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EDA workshop held on “Autonomous Cyber Responses”

EDA News - 5 hours 9 min ago

Member States representatives together with cyber research experts from the European Cyber Security Organisation (ECSO), industry, research organisations and academia recently met at an EDA workshop to discuss  ‘Autonomous Cyber Responses’. This research topic refers to the challenges brought about by the automation in cyber defence and includes among others self-configured networks, automated cyber resilience, decision support systems, visual analytics, autonomous mobile cyber defence agents, man-machine modules and machine learning models to address the cyber research challenges Member States’ Armed Forces are confronted with.

The objective of the workshop was to provide EDA’s Cyber Research and Technology Ad Hoc Working Group with examples of European research efforts and solutions, to identify capability gaps that could be covered with this technology and to explore new collaboration initiatives in this challenging field.

Participants acknowledged the urgency of meaningful collaborative research activities at EU level in view of building tomorrow’s defence capabilities, and supported the continuation of similar initiatives. A so-called ‘Interested Community of Experts’ (ICE) set up within the Ad Hoc Working Group will perform an evaluation of the proposals discussed at the workshop. Outline descriptions for future collaborative research projects in this field are expected to be presented to Member States in the upcoming meetings.
 

Background

The potential benefits that European Armed Forces could draw from the use of cyber-resilient autonomous systems have also been recognised by EU Member States. One of the 11 EU Capability Development Priorities approved by Member States in June 2018 is called “Enabling capabilities for cyber responsive operations”.

The Overarching Strategic Research Agenda (OSRA) - which provides a necessary link between R&T efforts and the military tasks and long-term capability needs of the Capability Development Plan (CDP) -  identified a number of Research and Technology areas, the so-called Technology Building Blocks (TBBs), in which a cooperative approach at the European level would bring an added-value to support the development of defence capabilities. The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) on Cyber Defence developed within the relevant EDA Ad Hoc Working Group in compliance with OSRA requirements provides informed prioritisation on cyber-related technologies necessary for the military while identifying opportunities for dual-use efforts and investments, be it in national, multinational or EU-funded contexts. Autonomous Cyber Response is one of the TBBs developed under the Cyber SRA.

In November 2018, the European Council adopted an updated version of the EU cyber defence policy framework (CDPF) which calls for considering cyber defence issues in the calls of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and in the topics called for in the European Defence Fund.

United Launch Service wins Air Force satellite contract | Rafael unveils new missile „Rocks“ | Lockheed Martin offers new jet to IAF

Defense Industry Daily - 9 hours 33 min ago
Americas

The US Air Force contracted United Launch Services with $441.8 million for launch services to deliver the Silent Barker, BIRS GEO-5, and SBIRS GEO-6 missions to their intended orbits. United Launch Services is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing that provides launch services for aircrafts and missiles. Silent Barker is a classified space situational awareness program by the Air Force Space Command and the National Reconnaissance Office. SBIRS (Space Based Infra Red Sensor) GEO is the geostationary component of the SBIRS-High program. The SBIRS-High satellite program is a key component of the USA’s future missile alert system, designed to give maximum warning and monitoring of ballistic missile launches anywhere in the world. The current contract will include launch vehicle production, mission integration, mission launch operations/spaceflight worthiness, and mission unique activities for Silent Barker and SBIRS GEO-5, with an option for an additional SBIRS GEO-6 launch service. Work will be performed at Centennial, Colorado; and Cape Canaveral, Florida. Silent Barker is expected to be completed by March 2022, and SBIRS GEO-5 is expected to be completed by March 2021. The Air Force divided $739 million in launch contracts between United Launch Services and SpaceX for six national security missions slated for 2021-2022.

The Navy tapped Lockheed Martin with $8.2 million to exercise options for ship integration and test of the Aegis Weapon System (AWS). The deal is a cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded contract and includes AWS Baselines through Advanced Capability Build 16. The Aegis Combat System is an advanced command and control and weapon control system that uses powerful computers and radars to track and guide weapons to destroy enemy targets. The AWS is the heart of Aegis and comprises the AN/SPY-1 Radar, MK 99 Fire Control System, WCS, the Command and Decision Suite, and the SM-2 Standard Missile family of weapons. Work under the modification will take place in New Jersey, Mississippi, Virginia, Washington, California and Washington DC, and is scheduled to be finished by September 2024.

The US destroyer Donald Cook re-entered the Black Sea on Tuesday to conduct exercises with the Ukraine and other allies. It is the ship’s second visit to the Black Sea this year and comes amid escalating tensions and violence between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces. The USS Donald Cook or DDG-75 is an Alreigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer made a port stop last month in Batumi, Georgia, and conducted an exercise with two of that country’s coast guard vessels while the Russian navy watched. The destroyer’s last visit to the Black Sea was in late January. The ship will augment maritime security, help to ensure regional stability and boost the readiness and capability of its Black Sea partners through a multi-national exercise.

Middle East & Africa

Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems developed a new air-to-surface long-range missile called „Rocks“. The new missile is equipped with a penetration or blast fragmentation warhead that is capable of destroying targets above the surface or deep underground in heavily surface-to-air defended areas. The new missile uses its INS/GPS for midcourse navigation. It can be used against quality targets, whether stationary or mobile, and even in areas where the enemy uses countermeasures against GPS systems. „Rocks“ performs a high velocity trajectory toward the target, reducing the exposure of the aircraft as well as improving the chances of successfully hitting targets. Rafael will present the missile at the Aero India Air Show in Bengaluru, India this week.

Europe

Britain will deploy the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the Arctic next year in order of tackling the growing threat from Russian submarines. The proposed deployment is part of the so called Defence Arctic Strategy, which was launched in September to address the increasing opportunities and threats present in the region. As part of the Defence Arctic Strategy, British Royal Marines carry out cold weather training in collaboration with Norway. Nine Poseidon aircraft will be delivered to Royal Air Force Lossiemouth next year for reconnaissance patrols over a wide range including the High North and North Atlantic. The Poseidon is a military aircraft that conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and shipping interdiction.

The Royal Danish Navy Frigate HDMS Niels Juel is en route to the Mediterranean Sea port of Toulon where it will join French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle for two months of training and operations. The Iver Huitfeldt-class frigate will operate with France’s sole aircraft from March 4 to April 27, providing air defense for the carrier and other ships from the task group. HDMS Niels Juel is deploying with a complement of 160 sailors and an embarked EH101 medium-lift helicopter. The Iver Huitfeldt class is a three-ship class of frigates that entered service with the Royal Danish Navy in 2012 and 2013. Charles de Gaulle is the flagship of the French Navy and the first French nuclear-powered surface vessel. The Danish frigate will carry out air control tasks around the French Carrier Strike Group, including control of air traffic to and from the aircraft carrier. The vessel will operate in the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the northern Indian Ocean down to the Seychelles and the Persian Gulf.

Asia-Pacific

Lockheed Martin unveiled the F-21 fighter jet, which is a proposed tailor-made version of the F-16, at the Aero India show in Bengaluru. The company is pitching the new jet to the Indian Air Force (IAF). The US defense firm previously offered its F-16 fighter for the Indian Air Force’s ongoing competition for 114 planes to be made in India. Lockheed is competing with Boeing’s F/A-18, Saab’s Gripen, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon and a Russian aircraft for the IAF order. The proposed F-21 plane has a retractable probe, similar to the kind used by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, that allowing them to take on fuel in flight via a hose-and-drogue system used by the Indian Air Force. Lockheed Martin’s illustrations show the place with a heavy weapon load and a Sniper targeting pod.

Today’s Video

Watch: UK 19/2/19: RAF Tornado jets make final ’emotional’ aerial flypast before being retired.

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

Aussie Hornets arrive in Canada | UAE developing light attack aircraft | India requests 21 Russian Fulcrums

Defense Industry Daily - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 05:00
Americas

The US Navy contracted Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems $20 million to design and support the AN/BLQ-10 Electronic Warfare (EW) system for new-construction and in-service submarines. The deal includes engineering and technical services for the design, development, testing, integration, technology insertion/refreshment and system support of the EW. The AN/BLQ-10 submarine EW provides automatic detection, classification, localization, as well as identification of potentially hostile radar and communications signals at sea. The program is adopting an open-architecture, incremental development process that fields hardware and software technology insertions every two years. The system is for Virginia-, Los Angeles-, and Seawolf-class fast-attack submarines, Ohio-class conventional guided-missile submarines, and future Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines. Work under the contract will take place in New York and Virginia and is scheduled to be completed by February next year.

The Navy awarded Boeing a $17.8 million contract modification to procure two additional F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, modified to extend the service life of the aircraft. The Super Hornet is a twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter aircraft that is able to carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. The E model of the aircraft is a single seater, and the F model is a two-seater. The F/A-18E/F s operational in 10 U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wings. Work under the modification will be performed in Missouri and California and is expected to be finished by October next year.

Two Australian F/A-18A Hornets arrived in Canada on Saturday. The two Hornets are the first of up to 25 aircraft that will be sold to Canada along with spares and support equipment. The Canadian government acquired the 30-year old jets in order of filling a capability gap affecting the Royal Canadian Airforce’s ability to simultaneously meet NORAD and NATO obligations. Originally, Canada had intended to supplement its fleet of 85 Boeing CF(F/A)-18 A/B fighters with 18 new Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets. This plan was cancelled in favor of the Australian Hornets when Boeing accused Canada’s Bombardier of receiving unfair subsidies from Ottawa. Before the aircraft can be integrated into the Canadian fleet of CF-188 Hornets, they will undergo several modifications in Mirabel, Quebec. They have to be brought to the same operational configuration as the Canadian CF-188 Hornets. This means cockpit and communications upgrades, a night vision imaging system, a sniper targeting pod, landing gear modifications, a new ejection seat as well as the Air Force paint scheme.

Middle East & Africa

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) are reportedly developing their first light attack aircraft. The defense company Calidus is manufacturing the so called B250, which is currently being tested. The aircraft has multi-role capabilities for modern and asymmetrical warfare, including close air support, counter-insurgency, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. It can also serve as a basic and advanced trainer. The plane, which is built out of carbon fiber, is on show at the ongoing International Defence Exhibition (Idex) in Abu Dhabi. Calidus is a relatively new but fast-growing Abu Dhabi based defense-technology company currently working on strengthening the capabilities of the UAE defense industry.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) unveiled a new loitering munition. The so called Mini Harpy is a tactical system that can be launched from land-, marine- as well as helicopter-borne platforms. The munition is electrically powered and can loiter in ranges of up to 100 km for up to two hours. IAI designed the system to provide operators with maximum control, including abort and re-attack capabilities. It also offers detection of broadcast radiation with electro-optical capabilities. It weighs 45 kg and is able to carry a shaped charge of approximately 8 kg. The Mini Harpy will be displayed for the first time at the Aero India Exhibition in Bangalore this week.

Europe

Pilatus delivered a PC-24 to the Swiss government, which it had ordered in 2014. The brand-new PC-24 Super Versatile Jet replaces a business jet supplied by a North American manufacturer and previously used for government flights. The Swiss Air Force will operate the aircraft for the Swiss government. The government jet sports a modern, white-grey livery with striking Swiss cross on the tail fin plus the words “Swiss Air Force”. Pilatus is a Swiss aerospace manufacturer producing STOL aircraft and military training aircraft. The PC-24 business jet is a low-wing cantilever cabin monoplane powered by two Williams FJ44-4A turbofans, each mounted in a nacelle on the side of the rear fuselage. The aircraft will be used primarily for travel within Europe. The PC-24 has a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 kilometers) and flies at a speed of 440 knots (815 kilometers per hour).

Asia-Pacific

India requested for an urgent shipment of 21 MiG-29 „Fulcrum“ fighters from Russia. The Fulcrum is a twin-engine fighter aircraft developed by the Mikoyan design bureau as an air superiority fighter in the 70s. The MiG-29 aircraft are commonly outfitted to use a range of air-to-surface armaments and precision munitions. India was the first international customer of the MiG-29. The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for more than 50 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. In January 2010, India and Russia signed a $1.2 billion deal under which the Indian Navy would acquire 29 additional MiG-29Ks. Acquiring MiGs is considered the cheapest way to quickly replenish the diminishing strength of the IAF, which used to have 38 fighter squadrons but now struggles to keep that number above 30, far below the government-approved figure of 42. Delivery terms of the 21 MiG-29s are currently under negotiation.

