit. Link 16 will be backfit into existing Block 2 aircraft after its introduction in Block 3B, allowing the automated transmission of a common tactical picture shared with other ships and aircraft. This will convert MH-60S Block 2As into Block 2Bs.

The US Navy plans to buy a total of 66 AMCM ancillary kits. These new MH-60S AMCM helicopters were supposed to have 5 mine-hunting systems available to them, but a combination of technical failures and MH-60S’ size/power limitations cut that to just 2: AMNS remotely piloted anti-mine torpedo delivery, and the ALMDS mine-detecting laser. This will give the MH-60S a limited ability to sweep for mines from any ship, and will end up being a step back from the much larger MH-53E Sea Dragon dedicated mine sweeping helicopters.

MH-60S Hellfire test
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Block 3A. These MH-60S add armament kits, including an AN/AAS-44C electro-optical turrets similar to those mounted on existing SH-60 and HH-60 Seahawks; integration for Hellfire anti-armor missiles (8) or DAGR laser-guided rockets (32); and .50 caliber (GAU-21/M3M) and 7.62 mm (M240B) machine guns. Other changes include IMDS(Integrated Mechanical Diagnostic System) prognostics for key mechanical areas, a Digital Map System, and kneeboard and floor armor. These helicopters will receive Link 16 backfit upgrades as well, after this capability is introduced in Block 3B.

Block 3B. The “final” MH-60S version, which will make up the vast majority of the fleet after all retrofits are done. These helicopters began production using SysConfig 58 core software and the upgrades described above for the MH-60R “Block 2”, plus the DALS Downed Aircrew Locator System. It receives signals from survival radios and can GPS-locate them, then send voice communications, or use quieter text messages.

The MH-60S continues to evolve. Some sub-systems like AMCM are evolving in parallel, and weapons capability continues to increase. The MH-60S will have the option of carrying 70mm laser-guided rockets after March 2014, and items like 20mm cannon are being trialed. Both changes are being driven by greater attention to the threat from small boats.

The MH-60R/S Program MH-60R: ALFS & Hellfires
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With the Reagan defense build-up receding into history, the US Navy believed that technology advances offered the prospect of integrating greater capabilities into each machine, without having to spend much on R&D. Unlike new-design, new-materials projects like the EH101 and NH90 in Europe, or Sikorsky’s H-92 Superhawk (CH-148 Cyclone maritime helicopter) on order for Canada, the US Navy decided that enhancing the proven H-60 Seahawk design would be the most cost-effective recapitalization option. Hence the MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter (aka. “Romeo”) and MH-60S (aka. “Sierra”).

Each program is currently set within the 5-year MYP-8 multi-year procurement deal that runs from FY 2013-2017, and also includes US Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and foreign military sales.

Total MH-60R procurement costs are expected to be approximately $10.5 – 11.5 billion over the life of the program. The US Navy originally planned to field 254 MH-60R “Romeo” helicopters, but the final number will be somewhere between 249 – 278, with American production now set to end in mid-2016. After that, the MH-60R production line will depend on foreign orders, though the related H-60M Black Hawk production line will remain active for some time. The current end of production date is 2018.

Foreign orders to date include Australia (24) and Denmark (9 “MH-60R Lite”). Active formal requests have been submitted by Qatar (lost to NH90) and South Korea (lost to AW159).

Total MH-60S procurement costs will be approximately $6.8 billion over the life of the program. When fully deployed, the Navy will field 275 MH-60S “Sierra” helicopters in 23 squadrons – 16 Active, 3 test, 2 Reserve and 2 Training squadrons, with 40 aircraft in the training squadrons. There will also be MH-60S helicopters in each of 5 Search And Rescue stations around the USA.

MH-60S production is slated to end in 2015. Having said that, the MH-60S is even closer to the H-60M model, so its sister-line’s expected continuation past 2020 is likely to expand its sales window. Foreign orders to date include only Thailand (2 of 6 approved). Active formal requests have been submitted by Qatar (lost to NH90) and South Korea (2009: 8 MH-60S AMCM).

MH-60R/S Budgets

Budgeted program amounts for each helicopter type break down as follow. RDT&E stands for “Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation,” and “procurement” also includes long-lead time materials for subsequent years’ production:

MH-60R/S Contracts and Key Events MH-60S w. AQS-20
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Editorial note: the MH-60 helicopters have a wide variety of ancillary equipment. The rule we use here at DID is that if it’s not an integral part of operating the helicopter, we cover it separately. Flight trainers and maintenance are an integral part of operating the helicopter, so they’re covered. A weapon or other switch-in item is not integral. The MH-60S’ AMCM mine countermeasures set is an example of switch-in optional gear – though modifying the helicopters to be able to accept the AMCM components is covered, because that aspect is integral. Likewise, the MH-60R has been sold without its ALFS dipping sonar. Note that for some integral items, like the MTS surveillance and targeting turrets, it isn’t always possible to connect every order with the MH-60.

Unless otherwise specified, all contracts are managed by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD. The exception is new helicopters, which are now being bought under a multi-year joint contract managed by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) at Redstone Arsenal, AL.

MH-60S helicopters receive engines from GE and a common cockpit from Lockheed Martin, which are installed by Sikorsky. When an MH-60S leaves Sikorsky, it’s done. If the Navy wants to add modifications like AMCM gear later, that’s their business. For MH-60Rs, on the other hand, they leave Sikorsky without their common cockpit or any mission equipment. The US Navy flies them to Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY for full outfitting with their maritime radar, dipping sonar, sonobuoy launcher, cockpit, etc.

FY 2015 – 2016

FY 2015 buy. MH-60S VERTREP
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December 9/15: The Pentagon has ordered 29 more MH-60R Seahawk helicopters in a deal worth $354 million. The contract was awarded to Lockheed subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft Corp on Monday. Work is to be completed by the end of 2017 and is “for funding for the Navy’s fifth program year” for the helicopters and to “fund associated program and logistics support”. Seahawks are expected to remain in Navy service until the 2030s. As of late, the US Navy has been discussing the future of Naval strategy and plans to increase its fleet size by 20% over the next five years.

July 27/15: Taiwan is expected to soon place an order for eight to ten Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, according to reports this weekend. The helicopters are thought to be destined for the country’s Navy, with a contract announcement expected later this year. The Taiwanese Navy currently operates the Sikorsky S-70C helicopter, with the new helicopters set to bolster the force’s anti-submarine warfare capability.

Nov 17/14: FY 2015 USA. The US military buys 102 helicopters for the Army and Navy for $1.302 billion, as its FY 2015 purchases.

Part of it is a $535.3 million order under the MYP-8 multi-year program for 29 MH-60R and 8 MH-60S helicopters, plus associated sustaining engineering, program management, systems engineering, provisioning, technical publications, other integrated logistics support. There’s also advance procurement funding for program years 4 and 5. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2015 Navy aircraft budgets. Work will be performed at Stratford, CT (W58RGZ-12-C-0008, PO 0202).

FY 2015: 29 MH-60R, 8 MH-60S

Nov 13/14: MH-60R #200. Lockheed Martin delivers the 200th fully-equipped MH-60R “Romeo” helicopter to the US Navy, which includes a patch signing with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Seven-Two (HSM-72). Sikorsky makes the base helicopter, but Lockheed MArtin outfits them and delivers them. The firm adds:

“The cornerstone of the U.S. Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, MH-60R helicopters have flown more than 250,000 hours in operation with the Fleet, providing increased surveillance and situational awareness.”

Sources: Lockheed Martin, “Lockheed Martin Delivers The 200th Romeo Helicopter To The U.S. Navy”.

200th MH-60R

FY 2014

FY 2014 buy; APKWS rocket integration; MH-60R to end USN production a year early? MH-60R w. ALFS
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Sept 30/14: Weapons. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego, NY receives $6.9 million for integration of APKWS Digital Rocket Launcher capabilities into MH-60R and MH-60S avionics software. $2.6 million in FY 2014 Navy RDT&E budgets is committed immediately.

APKWS is a semi-active laser-guided 70mm rocket that’s being integrated into the US Navy; it will give equipped MH-60S and MH-60R helicopters 7 guided weapons per hardpoint, instead of 4 Hellfires. The rockets don’t pack the same punch as a Hellfire against larger naval targets or main battle tanks, but against small boat swarms and most targets ashore, there are no degrees of dead.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (95%), and Patuxent River, MD (5%), and is expected to be complete in July 2016. Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-14-G-0019, DO 4007).

Sept 2/14: Upgrades. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Training, Owego, NY, received $8.9 million for MH-60 Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS II) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast enhancements, including integration of the TAWS II software into the 2018 product line. These services are in support of the US Navy ($8.4 million / 95%) and the governments of Australia ($90,645 / 1%) and Denmark ($392,585 / 4%). $8.4 million is committed immediately,

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in October 2017. Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-14-G-0019, DO 4001).

June 20/14: Denmark. A $115.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order to support the production and delivery of 9 Danish MH-60Rs. When previous announced contracts (q.v. June 26/13, Sept 23/13, Jan 6/14) are included, the total is now $223.8 million, out of a declared budget of $686 million (q.v. Nov 19/12).

All funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (52%); West Palm Beach, FL (22%) and various locations outside (17%), and within (9%) the continental United States (9%). Work is expected to be complete in July 2018 (N00019-14-G-0004, DO 4019).

May 8/14: MH-60S AMCM. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT, receives a $7.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for MH-60S Aircraft Mine Counter Measure Removable Mission Equipment B Kits. AMCM kits convert the helicopters into mine-countermeasures specialists that can accept specialized equipment.

All funds are committed, using US Navy FY 2012 & 2013 aircraft budgets; $4.3 million will expire on Sept 30/14. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, and is expected to be complete in April 2016. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD, manages the contract (N00019-14-G-0004, DO 4007).

May 6/14: Support. Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY receives a $6.8 million firm-fixed-priced delivery order, for repairs to 11 MH-60R/S common cockpit items.

All funds are committed using US Navy FY 2014 working capital budgets. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (73%); Farmingdale, NY (21.25%); Middletown, CT (2.5%); and Grand Rapids, MI (3.25%); and is expected to be complete by Jan 30/16. This requirement was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 USC. 2304(c)(1) by US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-12-G-010F, DO 7027).

April 22/14: MYP-8. Lockheed Martin ups the pressure on the US Navy, by reminding everyone that they have a multi-year contract with termination fees. CFO Bruce Tanner says that work had already begun on cockpits, radars, and other equipment for the MH-60Rs. He recommends buying them and selling them to allies:

“That would probably be a better deal for the taxpayer than paying close to 100 percent and not getting anything for it…. The cost to terminate partially built helicopters is pretty significant relative to the cost to actually finish those helicopters.”

Sources: Reuters, “Lockheed says costly for Pentagon if it cancels MH-60 helicopters”.

April 17/12: Support. Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY receives a $7.3 million firm-fixed-priced delivery order for repairs to 12 items in the H-60R/S common cockpits.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy budgets. Work will be performed at Owego, NY (77%); Farmingdale, NY (9%); Phoenix, AZ (6%); Salt Lake City, UT (6%); Hershey, PA (2%), and is expected to be complete by Jan 12/16. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S.C 2304(c)(1), by the US Naval Supply Systems Command, Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-12-G-010F, #7026).

April 15/14: MYP-8. The Pentagon is trying to find ways not to break their MYP-8 multi-year contract with Sikorsky, given the likely effects on the Army’s Black Hawk fleet. Defense News goes a step further, and reports that Sikorsky officials are saying that any cancelation of the Navy buy would cancel the entire contract, destroying multi-year procurement for the US Army. Sources: Defense News, “DoD Looking for Ways Not To Break MH-60R Helicopter Deal”.

April 9/14: Politics. Sikorsky director of maritime programs Tim Healy points out that the US Navy’s proposed cancellation of 29 helicopters within the current multi-year deal has consequences. One involves the likelihood of higher prices for US Army Blackhawks, which are still being purchased. The other is more basic:

“This is not a legal issue. This is a confidence issue…. If multiyear contracts are negotiated and then not followed through … industry is back to making year-to-year calculations and investments because you never know when the next year’s contract is going to be canceled.”

That would be the rational approach, but industry enters into these contracts in order to reduce the odds of program cutbacks and cancellation in an irrational political environment. In other words, the contracts are primarily political acts. Our take: cancellation will dent industry’s credence in these contracts, but won’t make much difference. Companies will still rush to sign them, until and unless they see a behavior pattern that destroys their belief in this strategy. Sources: Reuters, “U.S. Navy move to ‘break’ multiyear deal worries industry-Sikorsky”.

March 28/14: Weapons. US Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division has been working on a project to modify 19-tube rocket launchers for NAVAIR’s Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Weapons (PMA 242) program office. The new LAU-61G/A Digital configuration adds a launcher electronic assembly that will allow a mix of guided and unguided rockets, mixed rocket load-outs, on-command inventory, tube-usage count, and built-in system check testing. In other words, it starts to look like the missile launcher it’s becoming, instead of just an unguided rocket launcher.

The CNO Rapid Deployment Capability project is aimed at the MH-60S fleet, to help them defend carrier strike groups against fast-attack craft. The 16 Early Operational Capability versions that NSWC IHEODTD just delivered can only use APKWS laser-guided rockets (q.v. Dec 18/13), which will be used in a coming deployment with USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70] strike group. Sources: US Navy, “NSWC IHEODTD Supports Digital Rocket Launcher Early Operational Capability”.

March 27/14: Qatar. The Gulf Emirate orders 22 NH90s, at a reported purchase price of around QAR 8.9 billion (about $2.446 billion). The order covers 12 NH90-TTH utility helicopters, and 10 NH90-NFH naval helicopters, whose functions roughly correspond to the MH-60S and MH-60R, respectively. A June 28/12 DSCA request involved 10-18 MH-60Rs and 12 MH-60S machines (see also Sept 22/11), but Sikorsky lost the competition.

The helicopters will replace Qatar’s 12-13 old Westland Commando (Sea King) maritime utility and patrol helicopters, and at least some of its Lynx and/or Puma family helicopters. With this buy, Qatar joins their near neighbor Oman as an NH90 customer. No word yet re: their delivery schedule. Other Qatari buys in their $23 billion DIMDEX shopping spree included 24 attack helicopters, air defense and anti-tank missiles, fast attack boats, 2 A330 aerial refueling planes, and 3 E-737 AWACS aircraft. Sources: Al Defaiya, “Qatar Announces Big Defense Deals at DIMDEX 2014” | Arabian Aerospace, “Qatar in $23bn arms order including Apache and NH90 helicopters” | Reuters, “Qatar buys helicopters, missiles in $23 billion arms deals”.

Qatar loss

March 21/14: Raytheon Co. in McKinney, TX receives $17.7 million for modification to previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for 19 MH-60R/S MTS surveillance and targeting turrets.

All funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX, and is expected to be complete by March 2016. US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN manages the contract (N00164-12-G-JQ66, 0044-01).

March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The USAF and USN unveil their preliminary budget request briefings, but it takes another week to release detailed documents. FY 2015 orders are unaffected: 8 MH-60S will end production for the US Navy, and 29 MH-60R helicopters will be bought as planned. On the other hand, the planned FY 2016 close-out order for 29 MH-60R helicopters is gone.

The cut is linked to the planned removal of 1 carrier air wing (to 10) and cap in the number of LCS ships at 32. The problem is twofold. One, the air wing would have to be put back if the Navy does decide to fund USS George Washington’s mid-life RCOH in FY16. Two, the 20 subsequent LCS buys are supposed to be replaced by ships with frigate-like capabilities, and those ships will need ASW helicopters. Navy officials said that advance procurement funds for FY 2016 were still present in the FY 2015 budget, and the Navy could reverse course. They’re under a multi-year procurement deal, so unless there’s a resale of some kind that’s allowed within the terms, you’d have to think that the penalty fees for cancellations would be high. Sources: USN, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF] | Defense News, “US Navy Budget Plan: Major Questions Abound”.

March 4/14: Support. Lockheed Martin Corp. Owego, NY receives $10.6 million for a firm-fixed-price delivery order, covering the repair of 13 items in support of the MH-60R’s radar and “Electronic Measurement System”.

All funds are committed immediately, using USN FY14 budgets. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete by March 2015. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.SC 2304 (c)(1), by the NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-09-D-021F, #7048).

Jan 9/14: FY 2014. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT receives a $549.9 million contract modification, funding the base airframes and some integration for 18 MH-60S and 19 MH-60R helicopters, plus advance procurement for years 4 & 5 of the multi-year deal; and associated sustaining engineering, program management, systems engineering, and other support.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, and will be complete by Dec 31/15 (W58RGZ-12-C-0008, PO 0126).

FY 2014: 18 MH-60S, 19 MH-60R

Jan 6/14: Denmark. Raytheon Co., McKinney, TX, is being awarded a $10.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for 9 multi-spectral targeting systems for Royal Danish Navy MH-60R helicopters. All funds are committed immediately. When combined with previously announced orders (q.v. June 26/13, Sept 23/13), Denmark’s total now stands at $108.1 million for their 9 MH-60R Lite variants. The overall budget for their Foreign Military Sale case is about $686 million (q.v. Nov 19/12 entry).

Work will be performed in McKinney, TX, and is expected to be complete by December 2015. The MH-60R’s equipment is set, and the Danes didn’t want a change, so this wasn’t an open competition per US FAR 6.302-1. The US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN acts as Denmark’s agent (N00164-12-G-JQ66-0037).

Dec 18/13: Weapons. H-60 Program Manager Capt. James Glass discusses programs to upgrade the fleet with new weapons and systems.

The MH-60S naval utility helicopters are slated to integrate APKWS laser-guided 70mm rockets by March 2014, in an early version of the 19-tube LAU-61G/A digital launcher (q.v. March 28/14). The MH-60S is also about to begin test-firing the same M197 3-barrel 20mm gatling gun used on Cobra attack helicopters. Presumably, that will be a podded version. Laser guidance isn’t ideal against boat swarms, because it requires continuous guidance to each target. A 20mm gun would compensate by allowing a 2nd attack option that can be pursued independently.

The MH-60R’s new AN/APS-153 radar with automatic radar periscope detection and discrimination (ARPDD) will reach the fleet by January 2014. By March 2015, the MH-60Rs will add APKWS. The last set of MH-60R upgrades concern the ALFS dipping sonar, which is being engineered for more reliability. Sources, Military.com, “Navy Arms MH-60S Helicopter with Gatling Gun”.

Dec 12/13: HUMS. Simmonds Precision Products, DBA Goodrich Corp. Sensors and Integrated Systems in Vergennes, VT receives a $7.9 million firm-fixed-price option for 8 MH-60S integrated mechanical diagnostic systems (IMDS) production A1 kits, 27 IMDS integrated vehicle health, management units and data transfer units, 17 MH-60S IMDS retrofit kits, 19 MH-60R IMDS Troy kits, and 19 MH-60R IMDS production A1 kits. All funds are committed immediately from FY 2014 USN aircraft budgets.

Work will be performed in Vergennes, VT, and is expected to be complete in December 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-12-C-2015).

Dec 3/13: Hawklink. L-3 Communications Systems – West in Salt Lake City, UT receives a $22.9 million firm-fixed-price option for 4 AN/SRQ-4 (ship-based) and 31 AN/ARQ-59 (MH-60R) Common Data Link Hawklink radio terminal sets (see “Weapons & Upgrades” section, above). All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 USN budgets.

Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, UT (60%); Atlanta, GA (14%); Mountain View, CA (6%); Exeter, NH (2%); plus 1% each in Phoenix, AZ; El Cajon, CA; Oxnard, CA; Salinas, CA; Sunnyvale, CA; Boise, ID; Derby, KS; Littleton, MA; Stow, MA; Minnetonka, MN; Skokie, IL; Dover, NH; Bohemia, NY; York Haven, PA; Providence, RI; Cedar Park, TX; Fort Worth, TX; and Toronto, Canada. The underlying contract runs until September 2017. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-12-C-2024).

Nov 20/13: Exelis Inc. in Fort Wayne, IN receives a $7 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for up to 62 radar signal simulators. They’ll equip MH-60Rs for the US Navy (33) and Australia (27), and Brazil’s S-70Bs (2).

Work will be performed in Fort Wayne, IN, and the umbrella contract runs until November 2017. This contract was not competitively procured, per FAR 6.302-1. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, NJ manages the contract (N68335-14-D-0005).

Oct 1/13: MH-60S. FBO.gov:

“The Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) DRAFT Request for Proposal (RFP) N00019-13-R-0039 for Crashworthy Troop Seat (CWTS) System for the MH-60S Platform is hereby cancelled, along with the accompanying site visit that was scheduled for the period of 08-11 October 2013.

The DRAFT RFP and site visit cancellations are a result of Navy funding limitations and the program being defunded.”

FY 2013

FY 2013 buy; Danish buy MH-60R Lite. MH-60S: Rescue diver
(click to view full)

Sept 26/13: Support. Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY receives a $7.2 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for the repair of 12 Common Cockpit items for the MH-60 Seahawk family of Helicopters. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (97%) and Farmingdale, NY (3%), and is expected to be complete by April 30/15. The contract was sole-sourced in accordance with 10 U.SC 2304(c)(1), by US NAVSUP Weapons System Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-12-G-010F, 7023).

Sept 26/13: Support. Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY receives a $15 million firm-fixed-price contract delivery order against a previously awarded for the repair of 5 H-60 Seahawk helicopter components. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/14. This contract was sole-sourced in accordance with 10 U.SC 2304(c)(1). The contract was sole-sourced in accordance with 10 U.SC 2304(c)(1), by US NAVSUP Weapons System Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-09-D-021, 7040).

Sept 23/13: Radar. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Training, Owego, NY receives a $98.4 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for up to 50 radar kits, which will upgrade their APS-147 maritime radars into AN/APS-153(V)1s with automatic radar periscope detection and discrimination. $29.8 million in FY 2013 Navy aircraft procurement funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (93%) and Owego, NY (7%), and is expected to be complete in September 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1a2 (N00019-13-D-4000).

Sept 23/13: Denmark. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Training in Owego, NY receives a $67.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for Danish modifications to their 9 MH-60Rs’ mission avionics and common cockpit. Work includes the integration of Danish-specific equipment, plus associated engineering and program support. Denmark is receiving MH-60R helicopters without ALFS dipping sonars or sonobuoys, and needs to use its own communications equipment, etc.

When combined with previous mission system and cockpit orders (q.v. June 26/13), Denmark’s total now stands at $97.6 million for their 9 helicopters. The overall budget for their Foreign Military Sale case is about $686 million (q.v. Nov 19/12 entry).

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (98%), Farmingdale, NY (1%), and various other locations in the United States (1%) and is expected to be completed in June 2018. FMS contract funds in the amount of $67,290,982 will be obligated at the time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-09-G-0005, #4085).

July 31/13: Support. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego, NY receives a $39.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to provide help maintain software related to the MH-60R/S and SH-60B helicopters. They’ll update and maintain operational software, vendor software, maintenance-related software, and laboratory support software in support of flight test, technical and management work, and process support services. Just $814,024 is committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (85%); Patuxent River, MD (12%); Pascagoula, MS (1.5%); and Bath, ME (1.5%), and is expected to be complete in September 2015. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to “one responsible supplier” provisions in 10 USC 2304(c)(1). US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-13-D-0011).

July 12/13: Support. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego, NY receives a $12.9 million delivery order for repair coverage of 25 items in the MH-60R/S common cockpit. $9.7 million is committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (33%); Salt Lake City, UT (46%); Farmingdale, NY (12.5%); Middletown, CT (7.5%); and Phoenix, AZ (1%), and all work will be complete by July 1/15. The contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1) by US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-12-G-010F, DO 7021).

June 26/13: Denmark. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego, NY receives a $30.3 million firm-fixed-price modification under an existing multi-year contract for 9 MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems and Common Cockpits. It’s part of Denmark’s 9-helicopter “MH-60R Lite” Foreign Military Sale (vid. Nov 19/12 entry), and all funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (71%); Farmingdale, NY (10%); Woodland Hills, CA (8%); Cedar Rapids, IA (3%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); Bennington, VT (2%); Lewisville, TX (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (2%), and is expected to be complete in April 2018. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-11-C-0020).

June 25/13: Hawklink. L-3 Communications, Communication Systems–West in Salt Lake City, UT receives a $6.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 5 Common Data Link Hawklink AN/SRQ-4 radio terminal sets, in support of US Navy MH-60R (4) and US Coast Guard (1) helicopters. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 Coast Guard and FY 2013 US Navy funds.

Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, Utah (60%); Atlanta, GA (14%); Mountain View, CA (6%); Exeter, NH (2%); and Phoenix, AZ; El Cajon, CA; Oxnard, CA; Salinas, CA; Sunnyvale, CA; Boise, ID; Derby, KS; Littleton, MA; Stow, MA; Minnetonka, MN; Skokie, IL; Dover, NH; Bohemia, NY; York Haven, PA; Providence, RI; Cedar Park, TX; Ft. Worth, TX; and Toronto, Canada (1% each), and is expected to be complete in May 2015. $1.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-12-C-2024).

Jan 16/13: Korea. The MH-60R loses the MH-X finals to AgustaWestland’s AW159 Wildcat, with AW159 deliveries planned from 2015-2016. South Korea’s DAPA spokesperson Baek Yun-hyung:

“The Wildcat was deemed superior in three of four fields: cost, operational suitability, and contractual arrangements…. The overall consensus is that the Wildcat is the better option…. In joint operations the US model is superior but both models meet our performance requirements.”

South Korea loss

Dec 28/12: Hawklink. L-3 Communications Communication Systems West in Salt Lake City, UT receives a $16.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for Common Data Link Hawklink systems, incl. 31 AN/ARQ-59 radio terminal sets for the MH-60R.

Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, UT (60%); Atlanta, GA (14%); Mountain View, CA(6%); Exeter, NH (2%); and Phoenix, AZ; El Cajon, CA; Oxnard, CA; Salinas, CA; Sunnyvale, CA; Boise, Idaho; Derby, KS; Littleton, MA; Stow, MA; Minnetonka, MN; Skokie, IL; Dover, NH; Bohemia, NY; York Haven, PA; Providence, RI; Cedar Park, TX; Ft. Worth, TX; and Toronto, Canada (1% each), and is expected to be complete in March 2016. All contract funds are committed immediately (N00019-12-C-2024).

Dec 18/12: MTS. Raytheon in McKinney, TX receives an $18.4 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement for 19 multi-spectral targeting systems for the MH-60R/S helicopter.

Work will be performed in McKinney, TX and is expected to be complete by December 2014. This non-commercial contract was procured and solicited on a sole source basis in accordance with the statutory authority of 10 USC 2304c1. The US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN (N00164-12-G-JQ66, 0026).

Dec 11/12: FY 2013. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT receives a $563.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, which funds the Navy’s 2nd Program Year of the MYP-8 multi-year program. Sikorsky tells us that Year 2 buys 18 MH-60S Production Lot 15 helicopters for delivery in 2013-2014, and 19 MH-60R Production Lot 11 Helicopters for delivery in 2014. The contract also covers sustaining engineering, and the usual set of advance materials for the next production lots.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/16. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0008).

FY 2013: 18 MH-60S, 19 MH-60R

Dec 6/12: GPS sonobuoys. US FBO.gov:

“The Naval Air Systems Command intends to negotiate a sole source order under a Basic Ordering Agreement with Lockheed-Martin Mission and Sensor Systems (LM MS2). It is anticipated that this contract action will be a Cost Plus Fixed Fee order to implement reception and processing capability of GPS-enabled sonobuoys into the MH-60R. This effort includes updates to the operator display and other software changes, and laboratory checkout through simulation.”

Nov 21/12: Denmark. Denmark’s Forsvarsministeriet announces that it has picked the MH-60R for a 9-helicopter buy, to replace their existing fleet of 7 AgustaWestland Lynx 90B machines. The DKR 4 billion (about $686 million) choice must next be approved by the Finance Ministry, and then passed in a budget by Parliament. That’s expected to happen, and it would be followed by deliveries from 2016 – 2018.

The US Foreign Military Sale request is already issued (vid. Dec 2/10 entry) for up to 12 machines, so the path to a deal is clear. A cost per helicopter of $76.2 million is high, but small helicopter buys of a new type also incur costs for training, spares, and support for a negotiated period. To date, announced contracts total $223.8 billion:

  • $115.7 million – June 20/14, production
  • $10.5 million – Jan 6/14, 9 MTS surveillance & targeting turrets
  • $67.3 million – Sept 23/13, mission system & cockpit modifications
  • $30.3 million – June 26/13, 9 mission systems and common cockpits

Denmark had been widely reported as a potential customer for a stripped-down MH-60R with reduced capabilities (vid. Nov 4/11 entry), and Sikorsky has since confirmed to DID that the Danish helicopters will remove most anti-submarine equipment. Danish MH-60Rs will be missing their sonobuoy launchers and ALFS FLASH dipping sonar, while retaining their naval radar and light surface strike capability. This will increase their available internal cabin space for transport missions. Danish Forsvarsministeriet [in Danish] | Sikorsky | Flight International.

Denmark: 9 MH-60R Lite

FY 2012 MH-60R w. ALFS
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Sept 11/12: Hawklink. L-3 Communications – Communication Systems – West in Salt Lake City, UT receives a $27.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for the manufacture, test, delivery and support of the Common Data Link Hawklink system, including 7 AN/SRQ-4 Ku-band Radio Terminal Sets for ship small surface combatants, and 29 AN/ARQ-58 RTSs for MH-60R helicopters.

Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, UT (60%); Atlanta, GA (14%); Mountain View, CA (6%); Exeter, NH (2%); and Phoenix, AZ; El Cajon, CA; Oxnard, CA; Salinas, CA; Sunnyvale, CA; Boise, ID; Derby, KS; Littleton, MA; Stow, MA; Minnetonka, MN; Skokie, IL; Dover, NH; Bohemia, NY; York Haven, PA; Providence, RI; Cedar Park, TX; Ft. Worth, TX; Toronto, Canada (1%) each and is expected to be complete in September 2015. This contract was competitively procured under an electronic request for proposals, with 1 offer received by US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-12-C-2024). See also L-3 Communications.

July 11/12: MYP-8. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT receives a firm-fixed-price umbrella contract to buy and provide initial support for up to 916 UH/HH/MH-60 Helicopters for the US Army and US Navy, with Foreign Military Sales options. The Pentagon announces the initial total as $2.828 billion, which probably allocated funds for initial helicopter.

Sikorsky puts the base contract’s total value at $8.5 billion. Sikorsky also breaks up the MYP-8 contract into an $8.5 billion base for 653 helicopters, plus options for up to 263 more that could push the contract as high as $11.7 billion, including Foreign Military Sales.

Those totals compare to $7.4 billion for 537 helicopters in MYP-7, plus 263 additional options that Sikorsky said could push the contract to $11.6 billion for 800 helicopters. Orders ended up falling well short of that total, but the options were there. Read “Sikorsky’s $8.5-11.7B “Multi-Year 8” H-60 Helicopter Contract” for full coverage.

MYP-VIII Multi-Year Framework

June 28/12: Qatar. The US DSCA announces [PDF] a Foreign Military Sale request from the Government of Qatar to buy up to 28 modern Seahawk family helicopters, to replace the QEAF’s aging fleet of H-3 “Westland Commando” Sea Kings, and likely its remaining handful of Westland Lynx helicopters as well. If contracts are signed, they could be worth up to $2.5 billion. This appears to be an expansion of the Sept 22/11 DSCA request (q.v.).

Qatar wants 10 MH-60R base configuration helicopters, optimized for anti-submarine warfare, anti-ship attacks, and maritime patrol. They also want 12 MH-60S Seahawk utility helicopters equipped with the Armed Helicopter Modification Kit, which will let them carry laser-guided Hellfire missiles and guided 70mm rockets. That would make them dangerous opponents for smaller ships, especially the armed go-fast boats favored by Iran. They would also be useful against land targets, alongside the kingdom’s lighter SA342G Gazelles. An extra option would increase the armed MH-60S buy to 18 if it’s exercised. Qatar will also need 48 T-700 GE 401C Engines (44 installed, 4 spare, could grow to 61 with options).

The prime contractors will be Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT (helicopters), Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY (MH-60R mission systems and MH-60S kits), and General Electric in Lynn, MA (engines). Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 15 contractor representatives to Qatar on an intermittent basis over the life of the case to support delivery of the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters and provide support and equipment familiarization.

Qatar request

June 28/12: IMDS/HUMS. Simmonds Precision Products (United Technologies’ Goodrich Sensors and Integrated Systems) in Vergennes, VT receives a $9.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 120 various Integrated Mechanical Diagnostic System kits in support of The US Navy and Australia’s MH-60R/S helicopters. As their name implies, these embedded sensors are used to detect mechanical problems in critical areas of the helicopter, allowing maintenance to shift from a regular schedule regardless of need, to a “condition-based” response to problems while they’re still small.

The US Navy gets 11 retrofit kits and one Delta retrofit kit, 18 integrated vehicle health management units and data transfer units, and 18 production kits. The numbers suggest that they’re slated for a US Navy MH-60S buy.

Australia receives 24 Troy kits, 24 integrated vehicle health management units and data transfer units, and 24 production kits for its 24 MH-60Rs.

Work will be performed in Vergennes, VT, and is expected to be complete in March 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. US NAVAIR manages the contract (N00019-12-C-2015).

May 16/12: South Korea’s MH-X. The US DSCA announces [PDF] the Republic of Korea’s official request for 8 MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Mission Helicopters, but the estimated cost of up to $1.0 billion indicates a very large long-term service & support package built into this request, which could comprise a majority of the deal’s cost.

The request includes 8 MH-60Rs, 18 T-700 GE 401C Engines (16 installed and 2 spares), spare engine containers, communication equipment, unspecified “electronic warfare systems,” support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, and “other related elements” of US government and contractor support. If a contract is signed, the prime contractors would be Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT (MH-60R); Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY (sensors and mission systems); and General Electric in Lynn, MA (engines). Implementation would require “multiple trips to Korea involving U.S. Government or contractor representatives on a temporary basis” for program and technical support, and management oversight.

South Korea has an MH-X program for its next-generation naval helicopter, with competitors expected to include AgustaWestland’s AW159 Lynx Wildcat, NH Industries’ NH90-NFH, and a naval version of the Eurocopter/KAI Surion, with co-operation from Elbit Systems. This MH-60R request follows a July 2009 (vid.) DSCA request for 8 MH-60S helicopters. The sinking of ROKS Cheonan by a North Korean submarine would certainly justify improving the ROKN’s anti-submarine capabilities, but the MH-60S’ ability to carry mine-detection gear is likely to be equally valuable. An MH-X decision is expected in October 2012. See also Defense Update.

South Korea request

May 9/12: Lite Danish? Sikorsky Aircraft and Terma announce a broadened Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It extends the existing February 2010 MoU to include composites and electrical component manufacturing, as well as the possible use of Terma’s survivability equipment on widely-bought platforms like the UH-60 Black Hawk. This cooperation is conditioned on an MH-60R order from the Danish government. The Danes seem to be more interested in an MH-60R Lite version, though, as the release adds that:

“…the aircraft can be upgraded to provide anti-submarine warfare if one day required by Danish Defense.”

April 27/12: APS-153. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors (MS2) in Owego, NY receives a $13.8 million firm-fixed-price delivery order, funding ongoing efforts to design, develop, and produce new Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination (ARPDD) configured AN/APS-153V retrofit kits for the MH-60R. This order funds the validation and verification effort, all integrated logistic support elements, and the technical directives required to retrofit MH-60R aircraft. Kit quantities include 8 A-kits; 4 SEED B-kits; 2 STD B-kits; 2 Val/Ver A-kits; and 5 Antenna Array B-kits.

Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (70%); Owego, NY (29%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%); and is expected to be complete in April 2015 (N00019-09-G-0005).

April 19/12: Support. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Owego, NY receives a $61.4 million basic ordering agreement to repair/overhaul 182 various weapons replacement assemblies and shop replaceable assemblies used in support of the MH-60R/S common cockpit; the MH-60R’s ESM receiver processor that notices and backtracks electronic emissions like radar; and the MH-60S OAMCM mine warfare helicopter.

Work is expected to be completed by April 19/15. Only one company was solicited for this non-competitive requirement, and one offer was received in response to the solicitation, but a number of firms will be doing the work. Work will be performed at:

  • General Electric in Grand Rapids, MI (5%)
  • Hamilton Sundstrand in Phoenix, AZ (1%)
  • Kaman in Middletown, CT (1%)
  • Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY (33%)
  • Northrop Grumman in Salt Lake City, UT (41%)
  • Telephonics in Farmingdale, NY (12%)
  • Ultra Flightline in Victor, NY (2%)
  • US Navy FRC-SW in San Diego, CA (5%)

The contract is managed by NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-12-G-010F).

April 20/12: Australia. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $126.5 million modification to Australia’s previous advance acquisition contract, which turns its preliminary order for 24 MH-60R mission systems and common cockpits into a finalized firm-fixed-price contract. This brings all contracts related to these sub-systems up to $315.1 million, or $13.13 million per helicopter. Read “MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition” for full coverage.

April 5/12: Common cockpits. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $1.05 billion contract modification, finalizing the MH-60R/ MH-60S’ 2012-2016 mission avionics system/ common cockpit advance acquisition contract to a firm-fixed-price, multiyear contract. These mission avionics systems and common cockpits will equip 162 MH-60Rs in production lots 10-14, and the last 62 MH-60S helicopters in production lots 14-17, with integrated logistic support provided alongside. A number of buys had already occurred under this contract for MH-60R Lots 10-11, and MH-60S Lots 14-15.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (58%); Farmingdale, NY (25%); Woodland Hills, CA (4%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); East Syracuse, NY (2%); Victor, NY (2%); Everett, WA (1%); Stratford, CT (1%); St. Charles, MO (1%); Lewisville, Texas (1%); Bennington, VT (1%); and other locations inside the United States (1%). Work is expected to be completed in June 2018. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-11-C-0020). See also Lockheed Martin.

March 15/12: Radios. Rockwell Collins, Inc. in Cedar Rapids, IA received a $6.5 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option to provide AN/ARC-210V electronic radio and ancillary equipment: 48 RT-1990C/ARC receiver-transmitters for the MH-60R, and 28 RT-1990C/ARC receiver-transmitters for MH-60S.

Work will be performed in Cedar Rapids, IA, and is expected to be complete in September 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-09-C-0069).

March 13/12: Australia. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT received a $27.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for the “advanced procurement funding services in support of the Royal Australia Navy MH-60R program.” Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Dec 13/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Dec 29/11: Australia. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $103.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for Australia. It covers common cockpit and mission avionics to equip 24 MH-60R helicopters for the Royal Australian Navy, including non-recurring engineering, program support, and associated efforts required for the production and delivery. Read “MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition” for full coverage.

Dec 28/11: Long-lead. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $24 million firm-fixed-price advance acquisition contract modification. They’ll provide FY 2012 long-lead material and “end of life components” (spares) for MH-60S Production Lot 14 and MH-60R Lot 10 common cockpits, and specialized MH-60R Lot 10 mission electronics.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (57%); Farmingdale, NY (26%); Woodland Hills, CA (4%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); East Syracuse, NY (2%); Victor, NY (2%); Everett, WA (1%); Stratford, CT (1%); St. Charles, MO (1%); Lewisville, TX (1%); Bennington, VT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%), and is expected to be complete in February 2012 (N00019-11-C-0020).

Dec 14/11: Training. The first US Navy MH-60S Aircrew Virtual Environmental Trainer (AVET) is installed and ready at NAS North Island near San Diego, CA. The Navy has had “TOFT” simulators for pilots since Oct 6/06, but this is a stand-alone, reconfigurable, full-motion simulator to train aerial gunnery, search and rescue, cargo replenishment, confined area landings, and emergency procedures for the MH-60S and HH-60H.

Binghamton Simulator Company in Binghamton, NY developed AVET under Navy SBIR funding, working with experts from PMA-205 and the US Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL. Its big difference from other simulators is that instead of a large, expensive screen, it uses a strap-on helmet mounted visor for each student. This allows multiple students to train on cooperative tasks like these, while enjoying full 360 degree simulation, at an affordable cost. The longer-term goal will network AVET trainers with pilot TOFTs, allowing full-crew mission rehearsals that don’t have to fly expensive helicopters. US NAVAIR.

Dec 14/11: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $72.2 million firm-fixed-price advance acquisition contract modification. They’ll provide FY 2013 long-lead material and associated efforts for MH-60S Production Lot 15 and MH-60R Lot 11 common cockpits, and specialized MH-60R Lot 11 mission electronics.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (57%); Farmingdale, NY (26%); Woodland Hills, CA (4%); Ciudad Real, Spain (3%); East Syracuse, NY (2%); Victor, NY (2%); Everett, WA (1%); Stratford, CT (1%); St. Charles, MO (1%); Lewisville, TX (1%); Bennington, VT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2012 (N00019-11-C-0020).

Dec 12/11: MH-60R Upgrades. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives a $10.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order to integrate an improved ALFS sonar Digital Transducer Assembly into MH-60Rs, as Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 6515-E-022, Part II.

Work will include engineering, highly accelerated life test, and integrated logistics services. Work will be performed in Brest, France (64%), and Portsmouth, RI (36%), and is expected to be complete in October 2012 (N00019-08-G-0013).

Dec 2/11: Australia. Lockheed Martin MS2 in Owego, NY receives an $85.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for work at both ends of the MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems and common cockpit life-cycle. It includes both long-lead materials to begin building cockpits, and “end-of-life components” so the Australians have enough of certain items to support their 24 Royal Australian Navy MH-60Rs.

Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (53%); Owego, NY (32%); Ciudad Real, Spain (5%); Victor, NY (4%); St. Charles, MO (3%); Lewisville, TX (1%); Windsor Locks, CT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%). Work is expected to be complete in March 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract, as the agent of their Foreign Military Sale client (N00019-11-C-0020).

Nov 4/11: MH-60R Lite. Australian Defence Magazine reports that Lockheed Martin is self-funding development of an “MH-60R Lite” variant, which would make the ALFS dipping sonar a removable option. That would improve its range, and increase cabin space from 3 people to 8, at the expense of limiting its anti-submarine capability without ALFS. Lockheed Martin is even contemplating a version that also removes the sonobuoy launcher and acoustic processors, leaving a helicopter with just surface attack, search and rescue, and utility helicopter capabilities. It would really be more of an MH-60S+, with an advanced maritime radar and other electronics improvements.

Australia is already set to buy standard MH-60Rs, but Denmark has reportedly been briefed on the project (vid. Sept 8/09, Dec 2/10 entries). They bought AW101 helicopters for the search and rescue role, but a September 2008 Parliamentary report [PDF] confirmed that availability problems had left the Danes without the full SAR capabilities they need. They’re also looking to replace a handful of Lynx maritime helicopters, and an MH-60R with removable dipping sonar might solve both problems.

FY 2011 Thai MH-60S
(click to view full)

Sept 29/11: MTS. Raytheon in McKinney, TX receives a $9.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for 10 MH-60S multispectral targeting systems. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX, and is expected to be complete by October 2013. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-11-C-JQ34).

Sept 29/11: Support. Lockheed Martin MS2 in Owego, NY receives an $8.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for one-time efforts required to fix part obsolescence issues in the MH-60R/S with solutions that have the right form, fit, and function. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in November 2013 (N00019-06-C-0098).

Sept 27/11: Point & click, at last. Lockheed Martin MS2 in Owego, NY receives a $26.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the procurement of 699 newly designed “point and click operator system interface kits”, and 123 pointing devices, in support of the MH-60R/S helicopter fleet. The contract includes installation, and NAVAIR confirms to DID that the operator-system interface (OSI) is being updated for all MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (61.1%); Austin, TX (20%); and Everett, WA (18.9%), and is expected to be complete in February 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity (N00019-11-C-0048).

Sept 27/11: Support.Lockheed Martin Corp. in Owego, NY receives a $9 million firm-fixed-price contract for specialized test equipment necessary to perform depot-level repairs to the ALQ-210 Electronic Support Measures Receiver Processor System. The AN/ALQ-210 ESM picks up incoming radar and electronic signals, and helps the helicopter backtrack to their emitters; it is deployed on the MH-60R.

Work will be performed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL, and is expected to be completed in June 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-11-C-0403).

Sept 22/11: Qatar MH-60Rs? The US DSCA announces [PDF] Qatar’s official request to buy up to 6 MH-60R Seahawk naval warfare helicopters, 13 T-700 GE 401C Engines (12 installed and 1 spare), plus communication equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, and other U.S. government and contractor support. The estimated cost is up to $750 million.

The MH-60R helicopters will supplement and eventually replace the Qatar Air Force’s aging Westland Sea King maritime patrol helicopters, whose main concern is currently Iran’s Russian-built Kilo Class diesel-electric attack submarines.

The prime contractors will be Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT (helicopter), Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY (mission systems) and General Electric in Lynn, MA (engines). If the notice turns into a contract, require the assignment of 10 contractor representatives to Qatar on an intermittent basis over the life of the case, to support delivery of the MH-60R helicopters and provide support and equipment familiarization.

Qatar request

Aug 8/11: Thailand. Sikorsky loads a pair of MH-60S Seahawk helicopters for shipment to Thailand, who is the type’s first export customer thanks to a 2007 order.

Aug 4/11: MH-60R Upgrades. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $30 million delivery order modification for additional Phase 2 efforts in support of the MH-60R situational awareness technology insertion (SATI) engineering, manufacturing, and development. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (95%), and Melbourne, FL (5%), and is expected to be complete in February 2014. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00019-09-G-0005).

Discussions with Lockheed Martin shed additional light on this award, which completes SATI’s pre-development portion. SATI upgrades the current Gen III Flight Management Computers and Mission Computers to Gen V, and adds a new Integrated Digital Map, and upgrades to the existing IFF interrogator.

July 1/11: APS-153. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $14.1 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for one-time engineering efforts to add a Mode 5 Interrogator Subsystem into the MH-60R Automatic Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination System. Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (68%), and Owego, NY (32%), and is expected to be complete in November 2012. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-11-C-0068).

Discussions with Lockheed Martin shed additional light on this award. ARPDD upgrades the existing AN/APS-147 radar’s hardware and software, to automatically discriminate between periscopes and other small surface objects. The upgraded MH-60R radar with the ARPDD capability is designated as an AN/APS-153. As noted above, Mode 5 is a form of automated “identification, friend or foe” technology. The helicopter transponders already include IFF Mode 5, but the helicopters’ radar-linked IFF interrogator system is also getting an upgrade. With submarines test-firing anti-aircraft missiles from torpedo tubes (vid. IDAS), creating a 2-way threat, IFF for ASW machines could become even more useful.

June 27/11: Training. CAE USA, Inc. in Tampa, FL receives a $32.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 2 MH-60R tactical operational flight trainer (TOFT) advanced simulators, including install and test.

Work will be performed in Tampa, FL (42%); Lexington Park, MD (35%); Salt Lake City, UT (9%); Huappauge, NY (5%); San Francisco, CA (4%); Montreal, Canada (2%); Huntsville, AL (2%); and Leesburg, VA (1%), and is expected to be complete in October 2013. US Naval Air Warfare Center, Training Systems Division in Orlando, L manages this contract (N61340-11-C-0006).

June 16/11: MH-60R for RAN. The MH-60R beats the NH90-NFH for Australia’s 24-helicopter, A$3+ billion (over $3.16 billion) AIR 9000, Phase 8 helicopter competition, even though Australia had switched from H-60/S-70 Army helicopters to the NH90-TTH several years ago. A combination of problems with its “MRH-90s,” slow NH90 TTH development, MH-60R naval interoperability benefits, and the MH-60R’s low-risk operational status tipped the balance.

Read “MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition” for full coverage.

Australia: 24 MH-60R

March 30/11: Upgrades. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives an $8.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for A and B modification kits in support of the MH-60 acoustic technical insert (ATI). ATI includes cable modification kits, ATI, software defined sonobouy compatibility, the pre-amplifier unit, sensor operator consoles, link-16 retrofits and notch filters.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (66.56%); Victor, NY (23%); Farmingdale, NY (4.5%); Butler, NJ (3.3%); and Ciudad Real, Spain (2.6%). Work is expected to be complete by in March 2016. This contract was not competitively procured. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0048).

March 9/11: FY 2011? A $129.4 million firm-fixed-price contract “for the procurement of UH-60M Helicopters, HH-60M Helicopters, MH-60S Helicopters and MH-60R Helicopters,” numbers unspecified. Absent a budget per the Senate’s legal responsibility, it is difficult to commit a lot of money to buying things.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12 (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

FY 2011 order?

March 3/11: Sub-contractors. Sikorsky signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Trakka Corp. in Melbourne, Australia. Searchlights are Trakka’s specialty, and they are integrated into a highly efficient pan and tilt gymbal, allowing slewing up to 60 degrees per second. Internal filtering allows the searchlight to choose the appropriate light spectrum for the mission, while precision optical elements and a low power light source deliver a more intense and efficient on-target beam than conventional reflector-type searchlights.

This MoU goes beyond just Australia or its naval helicopter competition, to cover H-60 Black Hawk and Seahawk helicopters generally. Trakka develops and manufactures aviation searchlight products in its AS9100 certified facility in Australia, but it also has operations in Scottsdale, AZ to support its U.S. customers, including U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard. Sikorsky.

March 1/11: MTS. Raytheon announces a $50 million contract to deliver 50 AAS-44C (V) Multi-Spectral Targeting System surveillance and targeting turrets, for use on the U.S. Navy’s MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2011 and end in 2012.

Feb 28/11: HUMS. Goodrich subsidiary Simmonds Precision Products, Inc. in Vergennes, VT receives a $7.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the procurement of 42 MH-60R/S integrated mechanical diagnostic and health usage monitoring system (HUMS) units, 42 data transfer units, and 18 retrofit kits. HUMS systems use embedded sensors to capture data about the performance of key mechanisms, and some can even predict likely failures. Their adoption can make maintenance approaches more efficient, pinpoint hidden design & manufacturing issues, and lead to redesigns for reliability.

Work will be performed in Vergennes, VT, and is expected to be completed in September 2012. $3.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00019-06-C-0298). See also Goodrich’s Rotary HUMS Product Sheet [PDF].

Feb 25/11: Hawklink. L-3 Communication Systems in Salt Lake City, UT receives a $32 million fixed-price-incentive contract modification, exercising to exercise an option for MH-60R Hawklink datalink hardware, incl. 6 AN/SRQ-4(Ku) radio terminal sets for small surface combatant ships, and 52 AN/ARQ-59 radio terminal sets. See the MH-60R section for more details re: Hawklink.

Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, UT, and is expected to be complete in June 2012. The US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-09-C-0059).

Feb 25/11: Sub-contractors. Lockheed Martin has issued a Request For Information to Australian firms to supply MH-60R weapons pylons, with selections expected by the end of 2011. The RFI is issued under the auspices of a recently signed Global Supply Chain (GSC) Deed, giving Australian companies new opportunities to compete for subcontracts on a range of Lockheed Martin products and services. Lockheed Martin’s naval helicopter program head, George Barton:

“Growth in orders for the MH-60R has resulted in an urgent need for an expanded supply base, and Australian industry has a depth of capability that would be an ideal supplement to our dedicated supplier base.”

The pylons are just the 1st opportunity, and tie into the billion-dollar naval helicopter competition there, featuring the MH-60R vs. the NH90-NFH. Lockheed Martin.

Feb 14/11: FY 2012 request. The 111th Congress’ failure has left the military without a FY 2011 budget. As the next 112th session takes up that challenge, the Pentagon releases its official FY 2012 budget request on schedule.

The FY 2012 request would spend a total of $1.532 billion buy 24 MH-60Rs ($1.018 billion) and 18 MH-60S helicopters ($513.5 million). Those helicopter numbers and mix match the FY 2011 budget, but the amounts are less.

Feb 2/11: MH-60R Australia? The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Australia’s formal request to buy a 10-year Through-Life-Support (TLS) contract for 24 MH-60R helicopters at an estimated cost of up to $1.6 billion. With the ADF’s MRH-90 program facing difficulties and receiving increased scrutiny, the support offer caps what amounts to a $3.7 billion maximum (A$ 3.66 billion) offer for 24 MH-60Rs, plus 10 years of support (vid. July 20/10), to set against the NH90 NFH in Australia’s SEA 8000, Phase 8 competition. Read “MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition” for full coverage.

Australia MH-60R support request

Jan 19/11: Training. CAE USA, Inc. in Tampa, FL receives a $43.5 million firm-fixed-price contract to design, build, install and test 1 MH-60R Tactical Operational Flight Trainer (TOFT) simulator and one MH-60R/S Tactical Operational Flight Trainer.

Work will be performed in Tampa, FL (42%); Lexington Park, MD (35%); Salt Lake City, UT (9%); Hauppauge, NY (5%); San Francisco, CA (4%); Montreal, Canada (2%); Huntsville, AL (2%); and Leesburg, VA (1%), and is expected to be complete in June 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1 by the US Naval Air Warfare Center, Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL (N61340-11-C-0006).

Jan 5/11: Long-lead. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $72.6 million advance acquisition contract for long lead materials and support associated with the manufacture and delivery of 24 mission avionics systems and common cockpits for the Production Lot 10 MH-60R helicopters, and 18 common cockpits for the Production Lot 14 MH-60S helicopters, under a Multi-Year II advanced acquisition contract. This contract also buys end-of-life components for the MH-60R and MH-60S, so the Navy will have adequate stocks.

Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (48%); Owego, NY (26%); Woodland Hills, CA (13%); Ciudad Real, Spain (6%); Horseheads, NY (2%); Lewisville, TX (2%); Bennington, VT (1%); Windsor Locks, CT (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (1%), and is expected to be complete in December 2011. Funding is provided by FY 2011 Aviation Procurement Navy funds, and this contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-11-C-0020).

As of January 2011, Lockheed Martin and partner Sikorsky Aircraft have delivered more than 85 MH-60R helicopters [Source].

Dec 29/10: APS-153. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $33.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to incorporate the automatic radar periscope detection and discrimination radar into 6 MH-60R full rate production aircraft, moving this improvement from the system development phase to the production phase. This upgraded version of the MH-60R’s Telephonics AN/APS-147 radar offers 8 times the processing power of the previous model, along with the new radar mode. $24.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11.

Work will be performed in Farmingdale, NY (86%), and Owego, NY (14%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013 (N00019-06-C-0098).

Dec 29/10: Long-lead. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $37.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to supply common cockpits for MH-60S Production Lot 13 and MH-60R Production Lot 9 helicopters, plus common cockpit components and spares in support of the overall MH-60R and MH-60S helicopter programs.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (58.8%); Salt Lake City, UT (13.9%); Farmingdale, NY (12.7%); Grand Rapids, MI (4.7%); Woodland Hills, CA (3.7%); Lewisville, TX (2.9%); Windsor Locks, CT (2.2%); Middletown, CT (0.6%); and Butler, NJ (0.5%), and is expected to be complete in April 2013 (N00019-06-C-0098).

Dec 20/10: MH-60R Upgrades. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY receives a $35 million cost-plus-incentive-fee delivery order for one-time efforts in support of the MH-60R’s “situational awareness technology insertion” pre-engineering, manufacturing and development. Work will be performed in Owego, NY (86%); Farmingdale, NY (11%); and Melbourne, FL (3%). Work is expected to be complete in October 2012, but all contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00019-09-G-0005, #4030).

A subsequent Lockheed Martin release clarifies: SATI is an 8-component package of upgrades and improvements to the helicopter’s flight management system, including a new integrated digital map and an Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) system upgrade.

Dec 2/10: Denmark request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Denmark’s request to buy 12 MH-60Rs, 27 T-700 GE 401C Engines (24 installed and 3 spares), plus communication equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, and U.S. government and contractor support.

The estimated cost is up to $2.0 billion, and the prime contractors will be Sikorsky in Stratford, CT; Lockheed Martin in Owego, NY; General Electric in Lynn, MA; and the Raytheon Corporation in Portsmouth, RI. If a contract is signed, implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 10 contractor representatives to Denmark on an intermittent basis over the life of the case to support delivery of the MH-60R helicopters and provide support and equipment familiarization.

That’s an extraordinarily high ceiling price, unless very long term support contracts are also involved. The Romeos seem destined to replace Denmark’s 8 remaining Super Lynx helicopters in various roles, including “homeland defense and protect critical infrastructure.” The Danish Lynx fleet is getting quite old, and 3 helicopters have already been decommissioned.

Denmark MH-60R request

Oct 14/10: Support. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, N.Y received a $10 million firm-fixed-price contract for specialized test equipment required to perform depot-level repairs to the MH-60 common cockpit avionics suite, including artisan training, 2 operator control panels, and 1 universal power supply tester.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in January 2013. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N68335-11-C-0050).

FY 2010 VERTREP from
T-AOE 6 to CG 72
(click to view full)

Sept 21/10: JMPS. Lockheed Martin announces a $10 million contract to add the Navy/USAF Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) to the MH-60 family by 2012. The firm’s Owego, NY employees will spend 30 months developing a “unique planning component” software module configured to JMPS, which must also contain unique information about the MH-60R and MH-60S, and their mission types. Once the module is delivered, tests will be conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station Point Mugu, CA and Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD.

The idea is that missions are planned on a laptop, ten loaded into the Common Cockpit system via a memory card. The software modules will be loaded onto a planning system laptop that allows MH-60 pilots to select preconfigured mission plans, compile weather data, maps, navigational routes, targeting data, and enter their helicopter’s chosen weapons and sensors. The finished mission profile is transferred to a memory card and uploaded to the helicopter. Once airborne, the aircraft’s avionics will know what mission they’re assigned, the intended route and navigation waypoints, the communications frequencies, available weapons and sensors, and other critical information.

July 21/10: No sonobuoys? Aviation Week Ares reports that future MH-60R helicopters may abandon their current sonobuoy launchers:

“U.S. Navy program manager for H-60, Capt. Dean Peters… said the aircraft’s Airborne Low Frequency Sonar (ALFS) worked so well during last year’s deployment of the aircraft there “was not much need for the [sonobuoy] launcher.” The potential exists, he says, to “take out the sonobuoy launcher,” and launch fewer buoys using a different type of launch system. The goal is reduce the amount of cabin space taken up by the launcher… ALFS provides so much range that it might be wise to have another helicopter prosecute the mission and “have the sonar remain in the dip.”… We’re evaluating other options to free up space and reduce cost.”

July 9/10: MH-60R Australia? The US DSCA announces [PDF] Australia’s formal request to buy 24 MH-60R Seahawk Multi-Mission Helicopters and related equipment, for up to $2.1 billion.

DSCA requests are not contracts, and in this case, it may not even indicate intent. The MH-60R is competing against the NH90 NFH in Australia, and it isn’t unusual for countries to submit requests during competitions, in order to ensure that the American equipment has full export clearances. Read “MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition” for full coverage.

Australia MH-60R request

June 11/10: Support. Lockheed Martin MS2 in Owego, NY received a $12.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0098) for MH-60R/MH-60S common cockpit provisioned items. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in July 2012.

June 8/10: Hawklink. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors (MS2) in Owego, NY received a $9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-09-G-0005) for services in support of the MH-60R Common Data Link (CDL) Hawklink upgrade.

Services to be provided include production support; first article inspection test; generation of engineering change proposals to incorporate CDL Hawklink into the MH-60R; product test verification supporting an MH-60R fleet release; and on-aircraft production validation testing. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in December 2011.

April 28/10: Australia RFP. Australia issues its formal solicitation for “AIR 9000, Phase 8” to buy naval helicopters: either the NH90 NFH or the MH-60R, with a decision expected in 2011. Ministerial release.

April 1/10: SAR – more MH-60Rs. The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. The MH-60R is included, because the planned number is going up:

“MH-60R – Program costs increased $2,101.6 million (+17.3%) from $12,139.4 million to $14,241.0 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 46 helicopters from 254 to 300 helicopters (+$1,385.4 million) and associated schedule, engineering, and estimating allocations

  • (+$171.6 million), and increases in other support costs and initial spares associated with the quantity increase (+$257.3 million). There was an additional increase due to a revised cost estimate for 23 additional airborne low frequency sonars (+$282.8 million).”

SAR – more MH-60Rs

March 23/10: MH-60S upgrades. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CoT receives an $18.2 million firm-fixed-price modification to a previously issued delivery order under a basic ordering agreement (N00019-08-G-0010). NAVAIR is buying 36 integrated self defense (ISD) mission kits and 33 weapons kits for the MH-60S.

Work will be performed in Tallassee, AL (76.1%); Coxsackie, NY (17.6%); Wichita, KS (4.3%); Valencia, CA (1%); and at various locations across the U.S. (1%) and is expected to be complete in January 2012. $1,487,432 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

March 15/10: Hawklink. L-3 Communications Corp. in Salt Lake City, UT receives a $37.5 million modification to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive contract (N00019-09-C-0059), exercising an option related to the Hawklink sub-program.

The Navy will buy 11 AN/SRQ-4 (Ku) radio terminal sets for ship small surface combatants, and 51 AN/ARQ-59 RTS for the MH-60R aircraft, including technical data. These upgraded Ku-band systems will extend existing Hawklink connectivity from small surface combatants to the aircraft carrier, and increase data rates between MH-60Rs and surface combatants. Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, UT, and is expected to be complete in March 2013.

Feb 25/10: Australia. Australia formally announces Project AIR 9000 Phase 8, which will be a competition between the MH-60R Seahawk and the NH90-NFH. Australia currently operates S-70 Seahawks as naval helicopters, but it also chose the NH90-TTH to replace its Army Blackhawks. In the end, the MH-60R won.

Jan 19/10: FY 2010 contract. A $600.7 million firm-fixed-price contract, funding Program Year 4 for the US Navy under the current multi-year H-60 contract. The order funds 42 helicopters: 18 MH-60S Seahawks (Lot 12 production), 24 MH-60R Seahawks (Lot 8 production); plus tooling, program systems management, and technical publications.

Work is to be performed in Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12. One bid solicited with one bid received (W5RGZ-08-C-0003).

FY 2010: 18 MH-60S, 24 MH-60R

Jan 6/10: Australia. Australia’s Daily Telegraph reports that Australia’s Labor Party government has rejected a DoD request to approve a $4 billion “rapid acquisition” of 24 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, plus related equipment including training weapons, etc. The buy would have been an emergency replacement for the long-running, ill-starred, and canceled SH-2G Super Seasprite program.

Instead, successful lobbying by Eurocopter will force a competition between Sikorsky’s MH-60R, in service with the US Navy, and the European NH90 NFH variant, which is expected to be ready for service sometime around 2011-2012.

Dec 30/09: Common cockpit. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY, which has just been amalgameted with Maritime Systems and Sensors in an internal Lockheed Martin reorganization, received an $82 million firm-fixed-price modification to finalize a previous contract to deliver MH-60 common cockpits for MH-60S Lot 12 and MH-60R Lot 8 production. This modification also provides for long lead materials that need to arrive early, in order to support timely production of MH-60S Lot 13 and MH-60R Lot 9 common cockpit kits.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (58.8%); Salt Lake City, UT (13.9%); Farmingdale, NY (12.7%); Grand Rapids, MI (4.7%); Woodland Hills, CA (3.7%); Lewisville, TX (2.9%); Windsor Locks, CT (2.2%); Middletown, CT (0.6%); and Butler, NJ (0.5%). Work is expected to be complete in July 2012 (N00019-06-C-0098).

Dec 24/09: Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY received a maximum $68.3 million sole-source firm-fixed-price contract for receiver transmitters and processors. The date of performance completion is December 2013. The Defense Logistics Agency, Philadelphia issued the contract (N00019-06-C-0098).

Dec 23/09: Support. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY received a $10 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract to develop, integrate and test modifications for the audio management computer and embedded GPS/inertial navigation system in the MH-60R and MH-60S common cockpit.

These efforts address electronics obsolescence issues, which are common given an electronics industry whose product lifecycles are 5-7 years, vs. military platforms’ 30-50 years. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be completed in February 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00019-04-C-0028).

Dec 18/09: JMPS. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego in Owego, NY receives a $10 million firm-fixed-price delivery order to incorporate Joint Mission Planning Systems v1.2 into MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in July 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/09 (N00019-09-G-0005).

Dec 9/09: MH-60S upgrades. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CoT received an $11.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for incorporation of recurring costs associated with Navy MH-60S Engineering Change Proposals (ECPs). ECP 4003 covers night vision device compatible rotor head lights, and ECP 4035 covers active vibration control installation. Work is to be performed at Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited and one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Dec 8/09: Hawklink. Lockheed Martin announces a $14.75 million U.S. Navy contract to integrate the high definition SAU 07000 Ship Air Upgrade interface. This is a digital messaging interface that will improve the MH-60R’s Hawklink communications system to make full use of the Ku band, as opposed to the C-band limitations of current MH-60Rs and SH-60Bs.

Developed jointly by US NAVAIR and NAVSEA, the SAU 07000 interface will be integrated into ship combat systems, including Aegis-equipped ships. SAU 07000-equipped MH-60R aircraft will remain backward compatible with the legacy C-band message interface to support naval ships that have not yet upgraded. See June 12/09 and May 28/08 entries for more contracts and background concerning Hawklink Ku-band improvements.

To date, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin have delivered 48 MH-60Rs, which are deployed in 4 squadrons. Ku band-capable MH-60Rs are scheduled for deployment as part of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Carrier Strike Group in 2012.

Nov 23/09: Support. Telephonics, a subsidiary of Griffon, received a $6.9 million contract from Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego to supply test equipment for diagnosis and repair of the MH-60R/S helicopters’ communication systems. The equipment will be delivered to the US Navy’s Fleet Resource Center Southwest, which plans to have the test capability operational in early 2011. The contract also includes training Navy personnel in the repair of the communication systems and operation of the equipment.

Oct 23/09: Australia. The Australian reports that the country’s military chiefs have recommended the MH-60R as Australia’s next anti-submarine helicopter, citing it as a cheaper and lower risk solution compared with the NH90 NFH, with better allied interoperability. Australia would be looking to buy 24 helicopters for service by 2014, per its 2009 Defence White Paper.

Read “MH-60R Wins Australia’s Maritime Helicopter Competition” for full coverage.

Oct 4/09: MH-60R prospects. Aviation Week quotes Lockheed Martin VP of rotary wing programs as saying that the MH-60R is in flight trials with India, with Australia, Denmark, and Saudi Arabia also evaluating the Romeo’s capabilities.

FY 2009 MH-60S from USS JFK
(click to view full)

Sept 25/09: MH-60R upgrades. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego in Owego, NY received a $14.75 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-09-G-0005) for non-recurring engineering support to complete the design, development, integration and test of an unspecified MH-60R upgrades. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in April 2012.

Sept 24/09: MTS. Raytheon Systems Co. in McKinney, TX received an $11.7 million firm-fixed-price order for multi-spectral targeting systems (MTS) and associated line items in support of the US Navy’s MH-60R/S helicopters. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX and is expected to be complete by February 2011. The order under the existing Basic Ordering Agreement was awarded on a sole source basis by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane in Crane, IN (N00164-06-G-8555).

Sept 24/09: Common cockpits. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, Owego, in NY received a $6.4 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0028) for additional MH-60R/S common cockpit components. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in April 2010.

Sept 18/09: MTS. Raytheon in McKinney, TX received a $44.3 million firm-fixed-price job order for 62 U.S. Navy H-60 helicopter configuration multi-spectral targeting systems (MTS). The MTS turrets will be installed on U.S. Navy MH-60R and MH-60S models. Work will be performed in McKinney, Texas, and is expected to be complete by November 2011. The job order was awarded on a sole source basis by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane IN (N00164-06-G-8555).

Sept 17/09: +2 MH-60S. A $24.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 2 MH-60S “overseas contingency operation” (supplemental budget funding) aircraft for the US Navy. Work is to be performed in Stratford, CT with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12 (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Sept 15/09: Sub-contractors. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN awards a set of firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity multiple award contracts with a maximum value of $14 million, to 6 firms. The firms will compete for delivery orders for various types of MH-60S/R and V-22 gun mount components, along with bore sight kits. Work is expected to be completed by September 2014. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 14 proposals being received. Contractors include:

  • Guardian Technology Group in Crawfordsville, IN (N00164-09-D-JN14)
  • Northside Machine Company in Dugger, IN (N00164-09-D-JN60);
  • MCD Machine Inc. in Bloomington, IN (N00164-09-D-JN61)
  • C&S Machine in Plainville, IN (N00164-09-D-JN62)
  • Precision Laser Services, Inc. in Fort Wayne, IN (N00164-09-D-JN63)
  • Colbert Mfg, Co., Inc in Lavergn, TN (N00164-09-D-JN64)

Sept 15/09: Support. Simmonds Precision Products, Inc., DBA Goodrich Fuel and Utility Systems in Vergennes, VT received a $14.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0298) for various integrated mechanical diagnostics system kits and parts in support of MH-60R/S helicopters. Work will be performed in Vergennes, VT, and is expected to be complete in December 2010.

Sept 8/09: Denmark. Lockheed Martin and Terma A/S announce a Memorandum of Understanding to offer the MH-60R to the Danish Government, in the wake of a June 2009 authorization to procure new ship-based helicopters for Royal Danish Navy vessels. Lockheed Martin isn’t the MH-60R’s manufacturer, but they are the systems integrator. Lockheed and Terma have a long history of collaboration on Danish defense projects, including the F-16, C-130 and F-35 programs. Lockheed Martin release.

The MH-60R has yet to receive an export order. Expected Danish competitors include the NH90 NFH ordered by Denmark’s neighbors in Germany, Sweden, Norway, and the Netherlands. AgustaWestland’s Lynx/Super Lynx helicopters are already in service with Danish vessels, and its AW 159 Future Lynx SMCR is another expected competitor.

July 30/09: Common cockpits. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY received a maximum $25.2 million firm-fixed-price, sole source contract for multi-mode radar and common cockpit system parts.

There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is May 2012. US Defense Logistics Agency Procurement Operations in Philadelphia, PA manage this contract (N00383-06-G-016F-THZ1).

July 22/09: South Korea MH-60S request. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announces South Korea’s request for a squadron of 8 MH-60S Airborne Mine Counter-Measures systems, at an estimated cost of $1 billion. The specific request includes:

  • 8 MH-60S helicopters with associated Airborne Mine Countermeasure (AMCM) Sensors
  • 16 T700-GE-401C engines
  • 8 AN/AQS-20A Towed Sonar systems
  • 8 AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection Systems (ALMDS)
  • 8 AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization Systems (AMNS)
  • 8 AN/ALQ-220 Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep Systems (OASIS)
  • 8 AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance Systems (RAMICS cannons)
  • Plus test and support equipment, spare and repair parts, personnel training and training equipment, and other forms of support.

Korea already uses the related H-92 Superhawk as its Presidential helicopter, and H-60 Black Hawk helicopters for VIP transport, utility transport, and search and rescue duties. Implementation of this proposed sale will require temporary travel for U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the Republic of Korea for in-country training. The principal contractors will be:

  • Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT (MH-60S, incl. GE engines)
  • Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY (AMCM overall)
  • Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tucson, AZ (AQS-20A, AMNS)
  • Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in McKinney, TX
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation in Melbourne, FL (ALMDS, RAMICS)
  • ITT Corporation in Panama City, FL (OASIS)
  • Concurrent Technologies Corp. for-profit affiliate Enterprise Ventures Corporation in Johnstown, PA.

DID called EVC to ask about this contract, but did not receive a response. EVC’s parent firm is closely linked to Rep. John Murtha [D-PA], and has been a frequent recipient of Congressional earmarks. CTC has also been involved in current and past investigations, as a client of The PMA Group, and for its partial charitable status.

South Korea MH-60S request

June 19/09: Support. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY a $13.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for Specialized Test Equipment used to perform depot level repairs to the MH-60 family’s Common Cockpit Avionics Suite: 1 Audio Management Computer, 1 Relay Assembly, 1 Flight Management Computer, 1 Mission Computer, and the Communication Systems Controller testers.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (50%); Owego, NY (25%); and Farmingdale, NY (25%), and is expected to be completed in October 2010. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-09-C-0149).

June 12/09: Hawklink. L-3 Communications Corp.’s Communications Systems group in West, Salt Lake City, UT received a $59.8 million fixed-price-incentive contract for 9 SRQ-4(Ku) radio terminal sets for ship small surface combatants and 45 ARQ-58 RTSs for the MH-60R aircraft, including technical data. These upgraded Ku-Band systems will extend existing Hawklink connectivity from small surface combatants to the aircraft carrier and increase data rates between MH-60R to surface combatants; see May 28/08 entry for more.

Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, UT, and is expected to be complete in June 2012. This contract was competitively procured under an electronic request for proposals, and 2 offers were received by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-09-C-0059).

May 29/09: MH-60S armed upgrade. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $7.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for 22 Armed Helo Weapons System Fixed Provision Armament Retrofit Kits. Removable Mission Equipment will include an Integrated Self Defense Countermeasures Dispensing System, Forward Looking Infrared, Armor, and various weapons. They will be delivered under the existing Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-08-G-0010), and used to retrofit 22 MH-60S Block 2A aircraft to MH-60S Block 3A configuration.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (21.8%); Ontario, Calif., (13.1%); Ronkonkoma, NY (11.3%); Milford, CT (8.6%); Tallassee, AL (6.7%); Mineola, NY (5.9%); Wallingford, CT (5.4%); Sylmar, CA (5.3%); Vernon, CT (4.1%); Berlin, CT (3%); Orange, CT (2.7%); Coxsackie, NY (1.7%); Shelton, CT (1.2%); Yaphank, NY (1.1%); Tempe, AZ (1%); and at various locations across the United States (7.1%), and is expected to be complete in December 2011.

April 15/09: Radars. Griffon Corp. subsidiary Telephonics announces a $99.3 million follow-on order from Lockheed Martin for AN/APS-147 Multi Mode Radar System and subsystem spares. It appears to be connected to the March 18/09 order, which covers equipment for 30 MH-60Rs from production Lot 7.

See also Aug 15/07, Oct 8/07, and March 18/09 entries. This is part of a multi-year contract covering 139 MH-60R helicopters from 2007 through 2013.

April 6/09: Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY received a $7.8 million modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-04-C-0028) for 18 MH-60S helicopter Mission Computers, and components for MH-60R/S Common Cockpit Trainers. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in April 2010.

March 25/09: Support. Lockheed Martin Integrated Defense Systems in Owego, NY receives a $56.6 million sole-source, firm-fixed-price retirements type long term contract. Lockheed Martin will repair and/or overhaul various weapons replaceable assemblies used to support the HM-60R/S helicopters.

Weapons replaceable assembly (WRA) is a generic term that includes all replaceable packages installed in an aircraft weapons system. A WRA is composed entirely of shop replaceable assemblies (SRAs), and does not include cable mounts, fuse boxes, or circuit breakers.

Work will be performed at Farmingdale, NY (60%); Phoenix, AZ (13%); Clearwater, FL (13%); and Salt Lake City, UT (14%), and work is expected to be complete by March 2014. The Naval Inventory Control Point is managing this contract (N00383-09-D-021F).

March 18/09: Radars. Griffon Corp. subsidiary Telephonics announces a $9.5 million order from Lockheed Martin to fund long-lead purchase of subsystem spares for the AN/APS-147 Multi-Mode Radar and its Identification Friend or Foe Interrogator System.

The award covers spares to support the U.S. Navy’s Lot 7 purchase of 30 MH-60R helicopters, for delivery beginning in 2012. The spares are part of a $1.065 billion multi-year contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in July 2007 to integrate the avionics and mission systems onto 139 MH-60R aircraft through 2013. See also April 14/09, Oct 8/07, and Aug 15/07 entries.

Feb 26/09: MH-60S armed upgrade. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $16.5 million firm-fixed price modification, against a previously issued delivery order, under a Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-08-G-0010). That complicated contract structure will buy MH-60S Armed Helicopter Mission Kits: 33 Integrated Self Defense (ISD) Mission Kits, 30 Weapons Kits, and the B-Kit installation hardware.

Work will be performed in Tallassee, AL (76.1%); Coxsackie, NY (17.6%); Wichita, KS (4.3%); Valencia, CA (1%); and at various locations across the United States (1%), and is expected to be complete in April 2012.

Feb 3/09: MH-60S upgrades. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $5.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity time and material contract (N00019-07-D-0005) for one-time engineering efforts. Work involves the planned retrofit of MH-60S aircraft 1-119, or all helicopters through Block 3A, to improve their capabilities.

Sikorsky will design and develop the retrofit kits; deliver 4 of them for 2 separate validation and verification tests; and prepare and deliver 2 routine action technical directives for the MH-60S Warfighter Operational Safety Improvement Program. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (84.5%); Coronado, CA (12.2%); and Lexington, KY (3.3%), and is expected to be complete in June 2011.

Dec 24/08: +6 MH-60R. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT receives an $85 million firm-fixed-price contract, exercising an option for 6 more MH-60R Helicopters. Note that they only provide the airframe; the mission systems are under contract from Lockheed Martin. Work is to be performed in Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12 (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Dec 23/08: Common cockpits. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $45.1 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price multi-year contract (N00019-06-C-0098) to provide for end-of-life components, FY 2010 long-lead time items and associated efforts required for the production and delivery of Common Cockpit Kits. These kits will be used during MH-60S Lot XII and MH-60R Lot VIII production, in FY 2010. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in December 2009.

Dec 16/08: FY 2009 order. A $619.9 million firm-fixed-price contract the H-60 VII multi-year contract. The Navy is buying 24 MH-60R helicopters (Lot 7) and 18 MH-60S helicopters (Lot 11), plus tooling; Program Systems Management, and technical Publications.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12. Since it’s done under a set multi-year contract, one bid was solicited and one bid was received (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

FY 2009: 18 MH-60S, 24 MH-60R

Dec 16/08: Common cockpits. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY received a $37.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for 49 common cockpit sets: 18 MH-60S, 30 MH-60R, and 1 MH-60R Trainer set. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in April 2010 (N00019-04-C-0028).

Dec 12/08: Sub-contractors. Concurrent Technologies Corp. (CTC) in Johnstown, PA received a $10 million ceiling-priced contract to design, build, install and test the Navy MH-60S Helicopter Aircrew Carriage Stream, Tow, and Recovery System Trainer (CSTRS-T).

CSTRS is part of MH-60S AMCM helicopers, and is used to tow and retrieve items like sonars, decoys, and other components of the US Navy’s Organic Airborne Mine Countermeasures (OAMCM) program. Because the MH-60S is considerably smaller than the current MH-53E Sea Dragon, the challenge was to develop a small, modular system capable of accommodating both towed and non-towed sensor systems. CSTRS-T will be located at the Naval Station Norfolk, VA, where it will offer high fidelity simulation of the MH-60S helicopter’s interior for Helicopter Sea Combat Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS) and post-FRS aircrew training. The CSTRS-T will support training for CSTRS winch operators, and refresher training on normal, emergency, and degraded procedures.

Work will be performed in Johnston, PA and is expected to be complete in December 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $9.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division in Orlando, FL (N61339-09-C-0009).

Oct 16/08: MH-60S armed upgrade. A $15.2 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-08-G-0010) for MH-60S Armed Helicopter Mission Kits, which consist of the Integrated Self Defense Mission Kit (32); Weapons Kit (31); and the B-Kit installation hardware. The ISD Weapons Kit is comprised of the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) Mission Kit and the External Weapons System (EWS) Wings Mission Kit.

Work will be performed in Tallassee, AL (76%); Coxsackie, NY (17.5%); Wichita, KS (4%); Valencia, CA (1%); Stratford, CT (7%); Ronkonkoma, NY (2%); and at various locations across the United States (6%) and is expected to be complete in April 2011.

FY 2008 MH-60S utility
(click to view full)

Sept 29/08: +2 each R/S. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT receives a $52.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for an option for 2 MH-60S and 2 MH-60R helicopters for the US Navy. Note that expensive items like engines, cockpits, and mission systems are bought under separate contracts.

Work will be performed in Nashua, NH, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited and one bid was received by AMCOM (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Sept 29/08: Common cockpits. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY receives a $16.3 million modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-04-C-0028) for 2 additional MH-60R Common Cockpits and 2 additional MH-60S Common Cockpits, plus associated spares. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in April 2010.

Aug 18/08: SAR – AMCM. The MH-60S AMCM problems noted in this article’s April 28/08 entry are officially documented in the US DoD’s latest Selected Acquisition Report:

“This SAR is being submitted to report schedule delays of six months or more. Specifically, Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) Initial Operational Capability (IOC) slipped 20 months from July 2008 to March 2010 and AMCM Interim Process Review (IPR) IV slipped two years from September 2008 to September 2010 due to testing and reliability issues. There were no cost changes reported.”

SAR re: MH-60S AMCM

July 22/08: +2 MH-60S. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT received a $22 million firm-fixed price contract for 2 MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopters. Note that expensive items like engines, cockpits, and mission systems are bought under separate contracts.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited on Oct 20/05 (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

June 26/08: APS-153. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego in Owego, NY received a $144 million modification, finalizing a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee modification (N00019-08-C-0005) to a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. This modification provides for the system design and development of the MH-60R Advanced Radar Periscope Detection and Discrimination System, to include design, development, integration and test. Read “$144M to Help MH-60Rs Detect Enemy Periscopes” for a full explanation of this award’s tactical significance and challenges.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (51%) and Farmingdale, NY (49%), and is expected to be complete in September 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages this contract.

May 28/08: Hawklink. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $5.8 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0076) for non-recurring efforts associated with integration of the Ku-Band Hawklink Common Data Link (CDL) into Phase II of the MH-60R Block I upgrade (vid. Sept 28/08 entry). Work will be performed in Owego, NY (80%); and Patuxent River, MD (20%), and is expected to be complete in December 2008.

Why does Hawklink matter? In a word, bandwidth. MH-60R and SH-60B Seahawks currently send data across the C-band microwave frequency range. Using the Ku band and the high definition SAU 07000 Ship Air Upgrade interface will create point-to-point Internet-equivalent connectivity between the MH-60R and the ship, enabling both to publish and subscribe for information. That would allow a ship or strike group to request specific data from the helicopter, simultaneously receive streaming imagery and other messages, and capture ever greater levels of detail about multiple targets.

April 29/08: Point & click. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY received a $21.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0028) for 17 point-and-click operator system interface test assets. They are being used as part of a redesign of the MH-60s’ common cockpit to include more of a “trackball point-and-click” approach, and this contract includes modification, testing, integration, training and logistics support tasks.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (80%) and Austin, TX (20%), and work is expected to be completed in April 2010.

April 28/08: AMCM OpEval stopped. Inside Defense reports that the US has halted its OpEval (operational evaluation, realistic tests) of the MH-60S AMCM mine-countermeasures helicopter. A discussion with NAVAIR reveals that the problem is with one specific system, and OpEval is continuing with the rest of the AMCM package in its current state.

The problem is related to the AQS-20 towing sonar. The sonar works fine, but the mechanisms that deploy it out the side of the helicopter are encountering reliability issues. A team of engineers has been formed to look into the problem. Once they report back, the US Navy will have a better idea of the time and effort required to deliver a fix. AQS-20 OpEval will be rescheduled at a later date, once the Navy is confident that a fix is well underway.

March 31/08: Support. Lockheed Martin Integrated Defense Systems in Owego, NY won $57 million for firm-fixed-price delivery order #5012 under a previously awarded basic ordering agreement contract (N00383-06-G-016F). This buys “initial and wholesale spares requirements for 6 different weapons replaceable assemblies that are required to support the system used on the MH-60R/S helicopter.”

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and work is expected to be complete by October 2010. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity.

Feb 6/08: +1 MH-60S. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $14.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for “option one.” This is a single MH-60R Sea Hawk Helicopter in flying condition, but without mission systems and some avionics (see Aug 15/07 entry, these add about $8 million to the price). The way the current multi-year contract works is through a set of pre-contracted “lots”, in the MH-60R’s case Lots IV-IX. Options also exist that allow the Navy to take up to 2 helicopters out of a production lot, or add up to 3.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT. The announcement says it is expected to be complete by Dec 31/12, but the helicopter is actually expected in 2010. It will have SysConfig 58 software plus the MH-60R’s associated “Block 2” equipment. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. One bid was solicited on Oct. 20, 2005, and 1 bid was received by the U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Command in Huntsville, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

Jan 30/08: Support. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI received $58.4 million for a delivery order under a previously awarded basic ordering agreement contract (N00383-06-G-011F, #5005). They will provide initial and wholesale spares for various weapons replaceable assemblies (WRAs) used in the development and deployment of the common cockpit and multi-mode radar system for the MH-60R helicopter.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI and is expected to be complete by October 2010. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Inventory Control Point.

Jan 22/08: Sub-contractors. Vought Aircraft Industries, Inc. announces a 5-year contract with Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. to manufacture cabin structures for UH-60L, UH-60M and MH-60S helicopters. Each cabin structure consists of approximately 3,600 parts made from aluminum, titanium and steel. The total estimated contract value is approximately $600 million for deliveries through 2012.

The new award follows an earlier 2005 cabin structures contract with Sikorsky, which led to delivery of 90 helicopter cabins to Sikorsky over the last 3 years and employed 450 people in Dallas, TX. With UH-60M Black Hawk and MH-60R/S Seahawk production hitting full stride, the number of cabin structures involved in this contract is likely to increase sharply. Vought release.

Jan 22/08: Sub-contractors. Kaman Aerospace Corporation’s Aerostructures Division announces a Memorandum of Agreement with Sikorsky to manufacture cockpits for UH-60M, HH-60M and MH-60S helicopters at Kaman’s Jacksonville, FL facility. The value of initial orders to Kaman is approximately $74.3 million, but if all options are exercised through 2012, the new multi-year agreement has a total potential value of approximately $196.4 million.

Kaman began manufacturing cockpits for Sikorsky in 2005. The firm delivered 147 cockpits of various models through November 2007, including UH-60L, UH-60M, and S-70A Black Hawks, and MH-60S Seahawks. In addition to manufacturing the cockpit structures, Kaman also installs all wiring harnesses, hydraulic assemblies, control pedals and sticks, seat tracks, pneumatic lines, and the composite structure that holds the helicopter windscreen. Kaman release [PDF].

Dec 27/07: FY 2008 contract. A $1.51 billion firm-fixed-price contract for 117 UH-60, HH-60, and MH-60 helicopters for the USA and UAE, under the 2nd year (FY 2008) of the Multi-Year VII contract. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited on Oct 20/05, and 1 bid was received (W58RGZ-08-C-0003). Helicopters produced under this award will include:

  • 18 MH-60S (US Navy utility, Lot 10)
  • 25 MH-60R (US Navy ASW/strike, Lot 6)
  • 28 UH-60M (US Army utility, Lot 32)
  • 26 UH-60M (United Arab Emirates)
  • 20 HH-60M (US Army rescue & medical, Lot 32)

Dec 14/07: The Multi-Year VII initial year (MY VII, FY 2007) contract award is a $1.48 billion firm-fixed-price contract. It covers for procurement of 106 Army and Navy helicopters for the USA, Bahrain and Thailand, as well as tooling, program systems management and production of technical publications. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, and is expected to be completed by Dec 31/12. There was 1 bid solicited on Oct 20/05, and 1 bid was received (W58RGZ-08-C-0003). The helicopters purchased were:

  • 18 MH-60S (US Navy utility, Lot 9)
  • 02 MH-60S (Thailand)
  • 25 MH-60R (US Navy ASW/strike, Lot 5)
  • 34 UH-60M (US Army utility, Lot 31)
  • 09 UH-60M (Bahrain)
  • 13 UH-60M (Optional Aircraft moved over from MY VI contract)
  • 05 HH-60M (Optional aircraft moved over from MY VI contract)

Multinational orders incl. 38 MH-60S, 50 MH-60R

Dec 12/07: MYP-VII buy. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. signs a 5-year, multi-service contract in Huntsville, AL for 537 helicopters to be delivered to the U.S. Army and Navy. The “Multi-Year VII” contract covers UH-60M Black Hawk and HH-60M MEDEVAC(MEDical EVACuation) helicopters that will replace the Army’s current UH-60 Black Hawk fleet, and the Navy’s MH-60S and MH-60R Seahawks.

The agreement is a price framework agreement rather than a firm schedule; actual production quantities will be determined year-by-year over the life of the program, based on funding allocations set by Congress and the Pentagon. Under the terms of the contract, Sikorsky will provide helicopters plus technical publications and updates, while its field service representatives provide technical guidance and on-site training to Army and Navy maintenance personnel. The deliveries are scheduled to be made from 2007 – 2012, and options for an additional 263 aircraft, spares, and kits could push the total contract value from $7.4 billion to $11.6 billion and the number of helicopters to 800. Sikorsky release.

MYP-VII umbrella contract

Dec 3/07: Sub-contractors. GKN Aerospace, teamed with Sikorsky Aircraft and the US Army’s ManTech Program Office, completes the design, development and manufacture of the UH-60 Common Composite Tailcone (CTC) test unit. The new tail would offer reduced weight, parts count, tooling costs, and manufacturing costs, all of which would be attractive for Army UH-60Ms. Naval MH-60R/S helicopters would also benefit very strongly, however, because composites don’t corrode in the saltwater spray. This is one reason their new European competitors (NH90-NFH and EH101) make extensive use of composites, instead of metal.

GKN Aerospace’s Reduced Tooling Concept cut the number of tools by more than 70% over traditional methods while replacing traditional honeycomb-in-sandwich structures with a highly repeatable, close tolerance structure made of a material called X-Cor. Costs have also been reduced through the use of automated fiber placement in the manufacture of the tailcone skins – providing high quality, repeatable laminates that never need painting, because the color is integrated into the skin itself at the lay-up stage.

In 2005, during the design phase, the CTC program received the prestigious Robert L. Pinckney Award from the American Helicopter Society for notable achievements in the manufacturing research and development for rotorcraft components. GKN release.

Oct 8/07: Go heavier? Congress is questioning the US Navy’s Helicopter Master Plan, and some members believe key capabilities have been sacrificed for economics. Mine warfare, battlefield medical support, and the H-60 family’s inability to carry mission modules to the new Littoral Combat Ships were all highlighted as areas of concern:

“There are several missions that we believe are very constrained if we do not have a heavy-/medium-lift helicopter,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., ranking minority member of the House Armed Services seapower subcommittee… [retired admiral] Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., agreed…”

The medium-heavy lift role is filled by helicopters such as the CH-53 family in the US Navy, and the EH101 in Europe and Japan. Sikorsky’s H-92 Superhawk approaches this category, and offers high commonality with the H-60 family. The European NH90 is similar to the H-92: both punch above their size due to extensive use of lighter, corrosion proof composites in the airframe, and higher performance engines. Of these 3 options, however, only the CH-53 could be assured of the ability to transport underslung LCS mission modules by air. See Defense News article | Information Dissemination includes an excerpt from a September 2007 USNI Proceedings article.

Note that the Navy’s proposed HV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor would not address any of these areas well, as its cabin’s 5.5 foot height is too low for a MEDEVAC role, its design is not well optimized for mine warfare speeds, and its ability to transport an underslung LCS module’s full weight is questionable.

Oct 8/07: Radars. Griffon Corporation subsidiary Telephonics announces that its Radar Systems Division has won a spares contract valued in excess of $42 million from Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, NY. This modification to a previously awarded contract includes the delivery of spare components for the AN/APS-147 Multi-Mode Radar (MMR) system, which will support fleet deployment of the U.S. Navy’s MH-60Rs. When combined with the previous award of a $318 million multi-year, full-scale production contract, the total contract value for MMR production systems, spares and services now exceeds $361 million.

Oct 4/07: MH-60R standup. The US Navy establishes the first MH-60R squadron, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, in a ceremony held at Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island. The MH-60R is replacing their SH-60B and SH-60F Seahawks, and possesses their combined capabilities: the radar role of the SH-60B, and the SH-60F’s sonar role. In the US Navy story, HSM-71’s commanding officer Cmdr. Michael K. Nortier said:

“Now, we have one aircraft with all the capabilities of every (previous) aircraft. That’s a significant change… Also, with the advances in technology and training for our Sailors, we’re providing five to 10 times more coverage than we have in the past, which is a huge improvement in how we defend the strike group.”

FY 2007 SH-60B fires Penguin
(click to view full)

Sept 28/07: MH-60R. The “Seahawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 41 graduated not only the last class of SH-60B helicopter naval air crew, but also the first class of MH-60R helicopter naval air crew at Naval Air Station North Island. Since 1983, the squadron has trained more than 3,000 fleet replacement pilots and air crew for the SH-60B helicopter and fleet squadrons. When HSM-41 received the Romeo aircraft (MH-60R) in December 2005, they started training the first set of pilots and air crew for the new aircraft. US Navy story.

Sept 27/07: MTS. Raytheon Systems Co. in McKinney, TX receives a $26.3 million firm-fixed-price order under previously awarded Basic Ordering Agreement (N00164-06-G-8555) for 24 AN/AAS-44C Multi-spectral Targeting Systems (MTS) and associated line items, in support of the MH-60S Block 3A program. Work will be performed in McKinney, Texas, and is expected to be complete by May 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $23,186,860, will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane, Crane, Ind., is the contracting activity.

Sept 25/07: Support. Lockheed Martin Integrated Defense Systems in Owego, NY, received a $31.7 million firm fixed priced delivery order on a basic ordering agreement contract for initial and wholesale spares requirements for 6 different weapons replaceable assemblies (WRAs) that are required to support the system used on the MH-60R/S helicopter. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and work is expected to be completed by November 2008. This contract was not awarded competitively by the Naval Inventory Control Point (N00383-06-G-016F-5007).

Sept 13/07: HSC-8. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC-8) receives its first MH-60S helicopter, and becomes the Navy’s first Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) to transition to an HSC. The MH-60S now flown by HSC-8 replace the HH-60H and SH-60F helicopters, as well as CH-46D Sea Knights. They provide search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR) and logistics to include movement of personnel and equipment. In the US Navy story, HSC-8’s Commanding Officer Cmdr. Larry Vincent said that:

“The Sierra is designed to operate in an over-land environment where there are threats. The helo has a self-defense package and offensive weapons. I think we can really make an evolutionary leap forward in how we use this aircraft, especially in a joint environment [where the Marines may need us].”