Today’s Video

Watch: Finally!! The first serial Su-57 will be delivered to the Russian Aerospace Force in 2019

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

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

Defense Industry Daily - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 04:54

CF-18: which way?
(click to see clearly)

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
click for video

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
(click to view full)

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 – 2019

 

F/A-18C fires Hydras
(click to view full)

February 20/19: From Australia to Canada Two Australian F/A-18A Hornets arrived in Canada on Saturday. The two Hornets are the first of up to 25 aircraft that will be sold to Canada along with spares and support equipment. The Canadian government acquired the 30-year old jets in order of filling a capability gap affecting the Royal Canadian Airforce’s ability to simultaneously meet NORAD and NATO obligations. Originally, Canada had intended to supplement its fleet of 85 Boeing CF(F/A)-18 A/B fighters with 18 new Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets. This plan was cancelled in favor of the Australian Hornets when Boeing accused Canada’s Bombardier of receiving unfair subsidies from Ottawa. Before the aircraft can be integrated into the Canadian fleet of CF-188 Hornets, they will undergo several modifications in Mirabel, Quebec. They have to be brought to the same operational configuration as the Canadian CF-188 Hornets. This means cockpit and communications upgrades, a night vision imaging system, a sniper targeting pod, landing gear modifications, a new ejection seat as well as the Air Force paint scheme.

June 21/16: Pressure is mounting on the Pentagon to approve the sale of F/A-18 Super Hornets to Kuwait though US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has warned that his service will have to pay more to buy the F/A-18 due to cost increases. According to Mabus, Boeing needs more orders so that it can keep producing the fighter at an economical rate as the 16 slated for Fiscal year 2017 are not enough to ensure optimum production. Kuwait has been waiting over a year for approval for 28 fighters in a deal estimated to cost $3 billion.

June 7/16: Canada looks set to procure an interim fleet of Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets to fill a capability gap as it procrastinates on how to proceed with its new fighter competition. The Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau promised during the election campaign not to buy the F-35 to replace its aging CF-18s; but the government has been struggling with how to fulfill that promise, for fear any attempt to exclude the stealth fighter from a competition will result in a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit, according to one senior Defence Department official.

May 12/16: Software updates for the FA-18 and EA-18G have been validated by the US Navy after a series of flight tests between April 18-29. The first set of software: 27C, is designed for use in F/A-18A-D Hornets; H12 is for F/A-18F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers. Testing took place at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division-managed Point Mugu Sea Range which contains 36,000 square miles of controlled sea and airspace, allowing for testing in a real-world environment.

May 4/16: Boeing has announced that they expect orders of F-15 and F/A-18 fighters to keep production rolling into the 2020s. While the last order of F-15s by Saudi Arabia will be completed by 2019, it is expected that the US Navy will purchase more F/A-18s while export orders of the F-15 will continue to partner nations. The company has recently been implementing a series of cost cutting measures to boost productivity in the wake of losing out on the recent bomber program for the USAF to Northrop Grumman.

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
(click to view full)

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
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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
(click to view full)

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
(click to view full)

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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India’s Fighter Modernization: Add MiG-29s to the List

Defense Industry Daily - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 04:52

IAF MiG-29B
(click to view full)

Its MiG-29s have had reliability problems, but India needs them too much, and has to upgrade them. Planned buys have taken too long, and the IAF is dealing with the same fighter modernization numbers crisis that affects a number of air forces around the world. Its MiG-21s are retiring fast, and so are the subsequent generation of MiG-23/27 and MiG-25 aircraft. At the same time, India’s locally-developed Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) program has been beset by numerous problems and ongoing delays, raising questions concerning its readiness and ability to begin filling some of that void in time. India’s MMRCA light-medium fighter competition will fill other gaps with 126 imported fighters, but it has yet to produce a contract, let alone a delivery date.

As the timelines for replacements stretch, more upgrades became necessary to keep their existing fleet viable. In February 2006, reports confirmed India’s existing fleet of MiG-29B, MiG-29S, and two-seat MiG-29UB “Baaz” (Falcon) aircraft as candidates. December 2006 reports indicated that a contract had been signed, but the deal wasn’t finalized until March 2008. Instead of arriving by 2010, therefore, they began arriving in 2013, at the MiG-29 fleet’s air base in the Punjab region, overlooking Pakistan and Kashmir.

Wanting a New Baaz: The Upgrades

IAF MiG-29, top view
(click to view full)

Appendix A explains and details the numbers pressures that successive Indian governments, and poor execution by the Ministry of Defence, have created within the IAF. IANS reported in December 2006 that India was “finalizing” a proposal to have its fleet of MiG-29 lightweight fighters refurbished for $888 million by the Russian company RSK-MiG, which has a dedicated upgrade set designed to turn older MiG-29 air defense fighters into multi-role MiG-29SMT/UBT fighters. India’s focus on its domestic industries will ensure that its modifications will include their share of unique attributes and equipment, in addition to the standard set – an insistence that is now causing problems for the program.

The program last official total was $964 million for 62 upgraded “MiG-29UPG” fighters. They’re expected to remain in service for 10-15 more years, with their safe flight-hour lifetimes extended from 25 years/2,500 hours to 40 years/ 3,500 hours.

The planes will be fitted with upgraded weapons and a new avionics suite, including the Phazatron Zhuk-ME radar. The Zhuk-M/ME is a derivative of the baseline Zhuk radar, but its acquisition range has increased 1.5 times, with a wide scan and tracking area of + / – 85 deg. in azimuth and + / – 60 deg. in elevation. It also adds terrain following mode, and ground target acquisition including high-resolution SAR. To ensure readiness, a maintenance and repair center will be established in India.

Normally, these moves would accompany weapons upgrades. India’s MiG-29s are already believed to be capable of firing the R-77/AA-12 “AMRAAMski” medium range air-air missile, but photos consistently show the R-27/ AA-10. The new systems will offer certain R-77 compatibility, along with the ability to mount precision air-to-ground weapons. Upgraded electronic warfare systems round out the package, to improve survivability against modern threats.

MiG-29UPG
(click to view full)

In terms of aerodynamic performance, India’s MiG-29s will be upgraded with extra fuel tanks in a thickened center spine, but even upgraded MiG-29s have Soviet short-legs syndrome. Adding mid-air refueling capability completes the upgrade, offering dramatic changes to the fighters’ deployment range. Unspecified engine modifications may also correct some of the problems experienced with the R-33 engine, such as the visible smoke trails that have already been addressed in the MiG-29M2. Local R-33 engine production will offer much improved maintenance turnaround time.

India will be left with an MiG-29UPG aircraft that’s comparable to the F-16C as a strike fighter, with air-to-air performance that’s arguably superior to all but the F-16E/F Block 60s with their ultra-advanced AESA radar.

RSK-MiG will be the sole vendor to perform the upgrades and service life extension tasks, delivering the first 6 aircraft from Russia and then supplying upgrade kits. Other components may come from a range of Indian, Russian, French, Israeli (Elbit has its own MiG-29 ‘Sniper’ upgrade program), and other vendors, per Indian specifications. The MiG-21 Bison upgrade worked that way, and the $130+ million MiG-27ML upgrade sources equipment from Russia, Israel, and Britain (Vinten optical pod), among others.

Indian media report that all of the upgraded MiG-29UPGs will be stationed at Adampur Air Force Base, located in the northwest Punjab region overlooking Pakistan and Kashmir. Adampur is also the home base for India’s Garud commandos.

A Better Baaz: Program Updates 2012 – 2019

More ancillary industrial contracts, which are important.

Zhuk-ME
(click to view full)

February 20/19: IAF Request India requested for an urgent shipment of 21 MiG-29 „Fulcrum“ fighters from Russia. The Fulcrum is a twin-engine fighter aircraft developed by the Mikoyan design bureau as an air superiority fighter in the 70s. The MiG-29 aircraft are commonly outfitted to use a range of air-to-surface armaments and precision munitions. India was the first international customer of the MiG-29. The Indian Air Force (IAF) placed an order for more than 50 MiG-29s in 1980 while the aircraft was still in its initial development phase. In January 2010, India and Russia signed a $1.2 billion deal under which the Indian Navy would acquire 29 additional MiG-29Ks. Acquiring MiGs is considered the cheapest way to quickly replenish the diminishing strength of the IAF, which used to have 38 fighter squadrons but now struggles to keep that number above 30, far below the government-approved figure of 42. Delivery terms of the 21 MiG-29s are currently under negotiation.

Aug 28/13: Industrial. Russia’s UAC signs $55 million in MiG-29UPG related contracts at the MAKS 2013 show. A $43 million contract will create an Indian maintenance and repair center for the fighters’ Zhuk-ME multi-mode radars, and a $12 million contract will create an Indian servicing center for the upgraded MiG-29UPGs.

Why does this matter? Under the old system, if things broke, the IAF had to ship the problem component to Russia, then wait for replacements. The waiting times were generally measured in weeks and months, not days. The result is terrible, terrible readiness rates, which means an actual serving force that’s much smaller than the supposed fleet size. That’s why India has insisted on all kinds of local facilities as ancillaries to this upgrade set, including outright manufacture of the plane’s engines (q.v. Sept 4/06 entry) and awards like these. If you do the math, these industrial changes could make a bigger difference around the Pakistani border than the MiG-29’s technological upgrades. Sources: RIA Novosti, “India Signs $55M in Deals With Russia’s MiG Fighter Jet Maker.”

Dec 10/12: Delivery. The 1st 3 modernized MiG-29UPG fighters arrive in India, aboard an AN-124 super-heavy transport. The program was supposed to be finished already, but Indian delays complicated things as usual (q.v. Aug 2/09 entry). Sources: UAC release.

Deliveries begin

2009 – 2011

1st flight; Deliveries will be late, but it seems to be mostly India’s fault; Basing arrangements; Trouble with Russian spares all across the IAF.

Punjab region, India
(click to view full)

April 27/11: Spares trouble. Problems obtaining spares for its Russian equipment have driven India to look elsewhere, issuing RFPs to the global market for:

“…spares for MiG-23, MiG-27 [DID: incl. engines] and MiG-29 combat planes, IL-76 heavy-lift planes, IL-78 midair refuelers, all Mi-series of helicopters, Pechora and OSA-AK air defence missiles and P-18 and P-19 radars [plus AN-32 aerial transport engines].”

This may help to explain why the MiG-35 didn’t even show for Aero India 2011, and wasn’t shortlisted for the M-MRCA competition. Sources: IANS, “Delays in Russian spares force India to go shopping worldwide”.

Feb 9/11: At Aero India 2011, RIA Novosti quotes UAC CEO Mikhail Pogosyan is quoted as saying that:

“The first upgraded [MiG-29] plane, I think, will be delivered in 2011… The whole [Indian MiG-29] upgrade program will be carried out on schedule agreed with the Indian side, and it will take several years to implement it.”

That is later than the original program goal. The proof, as always, will be in the delivery.

Feb 4/11: Testing. RAC MiG says that “On February 4, 2010, a MiG-29UPG fighter [upgraded for India] carried out its first test flight [today]. The flight lasted for an hour and was flawless.”

This is a key marker for the program, which was supposed to have begun deliveries nearly a year before this event. RIA Novosti.

1st flight

March 25/10: Sub-contractors. Thales announces a contract from RSK-MiG to deliver IFF1 Combined Interrogator Transponder (CIT) and Cryptographic National Secure Mode (NSM) equipment, as part of the 63-plane MiG-29 retrofit. The first CIT will be delivered to RSK-MiG in 2010, but comprehensive secure identification capability isn’t expected to be in India until mid-2011.

The IFF CIT equipment chosen in the TSB 2500 family offers a modern digital identification capability, compliant with the latest NATO Standard MKXA2 modes and ICAO3 standards and regulations. It can securely operate either with cryptographic national mode or with the Mode 4 / Mode 5 NATO modes. This will enable Indian Air Force MiG-29 fighter aircraft to be interoperable with western military aircraft, and so avoid friendly fire in coalition situations. See also Zee News.

Nov 23/09: India’s Ministry of Defence offers an update on the upgrades, which reiterates basic details but does not discuss the key issue of expected completion times:

“The government signed a contract for upgrades of MiG-29 aircraft with M/s Russian Aircraft Corporation (RAC MiG) on 7 March 2008. The MiG-29 aircraft upgrade is planned in two phases namely Design & Development (D&D) phase in Russia and series upgrade in India. Upgrade of six aircraft in D&D phase commenced from August 2008. The series upgrade for the remaining aircraft is expected to be carried out in India from June 2010 onwards. The cost of the upgrade of the MiG-29 aircraft is 964 Million US Dollars.”

Oct 6/09: Basing. Reports from India say that all of the upgraded MiG-29SMTs will be stationed at Adampur Air Force Base, located in the northwest Punjab region overlooking Pakistan and Kashmir. Adampur is also the home base for India’s Garud commandos, who performed superbly at an American Red Flag exercise in 2008. An unnamed IAF officer is quoted as saying that the 1st lot of 6 upgraded MiG 29s is expected to reach Adampur by mid-2010, with the remaining aircraft arriving by the end of 2013.

Time will tell if that schedule is met, especially given past reports of program delays. Defense News | domain-b | Indian Express | New Kerala | Press Trust of India | Pakistan’s Daily Times.