The name and airframe aren’t the only things that are new. The new squadron will not deploy as individual detachments. Rather, the entire squadron will now deploy as part of the carrier air wing as a second helicopter squadron, and provide detachments to the strike group’s ships. HSM-71 and their new MH-60Rs will join HSC-8’s MH-60S helicopters in Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, aboard USS John C. Stennis [CVN 74].

Sept 7/07: Support. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI received a firm fixed priced delivery order on a basic ordering agreement contract in the amount of $30.9 million for “initial and wholesale spares requirements for various weapons replaceable assemblies that are required to support the system used on the MH-60R helicopter.”

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete by October 2009. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Inventory Control Point (N00383-06-G-011F-5004).

Aug 15/07: Multi-year Mission Systems buy. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $951.7 million finalization modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-06-C-0098). This creates a firm-fixed-price multiyear contract for 139 MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems, including radars and other sensors, from FY 2007 (Lot 5) through FY 2011 (Lot 9). When combined with advance procurement contracts from January and May 2006 totaling $113.6 million, the total value of this multi-year contract rises to $1.065 billion – or $7.66 million per set.

It could have been $8.58 million each. Lockheed Martin’s release says the multi-year approach creates a 12% savings compared to individual batch buys. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in December 2013. See “$1.065B Buys Electronics for 139 MH-60R Helicopters” for full coverage.

Mission Systems MYP

Aug 3/07: Training. Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41 on Naval Station North Island was given the first MH-60R Tactical Operational Flight Trainer 2. As soon as the simulator doors opened, HSM-41 pilots and air crewmen immediately began training with the TOFT 2.

According to Cmdr. Ed Balaton, NAVAIR’s MH-60R training systems program manager, TOFT 2 benefits include a more realistic simulation of combat environments along with having the ability to train for nearly every scenario. Development began in 2006, with new features that include new designs weapon systems technology, improved graphics capabilities, and electro-hydraulic machinery that require far less maintenance than its predecessor. In the near future, the TOFT 2 will be able to link systems with other training simulators in different locations across the world and throughout every branch of service. US Navy story.

July 30/07: MTS. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in McKinney, TX received $9.9 million for firm-fixed-price, definite-delivery/definite-quantity order #0012 under previously awarded basic ordering agreement contract (N00383-02-G-018A) for manufacture of spares for the MH-60R helicopter’s AN/AAS-44C multispectral targeting system (MTS). Most MH-60Rs will be fitted or upgraded past this version. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX and is expected to be completed by December 2008. This contract was not awarded competitively by the Naval Inventory Control Point.

June 25/07: Support. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT, received an $18.8 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0115) for production sustaining support for the MH-60R, including project management, engineering, and logistics. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, and is expected to be completed in December 2007.

May 30/07: Sub-contractors. Kimball Electronics Group in Jasper, IN won an estimated $15.7 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Circuit Card Assemblies (Sets H and Q). Circuit cards, consisting of H and Q, are for MH-60 helicopters and ALQ-99 ECM pods. Set H is used to provide compatible interface between external stores, weapons systems and aircraft control devices in MH-60 helicopters. Set Q will be used to produce additional ALQ-99 Pod Programmable Interface units for the EA-18G Growler Aircraft.

Work will be performed in Jasper, IN and is expected to be complete by May 2012. Contract funds in the amount of $156,668 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Internet, with 12 proposals solicited and 3 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-07-D-0008).

April 7/07: Thai MH-60S request. the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Thailand’s request for up to 6 MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopters and 14 T700 engines, plus spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services and other related elements of logistics support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $246 million.

This would also make Thailand the MH-60S helicopter’s first international customer. The final agreement is signed in June 2007.

Thailand request

March 15/07: MTS. Raytheon Systems Company in McKinney, TX received a $28.7 million firm-fixed-price order under previously awarded Basic Ordering Agreement (N00164-06-G-8555) for Multi-Spectral Targeting Systems Navy configuration including 25 turret units and associated line items in support of the MH-60R. The MTS is a forward-looking infrared system that provides real-time imagery selectable between infrared and day TV as well as laser designation capability. Work will be performed in McKinney, Texas, and is expected to be completed by April 2009. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN issued the contract.

Jan 31/07: Mission systems. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received as $51.1 million firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-06-C-0098) for long lead efforts and materials associated with the production and delivery of the Fiscal Year 2008 Full Rate Production of 27 Lot VI MH-60R Mission Avionics Systems. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in December 2007.

Jan 30/07: Armed MH-60S tests. Navy HX-21 Squadron completes developmental testing of the MH-60S’ “Armed Helo” mission kit. The tests began in March, 2006 and tallied more than 260 flight test hours, included firing missiles from both sides of the aircraft. Previous-generation Seahawks could only do that from the left side, limiting them to 4 Hellfires. The MH-60R, and Mh-60S armed kit, double that capacity to 8.

HX-21 also tested GAU-21 .50 caliber and M240D 7.62mm machine guns from the MH-60S, but the entire kit will need to pass Operational Evaluation (OpEval) before it can be fielded with the fleet. US NAVAIR.

Jan 29/07: Support. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $68.8 million firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity time-and-material contract for sustaining engineering and maintenance support for legacy MH-60 aircraft. Services to be provided include program management, engineering, test, logistics, training, repair, studies and aircraft technical and maintenance support for the MH-60R and the MH-60S aircraft fleets.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in November 2007. Contract funds in the amount of $300,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-07-D-0005).

Jan 5/07: Support. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received an $8.5 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity long term contract for repair/overhaul of 14 various weapon replaceable assemblies used on the common cockpit of the MH-60R/S helicopters. This contract includes options, which if exercised, brings the total estimated value of the contract to $68.3 million.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (54%); Salt Lake City, UT (26%); Farmingdale, NY (13%); Grand Rapids, MI (5%); Middletown, CT (1%); and Phoenix, Ariz. (1%), and work is expected to be complete by January 2008. This contract was not competitively procured by The Naval Inventory Control Point (N00383-07-D-004F).

Dec 27/06: Support. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $10.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0113) to exercise an option for program management, engineering and integrated logistics support to provide production support services for the MH-60R Program. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be completed in June 2007. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Nov 16/06: +12 MH-60R. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $138.5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0115) for the procurement of 12 full rate production MH-60R Lot 4 air vehicles. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (92%); and Troy, AL (8%), and is expected to be complete in December 2007.

Oct 31/06: MS-60s armed upgrade. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received an $18.6 million Navy modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price Army contract (DAAH23-02-C-0006) for the manufacture and installation of armed helo mission kit fixed provisions into 28 MH-60S aircraft including related logistics support.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (92%) and Crestview, FL (8%) and is expected to be complete in March 2008.

MH-60R TOFT
(click to view full)

Oct 6/06: Training. The Navy announces that the first MH-60R Seahawk helicopter Tactical Operational Flight Trainer (TOFT) was recently delivered to the “Seahawks” of HSM-41, the West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) at Naval Air Station North Island, CA. The TOFS shipment caps an aggressive 41-month design, build, and test schedule by the government agency Manned Flight Simulator (MFS), who worked with the Aviation Training Systems program office [PMA-205], NAVAIR’s Orlando Training System Division and Integrated Battlespace Simulation and Test Department (IBST), and Navy Fleet personnel from test squadrons VX-1 and HX-21, and FRS HSM-41.

The Romeo flight trainer actually consists of two separate trainers that can be combined together. The first trainer is the Operational Flight Trainer (OFT), which contains the high-fidelity cockpit for training the pilot and the Airborne Tactics Officer (ATO). The second trainer is the Weapons Tactics Trainer (WTT), which contains a high fidelity Sensor Operator (SO) station and a partial ATO station. The OFT and WTT can be used individually for simultaneous training or combined for multi-crew training.

One of the key challenges was that the MH-60R TOFT project required engineers and programmers to accommodate the software changes in the aircraft. This was partially offset by the team’s ability to use MFS’ existing Multi-Mission Helicopter MH-60R/S T&E lab trainer as a platform to test models and upgrades, while cultivating lessons learned. NAVAIR release.

FY 2006 MTS on Predator
(click to view full)

Sept 28/06: MTS. Raytheon Systems Co. in McKinney, TX received a $24.2 million firm fixed price order under previously awarded Basic Ordering Agreement N00164-06-G-8555, for Multi-spectral Targeting Systems (MTS), including 21 Turret Units and associated items in support of MH-60 R/S Multi-Mission Combat Helicopters. The MTS is a forward-looking infrared system that is also used on Predator UAVs; it provides real-time imagery selectable between infrared and night vision camera, as well as a laser designation capability. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX and is expected to be complete by May 2008. The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN issued the contract.

Sept 28/06: MH-60R/S upgrade. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $7 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0076) for non-recurring design efforts associated with Link 16/P3I Phase II of the MH-60R/S Block I Upgrade. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be completed in May 2008.

July 6/06: Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a not to exceed $41.9 million ceiling-priced order against a basic ordering agreement for procurement of 12 weapons replaceable assemblies for the MH-60R helicopter. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete by January 2008. The Naval Inventory Control Point is the contracting activity.

May 24/06: Long-lead. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $40.2 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for advance procurement funding for the MH-60R Helicopters. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 4, 2000. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal, ALA issued the contract (DAAH23-02-C-0006).

May 17/06: Mission systems. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $76.5 million modification for 12 full rate production mission avionics systems, including the multi-mode radar. This award definitizes the previously-awarded FY06 Lot IV MH-60R advance acquisition contract (AAC). Work will be performed in Owego, NY and is expected to be complete in August 2008 (N00019-04-C-0113).

May 17/06: MH-60S armed upgrade. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $6.3 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for non-recurring engineering, required to incorporate the armed helicopter weapon system fixed provisions in the MH-60S production line. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in July 2007 (N00019-03-G-0003).

May 1/06: Mission Systems. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received an estimated $51 million advance acquisition contract for long lead efforts and materials associated with the production and delivery of the FY 2007 full rate production of 25 Lot V MH-60R helicopter mission avionics systems. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in January 2007. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD (N00019-06-C-0098).

April 28/06: MTS. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in McKinney, TX received a $16 million firm-fixed-price, definite-delivery/ definite-quantity order (#0010) against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00383-02-G-018A) to manufacture spares for the initial MH-60Rs’ AN/AAS-44C multispectral targeting system. The AAS-44C is shared with current SH-60B & HH-60 Seahawks, and P-3C aircraft. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Inventory Control Point.

MH-60S: Easy rider?

April 10/06: MH-60S upgrade. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $6.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement N00019-03-G-0003 for the development effort to modify, integrate, test, and qualify an active vibration control system for the MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in June 2007.

Active Vibration Control deliberately sets up a counter-vibration in the helicopter that cancels out engine-induced vibration. The result is a helicopter that’s a lot easier on the people and instruments in it.

March 31/06: The MH-60R is approved for full-rate production.

March 28/06: MH-60R/S upgrades. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received an $8.2 million cost-plus-incentive-fee order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00019-03-G-0003) for the development effort to complete the installation of pre-planned product improvement upgrades into the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters in support of Class I engineering change proposals. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in March 2008.

March 28/06: Support. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a not to exceed $41 million for delivery order #5045 under previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00383-01-G-004N) to purchase spares for the H-60R helicopter’s multi-mode radar system.

Work will be performed in Owego, N.Y. (20%), and Farmington, N.Y. (80%), and is expected to be complete by December 2007. This contract was not awarded competitively by the Naval Inventory Control Point.

March 20/06: Infrastructure. Basing modifications are also part of a weapons program’s cost. Walbridge Aldinger Co. in Detroit, MI received a $41.4 million (first increment) firm-fixed price design/ build construction contract for design and construction of an MH-60R Type I helicopter hangar at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville.

The new Type I hangars shall be configured as 5 repetitive contiguous hangar modules under one roof. They will be designed to house five helicopter squadrons consisting of approximately 13 aircraft and approximately 330 personnel in each module. In addition to the open hangar bay space, the project includes required maintenance support, administration, and building support spaces for each squadron. The project also includes a helicopter wash rack along with site improvements such as utility infrastructure, repair/replacement of hangar aprons and tie-downs, new aircraft pavement markings, security fencing and gates, pedestrian circulation and parking lots.

March 16/06: MH-60R/S upgrades. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $16.3 million cost-plus-incentive-fee delivery order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00019-03-G-0003) for development efforts to complete the Link-16 Tactical Data Link (TDL) Full Scale Integration (FSI) of the MH-60R and MH-60S aircraft. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in September 2007.

The Link-16 effort will provide a high capacity, multiple access, jam-resistant, digital data system that provides a common tactical picture between participating ships, aircraft, and even land installations. Because it’s radio based, it also has a secure voice system built in.

March 8/06: MH-60R upgrade. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $23.2 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0115) for production sustaining support, integrated logistics services, and the manufacture and installation of 6 Active Vibration Control kits in support of the Low Rate Initial Production Lot III MH-60R aircraft. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (90%); and Owego, N.Y. (10%), and is expected to be complete in December 2006.

Active Vibration Control deliberately sets up a counter-vibration in the helicopter that cancels out engine-induced vibration. The result is a helicopter that’s a lot easier on the people and instruments in it.

Feb 2/06: MH-60S buy. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $271.4 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for MH-60S Knight Hawk Helicopters. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 4, 2000 by the Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH23-02-C-0006).

Jan 19/06: MH-60R rollout. Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41 introduced the new MH-60R Seahawk at a rollout ceremony held at Naval Base Coronado, CA. US Navy story.

Jan 18/06: MH-60S buy. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $33.3 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for MH-60S Navy Knight Hawks. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete by Dec 3/07. This was a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 4/2000 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH23-02-C-0006).

Jan 4/06: MH-60S AMCM. Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT received a ceiling $25 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-quantity/ indefinite-delivery contract for highly specialized engineering and design efforts associated with continued integration of organic airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) systems with full-production level MH-60S helicopters to provide organic airborne mine defense for carrier and expeditionary strike groups.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (60%) and Panama City, FL (40%), and is expected to be complete by January 2011. The contract was not competitively procured. by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL (N61331-06-D-0012).

Dec 22/05: MH-60S fixes. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received an $11 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00019-03-G-0003) for nonrecurring retrofit efforts in support of Engineering Change Proposal 4010 for correction of operational deficiencies in the MH-60S aircraft. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in December 2008.

Dec 5/05: MH-60R received. A US Navy story salutes Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) HSL-41 as the first squadron to receive 2 new MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. HSL-41 is currently the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) used to train pilots, and only MH-60R squadron in the Navy. Lt. Eugene Bolton, MH-60R pilot and instructor, put it this way:

“The MH-60R takes sonobuoy and Hellfire missile launching, forward-looking infrared, radar and electronic support measures capabilities from the SH-60B and adds to it the dipping sonar and torpedo launching capabilities from the SH-60F…. It also adds a ‘glass cockpit.’ “

MH-60R fielded

FY 2005 and earlier MH-60S at work
(click to view full)

Sept 28/05: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $14.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously awarded basic ordering agreement (N00019-03-G-0003) for the manufacturing and installation of 8 Fixed Provisions and 5 Removable Mission Equipment to be installed on the MH-60S aircraft. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (82%) and Crestview, FL (18%), and is expected to be complete in September 2006.

Sept 28/05: MH-60R Upgrade. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $38.1 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0076) for non-recurring design efforts associated with Phase II of the MH-60R Block I Upgrade. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be completed in June 2008.

Efforts to be provided include development and/or integration of the Global Antenna System; Identification Friend or Foe Mode 5 and Mode S; Selective Availability Anti-Spoofing Module; Mission Planning System; Joint Mission Planning System; Satellite Communications; Ground Protection Warning System; KU Band; CV Integration; Built-in-Simulator; MK-54 torpedo; Electronic Surveillance Measures; and Right Hand Extended Pylon.

Sept 16/05: MH-60R/S upgrades. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a $5.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-03-G-0014) for continued flight test support and various planned program upgrades for the MH-60R and MH-60S programs. Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in December 2007.

Sept 1/05: MH-60R OpEval. The MH-60R completes Operational Evaluation (OPEVAL) successfully.

MH-60R OpEval

Aug 29/05: +6 MH-60R. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $64.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-04-C-0115) for the production and delivery of 6 Low Rate Initial Production MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (92%); and Troy, Ala. (8%), and is expected to be completed in December 2006.

Aug 29/05: MH-60R/S upgrades. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received an estimated value $50.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the Link-16 Full Scale Integration of the MH-60R and MH-60S aircraft. See this DID article for an explanation of Link 16 and what it does.

This contract includes research and development efforts to design, develop, integrate, and test the Link-16 Tactical Data Link subsystem and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) functionality for both the MH-60R and MH-60S aircraft, and the Downed Aircrew Locator System Personnel Locator System for the MH-60S. Work will be performed in Owego, NY and is expected to be complete in January 2008. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-05-C-0049).

Aug 19/05: MH-60R. Sikorsky Aircraft celebrates the delivery of the first new production MH-60R helicopter today in a ceremony held at their Stratford, CT facility. The previous 7 had been SH-60 rebuilds.

May 25/05: +12 MH-60R. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $24.9 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price advance acquisition contract (N00019-04-C-0115) for long lead material and effort associated with the fiscal year 2006 production and delivery of 12 full rate production MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in April 2006.

May 9/05: MH-60R. The MH-60R Helicopter enters Operational Evaluation, a key final step before approval can be given for full-rate production. See DID’s article, which explains the process in detail.

MH-60R, Bermuda
(click to view full)

Aug 9/04: +8 MH-60R. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $12.3 million firm-fixed-price advance acquisition contract for long lead material and effort associated with the production and delivery of 8 Low Rate Initial Production MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopter air vehicles. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be completed in March 2005. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-04-C-0115).

Dec 29/03: Common Cockpit MYP. NAVAIR awards Lockheed Martin Systems Integration (LMSI) in Owego, NY a $423 million multi-year contract for common cockpits for the MH-60R and MH-60S helicopters. By combining 4 years of annual buys into one contract, with an option for a 5th year in FY 2009, the Navy expects to save up to $63.9 million. Rotorhub article.

Feb 28/03: MH-60R trials. A US Navy story reports that 2 MH-60R helicopters recently got a break from the cold weather at Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Patuxent River, MD, deploying to the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in Bermuda. More than 50 NAVAIR test team members accompanied the two Romeos to AUTEC. Pilots logged 126 hours on the two helicopters in three weeks and captured all of the data required by the test plan. Firsts performed there included the first shipboard landing (aboard USS Gettysburg [CG 64]). the first in-flight launch of a sonobuoy, and the first location of a live submarine using airborne low frequency sonar (ALFS) while also conducting a radar sweep of the surface environment using the multimode radar and electronic surveillance measures (ESM).

The tests performed by VX-21 primarily looked at how the radar, acoustics and ESM systems worked together. NAVAIR engineers also evaluated the MH-60R’s data fusion system, which takes data from the subsystems and fuses them into one piece of information for the crew. This test phase puts all the systems together in one package and verifies the expected performance of each system, as well as how they function and communicate with each other. This was the first phase for the Romeo where the test team actually performed mission profiles to see if it could conduct a complete mission. AUTEC, with its uniquely instrumented range, is the only facility where this type of acoustics testing is conducted.

Additional Readings & Sources

Readers with corrections, comments, or information to contribute are encouraged to contact DID’s Founding Editor, Joe Katzman. We understand the industry – you will only be publicly recognized if you tell us that it’s OK to do so.

Background: Helicopters

Background: Ancillary Systems

News and Views

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Serious Dollars for AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)

Wed, 09/12/2015 - 01:19
AEGIS-BMD: CG-70
launches SM-3
(click to view full)

The AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System seamlessly integrates the SPY-1 radar, the MK 41 Vertical Launching System for missiles, the SM-3 Standard missile, and the ship’s command and control system, in order to give ships the ability to defend against enemy ballistic missiles. Like its less-capable AEGIS counterpart, AEGIS BMD can also work with other radars on land and sea via Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). That lets it receive cues from other platforms and provide information to them, in order to create a more detailed battle picture than any one radar could produce alone.

AEGIS has become a widely-deployed top-tier air defense system, with customers in the USA, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Norway, and Spain. In a dawning age of rogue states and proliferation of mass-destruction weapons, the US Navy is being pushed toward a “shield of the nation” role as the USA’s most flexible and most numerous option for missile defense. AEGIS BMD modifications are the keystone of that effort – in the USA, and beyond.

The AEGIS Naval Ballistic Missile Defense System What Is AEGIS? AEGIS Combat Control
(click to view full)

Aegis, named after the legendary protective shield of Zeus, is deployed on over 80 serving naval ships around the globe, with many more Aegis-equipped ships planned or under contract. It’s the primary weapons control system on board American Ticonderoga Class Cruisers (CG-47) and Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers (DDG-51), as well as Japan’s Kongo & Atago Class destroyers, Korea’s KDX-III Class destroyers, Norway’s Fridtjof Nansen Class frigates, and Spain’s F-100 Alvaro de Bazan Class frigates. Australia’s Hobart Class F100 derivatives will join this set shortly.

The heart of these ships’ defensive suites is the AN/SPY-1 Radar System, a 3D air/surface search and tracking radar. This high-powered phased array radar is able to perform search, track and missile guidance functions simultaneously, with the ability to track over 100 targets at over 100 miles. Terminal guidance depends on mounted illuminators, since current SM-2 missiles are limited to semi-active radar homing.

Partial AN/SPY-1

The other key to Aegis is the Aegis combat system software, which takes input from a number of systems in order to create a unified picture of the threat environment. AEGIS equipped ships are key elements in modern carrier and battleship battle groups, providing fleet area defense and communicating an integrated air picture for more effective deployment of naval aircraft.

Most Aegis suites can be converted to missile defense, with the addition of hardware upgrades and a set of software updates. We refer to these upgraded systems as AEGIS BMD. The AN/SPY-1B radar variants that equip Ticonderoga class cruisers CG 59-73, and the AN/SPY-1D variant that equips DDG-51 destroyers and foreign Aegis ships in Japan, South Korea, and Spain, can be upgraded to support missile defense. On the other hand, the AN/SPY-1A radar on some Ticonderoga class cruisers is reportedly ineligible. The much smaller AN/SPY-1F hasn’t received a BMD upgrade design, and may or may not be capable.

Aegis was designed from the outset to operate with the Standard missile family, and both systems reach their maximum potential when deployed together. The current mainstay for air defense is the SM-2 Block IIIB. For missile defense, the longer-range SM-3 is the system’s main option, and it’s capable of exo-atmospheric kills up to 200 miles away, as ballistic missile prepare to re-enter the atmosphere. The “Burnt Frost” intercept showed that modified SM-3s were even capable of killing satellites in lower orbits.

A new variant of the SM-2 Block IV is being revived and fielded as the Near Term Sea-Based Terminal weapon (NT-SBT), for last-phase endo-atmospheric intercepts as the warhead descends toward its target. The new SM-6 will begin taking over that terminal defense role as of 2015.

As a ship combat system, Aegis can and does operate with a variety of other weapons, but Raytheon’s Standard family missiles are the only ones with ballistic missile defense capabilities.

AEGIS BMD: Versions & Capabilities SM-3 Launch –
note rocket booster

AEGIS BMD went to sea with its initial operating capability in October 2004. During at-sea tests, the system and its missiles have been successful in 25/31 interception attempts – and 80.6% success rate.

AEGIS BMD 3.0. Its Long Range Surveillance & Tracking (LRS&T) wasn’t recommended for engaging ballistic missiles, but it reportedly extended the ship’s radar tracking range to 500 km/ 300 miles. That allowed equipped vessels to support engagements by other ships. Over time this version was phased out, as AEGIS BMD ship systems were upgraded.

AEGIS BMD 3.6 Supports full engagement, and was certified for tactical deployment by the U.S. Navy and the USA’s Missile Defense Agency in September 2006. The most recent certified version as of November 2014 is AEGIS BMD 3.6.3. This system retains long range tracking, can engage enemy missiles, and adds the capability to target short-range ballistic missiles as they re-enter the atmosphere in their final stage of flight. This allows them to make full use of SM-2 Block IV variants like NT-SBT, alongside longer-range options like the SM-3. Testing has demonstrated some unplanned bonus capabilities, including the ability to launch using another system’s tracking data, and to intercept MRBMs (1,000 – 3,000 km range).

AEGIS BMD 4.x Improvements include both hardware inserts and software development. Incorporation of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Signal Processor (Aegis BSP) into the AN/SPY-1 radar helps the system detect, track and classify objects more effectively, in order to defeat more complex ballistic missile threats like decoys and multiple warheads. The Aegis BSP, which has been installed in all new Aegis destroyers beginning in 2010, is an open architecture design. BMD 4.x also adds an adjunct computing suite that will continue AEGIS BMD’s migration toward open architecture electronics, and supports the improved SM-3 Block IB missile. The 4.0.2 sub-version on a number of current ships changes the timing of SM-3 rocket pulses, as a response to the FTM-16E2 test failure.

BMD capability will be included in modernized, open architecture combat systems in Aegis cruisers and destroyers starting in 2012, and even US Navy Aegis ships that are not slated for BMD will be changing over to a full open architecture (OSA/ MOSA) system as part of ongoing upgrades to the DDG-51 and CG-47 ships. The move lets the Navy buy commercial electronics components from a much wider variety of suppliers, saving money and ensuring easier future upgrades.

AEGIS BMD 5.0. AEGIS BMD 5.0 is expected to complete the system’s open architecture shift, with a new multi-mission processor and new computing workstations and display systems. There are proposals to upgrade all American Aegis ships with AN/SPY1B/D radars to have AEGIS BMD capability, so the full OSA/MOSA migration could prove significant.

In 2015 – 2016, a BMD 5.0 CU upgrade will restore terminal phase intercept capability within the atmosphere, allowing ships to use the SM-6 as a 2nd line of defense. This upgrade is also known as Aegis Baseline 9.C1, and has already been fitted to some ships, but they haven’t tested terminal intercept capability yet.

SM-3 evolution
(click to view full)

AEGIS BMD 5.1. The next big step forward for AEGIS BMD will be a new missile, coupled with the AEGIS BMD 5.1 software. The SM-3 Block IIA will use a different design that’s 21″ in diameter, instead of 13.5″ like the Block Is. That will allow for more powerful rocket motors, and considerable increases in range. The SM-3 Block I is mostly designed for use against short and medium-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs/MRBMs), and lacks the range to defend countries like Poland or The Czech Republic from the sea.

The Block II’s range will put most of the Czech Republic and Poland within range of inshore ships, and could allow just 2 ships to offer full coverage of Japan. Its improved range and speed will add effectiveness against Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs) that have ranges of 3,000 – 5,000 km, as well as some capability against full Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). It’s due in 2018.

AEGIS BMDS: The Program CEC Concept
(click to enlarge)

Tracking program spending on ship modifications is difficult to do in isolation, as Pentagon budget documents tend to treat “AEGIS BMDS” as a single category, which includes both ship upgrades and SM-3 missiles. The floating “SBX” radar deployed in the Pacific is also used in naval ballistic missile defense, but it is not an Aegis system and so does not come under AEGIS BMD budgets.

Based on Pentagon documents and outside sources, funding patterns include R&D, ship conversions, and SM-3 missile purchases. A GAO study gives totals over the years as:

FY 1995: $75 million.
FY 1996: $200.4 million.
FY 1997: $304.2 million.
FY 1998: $410 million.
FY 1999: $338.4 million.
FY 2000: $380 million.
FY 2001: $462 million.
FY 2002: $476 million.
FY 2003: $464 million.
FY 2004: $726.2 million.
FY 2005: $1.16 billion.

Beyond that:

The US MDA states that an in-service Aegis ship with no BMD capability can be given AEGIS BMD 3.6.1 capability for about $10 million to $15 million, or a AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 capability for about $53 million. An in-service ship with AEGIS BMD 3.6.1 installed can be upgraded to AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 for about $45 – $55 million more, for a total upgrade cost of $55 – $70 million if you have to do it twice.

BMD Ships & Deployment

We talked to the US Navy in order to confirm the ships, homeports, and combat system details of the fleet’s ships. As of October 2013, every ship from DDG 51 – DDG 77 will have received AEGIS BMD or have entered conversion. Conversions will continue within the fleet, and new ships under the current multi-year contract for DDG 117 – DDG 123 will all be delivered with BMD capabilities pre-installed – likely 5.0CU to start.

It has been a steady rvolution for the fleet, as it morphs toward its new “shield of the nation” role.

In March 2007, just 6 American warships had the ability to engage ballistic missiles, while another 10 were equipped with AEGIS Long Range Surveillance & Tracking version 3.0.

By July 2009, the number of fully BMD-capable ships had grown to 18, with 42 SM-3 missiles and 47 SM-2 Block IV variants available for use.

By the time CRS issued its FY 2012 report, there were 22 ships with AEGIS BMD 3.6.1, 2 with BMD 4.0.1, a store of 104 SM-3 missiles (92 Block IA and 12 Block IBs) to accompany about 100 SM-2 Block IVs.

The FY 2012 budget brought the total number of ordered BMD ship conversions to 35, and a combination of conversions, upgrades, and new-build ships will keep growing that number. From a FY 2013 CRS report:

(click to view full)

In the end, these CRS charts reinforce the belief that a significant portion of America’s destroyer and cruiser fleets will eventually receive these upgrades. Indeed, the US Navy’s FY 2015 – 2043 long-term plan will plateau between 80 – 97 BMD-capable ships.

AEGIS BMD Test History Beyond the USA JS Kongo into Pearl
(click to view full)

American ballistic missile defense ships won’t be alone on the seas. Japan has its own AEGIS BMD program, and began full installation of AEGIS BMD 3.6.1 systems in its Kongo Class Aegis destroyers in 2007. All 4 ships have now finished their installations, deployed SM-3 Block I missiles, and participated in BMD tests. The Japanese are also partnered with the USA to develop the SM-3 Block II: a larger, faster missile variant with an improved kill vehicle. This implies long-term upgrades for JMSDF combat systems to AEGIS BMD 5.1.

According to the US Congressional Research Service, other countries that the US military views as potential naval BMD operators of American equipment include the United Kingdom (Type 45 Daring Class, PAAMS/Aster-30 and possibly SM-3 too), the Netherlands (De Zeven Provincien Class, Thales BMD/SM-x), Spain (F100 Class, AEGIS BMD/SM-x), Germany (F124 Class, Thales/SM-x), Denmark (Ivar Huitfeldt Class, Thales/SM-x), South Korea (KDX-III, AEGIS/SM-6 confirmed), and Australia (Hobart Class, AEGIS/SM-6 confirmed, could add SM-3). Note that all countries listed here as potential operators could add SM-3s to Mk.41 vertical launch systems on board, as well as shorter-range SM-6 point defense BMD missiles. Infrastructure for one equals infrastructure for the other.

Aegis ships operate variants of the passive array SPY-1D radar, and one country has already taken steps. Spain already has ships equipped with AEGIS Long Range Surveillance & Tracking version 3.0, and ESPS Menendez Nunez has participated in US missile defense exercises as a tracking ship. The non-Aegis European countries mentioned here use variants of Thales’ SMART-L for long-range scans, coupled with modern active-array fire control radars. The Dutch De Zeven Provincien Class ship HNLMS Tromp has participated in US missile defense exercises as a tracking ship, sporting its Thales combat system and advanced Thales APAR/SMART-L active array radars. The Dutch are currently working to extend the class’ radar range even farther, in preparation for full BMD capabilities.

The US CRS omits France and Italy, even though they host the PAAMS combat system and BMD-capable Aster-30 missile on their 4 Horizon Class ships. France is also committed to building a national BMD system, so their omission is especially puzzling.

Contracts & Updates FY 2015 – 2016

1st BMD 5.0CU test. FTM-25 explained

December 9/15: The crew of the USS John Paul Jones got quite a workout while testing the Aegis combat system during an exercise off Wake Island on October 31. They first intercepted a short range air launch target (SRALT) missile with the THAAD missile defense system. The Aegis was then tested as a C-17 then launched an extended medium range ballistic missile (EMRBM) through the debris of the first intercept. If that wasn’t enough, the crew were simultaneously engaging a BQM-74E air-breathing target with a Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA guided missile at the time. The tests were aimed at improving and enhancing the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, which is the naval component of the Missile Defense Agency’s Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Nov 6/14: FTM-25. USS John Paul Jones [DDG 53] successfully engages 1 short-range ballistic missile target with an SM-3 Block IB missile, and 2 cruise missiles with a par of SM-2 Block IIIAs, in the FTM-25 Stellar Wyvern test.

DDG 53 has the Aegis 9.C1 combination, which represents the next evolutionary step. It finishes the system’s open architecture shift, adding a new multi-mission processor and new computing workstations and display systems. The upgrade’s goal is to rapidly switch between BMD and the area air defense role, allowing full use of SM-6 missiles in a terminal BMD role as well as multiple engagements like this one.

Other test participants included discriminating sensors flown on two MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles and sensor systems ashore; Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) Enterprise Sensors Lab; C2BMC Experimentation Lab; and the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex located at PMRF. Sources: US MDA, “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test” | Defense Update, “System upgrades are key in Aegis destroyer’s success defeating ballistic, cruise missile raid on the recent test”.

Oct 17/14: FTX-20. USS John Paul Jones [DDG 53] engages in the FTX-20 tracking test of a ballistic missile target, testing both the combined Aegis 9.C1 combat system (Aegis Baseline 9 with BMD 5.0 Capability Upgrade), and the ability to launch and engage based solely on tracks from remote airborne sensors.

Other test participants included the Sea-Based X-band Radar (SBX), Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) Demonstrators; Discrimination Sensor Technology (includes a UAV – likely MQ-9 – with an MTS-B optical sensor turret); Command and Control, Battle Management, and Communications (C2BMC) Enterprise Sensors Lab; C2BMC Experimentation Lab; and the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex located at PMRF. Sources: US MDA, “Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Detects and Tracks Medium-Range Ballistic Missile Target”.

FY 2014

BMD 5.0 contracted for development, but won’t become universal; CRS highlights program cuts, GAO highlights software glitches and Euro deployments. FTM-22 test

Jan 15/15 29/14: Raytheon announced that the Navy has approved the SM-6 for additional Aegis systems, to include those Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers from the 1994-keel-laid The Sullivans (DDG-68) onward.

This appears to put to rest concerns that the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) program wouldn’t be able to employ (see “Weapons” section) the standard family of missiles.

Sept 29/14: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Moorestown, NJ receives an $8.1 million contract modification for a single FY 2015 AEGIS BMD 4.0.2 ship installation, bringing the contract’s total value to date to $2.0106 billion.

Work will be performed at Moorestown, NJ, with an expected completion date of March 27/16. The US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0001, PO 0154).

Aug 8/14: 4.1/ 5.0. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Moorestown, NJ receives a $193.6 million contract modification for necessary material, equipment, and supplies to define, develop, integrate and test Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 4.1 and 5.0 Capability Upgrade baselines through their respective certifications. At present 4.0.2 is the most recent fielded version. $19.5 million in FY 2014 Navy RDT&E funds is committed immediately, and the entire modification brings the contract’s cumulative face value to $2.003 billion.

Work will be performed at Moorestown, NJ, with an expected completion date of May 31/16. fiscal 2014 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $19,500,000 are being obligated at time of award. The Missile Defense Agency, Dahlgren, Virginia, is the contracting activity (HQ0276-10-C-0001, PO 0150).

July 23/14: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Moorestown, NJ receives a $40.7 million not-to-exceed contract for 1 multi-mission signal processor equipment set, ballistic missile defense 4.0.2 equipment (the most modern fielded variant), and Aegis Weapon System upgraded equipment to support fielding Aegis modernization capabilities to the fleet. $20.3 million is committed immediately, using FY 2014 budgets.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (57.8%); Clearwater, FL (41.5%); and Owego, NY (0.7%), and is expected to be complete by March 2016. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to 10 U.S. C. 2304(c)(1), as implemented by FAR 6.302-1. US NAVSEA in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-14-C-5106).

May 27/14: Limited Upgrades. USNI reports that many existing BMD ships won’t receive an upgrade to Aegis Baseline 9, which lays a foundation for the use of missiles like the new SM-6 beyond the ship’s radar range, and for terminal ballistic missile defense:

“Out of 28 early Arleigh Burke-class DDGs (Flight I/II), 21 will not receive a full upgrade to their Aegis combat systems and instead have a midlife upgrade that will focus on the mechanical health of the ship and some will have upgrades to the ships’ anti-submarine warfare systems as part of a cost saving strategy, Naval Sea Systems Command told USNI News on Friday…. The estimated cost of the reduced upgrades is about $170 million per ship for the news systems and testing. The full upgrade costs about $270 million…. Ships without a combat system refresh at some point — usually during a midlife upgrade — only average from 17 to 19 years in the fleet, several naval experts told USNI News.”

Our chart of BMD ships has been updated accordingly. Sources: USNI, “Navy Quietly Downscales Destroyer Upgrades”.

April 8/14: CRS Report. The Congressional Research Service updates their backgrounder covering the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. They confirm DID’s charts regarding these areas, though CRS doesn’t divide general naval BMD from the land-based European implementation.

The FY 2015 budget cuts 132 SM-3 missiles from the FY 2014 budget’s 2015-2018 buys, and it will also change the composition and makeup of the naval BMD fleet via a combination of slower upgrades, and the mothballing of 4 BMD ships. The US Navy’s FY 2015 decision to sideline its 11 newest Ticonderoga Class cruisers (CG 63 – 73) will remove 4 ships from the BMD fleet until the late 2020s, and the damaged USS Port Royal will probably never return to service. Expected returnees include CG 67 USS Shiloh (2024, BMD 4.0.1 now), CG 70 USS Lake Erie (2026, BMD 4.0.2 now) and CG 72 USS Vella Gulf (2027, BMD 3.6.1 now).

Aegis BMD 4.0 is at an advanced stage, but there are still a few things everyone would like to see. They include a test featuring remote authorized engagement with an SM-3 Block IB against a medium/intermediate-range ballistic missile target, operationally realistic testing using its improved engagement coordination with THAAD and PATRIOT missiles, and
an Aegis BMD 4.0 test featuring simultaneous BMD/cruise missile intercepts.

April 7/14: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Moorestown, NJ receives a $13.7 million modification to contract for support of Aegis BMD Program Office advanced concepts initiatives, to identify technology for introduction into present and future Baselines/Spirals. This modification brings the total cumulative face value of the contract to $1.789 billion, from $1.775 billion.

All funds are committed immediately, using MDA FY 2014 RDT&E budgets. Work will be performed at Moorestown, NJ, with an expected completion date of June 30/14. The US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0001, P00138).

April 1/14: GAO Report. GAO-14-351 focuses on acquisition goals and reporting for missile defense in general. A 17 month delay in the modernized Aegis system is at a problematic point:

“Discovery of software defects continues to outpace the program’s ability to fix them; fixes may have to be implemented after software is delivered.”

March 14/14: GAO report. The GAO releases GAO-14-248R, regarding the USA’s EPAA plans for defending Europe from ballistic missiles. With respect to Aegis Ashore, they note that the Phase 2 system in Romania will be installed with an interim version of its software. The final version won’t be ready until 2017, which makes one wonder about the AEGIS BMD v5.1 software that supposed to be ready for deployment by 2018. This is a wider theme for GAO, who say that:

“A highly concurrent schedule for Aegis Ashore installations and Aegis weapon system development mean issues discovered during testing could require fixes, possibly after operational deployment. DOD believes that concurrency risk is properly balanced… flight testing will not affect technical design.”

March 4/14: MDA Budget. The MDA finally releases its FY15 budget request, with information spanning from FY 2014 – 2019. AEGIS BMD has a number of related budget lines: Aegis Ashore Phase II & III construction, BMD Aegis R&D, Land-Based SM-3 R&D, Aegis SM-3 Blk IIA R&D, Aegis Initial Spares procurement, Aegis Ashore Phase III procurement and AEGIS BMD O&M.

That’s $2.135 billion in FY15, for a diverse set of programs from missiles to ship refits to land-based installations. If BMD testing and BMD targets are added, on the grounds that most MDA testing involves AEGIS BMD systems, the FY15 total rises to $3.006 billion.

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The SM-3 Block IA went 4/5 this fiscal year, thanks to a faulty IMU chip in the FTI-01 test’s missile (q.v. Oct 25/12). That chip is only present in a few Block IAs, and isn’t in Block IB. The SM-3 Block IB went 3/3 in FY13, but after a string of 5 successful flights, the report notes an issue with the 2nd missile’s TSRM cold gas regulator during FTM-21. Overall:

“With the completion of FTM-21 and FTM-22, the IOT&E flight testing phase for Aegis BMD 4.0 and SM-3 Block IB guided missiles is nearly complete. However, the program needs to complete Flight Test Other-18 (FTX-18) and planned HWIL testing of raid engagement capability and Information Assurance testing using accredited models and simulations in the test runs-for-the-record before an assessment of effectiveness and suitability can be made. Additionally, the program needs to test Aegis-Aegis, Aegis-THAAD, and Aegis-Patriot engagement coordination; only the first of these three types of engagement coordination is planned for live-target testing before the SM-3 Block IB Full-Rate Production decision in 4QFY14.”

Oct 3/13: FTM-22. An SM-3 Block IB missile from the cruiser USS Lake Erie destroys a medium-range, separating ballistic missile target that was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. It represents the 5th successful test in a row of the SM-3-IB/ AEGIS BMD 4.0.x combination since the September 2011 failure. Sources: MDA release, Oct 4/13 | Lockheed Martin release, Oct 4/13 | Aerojet Rocketdyne release, Oct 4/13.

FY 2013

BMD 5.x development contracts; BMD 4.x installation contracts; SM-3 Block IIB is terminated after reports cast doubts on it; Glitches in FTI-01 test, but successes in 3 others. FTM-20 launch
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Sept 23/13: R&D. Lockheed Martin Mission System and Training in Moorestown, NJ receives a $20 million sole-source cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. They’ll identify technology for introduction into present and future Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Baselines and upgrades. Initial funding begins with just $50,000 in RDT&E dollars.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ, with an estimated completion date of June 30/14. The US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0001, P00125).

Sept 18/13: FTM-21. USS Lake Erie [CG 70] ripple-fires 2 SM-3 Block IB missiles at a short range, separating ballistic missile target. As it happens, missile #2 isn’t needed, because the 1st one hits. The bad news is that missile #2’s TSRM cold gas regulator, which was redesigned after the FTM-15 fail, glitched out during the 2nd pulse rocket motor firing. It didn’t affect the score, but the Navy wants to know if there’s a common underlying root cause they haven’t quite fixed.

As usual, the test centers around the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. It’s the 4th consecutive success for the SM-3 Block IB since the Sept 1/11 failure. Sources: the FY 2013 Annual Report | US MDA release, Sept 18/13 | Lockheed Martin release, Sept 19/13.

Sept 10/13: FTO-1. A successful joint test of AEGIS BMD and land-based THAAD missiles from the Pacific Kwajalein Atoll/Reagan Test Site destroys 2 medium range target missiles.

The test involved full inter-operation. A land-based TPY-2 radar was positioned forward as the warning radar. It acquired the targets, and passed that onto the joint C2BMC (Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications) system. C2BMC cued DDG 74 USS Decatur, outfitted with AEGIS BMD 3.6.1 and the SM-3 Block IA missile. Decatur acquired the track, then launch and killed its target. C2BMC also passed the track to a land-based THAAD battery’s own TPY-2 radar, which provided the intercept guidance for a successful pair of THAAD missile shots. The 2nd THAAD missile was actually aimed at the SM-3’s MRBM, in case it had failed to achieve intercept, but that turned out not to be necessary this time. Sources: US MDA, Sept 10/13 release | Lockheed Martin, Sept 11/13 release | Raytheon, Sept 10/13 release.

July 1/13: 5.1 + Increment 2. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Moorestown, NJ, receives a sole-source, cost-plus-incentive-fee/cost-plus-award-fee/cost-plus-technical-schedule incentive fee contract modification worth $295 million, raising the total contract value to date to $1.73 billion. This covers system engineering and program management for BMD 5.1 software through the Critical Design Review (CDR), and SM-6 interceptor Increment 2 through Preliminary Design Review (PDR).

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ until March 2015. SM-6 Increment 2 will provide terminal-phase ballistic missile defense capability, allowing the missiles to act as a 2nd layer beneath SM-3. BMD 5.1 software and SM-6 Increment 2 are scheduled to reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) by 2018 (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

May 16/13: FTM-19. An SM-3 Block IB missile is launched from the cruiser USS Lake Erie [CG 70, BMD 4.0.2], and hits a separating, short-range ballistic missile target. This is the 3rd consecutive successful test for the SM-3 Block IB, after its September 2011 failure. Which should clear the way for the full FY 2013 missile order. Overall, this test brings the SM-3 family to 25/31 (about 80%) in ballistic missile intercept tests. US MDA | US DoD | ATK | Lockheed Martin.

April 25/13: BMD 5.0. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Moorestown, NJ receives a $69.4 million sole-source, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-award-fee contract modification to continue developing AEGIS BMD 5.0, increasing the total contract value from $1.34 billion to $1.41 billion.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ, and is expected to be complete by May 31/14. The US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. See ongoing DID coverage. The biggest news is the SM-3 Block IIB Next-Generation Aegis Missile’s effective termination into a technology demonstration program. Its ability to defend the USA from European bases became questionable, and its timelines were never realistic. The USA will buy the originally-planned number of land-based GBI missiles instead.

March 15/13: R&D. Lockheed Martin MS2 in Moorestown, NJ receives a sole source, cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. The $24 million option supports Program Office efforts to identify technology for introduction into present and future Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Baselines/Spirals. The total contract value jumps from $1.316 billion to $1.34 billion.

The work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ through Dec 31/13. The contract has no Foreign Military Sale components, and the US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages it (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

Feb 13/13: FTM-20. CG-70 USS Lake Erie uses AEGIS BMD 4.0.2 and an SM-3 Block IA missile to hit a medium-range ballistic missile target, based on tracking data from in-orbit Space Tracking and Surveillance System-Demonstrator (STSS-D) satellites. The 4.0.2 system incorporates the changes made in the wake of the FTM-16E2 failure, and changes the timing of SM-3 rocket pulses.

Tracking from space can extend ship launch ranges, which allows one ship to cover a larger area. On the other hand, a September 2012 NRC report saw the system’s PTSS successor constellation as a waste of money, which provides very little value beyond existing satellites. They recommended that the USA should invest in upgrading the land-based GMD and its radars instead, in order to improve ICBM intercepts.

The missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, as usual. The SM-3 destroyed its target, and initial indications are that all components performed as designed. MDA’s release says that FTM-20 is the 24th successful SM-3 intercept in 30 flight test attempts since intercept tests began in 2002. US MDA | US DoD | ATK | Lockheed Martin | Northrop Grumman | Raytheon.

Feb 11/13: GAO Report. GAO-13-382R: “Standard Missile-3 Block IIB Analysis of Alternatives” throws cold water on the idea that the SM-3 Block 2B can defend the USA from bases in Poland or Romania. The geometry isn’t very good, and success may require a boost-phase intercept. Those are very tricky, and have limited range, because you have to hit the enemy missile within a very short time/ distance.

Some members of the military think it’s possible, at an initial estimated budget of $130 million extra. The problem is the tradeoffs. Liquid propellants can boost speed, but are unsafe on Navy ships due to the fire risks. On the other hand, the middle of the North Sea offers much better missile intercept geometries. Maybe Block 2B shouldn’t be land-based at all, but then why replace Block 2A in such an expensive way? MDA still needs to set the future missile’s performance requirements and limits. Where should the tradeoffs be made?

This brings us to the GAO’s point about the MDA developing the SM-3 Block IIB under a framework that dispenses with a good chunk of the usual paperwork, including an Analysis of Alternatives. On reflection, this is more than a bureaucratic point driven by “records show that programs doing the paperwork usually fare better.” One of the EPAA’s key underlying assumptions is now in question, and the proposed solution must now be in question as well. Is the best solution for land-based European missile defense still SM-3 Block IIB? What are the tradeoffs vs. using a system like the NRC’s recommended GMD-I from the USA (vid. September 2012 entry), and making Block 2B a ship-deployed missile? Does Block 2B even make sense now? Without good answers regarding capability, options, and maintainability, how does the MDA decide – or pick the right winning combination among the Block 2B competitors? A full AoA could improve those answers, and hence the odds of a smart pick.

Feb 7/13: +3 destroyers. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ has its sole-source-cost-plus-incentive-fee/ cost-plus-award-fee contract limit raised by $30.2 million, in order to install AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 on 3 US Navy destroyers. This raises the overall contract from $1.286 billion to $1.316 billion.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ; Pearl Harbor, HI; San Diego, CA, and Norfolk, VA through March 15/15. Initial funding will use FY 2013 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds. The Missile Defense Agency, Dahlgren, Va., is the contracting activity (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

Oct 25/12: FTI-01. The US Army and Navy conduct a combined developmental and operational tests that involves the back-end C2BMC system, Army PATRIOT PAC-3 and THAAD missile intercepts, and Navy SM-2 and SM-3 missiles launched from USS Fitzgerald [DDG 62]. The PAC-3, THAAD, and SM-2 intercepts all work. The SM-3 Block IA intercept does not.

“The flight test began with an Extended Long Range Air Launch Target (E-LRALT) missile airdropped over the broad ocean area north of Wake Island from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft, staged from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 X-band radar, located with the THAAD system on Meck Island, tracked the E-LRALT and a THAAD interceptor successfully intercepted the Medium-Range Ballistic Missile. THAAD was operated by Soldiers from the 32nd AAMDC.

Another short-range ballistic missile was launched from a mobile launch platform located in the broad ocean area northeast of Kwajalein Atoll. The PATRIOT system, manned by soldiers of the 94th AAMDC, detected, tracked and successfully intercepted the target with a PAC-3 interceptor. Additionally, a second PAC-3 interceptor also intercepted a low flying cruise missile target over water.

The USS FITZGERALD (DDG 62) successfully engaged a low flying cruise missile over water. The Aegis system also tracked and launched an SM-3 Block 1A interceptor against a Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM). However, despite indication of a nominal flight of the SM-3 Block 1A interceptor, there was no indication of an intercept of the SRBM.”

Sources: US MDA, “MDA completes BMDS FTI-01 live-fire demonstrations” | Lockheed Martin, “Lockheed Martin’s Missile Defense Systems Engage Multiple Targets During First Ever Integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System Test” | Raytheon, “U.S. Military Engages Targets With Raytheon Equipment in Largest Missile Defense Test in History”.

FTI-01: mixed results

FY 2012

BMD 4.0.1 certified; BMD 5.0 install contract Navy wants to scrap 7 cruisers, Congress wants to keep damaged CG 70; CRS report lays out BMD ship plans; European deployments to Rota planned; 2 tests go well; Key NRC report analyzes ballistic missile defense in-depth, says SM-3-IIB can’t protect USA from European bases. FY 2013 Budget fight
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Sept 28/12: Keep USS Port Royal? In the wake of Senate Appropriations Committee support, and partial agreement from the House Appropriations Committee support, the US Navy is now saying that it wants to keep USS Cowpens (CG-63), USS Anzio (CG-68), USS Vicksburg (CG 69) and USS Port Royal (CG-73) in service, instead of decommissioning them in March 2013.

USS Port Royal, which ran aground off of Hawaii in 2009 (q.v. Feb 8/09 entry), is the only BMD-capable ship in that set, and her required repairs will pose a separate problem for the Navy and for Congress. It may well be cheaper to pay $55 million and convert one of the other 3 rescued cruisers for the BMD role, than it would be to repair USS Port Royal. Naval Technology.

Sept 25/12: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a $27 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for the production of 2 multi-mission signal processor equipment sets that upgrade a SPY-1D radar for BMD, 3 AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 equipment sets, and 5 Aegis Weapon System upgraded equipment sets.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (74%); Clearwater, FL (25%); and Akron, OH (1%), and is expected to be complete by December 2014. $11.8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-11-C-5118).

Sept 14/12: Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a $58.1 million contract modification to produce 1 one FY 2012 multi-mission signal processor equipment set (which upgrades a SPY-1D radar for BMD), 2 AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 equipment sets, and 1 upgraded Aegis weapon system equipment set.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (74%); Clearwater, FL (25%); and Akron, OH (1%), and is expected to finish by December 2014. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington DC (N00024-11-C-5118).

September 2012: NRC report. The US National Research Council publishes “Making Sense of Ballistic Missile Defense: An Assessment of Concepts and Systems for U.S. Boost-Phase Missile Defense in Comparison to Other Alternatives.” The report staff have deeply impressive backgrounds related to missile defense, and their main conclusion is that very fundamental reasons of geography and physics make boost-phase defense systems a waste of time.

This includes AEGIS BMD systems. The report explains very clearly that the window for stopping a warhead before it has enough energy to hit “defended” areas makes it difficult to impossible to position a ship in a place that allows even future SM-3 Block II missiles to hit their target. The report still believes that AEGIS BMD has a strong role to play, and will form the core defense of critical locations like Hawaii.

Aug 29/12: BMD 5.0 for 4. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a $7.9 million sole source cost-plus-incentive fee/ cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. It exercises an option to install, test and check out the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Baseline 5.0 Weapon System on up to 4 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers, raising the total contract value from $1.272 billion to $1.28 billion. These ships will enter service in FY 2013 and FY 2014.

BMD 5.0 will finish the system’s migration into the DDG Modernization Program’s Open Architecture (OA) efforts, which would allow the installation of Aegis BMD capability as a retrofit to all serving American destroyers. Firing the longer-range US/Japanese SM-3 Block IIA missile will require another upgrade, however, to AEGIS BMD 5.1.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ from Aug 29/12 through Dec 31/15. FY 2012 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds will be used, but they won’t expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

Aug 10/12: CRS Report. The US Congressional Research Service issues its latest update of “Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” [PDF]. Key issues highlighted or examined by Mr. O’Rourke include the cost of forward-deploying 4 destroyers to Spain, the FY 2013 budget’s proposal to slow the 2013-2020 ramp-up rate for BMD ships, the potential for European contributions to naval BMD, the inability to simulate China’s DF-21 ship-killing ballistic missile, SM-3 Block IIB risks, and concurrency and technical risk in the AEGIS BMD program generally.

Issues involving the SM-3 Standard missile family are covered in that FOCUS article, while European missile defense is covered in a separate DID Spotlight piece. Other key excerpts:

“As can be seen Table 4, under the FY2013 budget, there are to be 36 BMD-capable Aegis ships by FY2018 [32 converted + 4 new destroyers], or 7 less than projected under the FY2012 budget for FY2018 [37 converted + 6 new destroyers]. The proposal under the FY2013 budget to retire seven Aegis cruisers early, in FY2013 and FY2014… may explain part of the difference… Some observers have been concerned that demands for BMD-capable Aegis ships are growing faster than the number of BMD-capable Aegis ships… [in addition] The Navy projects that implementing the 30-year plan would result in a cruiser/destroyer force that remains below 90 ships every year… except FY2027, and that reaches a minimum of 78 ships… in FY2014-FY2015 and again in FY2034. The projected cruiser-destroyer shortfall is the largest projected shortfall of any ship category…”

June 27/12: FTM-18. USS Lake Erie [CG-70] with its AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 system successfully launches an SM-3 block IB missile to hit a separating ballistic missile target. This is the same configuration that will be used for the land-based Phase 2 of the USA’s European missile defense plan, and represents an important success for the SM-3 block IB after the FTM-16 failure. This firing makes the AEGIS & SM-3 combination 23/28 in intercept tests so far (82.1%), vs. 31/40 (77.5%) for all other missile defense system intercept tests.

The Aegis BMD 4.0.1 configuration and its improved signal processor were certified in March 2012. It is now operational on 2 Navy ships, with installations underway on 2 more. US MDA | Lockheed Martin | Raytheon.

May 9/12: FTM-16E2a. This test goes better than FTM-16E2 (q.v. Sept 1/11), as USS Lake Erie [CG 70] successfully fires its SM-3 Block IB missile and intercepts the target. Sources: US MDA, “Second-Generation Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System Completes Successful Intercept Flight Test”.

March 15/12: Scrapping CG 73. The US Navy proposes to scrap 7 Ticonderoga Class cruisers, in order to reduce operations and refit expenses as part of proposed budget cuts. USS Port Royal, an AEGIS BMD capable cruiser that ran aground in 2009, is scheduled for scrapping in March 2013. Information Dissemination on NAVADMIN 087/12.

Feb 16/12: DDGs to Europe. The US Navy announces the 4 Arleigh Burke Class guided-missile destroyers which will be forward deployed to Rota, Spain in FY 2014 and 2015. See also DoD Buzz.

“The four include three from Norfolk, Va; USS Ross, USS Donald Cook, and USS Porter, and one from Mayport, Fla., USS Carney. The ships are in support of President Obama’s European Phased Adaptive Approach to enhance the security of the European region… Ross and Donald Cook will arrive in fiscal 2014 and Carney and Porter in fiscal 2015.”

FY 2011

Equipment and test event contracts; DSB reaffirms support for Aegis/SM-3 combination; CRS lays out ballooning demand, upgrade costs; GAO criticizes MDA’s baselines and cost estimates; FTM-15 test shows early launch-on-remote capability, but FTM-16 Event 2 fails. DDG-70 fires SM-3
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Sept 1/11: FTM-16E2. The first ABM test of the new SM-3 Block 1B missile does not go well, as the launch from the AEGIS BMD 4.0.1-equipped USS Lake Erie [CG-70] fails to intercept the target missile during “FTM-16, Event 2”. The US MDA is now 21/26 for SM-3 missile intercept attempts, plus one successful satellite kill.

The root cause of failure turns out to be abnormal performance in the 3rd stage, during thrust pulses for final rocket maneuvers. That stage is common to Block IA and Block IB missiles, so the program decides that the least disruptive approach is to change the ship’s Aegis BMD 4 software to control the timing between pulses. There are no further problems in the next 3 SM-3 Block IB tests. US MDA | Aviation Week pre-test | GAO report explains cause.

FTM-16E2 test failure

Aug 23/11: BMD 5.1. Raytheon Missile Systems Co. in Tucson, AZ receives a $9.8 million sole-source, cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. The CLIN 0008 option, “Future Upgrades and Engineering Support,” will help the Missile Defense Agency execute technical analysis for the Aegis BMD 5.1/SM-3 Block IIA combination, and increases the total contract value from $276.7 – $286.5 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through Sept 30/16, and will be incrementally funded by FY 2011 research, development, test, and evaluation funds. Though the SM-3 Block IIA is a cooperative program with Japan, this is not a foreign military sales acquisition. The US MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0005, PO 0015).

July 29/11: Mod Kits. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems & Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a $118.6 million fixed-price-incentive contract for 2 multi-mission signal processor (MMSP) equipment sets; 3 AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 equipment sets; and 5 Aegis Weapon System upgraded equipment sets, to support fleet BMD modernization. Sets will be delivered to 7 ships: the Ticonderoga Class cruisers USS Princeton [CG 59]; USS Cowpens [CG 63]; and USS Gettysburg [CG 64]; and the Arleigh Burke Class destroyers USS Arleigh Burke [DDG 51]; USS Barry [DDG 52]; USS John Paul [DDG 53]; and USS Benfold [DDG 65].

Work will be performed in Moorestown, N.J. (74%), Clearwater, FL (25%), and Akron, OH (1%), and is expected to be complete by September 2013. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC (N00024-11-C-5118).

July 6/11: In an open letter, the US Defense Science Board aims to dispel impressions that they recommended against the SM-3, which by its nature is a mid-course or terminal phase interceptor:

“The DSB concluded that the Missile Defense Agency is on the right track in developing European Phased Adapted Approach (EPAA) options, including continued evolution of the SM-3 family of missiles… The DSB also examined the potential in the EPAA context for EI [Early Intercept] in regional defense against short-range missiles before threat payloads could be deployed, and concluded that this was not a viable option because of technical constraints… The fact that this form of EI is not viable in shorter-range regional applications does not imply that either SM-3 family interceptors or the EPAA concept are flawed… MDA is on the right track in pursuing this capability for national missile defense, and examining the potential application in regional defense as a function of the range of threat missiles.”

June 23/11: CRS Report. The US Congressional Research Service releases the latest update of “Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” [PDF]. Key excerpts:

“Some observers are concerned… that demands from U.S. regional military commanders for BMD-capable Aegis ships are growing faster than the number of BMD-capable Aegis ships. They are also concerned that demands from U.S. regional military commanders for… BMD operations could strain the Navy’s ability to provide regional military commanders with Aegis ships for performing non-BMD missions… Options for Congress include, among other things, the following: accelerating the modification of Aegis ships to BMD-capable configurations, increasing procurement of new Aegis destroyers, increasing procurement of SM-3 missiles, and providing funding for integrating the SM-2 Block IV BMD interceptor missile into the 4.0.1 version of the Aegis BMD system.

…MDA states that an in-service Aegis ship with no BMD capability can be given a 3.6.1 BMD capability for about $10 million to $15 million, or a 4.0.1 BMD capability for about $53 million. MDA states that an in-service ship with a 3.6.1 BMD capability can be upgraded to a 4.0.1 BMD capability for about $45 million to $55 million.”

July 5/11: Testing. Lockheed Martin has begun testing its AEGIS ACB-12/ Baseline 9 combination (SPY-1 radar & multi-mission signal processor (MMSP)) against live aircraft in a “stressing electronic-attack environment.” The instrumented, pod-equipped Learjets are operated by firms like L-3, on behalf of the US Navy.

ACB-12 will equip both retrofitted ships and new DDG-51 destroyers. Lockheed Martin’s delivery date for Baseline 9 is November 2012, with certification about a year later. Next steps include simulations of a modern Midway-style scenario involving enemy aircraft and ballistic missiles, which have gained new urgency with reports of China’s DF-21 ballistic anti-ship missile. Jim Judd is currently Lockheed Martin’s technical director for ACB-12. Aviation Week.

June 3/11: FTM-16. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $219.5 million cost-plus-award-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee, and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, finalizing work for the FTM-16 ballistic missile defense test. This finalizes the total contract at $294.5 million, which includes the engineering, development, testing, support and material necessary to deliver an SM-3 Block 1B missile; and to provide engineering support, production engineering and obsolescence, surveillance and flight test support, and travel during the 55-month (about 4.5 year) performance period.

FTM-16 is scheduled for late summer 2011. It will demonstrate AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 mounted in USS Lake Erie [CG 70], in conjunction with the 1st flight test of the SM-3 Block IB interceptor. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through Sept 30/15, and about $32 million in FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds will be used. The US Missile Defense Agency at Dahlgren Naval Base, VA manages this contract (HQ0276-11-C-0002). See also US MDA testimony to HASC [PDF].

June 1/11: Support. Photon Research Associates in San Diego, CA receives a $9.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for specialized technical systems analysis services in support of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, as well as the land-based THAAD program, on behalf of the US Navy ($8 million/ 85%) and the government of Japan ($1.4 million/ 15%).

These services involve operations research support, physics analysis, test plans and procedures, test data collection analysis and test data review, test monitoring, real-time mission support, technical management support, technical reports and briefing preparations, in support of test and evaluation and systems engineering activities related to various national test ranges as required.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (70%), and the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai, HI (30%). Work is expected to be complete in May 2013, and $401,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-2, by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake, CA (N68936-11-C-0023).

April 15/11: FTM-15. Flight Test Standard Missile-15 fires an SM-3 Block 1A missile against an intermediate-range (officially, 1,864 – 3,418 miles) target, based on AN/TPY-2 ground-based radar data, before the USS O’Kane (DDG 77, equipped with AEGIS BMD 3.6.1) could pick the target up using its own radar. Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, and the missile recorded the 21st successful AEGIS BMD intercept in 25 tries.

The target missile was launched from the Reagan Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, approximately 2,300 miles SW of Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 radar, which is also used as part of the THAAD missile system, was located on Wake Island, and crewed by Soldiers from the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. It detected and tracked the missile, then sent trajectory information to the 613th Air and Space Operations Center’s C2BMC (Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications) system at Hickam Air Force Base, HI. That was relayed to USS O’Kane, sailing to the west of Hawaii, which launched the SM-3-1A missile about 11 minutes after target take-off. O’Kane’s own AN/SPY-1 radar eventually picked up the incoming missile itself, and controlled the missile until impact.

FTM-15 was less dramatic than the SM-3’s 2008 satellite kill, but it’s equally significant. Launch on remote track was supposed to wait for AEGIS BMD 5.1, and SM-3 Block IB was supposed to begin addressing IRBMs, with full capability only in SM-3 block II. Instead, the test also combined to extend the current system’s proven capabilities, while validating the difficult connections that make a missile defense system more than the sum of its parts, and proving out an important early warning element (STSS satellites) in the system. US MDA | Lockheed Martin | Raytheon | Lexington Institute.

Launch-on-Remote, anti-IRBMs come early

April 6/11: BMD 4.0.1. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a $34.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee/ cost-plus-award-fee modification with technical/schedule performance incentives. That money will be used to fund schedule and “within scope” adjustments to AEGIS BMD Baseline 4.0.1 development, and to multi-mission signal processor (MMSP) development under two separate contract line items (CLINs). Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ, and runs through December 2014. FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used to fund this effort, and the US Missile Defense Agency manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

For AEGIS BMD 4.0.1, the contract funds an initial delay in the certification schedule, and an adjustment to the original test plan.

For MMSP, it covers an extension to the development schedule, to account for alignment with changes to the ACB-12 overall combat system development and integration program plan. Those changes are “attributable to a delay in delivery of government furnished equipment.”

March 31/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Sudbury, MA receives a not-to-exceed $10.4 million delivery order for a set of AEGIS BMD radar electronics upgrades. Items include a stable master oscillator (STAMO); radio frequency (RF) combiner; ordnance alteration kits; and associated spares, material and installation services. The STAMO provides a very precise and pure RF source that is amplified in the Continuous Wave Illuminator, so the Fire Control System can illuminate targets for a missile engagement. The RF Coherent Combiner modification improves the accuracy of power and phase monitoring, reducing the need for sphere tracks to assess radar performance.

Raytheon confirmed to DID that these items were AEGIS BMD related. Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (45%); Burlington, MA (28%); and Andover, MA (27%), and is expected to be complete by August 2013 (N00024-11-G-5116, #0010).

March 24/11: GAO Report. The US GAO issues report #GAO-11-372: “Missile Defense: Actions Needed to Improve Transparency and Accountability.” Key excerpts:

“In 2010, MDA was able to meet or exceed its delivery goals for several MDA activities, such as missile defense upgrades to Aegis ships… MDA finalized a new process in which detailed baselines were set for several missile defense systems… [but] GAO found its unit and life-cycle cost baselines had unexplained inconsistencies and documentation for six baselines had insufficient evidence to be a high-quality cost estimate… GAO makes 10 recommendations for MDA to strengthen its resource, schedule and test baselines, facilitate baseline reviews, and further improve transparency and accountability. GAO is also making a recommendation to improve MDA’s ability to carry out its test plan. In response, DOD fully concurred with 7 recommendations. It partially concurred with 3…”

FY 2010

Equipment and test event contracts; Multi-year support contract; BMD on 21 ships now; Navy panel on Aegis readiness issues. USS Lake Erie [CG 70]
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Jan 5/10: Update. Lockheed Martin provides a year-end update of AEGIS BMD progress to date. It is now installed on 21 American ships, as well as all 4 of Japan’s Kongo Class destroyers.

AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 was formally tested in June 2010, with at sea tracking exercises of medium and intermediate range targets during the last quarter of 2010. That iteration will finish AEGIS BMD’s transition an open electronic architecture during the “Advanced Capability Build 12” software and hardware upgrades, scheduled for 2012.

July 7/10: AEGIS Readiness Issues. A Gannett’s Navy Times story discusses their copy of a fleet review panel report. The panel, headed by Vice Adm. Phillip Balisle (ret.), says that:

“The SPY radar has historically been the best supported system in the surface Navy, and coincidentally supports one of the most critical Navy missions today: ballistic-missile defense. Yet SPY manpower, parts, training and performance are in decline… it can be assumed that less important systems could well be in worse material condition.”

Problems behind the rise in requests for technical assistance, and poor performance in inspection reports, include a lack of top-qualified personnel, sailors who aren’t fully trained on maintaining the radars, and a Navy bureaucracy and maintenance funding shortages that make it so difficult to order replacement parts, crews are giving up and commanders are choosing to take risks with lower performance, in order to avoid sidelining the ship. Retired Office of Naval Intelligence analyst and longtime “Combat Fleets of the World” editor A.D. Baker III, offered this summation:

“The Aegis readiness shortfall is just one of a vast number of problems related to pushing people too far and not giving them the training or funding resources to carry out their duties properly… This will significantly affect our putative BMD capability. The money is going to missile development and procurement, not to maintenance of the detection and tracking system – without which the best missiles in the world won’t be of much use.”

June 14/10: Lockheed Martin, Mission Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a $131.6 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5101) for 4 multi-mission signal processor equipment sets, 4 ballistic missile defense 4.0.1 equipment sets, and 6 Aegis weapon system upgraded equipment sets.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (82%); Clearwater, FL (13%); and Eagan, MN (5%), and is expected to be complete by September 2013. $9.1 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC manages this contract.

April 26/10: BMD 4.0.1. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a $151.9 million cost-plus-incentive-fee/ cost-plus-award-fee modification, exercising options to complete the development and test of the Aegis BMD Baseline 4.0.1, then install and verify it in 4 Aegis cruisers or destroyers.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ from April 2010 through Dec 31/13, and $10 million in research, development, test and evaluation funding from the FY 2010 budget will be used to get this effort underway for the US Missile Defense Agency (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

Feb 10/10: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that the US Navy awarded the company a $160 million follow-on contract for technical and engineering support at its land-based test facility for the Aegis Ballistic Defense (BMD) System. The Combat Systems Engineering Development Site (CSEDS) in Moorestown, NJ, develops and integrates computer software for the Aegis BMD System. In addition to ongoing support for CSEDS, the new contract calls for Lockheed Martin to support, operate and maintain the Naval Systems Computing Center (NSCC) and the SPY-1A naval radar test suite located near CSEDS.

AEGIS BMD, 2009
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Nov 12/09: +6 ships. The U.S. Missile Defense Agency announces the next 6 ships that will be modified for AEGIS BMD. All will be stationed on the East Coast, which currently has just 2 BMD-capable ships. Defense News.

Oct 21/09: AEGIS BMD. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ receives a Cost-Plus-Incentive-Fee / Cost-Plus-Award-Fee contract with a total value of $1.035 billion, to serve as the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Combat System engineering agent and the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense Weapon System design, development and computer program source for Aegis cruisers and destroyers.

Work is to be performed in Moorestown, NJ from Oct 1/09 through Dec 31/14. FY 2009 RDT&E funding will be used to incrementally fund this effort for $15.2 million. The Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA issued the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0001).

FY 2007 – 2009

Equipment and test event contracts; Satellite killer; Japanese score 1st foreign intercept; Pacific Blitz test failure; USS Port Royal runs aground; BMD 4.0.1 developed and installed; BMD 3.6 testing complete. USS Port Royal: Oops.
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June 23/09: BMD 4.0.1. Lockheed Martin announces that it has installed the latest BMD 4.0.1 evolution and new Aegis BSP signal processor on the cruiser USS Lake Erie [CG-70]. Over the next year, USS Lake Erie will complete a series of tests, leading up to full certification of the system upgrade by the U.S. Navy in early 2011.

BMD 4.0.1 installed

May 12/09: Mod Kit. Raytheon, Integrated Defense Systems in Sudbury, MA received a $6.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order, with delivery incentives, for one AN/SPY-1 radar transmitter multi-mission capability ordnance alteration kit, including radio frequency monitor coherent combiner, technical manual changes and installation/checkout spares.

The AN/SPY-1 radar transmitter multi-mission capability modifications are part of the Aegis modernization program along with the multi-mission capability enhancement, a commercial-off-the-shelf based multi-mission signal processor which is being developed in parallel with this procurement. The multi-mission signal processor, and these transmitter modifications, will provide the AN/SPY-1D radar system with near AN/SPY-1D (V) radar performance, augmented with full AEGIS ballistic missile defense signal processor capabilities.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (67.5%); Sudbury, MA (20.5%); and Andover, MA (12%), and is expected to be complete by October 2010. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC (N00024-06-G-5109).

Feb 8/09: Aegis, Involuntarily Ashore. The guided missile cruiser USS Port Royal [CG-73], one of just 3 cruisers with AEGIS BMD installed, runs aground off of Hawaii. The warship suffers heavy damage to the underwater bow sonar dome and to her propellers and propeller shafts, and is drydocked. Bubbleheads has a link roundup.

Port Royal runs aground

Nov 1/08: Pacific Blitz. The US Navy has 2 ships fire SM-3s at 2 incoming ballistic missiles. Only 1 of them hots its target. USS Paul Hamilton [DDG 60] fired 1st and was successful, but USS Hopper’s [DDG 70] ability to successfully detect, track and engage the target wasn’t enough to get an interception. The US Navy’s record for intercept tests is now 16 of 19. Sources: US MDA, “Navy Intercepts Ballistic Missile Target in Fleet Exercise Pacific Blitz”.

Mixed test results

Oct 21/08: BMD 3.6. Operational Testing of the Aegis BMD 3.6 System completed.

BMD 3.6 testing done

Burnt Frost

Feb 20/08: Burnt Frost. USS Lake Erie [CG 70] launches a modified SM-3 missile, aimed at a malfunctioning American reconnaissance satellite [USA-193] instead of an enemy missile. The intercept is successful, adding a new dimension to American BMD capabilities.

The 5,000 pound satellite was probably a radar satellite, but the fact that the USA had lost control shortly after launch on Dec 1/06 meant that most of its toxic hydrazine fuel was still on board. Analysis from the Joint Space Operations Command at Vandenberg AFB, CA says that the on-board hydrazine propulsion fuel was successfully and completely neutralized, with “nearly 100 percent of the debris safely burned-up during reentry within 48 hours,” and the remainder of the satellite expected to safely re-enter the atmosphere and burn up “within the next few days.” Sources: US MDA, “One-Time Mission: Operation Burnt Frost” | USAF, “Operations Group blazes new trail during Operation Burnt Frost”.

Satellite kill!

JS Kongo fires SM-3
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Dec 17/07: Japan test. Japan’s JS Kongo AEGIS destroyer [DDG-173] becomes the first ship beyond the US Navy to destroy a ballistic missile, launching an SM-3 Block 1A to successfully intercept a medium-range ballistic missile target fired from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The veteran ABM test participant USS Lake Erie [CG 70] sailed from its homeport of Pearl Harbor to participate as a secondary, using its radar to track the target.

This marks the 12th successful intercept overall for the SM-3. Read “Japanese Destroyer JS Kongo Intercepts Ballistic Missile” and “Japan’s Fleet BMD: Upgrades & UORs” for more in-depth coverage. We won’t be covering further Japanese tests beyond the article’s master chart.

Japan: 1st BMD intercept

March 10/07: Support. General Dynamics Information Technology announces a contract by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) to provide support to the Missile Defense Agency’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program directorate. The contract has a total potential value of $191 million over 5 years, if all options are exercised. Under the contract, General Dynamics will provide systems engineering and program management assistance to Aegis BMD for production, fleet introduction and fleet operations and support. The company also will provide test and evaluation engineering management and safety, quality and mission assurance engineering; and support international programs including Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and cooperative development activities.

Feb 28/07: BMD 4.0.1. Lockheed Martin Maritime Sensors and Systems in Moorestown, NJ received a $979.2 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification to continue design, test, and deliver the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Block 2006/2008 (Consolidated) Weapon System capability (BMD Baseline 4.0.1). Updates will include an improved signal processor, and continue the AEGIS BMD’s migration to open architecture electronics.

Work will be performed at Moorestown, New Jersey and is expected to be complete by Dec. 2010. The contract funds will not expire at the end of the fiscal year. FY2007 research and development funds will be used. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C. is the contracting activity (N00024-03-C-6110).

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Britain’s CH-47 Mk.6 Chinooks

Wed, 09/12/2015 - 01:18
RAF CH-47 & 42 Cdo
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As part of a significant re-balancing of Britain’s immediate-term defense spending, Gordon Brown’s Labour Party government planned to buy 10 new CH-47 Chinook helicopters for delivery in 2012-2013, with the intent to buy another 12 Chinooks later. The RAF’s Chinook fleet would increase in size from 48 – 70 airframes, including 8 “Mk3 Chinooks” which will finally enter service after a costly and controversial program, plus replacements for 2 Chinooks destroyed during operations.

Those plans survived mostly intact after the new coalition government replaced Labour. The new Chinooks will displace the Medium Helicopter Replacement project, which aimed to field successors to 46 or so H-3 Sea Kings that are still operated by the British Army and Royal Navy, as well as Britain’s 34 Puma HC1 medium helicopters when that type goes out of service in 2022. Britain’s decisions to buy the Chinooks, and make a number of other immediate adjustments to planned defense spending, stemmed from 2 difficult imperatives facing its defense establishment.

Britain’s Helicopters: Fuss and Futures RAF EH101 Merlin HC3
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One is the criticism they have received from both official and unofficial sources over the shortage of battlefield support helicopters in Afghanistan. That country’s difficult terrain, poor roads, and a growing threat from enemy land mines all place a premium on larger helicopters that have the lifting capacity to operate in high-altitude and/or hot conditions.

The British government, like their counterparts the Canadians, have been slow to react to this reality. Events and politics have made that approach less tenable, however, and the October 2009 death of Lt. Col. Rupert Thorneloe, MBE, after he had written a series of scathing reports decrying lack of helicopter support, made helicopter support a major public controversy. In recent years, as this pressure has built, Britain has taken an escalating series of steps in an attempt to improve its battlefield helicopter inventory.

One temporary fix involved buying 6 operational Danish EH101 helicopters in June 2007, and paying the cost of refitting them for British use and replacing the Danes’ machines with future production models. In October 2007, it was revealed that this effort cost about GBP 176 million total, or GBP 29.33 million (about $47.7 million) per helicopter. Those helicopters have reportedly been held up by shortfalls in RAF C-17 heavy aerial transport capacity, and reportedly have yet to reach Afghanistan.

Puma HC1
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After much to-ing and fro-ing, which even included an RFI for privatized battlefield helicopter services, Britain decided in September 2009 to spend about GBP 300 million upgrading its existing fleet of about 34 AS330 Puma HC1 medium utility helicopters, and lengthening that fleet’s safe service life to 2022.

Engines on its existing Lynx and Chinook fleets are being improved, under a pair of independent programs.

The RAF is trying to extend the flying times of its existing helicopter fleet, which will wear them out faster and is made difficult by their platforms’ low readiness rates.

RAF CH-47 w. BvS10, Afghanistan
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The net effect of these particular decisions is that Britain will eventually have a helicopter fleet made up of just 4 helicopter types after 2022, with fleets of 65-75 each:

The heavy CH-47 Chinook. Following the loss of 2 RAF Chinooks in Afghanistan in August 2009, the British fleet stood at a total of 38. Adding 10-22 Chinooks was seen as the replacement for 34 Puma HC1s and about 25 RAF Sea Kings. Replacement of the 25 Royal Navy Sea Kings, often used by Royal Marine Commandos, is a question mark.

The newest “CH-47 Mk.6” Chinooks appear to be a highly customized CH-47F baseline, and the August 2011 buy will bring the fleet to 60. Meanwhile, a broad GBP 408 million upgrade program now underway will upgrade the existing fleet’s engines to the CH-47F standard, while improving their avionics.

Sea King Mk4
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The medium-heavy EH101 Merlin in its HC3 transport (28) and HC1 naval helicopter (44) variants.

The transport HC3s are already serving beside the Sea Kings and Pumas, however, so the net effect if the MHP program is canceled will be a long-term reduction in helicopter transport capability for the Navy and Army. The Army substitutes fewer heavy-lift Chinooks for rather more Pumas and Sea Kings, which might still offer advantages if they can evolve doctrines based on those added capabilities. The trend toward mine-protection, and hence heavier vehicles, does give Chinooks added value.

At sea, meanwhile, the Navy’s 25 Sea Kings are compatible with a number of existing Royal Navy ships. Chinooks are compatible with none, except in “lily pad” roles from the decks of larger ships, and are not “navalized” to withstand salt water well. This might be alleviated slightly if the 65,000t Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers are used to embark Chinooks for the Navy, but the navalization issue would remain.

AW159 BRH & Longbows
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The AW159 Wildcat/ Future Lynx – about 62 in naval helicopter (28), army light utility (34), and armed scout (all) functions. Replaces the existing fleet of about 163 (64 navy, 99 army) Lynx helicopters in these functions.

British AH-64D Apache Longbow heavy attack helicopters (67), known as AH Mk.1 in Britain. In effect, the successor and sharp upgrade to about 98 Gazelle light utility and armed scout helicopters, which are being retired.

Despite statements that the Sea King fleet will be retired early, the unique fleet of 13 Royal Navy Sea King ASaC7 Airborne Early Warning helicopters, with their bulbous sidearm mounted radars, have no immediate substitute, and cannot be dispensed with. Until a substitute is found, they will remain in service.

Britain’s Helicopters: The Silent Influencer Not cheap.
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The other imperative facing Britain is a looming budget crisis. A 2009 report by the National Audit Office, said that shortfalls could add up to a GBP 36 billion gap between programs the Ministry of Defense was committed to, and what it could fund with current budgets.

Of course, the NAO’s 2009 Major Projects Report does note that Parliament bears its share of that responsibility, since it often elects to ‘economize’ by stretching production out rather than canceling programs. The result is higher fixed costs, which means higher lifetime costs for the programs Parliament targets to ‘save money.’ This complicates acquisition planning for future projects, which are needed to replenish other key assets as they wear out, but have their potential budgets damaged by stretched major programs from the past.

None of these dynamics are unique to Britain. On the other hand, these problems are sharply exacerbated by the combination of large-scale, expensive foreign wars; and a deep economic crisis that stems from, but reaches well beyond, the 2008 financial crisis.

Britain would likely have ended up paying more for a larger number of medium helicopters, bought in a competition that emphasizes cost-raising proprietary requirements and accompanying R&D, than it will for a smaller number of large helicopters bought under an existing design set. It also ends up addressing a critical battlefield and political weakness sooner rather than later.

Could Britain’s MoD have spent less on some of its helicopter upgrades and emergency buys, taken an American approach, and supplemented with chartered helicopters for less dangerous tasks in Afghanistan over the next few years, in order to deliver extra capabilities into the Afghan theater faster? Possibly. The Daily Mail certainly thought so in October 2009, when it wrote that:

“Only last month the Ministry of Defence turned down another offer of helicopters which could double Afghanistan flying hours for British troops fighting the Taliban. The Mail has independently confirmed that former RAF pilots offered to supply 25 helicopters within three months to back up the Chinook fleet which is stretched to breaking point.

The deal would have cost the MoD just [GBP] 7million a month – a relative drop in the ocean – but the offer was rejected because the RAF did not want to share a role with private contractors.”

What the UK MoD could have had is a matter for proper debate and examination, within an accountable and democratic polity. Clearly, however, a bought fleet of 60 total Chinooks is what Britain will have now.

Contracts an Key Events 2012 – 2015

1st flight; Deliveries begin. RAF CH-47 Mk.6
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December 9/15: The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has received the final of their 14 ordered Mk 6 Chinook helicopters from Boeing. The delivery marks the 35th anniversary of Chinook operations in the UK. The latest batch was ordered back in 2009 with first deliveries taking place in June 2014 as part of a $666 million uplift of the fleet. At present, 60 Chinooks are in operation in the RAF with the latest orders to be operational by early 2017. Boeing has been looking to increase their market share in Britain as of late. It was recently reported that they attempted to purchase Britain’s last helicopter manufacturer Westland off parent company Finmeccanica. Unfortunately for Boeing, it was an offer the Italians could easily refuse.

June 16/14: Delivery & Support. The UK MoD announces a new GBP 115 million support agreement with Boeing Defence UK, who will maintain the Honeywell engines aboard the RAF’s entire future fleet of 60 Chinooks. That fleet has all been upgraded to the same T55-714A engines that equip the CH-47F/ Mk.6. The new deal replaces 5 existing support contracts with one arrangement, and the MoD claims that it will save over GBP 20 million.

At the same time, the first 3 of 14 new Chinook Mk.6 helicopters have now been delivered on time, and training has begun at RAF Odiham. All 14 new aircraft are scheduled for delivery before the end of 2015, and are on track to be fully operational by early 2017. Sources: UK MoD, “RAF flying high in new Chinook helicopters” | UK RAF, “RAF Flying High In New Chinook Helicopter”.

1st deliveries; Engine support contract

March 15/13: 1st flight. First flight of the British CH-47 Chinook Mk.6 takes place successfully at the Boeing helicopter facility near Philadelphia.

“The Mk6 Chinook features advanced technology including UK-specific avionics, a forward-looking infrared system, and interoperable communication and navigation equipment. It is undergoing comprehensive testing in Mesa, Arizona in the US, before delivery to the UK later in 2013.”

Sources: Rotorhub, “New RAF Mk6 Chinook completes first flight”.

2009 – 2011

SDSR plan to Order for 14. RAF CH-47 Mk6 concept
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Aug 22/11: The UK MoD signs a GBP 1 billion ($1.64 billion) contract with Boeing for 14 new “CH-47 Mk6” Chinook helicopters, plus associated support for the first 5 years.

Boeing confirmed that these are new-build helicopters, which use the same T55-GA-714A engines that are installed on the F model, and being retrofitted to existing UK Chinooks. The CH-47F is also known for its use of large, single-piece components, and the UK advisory touts a “new, machined monolithic airframe.” That appears to be a CH-47F base airframe, but key changes and additions include UK-specific avionics, communication and navigation equipment; forward-looking infrared surveillance turrets; a rescue hoist; and defensive systems against guided missiles. Canada made similar changes to the CH-47Fs it bought.

The RAF will receive the 1st MK-6 aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013, to enter service in May 2014. By early 2015, 3 CH-47 Mk6 helicopters are slated to be ready for operational deployment, and delivery of all 14 helicopters is expected to finish by the end of 2015. The RAF intends to have all 14 operational by early 2017, bringing their total Chinook fleet to 60 (barring further losses). UK MoD | Boeing.

14 Chinook Mk.6

October 2010: Britain’s new coalition government introduces its Strategic Defence & Security Review [PDF]. It proposes to use one of Britain’s forthcoming Queen Elizabeth Class ships as a super-size helicopter carrier, and says that:

“Battlefield helicopters will be vital for the range of missions set out in the National Security Strategy. We will buy 12 additional heavy lift Chinook helicopters. We will extend the life of the Puma helicopter to ensure that sufficient helicopters are available for our forces in Afghanistan. The Merlin force will be upgraded to enhance its ability to support amphibious operations. Taken together with the continued introduction of the Wildcat helicopters for reconnaissance and command and control purposes, this programme will deliver a properly scaled and balanced helicopter force to support our troops into the future.”

RAF Chinook:
Spin Ghar delivery
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March 29/10: The UK MoD announces that:

“Progress is also being made towards the delivery of 22 new Chinook helicopters and the MOD has signed a contract with Boeing to begin the work necessary to deliver the first ten aircraft in 2012 and 2013.”

Dec 15/09: Gordon Brown’s Labour Party government and the British Ministry of Defence announce plans to buy 10 new CH-47 Chinook helicopters for delivery in 2012-2013, with the intent to buy another 12 Chinooks later. Note that this is not a formal contract yet. UK MoD re: purchase plan | UK MoD re: overall defense budget changes.

Nov 9/09: Defense News reports that Britain is planning to cancel its Future Medium Helicopter competition, and order Boeing Chinooks instead. The proposed move is part of a Ministry of Defence helicopter strategy called “Vision 2020,” which still requires approval by government ministers.

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Navy Books Huntington Ingalls for Next LPD | US Manufacturers Struggle to Keep Up With Arms Demand | JLENS Gets Another Vote of Confidence

Tue, 08/12/2015 - 01:20
Americas

  • The US Navy has awarded Huntington Ingalls $200 million to build the next amphibious transport dock (LPD) warship. The advanced procurement contract will fund the final of twelve of the San Antonio class ships to be commissioned by the Navy. The vessels are to be used by both the Navy and Marine Corps and are to be utilized for the embarking and landing of Marines and their supplies as well as supporting them across a variety of operational tasks. The John P. Murtha San Antonio class LPD was launched in March and was the programs most cost effective and advanced to date.

  • As conflicts continue to escalate in the Middle East, US arms manufacturers have stated that they are struggling to keep up with demand. Several firms have stated that they are nearing production capacity as foreign nations continue to make purchases with the aim to stockpile munitions for the next 5-10 years. While sales and share prices have been steadily increasing this year, the Islamic State attacks in Paris in November have added a heightened sense of urgency and a ramping up of military action in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. To cope with demand, companies such as Lockheed and Raytheon have been adding extra shifts, and expansions to existing plants have been planned to increase production capacity.

  • The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System(JLENS) radar program has received another vote of confidence after a group of retired admirals and generals gave their support for the program. The group have spent their careers specializing in missile defense, and follows last week’s news that the 35 members of the defense appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate were in favor of continued funding of the program. JLENS aims to spot low flying cruise weapons and UAVs with plans to have them as part of a defense network for major cities. Since beginning military action in Syria, Russia has been able to test its latest military technologies and hardware, which included the first the first real-world test of its Kalibr land attack cruise missile in October. The testing has given rise to the need for an effective defense system for the US from long range cruise missile attacks.

Europe

  • The Polish Ministry of Defense has denied that Poland is looking to ask for access to nuclear weapons. The announcement comes after Defense Minister Tomasz Szatkowski stated in an interview that the ministry was discussing the possibility of asking for the weapons. Poland would be able to acquire access to nuclear arms under a NATO “sharing program” to strengthen their ability to defend themselves, which has been implemented in Belgium, Netherlands, Turkey, Germany and Italy. Of NATOs 26 members, only France, UK and US have nuclear weapons, but only the US has shared weapons as part of the program. The ministry claimed that Mr. Szatkowski’s remarks “should be set in the context of recent remarks made by serious Western think-tanks, which point to deficits in NATO’s nuclear deterrent capability on its eastern flank.”

  • The Sunday Times has reported that Boeing made an unsolicited bid to buy Westland off Italian arms company Finmeccanica. Westland, The UK’s last remaining helicopter manufacturer, merged with Finmeccanica in 2001 to form AgustaWestland. The bid has roots in the battle to win a contract earlier this year to upgrade the British Army’s fleet of Apache helicopters. News of the attempted takeover bid has been seen as part of Boeing’s attempts to break into the European defense market and boost its manufacturing presence in Britain in order to gain more Ministry of Defence contracts from the British government.

Asia Pacific

  • South Korea is to develop their own stealth unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to enhance their reconnaissance and defense capabilities along the demilitarized zone (DMZ). The Defense Acquisition Program Association announced plans to develop indigenous UAVs back in November, but would not elaborate on specific details. These stealth UAVs will operate at altitudes that are outside the range of North Korean long range artillery and mobile missile systems, and will have the capability to destroy these targets. Applied research is expected to take place between 2017-2018. Initial research into the project is expected to cost $327,000.

  • The first of Bangladesh’s new Yak-130 fighters, and AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters have been inducted into the Bangladesh Air Force (BAF). The ceremony took place over the weekend with the Prime Minister as guest of honor. The induction comes after slight delays in the delivery of the aircraft. The BAF have purchased 16 fighters in total in a $1 billion credit agreement with Russia. Initially 24 were planned, but the order had to be decreased due to budget restrictions.

  • India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier will be delivered to the Indian Navy by December 2018. The INS Vikrant was undocked in June by Cochin Shipyard (CSL) who are anxious to start construction of a second vessel, although no formal agreements have been made. Some minor delays have been experienced due to lack of availability of warship grade steel, and delays in Russian approval over designs and equipment supply. When commissioned, the INS Vikrant will become the third aircraft carrier in service in the Indian Navy, which has been increasing its fleet size to boost India’s presence in the Indian Ocean.

Today’s Video

  • Russia launching two military satellites designed to monitor submarines on Soyuz 2-1v rockets. One didn’t quite make it:

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: The USA’s New Amphibious Ships

Tue, 08/12/2015 - 01:19
LPD-17 cutaway
(click to view full)

LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.

While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Capabilities and Features Roles and Innovations LPD-17 Class & ATF
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The LPD-17 Class featured both an innovative development process, and 21st century features that optimize them for a number of roles. These range from an assault ship that carries and sustains Marine Expeditionary Units, to use as a US Navy command node, the ability to play the lead roles in disaster relief operations, etc.

The ships will operate as part of larger Amphibious Task Forces (ATFs) in conjunction with a full set of airpower, additional assault ships, and air and sub-surface defense vessels. They can also be parceled out as the keystones of smaller three-ship Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs)/ Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESGs). At minimum, they can operate independently in low-threat scenarios during “split-ARG” operations, helping the group cover multiple areas of responsibility and respond to more than one contingency simultaneously.

A total of 11 ships of this class are slated to assume the functional duties of up to 41 previous ships, including the USA’s older LSD-36 USS Anchorage class dock landing ships (all decommissioned as of 2004, LSD-36 and LSD-38 transferred to Taiwan) and its LPD-4 USS Austin Class ships (12 built and serving, LPD 14 Trenton now India’s INS Jalashva). The San Antonio class ships may also replace 2 classes of ships currently mothballed and held in reserve status under the Amphibious Lift Enhancement Program (ALEP): the LST-1179 Newport class tank landing ships, and LKA-113 Charleston class amphibious cargo ships.

MV-22 Osprey

The San Antonio Class will also serve in a number of roles beyond combat.

While LPD-17 vessels will have their own helicopter contingent for patrols and transport operations, their large deck also makes them useful inshore “lilly pads” that can quickly refuel and turn around rotary aircraft from elsewhere in order to keep them on station longer. The ships are also designed to function as casualty receiving and treatment vessels, with 24 beds and two operating rooms. With communications capabilities that surpass most US and foreign vessels,

San Antonio Class vessels are potential command ships for US and joint task forces, and should make excellent UAV hosts and/or controllers.