Sept 18/09: Russia’s RIA Novosti quotes an unnamed “Russian defense industry source” who says that Russia will finish upgrading India’s MiG-29s in 2013.

Aug 2/09: Indian non-performance. The Hindu reports that India’s MiG-29 upgrade could be delayed by a year or more. The first upgraded MiG-29 was scheduled to fly into India in March 2010, but the entire project is reportedly being held up by IAF non-performance.

India typically insists on including an array of locally-developed electronics in military orders, and the MiG-29 upgrade is no exception. In order to accomplish that, the contract stipulates that the IAF must give RSK MiG the associated list of equipment, dimensions, and specifications. That list has yet to be finalized, leading officials at RSK MiG to tell The Hindu that they now expect a delay of at least 8 months.

Under the contract, RSK MiG is to upgrade the first 6 aircraft in Russia, then ship kits that will allow the IAF’s 11 Base Repair Depot (BRD) at Nasik to handle the other 56 planes. A total of 14 more refurbished MiG-29s were supposed to roll out of 11BRD between April 2010 – March 2011, but the delay at RSK-MiG is likely to translate into a delay of at least a year for Nasik.

March 16/09: No groundings here. The Times of India reports that Russian decision to ground its MiG-29 fleet after a couple of accidents caused by the disintegration of the plane’s tail fins, will not extend to the Indian fleet. It quoted an unidentified “senior officer,” who said that:

“We continue to fly our MiG-29s, which were inducted in the mid-1980s, from our airbases at Halwara and Jamnagar. We have our own method of regular maintenance and other technical checks, which are underway… Our checks are stringent since we operate our MiG-29s also from coastal airbases (Jamnagar) and Russian metallurgy is susceptible to salinity.”

That was prescient, as Russia’s accident investigation eventually cited structural faults in the aircraft due to corrosion on the fin root ribs. The Times of India report adds that 6 Indian MiG-29s are already in Russia for upgrades. The rest will reportedly be run through the IAF base repair depot at Nasik, thanks to transfer of technology arrangements, with project completion scheduled for 2014.

The problems in Russia will, however, delay delivery of new MiG-29K naval variants to the Indian Navy.

2004 – 2008

Initial reports, but the deal is signed in 2008; Meanwhile, the rest of the fleet continues to slip.

Prep the Baaz
(click to view full)

March 7/08: India and Russia sign an INR 38.4 billion (about $952 million) contract to upgrade its MiG-29 fighter jets over the next 3 years. The plan is intended to help the Indian Air Force extend the service life of its 69 Mig-29 aircraft (5 squadrons) from the present 25 years/ 2,500 flight-hours to 40 years/ 3,500 flight-hours, while adding upgrades and ground attack capability.

The Times of India reports that the first 6 Mig-29s will be upgraded in Russia, while the rest be done at Ohjar AFS near the western city of Nasik, using equipment kits supplied by RAC-MiG. Ohjar is currently the overhaul center for MiG-21sw, 23s, 37s, and 29s, and an anonymous Indian official quoted by Agence France Presse was clear on the reasons for making it the program’s center:

“The pre-condition was a “precaution” against delays in the modernisation of the MiG-29s which are among the main combat planes in India’s inventory. “We learnt our lessons with the MiG-21 project,” he added, alluding to years of delay in the promised upgrade by Russia of the jets.”

The usual 30% foreign industrial offset rules also apply to this deal, and will be fulfilled by setting up setting-up simulator centers, spares depots and service centers for maintenance and repair of the aircraft and its Zhuk family radars. When these moves are added to the 2006 agreement to license-produce the R-33 series 3 engine in India (q.v. Sept 4/06 entry), it becomes clear that India has is also addressing its MiG-29 fleet’s history of long service delays, by removing its dependence on Russia. Sources: Times of India | RIA Novosti | Russia InfoCentre | Pravda | Agence France Presse | Avitation Week | Domain-b.

Deal signed

Aug 29/07: Delays. An India MoD release details growing pressure on the rest of the fleet thanks to program delays:

“There has been some delay in upgradation of MiG-21 Bison, NavWASS Jaguar and MiG-27 aircraft due to delays in design and developments phase. The projects are closely monitored to mitigate the delay.”

Dec 14/06: Deal? No. MosNews reports that this deal is signed for around $850 million, with work to be carried out exclusively by RSK-MiG. The deal reportedly covers 66 aircraft (down 1 due to a November 2006 crash), and will feature more powerful radars, advanced avionics and a new engine variant as well as air-to-air re-fueling capabilities.

The report turns out to be premature.

Sept 4/06: Industrial. Kommersant reports that a deal has been done to produce RD-33 Series III jet engines in India. These engines will be an improvement on the existing RD-33 Series I and II engines currently installed in India’s fleet. What’s even more important is that engine problems and faulty components will be replaceable from a local source.

Feb 8/06: India is finalizing its program to upgrade the MiG-29 fleet, but they’re already 2 years behind schedule. IANS:

“Granted financial clearance by the defence ministry in fiscal 2005-06, the MiG-29 upgrade project has already been delayed by over two years. It is now likely to commence only in fiscal 2006-07 and be completed around four years later, officials said.”

Of course, even that revised timetable would prove to be wildly optimistic. DID has noted before that this sort of purely bureaucratic delay is a common problem. India’s defense industry is heavily state-owned, and it has unique systemic problems in its defense procurement apparatus.

Appendix A: The IAF’s Numbers Problem

MiG-21 Bison
(click to view full)

A look at the IAF’s composition, projects, and fleet retirements shows the relentless pressure they’re under.

By 2010, the IAF had phased out the majority of its 300-or-so MiG-21s, the 16-18 aircraft in its only remaining swing-wing MiG-23 ground attack squadron, and the IAF’s MiG-25 Foxbat high-speed reconnaissance jets.

India’s 125 or so updated MiG-21 ‘Bisons’ caused a lot of trouble for American jets at COPE India 2004 & 2005, but the type crashes a lot. Since 1971-72, as many as 380 of the IAF’s 872 MiG-21s of all variants have crashed, and crashes continue with the Bison. The type is not expected to last in service beyond 2019.

Around 100-110 swing-wing MiG-27M Bahadur ground attack fighters were temporarily grounded after a crash in 2010, and the 80 or so remaining jets aren’t being upgraded again. The Bahadur’s phase-out is scheduled for 2017.

India has about 118 Jaguar strike aircraft that have been upgraded several times. The latest DARIN III upgrade with a new IAI Elta radar and new F125 engines flew in late 2012, and upgrades are expected to be complete by 2017. The IAF has viewed its Jaguars as deep strike aircraft, with the exception of 1 maritime Jaguar IM squadron. Improving air defenses could make that role chancy, in which case the upgraded Jaguar’s natural shift is into the MiG-27’s similarly dangerous close support role.

Indian MiG-27M
(click to view full)

At the lower end currently occupied by the MiG-21s, an initial order has been placed for 24 of HAL’s LCA Tejas light fighters. They were expected to arrive by the end of 2010, but production has been slow, and operational status is expected to take until 2014-15. That won’t even begin to dent the fighter gap. Further orders are held up by the fact that key design choices for the full production “Tejas II” upgrade remain in limbo.

In the middle, India has been forced to upgrade its remaining 51 Mirage 2000s to a standard similar to the Mirage 2000-5 or 2000-9. Those upgrades are underway, and include a new radar and new weapons. The upgraded fighters can be expected to serve until around 2030.

The 62 upgraded MiG-29UPGs will join the Mirage/ Vajra fleet in the IAF’s multi-role mid-tier. Under a proposed set of upgrades, these planes would see a set of improvements that would address their biggest deficiencies, insert important upgrades, and change their role from air-superiority planes to full multi-role fighters with modern air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. A parallel set of deals will invest a good deal of money into local manufacture and repair facilities for key components, removing the Russians from those maintenance chains and hopefully improving mission readiness. A total of 62 planes are included: 54 single-seat fighters and 8 trainers.

India continues to assemble and field SU-30MKI aircraft, under a joint agreement with Sukhoi, and overall orders are pegged at 272 as of 2013. These aircraft will be the high end of India’s air power, can be expected to remain in the force past 2030, and are competitive with or superior to top-end European fighters and American F-15 variants.

FGFA, MAKS-2011
(click to view larger)

A pair of newer projects aren’t even finalized yet.

If Dassault’s Rafale can hold on to its selection and hammer out a viable contract, it would serve beside the SU-30MKIs at the high end of the force. The 100 or so planes would offer some compatibilities with the upgraded Mirage 2000s, but will come at about twice the SU-30MKI’s price. If budget pressures intervene and Tejas continues to lag, India could be forced to buy a less expensive mid-tier plane instead. MMRCA is already late, however, and the Indian government might have a case for paying more now, rather than running another competition that will take them 5+ years.

At some point, India’s FGFA (SU-50?) stealth fighter will become the new high end of the force. India hopes to order 144 planes, but the existence of even a final design is in question, let alone a contract. The IAF is unlikely to have any operational FGFA fighters before 2025 on the present schedule, and India’s record of project performance makes 2030 an unsafe bet.

Seen in this context, upgraded MiG-29s aren’t merely a useful adjunct. Over the 2015 – 2025 period, they’re crucial to India’s fighter fleet.

Additional Readings

The Rest of the Fleet

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

Draper tapped for TRIDENT II | Boeing to support Qatar Armed Forces Apache Helos | French Rafales test-fire Meteor Missile

Defense Industry Daily - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 05:00
Americas

Strategic Systems Programs contracted Charles Stark Draper Laboratory with $191 million for the production of TRIDENT II D5 Strategic Weapon System MK6 Guidance Equivalent Units. Draper Laboratory is a development organization that designs, develops, and deploys technological solutions for security, space exploration, healthcare, and energy sectors. The company specializes in the areas of positioning, navigation, and timing solutions, autonomous systems, precision instrumentation systems, microelectronic components and systems, fault-tolerant systems, secure and assured systems, human systems technology, image and data analytics techniques, biomedical solutions, and materials engineering and microfabrication. The TRIDENT is a submarine-launched ballistic missile equipped with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles. In 2002, the United States Navy announced plans to extend the life of the submarines and the D5 missiles to the year 2040. This so called D5 Life Extension Program wants to replace obsolete components at minimal cost by using commercial off the shelf hardware. The new system had to fit into the space within the missile used by the previous system, constraining design in terms of volume and electrical and mechanical interfaces. The upgraded guidance system will maintain compatibility with other subsystems provided by a number of other companies, while staying on schedule and within budget. Work under the contract is scheduled to be finished by the end of July, 2022 and will take place in Massachusetts, Florida, and Texas.

The Air Force awarded Apogee Engineering $28.2 million for Space Logistics Infrastructure Support Services (SLISS)-2. The contract provides services to the Space and Missile System Center Space Logistics Directorate and related space organizations. Apogee Engineering is a sales rep firm in the industrial and petrochemical market. The SLISS-2 contract will be used to acquire non-personal services in support of various missions, command, control, communications and intelligence activities within Air Force Space Command. The deal will also provide logistical support to various space organizations such as Air Force Satellite Control Network, Space Lift Range System, Global Positioning System, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Military Satellite Communications, and Space Based Infrared Systems. Work under the contract will take place at the Peterson and the Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado and is scheduled to be completed by February 28, 2025.

Middle East & Africa

The US Army contracted Boeing with a $12.9 million foreign military sales deal for post-production support services for the Qatar Armed Forces Apache helicopters. The AH-64 Apache is a twin-turboshaft attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement and a tandem cockpit for a crew of two. The AH-64E features improved digital connectivity, the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, more powerful T-700-GE-701-D engines with upgraded face gear transmission to accommodate more power, capability to control UAVs, and improved landing gear. The AH-64E was formerly known as the AH-64D Block II. In July 2012, Qatar requested the sale of 24 AH-64D Apache Block III helicopters, with associated equipment, training, and support. The sale was a approved on 27 March, 2014.

Lockheed Martin targets the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the sale of the Falcon Air Defense System. The US defense firm Lockheed Martin and security firms Diehl Defence and Saab unveiled Falcon, a short and medium range air defense system at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX). They hope the UAE will be the first customer. The new missile system was developed in response to a request from the UAE, which seeks to replace Lockheed’s Hawk Air Defense System. The Falcon is designed to counter threats such as unmanned aerial systems carrying lethal payloads, cruise missiles, and fixed and rotary winged aircraft capable of delivering ordnance at extended ranges. The missile integrates Diehl’s 40-kilometer range infra-red imaging system tail and vector-controlled interceptor and vertical launcher, with Saab’s 360-degree Giraffe radar system and Lockheed’s SkyKeeper command and control battle manager.