Their 72,000 gallon per day reverse-osmosis water production certainly improves onboard creature comforts. It also allows the ship to operate in a critical lifesaving role in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the 2005 Asian tsunami, when fresh water is often the most urgent and difficult requirement.

Yet the ships’ combat role remains top-of-mind, and reminders of their purpose are deeply embedded in the names – and in some cases, the very fabric – of these ships. The USS New York [LPD 21] incorporated bow steel cast from salvaged remains of the World Trade Center. Later vessels in its class include USS Arlington [LPD 24], named after the section of the Pentagon that was also hit by an airliner on September 11. USS Somerset [LPD 25] is named in memory of United Flight 93, whose passengers’ heroic struggles with al-Qaeda hijackers crashed the plane in a Somerset County, PA field instead of the intended targets of the Capitol building or White House.

Basic Specifications Specs More Fun Facts

  • The US Navy has taken a tip from the cruise ship industry, and relied on heavy automation to bring down crew size. That frees up more space for troops, but these systems’ performance and resilience have become an issue.

  • The ship auxiliary systems are all electric, including electric heating and water heaters, 7 big York air-conditioning units (which will be appreciated by many troops), and a 72,000 gallon per day reverse osmosis water-generating plant.

  • A new high-power “low-drag” propeller hub design provides improved propeller efficiency, and helps them power the ship to speeds above 20 knots.

  • Within the ship, passageways are 25-30% wider than previous LPDs so combat-loaded Marines can move in full gear inside the skin of the ship just as if they were topside.

  • Those L-shaped berthing spaces have an extra 1-2 feet of headroom, enough for sailors and Marines to sit up in their racks. Personal storage space in all the berthing areas has gone up by 40%, compared to past LPDs.

  • The ships are also designed from the outset to accommodate the modern reality of mixed-gender sailors and Marines.

  • Food service has been modeled for maximum efficiency on both ends via simulation and task/traffic flow analysis that aim to keep both chow line waits and food production humming along.

  • San Antonio Class ships also feature amenities such as a ship services mall to ease long deployments, a fitness center, and learning resource center/electronic classroom enabled by the ship’s improved bandwidth and computing capabilities.

Self-Defense & Survivability: Options & Issues AN/SPS-48E on LPD 17

In order to survive both their missions and the need for upgrades during their long service lives, LPD-17 ships have incorporated significant advances in ship self-defense, survivability, and C4I systems. The question is whether they will be enough, given the ships’ size and cost.

Step 1 involves making detection and lock-on harder. The San Antonio Class was intended to have a significantly reduced radar cross section signature (1/100th of the LSD-41 Class). Indeed, the San Antonio Class works to minimize its signature across a number of spectra. It optimizes radar cross-section by streamlining topside layout, and incorporating reduced radar signature technologies and design. Relevant design features include a boat valley instead of a boat deck, removable coverings over the rescue boat and fueling at sea stations, and accommodation ladders that fold into the ship’s hull. Meanwhile, the advanced composite-enclosed mast/sensors, which cover the ship’s SPS-48E and SPQ-9B radars and its communications antennas, give the ship its distinctive profile. In the end LPD-17 designs do have a smaller signature than the ship classes that preceded them, but a July 2007 article in the San Antonio Express-News points out that the ship’s radar signature won’t be reduced as much as planned, compromising its survivability in near-shore regions.

A minor consolation of the class’ stealth design is that there are fewer edges and seams to collect rust, and corrosion-resistant paint and composite building materials were expected to reduce future maintenance and painting costs. Unfortunately, serious construction flaws in several ships of class are quickly piling up maintenance costs in other, unexpected areas.

RIM-116 RAM Launch

Step 2 is active defense. The class will use Raytheon’s SSDS combat system, which will control and partially automate a set of air, surface, and navigation radars, as well as electronic countermeasures systems, towed torpedo decoys, missile decoy systems, and air defense that will include the short-range RAM missile system. That single layer of active protection has been highlighted as a weakness in Pentagon reports, which state that the ship’s radar and defensive systems can’t defend the ship reliably against the most advanced anti-ship missile threats. That may prompt the Navy to add bolt-on launchers for the medium-range RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles that equip many advanced NATO warships. For close-in defense, the LPD-17 class will use the MK46 stabilized 30mm autocannon with advanced sensors, as well as traditional .50 caliber machine guns mounted about the ship.

Step 3 involves the ability take a punch and keep fighting. The ship’s design worked to optimize the separation of redundant vital systems, and possesses a diverse suite of fire-fighting options. Fiber-optic wiring throughout the ship is designed for high-bandwidth SWAN (Shipboard Wide Area Network) applications, and features long-term upgradeability, redundancy, and durability. It will also help the automated ship control systems manage ship systems, and quickly make changes in the event of damage. It is also used as part of an advanced lighting system that improves visual stealth, lowers power requirements, and makes it easy to switch the entire ship to specified lighting modes.

Unfortunately, these features have not lived up to their promise. Pentagon reports cite reliability and effectiveness issues with the Engineering Control System (ECS), the electrical distribution system, and the SWAN, saying that they may magnify the effects of a crisis, instead of helping the crew save the ship.

Other shipboard vulnerability upgrades include improved fragmentation and nuclear blast protection, and a shock-hardened structure with upgraded whipping resistance and structural connections.

Overall, Pentagon reports rate the class as more survivable than previous LPDs, but question whether they are survivable enough for the modern environment. This reflects the horns of their basic design dilemma. If a ship is made very large, it offers peacetime efficiencies and better capability per ton, but its cost will rise to a level that pushes it toward the addition of advanced radars, defensive systems, etc. These additions improve the odds that one’s ship won’t be lost and destroy the entire naval mission, but they also drive each ship’s price even higher.

The other classic approach to this problem is to build more but smaller ships, which tends to add costs by using more raw materials and building more hulls. On the other hand, cost per ship drops sharply – foreign LPDs tend to be somewhere between 1/3 to 1/10 the price of an LPD-17. With more hulls in the water, the loss of one ship is less likely to destroy an entire mission, and less expensive defensive systems can be used.

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Program, Budgets & Timelines Full flight deck view
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The original December 1996 US Navy contract was awarded to an industrial alliance led by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (formerly Litton Avondale, now Huntington Ingalls Industries), with General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Raytheon Electronic Systems and Intergraph Corporation, to design and construct the first of an anticipated 12 ships under the Navy’s LPD-17 program.

Avondale was supposed to build 8 of these ships, while Bath Iron Works would build 4 ships. In June 2002, however, a revised Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Northrop Grumman and Bath Iron Works. Northrop Grumman would be responsible for the construction of all LPD-17 San Antonio Class vessels, but they would trade construction of 4 of the USA $1.5 billion DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers to Bath Iron Works.

LPD-17 production, originally authorized for 11 or 12 vessels as functional replacements for 41 1960s-era ships, dropped to just 9 as cost spirals took their toll, and was eventually forced back up to 11 with extra spending. 2013 Navy budget documents show an average cost per ship of over $1.6 billion through all vessels, which offers the unusual phenomenon of no reduction in cost vs. the first ship of class.

According to official Pentagon budget documents, recent funding for the LPD-17 class has included:

San Antonio Class budgets, 2002-2012
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Even by 2002, Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation (RDT&E) was mostly complete for this class, and the vast majority of funds spent under the program have been focused on building ships. Note that requests for a given year generally include both funds to finish building a ship, and funds for long lead-time items like engines, “government-furnished equipment” that isn’t bought by the shipbuilder, and other items that must be ordered early so construction of the next ship can start on time.

FY 2010 funding would technically buy 0 ships; it finishes LPD 26, and buys long lead time items for LPD 27. FY 2011 funding was the bare minimum, and the LPD 27 order hung on passing a FY 2012 budget. The final shipbuilding contract was placed in July 2012.

Timelines

Current and planned ships in this class, and key milestones include:

San Antonio Class LPDs – Timelines
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For some ships still in progress, we’ve noted discrepancies between announced or estimated dates earlier in a contract, and completion dates for key milestones. For ships that are already in service, noticing the time lapses between key stages for an individual ship, and in the progression of ships through a given stage, provides its own indication of problems that have arisen. The effect of August 2005’s Class 5 Hurricane Katrina can certainly be seen in several of the ship timelines above. So, too, can the effect of manufacturing quality problems.

Flight II: What’s Next LPD Flight II changes
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The LPD-17s aren’t quite done production yet, but unless the shipyard receives new orders, that time is coming soon. HII’s response has been to look ahead, and look beyond amphibious ships.

An LX(R) competition looks to replace existing LSD-41/49 amphibious ships with up to 10 new amphibious support vessels, in the unlikely event that programs like the F-35 and SSBN(X) don’t gut US Navy procurement. The stated goal is 10 ships, with the 1st ship delivered between 2018 – 2022. HII’s response is the LPD Flight II, which keeps the same basic hull, but carries fewer Marines, holds less cargo, and removes a number of elements that add costs. Their stated target is a 30% cost reduction; unfortunately, that still makes their 23,000t design about twice as expensive as a foreign 17,000t LPD like the Dutch Johann De Witt. The benefits of using a mature production line and many common elements are real, but a $1.1 billion price tag per ship simply may not be affordable amidst hugely expensive programs and fiscal crises.

Fortunately for Huntington Ingalls, they didn’t stop there. Once they had stripped the LPD-17 design down and removed the hangar and some superstructure, they realized that they had a platform for other roles as well.

Joint Command and Control. The US Navy currently operates 4 dedicated command ships, all of which are over 30 years old. At some point soon, the Navy must either replace them of forego them. The LPD Flight IIs begin with advanced communication suites, and contain all the space one might require to house and run a full theater command. HII would have some decisions to make about organic on-board helicopter capability, but otherwise, most of the modifications would involve internal layouts and wiring. The big question remains the same: could this be done more cheaply by using another platform?

Hospital Ship. The USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy are converted oil supertankers, originally launched in 1975 and 1976. The San Antonio Class has an internal hospital with 24 beds; in contrast, the USA’s hospital ships can hold and care for up to 1,000 patients, complete with a full pharmacy, advanced tools like radiology, optometry, testing lab, etc. The LPD Flight II is far smaller than these 65,000t+ behemoths, but it does have a good deal of internal space that could be put to good use, and that capacity may be more than adequate for most deployments. Innovative approaches could even modify the Flight II’s enhanced deck space to stack containerized TransHospital systems, for medical satellite deployments ashore.

USNS Mercy actually sat pierside from 1991 – 2004, whereas a platform that could operate at lower cost would be easier and more tempting to deploy. If the Navy can get beyond its steeper acquisition cost.

LPD Flight II for BMD?
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Ballistic Missile Defense. This seems like the most radical change, but it isn’t if you think of the ship as specialized for this air and space defense role. A Flight II BMD ship would remove the well deck, in favor of a deck elevator that leads down to a helicopter hangar. It would also add a superstructure with the 21′ AMDR-S radar that the Navy considers ideal for ballistic missile defense, but which current destroyers cannot carry. The AEGIS BMD combat system would be installed, and the space cleared by the removal of most LPD-17 Class superstructure would be used to mount vertical launch cells around the edges. Notional designs show a nearly-ridiculous 288 Mk.41 VLS cells, or they could cut the number of cells and improve survivability by switching to the same Mk.57 PVLS on board the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class battlecruisers.

Effectively, a FLT II BMD aerospace warfare cruiser would create a more potent air and missile defense platform than current American destroyers, at a similar cost, in exchange for less versatility. US Navy 2009 estimates pegged a similar arsenal ship concept at around $2.55 billion, which still seems about right as a starting point. The Flight II BMD design would be more costly than existing LPD-17s, or existing DDG-51 Flight IIA BMD destroyers (around $1.8 – 2 billion). It might be cheaper than the $2.5 – 3 billion estimates rumored for DDG-51 Flight III destroyers, but it would have limited versatility. It has enough VLS cells to act as an air defense ship, but it would lack the speed required to perform the “plane guard” role for carriers on calm days. It’s possible to load some cells with VL-ASROC anti-submarine missiles, and deploy an MH-60R helicopter from the under-deck hangar, but the ship itself wouldn’t have the systems needed to detect and track submarines. It would be a very effective arsenal ship for land attack with cruise missiles, but other ships and submarines can do the same thing, without putting such high-end BMD capability at risk.

That might be an acceptable trade, depending on the Navy’s commitment to leadership of American missile defense efforts. With discussions regarding DDG 51 Flight IV focusing on power-hungry rail guns and lasers, the Flight II’s power generation capabilities could give them a unique defensive niche. On the other hand, Flight II BMD ships would probably have to be paid for by sacrificing DDG-51 destroyers. The class’ lead shipyard Bath Iron Works needs those destroyers to remain a major shipbuilding concern, which means HII would be cannibalizing its own DDG-51 production.

LPD-17 Program: Performance Problems (click to view full)

The LPD-17 program has done some things well. Reduced operational costs and an improved capability to incorporate technological advances over its 40-year service life were essential design objectives for LPD 17. In working to accomplish these objectives, the design team incorporated hundreds of suggestions and recommendations from more than 1,000 sailors and Marines in the “Design for Ownership” process. Simulation and modeling were used heavily, and virtual crews drawn from other areas of the US Navy took “virtual tours” of the design zones of the ship via a 3D model at initial reviews, at 50% design reviews, and at 90% design reviews. Cargo functions received particular attention.

Meanwhile, the entire project alliance worked together at the same location along with the project sponsor, in order to maximize communication. Those efforts show through in many aspects of the ships’ design.

Unfortunately, the LPD-17 Class has experienced a number of long-running problems, particularly those ships built at the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans.

Financial. Overall, the class’ financial and budgetary performance has been a long-running failure. The LPD 17 San Antonio was initially budgeted at $954 million, but ended with a final price tag of about $1.76 billion. The LPD 18 New Orleans was budgeted at $762 million, but finished at a similar cost to LPD 17.

Northrop Grumman isn’t solely to blame for these overruns. The need to tear down and rebuild completed sections of the LPD 17 San Antonio was a major cause of its cost increases, while workforce attrition rates as high as 35% annually led to its construction delays. According to San Antonio Express-News, a less obvious but equally consequential source of trouble was a computer design program dubbed 3D CAD, which was touted for its ability to give 3-dimensional views, but was not up to the task of designing an entire ship.

What’s far more disturbing is the fact that these massive cost increases over the original $800 million projections have continued throughout the class’ lifetime. Indeed, they showed no improvement at all. That’s never supposed to happen, but FY 2013 budget documents show an average $1.6 billion cost over the full 11 ships.

Workmanship. The 2nd performance failure has involved ship quality. Northrop Grumman delivered the 1st ship, USS San Antonio [LPD 17], in the summer of 2005, but difficulties with her INSURV inspections and acceptance sea trials forced a delay of almost 3 years before her 1st mission, which featured a major mechanical breakdown. A similar fate befell the USS New Orleans [LPD 18], and those delays are clearly visible in the timelines, above.

In contrast, USS Mesa Verde [LPD 19], which was built at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls yard in Mississippi instead of its Avondale yard near New Orleans, performed well in sea trials, and has been reliable in service.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the class’ problems. In 2010 a number of ships of class, especially the Avondale-built ships, discovered very serious problems that took them out of service for difficult repairs. They included USS San Antonio [LPD 17], USS New Orleans [LPD 18], USS Green Bay [LPD 20], and USS New York [LPD 21].

Once again, the bright spot was USS Mesa Verde, built at the Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, MS, which moved to substitute for USS San Antonio on a recent deployment.

Governments have generally ignored this shipyard quality problem. A $50 million grant from the state of Louisiana did help Northrop Grumman modernize production at Avondale, and another $98.6 million in federal funding has also filtered down to local NGSS shipyards in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Nevertheless, scathing Navy inspector general reviews that detailed shoddy construction and basic workmanship problems at Avondale are cause for legitimate concern in areas that will not be fixed by modernization alone.

Eventually, Northrop Grumman spun off its shipbuilding units as Huntington Ingalls Industries, and moved to close the Avondale, LA shipyard. That may finally resolve the issue – after more than $15 billion had been spent on a supposed cornerstone of the future amphibious fleet.

DID will continue to spotlight this issue, in “LPD-17 Reliability Issues Surface Again.”

The Vicious Cycle

The San Antonio class’ problems fit into a larger set of trends. The Navy and Congress make life very difficult for American military shipbuilders, who also operate in ways that come back to bite them. Key challenges include yo-yoing political budget projections and military requirements. That problem leads to “binge and purge” hiring cycles, impairs shipyard effectiveness, and ultimately raises costs, while lowering quality. The growing costs of US Navy ships then feed back into this phenomenon, as budgets and projections break, and require drastic changes to fix.

On the contractor side, lowball initial prices, followed by cost increases once projects begin, leads to inevitable build reductions part-way through. Which means fewer ships per dollar, as R&D dollars are amortized over fewer ships. The Pentagon is often a collaborator in these games, assuring lawmakers of the initial contract’s reasonableness long after outside reports question their realism. Such approaches may ensure shipyard work in the near term, but they also feed into yo-yoing federal budgets, as cost growth makes it impossible for the Pentagon to fund all of the programs it has started.

Poor accountability and oversight can compound these issues, and has, but good oversight alone won’t remove them.

Ultimately, the US Navy loses the most. These escalating requirements and costs mean fewer ships overall. While the resulting fleet may be more capable, the number of contingencies it can cover, and the setbacks that it can safely absorb, drop. Even as the entire process shrinks a US industrial base that no longer builds many civilian vessels, and so has little resiliency.

It’s a vicious cycle – one that is damaging American global power.

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Contracts & Key Events (1996-Present)

Unless otherwise noted, all contracts were issued by the US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington, DC.

FY 2015 – 2016

LPD Flight II
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December 8/15: The US Navy has awarded Huntington Ingalls $200 million to build the next amphibious transport dock (LPD) warship. The advanced procurement contract will fund the final of twelve of the San Antonio class ships to be commissioned by the Navy. The vessels are to be used by both the Navy and Marine Corps and are to be utilized for the embarking and landing of Marines and their supplies as well as supporting them across a variety of operational tasks. The John P. Murtha San Antonio class LPD was launched in March and was the programs most cost effective and advanced to date.

Oct 20/14: LX-R. It hasn’t exactly been a secret that the US Navy has wanted LPD-17 Flight II as its replacement for existing LSD-41/49 ships (q.v. July 25-28/14, Dec 6/13, April 9/13). Now Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has signed an internal memo recommending the use of LPD-17 Flight II ships to replace existing LSD-41/49 ships, rather than rebuilding existing LSDs with changes or opening competition to other designs. The cost?

Start with an estimate of $2.02 billion for LPD 28, which is higher than the original LPD-17’s final figure, in order to keep the production line going until LX(R). The Navy believes themselves to be about $1 billion short in terms of securing that funding. Regardless of what happens with LPD 28, the estimate is $1.64 billion in construction costs for the lead LX(R) Flight II ship, and $1.4 million for the next 10 planned hulls. Plus any funds required to do further design work that fixes existing LPD-17 issues.

Even assuming a multiyear procurement block buy that cuts costs over 10%, it’s hard to see that as affordable, especially in light of the USA’s expected fiscal situation and the demands of other programs. The next major step for the program is the Q2 FY2015 Milestone A review to settle the final outline, then a JROC review in Q1 2016. Purchases would begin in FY 2020, with delivery of the 1st ship expected in FY 2025. Sources: Inside Defense, “Senior Navy Officials Tell Mabus LPD-17 Variant Is Best Option For LX(R)” and “Mabus Signs Decision Memo: LPD-17 Variant Preferred Platform For LX(R)” | USNI, “Memo: Hull Based on San Antonio Design is Navy’s Preferred Option for Next Generation Amphib”.

FY 2014

LPD 24 & 25 commissioned; Testing reports still negative; Lots of pressure to use Flight II for LX(R) – but can the Navy afford it? LPD 25 trials
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July 25-28/14: LX-R. The Navy and Marines have finished the LX(R) program’s in-depth Analysis Of Alternatives (AOA) v2.0. Rebuilding a modernized or enlarged version of the current LSD-49 Whidbey Island Class isn’t on the table for some reason. Instead, they’re focused on either a budget-killing LPD-17 Flight II (q.v. Dec 6/13), a license-built foreign design that may have trouble with higher USN survivability requirements, a clean sheet design that would be risky and potentially expensive, or some combination of JHSVs, MLP ships, and others that wouldn’t really duplicate what the LSDs do.

The Us Navy is reportedly aiming for about 11-ship class that will average about $1.43 billion per hull once they’re in production, or almost $16 billion in production costs alone. First, this figure is also substantially more than many other countries have paid for comparable ships. In many cases, it’s twice as much. One wonders where the Navy expects to find this money, given other major programs like aircraft carriers, submarines, the F-35B/C, growing healthcare costs, etc.. All at the same time as demographics start really stressing social programs, and a shaky fiscal posture for the USA as a whole.

Unsurprisingly, some high-level officials think the AoA could wind up having a v4.0 before all is said and done. Or maybe it’s time for a major break with NAVSEA tradition: a serious examination of each requirement’s defensibility, in light of the AoA. There are some signs that the Navy is asking more questions than usual this time. Sources: Breaking Defense, “‘$1 Billion-Plus Short’: Amphib Add Isn’t Enough, So Navy Wants To Repurpose It” | USNI, “Cost Continues To Drive Quest For Next Amphib”.

July 17-25/14: Political. The Senate Appropriations Committee approves a $489.6 billion base FY 2015 budget, plus $59.7 billion in supplemental funding. It includes $800 million to begin funding what would become LPD 28, to fulfill section 123 of S. 2410. Even with $243 million added from FY 2013, the Navy would only have a bit more than half of the monies required, and the SAC is also mindful of the industrial agreement with Northrop Grumman (now HII) and GD Bath Iron Works (q.v. June 8/14):

“While Congress is not a party to this agreement, the Committee directs the Navy to submit a report to the congressional defense committees no later than March 1, 2015, on the Navy’s options and potential courses of action to fulfill the requirements of the SWAP 1 agreement preceding or concurrent with when LPD 28 is placed under contract.”

The House hasn’t voted any money, and the Navy is less enthused. For starters, Sean Stackley makes it clear that they won’t issue an LPD 28 contract until all of the required funds have been appropriated. He adds that the Navy is more interested in funding the RCOH refueling of CVN 73 USS George Washington, and in other amphibious ship programs. Sources: US Senate Committee on Appropriations, “Committee Approves FY 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill – Report: Department of Defense” | Breaking Defense, “‘$1 Billion-Plus Short’: Amphib Add Isn’t Enough, So Navy Wants To Repurpose It”.

June 8/14: Industrial. The Navy, HII, GD-BIW and Congress are all entangled in a ship allocation controversy, as a result of a 2002 MoU that shifted work on 3 LPD-17 ships to Northrop Grumman (now HII), in return for corresponding destroyer awards to GD Bath Iron Works.

Everything was fine until Congress began placing funding in the proposed FY 2015 budget budget for a 12th LPD 28 ship (q.v. May 23/14). If that goes ahead, does HII have to take away one of its destroyers under the current multi-year contract, and give it to GD-BIW? Bath Iron Works says absolutely, yes, and we consider that legally binding. HII says that GD-BIW winning construction of DDG 116 as an extra ship, via competitive bid, satisfies the terms as their 4th extra destroyer. The Navy says “we didn’t want LPD 28, leave us alone.” The lawyers say “job security!” Sources: Defense News, “Fallout From 12th LPD: Fine Print in Old Deal Could Cost Yard a Destroyer”.

May 23/14: Politics. The Senate Armed Services Committee has completed the mark-up of the annual defense bill, which passed by a 25-1 vote. The section relevant to the LPD-17s is explained this way:

“Provides authority for the Secretary of the Navy to use unobligated funds from underperforming programs to transfer up to $650 million for the acquisition of a 12th ship of the USS San Antonio – class of amphibious ships. Acquisition of this ship would enable the Marine Corps to better support the Asia – Pacific defense strategy. Provides permissive authority to incrementally fund LPD-28.”

Sources: US Senate Armed Services Committee, “Senate Committee on Armed Services Completes Markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015”.

April 4/14: LPD 24. USS Arlington is commissioned by the US Navy in Philadelphia, PA. During the ceremony and follow-on tours, the ship’s 684-foot flight deck boasted a Marine MV-22 Osprey, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and CH-53 Sea Stallion.

The name honors the first responders and the 184 victims who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept 11/01. The ship’s sponsor is Joyce Rumsfeld, the wife of then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was in the building when the plane hit. Donald Rumsfeld initially went to the crash scene and offered some assistance, before heading back into the building by 10:00 am. Sources: Wikipedia, “United Airlines Flight 93” | US Navy, “In Emotional Ceremony, USS Arlington Joins the Fleet”.

USS Arlington

March 1/14: LPD 25. USS Somerset is commissioned by the US Navy in Philadelphia, PA.

The name honors United Flight 93, whose passengers won the battle for control of their 757 jetliner on Sept 11/01, albeit at the cost of all of their lives. It crashed in Somerset County, PA. It was reportedly headed for Congress or the White House. Sources: US Navy’s Navy Live Blog, “USS Somerset Commissioning Ceremony” | South Jersey Times, “USS Somerset sets sail down Delaware River after Philadelphia commissioning”.

USS Somerset

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The short version re: the LPD-17s:

“The Navy is working to correct deficiencies identified during IOT&E that led DOT&E to assess the ship not operationally effective, not operationally suitable, and not survivable in a hostile environment. However, correction of a number of these deficiencies has not yet been verified by follow-on operational testing and some deficiencies have not been corrected [including issues from Shock Trial Reports].”

DOT&E says that some critical systems have been improved, but “the Navy has not yet demonstrated the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence capabilities needed to support LPD-17 when performing amphibious assault operations,” and the Shipboard Wide Area Network continues to attract scrutiny. they also maintain an interest in “reliability problems with amphibious support equipment and propulsion equipment,” “integration problems with self-defense in multiple warfare areas,” and want demonstrations of improvements re: performance issues created by the AN/APS-48Es radar mast shroud.

Reliability is also an ongoing issue, and DOT&E wants measurements for the ships as a whole, while flagging the gun systems, Magnetic Signature Control System, and SSDS Mk 2-based combat system.

Dec 6/13: LX-R. The US Navy and Marine Corps are working with HII and GD’s NASSCO to understand what’s driving costs for the proposed LX(R) follow-on amphibious ships, after the March 12/13 approval of LX(R) as a pre-major defense acquisition program. The first ship wouldn’t be ordered until FY 2019, and wouldn’t arrive until FY 2025.

CBO and Navy reports of $1.4 – 1.6 billion per ship have to be alarming. First, that’s almost as much as the 27,000 ton LPD-17s, which are already far over budget, to produce a 16,000 ton ship. Second, other countries are building similar 16,000 ton LSD/LPD ships for a bit more than a quarter of that amount. It’s well and good to jaw about a $15.4 billion, 11-ship program for medium size amphibious ships, but its future looks bleak if you project demographic effects, and overlay the other shipbuilding programs that will be underway and competing for limited funds.

The LX(R) alternatives being explored reportedly include resuming production of the LSD-41/49 ships, a modified San Antonio-class LPD-17 ship per HII’s “Flight II” pitch, a wholly new ship design, and an assessment of foreign-designed dock landing ships. Using cheaper commercial components, including propulsion systems, is also a possibility. Sources: Inside Defence, “Eying New Amphibious Ship, Navy Conducts LX(R) Affordability ‘Deep Dive'” | DoD Buzz, “Navy Considers Commercial Technology for New Amphib”.

Dec 6/13: LPD 21 moves. It’s December – time for New Yorkers to head to Florida! USS New York [LPD 21] continues this tradition, as she changes her home port from NNS Norfolk, VA to NNS Mayport, FL.

The entire 3-ship Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) will eventually be based there, as a replacement for the decomMSioned FFG-7 Class frigates USS Underwood and USS Klakring. USS Iwo Jima [LHD-7] and USS Fort McHenry [LSD-45] are slated to join USS New York in 2014. Sources: USN, “USS New York Changes Homeport to Naval Station Mayport”.

Dec 6/13: Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, MS receives a $39.1 million modification for LPD-17 life cycle engineering and support services: planning, repairs, spares, upgrade work, etc.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2014 (N00024-10-C-2203).

Nov 27/13: Support. Raytheon IDS in San Diego, CA receives a $32.4 million contract modification to deliver ongoing engineering and support services for LPD 17 class integrated shipboard electronic systems. the Pentagon’s descriptive hairball includes:

“…lifecycle engineering and support services, including post-delivery planning, logistics and engineering, homeport technical support, integrated product data environment, data maintenance, equipment management, systems integration and design engineering, software support, research engineering, obsolescence management (both technical and logistics), material readiness support, emergent repair planning, training and logistics support; Planning Yard support of integrated electronic systems, including fleet modernization planning, ship alteration development and installation, material management, configuration data management, research engineering, logistics documentation, and other logistics and executing activity coordination, and management; performance-based logistics support, including providing sustaining engineering and obsolescence management support for unique LPD 17 class integrated shipboard electronic systems.”

$6.2 million is committed immediately, and the award uses a hodgepodge of Navy budget lines: FY 2005, 2012, and 2014 shipbuilding and conversion; and FY 2014 operations and maintenance. $1.8 million will expire on Sept 30/14 (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 20/13: LPD 25. General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, CA receives a $12.1 million contract modification, exercising the option for Somerset’s [LPD 25] fitting-out availability. The ship hasn’t been commissioned yet.

$730,431 is committed immediately, and $215,383 will expire on Sept 30/14. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by December 2014. This contract was competitively procured, with 4 proposals received (N00024-12-C-2400).

Nov 15/13: LPD 17. General Dynamics NASSCO-Earl Industries, Portsmouth, VA receives an $11.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the USS San Antonio [LPD 17] phased maintenance availability. They’ll conduct miscellaneous structural and mechanical repairs. All funds are committed immediately, and will expire on Sept 30/14.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA, and is expected to be complete by May 2014. This contract was competitively procured via Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with 3 offers received by the Norfolk Ship Support Activity in Norfolk, VA (N50054-14-C-1401).

Oct 18/13: LPD 25 delivered. Somerset is formally handed over to the US Navy at the Avondale shipyard. Sources: HII, Oct 18/13 release.

FY 2013

LDP 24. Weapons. LPD 23 & LPD 24
(click to view full)

Sept 20/13: LPD 25. Somerset returns from successful US Navy acceptance sea trials. Sources: HII, Oct 10/13 release.

Aug 19/13: LPD 25. Somerset returns from 3 days of builder’s trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Sources: HII release, Aug 19/13.

May 4/13: LPD 23 commissioned. The US Navy commissions LPD 23 as USS Anchorage, in her namesake city of Anchorage, AK. Her home port will be San Diego, CA. US Navy.

USS Anchorage

April 12/13: Naming. The last San Antonio Class ship is among the 7 named by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who actually stuck to class naming conventions this time instead of veering into political partisanship.

LPD 27 will become USS Portland, becoming the 3rd ship in the fleet’s history to beat that name. CA-33 was a World War II heavy cruiser, named after Portland, ME. LSD-37 was also an amphibious assault ship, which was decommissioned shortly after Operation Iraqi Freedom began. It was named for Portland, ME and Portland, OR. LPD-27 is named after Portland, OR. Pentagon | Oregon Live.

April 9/13: LX(R)? USMC Commandant Gen. James Amos publicly recommends that the Navy replace its 16,360 ton LSD-41 Whidbey Island Class ships with a San Antonio Class derivative, provided it can be made affordable. The question is whether HII’s stripped-down LPD Flight II proposal drives enough costs out of the base platform to make sense. $1.5 billion per ship won’t cut it for LSD replacement, and even HII’s touted 30% savings of $1 billion for a 23,165t ship would be about double the cost of capable foreign LSDs like the 17,000t Rotterdam/JDW Class.

The Navy is currently conducting an Analysis of Alternatives for its notional 10-ship LS(X), which aims to deliver its first ships to the Navy between 2018 – 2022. It’s called LX(R) because they may want configurability for a wider range of missions than the existing LSDs. The AoA is due in September 2013. Sources: DoD Buzz, “Amos: Replace LSD amphib fleet with LPDs” | Defense News, “Different Missions Might Await New USN Amphib” | USNI News, “Second Act for San Antonio?”.

April 9/13: UAV test. Insitu Inc. announces a successful 1st maritime flight for the RQ-21A UAV from LPD 19, the USS Mesa Verde. The RQ-21A is based on Insitu’s Integrator platform, and was picked as the USMC’s small UAV back in July 2010.

The flight comes after 3 months of land-based development testing and operational assessment, and the RQ-21A’s outstanding endurance for its size will make it an important part of the San Antonio Class’ onboard equipment.

April 6/13: LPD 24 commissioned. USS Arlington is commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk, VA. US Navy Live blog.

Dec 14/12: Weapons. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $12.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 4 refurbished and upgraded Rolling Airframe Missile MK 49 Mod 3 guided-missile launch systems and associated hardware. these 21-missile launch packs will equip LPD 27 John P. Murtha (2 systems), and the Freedom Class ships LCS 9 and LCS 11 (1 each). All funds are committed on award, and there are options for 4 additional launch systems.

At the time of award, a $5.5 million option is also exercised for 2 remanufactured MK 49 launch packs, with Mod 3 updates and associated hardware. They’ll equip the Freedom Class ships LCS 13 and LCS 15.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by December 2015. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304c1 (N00024-11-C-5448).

Dec 7/12: Support. Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, MS receives a $54.5 million contract modification, to exercising the 3rd of 4 options associated with the Feb 16/10 award. HII will perform Life Cycle Engineering and support services on San Antonio Class ships, with $12.9 million obligated at contract award. The total value of this contract is now $157.9 million.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2013 (N00024-10-C-2203). See also HII.

Dec 7/12: LPD 24 delivered. Huntington Ingalls Industries delivers LPD 24 Arlington to the U.S. Navy. HII.

Dec 3/12: LPD 24. BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair in Norfolk, VA receives an $11.1 million contract, exercising options for the USS Arlington’s fitting-out and post shakedown work.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (90.53%), and Chesapeake, VA (9.47%), and is expected to be complete by May 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $2.8 million will be obligated at time of award. This contract was competitively procured via FedBizOpps, with 4 proposals received (N00024-10-C-2204).

Nov 27/12: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $41.9 million modification, exercising Option Year 4 for LPD-17 class Integrated Shipboard Electronic Systems life cycle engineering and support services. Last year, it was $40 million.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (98%) and Norfolk, VA (2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2013. $7.3 million is committed on the contract’s award, and $703,893 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 5/12: LPD 24 trials. LPD 24 Arlington successfully completes US Navy INSURV acceptance trials. She is now set to be commissioned in Spring 2013. HII.

FY 2012

LPD 21 to 23. Osprey onto LPD 21
(click to view full)

Sept 17/12: LPD 23 delivered. HII delivers the amphibious transport dock ship Anchorage [LPD 23] to the US Navy. HII.

Aug 24/12: LPD 24. LPD 24 Arlington returns from successful builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The real key is US Navy sea trials, which are next. HII.

Aug 1/12: Bolted. A new issue involving improperly installed bolts has emerged in the latest ships built by the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans. The Navy’s acceptance of LPD 23 Anchorage is now delayed, and LPD 25 Somerset is also affected.

An Ingalls inspector discovered the issue, which could lead engine mountings to shear under sudden shock, or loosen enough over time to set up damaging vibrations in the ship’s propulsion systems. Fitted bolts that don’t meet the ultra-tight tolerances for engine mountings are being replaced, and the Navy is also checking the 520 applicable bolts on every other Avondale-built ship. The problem is apparently confined to the Avondale shipyard, which has been the source of so many previous problems with the class. Ingalls-built ships from the Mississippi shipyard are unaffected. Gannett’s Navy Times.

More workmanship problems

July 28/12: LPD 25 christened. Nearly 1,800 guests attend the christening of LPD 25 Somerset, at HII’s company’s Avondale shipyard near New Orleans. LPD 25 is named to honor the courage of the passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93, who fought the hijackers and brought their plane down near Shanksville in Somerset County, PA. US Navy | HII.

July 27/12: LPD 27 ordered. Huntington Ingalls Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives the main order contract for LPD 27: a sole-source $1.514 billion fixed-price-incentive contract modification. When added to previous long-lead item orders, the shipbuilding cost is $1.8 billion, with key “government furnished equipment” like weapons on top of that.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (82%), Crozet, VA (4%), Beloit, WI (2%), and New Orleans, LA (1%), with other efforts performed at various sites throughout the United States (11%). Work is expected to be complete by June 2017 (N00024-06-C-2222). See also HII release.

LPD 27 main order

June 25/12: LPD 23 completes INSURV. HII announces that LPD 23 Anchorage has returned to her Avondale, LA shipyard, after successfully passing 3 days of Navy trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Delivery to the US Navy is set for Q3 (summer) FY 2012.

May 21/12: LPD 23 trials. LPD 23 Anchorage returns to Avondale, LA from successful builder’s trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship will now prepare for acceptance sea trials by the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), in preparation for delivery later in 2012. HII.

May 19/12: USS San Diego. The US Navy commissions LPD 22 into the 3rd Fleet as USS San Diego, based in San Diego. US Navy.

USS San Diego

May 15/12: LPD 27 lead-in. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a maximum $133.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for advance buys of LPD 27 long-lead-time materials and pre-construction activities. HII confirms that this is their 5th long-lead materials contract for LPD 27. This brings total long-lead contracts for this ship, from all contractors, to $419.6 million.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to complete by June 2017 (N00024-06-C-2222).

April 13/12: LPD 19. Small business qualifier MarineTec, a joint venture between Marine Hydraulics International, Inc., and Tecnico Corp. in Norfolk, VA, wins a $10 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for USS Mesa Verde’s [LPD 19] phased maintenance availability (PMA). They’ll perform miscellaneous structural, mechanical, and electrical repairs, and the contract runs until September 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11.

This contract was competitively procured via the Norfolk Ship Support Activity’s solicitation website, with 4 proposals solicited and 3 offers received (N50054-12-C-1203).

March 27/12: LPD 21 deploys. The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (IWO ARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU) depart for deployment from Norfolk and Camp Lejeune, NC, headed to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf/ Indian Ocean areas.

The IWO JIMA ARG/24 MEU includes the amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima [LHD 7], USS New York [LPD 21], and USS Gunston Hall [LSD 44]; and is manned by Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (BLT 1/2); Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced); and Combat Logistics Battalion 24. USS New York.

March 19/12: General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, CA receives a $29.3 million contract modification for post shakedown work on USS San Diego [LPD 22] and fitting-out work on USS Anchorage [LPD 23]. Work will include program management, planning, engineering, design, liaison, scheduling, labor, and procurement of incidental material.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by December 2014. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N00024-12-C-2400). See also Oct 7/11 entry.

March 14/12: LPD 22 captain relieved. Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, relieves Cmdr. Jon Haydel as captain of the “Pre-Commissioning Unit San Diego,” 1 day before it was due to leave its Pascagoula, MS shipyard for San Diego. Haydel was reportedly well-liked, and the Navy did not disclose the reasons. He was reassigned to Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters, pending an investigation into the “personal misconduct” allegations. Stars and Stripes.

March 1/12: LP 27 lead-in. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA wins a $55.1 million contract modification, exercising the option for LPD 27’s integrated shipboard electronics. That’s actually a long list of items, including the engineering control system; magnetic signature control system; ship control system; navigation data distribution system; shipboard wide area network; wireless portable communication system; integrated voice communication system; sensors; Marine Corps support equipment; and AN/SPS-73 surface search radar.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by February 2018 (N00024-11-C-2404).

Feb 23/12: LPD 27 lead-in. Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a not-to-exceed $70 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification for advance procurement of long-lead-time materials in support of LPD 27. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by April 2012 (N00024-06-C-2222). This pushes announced LPD 27 long-lead contracts to $230.8 million.

HII notes that this is the 4th advance procurement contract for LPD 27 since October 2010, adding that these contracts are used for items like main engines, diesel generators, electrical switchboards, deck equipment and fire extinguishing systems. If they’re not ready in advance, they won’t be on hand when HII needs them, which would delay the build.

Dec 20/11: LPD 22 delivered. The US Navy takes delivery of LPD 22 San Diego. The crew will move aboard the ship on Jan 4/11 to begin the certification process, before a short Caribbean sail in mid-March 2012, followed by passage through Panama and then a sail up to San Diego for commissioning in May 2012.

The ship will be homeported in San Diego, alongside USS New Orleans [LPD 18] and USS Green Bay [LPD 20]. Mississippi Press-News.

Dec 6/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $60.4 million contract modification to make and test LPD 26’s Integrated Shipboard Electronics, with an option for LPD 27 that would raise it to $111.3 million. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by February 2017 (N00024-11-C-2404).

Nov 22/11: Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS received a $51.3 million contract modification, to provide life cycle engineering and support services for LPD-17 San Antonio Class integrated shipboard electronic systems. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2012. $104,981 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-10-C-2203).

Nov 22/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $40 million contract modification, exercising an option to continue providing life cycle engineering and support services for LPD-17 San Antonio Class integrated shipboard electronic systems.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (98%), and Norfolk, VA (2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2012. $719,252 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 18/11: LPD 22 passes INSURV. The US Navy’s future USS San Diego [LPD 22] completes US Navy INSURV acceptance trials. Delivery to the Navy is slated for mid-December 2011. HII.

Oct 7/11: Defense News reports that LPD 22 San Diego was damaged in late September 2011, during builder’s sea trials. A relief valve was installed backwards, causing part of the ship’s ballast system to overpressurize and damage 3 ballast tanks. The ballast tanks are used to lower the ship in the water, in order to flood its well decks.

Despite this mishap, the ballasting and de-ballasting tests were completed successfully, and Navy INSURV acceptance trials are expected to take place in November 2011.

Oct 7/11: General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, CA receives a $37.4 million cost-plus-fee contract for USS San Diego’s final fitting-out work, which could rise to $134.5 million if all options are exercised. That’s an unusually large figure.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by December 2014. This contract was competitively procured via FBO.gov, with 2 offers received (N00024-12-C-2400).

FY 2011

Testing troubles. HII spinoff. NSSA suspended. LPD 24 Arlington launch
(click to view full)

Sept 7/11: BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair in San Diego, CA receives a $12.1 million contract modification for the USS Green Bay’s [LPD 20] FY 2011 phased maintenance availability (PMA). PMAs provide for an extensive renovation and modernization of an LPD class ship, including alterations and repairs as well as inspection and testing to all ships systems and components ensuring safe and dependable operation of the ship. the Pentagon says that it won’t require a dry-docking.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by May 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. The US Navy’s Southwest Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego, CA manages the contract (N00024-10-C-4407).

July 13/11: LPD 20 XO relieved. Gannett’s Navy Times reports that USS Green Bay’s Executive Officer was relieved of duty by the Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 1 “after an investigation substantiated allegations of personal misconduct”. The ship is on deployment in the Persian Gulf, and Jones is being reassigned to temporary duties in San Diego with Expeditionary Strike Group 3.

The report also confirms LPD 20’s 1st mission, which began in February 2011.

July 12/11: LPD 27 long-lead. Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a maximum $98.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for advance procurement of long-lead-time materials in support of LPD 27, the 11th ship of the LPD class. This pushes LPD 27 long-lead contracts to $160.8 million, and HII notes that the category covers “main engines and diesel generators and other equipment, including electrical switchboards, deck equipment and fire extinguishing systems.”

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by January 2012 (N00024-06-C-2222). See also HII release, Oct 20/10 entry.

May 25/11: LPD 26 begins. The official start of fabrication on LPD 26 signifies that 100 tons of steel have been cut and fabricated, using Ingalls’ robotic plasma arc cutting machines. Huntington Ingalls says that the next milestone will be the ship’s keel laying, scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. LPD 26 is scheduled to be launched in Q3 of 2014, and delivered to the Navy in Q4 of 2015.

With respect to other ships, LPD 22 San Diego will undergo sea trials later in 2011; LPD 23 Anchorage is currently 82% complete, and is expected to be delivered in Q2 2012. LPD 25 Somerset is more than 50% complete, and will be launched “in 2012.” HII.

May 6/11: Maintenance termination. NAVSEA announces that it has terminated Earl Industries, LLC’s multi-ship, multi-option (MSMO) maintenance contract for the San Antonio Class. The move comes in response to:

“…Navy findings of improper work performed and concern regarding Earl Industries’ quality assurance program and the company’s ability to control the quality and documentation of work it performs. Those concerns were triggered by the number and severity of corrective action reports issued… “The company’s performance on this contract was not in keeping with the type of quality work the Navy expects from our industry partners,” said NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy. “These failures are unacceptable, and we have lost confidence in Earl’s ability to continue successfully performing this same type of work… under the MSMO contract.”

It’s the most severe option – a complete termination of all work in process by the Norfolk, VA contractor, as well as all options for future scheduled and unscheduled maintenance work on the class over a 5-year period. In place of Earl’s contract, the Navy plans to compete scheduled Chief of Naval Operations availability and all necessary Emergent Maintenance/ Continuous Maintenance work for the San Antonio-class ships homeported in Norfolk, among all eligible contractors in the Norfolk area.

The Virginia Pilot’s “Earl Industries’ $75M Navy contract: What went wrong?” has a pertinent examination, which notes that Earl won the contract, despite having a higher bid, on the basis of Navy evaluations of “exceptional” performance on past contracts. The firm retains maintenance contracts involving the USN’s carriers.

April 20/11: USN suspends NSSA’s warrant. The US Navy announces that it has suspended the oversight authority of its Norfolk Ship Support Activity, at Norfolk Naval Station, VA, which is responsible for supervising maintenance work done by private companies on Navy surface ships in the mid-Atlantic region. Investigations are also underway concerning specific repairs to the USS San Antonio [LPD-17].

By suspending the command’s oversight authority – formally known as its “technical warrant” – the Navy essentially said it no longer trusts it to make sure work by contractors is being done properly. The issue is reportedly that the government can’t tell, based on required reports, what work was done and what wasn’t.

Thomas J. Murphy, who had been the command’s civilian executive director since 2004, was replaced in March 2011, and sources outside the Navy said several other officials at the command were also removed. Virginian Pilot | Information Dissemination | UPI.

NSSA suspended

April 1/11: LPD 26 contract. Northrop Grumman spinoff Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $1.496 billion fixed-price-incentive contract modification for all detail design and construction of LPD 26. That ship is the future USS John P. Murtha, unless the name is changed during a subsequent administration.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (82%); Crozet, VA (4%); Beloit, WI (2%); and New Orleans, LA (1%). Other efforts will be performed at various sites throughout the United States (11%). Work is expected to be complete by February 2016. The contract was not competitively procured (N00024-06-C-2222).

LPD 26 main order

March 31/11: HII Spinoff. Northrop Grumman completes the $6.7 billion spinoff of its shipbuilding sector, which begins trading as Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. [NYSE:HII] Bloomberg.

From NGC to HII

March 26/11: LPD 24 christened. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s shipbuilding sector, with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps participating, christens LPD 24 as Arlington, in memory of those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon. NGC.

March 8/11: US Senate Armed Services Committee hearings get a spotlight on the LPD-17 program, as ranking member Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] says in his opening statement:

“From the first ship in this class, this program has displayed major problems in terms of safety, engineering, and the quality of workmanship. Those problems have been so widespread that they give rise to concern about a broader readiness problem afflicting our surface fleet. I am gratified by the leadership of the Atlantic Fleet Commander Admiral Harvey in starting to turn these problems around. But, I am perplexed by how we got to this point. And, as to the LPD-17 class of ships, how (with five delivered and four under construction) we have been left with a class of ships that, according to the Pentagon’s chief tester is ‘not effective, suitable and not survivable in combat.’ In addition to addressing this point, I would also like our witnesses to also address what I see as an overall downward trend in maintenance funding – with the negative impact falling more heavily on the Navy’s surface combatants than on carriers and submarines.”

See: Sen. McCain statement | Hearings Transcripts, etc. | Hearings video [Flash 10].

Feb 12/11: LPD 23 launch. LPD 23 is launched into the Mississippi River. She is about 78% complete, and some new pre-launch installations include items like mechanical completion of the anchor windlass hydraulic system. US Navy.

Building LPD 23 Anchorage
(click to view full)

Dec 12/10: The Washington DC area Sun Gazette reports that LPD 24 Arlington is tentatively scheduled for christening on March 26/10, and is now expected to be commissioned into service as USS Arlington in “mid-2012” after trials.

Nov 30/10: NAVEA issues a pair of contracts for “LPD 17 class integrated shipboard electronic systems.” Services will include planning yard support of integrated electronic systems, including fleet modernization program planning, plus: post-delivery planning, logistics and engineering, homeport technical support, integrated product data environment, data maintenance, equipment management, systems integration and design engineering, software support, research engineering, obsolescence management (both technical and logistics), material readiness support, emergent repair planning, training and logistics support, ship alteration development and installation, material management, configuration data management, research engineering, logistics documentation, and other coordination, and management. The contractors will also provide performance-based logistics support, including obsolescence management support for out-of-production electronics, for “unique LPD 17-class integrated shipboard electronic systems.”

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $43.7 million contract modification. It’s the 1st of 4 annual options associated with the contract referenced in the Feb 16/10 entry, which could grow to $249.4 million. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2011; but $109,947 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-2203). See also NGC release.

Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA received a $38 million contract modification. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (98%), and Norfolk, VA (2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011; but $1,134,760 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 23/10: LPD 24 launched. Northrop Grumman’s Pascagoula, MS shipyard launches Arlington [LPD 24]. The ship launches at 77% complete, and upgrades over previous ships-of-class include a new water purification system, and a new operating system for the ship’s computing environment. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s LPD 17 program manager, Doug Lounsberry, says that: “This ship was the most complete LPD to date at time of launch and the schedule was also the shortest time from keel laying to launch.” If that has resulted in lower build costs, however, the budgets don’t indicate it.

Arlington is named for the county in which the Pentagon is located, as a memorial to the heroes and victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The ship’s christening is tentatively scheduled for spring of 2011. US Navy | Northrop Grumman.

Oct 29/10: LPD 26 long-lead. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $7.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the long-lead-time materials in support of LPD 26’s integrated shipboard electronics.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by March 2012. This contract was not competitively procured, since Raytheon is set as the contractor responsible for that aspect of the ships (N00024-11-C-2404).

Oct 29/10: USN Command Failure. Based on the Bloomberg report, the naval blog Information Dissemination looks at the DOT&E reports from 2006-2009, and matches them with command histories. The results are enlightening, and the op-ed point following those report excerpts is apt:

“There are clearly issues here that raise serious questions of specific industry companies as to why they have been unable to meet requirements. There are also serious questions for the Navy though, starting with why the recommendations made by DOT&E have gone ignored for several years in a row through at least December of 2009… LPD-17 class features networks with single points of failure that appear to be perpetually unreliable, new weapon systems that don’t meet requirements, and unreliable communication and information exchange equipment – all of which piles on top of the incredible number of HM&E problems identified as a result of poor construction and shipyard practices that have had most the class sidelined.

…Admiral Harvey took over Fleet Forces Command in July of 2009, and if you look over the CRS report by Ronald O’Rourke (PDF) that lists the history of construction problems from pages 17-45 (28 pages!), 10 of those pages disclose problems identified and reported over the 15 month time period since ADM Harvey took over responsibility at Fleet Forces Command… from June 2005 until July of 2009 – 49 months – very few of the major problems that are class-wide and often discussed today were apparently identified, or reported. Why did everyone have to wait for Admiral Harvey to assume command of Fleet Forces Command… Why was ADM Jonathan Greenert, who was in charge Fleet Forces Command from September 2007 to July 2009, unable to uncover any of these issues?

…As a reward for ADM Greenert’s apparent ignorance (or intentional concealment) regarding the depth of the LPD-17 class problems – he was promoted to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. I would also think there are plenty of questions for VADM Kevin McCoy who was the Chief Engineer in NAVSEA from 2005-2008 until he became commander of NAVSEA in June of 2008 – because all of the problems with LPD-17 took place while VADM McCoy was part of the leadership in NAVSEA over the last 5 years.

Problems with the LPD-17 class are similar to problems seen in other classes of ships built and maintained over the last several years, and these are problems that leadership at the time did not address and have gone on to cost the Navy billions to resolve. Noteworthy, as a reward for their work (and the problems listed in the Balisle Report is basically the resume of failure at Fleet Forces Command under ADM Greenert btw), the current CNO promoted these folks and the Senate approved those promotions… Screw up as a leader at sea – You’re Fired! Cost the country billions while leading ashore – You’re Promoted! That is my definition of a leadership culture that selectively applies accountability.”

Naval command failure

FY 2009 DOT&E report
(click to read)

Oct 28/10: Survivability, quality questioned by Pentagon. Bloomberg News reports on a classified report sent to Congress in June 2010, outlining Pentagon testing that found serious issues with the LPD-17 San Antonio Class’ ability to survive combat situations. Their report is based on an unclassified summary of that report, and an email response from Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, who described the ships as “not effective, suitable and not survivable in a combat situation.” The core of those reports is that the ships continue to experience widespread, persistent engineering problems, and couldn’t continue to operate reliably after being hit by enemy fire, in part because of the engineering problems mentioned. From the Pentagon’s DOT&E FY 2009 Annual Report:

“Chronic reliability problems associated with critical ship systems across the spectrum of mission areas reduces overall ship suitability and jeopardizes mission accomplishment… Emerging results from [Navy] trials indicate the ships could not demonstrate the required levels of survivability, largely because of critical ship system failures after weapons effects.”

“…Reliability problems related to well deck ramps, ventilation, bridge crane, and Cargo Ammunition Magazine (CAM) elevators… [and] Engineering Control System (ECS), including frequent failures and high false alarm rates, and the electrical distribution system, including unexplained loss of service generators and the uncommanded opening of breakers… The Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) identified similar deficiencies in identical areas (propulsion, auxiliaries, electrical, damage control, deck) during both acceptance and final contract trials across all four of the first ships of the class. Catastrophic casualties recorded prior to the Full Ship Shock Trial in LPD-19 and during LPD-17’s deployment revealed serious fabrication and production deficiencies in the main lube oil service system. The ship is capable of supporting [C4I] requirements in an ESG environment; however, reliability problems with the SWAN(Shipborne Wide Area Network) and the Interior Voice Communications System degrade command and control and are single points of failure during operations.

The LPD-17 exhibited difficulty defending itself against several widely proliferated threats, primarily due to… Persistent SSDS Mk 2-based [DID: link added] system engineering deficiencies… The ship’s RAM system provided the only hard kill capability, preventing layered air defense [DID: in fairness, the ships were designed this way]… Problems associated with SPS-48E and SPQ-9B radar performance against certain Anti-Ship Cruise Missile attack profiles [DID: also a known design limitation]… Degraded situational awareness due to Mk 46 [30mm remotely-operated] Gun Weapon System console configuration… The survivability of the San Antonio class ships appear to be improved over the LPD class ships they will replace. However, problems encountered with critical systems during testing (particularly with the electrical distribution, chilled water, SWAN, and ECS) and difficulty recovering mission capability may offset some of the survivability improvements and have highlighted serious reliability shortcomings.”

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor and SPQ-9 radar provider, while Raytheon provides some of the items mentioned above, such as the SSDS combat system, shipboard network, etc. ITT makes the SPS-48E radar. The report comes as various firms are considering buying all or part of Northrop Grumman’s shipbuilding business. Pentagon DOT&E FY 2009 [PDF] | Bloomberg | DoD Buzz | Reuters.

Testing troubles

Oct 20/10: LPD 27 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $62 million cost-plus-fixed-fee not-to-exceed contract modification, to buy long lead time materials for LPD 27. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by August 2014 (N00024-06-C-2222).

Oct 18/10: BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair in San Diego, CA receives an $11.1 million contract modification for the USS New Orleans’ [LPD 18] FY 2011 phased maintenance availability. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by March 2011. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. The Us Navy’s Southwest Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego, CA manages this contract.

Oct 15/10: LPD 19 switch-in. U.S. Fleet Force Command (USFF) Commander Adm. John C. Harvey Jr. announces that USS Mesa Verde [LPD 19] will replace USS San Antonio [LPD 17] in the USS Bataan’s [LHD 5] Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) in the summer of 2011. Mesa Verde, which was built in Mississippi instead of the San Antonio Class’ primary yard at Avondale near New Orleans, returned from a 7-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in August 2010, and wasn’t expected to deploy again until late 2012.

San Antonio is currently scheduled to conduct comprehensive crew certification and sea trials in early spring 2011, but Adm. Harvey would only say that: “San Antonio will deploy when it is operationally sound and ready to go.” The ship’s overhaul at Norfolk was expected to take about 4-5 months and cost $5 million, but bolts in the foundations of the diesel engines and the main reduction gears were improperly installed at the shipyard. That created vibrations in the drive train that could have completely destroyed the propulsion system over time, and repairs are now expected to take about 11 months and at least $39 million, possibly more. USFF | Defense News.

Oct 3/10: Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding loads 100,000 gallons of fuel aboard the San Diego [LPD 22]. That step requires that all of the machinery spaces are prepared and ready, and helps flush the fuel system ahead of the upcoming generator light off in November 2010.

San Diego was christened in June 2010, and is scheduled for sea trials in Q2 2011. NGC.

FY 2010

Flawed construction. Avondale shipyard closed. LPD-17: Welcome to Norfolk…
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July 29/10: Flaws. Gannett’s Navy Times reports on testimony before the House Armed Service Committee’s readiness panel, indicating unique problems with USS Green Bay’s [LPD 20] steering system. That’s in addition to other problems generic to the class involving metal shavings polluting the lube oil systems and damaging the engines.

Like her sister ships San Antonio, New Orleans, and New York, all of which have experienced major post-delivery problems on top of their cost overruns, USS Green Bay was also built at the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans. Read “LPD-17 Reliability Issues Surface Again” for more.

July 13/10: Closing Avondale. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces plans to consolidate its Gulf Coast shipbuilding operations in Pascagoula, MS, and try to sell its entire shipbuilding business. Its Avondale, LA shipyard will close by 2013, transferring all LPD-related work. With the hysteria surrounding Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath a thing of the past, and a new emphasis on financial performance in the firm’s boardroom, these moves become politically possible at both the corporate and national levels.

“The consolidation of Gulf Coast ship construction is the next step in the company’s efforts to improve performance and efficiency at its Gulf Coast shipyards… Since [early 2008] Gulf Coast organization and leadership, operating systems, program execution, risk management, engineering, and quality have been the focus of intense improvement efforts. Consolidating new ship construction on the Gulf Coast in one shipyard will position Shipbuilding to achieve additional performance improvement and efficiency over the long term. Ship construction at Avondale will wind down in 2013. Future LPD-class ships will be built in a single production line at the company’s Pascagoula, Miss. facility. The company anticipates some opportunities in Pascagoula for Avondale shipbuilders who wish to relocate.

…the company expects higher costs to complete ships currently under construction in Avondale due to anticipated reductions in productivity and, as a result, is increasing the estimates to complete LPDs 23 and 25 by approximately $210 million. Of this amount $113 million will be recognized as a one-time, pre-tax cumulative charge to Shipbuilding’s second quarter 2010 operating income. The balance will be recognized as lower margin in future periods, principally on the LPD 25. The company also anticipates that it will incur substantial restructuring and facilities shutdown-related costs including, but not limited to, severance, relocation expense, and asset write-downs. These costs are expected to be allowable expenses under government accounting standards and recoverable in future years under the company’s contracts. The company estimates that these restructuring costs will be more than offset by future savings expected to be generated by the consolidation.”

Closing Avondale, LA shipyard

June 30/10: Flaws. Gannett’s Navy Times offers excerpts from a US Navy report, which indicated continued problems with basic workmanship aboard the Navy’s billion-dollar San Antonio Class ships:

“Inadequate government oversight during the construction process failed to prevent or identify as a problem the lack of cleanliness and quality assurance that resulted in contamination of closed systems,” said the Navy report, [dated May 20th but] released Thursday. “Material challenges with this ship and other ships of the class continue to negatively impact fleet operations. Failures in the acquisition process, maintenance, training and execution of shipboard programs all share in the responsibility for these engineering casualties… [With its automated systems] not functioning as designed, the ship was unable to effectively operate and maintain the engineering plant.”

The problems reported in January 2010 were traced to contaminated lube oil systems that were damaging their main engines, and USS San Antonio [LPD-17] and USS New York [LPD 21] remain affected, with San Antonio expected to be in dry dock until late 2010 as engineers attempt to repair a bent crankshaft.

Flawed construction

June 12/10: LPD 22 launched. San Diego [LPD 22] is christened. That ceremony formally gives the ship its designated name, but she does not become USS San Diego until later. Biloxi-Gulport Sun-Herald | Mississippi Press | LA Times.

June 2/10: General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. in Woodbridge, VA receives a $22.3 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed fee contract for the MK46 MOD 2 gun weapon systems (GWS) and associated hardware, spares and services. There are several Mk46s in the US Navy, but this one is a 30mm enclosed turret packing a Mk44 Bushmaster chain gun and advanced sights. The turret is operated from a console inside the LPD-17 San Antonio Class amphibious ships, and the Littoral Combat Ship’s surface warfare package. This contract covers both naval platforms.

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (69%); Tallahassee, FL (12%); Lima, OH (12%); Westminster, MD (4%); Scranton, PA (2%); and Sterling Heights, MI (1%). Work is expected to be complete by May 2013. $812,412 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Sea Systems Command, in Washington, DC (N00024-10-C-5438).

LPD-22 launch
(click to read)

May 7/10: LPD 22 launched. The future USS San Diego [LPD 22] is launched from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, MS. US Navy.

April 30/10: LPD 26 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives an $184 million cost plus fixed-fee advance procurement contract modification that will provide long lead materials for LPD 26. Equipment bought under this contract includes main engines and diesel generators and other equipment including electrical switchboards, deck equipment and fire extinguishing systems, and the contract is expected to be complete by August 2012 (N00024-06-C-2222). Northrop Grumman release.

This is the second advance procurement contract for LPD 26, totaling $397.8 million; see also June 23/09.

April 14/10: USS John P. Murtha?!? The Navy announces the proposed name for LPD 26. Gannett’s Navy Times:

“Navy Secretary Ray Mabus notified Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead that he had selected “John P. Murtha” for the previously unnamed LPD 26. It’s the latest example of the Navy breaking a convention for naming its warships; the previous ships in the San Antonio class have been named for American cities.

Capt. Beci Brenton, a spokeswoman for Mabus, who is traveling on the West Coast, said she had no comment on the memo… [which] appeared to reflect both [Murtha’s] support in Congress for more of the gators and his service in the Marine Corps… But Murtha might also prove to be a controversial pick: He was accused of ethics violations several times over the course of his career and he caused outrage among Marines in 2005 when he accused troops of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, of “killing innocent people” in a shooting in Haditha, Iraq.”

As of April 14/10, 6 of the Marine defendants had their cases dropped, 1 was found not guilty, and SSgt. Wuterich, the last defendant, is scheduled to stand trial Sept 13/10.

April 13/10: BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair in Norfolk, VA won a $29.6 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for post shakedown availability of LPD 21, the USS New York. PSAs fix last-minute issues that are found on the initial shakedown cruise, after a ship’s commissioning. BAE will perform program management, planning, engineering, design, liaison, scheduling, labor, and procurement of incidental material required.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (91%), and Chesapeake, VA (9%), and is expected to be complete by July 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $5,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with 4 proposals received (N00024-10-C-2204).

Marines Help Evaluate
click to play video

April 1/10: SAR to 11 ships. The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. The LPD-17 program qualifies:

“Program costs increased $4,417.5 million (+31.0%) from $14,241.7 million to $18,659.2 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of two ships from 9 to 11 ships (+$2,075.5 million) and associated schedule, estimating, and other allocations[1] (+$1,291.7 million), and additional full funding and outfitting and post delivery increases associated with the quantity increase (+$484.2 million). Costs also increased due to the addition of cost to complete funding for ships 22 through 25 (+$239.0 million), Hurricane Katrina supplemental funding for ships 20 through 24 (+$192.7 million), and special transfer authority and outfitting and post delivery requirements for ships 21 through 25 (+$132.0 million).”

More ships

Feb 16/10: Northrop Grumman announces that it received a $41.3 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program. If all options are exercised, the contract has a potential value of $249.4 million.

Under the contract (N00024-10-C-2203), Northrop Grumman will provide the following services: post-delivery planning and engineering, systems integration and engineering support, research engineering, material support, fleet modernization program planning, supply chain management, maintenance and training for certain LPD 17-class shipboard systems. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2010. This is a follow-on contract to one awarded in 2005 (see Feb 11/05 entry), and beyond this year, there are 4 more option years that could increase its total value.

Jan 22/10: Flaws. Following the problems with USS New York, Gannett’s Navy Times reports that:

“Inspectors are rechecking every pipe weld aboard every ship built in the last several years at Avondale, La., or Pascagoula, Miss., including destroyers and small- and big-deck amphibs, after discovering so many problems that all pipe welders and Navy inspectors at both yards had to be decertified and then recertified to work on ships… The disbarring and reapplication took place last summer, when some of the problems were first discovered… A major question was how or why NavSea’s inspectors approved work that subsequent Navy inspections later found inadequate… Inspectors are looking at the entire San Antonio class of amphibious transport docks to determine what has caused systemic lube-oil problems in multiple ships, as well as damage to engine bearings that recently sidelined the newest ship, New York.”

Most LPD-17 class ships have been built at Avondale, near New Orleans, LA – a shipyard that has has demonstrated extensive workmanship problems throughout the program. USS Mesa Verde [LPD 19], which was built at Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, is currently at sea, inspected, and will continue its mission to Haiti and the Middle East. USS New York [LPD 21] is dealing with lube oil and engine problems, and a bowed crankshaft that will need to be replaced in an unprecedented procedure. Northrop will pay for work on USS New York, which is still under warranty. Any problems found in other ships will be subject to negotiation.

Flawed construction

Jan 8/10: Major breakdown. The US Navy announces that a week long, at-sea examination following USS New York’s commissioning has discovered the “premature failure” of bearings associated with the ship’s Colt-Pielstick main propulsion diesel engines. After the damage was found, the ship returned to Naval Station Norfolk under its own power.

The USS New York was built in Northrop Grumman’s Avondale shipyard in Louisiana near New Orleans, as opposed to the Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi. The failed components are under warranty, and will be repaired. It’s currently unclear how long the repairs will take, however, how serious the failures are, or whether the problems affect other ships in the San Antonio class. Virginia-Pilot | Hampton Roads WTKR.

LPD 21 breaks down

Dec 11/09: LPD 23 keel. Keel-laying ceremony for LPD 23 Somerset. USN PEO Ships.

Nov 7/09: LPD 21 commissioned. The US Navy commissions LPD 21 as USS New York, at a ceremony in New York City. The ship arrived in New York on Oct 2/09 and hosted Mayor Bloomberg for the sail-in, after leaving its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, VA on Oct 29/09. It contains over 7 tons of steel salvaged from the destroyed World Trade Center. US Navy on NYC arrival | US Navy on commissioning.

USS New York

Nov 2/09: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives an $8.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee sole-source contract covering life cycle engineering and support (LCE&S) services for LPD 17 Class integrated shipboard electronic systems. This contract includes options which could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $197.1 million.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (95%); Chula Vista, CA (3%); and Norfolk, VA (2%), and the base period is expected to be complete by December 2009 (N00024-10-C-2205).

FY 2009

LPD 17 repairs. LPD 21. LPD-21, sea trials
(click to read)

July 23/09: LPD 21 passes INSURV. LPD 21 New York returns to its Avondale shipyard in New Orleans July 23 flying 3 brooms, signifying a successful sweep of its U.S. Navy Acceptance Trials. The ship demonstrated a variety of systems including main propulsion including a full power run, engineering and ship control systems, combat systems including self defense detect-to-engage exercises, damage control, food service and crew support. During the tests, its ballast system for flooding the ship’s well deck test setting a new LPD ship record for time to ballast down. Northrop Grumman release.

July 2/09: Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that the New York [LPD 21] successfully accomplished its builder’s sea trials this week in the Gulf of Mexico.

LPD 21 is under construction at the company’s Avondale facility in Louisiana. The ship is especially notable for the fact that its bow stem contains 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks of Sept 11/01. NGC release | NGC video.

June 23/09: LPD 26 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $213.8 million contract modification for long lead time materials (LLTM) in support of LPD 26, the 10th San Antonio class ship. The award covers early procurement or manufacture, inspection, test, storage and maintenance of these items, which include main engines and diesel generators. A contract for the detail design and construction of LPD 26 is anticipated in mid-2010. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS and is expected to be complete by December 2013.

See also Dec 19/08 entry, and the accompanying NGC release for this contract. The total cost of announced LPD 26 long-lead materials contracts so far is $223.8 million.

May 12/09: LPD 18 fixed. USS New Orleans [LPD 18] prepares to return to sea after completing dry dock repairs at the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (ASRY) Shipyard dry dock in Bahrain. US Navy photo release.

April 14/09: BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair in San Diego, CA received a $24.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-2200) for LPD 20 Green Bay’s post shakedown availability tasks, and acceleration of fleet required ship alterations. Work will include:

“…completion of government responsible deficiencies; correction of LPD 19 [Mesa Verde] shock trial related deficiencies, class pipe hangers deficiencies, and FCT trials cards; and the acceleration of fleet required ship alterations such as upgrades to the SWAN GiGE (Gigabit Ethernet) Upgrades, MK46 [30m RWS] Gun System Upgrade, HF-SAR, SSEE Inc E, Joint Biological Point Detection System (JBPDS) and SLQ-32 [ship electronic countermeasures system] ICAD.”

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

April 6/09: LPD 27 postponed. US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announces his FY 2010 budget recommendations. They include postponement of LPD 27 funding to build the 11th ship of class.

March 20/09: LPD 18 collision. A collision between the USS Hartford [SSN 768] and the USS New Orleans [LPD-18] in the Strait of Hormuz, slightly injures 15 sailors. Both vessels are able to proceed under their own power after the incident, although the New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, releasing 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the strait. US Navy | US Navy repairs photo.

Dec 19/08: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS received a $10 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to a previously awarded contract, in order to buy long lead-time materials for LPD 26. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2010 (N00024-06-C-2222).

Dec 4/08: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans, LA received a $16.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217) for Life Cycle Engineering and Support services on the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (60%) and New Orleans, LA (40%); the contract period will end the end of the fiscal year on Sept 30/09, but contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Oct 31/08: Major breakdown. The USS San Antonio [LPD 17] is forced into to a Bahraini shipyard for at least 2 weeks of repairs. On Oct 9th and 17th, leaks were discovered in the pipes that deliver lubricating oil to the ship’s 4 diesel engines. The fault is classified as hazardous, because the leaks drip flammable oil into open spaces. When the ship pulled in, it was greeted by a large team of 30-40 engineers, pipefitters and welders flown to Bahrain from the U.S.

It is rare to find such serious faults in a new ship. Many analysts, including former 3-star rear admiral Rep. Joe Sestak [D-PA], see the problems as further evidence of systemic workmanship flaws.

Oct 22/08: Raytheon announces that the U.S. Navy has exercised the 3rd of 3 one-year options, paying Raytheon up to $23 million for San Antonio Class life cycle engineering and support. The original contract was issued in 2005.

Raytheon’s work on the LPD 17 program is performed at the Expeditionary Warfare Center in San Diego, CA; the Seapower Capability Center in Portsmouth, RI; and by Raytheon Technical Services Company in New Orleans, LA and San Diego, CA. Raytheon release.

FY 2007 – 2008

Initial Operating Capability. First deployment. LPD 18 to 20. LPD-22 construction
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Aug 28/08: A mission, at last. The USS San Antonio [LPD 17] becomes the first ship of class to deploy on a mission, over 2 1/2 years after the ship was commissioned into service.

The ship will be part of the USS Iwo Jima’s [LHD-7] Expeditionary Strike Group, and is en route to the 5th Fleet (CENTCOM area/ Middle East) and 6th Fleet’s (Mediterranean) areas of responsibility. The Iwo Jima ESG also includes the dock-landing ship USS Carter Hall [LSD 50], the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf [CG 72], the guided-missile destroyers USS Ramage [DDG 61] and USS Roosevelt [DDG 80], and the Improved Los Angles Class fast attack submarine USS Hartford [SSN 768]. US Navy.

1st mission for the class

Aug 1/08: LPD 20 passes INSURV. Green Bay [LPD 20] passes its sea trials and INSURV inspection, clearing the way for the Navy to accept her.

During the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) Acceptance Trials, LPD 20 successfully demonstrated a variety of systems including main propulsion, engineering and ship control systems including the Shipboard Wide Area Network, combat systems, damage control, food service and crew support. Among the highlights of the trial, Green Bay successfully completed a full power run, self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, ballasting, deballasting, and steering and anchor handling demonstrations. US Navy | Raytheon.

May 8/08: Raytheon announces a $32 million contract to develop and integrate the total ship electronics systems for LPD 25, the 9th ship of the U.S. Navy’s LPD 17 class. Under the contract, awarded by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Raytheon continues its role as the total ship electronics systems integrator for all ships of this class. Raytheon IDS will provide the Shipboard Wide Area Network, integrated product data environment, total ship information management, and integrated ship electronics architecture.

May 23/08: CRS on LPD-17s. The US Congressional Research Service releases an updated version of “Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress” [PDF]. See also Information Dissemination’s excerpts at “Thinking LSD (X) and Motherships“.

May 5/08: IOC for LPD-17s. MarineLink reports that The LPD 17 class has reached Initial Operating Capability. The USS San Antonio is reportedly on track to deploy with the USS Iwo Jima [LHD 7] Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) later in 2008.

IOC

March 1/08: LPD 21 launch. The US Navy christens and launches LPD 21 New York at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in New Orleans, LA. The ship is named New York in honor of the state, the city and the victims of Sept 11/01. A unique characteristic of the ship is the use of 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage that was incorporated into the construction process. The steel was melted and formed to make the bow stem of the ship. US Navy | DefenseLINK.

Dec 21/07: LPD 25 order. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Inc. in Pascagoula, MS received a $1 billion fixed-price incentive modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2222), to finish design and begin construction of the 9th LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock ship [LPD 25 Somerset]. The contract includes design and engineering efforts, material procurement, testing and quality assurance required to support ship construction, initial spares and technical documentation loadout, plus management efforts – including subcontract and risk management – during the entire period of construction and testing.

Coupled with the advance procurement contract funded for LPD 25 (q.v. Nov 6/06 entry) total contracts for the ship to date are valued at more than $1.2 billion. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (85%) and Pascagoula, MS (15%), and is expected to be complete by November 2011. NGC release.

LPD 25 main order

Dec 15/07: LPD 19 commissioned. LPD-19 is commissioned as the USS Mesa Verde. She will ultimately join the fleet in its home port of Norfolk, VA.

LPD 19 is named for the Mesa Verde National park in Southwestern Colorado. Congress established Mesa Verde, meaning “green plateau,” as the first cultural park in the national parks system in 1906 to preserve the notable cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo culture dating back 13 centuries ago. Northrop Grumman release | US Navy release.

USS Mesa Verde

Dec 15/07: The crew of the USS New Orleans [LPD 18] executes the ship class’ first amphibious launch and recovery of the USMC’s new expeditionary fighting vehicle (EFV). US Navy release.

Dec 7/07: LPD 19 Mesa Verde receives LCAC certification. The ship has already received a newly modernized hovercraft [LCAC 39], which has been through the service life extension program upgrades. See US Navy story.

Nov 26-30/07: LPD 17 passes INSURV. An INSURV (Board of Inspection and Survey) underway material inspection examines San Antonio for the 3rd time, and finds her fit for sustained combat service in the Fleet. US Navy | MarineLink.

Mesa Verde, trials
(click to view full)

Sept 28/07: Raytheon Co. in San Diego, CA received a $27.1 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2207) to exercise an option for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on select electronic systems for the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by September 2008. Raytheon release.

Sept 28/07: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans, LA received a $13 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217) to exercise an option for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (60%) and New Orleans, LA (40%), and is expected to be complete by September 2008.

Sept 20/07: LPD 19 passes INSURV. Northrop Grumman announces that its 3rd San Antonio Class ship, the Mesa Verde [LPD 19], has successfully completed its acceptance trials for the U.S. Navy. The ship will be delivered later in September 2007, and is scheduled to be commissioned as USS Mesa Verde in Panama City, Fla. on Dec 15/07. Northrop Grumman gave no further specifics, noting only that “the ship performed well”; U.S. Navy Cmdr. Shawn Lobree, LPD 19’s prospective commanding officer, said that the ship “passed all major testing events.” Northrop Grumman release.

Aug 13-16/07: LPD 19. Mesa Verde [LPD 19] successfully completes builder’s trials in the Gulf of Mexico, in a collaborative effort involving the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman. The ship’s compartments were 100% complete, and all systems and certifications were completed and tested 100% to pre-trial requirements. Testing was performed on the ship’s main propulsion, communications, steering, navigational, radar and other systems. Other exercises included anchor handling, flight operations, compartment air balancing, and ballasting/de-ballasting of the well deck that launches amphibious landing craft.

Note that unlike her predecessors, Mesa Verde was built at the Pascagoula, MS shipyard, rather than at Avondale near New Orleans. Next month, the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team will conduct acceptance trials aboard LPD 19, which will involve more rounds of extensive testing of the ship’s major systems. Northrop Grumman release.

June 30/07: Flaws. The Virginia Pilot runs another article about LPD 17’s test failures and program issues. An excerpt:

“Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter criticized shipbuilder Northrop Grumman Ship Systems for substandard work and, in a letter last week, questioned the future of amphibious and destroyer ship programs under contract with the company. “By taking delivery of incomplete ships with serious quality problems, the Fleet has suffered unacceptable delays in obtaining deployable assets,” Winter wrote to Ronald Sugar, Northrop Grumman’s chief executive officer.

Two years after accepting the San Antonio, “the Navy still does not have a mission capable LPD ship,” Winter wrote… In March 2006, chief of naval operations Adm. Mike Mullen also attacked Northrop Grumman over its work quality. The average cost per ship has risen 50 percent over original estimates, according to the Navy… The worst problems were in the propulsion, auxiliary and aviation systems. Nearly two-thirds of those serious problems were discovered during an earlier inspection, reported as fixed, but still existed during the later check.

The second ship in the amphibious class, the New Orleans, has fewer problems but was still incomplete when accepted by the Navy, Winter wrote to Northrop Grumman. The company’s “inefficiency and mismanagement of LPD 17 put the Navy in an untenable position,” according to Winter.

He has assigned a deputy to perform quarterly reviews on the shipyard and all ships under contract with Northrop Grumman.”

April 14/07: Flaws. The Virginia Pilot reports that LPD-17 continues to have reliability and workmanship issues, with major failings in 3/17 tests and no ability to be sea-tested during a five-day inspection period because one of its two steering systems completely failed. See The Virginia Pilot report | full DID coverage, incl. June 30 follow-up.

Flawed construction

April 9/07: SAR Increases. The Pentagon releases its April 2007 Selected Acquisition Report, and the LPD-17 Class is one of the systems covered. Program costs increased by $1,107.4 million (+8.9%) from $12,486.6 million to $13,594.0 million, due primarily to the addition of Hurricane Katrina Supplemental funding (+$1,155.4 million).

Cost jump

LPD 18 New Orleans
(click to view full)

March 10/07: LPD 18 commissioned. USS New Orleans is commissioned at a ceremony in New Orleans. The ship’s sponsor is Carolyn Shelton, wife of Gen. Henry H. Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. See USN release | Northrop Grumman release. As of December 2007, the ship has yet to be assigned to an operational mission.

USS New Orleans

Feb 27/07: BAE Systems in San Diego, CA received an $11.3 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for accomplishment of the Fitting-Out Availability (FOA) for the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship New Orleans [LPD 18]. The contract includes performance of specified work items inclusive of tests and post repair sea trials. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by July 2007; contract funds in the amount of $1.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured and posted on Federal Business Opportunities website, with 3 offers received (N00024-07-C-2200).

Nov 6/06: LPD 24 ordered, LPD 25 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans, LA received a $1.45 billion modification under previously awarded contract N00024-06-C-2222 to exercise two fixed-price incentive options for construction of the 8th LPD 17 Class amphibious transport dock ship [LPD 24 Arlington], with long lead time materials and associated labor for the 9th ship of the LPD 17 Class, LPD 25.

In addition to ship production, this effort will include procurement of long lead material and also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining the long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. The contractor will also provide management efforts, including subcontract and risk management. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (90%) and New Orleans, LA (10%), and is expected to be complete by March 2011. See also Northrop Grumman’s press release.

LPD 24 main order

Dec 22/06: LPD 18 delivery. Northrop Grumman representatives and Navy officials signed documents officially transferring custody of the LPD 18 New Orleans at the company’s New Orleans facility. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned in March 2007. See Northrop Grumman release.

FY 2005 – 2006

LPD 17 commissioned. LPD-17 commissioning
(click for full size)

Sept 29/06: Raytheon Co. in San Diego, CA received a $26.7 million cost-plus award fee modification under previously awarded contract N00024-06-C-2207, exercising an option for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on select electronic systems for the LPD-17 Class as ships are delivered and commissioned. Under this contract, Raytheon will establish integrated support services for sustainment of the complete shipboard mission systems suite that the company delivers to this class of ships. Raytheon is the prime contractor for life cycle engineering and support for electronic systems on the LPD-17 Class; see this article’s June 27/06 contract entry. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by September 2007. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., issued the contract. See Raytheon’s October 18 press release.

Sept 29/06: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, New Orleans, LA received a $13.3 million cost-plus award fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217) to exercise an option for continued Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on the LPD-17 Class. Services include: post delivery planning and engineering, homeport technical support, Class Integrated Product Data Environment (IPDE), data maintenance and equipment management, systems integration and engineering support, research engineering, obsolescence management, material readiness team operations, emergent repair provisions (including warranty enforcement), training and logistics support. Support services include: Fleet Modernization Program planning, ship alteration development and installation, material management, operating cycle integration, availability planning, configuration data management, research engineering, logistics documentation, and other logistics and executing activity coordination, and management of all related data within the Class IPDE. LPD 17 Class Engineering: engineering, logistics, and technical studies of shipbuilding requirements and design change development. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by September 2007. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract.

July 15/06: LPD 20 christened. Christening ceremony for LPD 20 Green Bay at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ Avondale operations in New Orleans, LA. As one might imagine, the famous Green Bay Packers American football team featured prominently in the ceremonies.

June 27/06: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems is subcontracted by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems to provide the electronic systems and integration for the next 3 ships in the LPD-17 class: USS San Diego [LPD 22], USS Anchorage, and USS Arlington [LPD 24]. Work also includes the shipboard wide area network, voice and video systems, et. al. The $218 million subcontract extends Raytheon’s role as the ship electronic systems integrator for the class. See Raytheon release.

June 1/06: LPD 22 & 23 ordered. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received $2.49 billion fixed-price incentive contract for construction of two LPD-17 Class amphibious transport dock ships (LPD 22 San Diego and LPD 23 Anchorage), with long lead time materials and associated labor for a third (LPD 24 Arlington). In addition to ship production, this effort will include procurement of long lead material and also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. In addition, the contractor will provide the management efforts including subcontract and risk management. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS and New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by October 2011 (N00024-06-C-2222). See also N-G corporate release, also Navy PEO ships release.

LPD 22 & 23 main orders

Jan 27/06: Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp. in Norfolk, VA received a $6.8 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2224) to exercise an option for the Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) of the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship USS San Antonio [LPD 17]. The contract is for services and material for total fitting-out availability (FOA) and PSA efforts for LPD 17. Specific efforts include: engineering and management, labor and procurement of material to correct government responsible deficiencies and accomplish system upgrades; perform specified FOA/PSA work items inclusive of tests and post repair sea trials; task additional man-hours and material in order to complete emergent repairs. Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA and is expected to be complete by April 2007.

Jan 11/06: LPD 17 commissioned. The ship becomes USS San Antonio.

USS San Antonio

Nov 1/05: Raytheon Co. in San Diego, CA received a $19.2 million cost-plus award fee contract for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on select electronic systems for the LPD-17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program. Work will be performed at San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by September 2006. Contract funds in the amount of $250,000, will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. issued the contract. (N00024-06-C-2207)

Oct 18/05: LPD 22 & 23 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $50.7 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-01-C-2224. It covers additional long lead-time materials in support of two Amphibious Transport Dock Ships, LPD 22 San Diego and LPD 23 Anchorage. The contractor will procure long lead material necessary to prepare for construction of LPD 22 and LPD 23. The effort will include not only procurement but also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long-lead material. Contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. Limited advance construction activities for LPD 22 San Diego are also included. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (88%) and Pascagoula, MS (12%), and is expected to be complete by January 2010.

Sept 30/05: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $22.4 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217). It exercises an option for life cycle engineering and support services on the LPD-17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (80%) and San Diego, CA (20%), and is expected to be complete by September 2006.

Aug 30/05: Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Corp., Norfolk, VA, received a $5.2 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for the Fitting-Out Availability (FOA) of the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship LPD 17 San Antonio. The contract will provide services and material for the total FOA and Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) efforts for LPD 17. Specific efforts include: engineering and management in support of the FOA/PSA; labor and procurement of material to correct government responsible deficiencies and accomplish system upgrades; performance of specified FOA/PSA work items, including tests and post repair sea trials; task additional manhours and material to complete emergent repairs. Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA, and is expected to be complete by February 2006. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Internet, with three proposals received (N00024-05-C-2224).

April 19/05: Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense Systems’ (Raytheon IDS) role as a mission systems integrator for the LPD-17 San Antonio Class of amphibious warfare ships took another step forward, thanks to a $12.5 million subcontract from lead integrator Northrop-Grumman. Raytheon IDS will “provide performance-based logistics and establish integrated support services for sustainment of the complete shipboard mission systems suite” that the company delivers to this class of ships. Raytheon is also creating battle management systems for the Navy’s new DD (X) destroyer and CVN-21 future aircraft carriers. This will provide all three classes of vessel with a common system, improving coordination among different types of ships in the U.S. fleet. See DID coverage.

Feb 11/05: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $26.9 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for LPD-17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program Life-Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services. The LPD 17-class life-cycle engineering and support contract, worth $26.9 million, combines the expertise of shipbuilder Northrop Grumman and electronic-systems integrator Raytheon to manage critical life-cycle cost/performance ship-class drivers such as technology upgrades, software support and ship-systems integration by managing ship-class hardware and software as a single entity.

Services will include: post delivery planning and engineering, homeport technical support, Class Integrated Product Data Environment, data maintenance and equipment management, systems integration and engineering support, research engineering, obsolescence management, material readiness team operations, emergent repair provisions, and training and logistics support. Work will be performed at Pascagoula, MS (58%) and New Orleans, LA (42%), and is expected to be complete by September 2005. This contract was not competitively awarded (N00024-05-C-2217). See corporate release.

LPD 17, Dockside

Jan 15/05: LPD 19 christened. Christening ceremony for LPD 19 Mesa Verde at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, MS.

Dec 23/04: LPD 22 & 23 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $165.1 million maximum-priced modification to existing letter contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for to procure additional long lead-time materials necessary to prepare for construction of two Amphibious Transport Dock Ships, LPD 22 San Diego and LPD 23 Anchorage. The effort will include inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. In addition, contractor will provide subcontracting and risk management. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by December 2008.

Dec 11/04: LPD 18 launched. New Orleans [LPD 18] launched. Note that this does not mean the ship is finished, and indeed the ship was not yet ready to leave the New Orleans yard when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Nov 19/04: LPD 19 launched Mesa Verde [LPD 19] is launched, at Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, MS.

FY 2004 and Earlier

First orders. From WTC to LPD-21
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Sept 10/04: LPD 21 keel. Keel-laying ceremony for the New York [LPD 21]. The ship will include steel in the bow section cast from salvaged portions of the World Trade Center in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Aug 17/04: LPD 23 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $107,121,910 letter-contract modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for additional long lead time materials necessary to support build preparation for the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship LPD 23 Anchorage. The effort shall include not only procurement but also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining the long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance, and will provide the management efforts including subcontract and risk management. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to complete by December 2008.

May 26/04: LPD 22 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $100,414,220 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for long lead material and associated effort for LPD 22 San Diego. Work will be performed in Avondale, LA, and is expected to be complete by October 2008.

Nov 25/03: LPD 21 ordered. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received an $816.6 million cost-plus-incentive/award-fee contract for the detailed design and construction of the LPD 21 New York. Included under this effort are provisioning spares, design engineering services, research and development for future product improvement and the creation of a sustained engineering environment for the ship wide area network.

LPD 21 will become USS New York, and steel from the destroyed World Trade Center has been saved for its construction. It will be melted down, and included in her bow.

Work will be performed in Avondale, LA (87%); Pascagoula, MS (12%); and Gulfport, MS (1%), and is expected to be complete by August 2007. The contract was not competitively procured (N00024-04-C-2204).

LPD 21 main order

Aug 11/03: Keel-laying ceremony for the Green Bay [LPD 20]

Feb 25/03: Keel-laying ceremony for the Mesa Verde [LPD 19].

Oct 14/02: Keel-laying ceremony for the New Orleans [LPD 18].

July 30/02: LPD 21 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $171.05 million modification to previously awarded letter contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for long-lead time materials for the New York [LPD 21]. Work will be performed in Avondale, LA and is to be complete by February 2003.

March 28/01: Litton Avondale Industries, Inc., Shipyards Division, New Orleans, LA, received an $11.3 million modification to previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00024-97-C-2202) for 159,065 man-hours of engineering services in support of the LPD 17 Program. The contractor will provide product engineering, logistical analysis, and technical studies to support the LPD-17 Class ships. Services will be provided to support the integrated product data environment, engineering change analysis, life cycle support planning, and total ownership cost reduction efforts. This contract contains four options, which if exercised, will bring the total cumulative value of this contract to $41.6 million. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by March 2005.

July 19/01: LPD 21 & 22 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $113.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for advance procurement long lead time material in support of amphibious transport ships New York [LPD 21] and San Diego [LPD 22]. The effort shall include procurement, inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (50%), and Bath, ME (50%), and is expected to be complete in October 2002. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-01-C-2224).

LPD-17 construction.
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May 30/00: LPD 20 ordered. Litton-Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA, received a $477.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee option for the construction of the Green Bay [LPD 20], the fourth LPD-17 Class amphibious transport dock ship. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (83%); San Diego, CA (12.2%); Waynesboro, VA (4.6%); and Bath, ME (.2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2004. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-97-C-2202).

LPD 20 main order

Feb 15/00: LPD 19 ordered. Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA received a $491.9 million cost-plus-incentive fee option to previously awarded contract N00024-97-C-2202 to exercise an option for the construction of the LPD 19 Mesa Verde. Work will be performed in Bath, ME (85%); San Diego, CA (9%); Waynesboro, VA (4%) and places yet to be determined (2%), and is expected to be complete by March 2005.

LPD 19 main order

April 28/99: AlliedSignal Technical Services Corp., Columbia, Md., received an estimated $5.9 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, delivery order contract to provide systems engineering and integration support services including design, development, integration, installation, test and evaluation, certification, maintenance, modification and logistics support on a wide variety of electronic equipment, systems, and subsystems. These systems are communication systems installed on LPD 17 San Antonio, CVN 76 Ronald Reagan, and TADC (X) & JCC (X) class ships. Work will be performed in Charleston, SC and is expected to be complete by April 2000. The contract contains options, which, if exercised, will bring the cumulative value of the contract to $30 million. This contract was competitively procured with 107 proposals solicited and 3 offers received by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Charleston in Charleston, SC (N65236-99-D-3813).

Dec 18/98: LPD 18 ordered. Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA received a $312.8 million modification to previously awarded contract, exercising an option for the construction of the LPD 18 New Orleans. Given the ship’s total cost this is just an initial payment, on top of previous orders for long lead-time, early construction items like engines etc.

Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA and is expected to be complete by February 2004. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-97-C-2202).

LPD 18 main order

Dec 4/98: Raytheon Systems Co., Naval and Maritime Systems Div. in San Diego, CA received a $22.5 million cost-plus-award-fee letter contract for three ship self-defense systems (SSDS) for MK 2 equipment shipsets in support of CVN 76 Ronald Reagan, LPD 17 San Antonio, and LPD 18 New Orleans. The SSDS implements an evolutionary development of improved ship self-defense capabilities against high-speed, low-flying, anti-ship cruise missiles for selected non-AEGIS ships including the US Navy’s new Nimitz Class carriers (CVN 76 USS Ronald Reagan and CVN 77 USS George H.W. Bush). SSDS will be an integration of all the ship’s self-defence systems including sensors, weapons, radars and electronic warfare, data links, the ship’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) with the rest of the fleet, and the Shipboard Wide Area Network (SWAN) which is a fiber-optic ship wide area computer network including both classified and unclassified components.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (90%), and Portsmouth, RI (10%), and is expected to be complete in February 2000. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-99-C-5108).

Aug 4/98: Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA received a $9.7 million modification to previously awarded contract for research, development, test and evaluation of new technologies potentially applicable to the LPD-17 Class ship. This modification will cover the exploration of various emerging innovative production processes, shipboard automation techniques, and system design concepts with emphasis on reducing maintenance, manning, and radar cross section and improving structural design concepts, electronics integration and habitability.

Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (38%), San Diego, CA (32%), and New Orleans, LA (30%), and is expected to be complete in July 1999. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-97-C-2202).

Oct 2/97: TRW, Information Services Div. (ISD), Fairfax, VA received a $11.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract N00024-91-C-6456 to provide for technical and management services to support PMS 377, Amphibious Warfare Program Office and PMS 317 LPD-17 Amphibious Transport Docking Ship Program Office. This contract contains options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $24.8 million.

Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA (62%); Arlington, VA (22%); Alexandria, VA (5.5%); Chantilly, VA (4%); McLean, VA (3.5%); Severna Park, Md. (2%); and Fredricksburg, VA (1%), and is expected to be complete March 1998. This modification combines purchases for the US Navy (99%), and the Government of Japan (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract.