Europe

Last week the French Air Force and Navy successfully conducted the first two Meteor missile test firings from Rafale fighters. Intended for air superiority missions, the Meteor air-to-air missile is powered by a ramjet and capable of intercepting very long-range targets. Personnel from the Air Force Experimental Assessment Center and the Navy’s Airborne Experimental Center operated the Rafale aircraft, in close collaboration with the Directorate-General of Armaments DGA. Both firings were achieved thanks to the implementation by DGA of the test range, including security, instrumentation, target operation, and the replay of the launches from its site on Levant island.

Asia-Pacific

Japan’s first amphibious assault force became fully operational after the Amphibious Rapid deployment Brigade was certified during the Iron Fist 2019 Exercise in California, Jane’s reports. Iron Fist, held in Southern California, was one of two training exercises between the US Marine Corps and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force this month. Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force soldiers with the newly minted 1st Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade took part in the Iron Fist exercises, which included tasks in sharpshooting, amphibious reconnaissance and landing missions, and other areas.

Today’s Video

Watch: Here’s The U.S. Navy’s New Stealth Destroyer’s: A Laser-Armed Warship?

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

GE Aviation to repair Super Hornet Generator Units | PAE Government Systems to support Afghan Security Forces | Poland signed a deal for HIMARS

Defense Industry Daily - Mon, 02/18/2019 - 05:00
Americas

The Navy tapped GE Aviation Systems LLC with $68.2 million for G2/G3 generator converter units repair for the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The F/A-18 is a twin engine, mid-wing, multi-mission tactical aircraft. All F/A-18s can be configured quickly to perform either fighter or attack roles or both, through selected use of external equipment to accomplish specific missions. GE Aviation designs, develops, and manufactures jet and turboprop engines, components, and integrated systems for military, commercial, business and general aviation aircraft, and ship propulsion applications. The current deal includes a three-year contract with one two-year option period which, if exercised, will rise the total value of the contract to $87,116,502. Seventy percent of the work will occur in Coronado, California, while the remaining 30 percent will take place in Vandalia, Ohio. Work is scheduled to be completed by February 2024.

Saab will supply the US Army with the latest version of the Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon. The Carl-Gustaf or M3E1 recoilless rifle is an 84 mm man-portable reusable anti-tank weapon. It can fire six rounds per minute. The new weapon is fully backwards compatible with all ammunition types, including future ones, and weighs significantly less than its M3 predecessor. The M4 reduces the launcher weight from 10 kg to less than 7 kg. The first weapon will be delivered this year at a cost of $19 million. In all, the Pentagon can place orders for approximately $40.8 million with the Swedish-based company.

Space and Missile Systems Center Remote Sending Systems Contracting Division contracted Tecolote Research $38.8 million to support acquisition and financial operations at the US Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center. The deal provides the remote sensing systems directorate to execute integrated program management for a broad range of acquisition, financial, and administrative capabilities of space-related research, development, production, sustainment and lifecycle acquisition activities. The center is part of the Air Force Space Command and employs an estimated 6,300 people including military, civilians and contractors at Los Angeles Air Force Base and other locations worldwide. Work will take place in El Segundo, California and is scheduled to be completed by August 17, 2024.

Middle East & Africa

The US Army awarded PAE Government Systems with a $27.6 million contract modification for contractor logistics support efforts to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The purpose of the fund is to provide assistance to the security forces of Afghanistan to include the provision of equipment, supplies, services, training, facility and infrastructure repair, renovation and construction, and funding. The United States has been training and equipping the Afghan military and security forces since 2001. PAE Government Services, Inc. provides professional engineering services. The Company offers military aircraft and vehicle maintenance, infrastructure, software solutions, logistics, and base support services. Work will take place in Hikia, Afghanistan and is expected to be finished by August 30, 2022.

Europe

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group started work on the center-wing box (CWB) replacement effort for 14 UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Lockheed Martin C-130J/C-130J-30 Hercules, Jane’s reports. The Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The RAF fields both the short-bodied C-130J (designated C5 in RAF service) and long-bodied C-130J-30 (C4) variants of the Hercules. The Hercules family has the longest continuous production run of any military aircraft in history. The CWB sits atop the aircraft’s main fuselage and forms the attachment point for the outer wings and the inboard engines.

The Polish Defense Minister, Marius Blaszczak signed a contract for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS). The deal worth $414 million approved the sale of 20 HIMARS launchers and related equipment. According to the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale of HIMARS launchers and related equipment to Poland aimed to strengthen security in the region. The system will be delivered by 2023. The first Polish HIMARS unit will be organized similarly to US Army HIMARS units.

Asia-Pacific

The Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out an exercise involving about 140 fighter jets and attack helicopters in a fire power demonstration close to the border with Pakistan. The exercise came two days after the Pulwama attack, in which a vehicle-borne suicide bomber attacked a convoy of vehicles carrying security personnel. In the so called Vayu Shakti exercise, the IAF showcased fire power capability of indigenous platforms like Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Advanced Light Helicopter and efficacy of Akash surface-to-air missile and Astra air-to-air missile. The Vayu Shakti was planned in advance and the drill was a demonstration of the force’s capability to hit targets with pinpoint accuracy and carry out missions at short notice.

Today’s Video

Watch: In action: How smart the uk MQ-9 Reaper combat drone.

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

Detyens gets $10.5 million to overhaul T-AKE 12 | Israel to buy Italian Koalas | USA provides Lebanon with APKWS

Defense Industry Daily - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 05:00
Americas

The Navy awarded Lockheed Martin with a 14.5 million contract modification to provide for initial lay-in of repair materials for seven F-35 Lightning II systems at various depots in support of the Air Force, Marine Corps, non-US DOD participants, and Foreign Military Sales customers. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine stealth multirole fighters. The global F-35 program is the largest and most advanced military aircraft program in the world. More than 3,000 F-35 aircraft will be produced by 2030 for a number of countries. Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the UK, and the US are the original partner countries in the F-35 program. Work under the modification will take place in Orlando, Florida; Fort Worth, Texas; Jackson, Mississippi; Windsor Locks, Connecticut; St. Louis, Missouri; and East Aurora, New York, and is scheduled to be completed in July 2024.

The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command contracted Detyens Shipyards $10.5 million for a 50-calendar day shipyard availability for the regular overhaul and dry docking of USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12). Detyens Shipyards operates a commercial shipyard on the East Coast of the US. It provides ship repair and conversion services. The USNS William McLean is a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship. The Lewis and Clark class of dry cargo ship is a class of 14 Combat Logistics Force underway replenishment vessels. Work under the contract includes clean and gas-free tanks, voids, cofferdams and spaces, main engine and electric motor maintenance, 10-year crane maintenance and recertification, dry-docking and undocking, propeller shaft and stern tube inspect, freshwater (closed loop) stern tube lubrication, underwater hull cleaning and painting, 2.5-year bow thruster maintenance and tunnel grating modification, renew flight deck nonskid, and auxiliary pre-stage area refrigeration installation. Work will take place in North Charleston, South Carolina, and is expected to be finished by July 16 this year.

Middle East & Africa

The Israeli Ministry of Defense will buy seven AW-119 Koala training helicopters from Italian defense contractor Leonardo in a multi-billion dollar deal. The contract, estimated at $350 million and also includes 20 years of aircraft maintenance, also has Rome buying an equivalent value of Israeli military technology. The AW-119, known in Israel as Sayfan will replace the Air Force’s current Bell 206 training aircraft. Israeli defense contractor Rafael beat out US defense contractors Bell and Airbus to win the Israeli tender in today’s deal. According to reports, Italy wants to purchase $70-80 million in anti-tank missiles from Rafael.

Defense contractor Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is in talks with Colombia for the sale of Barak-8 missile systems. Barak-8 is an Indian-Israeli surface-to-air missile designed to defend against any aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles as well as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and combat jets. Barak-8 incorporates a state-of-the-art phased array multi-mission radar, two-way data link, and a flexible command and control system, enabling users to simultaneously engage multiple targets day and night and in all weather conditions. The missile was tested for the first time in mid 2018 when it intercepted a small drone simulating an enemy craft. The system extends the range of Israel’s aerial defense. It is being jointly developed by the Defense Research & Development Organisation, IAI, Israel’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Elta Systems, Rafael and other companies. According to reports, one of the catalysts for Colombia’s interest in advanced air defense systems is the crisis in Venezuela. IAI did not want to comment on the issue.

The USA provided the Lebanese Army with a $16 million APKWS laser-guided rocket kit. The APKWS is a design conversion of Hydra 70 unguided rockets with a laser guidance kit to turn them into precision-guided munitions. The Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System laser-guided rockets are a key component for the Lebanese Air Force’s new A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft. APKWS is about one-third the cost and one-third the weight of the current inventory of laser-guided weapons, has a lower yield more suitable for avoiding collateral damage, and takes one quarter of the time for ordnance personnel to load and unload. The A-29 Super Tucano is a turboprop light attack aircraft with weapons including precision-guided munitions. According to the US Embassy in Lebanon, the current delivery demonstrates the US government’s firm and steady commitment to support the Lebanon Army.

Europe

Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham is the first UK Airbase powered by green energy. The Defense Infrastructure Organisation worked collaboratively with Amey, the Crown Commercial Service Utilities & Fuels Company, DIO’s electricity supplier EDF and their supply chain partner Future Biogas on the project for EDF to supply baseload power to RAF Marham since 2015. The energy provided by the new biogas plant is sustainable, green and provides substantial financial savings over grid-imported energy to the airbase. The biogas plant will provide annual savings of $371,191. The plant increases power resilience at RAF Marham by providing multiple pathways to electrical resources.

Asia-Pacific

Indonesia and South Korea entered the final stages of negotiations for a follow-on order of the Type 209/1400 diesel-electric submarines, according to Jane’s. An agreement with South Korean company Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) is expected in the upcoming months. The contract is valued to be worth $1.2 billion when finalized. Jakarta signed a $1.1 billion deal for three Type 209/1400 submarines with DSME in December 2011. Two submarines under this contract have been delivered, while a third is awaiting launch in Surabaya. The Type 209 submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines armed with eight bow 533 mm torpedo tubes and 14 torpedoes. Ships utilized by South Korea can be armed with 28 mines in place of torpedoes and Sub-Harpoon missiles.

Today’s Video

Watch: Most Feared! America’s Super fighter jets to join UK’s new Supercarrier first operational mission

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

Submarines for Indonesia

Defense Industry Daily - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 04:50

KRI Cakra
(click to view larger)

Indonesia sites astride one of the world’s most critical submarine chokepoints. A large share of global trade must pass through the critical Straits of Malacca, and the shallow littoral waters around the Indonesian archipelago. That makes for excellent submarine hunting grounds, but Indonesia has only 2 “Cakra Class”/ U209 submarines in its own fleet, relying instead on frigates, corvettes, and fast attack craft.

South Korea’s Daewoo, which has experience building U209s for South Korea, has been contracted for Cakra Class submarine upgrades. Even so, submarine pressure hulls have inflexible limits on their safe lifetime, due to repeated hydraulic squeezing from ascending and descending. The Indonesians have expressed serious interest in buying 3-6 replacement submarines since 2007, with French, German, Russian, South Korean, and even Turkish shipyards in the rumored mix. Other priorities shoved the sub purchase aside, but a growing economy and military interest finally revived it. South Korea was the beneficiary, but further orders may be in store.

Strategic Plans & Contending Designs

ROKN U214 & CVN 68
(click to view full)

Indonesia’s Defence Strategic Plan 2024 calls for a fleet of 10 submarines. By then, its 2 Cakra Class boats are likely to be on their last safe years, if not completely decommissioned. In 2011, Indonesia bought 3 more. The question is whether and when Indonesia’s growing economy, military priorities, and cadre of trained submarine personnel and support will allow further buys.

Broadly speaking, the Indonesians could consider 3-6 potential diesel-electric powered submarine designs, from 5 different countries reported to date. The biggest technical and political question is whether Indonesia wants an Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) addition that allows up to 3 weeks of submerged operation, at low speed. AIP makes diesel-electric submarines harder to detect, but would provoke regional concerns from its neighbors. Indonesia may even decide it prefers a conventional design that “shows the flag” on the surface more often, due to its location and need to maintain good relations.

HDW’s latest export product is the U214, with an AIP system. It is more advanced than the U209, and more expensive. Variants and related designs have been ordered by German & Italy (as the U212A), Greece, South Korea, and Turkey.

Indonesia already operated the U209/1300 variant, and one initial option was to simply buy more U209s with fully modern internal systems. That’s a cost effective option with low additional support costs, and that was Indonesia’s choice. Submarine type was not specified, but their tonnage appears to make them Chang Bogo Class stretched and modernized U209/1200s.

Either one of HDW’s sub types could be manufactured by Germany, South Korea, or Turkey. Turkey tried to play the Islamic card, and trying to get extra work for its shipyard. On the other hand, South Korea had an existing relationship with Indonesia’s submarine fleet, and could play the regional & support angles. South Korea won the initial 3-sub tender, but Turkey will be back and bidding if there’s another one.