Dec 17/96: LPD 17 ordered. Avondale Industries, Incorporated in Avondale, LA received a $641.4 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for detail design, integration and construction of the LPD 17 Amphibious Transport Dock Ship, with options for construction of LPD 18 and LPD 19. Teaming with Avondale on this contract are General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works, Hughes Aircraft Company, and Intergraph Corporation. Bath Iron Works will participate in the detail design and will construct the LPD 19. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the entire contract to $1,526,134,594. It actually ends up costing more than that for just the 1st ship.

Work will be performed in Avondale, LA (48%); Bath, Maine (32%); Fullerton, CA (16%); and Waynesboro, VA (4%). The expected delivery of LPD 17 is 67 months after contract award (June/July 2001). This contract was competitively procured with full and open competition and two offers were received. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-97-C-2202).

LPD 17 main order

Additional Readings & Sources LPD-17 Class Ship Background

Background: LPD-17 Ancillaries & Issues

Official Reports

News and Views

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

JLENS: Co-ordinating Cruise Missile Defense – And More

Tue, 08/12/2015 - 01:19
JLENS Concept
(click to view full)

Experiences in Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrated that even conventional cruise missiles with limited reach could have disruptive tactical effects, in the hands of a determined enemy. Meanwhile, the proliferation of cruise missiles and associated components, combined with a falling technology curve for biological, chemical, or even nuclear agents, is creating longer-term hazards on a whole new scale. Intelligence agencies and analysts believe that the threat of U.S. cities coming under cruise missile attack from ships off the coast is real, and evolving.

Aerial sensors are the best defense against low-flying cruise missiles, because they offer far better detection and tracking range than ground-based systems. The bad news is that keeping planes in the air all the time is very expensive, and so are the aircraft themselves. As cruise missile defense becomes a more prominent political issue, the primary challenge becomes the development of a reliable, affordable, long-flying, look-down platform. One that can detect, track and identify incoming missiles, then support over-the-horizon engagements in a timely manner. The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) certainly looked like that system, but the Pentagon has decided to end it.

The JLENS System: This is Not Your Grandpa’s Barrage Balloon Radar: height matters.
(click to view full)

In Air Defense Artillery Magazine, Major Thomas J. Atkins sums up the 2-aerostat JLENS system:

“The JLENS system consists of four main components: the aerostats, the radars, the mooring station and the processing station. The [2] aerostats are unmanned, tethered, non-rigid aerodynamic structures filled with a helium/air mix. The aerostats are 77 yards long (three-fourths of a football field) and almost as wide as a football field. The aerostats must be large enough to lift the heavy [volume search or fire control] radars that provide the system’s extended range. The radars are optimized for their separate, specific functions, but weigh several tons each. The surveillance radar searches very long distances to find small radar cross-section tracks before they can threaten friendly assets. The fire control radar looks out at shorter ranges than the surveillance radar, but provides highly accurate data to help identify and classify tracks while providing fire control quality data to a variety of interceptors. The two aerostats are connected to the ground via tethers through which power and data is transmitted. The tethers enables the aerostats to operate at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet and contain power lines, fiber-optic data lines and Kevlar-strengthened strands surrounded by an insulated protective sleeve. The tethers connect to mobile mooring stations that anchor the aerostats to the ground and control their deployment and retrieval. The mooring stations are connected to ground-mounted power plants and processing stations. The processing stations are the brains of the whole system. Each processing station contains an operator workstation, a flight-director control station, weather-monitoring equipment and a computer that controls radar functions and processes radar data.”

JLENS takes 5 days to go from transport configuration to full deployment, or to pack up. Once deployed, Raytheon says that JLENS’ radar can detect and target threat objects at a range of up to 340 miles/ 550 km, depending on the object’s size and radar/ infrared signatures. A 2013 test confirmed the ability to track short-range ballistic missiles in their boost phase.

Raytheon on JLENS

Once deployed, JLENS can work as part of the Joint Theater Air and Missile Defense (JTAMD) system of systems. When integrated with Co-operative Engagement Capability, JLENS can even serve as the linchpin of combined air defense frameworks. An elevated sensor such as JLENS can support ground based air defense units, such as Patriot, Aegis/Standard Missile and SLAMRAAM (ground-based AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles). In the All Service Combat Identification and Evaluation Team (ASCIET) ’99 exercise, a 15m aerostat was deployed with a Cooperative Engagement Capability relay on a mobile mooring station. This relay allowed the Army’s Patriot air defense system and the Navy’s AEGIS weapon system to exchange radar data. Other tests have involved SM-6 and AMRAAM missiles.

Development of missile options like the long-range infrared-guided NCADE missile, which can be mounted on long-endurance platforms like MQ-9 Reaper UAVs and possibly even added to the JLENS system, would add another potential dimension to the platform.

Additional equipment could offer commanders extensive communications relay capabilities, or even area surveillance of the ground. The JLENS program reportedly deployed a smaller 15 meter aerostat to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In late November 2003, the Army announced its intention to redeploy the Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) force protection aerostat from Afghanistan to Iraq. RAID, adapted out of JLENS via the Army Rapid Equipping Force, became its own program, involving both flying aerostats and fixed-tower configurations like GBOSS.

A privately-funded January 2013 test mounted similar equipment on a JLENS system, successfully demonstrating its ability to monitor humans walking near roads.

The JLENS Program JLENS Infographic
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JLENS is currently managed as part of the Cruise Missile Defense Systems Project Office at Redstone Arsenal, AL. As of January 2007, Raytheon Company defined and finalized a $1.4 billion contract modification from the U.S. Army for full-scale JLENS system development and demonstration. Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems is responsible for the fire control radar and processing station, and work on the program will be performed at Raytheon sites located in Massachusetts, California, Texas and Maryland. TCOM LP, based in Maryland, will develop the 71M aerostat and associated ground equipment.

The US Army’s initial System Acquisition Report submission in 2005, following approval to proceed into System Development and Demonstration (Milestone B), placed the JLENS program’s total value over its lifetime at $7.15 billion. By October 2011, estimates to complete the program had reached $7.56 billion, with about $1.9 billion spent to create 2 demonstration systems. Another $634.1 million in R&D would be required to finish, followed by $5.2 billion in procurement funds to buy the other 14 systems. Back in November 2005, Raytheon VP for Integrated Air Defense Timothy Carey was excited:

“This is going to be one of our foundational programs over the next 10 to 20 years… As we try to grow the business here in New England, it’s important to have these programs that play out over a long period.”

He turned out to be half-right. It won’t be foundational. It will play out over a long time.

In January 2012, the FY 2013 budget proposal called for the cancellation for JLENS’ production phase. The 2 existing systems would remain, to be used for further testing and trialed in exercises, but funding would begin to taper off rapidly after 2013. Recent budgets have included:

FY 2008: $464.9 million, all Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation (RDT&E)
FY 2009: $355.3 million, all RDT&E
FY 2010: $317.1 million all RDT&E
FY 2011: $399.5 million, all RDT&E
FY 2012: $327.3 million, all RDT&E
FY 2013 request: $190.4 million, all RDT&E. This was actually a $34 million increase, to fund the Secretary of Defense directed COCOM Exercise extended test program.

The US Army was planning to field 5 Orbits (1 EMD and 4 Procurement) between FY 2013-2017, and a low-rate production decision was due in September 2012. Procurement would have run for another 10 years. Now it won’t, with just 1 demonstration system protecting Washington, and another in Strategic Reserve.

On the other hand, with border surveillance growing as a security concern amidst Mexico’s Cartel Wars, cruise missile defense still a weakness, and US military operating costs becoming a growing issue, the question is what the Pentagon proposes as a JLENS replacement.

JLENS: Contracts & Key Events FY 2013 – 2016

1 orbit into Strategic Reserve; 1 orbit preps for 3 year surveillance over Washington; AMRAAM & End User tests. JLENS

December 8/15: The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System(JLENS) radar program has received another vote of confidence after a group of retired admirals and generals gave their support for the program. The group have spent their careers specializing in missile defense, and follows last week’s news that the 35 members of the defense appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate were in favor of continued funding of the program. JLENS aims to spot low flying cruise weapons and UAVs with plans to have them as part of a defense network for major cities. Since beginning military action in Syria, Russia has been able to test its latest military technologies and hardware, which included the first the first real-world test of its Kalibr land attack cruise missile in October. The testing has given rise to the need for an effective defense system for the US from long range cruise missile attacks.

December 2/15: Despite facing criticisms and ridicule over its runaway blimp incident in October, US lawmakers have put their faith behind the $2.7 billion JLENS missile defense system. The Los Angeles Times reported that all 35 members of the defense appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate were in favor of continued funding of the program. The vote of confidence comes alongside a December 11 deadline by Congress to cut $5 billion from Obama’s proposed defense budget with some programs at risk. While the report may seem like good news for JLENS and manufacturer Raytheon, we’ll have to wait until after the vote to see if these blimps are too big (or expensive) to fail.

August 21/15: The Army launched a JLENS aerostat on Wednesday to increase cruise missile early warning coverage of the East Coast, joining one first launched in December last year. The unmanned, tethered platforms will complement each other through the operation of both broad-area and precision radar systems, providing an over-the-horizon early warning capability. Developed by Raytheon, the two Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) units are part of a three-year evaluation program to assess the capability of JLENS with NORAD’s early warning architecture.

Oct 13/14: NORAD. Deployment hasn’t begun yet, but Raytheon has completed a series of laboratory tests that demonstrated the ability to covert information from JLENS into a format that can be used by NORAD’s command and control system. Sources: Raytheon, “U.S. Army’s missile-fighting radar-blimp achieves critical milestone”.

June 27/14: Politics. The Washington Free Beacon reports that JLENS will be one of the items under discussion during House / Senate conferencing. The House’s 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) slashed JLENS funding from $54 million to $29 million, while the Senate bill kept funding intact. If the Senators can’t bargain JLENS funding back, the House amount would stand:

“A cut will force the [Defense Department] to make some very hard choices. For example, they might have to decide between maintaining the system or integrating JLENS into the National Capital Region’s defense architecture,” one defense expert familiar with JLENS told the Free Beacon…. they might decide to partially integrate the system and just use one of the aerostats…. Those are all bad choices because they defeat the purpose of holding the exercise in the first place….” Sources close to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which did not support the House’s cut to JLENS, said that some GOP senators are moving to protect the system.”

It would appear that privacy advocates like the ACLU and EFF have their golden opportunity, if they want to crimp the program. Sources: Washington Free Beacon, “Congress to Cut Key U.S. Missile Defense System”.

June 26/14: Industrial. JLENS aerostat manufacturer TCOM’s is moving to broaden the scope of its Elizabeth City, NC facility from lighter-than-air manufacturing, assembly, and testing, adding a new Center of Excellence. That will expand the facility’s capabilities to include integration testing of platforms, payloads, sensors, etc.

The larger vision involves an East Coast center that offers unique opportunities for the U.S. and international governments to conduct testing and training on a range of LTA platforms and towers. The CoE will also serve to demonstrate complete turn-key ISR and communications solutions to a broad range of domestic and international customers. Sources: TCOM LP, “TCOM Launches Persistent Surveillance Center of Excellence at Company’s Manufacturing and Flight Test Facility (MFTF) in Elizabeth City, NC.”

June 24/14: Strategic Reserve. Raytheon announces that they’ve finished preparing 1 of the US Army’s 2 JLENS systems for storage in the Strategic Reserve. On the one hand, it isn’t operational. On the other hand, it becomes an item that combat commanders can request. System Design and Development formally ended in Q4 2013. The 2nd system is scheduled to participate in an operational evaluation at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD in the fall. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon completes preparing JLENS radar for contingency deployment”.

March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. With respect to JLENS, the total program cost now sits at $2.78212 billion, which is almost all R&D except for $40.51 million in military construction.

“In August 2013, the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics approved the program’s revised acquisition program baseline, re-designated the program’s acquisition category and delegated milestone decision authority to the Secretary of the Army. The JLENS program satisfied developmental testing and evaluation requirements and is proceeding with plans to execute a 3-year operational combatant command exercise…. Site construction for the deployment of the exercise will begin at Aberdeen Proving Ground after the February 2014 construction contract award. The construction will involve completing aerostat pads, roads, operation and support facilities, and infrastructure. The initial system is expected to arrive at the exercise site location in June 2014 and initial capability delivery is expected for the surveillance radar in September 2014 and the fire control radar system in December 2014.”

Previous reports placed the pads, buildings, utilities and parking for each of the aerostats about 4 miles apart: one at Graces Quarters in Baltimore County, and one at G-Field in Harford County.

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). JLENS is included, and DOT&E says that expected reliability improvements haven’t panned out as promised. The system still doesn’t meet program requirements for Operational Availability, Mean Time to Repair, or Mean Time Between System Abort. This is both a hardware and a software problem; it can be made worse by poor weather that either reduces radar performance, or forces the aerostat out of the sky entirely.

The Fire Control Radar can support air defense engagements, and “demonstrated a limited target identification capability that partially met requirements and basic interoperability with other air defense systems.” On the other hand, the system still needs to improve non-cooperative target recognition, friendly aircraft identification capabilities, and target track consistency. Very limited budgets and very restricted testing have contributed to these issues.

Jan 16/14: Test deployment. Military officials didn’t get many attendees at a Baltimore County public meeting to explain JLENS, even though 71% of readers in a Washington Post article poll saw the deployment as a threat to privacy. The 2-aerostat system will be tethered 10,000 feet over the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground, and will be visible from downtown Baltimore on a clear day. The FAA will have to set up a “special use airspace” corridor for them during the 3-year test period.

Current JLENS plans involve only the airborne radar, which can spot objects in the air from North Carolina to the Canadian border, and objects on the ground from Virginia to New Jersey. The Army says that they have “no current plans” to mount the MTS-B long-range day/night camera turret that Raytheon deployed in a privately-funded Utah test (q.v. Jan 14/13). They also said that they didn’t intend to share information with federal, state or local law enforcement “but [the Army] declined to rule out either possibility.” Which is to say, their policy could change at any time, by bureaucratic directive. Sources: Baltimore Sun, “Officials present radar blimp plans for Aberdeen Proving Ground” | Washington Post, “Blimplike surveillance craft set to deploy over Maryland heighten privacy concerns”.

Aug 7/13: AMRAAM test. Raytheon announces a successful interception of a target drone by an AIM-120C-7 AMRAAM air-to-air missile, fired from an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter based on a Link-16 cue from JLENS. The July 17/13 intercept was successful, and represents the 1st test of JLENS against low-flying cruise missile targets, as well as the 1st test involving AMRAAM. Other tests have involved PATRIOT and SM-6 surface-to-air missiles.

Raytheon VP Air Warfare Systems VP Harry Schulte touts the firing as something that “enables the world’s most capable air-to-air missile to engage targets at the weapon’s maximum kinematic range.” This is technically true, but probably not operationally true, unless and until the USAF gets clearance to fire on targets based only on JLENS radar ID and Link-16 transmission. Outside the testing range, the fear of a catastrophic mistake creates Rules of Engagement that demand visual identification. Unless the JLENS radar picture is so good that it produces visual ID quality snapshots for transmission, that’s unlikely to change. JLENS would still be very useful in vectoring interceptors for a look, but any aircraft that gets a look won’t be firing at maximum kinematic range. Raytheon.

July 24/13: Testing. Raytheon announces that JLENS has finished a 6-week End User Test with the US Army, which included a stretch of 20 days of continuous operation and “a number of complex scenarios that replicated an operational environment.”

JLENS product manager Dean Barten is pleased, and says the next step involves deployment to Aberdeen Proving Ground for an operational evaluation. Deployment usually follows successful OpEval. Raytheon.

Feb 11/13: To Washington. The Washington Post reports that NORAD is working to integrate JLENS with the surveillance system over Washington, DC. The JLENS are expected to arrive by Sept. 30/13:

“A “capabilities demonstration,” as the test is called, is expected to last as long as three years. Its location is being withheld, pending notification of lawmakers and others.”

Jan 14/13: EO test. Raytheon continues to fund JLENS demonstrations, and touts a recent exercise that used the JLENS’ MTS-B day/night surveillance and targeting turret, despite heavy smoke from recent, naturally-occurring forest fires. While the MTS-B visually tracked targets, and watched Raytheon employees simulate planting a roadside land mine, the JLENS simultaneously tracked surface targets with its integrated radar system. Raytheon.

Dec 5/12: Testing. Raytheon continues to tout recent tests, including a recent exercise that used JLENS to simultaneously detected and tracked “double-digit [numbers of] swarming boats, hundreds of cars and trucks, non-swarming boats and manned and unmanned aircraft” all at once. Raytheon.

Oct 23/12: GAO. The Government Accountability Office releases a report on the 15 aerostat and airship programs underway at the Department of Defense. They estimate that $7B worth of spending has been allocated to this category, most of which was spent on R&D. JLENS and its peers see steep declines in their budgets beyond FY 2013.

The GAO by definition likes centralizated oversight, so they object to the lack of coordination between all these programs. Actually, that’s a pretty normal and even healthy state of affairs for new technologies.

Oct 5/12: Support. Raytheon in Andover, MA receives a $59 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification, covering JLENS support until Sept 28/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, AL (DASG60-98-C-0001).

FY 2012

Budget cuts and restructuring; DOT&E highlights reliability issue; PATRIOT, SM-6, and small boat detection tests. JLENS attack scenario
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Sept 21/12: SM-6 test. JLENS is part of a test involving the new SM-6 naval defense missile. During the test, JLENS’ fire-control radar acquired and tracked a target that mimicked an anti-ship cruise missile, then Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) was used to pass the data on to the firing ship. The missile used that targeting data to move into range of its own radar, found the target, and destroyed it. Raytheon.

Sept 10/12: Boat test. Raytheon touts JLENS performance during a recent test at Great Salt Lake, UT, and makes the case for JLENS’ affordability. During the tests, JLENS simultaneously detected and tracked multiple speedboats, which simulated a real-world swarming scenario with a series of tactical maneuvers at low and high speeds. The test is a good argument for JLENS usefulness protecting key ports. As for affordability, Raytheon VP David Gulla says that:

“JLENS is affordable because during a 30-day period, one system provides the warfighter the same around-the-clock coverage that it would normally take four or five fixed-wing surveillance aircraft to provide… JLENS is significantly less expensive to operate than a fixed-wing surveillance aircraft because it takes less than half the manpower to operate and has a negligible maintenance and fuel cost.”

All true, but if the system is at less than 1/4 of reliability goals (vid. March 2012 DOT&E entry), many of these dollar savings disappear quickly.

April 30/12: JLENS/ PATRIOT test. The promised firing test takes place during an exercise at the Utah Training and Test Range. Raytheon says that:

“In addition to destroying the target drone, initial indications are that the JLENS-Patriot systems integration met test objectives.”

That will help make the case for JLENS as a very low operating cost option for cruise missile defense, but is it too late? Raytheon | Lockheed Martin.

March 30/12: SAR – end JLENS. The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 31/11 includes JLENS, but not in a good way. It would cut $5.917 billion from the program by removing all 14 production systems, and leaving just the 2 demonstrators:

“The PAUC increased 215.7% to the current APB, due primarily to a reduction in the total program quantities from 16 to 2 orbits. The FY 2013 President’s Budget suspended the production program of 14 orbits; however, the two engineering and manufacturing development orbits will be completed and delivered, which will allow the Department to achieve remaining technical knowledge points in the design and development of the program and preserve options for the future. The increase in the PAUC is also attributable in part to a previously reported extension of the development program and an increase in development funding to resource an extended test program and other activities to support participation in an exercise.”

End of JLENS Production

March 30/12: GAO report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” for 2012. For JLENS, the report cites early problems with the fire control radar software, and the September 2010 destruction of a JLENS system, as key issues that have put the program behind. The JLENS program has also been affected by alignment with the Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense program. The IAMD program is aiming for a standard set of interfaces between systems such as JLENS and other sensors, weapons, and back-end command-and-control systems, in order to provide a common air picture for everyone. That forced the Army to extend the JLENS development phase by 12 months, which also drove up program costs.

The question is whether JLENS will proceed to production. With about $1.9 billion spent, the GAO estimates that the program needs $5.95 billion more to field all 14 twin-aerostat systems: $634.1 million in R&D, and $5.2 billion in procurement. A low-rate production decision is now due in September 2012, but the Pentagon’s 2013 budget proposals have put a cloud over that milestone. If they change their minds and go ahead, a full-rate production would be expected in November 2014, with procurement running until 2022.

March 2012: DT&E SE test report. The Pentagon’s Developmental Test and Evaluation and Systems Engineering FY 2011 Annual Report covers JLENS, noting the possible scenarios for the program and flagging reliability issues:

“One scenario is completion of the program of record resulting in low-rate initial production (LRIP), FRP, and full operational capability. The second scenario eliminates program funding starting in FY 2012 [DID: the direction of the Pentagon’s FY 2013 pre-budget submission], and the third scenario is to enter an operational exercise prior to an LRIP decision… The system entered DT&E with reliability less than the goal to meet reliability growth requirements. The estimated reliability prior to entering DT&E was approximately 15 hours mean time between system abort (MTBSA). The goal was to enter DT&E with 70 hours MTBSA.”

Feb 13/12: Mostly dead. The Pentagon releases its 2013 budget request, and leaves JLENS almost terminated, except for some forthcoming exercises. As Miracle Max knows, there’s a difference between “mostly dead” and “all dead.” The thing is, it takes a miracle to make the difference meaningful. JLENS is no longer listed in the programs by weapon system, but it does get an entry in the overview book. An excerpt:

“The Army will restructure JLENS and assume a manageable risk in Cruise Missile Defense, and subsequently rely on [DID: more expensive to operate] Joint aerial assets to partially mitigate any associated capability gaps. Additionally, this decision will allow more time for the Army and the Department to review total program affordability while the program conducts Combatant Commander exercises. The proposed savings in FY 2013 is $0.4 billion and totals $2.2 billion from FY 2013 – FY 2017.”

Jan 26/12: Budget cut. The FY 2013 budget under Secretary of Defense Panetta contains a raft of program cuts and delays, including the proposed “curtailment” of JLENS, “due to concerns about program cost and operational mobility,” as a program that was “experiencing schedule, cost, or performance issues.”

The phrasing of this statement is ambiguous at all levels. Why “curtailment” and not “terminate”, since that seems to be the intent? Disappointment about operational mobility also seem odd, given that the entire system was always meant to be a fixed aerostat that can be shifted with a bit of time and effort, in order to monitor a wide but high-value area. The US Army’s LEMV program is a mobile airship, but it isn’t designed to carry the same level of air and ground radar sensors, or cover the same area. Meanwhile, programs like the High Altitude Airship and ISIS describe future technologies that aren’t even close to fielding. Pentagon release | “Defense Budget Priorities and Choices” [PDF]

Jan 25/12: Testing, testing – my patience. Utah’s Deseret News [the correct spelling] reveals that JLENS is having testing problems with golden eagles, as well as local NIMBY(Not In My Back Yard) residents. The key problem involves approval to launch drones from Eskdale in Snake Valley, in order to test JLENS. In response, the Dugway Proving Ground has sought civil FAA permission to launch from its own property, and secured temporary approval for 6 flights in 2011. Problem 1 is that temporary approval will lapse soon. Problem 2 involves runaway bureaucracy:

“Because the launch site is technically changing from Eskdale to Dugway, the Army has to detail and gather public input to obtain a modified environmental assessment that will consider impacts to nesting golden eagles at Dugway as well as other potential impacts to wildlife… Launching from Dugway will necessitate a round-trip flight of the drones, which will still fly over the Snake Valley before returning to Army property, rather than a one-way launch of the plane from Eskdale… Sometime later this year, JLENS will conduct a live-fire exercise over the Utah Test and Training Range north of I-80 where a drone will be shot down by a Patriot missile after it is detected by one of the aerostats.”

Nov. – Dec. 2011: Testing. JLENS successfully completes its 1st set of tracking tests at the Utah Training and Test Range, tracking simulated low-flying cruise missiles, plus live UAVs, fighter aircraft, and moving surface targets on ground and water. It also demonstrated its ability to communicate Link-16 targeting data, and interface with IFF combat identification systems.

A live-fire Patriot missile test is expected in late 2012. In the meantime, testing continues in Utah and at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Raytheon release.

Dec 13/11: Infrastructure. Raytheon announces that they’ve established a JLENS test site at White Sands Missile Range, NM. 2012 is expected to see a Patriot missile firing, cued by JLENS. White Sands is the place for that.

FY 2009 – 2011

Prototype destroyed in collision. Cost increases. Testing…
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July 25/11: Testing. Raytheon announces a successful JLENS endurance test at the Utah Training and Test Range near Salt Lake City. While 30 days is a program goal, Raytheon doesn’t say how long the test was for. A subsequent Oct 11/11 release touts a 14-day test.

April 15/11: SAR. The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 30/10 includes JLENS as a program with significant-class cost increases under Nunn-McCurdy legislation:

“Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) – The PAUC (Program Acquisition Unit Cost, includes amortized R&D) increased 17.9 percent and the APUC(Average Procurement Unit Cost, no R&D) increased 13.3 percent to the current APB, because the development program was extended six months due to delays in testing resulting from engineering challenges. The increases in unit costs are also attributable to the addition of preplanned product improvements for reliability, safety, affordability, or producibility of the JLENS systems.”

Having your prototype destroyed in a collision is certainly a challenge.

SAR – major cost breach

April 14/11: Testing. Raytheon announces that the JLENS aerostat aloft at the Utah Test and Training Range has successfully demonstrated tracking targets of opportunity in Salt Lake City, Utah’s air space.

April 13/11: WIRED Danger Room reports:

“Last fall at a South Carolina test facility, inclement weather caused a Skyship 600 airship to come loose from its tether and crash into one of the Army’s forthcoming prized spy balloons. [The JLENS] was destroyed, along with the Skyship. What did the Army do? It upped its funding requests for the JLENS. Inside The Army, which first reported the JLENS-Skyship collision, finds that the Army is asking Congress to add $168 million for the program next year, on top of an original request of $176 million.”

Collision

Feb 9/11: Testing. Raytheon announces that JLENS’ radar demonstrated its ability to transmit data from the aerostat at the Utah Test and Training Range, while deployed to an altitude of 10,000 feet. It all seems like baby steps, but that’s how these things proceed. Especially when dealing with a system that has to carry required power etc. up the aerostat’s tether.

Sept 15/10: PATRIOT. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $7.1 million firm-fixed-fee and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for “PAC-3 Integrated Fire Control.” Lockheed Martin representative confirmed that this contract is “for integration of the [Patriot] PAC-3 Missile Segment with the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor [JLENS].”

Work is to be performed at Grand Prairie, TX; White Sands Missile Range, NM; and Chelmsford, MA, with an estimated completion date of Aug 30/12. One bid was solicited with one received (W31P4Q-10-C-0304; Serial #1936). See also FBO solicitation.

April 14/10: Testing. The US military launches 2 unmanned 233 foot JLENS aerostats about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City, UT. Several more tests are proposed for Utah later in the year, including over the remote northern portion of the Great Salt Lake and parts of the Snake Valley, which are remote and serve as good stand-ins for environments in Afghanistan.

Summer 2009 flight tests near Elizabeth City, NJ were limited to 3,000 feet, but the Utah tests will go up to 10,000 feet. Associated Press.

March 30/10: GAO Report. The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. With respect to JLENS, it says:

“Although the JLENS design appears stable, the potential for design changes remains until the maturity of JLENS components have been demonstrated. For example, the JLENS program continues to define, develop, and design the mobile mooring station used to anchor the aerostat during operations. Although the mobile station is based on a fixed mooring station design, the program has yet to demonstrate its mobility. The mobile mooring transport vehicle is still being designed and the program office expects the survivability requirements for the vehicle to change. This may require the program to add armor to the vehicle. According to program officials, the combined weight of the mooring station and an up-armored vehicle would exceed the maximum allowed for roads in the United States and in a operational theater.

“…The cost and schedule of the JLENS program could be negatively affected by the Army’s [Integrated Air and Missile Defense] program… tasked with developing a standard set of interfaces between systems such as JLENS and other sensors, weapons, and… components to provide a common air picture. As part of the IAMD strategy, the Army plans to extend the system development and demonstration phase of the JLENS program by approximately 12 months and delay low-rate initial production until fiscal year 2012.”

March 26/10: Infrastructure. Walbridge in Detroit, MI won a $40.7 million firm-fixed-price contract to design & build 3 tactical equipment maintenance facilities (TEMFS) at 3 close but separate sites in Fort Bliss, TX. Supported projects will include a sustainment bridge, a JLENS aerostat battery, and a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile battery.

Each TEMFS will provide a complex with repair and maintenance bays, equipment and parts storage, administrative offices, secure vaults, oil storage buildings, hazardous material storage, and other supporting facilities such as organizational storage buildings. Work is to be performed in Fort Bliss, TX, with an estimated completion date of Dec 30/11. Bids were solicited via World Wide Web, with 4 bids received.

Aug 25/09: Scheduled date for TCOM to fly a fully equipped JLENS 71M aerostat to 3,000 feet, in its first test flight. Source.

CEC Concept
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June 5/09: CEC. Science Applications International Corp. in St. Petersburg, FL wins a $5.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for the fabrication, assembly, and testing of compact solid state Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) antennas. These small, lightweight antennas would support mobile applications of the CEC system, including the Marine Corps Composite Track Network (CTN) and the U.S. Army’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor aerostat (JLENS). The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $18.4 million.

Work will be performed in St. Petersburg, FL and is expected to be complete by June 2010. This contract was competitively procured through full and open competition via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 2 proposals received by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-09-C-5213).

Nov 19/08: CDRR. Raytheon successfully passes critical design readiness reviews (CDRR) on its final 2 prime items, the surveillance radar (SuR) and the communications and processing group (CPG). These prime items are prerequisite to the overall JLENS Orbit CDR planned for later in 2008.

System testing is still scheduled to begin in 2010, with SDD program completion in 2012. Raytheon release.

FY 1998 – 2008

Demo program. SDD. Preliminary Design Review. JLENS moored
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March 31/08: PDR. Raytheon’s JLENS has successfully completed Orbit preliminary design review (PDR), which reviewed all aspects of JLENS design maturity. The decision clears the program to move ahead with detailed design, and JLENS system testing is scheduled to begin in 2010, with SDD program completion scheduled for 2012.

Each JLENS Orbit consists of 2 systems: a surveillance system and a fire control system, which includes a long-range surveillance radar and a high-performance fire control radar integrated onto a large aerostat. These are connected by cables to the ground-based mobile mooring station and communications processing group. Raytheon release.

PDR

March 4-6/08: The US Army reports that a group of Soldiers from Fort Bliss, TX have been brought to Raytheon in Huntsville, AL for early user assessment of the JLENS communication and control station. The 2nd early user assessment is scheduled in October 2008.

Neal Tilghman, a principal human systems engineer at Raytheon Warfighter Protection Center, says the goal is to get user feedback on the design concepts and layout of the JLENS communication and control station: “We’re in the early prototype stage and we want to head off any early issues, design concerns, in the early phase of the program…”

April 11/07: SFR. Raytheon announces that JLENS has completed a successful system functional review. The primary objective of the review was to ensure complete allocation of system level requirements to the various subsystems or prime items. The 3-day technical review evaluated system requirements and functions for each of the prime items, including the fire control radar, surveillance radar, processing station, communication system, and aerostat platform. This successful completion allows the program to progress to the preliminary design phase.

Jan 11/07: SDD. Raytheon Co. in Andover, MA received a $144.3 million increment to a $1.43 billion cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for acquisition of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, System Development and Demonstration Program.

Work will be performed in Andover, MA (47%), El Segundo, CA (28%), Long Beach, CA (6%), Columbia, MD (5%), Elizabeth City, NC (5%), Huntsville, AL (3%), Laurel, MD (2%), Dallas, TX (14%), Austin, TX (1%), Alexandria, VA (1%), and Greenlawn, NY (0.9%), and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2012. This was a sole source contract initiated on Oct. 27, 2005 by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DASG60-98-C-0001).

Jan 3/07: Raytheon announces that negotiations have finalized “a contract modification for system development and demonstration of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS).” The contract is described as $1.4 billion in this release.

System Development (SDD)

Nov 15/05: Raytheon announces “a $1.3 billion contract modification from the U.S. Army for system development and demonstration of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS).”

Oct 20/05: Raytheon announces that JLENS completed a successful system functional review (SFR) in late September 2005. This technical review is the last major milestone for the technology development acquisition phase of the program, and marks the readiness of the program to enter the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase.

The primary objective of the SFR was to ensure complete allocation of system level requirements to the system prime items. The two-day technical review included an overview of the JLENS system and in-depth reviews of each of the prime items, to include the fire control radar, surveillance radar, processing station, communication system, and platform.

During SDD, all hardware, software and logistics support required to deploy the system will be developed and will undergo extensive testing to ensure the system meets its requirements.

June 23/05: Raytheon Co. in Bedford, MA received a $79.5 million modification to a cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for JLENS. Work will be performed in Bedford, MA and is expected to be complete by July 31, 2010. This was a sole source contract initiated on Dec. 29, 2004 by the US Defense Space and Missile Command in Huntsville, AL (DASG60-98-C-0001).

June 10/05: Sensors. FLIR Systems Inc. in Wilsonville, OR received the full delivery order amount of $32.9 million as part of a firm-fixed-price contract for FLIR Star SAFIRE sensors for the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. Work will be performed in Wilsonville, OR and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2006. This was a sole source contract initiated on June 6, 2005 by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, AL (W9113M-05-D-0002).

Note that this contract may actually be associated with the derivative RAID system. A subsequent award of this type made under this contract on Sept 26/06 refers explicitly to “StarSAFIRE Sensors for the Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment System.”

Jan 30/98: H&R Co., a joint venture of Hughes Aircraft Co. and Raytheon Co. located in El Segundo, CA, won an $11.9 million increment as part of an estimated $292 million (if all options are exercised) cost reimbursement, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-award-fee, and cost-plus-fixed-fee completion contract for the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) Demonstration Program. This is something less than JLENS would eventually become, more like a prototype for what would eventually deploy as the smaller RAID system.

Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (44%); Bedford, MA (44%); Columbia, MD (10%); San Bernardino, CA (1.5%); and various locations in the United States (0.5%), and is expected to be complete by March 30, 2002. There were 3 bids solicited on June 27, 1997, and 3 bids were received by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, AL (DASG60-98-C-0001). The DefenseLINK release said that:

“The program has three primary objectives. The first is mitigation of the risk associated with the execution of the program; the second is design, development, procurement, fabrication, integration, test, demonstration, and maintenance of a system which meets the performance specification; and the third is to provide an operational “leave behind” system for user evaluation and for use in the event of a contingency deployment.”

Demo program

Additional Readings & Sources

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Boeing Grabs $130.1M Contract Mod for SDBI | A-10 Retirement Pushed Back Due to Demand | UAE May Ink $10B Rafale Fighter Deal

Thu, 12/11/2015 - 01:20
Americas

  • Boeing has been awarded an Air Force contract modification covering Foreign Military Sales production of GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs. The $130.1 million modification covers deliveries of the weapons to foreign partners, with the contract modification running to 2019. Israel and Italy operate the munition outside of the United States. First initial production of the SDBI began in 2005, after a controversial decision to award Boeing a production order.

  • The Air Force is considering pushing back the retirement schedule for the A-10, following a spike in demand from US forces operating in the Middle East. The venerable Close Air Support platform has been on the service’s chopping block for years, with recent efforts to retire the aircraft early blocked by lawmakers in September. The Air Force also recently released a RFI to identify sources for a new A-10 re-winging program, with the Thunderbolt Lifecycle Program Support effort intended to extend a portion of the Air Force’s A-10 fleet out to 2028.

Middle East North Africa

  • The United Arab Emirates is reportedly close to signing an agreement for Rafale fighters, with the sixty-aircraft deal slated to value approximately $10 billion. Similar talks between the UAE and manufacturer Dassault collapsed in November 2011, but were revived in April 2015.

  • United Arab Emirates is also reportedly discussing technology export controls to assist the Gulf state’s emerging space program, with a joint committee now established to build dialogue between the two countries. The UAE wants to import space technologies and expertise through offset agreements with US contractors, with the country looking to place systems on Mars by 2021, through its ambitious Mission to Mars program.

Europe

  • France is looking to buy four C-130J transport aircraft through the US’ Foreign Military Sales program, with the State Department approving the sale. Previous reports indicate that the sale could be intended to plug a gap in Airbus A400M delivery schedules to the French Air Force, with French officials meeting with Lockheed Martin in June. The French defense budget for FY16 includes the provision of $1.7 billion for four C-130s, with the FMS request running to $650 million, including communications and self-protection systems and support services.

  • Meanwhile, the US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin a $968.7 million contract action modification for the production of 17 C-130J variants, including six C-130J-30, one HC-130J, nine MC-130J and one KC-130J aircraft. The Air Force and Lockheed Martin reached an agreement in October to fund a five-year deal for C-130Js, covering 83 aircraft for the Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

  • The United Kingdom has requested 500 AGM-114R Hellfire II Semi-Active Laser missiles from US stocks, with the State Department approving the sale. The potential deal – estimated to value $80 million – also covers logistics support and spares. The UK already operates the Hellfire I, with Italy and France also recently requesting Hellfire missiles, for use with Reaper UAVs and Tiger attack helicopters respectively.

  • Russia is reportedly planning to begin trialling its new armed Arctic transport helicopter, the Mil Mi-8AMTSh-VA. The Russian Defense Ministry could purchase a hundred of the aircraft, with the Russians also beginning construction of Arctic support ships in October. The new helicopter is scheduled to be handed over to the Russian military in late November, with the new design boasting an ability to start in temperatures approaching -50 degrees Celsius, as well as fly using an inertial navigation system (something also set to equip upgraded MiG-31 interceptors).

  • Kongsberg has completed testing of its Joint Strike Missile in the US, with the missile designed to fit stealthily inside Norway’s future F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. This first flight test involved dropping the weapon [Norwegian] from an F-16 at 22,000ft, with further flight testing planned over the next two years. The JSM is being co-developed by Kongsberg and Raytheon.

  • Finland has requested guided rocket pods to equip its Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), with the potential deal worth an estimated $150 million. The Lockheed Martin-manufactured M31A1 Unitary and A31A1 Alternative Warhead Missiles will equip the country’s GMLRS, converted from standard MLRSs in May 2011 through a $45.3 million contract with Lockheed Martin.

Today’s Video

  • The Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS):

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Boeing’s GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb Gets Boost

Thu, 12/11/2015 - 01:20
SDB concept
(click to view larger)

Nov 1/10: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $106.4 million contract modification, exercising the Production Lot 7 (FY 2011) option for GBU-39 small diameter bombs, carriages, and technical support. At this time, the entire amount has been committed by the AAC/EBMK at Eglin Air Force Base, FL (FA8672-11-C-0034). Boeing’s Nov 9/10 release states that Lot 7 covers 2,700 GBU-39s and 280 GBU-61 carriages. Production Lots 1-5 delivered approximately 7,000 bombs and 1,200 carriages to the USAF, and Lot 6 production of 2,613 bombs and 472 carriages is more than 3 months ahead of schedule.

Unlike Raytheon’s GBU-53 SDB-II, Boeing’s SDB-I isn’t designed to attack moving targets. Instead, this GPS-guided weapon is more like the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), with a number of key design modifications. This specially shaped 250-pound bomb’s thin and pointed shape gives it extra punch against buildings and hardened targets, even though its warhead is only 50 pounds of explosive. Its pop-out glide wings and guidance set give it extended range, depending on the launching aircraft’s speed and altitude. The bombs are carried on a smart BRU-61/A 4-rack carriage, or in the internal weapon bay of planes like the F-22A Raptor. Either way, the SDB-I’s weight and compact design let aircraft carry far more smart bombs than they could otherwise.

Contracts & Events

November 12/15: Boeing has been awarded an Air Force contract modification covering Foreign Military Sales production of GBU-39 Small Diameter Bombs. The $130.1 million modification covers deliveries of the weapons to foreign partners, with the contract modification running to 2019. Israel and Italy operate the munition outside of the United States. First initial production of the SDBI began in 2005, after a controversial decision to award Boeing a production order.

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

Kongsberg’s NSM/JSM Anti-Ship & Strike Missile Attempts to Fit in Small F-35 Stealth Bay

Thu, 12/11/2015 - 01:19
NSM test launch
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Kongsberg’s stealthy new Naval Strike Missile (Nytt SjomalsMissil), which continues its development and testing program, has already shown potential in the crowded market for long-range ship attack and shore defense weapons. NSM’s Joint Strike Missile counterpart may have even more potential, as a longer-range air-launched naval and land strike complement to Kongsberg’s popular Penguin short-range anti-ship missile.

The market for anti-ship missiles is a crowded one, and the distinction between anti-ship and precision land strike weapons is blurring fast. Aside from a bevy of Russian subsonic and supersonic offerings, naval buyers can choose Boeing’s GM-84 Harpoon, China’s YJ-82/C-802 Saccade, MBDA’s Exocet, Otomat, or Marte; IAI of Israel’s Gabriel/ANAM, Saab’s RBS15, and more. Despite an ongoing shift toward supersonic missiles, Kongsberg chose not to go that route. So, how do they expect to be competitive in a crowded market? The F-35 Lightning II may hold the key.

The F-35 is a fairly stealthy plane, so long as it is mostly unarmed. About five sixths of its armament capacity must be carried externally, effectively rendering it visible to radars. That has been one of the several good arguments as to why stealth development may have been a low bang-for-buck result. Australia announced that it was going in with Kongsberg to adapt the Joint Strike Missile to fit inside the F-35’s armament bay. We helpfully suggest that the new variant be named the JSM-III Sardine.

Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile/ Joint Strike Missile NSM: Ship-Launched NSM test flight
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The 3.96m/ 13′, 407 kg/ 900 pound, stealth-enhanced Naval Strike Missile aim to be a generation beyond the USA’s GM-84 Harpoon. A rocket booster and Microturbo TRI-40 turbojet power it to a 185+ km/ 100+ nautical mile operational range, which is at the low end of the standards for its class. Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GPS/INS) guidance flies these missiles toward their target, aided by terrain profile matching (TERPROM). Internal programming is designed to create an unpredictable, maneuvering flight path that makes targeting difficult. During the final attack phase, an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker with automatic target recognizer (ATR) is used to refine final approach targeting, which can reportedly include specific features on a ship. Once NSM locks on, it strikes ships or land targets with a 120 kg/ 265 pound titanium warhead and programmable fuze.

Note the lack of a traditional radar seeker head, which is part of the missile’s signature reduction. IIR makes the NSM completely passive, offering no warning from shipboard ESM systems that detect radar emissions. At the same time, its stealthy shape offers little warning from its target’s active radar sweeps. This is a missile optimized at all levels for stealth, making supersonic speed less necessary.

An in-flight data link makes the missile reprogrammable in flight, if its target disappears or a higher priority threat appears.

In order to speed deployment, Kongsberg and the Norwegian government overlapped the NSM’s development phase and its production phase, referred to as the transition phase. That phase was tied to Norway’s commitments to Navantia, with a view to scheduling the NSM’s phase-in on the 4th vessel of Norway’s new Nansen Class AEGIS frigates. That integration is now complete.

To date, NSM has also been chosen for Norway’s Skjold Class air cushion catamaran FACs, and Poland’s land-based coastal defense batteries will use it to defend the country’s narrow Baltic Sea approaches.

JSM: Air-Launched NSM/ JSM
click for video

The air-launched “Joint Strike Missile (JSM)” variant is designed to be carried and launched internally from the F-35 Lightning II fighter’s 2 internal bays (1 missile per bay), or carried on external hardpoints by any aircraft type that has integrated the weapon with its systems. This isn’t quite the same missile, though it shares many characteristics. Kongsberg changed the wings, moved the intake to the missile’s sides, and added other modifications as the missile progresses through the development phase. Size shrinks slightly to 3.7m/ 12’2″, and weight drops to 307 kg/ 677 pounds. Because it’s air launched at speed, range expands to over 280 km/ 175 miles/ 150 nautical miles, with greater range enhancements if launched from higher altitudes.

Development has completed Phase 2, including detail design and integration/ fit checks for the F-18, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and F-35A. Phase 3 will complete development and leave Kongsberg ready for production.

The JSM’s tighter profile has also made it the base for 2 future designs: a submarine-launched variant that can fit inside a 533mm torpedo tube capsule, and a vertically-launched variant that adds a booster for use from strike-length naval vertical launch cells like the Mk.41.

RNoAF F-16
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Norway is aiming for a 2020 JSM in-service date, but that may have to involve its F-16s, which have lost their Penguin missiles. F-35A Integration will begin with the fighter’s Block 4 software fit, in 2022 – 2024.

That lateness and forced switch might be a blessing in disguise. JSM would be very appealing to many F-16 customers, and Kongsberg is also hedging its bets by testing JSM on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Forced inclusion of other platforms from the outset could create early customer pickup beyond home sales, including existing F-35 prospects like Australia. Later, the prospect of stealth-enhancing internal carriage, plus out of the gate integration with the F-35 Lightning II, give the JSM a strong entry hook for committed F-35 customers like Norway, Australia, The Netherlands, et. al.

Confirmed current export targets include Australia (NSM & JSM), Canada (NSM & JSM), Italy (JSM), and the USA (NSM). A live-fire showcase at the RIMPAC 2014 exercise has the potential to add more Pacific prospects.

Kongsberg’s JSM development partner Lockheed Martin has a similar air-launched land-attack product in its AGM-158 JASSM, which has been developed into the air or sea-launched LRASM. Other competitors exist, from MBDA’s Storm Shadow/Scalp, to Taurus’ KEPD, to Boeing’s anti-ship and land attack SLAM-ER. The JSM’s biggest differentiator would be internal F-35 carriage, which is unique. The other differentiator is its F-35 integration schedule. At present, JSM’s only ranged strike competitor in F-35 Block 4 will be Raytheon’s unpowered AGM-154C-1 JSOW glide bomb.

Contracts and Key Events 2014 – 2015

JSM Phase 3 contract & costs; Poland will accelerate 2nd coastal battery; Kongsberg tries to crack the US market, partners with Raytheon for OASuW; Live-fire showcase in the Pacific; Test-firing from LCS 4. F/A-18F w. JSMs
(click to view full)

November 12/15: Kongsberg has completed testing of its Joint Strike Missile in the US, with the missile designed to fit stealthily inside Norway’s future F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. This first flight test involved dropping the weapon [Norwegian] from an F-16 at 22,000ft, with further flight testing planned over the next two years. The JSM is being co-developed by Kongsberg and Raytheon.

Jan 15/15: VL-NSM Update. Kongsberg told Navy Recognition that the firm has been in consultation with Lockheed on MK 41 integration, and that the model that has been making the rounds at trade shows in the Kongsberg booth has been geared to drum up interest from potential customers, which essentially means the U.S. Navy. Lockheed’s LRASM would seemingly be a competitive offering. The jockeying comes as the aging Harpoon missile is thought to be going to be replaced with an Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare Increment 2 procurement.

Oct 25/14: VL-NSM. Kongsberg is displaying a vertically-launched variant of its missile at AUSA 2014. The missile design is actually based on the air-launched JSM, whose compact form is easier to fit into vertical launch cells. A large booster motor would help restore comparable range.