Andrasta concept
(click to view full)

France’s DCNS has 3 relevant offerings. The most prominent is its Scorpene Class, which has been ordered by nearby Malaysia and by India. India is assembling its 6 submarines locally, but that has led to delays, and they would be an unproven shipyard for re-export purposes. The Scorpene can be delivered with or without AIP systems, just like its Agosta 90B predecessor that is being built for Pakistan in both configurations. To date, ordered Scorpenes have been the standard CM-2000 variant.

One unique option that DCNS could have offered was its Andrasta Class pocket submarine. This small 855t design is optimized for littoral, shallow water environments like Indonesia. The small submarine uses many Scorpene technologies, but trades shorter cruising range and 6 torpedo tubes that can only be loaded in dock, in exchange for more underwater stealth and lower cost. This would be the least regionally provocative choice, and might be the least expensive per boat, while giving Indonesia a potent threat within its home waters. The question is whether Indonesia was ever interested in that capability set. Vietnam, with similar underwater terrain and frugal budgets, chose to buy full-size Russian Kilo Class submarines instead. Indonesia likewise chose a full-size submarine design.

Kilo Class
(click to view full)

Russia made a strong play of its own, and has begun supplying Indonesia with a variety of defense equipment in recent years. Most of those buys have been land vehicles and aircraft, but the Indonesian Navy has equipped some of its ships with long-range supersonic P800/SS-N-26 missiles.

Indonesia appreciates Russia’s prices, and lack of interference with how their equipment is used. Russia’s Kilo/ Improved Kilo Class submarines are a good technical choice for Indonesia’s environment, and popular around the world; nearby countries who operate or have ordered these subs include India, Vietnam, and China.

Contracts & Key Events 2012 – 2019

Price hike reported from Daewoo, but deal gets sorted; Cakra refit done; New base; Project will be late.

ROKN Chang Bogo
(click to view larger) February 15/19: Negotiations for Follow-On Order Indonesia and South Korea entered the final stages of negotiations for a follow-on order of the Type 209/1400 diesel-electric submarines, according to Jane’s. An agreement with South Korean company Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) is expected in the upcoming months. The contract is valued to be worth $1.2 billion when finalized. Jakarta signed a $1.1 billion deal for three Type 209/1400 submarines with DSME in December 2011. Two submarines under this contract have been delivered, while a third is awaiting launch in Surabaya. The Type 209 submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines armed with eight bow 533 mm torpedo tubes and 14 torpedoes. Ships utilized by South Korea can be armed with 28 mines in place of torpedoes and Sub-Harpoon missiles.

Feb 18/14: Industrial. State-owned shipbuilder PT PAL Indonesia will get up to $250 million, as part of the revised 2014 state budget. $150 million will be used for shipyard construction, $30 million for “consultation,” and $70 million on personnel. Indonesia’s state-Owned Enterprises (BUMN) Ministry will oversee the contracts with its characteristic level of rigor and transparency.

The original contract (q.v. Dec 22/11, Aug 2/12) required that PAL’s shipyard be ready by November 2014, which looks like a stretch. Then again, the original contract was slated to deliver 3 submarines in 2015 and 2016. The current schedule will deliver 2 U209 Chang Bogo Class derivatives from DMSE by 2017, and the Indonesian sub from PT PAL in 2019 or even 2020. Navy chief of staff Adm. Marsetio wants to build more submarines at PT PAL, but that state owned firm has been cited for poor work in the past, so we’ll see how it all goes. It doesn’t help that one of the reasons for the current project’s lateness is that Indonesia needs to send 206 technicians and experts to DSME, but PAL has only sent 13 people as of February 2014. Sources: Jakarta Post, “PT PAL gets $250 million to build submarines”.

April 5/13: Basing. Indonesian Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Marsetio opens the Palu Naval Base in Palu’s Ulujadi district, Watusampu subdistrict. KRI Cakra [S401] and KRI Nanggala [S402] have often docked there as a forward base, but it’s about to become a main submarine base for the 3 new U209s from South Korea. A new building has already been finished, and more construction will come.

Palu Bay is 10 km wide, with a 68 km coastline, a deep harbor that quickly drops off to 400m, and natural protection against extreme ocean currents. Its location near Malaysia and the disputed South China Sea is strategic, while remaining near Indonesia’s center. Jakarta Post.

Aug 2/12: Deal sorted. Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro confirms that they have officially signed a contract for 3 new South Korean submarines, under a Transfer of Technology scheme.

The first new submarine will be built by Daewoo in South Korea, with Indonesian personnel present and training. The 2nd will be a collaboration between Daewoo and Indonesia’s PAL. The 3rd will be built in Indonesia. Costs weren’t revealed, but these terms could explain the sudden $300 million price hike reported in March 2012. Jakarta Globe | China’s state-run Xinhua.

Submarine contract

July 30/12: Rescue pact. Indonesia and Singapore sign a submarine rescue pact. That’s important to both parties. Singapore deploys modified Swedish Vastergotland Class boats, and has a much more advanced submarine service, so their expertise will be valuable to Indonesia. The RSN will also benefit themselves, by extending the assistance zone throughout a very wide range of sea between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Eurasia Review.

Submarine rescue pact

March 19/12: Price hike. Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News:

“South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering announced on Dec. 22 that it had won an Indonesian deal for $1.1 billion for three U209 submarines. But the company in early February unilaterally told its Indonesian counterparts that the price was too low, and increased it to $1.4 billion.

“Meanwhile, we gave our best offer to the Indonesians on Feb. 7. Now we are waiting for their decision,” the Turkish official recently told the Hürriyet Daily News. “We think we have a chance.”

Feb 20/12: Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reports that Indonesia has been consoling Turkey over the loss of the recent submarine tender, which Turkey apparently lost because they didn’t bid in time. Indonesian Chief of Staff Adm. Agus Suhartono apparently discussed a future submarine tender involving the U214 subs that Turkish shipyards are building in partnership with HDW. The country’s official plan does contemplate 5-7 more submarines by 2024. If economics allows, South Korean shipyards are also building U214s with HDW. With other models on the market and ready to compete, any future Indonesian tender will still be interesting.

The report adds that Indonesia and Turkey are exploring a $100M contract to build military radios from Aselsan, a plan to produce “missiles” designed by Roketsan (likely 122mm and 300mm rockets, or CIRIT guided 70mm rockets), and a possible order for the BAE/FNSS Pars 8×8 wheeled APCs. Neighboring Malaysia has already bought the Pars.

Feb 6/12: Cakra refits done. Indonesia’s other active submarine, KRI Nanggala, returns from Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in Busan, South Korea, after a 24-month deep refit overhaul. KRI Cakra received a similar overhaul in beginning in 2006, so this completes work on Indonesia’s current fleet of 2.

DSME replaced the upper structure from bow to stern, some parts of the propulsion system, and the submarine’s sonar, radar, weapons system and combat system. The new combat system allows the Cakra Class to fire 4 wire-guided torpedoes simultaneously at 4 different targets, or launch anti-ship missiles including the French Exocet and American Harpoon. The new structure allows safe dives to 257m, and propulsion improvements raise top speed from 21.5 to 25 knots. Jakarta Post.

Cakra Class upgraded

2009 – 2011

South Korea wins the deal.

Preveze Class:
Turkish U209
(click to view larger)

Dec 22/11: South Korea wins. Reports surface that The Indonesian Defense Ministry and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding Marine Engineering have signed a $1.07 billion contract for 3 more submarines. Type is not specified, but their tonnage appears to make them Chang Bogo Class stretched U209/1200s. Reports say that 2 of the 3 submarines will be built in South Korea in cooperation with Indonesian state-owned shipbuilder PT PAL, while the 3rd submarine will be built at PT PAL’s facilities in Surabaya.

Deliveries are expected in 2015 and 2016. The question is whether the existing Cakra Class boats will have much safe life left in them after that point, even with recent refits. Barring additional purchases, in line with Indonesia’s 10-submarine goal in its “Defence Strategic Plan 2024,” it’s likely that within a few years of receiving the new boats, Indonesia’s submarine fleet will begin dropping back to 4 and then to 3 submarines. Antara News | Chosun Ilbo | Jakarta Post.

South Korea picked

July 23/11: The Turks say one thing about Indonesia’s submarine deal, the Koreans another. Only one can be right. South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo says:

“A [Indonesian] senior government official said Taufik Kiemas, the speaker of the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly, told [South Korean] Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik on Wednesday morning that Daewoo is virtually certain to get the nod for the [US$1.08 billion submarine] project. “There still are some more processes to follow, but the deal will be struck, unless something comes up,” the official said.”

If either Turkey or South Korea land this deal, however, one thing is certain: the submarines in question will be from Germany’s HDW. Both the Turkish and Korean shipyards have experience building U209 vessels, and both have also signed deals to build new U214s, with Korea’s KSS-II program slightly ahead of Turkey’s.

June 30/11: A Turkish Ministry of Defense official tells Today’s Zaman that a deal with Indonesia for 2 U209 submarines is “very close.” If the expected deal between the two states is signed, Turkey’s Savunma Teknolojileri Muhendislik ve Ticaret A.S. (STM) would partner with HDW to build them in the Golcuk shipyard.

Dec 9/09: The Jakarta Post reports that Indonesia’s submarine buy is at least 4 years away from a contract, given the government’s needs and priorities. Navy Chief of Staff Vice Adm. Agus Suhartono is quoted:

“We will choose a country that can provide us with a product at a competitive price and offers better transfer of technology options,” he said. “The tender process will be open using a credit export financing scheme.” Each submarine is estimated to cost around Rp 3.5 trillion (US$371.85 million).”

July 7/09: The Korea Times is more direct, in “Indonesian Redtape Torpedoes Sub Sale Bid“:

“Three more companies from Russia, Germany and France competed for the deal. But sources said the Indonesian Navy demanded unacceptable terms so Daewoo and the German and French firms dropped out. Only the Russian firm remained, forcing Indonesia to instigate a second round of bidding… Russia is considered its major competitor, since it is backed by well-established political ties with Indonesia and an offer of a $1-billion loan. In another negative sign, the incumbent Indonesian defense minister is said to be pro-Russian.

In the end, the second bid is likely to be a duel between Korea and Russia, according to informed officials, with the other two bidding countries skeptical about Jakarta’s request on price cuts… Daewoo is planning to enter the second round of bidding for the subs, hoping to take advantage of ties cultivated since the establishment of its Indonesian unit in 1976.”

Feb 9/09: Yusron Ihza, Indonesia’s deputy speaker of the House of Representatives’ Commission I on political, security and foreign affairs, confirms the country’s interest in 3 Improved Kilo Class submarines, but offers no details concerning funding. Antara News quotes him:

“There’s always been a plan to purchase submarines and I’ve surveyed a few submarine workshops in Moscow, Russia. This submarine will display our naval strength and allow us to be ready for any armed conflicts… It’s not necessary to own many submarines since they are expensive, just three state of the art units will suffice to safeguard the integrity of our waters,” Ihza said… My colleagues and I at the House have fought for an increase in defense spending, yet unfortunately this isn’t possible now…”

Indeed, only 1/3 of the proposed defense budget was approved. Jakarta Post.

Additional Readings

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

Raytheon tapped for Silent Knight OFP development | Thales to deliver MMR to the Netherlands | India calls for EoI for NUH

Defense Industry Daily - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 05:00
Americas

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division awarded Northrop Grumman Systems a $27.3 million contract in support of Lot 9 and 10 P-8A production. The P-8A Poseidon is a military aircraft that conducts anti-submarine warfare (WSA), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), and shipping interdiction, with an early warning self-protection ability. The deal includes integration, testing, delivery, and performance as the lead systems integrator for the AN/AAQ-24 Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures System and the ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management System. The AN/AAQ-24 system is a directional infrared countermeasure system. It consists of a missile warning system, an integration unit, a processor, and laser turrets. The ALQ-213 Electronic Warfare Management System controls a wide variety of equipment, including warning systems, jammers, countermeasures dispensers, and missile warning systems. In the last couple of years, production of the ALQ-213 has been revitalized by its selection to equip the US Navy’s Poseidon multimission maritime aircraft. The current contract for production is for the US Navy and various Foreign Military Sales customers like Australia and the UK. Work will take place in Illinois and is scheduled to be completed by February 2021.

The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) contracted Raytheon with a $15 million modification for Silent Knight Radar Operational Flight Program (OFP) development, field service representative support and engineering services in support of the USSOCOM fixed wing aircraft. The Silent Knight Radar system’s terrain following/terrain avoidance technology provides the pilot with terrain maps as well as climb or dive cues. The contract for the Silent Knight Radar system was originally awarded to Raytheon in 2007. The system’s projected platforms include the MH-47G Chinook, the MH-60M Blackhawk Special Operations helicopter, MC-130 transports, and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The modification completes OFP software delivery for the CV-22. The CV-22 is a multi-mission, tiltrotor aircraft with vertical as well as short takeoff and landing capabilities. Work will continue to take place at the Raytheon facility in McKinney, Texas, and is scheduled to be finished by December 2021.

Middle East & Africa

The Israeli Ministry of Defense and the Israel Innovation Authority granted Mobilicom $1.2 milliton to create a solution focusing on the development of cyber technologies using Artificial Intelligence as an add-on module for drones and unmanned platforms. Mobilicom Limited is a hi-tech company that designs, develops, and delivers various communication solutions for mission critical and remote mobile private networks. Its products and technologies are based on an approach that merges 4G and Mobile MESH technologies. Under this grant, Mobilicom is planning to develop an anti-hijacking and anti-spoofing system for commercial and industrial drones and robotics. It will enable autonomous drone cyber security without intervention by an operator in real-time.

Europe

Ahead of its first operational mission, Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth was bolstered with the Phalanx 1B Weapon System. The Phalanx is a rapid-fire, computer-controlled, radar-guided gun that is able to defeat anti-ship missiles and other close-in threats on land and at sea.The 1B variant’s configuration augments the Phalanx system’s proven anti-air warfare capability by adding a forward-looking infrared sensor. It allows the system to be used against helicopters and high-speed surface craft at sea while the land-based version helps identify and confirm incoming dangers. Because of the Phalanx’s distinctive barrel-shaped radome and its automated nature, it is sometimes known by the nickname R2-D2 – based on the Star Wars character. HMS Queen Elizabeth will boast three Phalanx 1B computer-controlled guns, which can empty a 1,550-round magazine at 4,500 rounds-per-minute.

The Dutch Ministry of Defense awarded Thales a contract for nine Multi Mission Radars (MMR) designed for artillery, air surveillance, air defense, and security applications. The MMR – marketed as the GM200 MM/Compact – is the latest version of the T- and S-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar family, developed for ground applications including air surveillance, weapon locating, and counter-battery missions. The MMR sees and records targets easily and in real-time. Its radar is fully automatic, designed to detect, track, and classify a large number of targets including rockets, artillery shells, mortar rounds, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aircraft, helicopters, and cruise missiles. The value of the contract was not disclosed. The radars will be delivered to the Royal Netherlands Army starting 2021.

Asia-Pacific

The Indian Ministry of Defense called for Expressions of Interest (EoI) related to the planned procurement of 111 aircraft via its Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) requirement, leading up to a request for proposal. The Naval Utility Helicopter is set to replace the Indian Navy’s Hindustan Aeronautics Chetak helicopters. Potential candidates could include the Airbus Helicopters AS565, Bell 429 and the Sikorsky S-76. The expression of interest calls for 16 examples to be produced overseas, and the remaining 95 in India. Whilst Indian companies have been given two months to respond to the EoI, the foreign manufacturers get three months to respond due to the nature of inputs required.

Today’s Video

Watch: Royal Navy Considers Buying New Amphibs

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

US SOCOM’s “Silent Knight”

Defense Industry Daily - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 04:56

US SOCOM MH-47E
(click to view full)

Your mission is to fly from 20-100 feet off the ground, at flight speeds, regardless of rain, snow, or dark of night. These journeys often take place within countries that either don’t want you there, or prefer not to admit that you ever were there. Hostile fire is a distinct possibility. You are very probably a special operations pilot, and the most important tool in whatever aircraft you’re flying is something called a terrain following/terrain avoidance (TF/TA) system that helps keep your plane at the requisite height above ground – without hitting trees, ships, and other obstructions.

As the holiday season approaches, US SOCOM is working on a new present for its future pilots. Raytheon Company Precision Attack and Surveillance Systems in McKinney, TX received a Cost Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) contract with a potential maximum value of $164.2 million for system design and development of the Silent Knight Radar (SKR) in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Up to 6 low-rate initial production units are included as an option, and work will be performed in McKinney, TX from Jan. 1, 2007 through Dec. 30, 2013 (H92222-07-C-0041).

Silent Knight is a next-generation TF/TA system for US SOCOM pilots using fully modern technology. The required capabilities of the Silent Knight radar reportedly include color weather display, a ground map mode experienced as a high-resolution display, detection and location of other aircraft and/or ships; and advances in terrain following and avoidance capabilities; and will be lighter and require less power than predecessors.

As a common system, Silent Knight will eventually be fielded on MH/HH-47 Chinooks, MH-60M Pave Hawks, MC-130H Combat Talon (Hercules variant) fixed-wing transports, and CV-22 Osprey block 30 tilt-rotor aircraft.

Formally signed Dec. 12, 2006, and initially funded at $28.5 million, the contract calls for Raytheon to build, test and integrate the new Silent Knight radar. Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems is performing the work in Dallas and McKinney, TX. Principal partners include AIC in Crestview, FL; DRS Technologies in St. Louis, MO; and Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA.

Update

February 14/19: OFP development The US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) contracted Raytheon with a $15 million modification for Silent Knight Radar Operational Flight Program (OFP) development, field service representative support and engineering services in support of the USSOCOM fixed wing aircraft. The Silent Knight Radar system’s terrain following/terrain avoidance technology provides the pilot with terrain maps as well as climb or dive cues. The contract for the Silent Knight Radar system was originally awarded to Raytheon in 2007. The system’s projected platforms include the MH-47G Chinook, the MH-60M Blackhawk Special Operations helicopter, MC-130 transports, and CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. The modification completes OFP software delivery for the CV-22. The CV-22 is a multi-mission, tiltrotor aircraft with vertical as well as short takeoff and landing capabilities. Work will continue to take place at the Raytheon facility in McKinney, Texas, and is scheduled to be finished by December 2021.

February 26/17: Raytheon has won a $45.5 million contract modification from the US Special Operations Command for the delivery of the Silent Knight Radar system. The modification is a follow-up to an initial 2006 agreement — that tasked Raytheon with building, testing and integrating the new Silent Knight radar into a variety of special forces aircraft — and supports low-rate initial production in addition to full-rate production for the radar systems. Aircraft currently using Silent Knight include the MH-47 Chinook, the MH-60 Seahawk, the MC-130 Combat Talon, as well as several fixed-wing aircraft. The system provides operators with a color weather display, a ground map, high-resolution imagery, and threat detection and identification capabilities.

May 4/16: Raytheon Apace and Airborne Systems has been awarded a contract for the continued low-rate initial production of the Silent Knight Radar system in support of US Special Operations Command. The value of the contract has the potential worth of up to $49.5 million and will continue for the year. The contract will be funded via delivery/task orders, and depending on the requirement may be funded using research, development, test and evaluation; procurement; and operation and maintenance funding.

Additional Readings

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

Flexible G/ATORs: The USMC’s Multi-Mission AESA Ground Radars

Defense Industry Daily - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 04:52

G/ATOR diorama
(click to view full)

The US military’s long run of unquestioned air superiority has led to shortcuts in mobile land-based air defenses, and the US Marines are no exception. A December 2005 release from Sen. Schumer’s office [D-NY] said that:

“Current radar performance does not meet operational forces requirements… consequences could potentially allow opposing forces to gain air and ground superiority in future operational areas.”

One of the programs in the works to address this gap is the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR mobile radar system. It’s actually the result of fusing 2 programs: the Multi-Role Radar System (MRRS), and Ground Weapons Locator Radar (GWLR) requirements. When the last G/ATOR software upgrade becomes operational, it will replace and consolidate numerous legacy radars, including the AN/TPS-63 air surveillance, AN/MPQ-62 force control, AN/TPS-73 air traffic control, AN/UPS-3 air defense, and AN/TPQ-36/37 artillery tracking & locating radar systems.

The G/ATOR System

NGC on G/ATOR
click to play video

G/ATOR systems were supposed to be transportable in C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft, and by MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotors (underslung), CH-53 heavy helicopters (underslung or internal), or CH-47 heavy lift helicopters (underslung or internal). That’s still sort of true.

The radars themselves were originally slated be mounted on HMMWV jeeps, which would have fit all of these requirements. Issues with weight and protection eventually pushed the Marines to abandon the system’s 3-jeep model, and to make the radar itself a towable trailer.

My ride’s here…
(click to view full)

The system can still be carried in a single C-130, and consists of: (1) a Radar Equipment Group trailer, (2) a Power Equipment Group 60kW generator in an ISO container, and (3) a Communication Equipment Group mounted on a HMMWV. The PEG container will usually be mounted on an MTVR truck, which will also tow the REG trailer. The USMC will also have the option of leaving the truck behind, and airlifting the radar trailer, power container, and C2 HMMWV in 3 separate CH-53 helicopter or MV-22 tilt-rotor loads.

Flexible Fielding: G/ATOR Increments

Incoming…
(click to view full)

The AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR is intended to be a software-based radar. This idea has become common for radios, and many fighter radars offer a number of different modes (air scan, ground looking SAR maps, etc.) via software. The idea for G/ATOR is similar: common hardware that can switch in the field from air traffic control, to aerial volume search and targeting, to artillery counterfire tracking. Northrop Grumman says that some specific switches would require a radar shutdown and restart as the new software is loaded.

This kind of flexibility also lets the USMC field the radar, then add new capabilities via 3 blocks of upgrades:

Initial Increment I/ Block 1 – in testing. supports 2 distinct mission areas: Short range air defense, and air surveillance in tactical air operations centers (TAOC), including baseline IFF (identification, friend or foe). It replaces the AN/UPS-3, AN/MPQ-62, and AN/TPS-63 radar systems. G/ATOR program manager Capt. Lee Bond (USN, ret.) explains one of the advantages it offers:

“There are threats out there today – like small hovering UAVs – that were not envisioned when our legacy radars were developed and fielded a generation ago. So the performance of our legacy radars against those emergent threats on the modern battlefield is spotty at best. The smaller and slower the target gets and the lower to the ground it flies, the trickier it is for the traditional radar to find it. G/ATOR absolutely wipes out those limitations and gives you complete situational awareness of everything in the sky.”

Increment I engineering will allow growth to accommodate all following increments without equipment re-design, and will provide an open architecture that makes it easier to upgrade the computers, computer programs, and firmware in all subsequent increments. Its development phase was supposed to end at the end of April, 2012, but Milestone C approval didn’t come until January 2014.

Increment II/ Block 2 – development underway. will address the Marine Expeditionary Force counter fire/targeting missions, adding ground counter-battery and target acquisition against enemy mortars, rockets, or artillery. It replaces the AN/TPQ-46 radar system.

The baseline requirements remain, and the Marines have added program R&D funding to investigate the potential for additional capabilities within this area.

Increment III – planning only. This set of improvements will actually come after IV. It adds tactical enhancements for the air mission, including decoy/electronic counter-counter measures capabilities, electronic protection equipment and software, sensor netting, an advanced radar environmental simulator (RES), and a logistics integrated data environment (IDE, a computer system for managing and monitoring fleet health, spares supply, maintenance instructions, etc.). “Non-cooperative target recognition” capabilities are very useful for identifying enemies, and they’re even more useful if a Marine Corps Hornet’s IFF system has a problem on the way back in.

There’s no firm timeline for Increment III yet, and its components could change. Future plans involve sensor netting and integration with the USMC’s shoulder-fired Stinger air defense missiles, or their successors.

Increment IV/ Block 4 – RFI out. will add an air traffic control (ATC) capability, which is extremely useful in disaster relief situations like Haiti. IFF Mode 5/S capability has also been moved here. The baseline requirements remain, and the Marines have added program funding to investigate the potential for additional capabilities in this area.

Development will come before Increment III. Existing radars and software for this task are already well-understood, so this was seen as a safer step with a quick payoff. 2015 is the target for development to begin, with late 2018 or 2019 the target for entering service. It will replace the AN/TPS-73 radar system.

The G/ATOR Program

At present, the Marine Corps’ Approved Acquisition Objective is a total of 45 G/ATOR systems, about a 30% drop from the 2005 baseline of 64 systems. The Marines had wanted 81 systems before G/ATOR became a formal program.

G/ATOR began in 2007, and has left the System Design and Development (SDD/EMD) Phase to begin low-rate production. Formal government developmental testing (DT) is underway. Initial DT1B1, DT1B2, and DT1B3 phases have been completed at Wallops Island, VA, and Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ.

Tactically, the TPS-80 G/ATOR will fit below the USMC’s existing AN/TPS-59 long-range radars, offering less range, but finer detail within its scan radius. An evolved version may even replace the USMC’s longer-range radars, under the joint service 3DELRR (“3-dealer”) program, though the initial 2014 award went to a Raytheon offering before GAO challenges were filed.

G/ATOR TPS-80: Technology Challenges

Now: TPS-63
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Once all of these increments are implemented, AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR will use its active electronically scanned array (AESA) technology to provide aircraft detection, tracking, and engagement; cruise-missile detection and engagement; ground-weapon location; and military air-traffic control – all in one package.