Note that is just a model at the moment; call us when they test-fire one. Then again, the logo on the side also says Lockheed Martin. That firm makes the Mk.41 VLS, and is also signed up to help Kongsberg complete development and integration of the base JSM with the F-35. Sources: Navy Recognition, “Kongsberg showcased a Vertical Launch Joint Strike Missile (VL JSM) during AUSA 2014”.

LCS 4 fires NSM

Sept 23/14: USA. A live fire test of the Naval Strike Missile (q.v. July 24/14) done aboard USS Coronado [LCS 4] is successful, via a launcher mounted on the flight deck. The Navy is noncommittal about issuing a requirement that would lead to NSM integration with LCS, beyond deployment as part of any SSC derivatives. Sources: US Navy, “Navy Successfully Tests Norwegian Missile from LCS 4” | Kongsberg, “Successful test firing of KONGSBERG’S Naval Strike Missile from US Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship” | USNI, “Norwegian Missile Test On Littoral Combat Ship Successful.”

July 24/14: USA. The US Navy confirms this week that USS Coronado [LCS-4] is scheduled to test-launch the NSM at their Point Mugu, CA test range. NAVSEA says this isn’t about any specific requirement, it’s just a one-off event to test the ship’s ability to handle more advanced weapons, and “provide insights into the weapon’s stated capabilities of increased range, survivability and lethality.” This test does then take place successfully on September 23, but you have to wonder what firing a missile from a launcher put on the flight deck really demonstrates.

Amazingly, the US Navy is still wondering whether it should confine itself to weapons that work only within the ship’s unaided detection range, despite the fact that 500-ton Fast Attack Craft fielded by other countries carry full-range anti-ship missiles. It’s possible that NSM could fit into the LCS SuW mission module at some future date, with the LCS using UAVs etc. to close the kill chain at range.

On a related note, the NSM is an OASuW candidate (q.v. July 15/14) to eventually replace the sea-skimming, radar-guided RGM-84 Harpoon missiles aboard US Navy ships, and a full range anti-ship and surface attack missile will be critical to the USA’s Small Surface combatant frigate program (q.v. April 7-8/14). Since the Navy’s approach makes it hard for anything other than an adapted LCS to succeed, this test has significant long-term implications for the Independence Class. Sources: Gannett’s Navy Times, “LCS to conduct test of Norwegian missile”.

July 15/14: USA. Raytheon Company and Kongsberg Gruppen form a teaming agreement around the JSM for OASuW’s air-launched component, effectively displacing Raytheon’s JSOW-ER as a contender. The switch gives Raytheon a more advanced offering, while offering Kongsberg technical cooperation and stronger marketing clout. The 2 firms have a history of cooperation, and Kongsberg’s NASAMS remains the centerpiece of Raytheon’s mid-tier air defense offering.

They’ll still compete for OASuW’s ship-launched component, however; Raytheon has no intention of giving up on its RGM-109 Tomahawk. Sources: Kongsberg Gruppen, “Raytheon and Kongsberg team to provide air-launched Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare solutions”.

USA: OASuW partner

July 2/14: Phase 3. The Norwegian Defence Logistics Organization (NDLO) signs a NOK 1.1 billion ($178.3 million) Phase III contract with Kongsberg to complete Joint Strike Missile development, and prepare it for integration on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). This brings total Phase III contracts to NOK 1.58 billion (q.v. Nov 29/13). Norway’s MoD adds that Australia is about to get involved:

“Australian authorities have indicated that they want to help integrate the JSM on the F-35… a more detailed agreement will be in place within the next 6-12 months.”

Sources: Norwegian MoD, “Phase 3 In the Development of JSM Underway” | Kongsberg, “KONGSBERG signs NOK 1.1 billion JSM contract with the Norwegian Armed Forces”.

JSM Phase III

May 23/14: Phase 3 & Costs. A bill in Norway’s Storting would finance JSM Phase 3 final development, but the cost has expanded by NOK 1 billion to NOK 3.7 billion (about $622 million). Overall cost increases have pushed the overall project from NOK 6 billion (about $1 billion) to NOK 8.2 billion (about $1.38 billion), and most of this 37% increase will be covered by the government. At the same time, however, Kongsberg will be investing more on their own side. They see a clear opportunity for JSM/NSM, but elements like NSM Vertical Launch System compatibility etc. will take added work if they want to capitalize.

The good news is that a recent independent evaluation confirmed that JSM has the technological maturity required at this stage of development. Phase 3’s problem is the variety of different systems, rules, control regimes and operational requirements involved in a globally exportable missile. Norway hasn’t done that since the smaller and simpler Penguin missile was developed decades ago, and integration is harder now because the missile and platforms are both more complex. So the final phase involves more testing, integration, and documentation than the firm had expected. On the bright side, Kongsberg has sold over 1,000 Penguin missiles since the 1970s, and the current Mk3 remains relevant and on the market. They’re hoping for similar success, despite an early disappointment:

“The goal has been, and remains, to bring in other F-35 partner countries to help cover the cost of integrating the JSM on the F-35. However, in spite of extensive efforts by Norwegian authorities and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, this goal has yet to be achieved. This is partly due to the financial situation in a number of partner countries and partly due to varying status of partner country decision making processes. The partner nations showing most interest in the JSM have been, and continue to be, Australia and Canada, and to some degree, Italy and the United States, all of which have expressed an operational requirement for a future airborne maritime strike capability. As a consequence, until such time as another partner joins the integration process, Norway’s cost of integrating the JSM on F-35 increases by about NOK 1.15 billion (USD 193 million).”

Norway remains committed, partly because of the potential market, and partly because it’s important to them to maintain their aerospace/ missile industrial cluster. JSM Phase 3 development is expected to finish by the end of 2017, in plenty of time for inclusion in F-35A Block 4 during 2022-2024. Or full integration with existing fighters like the Super Hornet etc. (q.v. Nov 6/13). Sources: Norwegian Ministry of Defence, “Joint Strike Missile (JSM) – A Considerably Strengthened Norwegian Threshold Against War and Conflict” | Kongsberg Defence, “The Norwegian Government today presented a bill to the Parliament to further development of the Joint Strike Missile (JSM)” | Reuters, “Cost of Kongsberg’s JSM missile rises by 37 pct”.

Phase 3, costs and opportunities

April 11/14: Poland. In light of renewed tensions from Russia, Poland intends to accelerate their purchase of a 2nd coastal defense battery of NSM:

“The third very important part of the modernization program of the Navy was the delivery in June 2013 the Coastal Missile Squadron. Achieving its full combat readiness, after the delivery of the final number of missiles Kongsberg NSM (in 2014 and 2015, it is planned shipment of 12 missiles per year), is to take place by 2015. Deputy minister Mroczek additionally informed that later this year a proceeding of acquiring a second Coastal Missile Squadron is to begin.”

Sources: Dziennik Zbrojny, “Current status of the Polish naval modernization program”.

April 9/14: Exports. Norway is beginning to promote the missile abroad in earnest. HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen will sail to the Pacific Ocean to take part in RIMPAC, where the frigate will launch an NSM at a target ship provided by the US Navy. Nothing like a concrete demonstration for the other countries to look at.

Norwegian Navy Cmdr. Tony Schei confirms that “Kongsberg sees the JSM able to fit in a Mark 41 vertical launch system,” and says that Australia and Canada are being offered this weapon for their future frigates. It would be surprising if they weren’t also targeting Britain’s future Type 26 frigates. Sources: Defense News, “Norway’s Naval Strike Missile Aims for the Pacific”.

April 7-8/14: USA. With the USA considering its options for 20 frigates as a follow-on to the Littoral Combat Ship program, and expressing a preference for modified LCS designs, Kongsberg is presenting scale models of LCS variants with NSMs at the Sea-Air-Space 2014 Exposition. The Freedom Class gets 12 NSMs in 2 recessed modules above the helicopter hangar, while the trimaran Independence Class ends up with 18 NSMs in 2 recessed launchers just behind the bridge, and a 3rd in the hull behind the naval gun.

Those loadouts would make the ships formidable surface combatants. If they control multiple UAVs for surveillance and targeting, their strike role actually starts to look like an aircraft carrier with 1-launch strike aircraft, and this configuration wouldn’t require ship radar upgrades. That could even position Kongsberg for a post-2019 Surface Warfare Module upgrade within the existing fleet, if the Navy decides that it has to upgrade to serious anti-ship capability.

From Kongsberg’s point of view, the challenge is to find footholds within the US military and position themselves as a viable replacement to Boeing’s Harpoon. The F-35 offers them a trump card, but they’ll need a warship platform to really compete. Success with LCS and/or its follow-on frigate would give them a head-start, and make them a strong contender for OASuW if the vertical launch problem can be solved. Sources: Naval Recognition, “Sea-Air-Space 2014 Show Daily News – Kongsberg NSM”.

March 26/14: USA. Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley says that the initial buy of 90 LRASM missiles from FY 2017 – 2019 is a special justification and authorization buy following DARPA development, in order to get the air-launched version onto USAF B-1 bombers (which will already have JASSM integrated) and USN F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighters. US budgets actually show 110 missiles from FY 2017 – 2019. He also says that the main OASuW buy of ship and air launched missiles for anti-ship and surface strike missions will be competed.

The most important aspect of that OASuW program involves launch from ships’ Vertical Launch Cells, in order to correct a tactical deficit in USN ships that is becoming strategic. Raytheon could find itself well positioned with an upgraded xGM-109 Tomahawk, or they could widen JSOW-ER’s capabilities. Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile will almost be qualified on the F-35 by that point, but the firm will need to either add shipborne Mk.41 vertical launch system compatibility, or find another angle. Sources: Reuters, “U.S. Navy plans competition for next-generation missile”.

March 20/14: USA. Inside Defense reports that the Pentagon has rejected bids from Kongsberg (NSM/JSM) and Raytheon (JSOW-ER), and has approved Lockheed Martin’s LRASM for a major follow-on development contract to prepare it for production in FY17. Sources: Inside Defense, “DOD Expands LRASM Development, Rebuffs Alternate Bids From Raytheon, Kongsberg”.

2012 – 2013

1st naval launch; 1st live warhead strike; Australia’s plans; JSM scheduled for F-35 Block 4; Go early with F-16 and F/A-18E/F in response? Gotcha
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Nov 29/13: Bridging contract. Norway’s DLO signs a NOK 480 million ($78.4 million) JSM bridging-phase development contract with Kongsberg, in order to keep the workforce moving ahead until the Stortinget (Parliament) approves the final Phase 3 budget for development & testing.

Phase 2 included detail design and integration/ fit checks for the F-18, F/A-18 Super Hornet, and F-35A. Phase 3 will complete development and leave Kongsberg ready for production, including captive carry and live fire tests from successive platforms. Kongsberg adds that “The international F-35 user consortium, with the USA as the largest, is showing great interest in the JSM.” Source: Kongsberg, “KONGSBERG signs contract with the Norwegian Armed Forces for bridging-phase leading to phase three development of JSM”.

Bridging contract

Nov 6/13: Super Hornet. Boeing and Kongsberg take the 1st step toward integration with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter family. All they did was ensure that the weapons fit on the aircraft’s external pylons. Next, they have to conduct wind tunnel tests in early 2014. That will assess the effect of the missiles on the plane’s aerodynamics, and likely stress on the pylons. Live captive carry testing will be needed to verify their conclusions, and of course full integration with the aircraft’s electronics will be its own separate effort.

Norway doesn’t fly Super Hornets, but potential JSM partner Australia does (q.v. May 16/13), and so does the US Navy. F-35 integration won’t be ready until 2021-2022, but successful F/A-18 integration would give the JSM an early deployment option with any future Super Hornet customers. It would also provide an incentive for Australia to commit to JSM early and deploy the missiles well before 2025, by offering them a much more immediate fleet upgrade. Finally, Super Hornet integration would provide an opening to put JSM forward as an AGM-84 Harpoon missile replacement for the US Navy, if the higher-end LRASM program falls to coming budget cuts. Sources: Boeing, Nov 6/13 release.

June 4/13: Live Fire. The Norwegian Navy carries out the first live-warhead NSM trial at a range “outside Norway”, firing the missile from the Skjold Class Fast Attack Craft KNM Steil to hit a decommissioned Oslo Class frigate. The missile hits at close range, and does a reasonable amount of damage, as the accompanying photo shows. Looks like they used a pop-up and dive attack profile. See also Flight International.

May 16/13: Australia. During Parliamentary hearings by the Joint Committee On Foreign Affairs, Defence And Trade, DMO’s New Air Combat Capability program manager, Air Vice Marshal Kym Osley, discusses the JSM and Australia, in response to a question from Sen. Fawcett. With Norway’s government fully finding the missile through F-35 integration in Block 4, Australia doesn’t need to be involved in that financially, and they haven’t made any commitments to JSM yet beyond discussing requirements etc.

Australia’s near-term plan is to use the AGM-154C-1 JSOW glide bomb as their initial maritime strike weapon, first on their F/A-18F Super Hornets and next on their F-35As. They believe that the USAF and US Navy will also make JSOW part of Block 4, which is planned to finish in 2020 and release to the fleet in 2021. Software development remains very behind, but Australia hopes to have JSOW available on their F-35As by the RAAF’s own planned F-35A Full Operational Capability date, in 2023.

Beyond 2023, Australia’s JP3023 program will be looking at a new maritime strike platform for use across its navy surface combatants and air force (F/A-18F, F-35A, P-8A). The NSM/ JSM is expected to be a strong contender, but by then it’s likely to face competitors from America’s OASuW program, as well as current market offerings. Internal carriage in the F-35A would remain the JSM’s trump card, unless a new entrant can duplicate that. Hansard Australia [PDF].

April 26/13: F-35 Integration. The Norwegian government submits a formal Parliamentary request to authorize 6 F-35As for delivery in 2017, and shifts its buying approach. Read “F-35 Lightning II Wins Norway’s (Fake) Competition” for full coverage.

The government also announces that the JSM now has a firm slot for integration: F-35 Block 4. Block 3 is the final version that will emerge from development in 2018 – 2019, which means Block 4 would be ready around 2021 at the earliest. Even that date would make their missile the platform’s first long-range strike option. Norwegian MoD.

JSM integration: F-35 Block 4

Nov 30/12: JSM. Norwegian officials unveil the first completed fuselage for the new Joint Strike Missile, developed by Kongsberg for the F-35. The JSM will undergo a Critical Design Review during the summer of 2013, after which preparations will begin for its final stage of development and full F-35 integration. Norwegian MoD.

Oct 12-15/12: The Norwegian Navy announces that it has conducted successful NSM firing tests from Skjold Class Fast Attack Craft HNoMS Glimt and Fridtjof Nansen Class frigate HNoMS Roald Amundsen. The launch from HNoMS Glimt was the NSM’s 1st naval firing. Navy Recognition.

1st naval launch

June 15/12: Norwegian Defence Minister Espen Barth Eide announces that the Norwegian Government has signed its contract for the first 2 F-35A fighters, and put all of the required elements in place for JSM development and F-35 integration.

Norway actually began the Phase II JSM development contract in June 2011 (q.v.), but needed American support to integrate the missile with the fighter. US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently confirmed that support, which allowed Norway to move forward. The JSM program will also feed back into the ship and land-launched NSM, by laying the groundwork for future upgrades.

The F-35 currently has no powered strike missile planned for internal or external carriage by the end of its development phase, in 2018. An early start for Kongsberg could give it a leg up for future orders. Kongsberg Defence Systems President Harald Ånnestad believes the JSM program could be worth as much as NOK 25 billion (currently $4.2 billion), and translate into 450 long-term jobs at Kongsberg alone. Norwegian MoD | Kongsberg.

May 31/12: F-35 studies. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, TX receives a $19.8 million fixed-price-incentive-fee (firm target) modification to the F-35’s Low Rate Initial Production Lot 4 contract, which covers Norway’s Joint Strike Missile (JSM) Risk Reduction Study. Efforts will include physical fit checks, wind tunnel tests, engineering analysis, and designing and building of an emulator and adapter to determine next steps in integrating the JSM into the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Work will be performed in Fort Worth, TX (70%); Arnold AFB in Tullahoma, TN (20%); and Kongsberg, Norway (10%), and is expected to be complete in May 2014. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-09-C-0010)

2011

JSM Phase II. NSMs for Poland. F-35A JSF
(click to view full)

Dec 28/11: Poland. Kongsberg finalizes the Dec 7/10 preliminary contract with Poland, whose scope has increased along with its cost (now NOK 712/ $119.5 million). Deliveries of NSM missiles, in conjunction with a command and weapon control system similar to the firm’s NASAMS air defence system, are expected to begin in 2012, and the order will be booked as a Q4 2011 transaction.

Kongsberg adds that will be subcontracting with a large number of Polish enterprises, adding that the coastal defense network’s radar system, communications system and the trucks to carry the launch ramps are all being developed and delivered by Polish industry. Kongsberg Defence.

Poland

June 30/11: Kongsberg signs a NOK 543 million (about $100.9 million) contract with the NLDO for Phase II development of the air-launched Joint Strike Missile variant. It builds on the NOK 166 million JSM Phase I contract, signed in 2009. Kongsberg.

JSM Phase II

June 30/11: Kongsberg announces the first ever live-fire of the surface-launched NSM against a land target. It was actually a land-land firing, as the Polish Navy Coastal Squadron fired the missile from a land-based platform, to hit its land-based target over 150 km away.

Naval ships will also use the NSM, beginning with Norway’s own Skjold Class corvettes and Fridtjof Nansen Class AEGIS frigates. Deliveries for these platforms, and the Polish coastal defense batteries, are scheduled for 2011-2014.

June 16/11: Norwegian Parliamentary approval to buy 4 initial F-35A fighters, and begin JSM Phase II to equip those fighters with an internally-stowed anti-ship missile. VNN | F-16.NET | Reuters | Stortinget Prop. S110 [Nynorsk, PDF].

June 6/11: Defense Minister Grete Faremo is called in to an open Parliamentary hearing about the F-35A, but she also discusses the NSM/JSM. Translated from the Norwegian statement issued by the Forsvarsdepartementet:

“JSM: The operational level of ambition for new combat aircraft capability requires long-range anti-surface weapons by sea and land attack capability. The Joint Strike Missile – JSM – is considered to be the only weapon in development that will meet these operational requirements, and can be carried inside the F-35. The fact that the missile can be carried inside the plane is a very central point, namely, it means that the plane keeps its stealth capabilities – which is not the case if the missile is hung outside the wings in the traditional manner.

JSM Development Step 1 is completed, and to continue with the development of JSM in step 2 is crucial to provide operational capability – and it is an important signal to potential customers and it will create a necessary degree of credibility in our ongoing efforts to establish international collaboration for the integration of the missile.

There is considerable interest in the JSM from several other nations. I have taken the initiative include the establishment of a bilateral working group with U.S. to follow up there in particular. A clarification about the participation of other nations, including the United States, is essential in order to include them in the integration phase, which is expected to begin within the next 12-18 months.”

Dec 7/10: NSMs for Poland. Kongsberg Defence Systems announces a NOK 660 (about $110.4 million) million contract with the Polish Ministry of Defence, which includes Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) and support equipment. The contract is not final yet, pending approval of the related industrial offsets contract. Some of Poland’s naval ships currently operate Saab’s RBS-15 naval strike missile, but the NSM missiles appear to be destined for coastal batteries that would cover Poland’s Baltic Sea approaches.

Poland

2008 – 2009

NSM production. JSM phase I. Skjold Class
(click to view larger)

June 29/09: Kongsberg announces that:

“Today, the Kongsberg District Court served KONGSBERG a writ regarding a lawsuit being filed by the Swedish company SAAB in Poland against both the Polish Ministry of Defense and KONGSBERG. The lawsuit refers to the award of a contract which KONGSBERG signed with the Polish Ministry of Defence in December 2008 for the delivery of a coastal artillery system featuring Naval Strike Missiles (NSM). SAAB claims the contract to be declared void.”

April 27/09: Kongsberg Gruppen anounces a NOK 166 million (about $25 million) contract with the Norwegian Defence Procurement Division for the first phase in the development of the Joint Strike Missile. The contract is scheduled to run over the next 18 months.

JSM Phase I

Feb 2/09: Kongsberg announces a successful test firing of the Naval Strike Missile (NSM):

“Fired at the Pt. Mugu artillery range in the US state of California, the missile completed the planned trajectory prior to striking the target ship. During its flight, the missile conducted a large number of advanced manoeuvres that clearly place it far ahead of competing systems.”

May 25/07: Production deal. In the largest order Kongserg has landed to date, the firm signs a NOK 2.746 billion (about $466.4 million) contract with the Norwegian Armed Forces’ Logistics Organisation for serial production of the new Naval Strike Missile (NSM). This includes the transition contract for NOK 200 million (about $34 million).

This contract covers the production of NSMs for Norway’s Nansen Class AEGIS frigates, and Skjold Class catamaran-hovercraft fast attack craft. Production under this contract will run until 2014, and will ensure employment for 200 – 250 individuals in Kongsberg, as well as work for nearly 120 of their 1400 Norwegian subcontractors in Akershus, Buskerud, and Oppland counties. Tom Gerhardsen, president of Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, adds in the firm’s release that the contract will also:

“…give us the references we need to sell the missile to other countries’ naval defence forces. Several countries have already indicated an interest in the NSM.”

NSM Production

2004 – 2007

Tests. Joint marketing with LockMart. NSM: Early concept

Jan 31/07: Lockheed Martin and Kongsberg sign a a joint marketing agreement for an aircraft-version of the new Naval Strike Missile (NSM), to be known as the Joint Strike Missile (JSM) and adapted for deployment on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A study for making adaptations to both the missile and the fighter craft is already in progress, funded jointly by Norway and Australia. It is expected that the adaptations will take 3 years to reach the technological maturity required for deployment on the F-35.

Jan 15/07: Kongsberg announces 2 more successful NSM test firings in California, USA, as part of the Norwegian Navy’s final approval of the development phase. The tests were conducted in the U.S. because the Americans have a test firing range that allows the missile to be tested over land and sea alike, which is essential for testing several of the missile’s functions.

Aug 2/06: Kongsberg announces a pair of successful NSM missile tests in California, on April 1/07 and July 21/06.

The test firings are part of the Norwegian Navy’s final approval of the NSM development phase. The test was conducted in the U.S. because the Americans have a test firing range that allows the missile to be tested over land and sea alike.

Dec 13/05: Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace attempts to fire an NSM missile at a testing facility in France, but the test is aborted before the missile left the launcher due to a malfunction in the launcher’s systems.

A successful test is required before the project can enter the final part of the development phase, in which the missile system’s performance and functionality will be verified against the contract specifications issued by Norway’s Armed Forces’ Logistics Organisation. Kongsberg’s release says that the missile’s schedule will be unaffected.

April 26/04: In Recommendation No. 54 to the Storting (Norway’s parliament), the Government asks for authorization to sign a contract for the Naval Strike Missile (NSM) transition phase. The contract is valued at approximately NOK 200 million.

Full implementation of the production phase will be initiated only upon formal completion of the development phase and be based on a decision by the Storting at a later date. At this point, development phase is scheduled for completion in late 2005. Kongsberg release.

NSM contract

Additional Readings

Categories: Defence`s Feeds

France’s Rafale

Thu, 12/11/2015 - 01:18
Dassault Rafale
(click for cutaway view)

Will Dassault’s fighter become a fashionably late fighter platform that builds on its parent company’s past successes – or just “the late Rafale”? It all began as a 1985 break-away from the multinational consortium that went on to create EADS’ Eurofighter. The French needed a lighter aircraft that was suitable for carrier use, and were reportedly unwilling to cede design authority over the project. As is so often true of French defense procurement policy, the choice came down to paying additional costs for full independence and exact needs, or losing key industrial capabilities by partnering or buying abroad. France has generally opted for expensive but independent defense choices, and the Rafale was no exception.

Those costs, and associated delays triggered by the end of the Cold War and reduced funding, proved to be very costly indeed. Unlike previous French fighters, which relied on exports to lower their costs and keep production lines humming, the Rafale has yet to secure a single export contract – in part because initial versions were hampered by impaired capabilities in key roles. The Rafale may, at last, be ready to be what its vendors say: a true omnirole aircraft, ready for prime time on the global export stage. The question is whether it’s too late. Rivals like EADS’ Eurofighter, Russia’s Su-27/30 family, and the American “teen series” of F-15/16/18 variants are all well established. Meanwhile, Saab’s versatile and cheaper JAS-39 Gripen remains a stubborn foe in key export competitions, and the multinational F-35 juggernaut is bearing down on it.

Dassault’s Rafale: Variants Rafales
(click to view full)

The Rafale is a 9.5 – 10.5 tonne aircraft powered by 2 SNECMA M88 jet engines, each generating up to 16,500 pounds thrust with afterburner. Canards are used to improve maneuverability, especially for snap-shots in short-range dogfights, and radar shaping lowers the aircraft’s profile relative to 4th generation competitors like the Mirage 2000 or F-16. Carrier capability was a prime motivator behind France’s decision to go it alone with the Rafale program, and variants exist for both land-based and carrier use.

Despite its size, the Rafale can carry an impressive set of ordnance beyond its 30mm DEFA 791 cannon: up to 9.5 tonnes of weapons and stores on 14 pylons (1-2 on center fuselage, 2 below engine intakes, 6 underwing and 2 wingtip pylons), 5 of which are “wet” pylons that can carry heavy stores or fuel tanks. Its Thales RBE2 mechanically-scanned array or RBE2-AA AESA radar can direct MBDA’s MICA RF missiles, and future integration of the long-range Meteor is also planned. A combination of Thales/SAGEM’s OST Infrared Scan and Track optronics, and MBDA’s MICA IR medium-range missiles, allows the Rafale to supplement its radar-guided missiles with passively-targeted, no-warning attacks on enemy aircraft from beyond visual range. At present, this capability is only duplicated by Russian aircraft: Sukhoi’s SU-27/30 family, and advanced MiG-29s.

Rafale Variants: Types and Tranches Dassault: Power of One

The Rafale comes in several broad types, and also comes in different capability tranches.

Carrier-capable Rafales are single-seat fighters, and are referred to as Rafale Ms. They will become the French Navy’s only fighters, replacing the F-8P Crusader fighter, Etendard IVP reconnaissance aircraft, and Super Etendard strike aircraft. They feature the usual set of carrier modifications, including lengthened and strengthened landing gear, strengthened airframe and arrester hook for landings, and carrier landing electronics. The front-center pylon is deleted on this version, in order to make room for that robust landing gear.

French Air Force Rafales come in 2 broad types: the preferred 2-seat Rafale B, and the single-seat Rafale C. They will eventually replace the SEPECAT Jaguar, Dassault’s Mirage F1, and most of the Mirage 2000 family in French service.

Rafale & Mirage 2000D
over Afghanistan
(click to view full)

Within those designations, Dassault’s Rafales also come in capability tranches that are common across all versions.

Initial Rafale F1s are limited to air superiority missions, and included only Rafale-Ms intended as urgent replacements for the French carrier force’s 1950s/60s era F-8P Crusader air superiority fighters. Rafale F1s are capable fighters, and represented a huge upgrade for the Marine Nationale. Even so, they lack the wide weapons fit of 4+ generation counterparts like the JAS-39 Gripen or modern F-15 Strike Eagles, the optimized cockpit of EADS’ Eurofighter, or the price advantages of Sukhoi’s SU-30 family.

Surviving Rafale-M F1s will be upgraded to the F3 configuration, swapping out the core mission computer and cockpit displays, and changing the plane’s radar, electrical wiring, SPECTRA countermeasures system, and hardpoints. The 1st upgraded plane was delivered in October 2014.

Rafale F2. The F2 standard, which adds the ability to carry and use precision ground attack weapons. This standard includes 2-seat air force Rafale-Bs, single-seat Rafale-Cs, and naval Rafale-Ms. Key additions include radar ground attack and terrain-following modes, carriage of laser-guided bombs and Storm Shadow/ Scalp cruise missiles, MICA IR missile capability using the OSF IRST sensor, a Link 16 datalink, and a buddy tanker pod for Rafale Ms. The biggest thing the F2 standard lacks is integration of independent laser targeting capability, which is why French Rafales over Afghanistan had to operate in conjunction with Super Etendard and Mirage 2000D fighters.

F2 Rafales have now been upgraded to F3 status, which was much easier than it is for the F1s.

ASMP-A4 on Rafale
(click to view full)

Rafale F3. Since 2008, all Rafales have been delivered in the F3 standard, and most have now been upgraded to it. Initial changes added the ability to carry French ASMP-A air-launched nuclear missiles, allowing the Rafale to replace the Mirage 2000N in that nuclear strike role. Other modifications include full integration with the Reco NG reconnaissance pod, implementation of all currently planned modes for the RBE2 radar, anti-ship attack with the Exocet or follow-on ANF, and support for an improved tanker pack.

Further changes were forthcoming within F3. Full integration with Thales’ Damocles surveillance and laser targeting pod was executed, and Damocles-equipped Rafales were used over Libya in 2011. The current standard is F3.3, and F3.4 is expected to debut in early 2014.

The Rafale’s radar took a quantum leap forward as of Rafale #C137, with Thales’ RBE2-AA AESA radar replacing the mechanically-scanned RBE2 array on previous aircraft. The new radar has hundreds of active T/R modules, and involves about 400,000 lines of code all by itself. This compares to about 2 million lines of code for the aircraft’s entire original avionics suite. In exchange, AESA radars generally create roughly 2x-3x better range or resolution than current PESA technologies. Note that older Rafales don’t currently have AESA radars, but they’re expected to see upgrades under a EUR 1+ billion F3R program.

Nuclear ASMP-A capability is irrelevant to exports, but the addition of an AESA radar and full independent precision strike capability will go a long way toward making the Rafale more competitive with challengers like American F-16/15/18s, Saab’s JAS-39NG Gripen, EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon, and the oncoming F-35 program.

Thales Inside

Rafale F3Rs features software enhancements to make full use of the RBE2-AA radar, Meteor long range air-to-air missile integration, SBU-64 dual mode laser/GPS AASM smart bomb integration, improvements to Thales SPECTRA self-defence system, an Identification Friend or Foe interrogator/transponder with full Mode-5/ Mode-S-compatibility. Diagnostic improvements will make maintenance easier and more cost-effective, and there are reports that F3R will improve an overall pilot interface that has been consistently rated below the Eurofighter’s. As of September 2013, the DGA started referring to these planes as the 4th tranche (4T), and January 2014 saw a full commitment to develop all of these upgrades for fielding by 2018.

Efforts to include MBDA’s Meteor long-range air-air missiles are underway already, but it won’t be ready until 2018. That will make Rafale the last European fighter to integrate the Meteor, about 3-4 years later than the JAS-39 Gripen. It will also be the only fighter with a 1-way Meteor datalink instead of a 2-way link.

The Rafale remains behind in 2 other areas.

Its new Damocles surveillance and targeting pod’s 320 x 240 infrared array is far behind other international offerings, even with an architecture that effectively gives 640 x 480 resolution. Current performance is adequate, but this gap will continue to widen until the improved PDL-NG surveillance and targeting pod’s debut in 2018 with an effective 1280 x 1040 array. That’s about the same as some rival offerings in 2014, so by 2018, the Rafale is likely to modernize from a gross competitive disadvantage in a critical technology to a noticeable competitive disadvantage.

The 2nd gap is even more consequential. While the Rafale has a wide Head Up Display, an installed Helmet Mounted Display that would allow the Rafale to take full advantage of its wide-borseight MICA missiles remains the type’s most important missing piece, even after F3R.

Dassault’s Rafale: Program Le Bourget, 2005
(click to view full)

The French Senat tallied the Rafale program at EUR 43.56 billion over 40 years, at 2011 prices. That figure was for 286 forecast aircraft, and the EUR 152 million per-plane figure was similar to the Pentagon’s “PAUC” metric, amortizing development costs as well as flyaway purchases.

Current plans call for delivery of 225 Rafale B/C/M aircraft by the end of the program, which will stop sometime around 2017 without export orders. Cutting production totals to 225 worsens per-plane raises the development cost average per plane, and slowed production will raise actual per-plane fixed costs.

If the Rafale is expensive, it’s also the heart of French military power. Its carrier and nuclear roles are irreplaceable, and the 2011 Libyan operation demonstrated that it has evolved to play a central role in French conventional wars. The Rafale program equally important to France’s aerospace industry, as the heart of France’s advanced military aerospace research. The Rafale has been responsible for significant steps forward in French materials science, engine design, computing, sensors, etc. at Dassault, Thales, and Snecma. Not to mention over 500 sub-contractors. In total, the aircraft is said to be responsible for 7,000 direct and indirect jobs.

As of September 2013, 121 Rafales had been delivered: 38 Rafale-M, 39 Rafale B, and 44 Rafale C. As of October 2014, the total had risen to 133.

Rafale Program: History Production line
(click to view full)

Unfortunately, 1985 proved to be a perilous start date for an expensive decade-plus weapons project. The end of the Cold War led to a severe funding crunch. Development took a long time, and fielding was delayed for many years. That delay left Rafales with great potential as a 4+ generation fighter, but limited operational capabilities that compared unfavorably with the planes it was trying to replace. That has come back to bite Dassault, and France.

The first operational Rafale-M aircraft was delivered in 2000, to the Marine Nationale, and the type entered full service in 2004, in the F1 configuration. Plans call for eventual delivery of up to 60 Rafale Ms, delivered or upgraded to at least the F3 standard.

The end of 2004 saw initial delivery of 2-seat Rafale B fighters to the French air force, and 2005 saw delivery of the 1st single-seat Rafale C. The aircraft entered service with the air force in 2006. All Rafale B/C fighters have been delivered as F2s or F3s.

By 2006, the French armed forces had ordered just 120 Rafales (82 Rafale A-C for the Armée de l’Air, 38 Rafale M for the Marine Nationale) of the planned 294. About 70 had been delivered by 2009, when a new French purchase raised the order book to 180 Rafales; but 2009 also saw production cut from 14 to 11 aircraft per year. This is seen as the minimum necessary to maintain the production line, and keeping the line at even that minimum capacity required an extra EUR 1.1 billion during 2009-2014 budget period, to bring forward 17 orders planned for later years.

The challenge for the following 2015-2019 budget period was to finalize the export orders necessary, in order to maintain production while French orders were cut again.

The Rafale Program: What’s Next? Rafale F3
(click to view full)

Additional multi-year buys will be required, but absent major export orders, a combination of deteriorating global finances, future demographic crunches in Europe, and the advent of unmanned UCAV projects like the nEUROn, will all compete with additional French Rafale orders. As those orders are squeezed, Dassaut won’t be the only firm feeling the pain. The effect would be felt throughout France’s aerospace sector, as Snecma, Thales, and their subcontractors would be forced to rethink their plans – or even their existence, in the case of some lower-tier suppliers.

That leaves 2 options for the platform.

As the British have demonstrated, one way to improve a jet’s affordability is to improve maintenance contracts. In 2008, the French defense ministry’s SIMMAD signed a 10-year “Rafale Care” contract with Dassault that paid for availability and flight-hours, rather than spares and man-hours. The British approach has been to build toward a contract that makes 1 firm responsible for all sub-contractors as well, but in 2012, a decade-long contract between SIMMAD and Thales made it clear that France prefers a set of modular performance-based contracts instead.

Once the French approach has several years of data behind it, that kind of future cost certainty could be helpful on the export front.

That would be timely, because after over a decade of failure, exports may offer the program a 2nd ray of hope. Rafale versions were picked as the preferred choice in India’s MMRCA competition, and have several potential export contenders in the wings. They need to close a few of these deals – but that hasn’t been easy.

Rafale’s Export Issues French Mirage 2000C
(click to view full)

For previous French fighters, domestic production has been supplemented, and subsidized, by strong export sales. The Mirage III was exported to around 20 countries, and was so successful that its export profits could have financed almost 25% of France’s oil imports! The Mirage F1 was exported to only 10 countries. The Mirage 2000 has 8 customers. Rafale? None.

To date, the Rafale has lost export opportunities in Algeria (SU-30MKA – Rafale a long shot), Brazil (JAS-39E/F Gripen NG – Rafale the initial favorite), Greece (Eurofighter, then F-16), Morocco (F-16C/D – Rafale the favorite), The Netherlands (F-35A), Norway (F-35A), Oman (Eurofighter – Rafale a long shot), Saudi Arabia (Eurofighter), Singapore (F-15SG), South Korea (F-15K, Rafale won but politics reversed the pick), Switzerland (JAS-39E Gripen NG), and the UAE (F-16E/F, but could win next competition). Other losses have been rumored over the years.

Europe’s 4G+ trio

In a March 2012 statement, Dassault CEO Charles Edelstenne threw its export issues into sharp relief. Translated:

“When one is in a country like India which is an open country and in which Americans do not have the same weight as countries that are their private hunting preserve, we have a chance. And this chance, we got it… The market for the Rafale, it is countries that do not want or can not buy or American countries who want to have a second source while buying American. Now all countries, except two, where we lost, were countries that did not fit this definition.”

There’s some truth to this statement, but it also elides many of the Rafale’s genuine problems. Questionable precision ground attack capabilities for Rafale F1-F2s, coupled with limited integration beyond French weapons, hurt the aircraft badly on the export market until mid-2011.

Ground attack capabilities have been fixed, but the Rafale’s EUR 100+ million price tag leaves it occupying a high-end market segment that has historically been responsible for just 25% of fighter export sales. That price gap beyond competitors like Saab’s Gripen, Lockheed Martin’s F-16, and Sukhoi’s SU-30 has also cost Dassault sales, most recently in Brazil and Switzerland.

Despite Dassault’s rosy projections for the global fighter market as a whole, therefore, their lack of foreign orders has choked expected investments, and started to feed back into platform modernization issues.

It’s also affecting the rest of the French air force. Lack of exports is forcing extra French funding, in order to keep the Rafale production line at its minimum sustaining rate. That extra spending is delaying the much-needed modernization of France’s Mirage 2000 fleet, and is beginning to pose an operational risk for France.

Current export opportunities for Dassault include:

  • India (~126). Preferred choice, but no contract yet.
  • Qatar (36). Could rise to 72 over time. The QEAF is looking to replace their 12 Mirage 2000D fighters and 6 combat capable Alpha Jet light aircraft, but the growing power vacuum is pushing them toward a larger buy. Competition: Eurofighter, F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet, F-15 Strike Eagle.
  • The UAE (60). Mirage 2000 customer. Negotiations have dragged for a long time.

Secondary opportunities include:

  • Bahrain (12-18). Considered a low odds bid. Competition: Eurofighter, likely F-16V and F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet.
  • Canada (~65). F-35 partner. Very unlikely there there will even be a real competition.
  • Kuwait (18-24). Considered a low odds bid. Competition: Eurofighter, F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet.
  • Malaysia (18). MiG-29N replacement on hold. Competition: JAS-39E/F Gripen NG, Eurofighter, F/A-18 Advanced Super Hornet, Sukhoi SU-30MKM.

Contracts and Key Events 2014-2015

Rafale F3R upgrades ordered; 1st export contract to Qatar?; Indian workshare agreement negotiated. 2013 French Air Force

November 12/15: The United Arab Emirates is reportedly close to signing an agreement for Rafale fighters, with the sixty-aircraft deal slated to value approximately $10 billion. Similar talks between the UAE and manufacturer Dassault collapsed in November 2011, but were revived in April 2015.

October 26/15: French firm Dassault has offered the Rafale fighter to Canada as an alternative to the F-35. The new Canadian PM looks set to withdraw from the international Joint Strike Fighter program, pushing up the cost of the other partners’ fighter in the process, although this still remains to be officially finalized. Dassault has offered the country its Rafale fighter.

October 23/15: France has reportedly agreed to invest half of the value of the contract for 36 Rafale fighters in Indian industry, with negotiations ongoing. The offset agreement is now thought to have paved the way for further negotiations over the sale of the fighters, which was first originally announced in April, following the collapse of the M-MRCA competition. The negotiations reached a sticking point in August over offset arrangements, with high level intervention in September kicking talks forward. Another potential issue has been identified as the Indian insistence on installing the indigenous Astra missile on the French fighters.

August 17/15: One sticking point in the ongoing government-to-government negotiations between India and France over the procurement of 36 Rafales has reportedly been identified. The Indian Air Force wants to modify the fighters to carry the indigenous Astra air-to-air missile, with the French refusing to do so; citing the associated cost increases with the required recertification such a move would entail. These contract negotiations have been playing out since the Indian Prime Minister announced the acquisition in April. The French government has lowered the per-unit cost of the deal, dropping this by 25% in May. They are offering French missiles instead of the Astra, likely manufactured by European missile house MBDA. The Indian Air Force also wants to integrate an Israeli-manufactured helmet display system, something which the French are unlikely to allow.

Additionally, French negotiators have reportedly rejected Indian proposals for a 50% offset arrangement in the Rafale contract negotiations. The French government has responded by offering to manufacture aircraft in India through future contracts, under the ‘Make in India’ procurement framework. Indian insistence on an offset will drive up the price of the 36 Rafales, which are currently on offer for the same price being paid by the French Air Force, following the aforementioned price drop in May.

July 30/15: France is anticipating an additional pair of export orders for its Rafale fighter, with Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates reportedly the most likely candidates. Reuters also reported Thursday that negotiations between India and France are now also discussing the possible supply of additional Rafales on top of the 36 ordered in April. Malaysia is looking to replace its MiG-29 Fulcrums, with the UAE recently restarting negotiations for the Rafale as it looks to swap out its fleet of Mirage 2000-9 fighters. The Gulf state has previously articulated a potential buy of sixty Rafales.

July 21/15: Rafale manufacturer Dassault is increasing the production rate of the fighter in anticipation of more export orders. The French jet has become an export success in recent months, following orders from Egypt, India and Qatar. The production line has recently come under strain because of the mounting orders, with the delivery rate from Dassault’s assembly line in Merignac, south-west France, set to double from the current rate of eleven per year by 2018, according to the company’s CEO.

July 17/15: Photos have emerged showing Rafale fighters flying in Egyptian colors. Egypt ordered twenty-four of the French aircraft in February, recently opting to buy AASM Hammer precision air-to-ground missiles to equip its new fleet. The first three Egyptian Rafales are due for delivery before 5 August.

May 7/15: France reportedly offered India a 25% price drop in order to seal the deal for 36 Rafales in April. The French also agreed to an extended maintenance schedule, with the 36 fighters thought to be the minimum number they would sell. The deal is thought to bring the per-unit cost of the Rafale to around $220 million, far below the approximate $300 million pricetag which became the death-knell for the Indian negotiations with Dassault. The recently announced Qatari order saw a comparable cost of $290 million per aircraft.

May 5/15: Following the acquisition of 36 Rafale fighters in April through government to government negotiations – side-lining India’s negotiations with manufacturer Dassault – the Indian Defense Minister announced on Monday that further negotiations between the French and Indian governments will begin this month. The Rafale’s selection as preferred bidder in the country’s MMRCA competition subsequently stagnated, with Prime Minister Modi bypassing the negotiations following pressure from the Indian Air Force. The French Defense Minister will visit India later this week, during which time the opening negotiations for more government to government Rafales are expected to begin.

March 10/15: Egypt says yes. Egypt will buy 24 Dassault Rafale fighters. Egypt already flies predecessors Mirage Vs and Mirage 2000s, and was once looking at upgrading its already large fleet of F-16s to more modern versions. Dassault’s fighters have the benefit of not having many political strings attached, and for a government arguably installed by coup, this has a certain charm.

Feb-17/15: India recalculates that Dassault wasn’t low bidder.The negotiation-via-newspapers exchange continues between France’s Dassault and India in regard to the Indian purchase of Rafale fighters. India’s MoD is now saying that upon thinking about it a bit more – for three years – they think the Dassault offer is going to be more expensive than some other, rejected bidders. Being India’s first life cycle costing contract, the RFP for 126 fighters did not demand specific information on some items relevant to that cost cycle, according to an unnamed official involved with the contract negotiation committee.

Feb-16/15: India’s hardcore negotiating not phasing Dassault. India has been sending messages through the press that it is ready to walk away from the Rafale deal. Dassault, for it’s part, isn’t biting, expressing confidence in the 126 fighter deal. Some reports indicated India is pressuring Dassault to make unspecified guarantees regarding the manufacture of the fighters. The French procurement agency DGA defended Dassault, indicating that Dassault will not be responsible for HAL-built fighters.

Oct 6-17/14: F3.4+ Testing. The French DGA tests the F-3.4+ software upgrade at Mont-de-Marsan AB. It should enter operational service in early 2015.

The F3.4+ builds on the current F3.3 standard’s improvements to Link-16 and integration of laser-guided weapons includes many software improvements, adding full compatibility with NATO’s MGRS geographic format for GPS-related functions, radar improvements in terrain following mode, new warnings for low altitudes and unusual positions that are designed to snap pilots out of disorientation, and warnings to prevent overloading the landing gear brakes during take-off. Sources: French AdlA, “Le Rafale F3.4+ experimente a Istres”.

Oct 3/14: F1 to F3. Dassault Aviation in Merignac, France re-delivers aircraft M10 to the Marine Nationale, after upgrading it from F1 to F3 status under a EUR 240 million contract for 10 aircraft.

Modifications include swapping out the core mission computer and cockpit displays, and changing the plane’s radar, electrical wiring, SPECTRA countermeasures system, and hardpoints. In return, the jump to F3 status adds implementation of all currently planned modes for the RBE2 radar, incl. radar ground attack and terrain-following modes; full integration with the Reco NG reconnaissance pod and Damocles surveillance and targeting pod; MICA IR air-to-air missile capability using the OSF IRST sensor; carriage of laser-guided bombs and Storm Shadow/ Scalp cruise missiles;anti-ship attack with the Exocet or follow-on ANF; nuclear strike capability using the ASMP-A missile; a Link 16 datalink, and a buddy tanker pod. They do not include the RBE2-AA AESA radar antenna, but the jet could reportedly be refitted with that later on.

Of the 180 Rafales ordered by France to date, 133 have been delivered, including Rafale-M F2s and F3s for the Marine Nationale. The contract only applies for the first 10 orders, which were delivered as Rafale-M F1s. Rafale fighters are currently executing missions against ISIS in Iraq, after seeing combat use in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, and Central Africa. Sources: French DGA, “La DGA receptionne le premier Rafale Marine retrofite” | Dassault Aviation, “The French defense procurement agency (DGA) takes delivery of its 1st retrofitted Rafale “Marine” from Dassault Aviation” | Navy Recognition, “The French procurement agency takes delivery of its 1st retrofitted Rafale M from Dassault Aviation”.

QEAF Mirage 2000-5
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June 19-23/14: Qatar. Reports continue to predict that Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al-Thani’s visit to Paris on June 23/14 will herald a contract for 36 Rafales, with an option for 36 more. The move would represent the Rafale’s 1st export contract, and a dramatic expansion of Qatar’s fighter force from the current fleet of 12 Mirage 2000s.

With that said, the best source is France’s La Tribune. They cite government sources who are pleased with the progress of negotiations, while cautioning readers about the deal’s complexity, and doubting that the Rafale deal will be signed in Paris. That turns out to be correct: France’s Alstom wins a $2 billion light rail contract, but all “a source close to French President