Radars are all about time & energy management. That has traditionally involved electronic hardware, but these days it relies more on software: marshaling and directing the energies required, placing them high or low as needed, emitting signals at precise times to shape them. The electronics and software must collect and analyze the results, in order to create the right kind of “complete” picture. G/ATOR’s various tasks have very different, even contradictory time/energy requirements. Fulfilling those tasks would require a radar that offered new levels of flexibility.

Both the Marines and Northrop Grumman acknowledged the challenges up front. It has been treated as a technologically difficult program since its inception in 2007.

Making G/ATOR thinkable

APG-81 test mount
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A trio of technology developments made G/ATOR thinkable.

The 1st was a growing trend toward active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, which are composed of thousands of individual solid state transmit/receive modules that can operate individually or in assigned groups. In addition to the flexibility they offer, AESA radars have smaller sidelobes beyond the main beam focus, which helps to reduce false alarms for applications like counterfire targeting.

The 2nd trend is the growing dominance of software over hardware, especially in controlling and interpreting information from AESA-type radars. Northrop Grumman already had experience implementing different modes in its AESA fighter radars, including a project to turn them into high-bandwidth communications relays.

In G/ATOR’s case, the connection was very direct. Northrop Grumman personnel have confirmed that the F-35 fighter’s AN/APG-81 radar technologies were adapted for use in G/ATOR, and that it will use the APG-81 facility and production line.

The 3rd trend is Moore’s Law, which makes an exponentially-increasing level of computing power available to control radar systems and analyze their returns.

These advances make G/ATOR thinkable, but actually developing it requires very advanced engineering expertise. This is especially true when the radar in question will face the kinds of ground environments and general unpleasantness associated with the US Marines, as opposed to clean air force maintenance hangars and navy decks.

Northrop Grumman’s management made a decision that the benefits of a successful program justified a significant corporate commitment, and gave the program access to top talent within the firm. Now, all they had to do was execute.

Execution, Without Dying

The new G/ATOR
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Every program encounters engineering and financial challenges, and G/ATOR has been no exception.

Creating a radar that can do all of these things, while taking Marine Corps level abuse, required new engineering. To offer just a few examples:

Weight. The ability to take Marine Corps level abuse also requires survivability. Which meant extra weight. The program’s shift away from 3 unarmored and integrated HMMWVs to a “MTVR truck + trailer + HMMWV” configuration cost the development team about a year for re-design, refining, and approval.

Temperature. G/ATOR is designed to operate in ambient temperatures of -40 to +55 degrees Centigrade, and must keep its electronics at a common temperature to avoid data errors. Instead of using heavy 2-stage cooling systems, however, the radar uses forced circulation from fans blowing ambient uncooled air through the array. As a side-benefit, that made the radar lighter.

Scope. These basic design challenges were exacerbated by scope increases, as potential flexibility became thinkable and then real. This is exciting, because new capabilities create additional growth opportunities, and new potential uses. On the other hand, it’s also taxing to a design team already challenged by the core project.

Upgradeability. Then there’s the double-edged sword that is Moore’s Law of geometrically expanding processor chip power.

If a chip is obsolete in 5 years, and may not be produced at all in 10, but the radar must last 30 years, what is one to do? One option is to switch to a processor with 100% more growth capacity early in the project. Given Moore’s Law, that only buys you about 5 more years, maybe 10 at the most. The US military’s growing insistence on open systems architectures and modularity (OSA/ MOSA) will help make future swap-ins easier, but OSA/MOSA implementations are not created equal. Engineering design quality is the difference, which takes time.

Gallium Nitride. Quality engineering also opens new doors, because base technology matters. Thinning air for the generator’s carburetor currently pushes the TPS-80’s PEG below its full 60 kW power output at altitude. Back in 2007, the US military was near the beginning of its efforts to use Gallium Nitride (GaN) as a more efficient semiconductor material. More efficiency equals better performance, so the promise was clear, but the development risks weren’t. In response, the program stuck with conventional Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) electronics, but conducted studies and planned for a switch down the road.

Those studies showed that GaN circuits could draw just 50 kW for full radar power, allowing full effectiveness at 10,000 feet or beyond. Higher altitude naturally improves a radar’s field of view, and is a defining feature in places like Afghanistan, so the tactical impact is significant.

By 2012, research had made considerable advances thanks to investments by DARPA, the US Army, the USAF, and defense firms. The USMC kept its promise to set aside funds for the GaN switch, and USAF development dollars from the 3DELRR program built on good engineering and early planning to help complete the shift. In late FY 2013, the G/ATOR program office began the technology switch from to GaN.

Not cheap.
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Finally, there’s the financial end.

On the bad news front, the deliberate devaluation of the US dollar pushed a huge rise in gold’s American dollar price from 2007, which has backed off somewhat for now. Gold’s rise has been the subject of many reports, but few link that to gold’s industrial use in the kinds of high-fidelity connectors needed by a radar’s advanced electronics.

On the good news front, G/ATOR has made enough progress that it’s attracting interest in early deployment. That can be dangerous to a program, because the system will still have gaps, which can be exploited by politicians as an excuse to remove funding. The G/ATOR team has had to think hard about this, and one of their conclusions was that they could leverage Urgent Operational Requirements to finish the production program 3 years early. Faster replacement means less money spent maintaining earlier radars, which aren’t in ideal shape. It would also cut 3 years of variable costs out of production.

The current trend is to stretch defense programs out into costlier timelines, in order to save a bit of money each year. Events get a vote, however, and it remains to be seen whether G/ATOR manages to buck the general trend.

G/ATOR TPS-80: Industrial Partners

Industrial partners for the G/ATOR TPS-80 program include:

  • Northrop Grumman (prime contractor)
  • Caterpillar Logistics in Morton, IL.
  • CEA Technologies, Inc. in Canberra, Australia (radar expertise, also involved in the CEAFAR/CEAMount project for Australia).
  • Curtiss Wright.
  • Moog Industries.
  • Saab-Sensis Corporation in Syracuse, NY.
  • Stanley/Techrizon in Lawton, OK. Formerly Telos.

G/ATOR: Beyond the Marines

3DELRR

G/ATOR began with the Marines, but its team doesn’t expect it to stay there.

When their Highly Expeditionary Long-Range Surveillance Radar program fell victim to budget constraints, the Marines joined the USAF’s 3DELRR air and ballistic missile defense program. In a 2012 interview, G/ATOR program manager Capt. Lee Bond said that G/ATOR’s scope would provide 85% of 3DELRR’s specifications, with the additional capabilities from increments II & IV thrown in for free. He believes that using G/ATOR as a base could cut 2 years from development time, and lower costs by 20% due to economies of scale. Northrop Grumman has openly stated their intent to pursue this path.

Bond also believes that G/ATOR would exceed the expected specifications for the US Army’s coming Multi-Mission Radar solicitation, depending on how the Army defines “simultaneous” multi-mission capability.

Northrop Grumman remains interested in future naval applications, which could lead to scaled G/ATOR technologies equipping smaller ships like the USA’s Littoral Combat Ships, or being incorporated into emerging multi-band radar naval arrays like AMDR. Northrop Grumman will say only that they’re looking at naval applications, and a November 2013 ONR study will look at replacing many of the US Navy’s older air surveillance radars with a G/ATOR derivative.

Then, there are foreign buys. The USA isn’t the only country worried about finding a very different set of targets on modern battlefields, or needing high-performance artillery-tracking radars for deployments abroad. Budget cuts in some countries make multi-mission radars attractive, and Northrop Grumman’s experience has been that ground-based radar exports have been worth 2.0x – 2.5x the value of American orders.

Official expressions of interest aren’t possible until a new system is cleared for those discussions, but Northrop Grumman says that they’ve receive a number of unofficial expressions of interest. Once G/ATOR passes Milestone C and can move into Low-Rate Initial Production, the USMC will be freer to respond to official inquiries from foreign governments. That happened in January 2014.

TPQ-53 on truck
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Northrop Grumman’s competitors haven’t been idle, of course. Lockheed Martin is busy introducing its new AN/TPQ-53 counter-battery radar, while Raytheon has its MPQ-64 Improved Sentinel series of air defense radars. Abroad, Saab’s Giraffe series of land and sea radars already fuses air surveillance and counter-battery targeting, and their Giraffe 4A is designed as a next-generation capability with the same capabilities as G/ATOR Block 2. All of these radars can also take advantage of new technologies, and some variants offer features within G/ATOR’s proposed set.

On the other hand, the TPS-53 grew out of an Army RFP that optimized its architecture for the counter-battery mission, making future additions and changes more difficult. The MPQ-64 Sentinel is a widely-used air defense radar, but its parameters re: range, elevation angle, power, etc. create their own limitations. Both competitors are likely to see continued improvement, but G/ATOR’s level of back-end integration remains unique, and its architecture is likely to give it rate-of-improvement advantages per dollar spent. To date, the TPS-80 G/ATOR remains the only Pentagon JROC-approved program that has funded integration of all of these capabilities into 1 system.

Contracts & Key Events

Unless otherwise noted, US Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA issues all contracts to Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems unit in Linthicum Heights, MD.

FY 2014 – 2019

LRIP contracts begin; Tracking works well, but TPS-80 has reliability issues; 3DELRR loss is appealed; Contract to examine TPS-80 as a ship radar; G/ATOR to get BMD capability?

Oorah!
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February 14/19: MMR for the Netherlands The Dutch Ministry of Defense awarded Thales a contract for nine Multi Mission Radars (MMR) designed for artillery, air surveillance, air defense, and security applications. The MMR – marketed as the GM200 MM/Compact – is the latest version of the T- and S-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar family, developed for ground applications including air surveillance, weapon locating, and counter-battery missions. The MMR sees and records targets easily and in real-time. Its radar is fully automatic, designed to detect, track, and classify a large number of targets including rockets, artillery shells, mortar rounds, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), aircraft, helicopters, and cruise missiles. The value of the contract was not disclosed. The radars will be delivered to the Royal Netherlands Army starting 2021.

May 11/17: The USMC has received its first low rate initial production (LRIP) AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) system. Developed and produced by Northrop Grumman, five additional systems will be delivered under the terms of the October 2014 contract. G/ATOR will replace five legacy systems operated by the Marines, providing significant improvements in performance when compared with the legacy radar families in each of its modes. The systems take advantage of Northrop’s expertise in C4ISR, and includes software loads that optimize the multi-mission capabilities of the radar to perform each mission.

December 6/16: As part of efforts to upgrade USMC radar capabilities, Saab has received an $18.6 million contract to provide supporting AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar components. The contract was awarded by lead contractor Northrop Grumman, work will include major subsystem delivery and assembly in addition to software for the next 9 low-rate initial production units. Saab delivered the first six systems for the program in previous contracts. Its next deliveries are expected to begin in 2018.

September 8/16: Northrop Grumman is to produce and deliver nine AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) AESA air defense radar systems to the USMC. The manufacturer already had an order for six G/ATORs under the low rate initial production (LRIP) phase, this latest contract brings the total number ordered to 15. It’s expected that the first AN/TPS-80 will be delivered in February 2017.

September 2/16: Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $375 million Navy contract for procurement of the Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) system. Due for completion in 2020, the contract will cover nine G/ATOR low-rate initial production systems. G/ATOR provides a highly mobile, multi-mission radar system designed to support global expeditionary requirements and offers multi-faceted detection and tracking capabilities to engage a range of hostile threats while providing robust air traffic control.

Nov 3/14: USMC Plan. The USMC’s Aviation Plan to 2030 deals with radars as well. G/ATOR may have lost the 3DELRR competition for now (q.v. Oct 21-22/14), but it might gain a ballistic missile defense capability anyway:

“TPS-80 Block III is not a formal acquisition program, but consists of software developments that will enhance the radar’s performance and capabilities. Threats will continue to evolve over the course of the radar’s lifecycle and maintaining currency to detect emerging threats will remain a priority…. These software upgrades may include but are not limited to, Non-Cooperative Targeting Recognition (NCTR), Electronic Protection (EP) and Theatre Ballistic Missile (TBM) Tracking.”

If the USMC does go ahead with Increment III, they’ll have some interesting choices to make. Sources: USMC, Marine Aviation Plan 2015 [PDF].

Oct 23/14: A $207.3 million contract modification for 4 G/ATOR low-rate initial production systems, including operating spares, contractor engineering services and support, developmental and operational test support, and transition to production. $175.6 million is committed immediately, using FY 2013 and 2014 USMC RDT&E and Procurement funds; $94.7 million will expire on Sept 30/15.

Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, Maryland (55%); East Syracuse, NY (24%); Stafford Springs, CT (5%); San Diego, CA (5%); Big Lake, MN (3%); Londonderry, NH (2%); High Point, North Carolina (2%); Wallingford Center, CT (2%); Camarillo, CA (1%); and Woodbridge, IL (1%), and is expected to be complete by October 2017 (M67854-07-C-2072).

4 LRIP radars

Oct 21-22/14: GAO PRotests. The USAF confirms that Northrop Grumman has formally issued a protest against the USAF’s 3DELRR award to Raytheon. The next day, Lockheed Martin confirms that they are also filing a protest.

That halts the program until the challenge receives a ruling, which could take up to 100 days. In order to succeed, the challengers need to show that either Raytheon’s radar isn’t technically acceptable, that it wasn’t the lowest priced – or that something in the process went awry, ensuring that that competitors were treated differently or criteria weren’t applied fairly. Sources: See DID’s GAO Primer | Defense News, “Northrop Challenges 3DELRR Contract Award” | Reuters, “UPDATE 1-Lockheed Martin challenges contract to Raytheon”.

Oct 6/14: Raytheon wins. Raytheon is on quite the radar streak lately, adding the USAF’s 3DELRR area air and missile defense radar to its naval AMDR win.

3DELRR loss, and appeal

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. Our program dashboard has been updated accordingly. G/ATOR technologies are mature and its design is stable and demonstrated, but its production processes are not yet mature. Fortunately, the performance-boosting GaN technology for the T/R modules is maturing on schedule. Unfortunately, G/ATOR has a number of issues with system startup, random crashes, operator control console freezes, and an unstable command and control interface (q.v. Jan 28/14). In response:

“The G/ATOR program office has put together a plan to incorporate software fixes to correct system start up and prevent crashes. Some hardware alterations may be required. The program office plans to increase and improve system performance by upgrading the software integration lab to support accelerated testing and conducting field testing with users every six months to demonstrate reliability growth and operational relevance….

The program is authorized to procure 57 G/ATOR systems; however, only 45 were funded in the fiscal year 2014 President’s budget. According to the program office, the 12 unfunded G/ATOR systems will require funding by fiscal year 2016 in order to meet initial operational capability…. In addition, the concurrent development and production of G/ATOR may be adversely affected by personnel shortages caused, in part, by the impending retirement of highly experienced acquisition workforce staff.”

January 2014: Milestone C approval is given to the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR Block 1 radar, which allows low-rate initial production contracts to begin. Sources: GAO-13-294SP, “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” (q.v. March 31/14).

Milestone C

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). G/ATOR is included, and it seems to be having serious software issues, creating MTBOMF of 42.8 hours in the Field User Evaluation instead of the 500 hour goal:

“G/ATOR reliability-related software deficiencies have continued and have kept the radar from meeting its Mean Time Between Operational Mission Failure (MTBOMF) requirements. After allowing additional time for the software to further mature prior to the program’s Milestone C decision (scheduled for 1QFY14), the program added a fourth developmental test period to assess improvement…. it remains unclear if G/ATOR will meet key reliability metrics by the start of IOT&E (scheduled for 3QFY17)….

500 hours MTBOMF cannot be realistically achieved within the context of the current G/ATOR test schedule through IOT&E…. The program has not yet finalized an acceptable reliability growth strategy, has not completed an adequate test design for the IOT&E…. Over 80 percent of the Block 1 and Block 2 procurement is planned with GaN radar modules, yet it remains unclear if adequate production representative versions of the system will be available in time for IOT&E.”

Dec 4/13: Testing. Northrop Grumman announces that G/ATOR tests at MCAS Yuma have been successful, including support for 2 Weapons and Tactics Instruction (WTI) events. The firm says that the TPS-80 “detected and tracked targets that other systems at the exercise were not able to”, extracting targets from heavy clutter backgrounds and exceeding its objective-level (best case) availability requirements.

We’ll have to wait until early in 2014 to read the DOT&E’s report, but it sounds like the program is headed to Milestone C and Low-Rate Initial Production. Sources: Northrop Grumman, Dec 4/13 release.

Nov 6/13: Saltwater G/ATOR? Northrop Grumman announces an 18-month, $6 million study to explore replacement options for the US Navy’s AN/SPS-48 (all carriers, LHA/LHD amphibious air support, and LPD-17 amphibious ships) and AN/SPS-49 (all carriers, FFG-7 frigates, CG-47 cruisers, LHD amphibious air support, LSD-41/49 amphibious ships) air surveillance radars.

The Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR) Study’s terms of reference would modify an existing radar to act in this capacity, and Northrop Grumman states that they’ll be using their AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR. Existing FFG-7 frigates are too old and limited to be good upgrade candidates, and the CG-47 cruisers and LSD ships are currently in the middle of major modernizations. With that said, the pace of major ship maintenance periods still leaves the USN with a number of options if they decide that this is a good idea. EASR is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research under its Integrated Topside program. Sources: NGC, Nov 6/13 release.

FY 2010 – 2013

System development extended; Testing begins; Increment II begins.

G/ATOR REG
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Sept 11/13: GaN. A $10.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification will raise the EMD Phase cost ceiling, in order to fund G/ATOR’s transition to Gallium Nitride electronics. GaN improves the radar’s performance, which allows the Marines to either push it harder or throttle back the generator. Fueling generators adds to both logistics burdens and operational risk, and even with full fuel, G/ATOR was falling short at higher altitudes that sap its generator’s power. GaN electronics offers full performance at just 50 kW, instead of the generator’s sea-level limit of 60 kW. Since higher altitude equals a wider field of view, the difference matters on the battlefield.

The G/ATOR program has always known about this difference, but it chose to wait until the underlying electronics were more proven, and the industrial infrastructure made it a low-risk switch. Time has delivered both changes, and development financing from the 3DELRR program (q.v. Aug 26/13) appears to have bridged the last technical gaps within the TPS-80 design.

Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD, and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/14. This contract wasn’t competitively procured, as it’s within the scope of the current contract and its changes clause (M67854-07-C-2072, PO 0115).

GaN transition

Aug 26/13: 3DELRR. Northrop Grumman announces that they completed their 3DELRR radar demonstration back in July. They refer to it as “The U.S. Air Force system variant of the Department of Defense AN/TPS-80 radar…” but unlike the USMC’s current G/ATORs, this S-band radar uses Gallium Nitride transmit/receive modules. That technology is in the USMC’s plans, and the development work may pay off for the Marines, just as all the work on the USMC’s TPS-80 G/ATOR would offer dividends to the USAF.

As one might expect, given their design’s lineage, Northrop Grumman also touts “successful system ambient air cooling under extremely hot operating conditions,” as well as the radar’s well-developed system self-test and calibration capabilities. Sources: Northrop Grumman Aug 26/13 release.

June 28/13: More SDD. Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Linthicum Heights, MD receives a $24.5 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract modification that increases the G/ATOR EMD phase’s estimated ceiling cost.

These price hikes parcel out as $21.1 million for development using FY 2013 funds, with $13.6 million committed immediately. EMD work will be performed Linthicum Heights, MD (88%); Yuma, AZ (10%); and Syracuse, NY (2%), and is expected to be complete by April 25/14.

The added $3.4 million for extra production engineering support uses FY 2012 funds, with all funds committed immediately. Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (81%), and Syracuse, NY (19%), and is expected to be complete by Feb 16/14.

This brings announced EMD contracts to around $533.7 million, but the GAO’s August 2012 figures already had G/ATOR development spending pegged at $539.5 million of a planned $893.1 million. The gap is easily explained, as announcements only cover contracts above a certain threshold. Note that the original baseline for G/ATOR development was $364.3 million in $FY13 (M67854-07-C-2072).

May 24/13: SAR. The Pentagon finally releases its Dec 31/12 Selected Acquisitions Report [PDF]. The news isn’t good for the G/ATOR program, which is shrinking sharply, again, even as the number of Marines has risen. G/ATOR numbers have now shrunk by about 30% since the program’s inception:

“Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) – Program costs decreased $912.1 million (-27.4%) from $3,325.9 million to $2,413.8 million, due primarily to a decrease in quantity of 12 systems from 57 to 45 systems (-$464.0 million) and associated estimating allocation (+$0.9 million) and a revised cost estimate for anticipated production efficiencies associated with funded design investments (-$447.0 million). Other decreases were attributable to a reduction in support costs (-$52.2 million) and initial spares requirements (-$12.9 million) resulting from investment in efficiencies and economic order discounts. These decreases were partially offset by increases to the cost estimates for investments in the production efficiency initiative (+$33.3 million) and technology refresh assumptions and associated potential future change orders (+$18.8 million), and the application of revised escalation indices (+$27.5 million).”

SAR – another radar cut

April 15/13: Budget. The FY14 request submitted by the Navy barely changes from the previous year’s budget, at $78.2 million. FY16 also remains stable, but FY15 and FY17 are lower by $19 million and $26 million respectively. Air Defense/Air Radar AD/SR Capability System Demonstration (DT)(1B) and Operational Assessment (OA) are extended by 2 quarters, while LRIP and Milestone C both slip by 1 quarter. Milestones further out in the plan (IOT&E, IOC, FRP decision) are supposed to be unaffected by these changes earlier in the schedule. US Navy PE 0204460M [PDF].

March 28/13: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. G/ATOR appears for the 1st time, and the overall report is good.

GAO acknowledges that performance requirements for G/ATOR have grown from 5 key performance parameters in 2005, to 16 in 2012. Program officials describe this as a “clarification,” but there’s no question that KPP expansion creates more development work. This explains some, but not all, of the program 145% RDT&E jump since the 2005 baseline. Overall program cost is up 101.2%, to $3.034 billion as of June 2012, despite a drop from 64 to 57 radars.

On the bright side, things have been much more stable since the program was re-baselined in January 2010. All 6 critical TPS-80 technologies are approaching full maturity, with 100% of design drawings released, using GaAS (Gallium Arsenide) electronics. The GAO gives no specific timeline for incorporation of better GaN (Gallium Nitride) electronics, but does say the program could save as much as $500 million from the change, while reducing weight and power demand.

Dec 21/12: More SDD. An $8.6 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification to increase G/ATOR’s estimated EMD (same as SDD) phase cost ceiling, in light of an expected cost overrun. $2.1 million is committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (75%) and Syracuse, NY (11%); Wallop’s Island, VA (11%) and Yuma, AZ (3%); and is expected to be complete April 25/14 (M67854-07-C-2072).

July 26/12: Testing. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s initial AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR Increment 1 system has been delivered to Surface Combat Systems Center (SCSC) Wallops Island in Eastern Virginia for G/ATOR’s 1st and 2nd phases of developmental testing. Yuma, AZ will host the 3rd and final DT phase, and operational assessment. NGC.

June 6/12: Increment II. The USMC is asking Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector in Linthicum Heights, MD to begin developing G/ATOR’s Increment II Ground Weapons Locating Radar (GWLR) software, which will track incoming shells and rockets back to their point of origin. The amount of the contract has yet to be negotiated. Military Aerospace & Electronics.

Dec 7/11: More SDD. A $32.3 million contract modification for the continuation of GATOR Increment I, to support the changes made to the risk reduction change order.

Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (95%), and Syracuse, NY (5%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/13. This contract modification was not competitively procured, as the contract effort is within the scope of the current contract and is entered into pursuant to the changes clause (M67854-07-C-2072).

Nov 17/11: Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that its 1st Ground Based Radar Conference drew more than 90 attendees over 3 days, representing 10 nations. Besides the G/ATOR system, Northrop Grumman also sells AN/TPS-78 and AN/TPS-703 solid-state tactical mobile radar systems; and the Highly Adaptable Multi-Mission Radar (HAMMR) AESA radar for on-the-move, 360 degree coverage.

Feb 7/11: Testing. Northrop Grumman announces that they’ve integrated all subsystems of the AN/TPS-80 Ground / Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) system. This 1st complete system is currently undergoing system-level integration, performance, and live target testing at the company’s Electronic Systems sector engineering and manufacturing complex, located next to Baltimore’s Washington International Marshall Airport.

As noted above, G/ATOR’s subsystems include the Radar Equipment Group (REG, AESA antenna and all associated control and processing electronics) mounted on a lightweight tactical trailer, the Communications Equipment Group (CEG) and the Power Equipment Group (PEG).

1st complete G/ATOR I

Feb 4/11: More SDD. A $38.3 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification, extending the GATOR Increment I development program. It will support the agreed-upon expansions to the original integrated performance baseline, and extend the contract’s period through April 30/12.

Work will be performed in a contractor facility at Linthicum Heights, MD (85%); and by Northrop Grumman’s subcontractor, Sensis Corp., located in Syracuse, NY (15%). Work is expected to be complete in April 2012 (M67854-07-C-2072).

April 5/10: Testing. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces the next system test phase.

This phase will use a fully populated G/ATOR array, complete with all transmit/receive modules, radiating elements, prime power and distribution, RF manifold, and associated control and processing electronics. This newest series of tests includes detailed verification that the G/ATOR’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) hardware will support all of the system’s multi-mission capabilities, and demonstration of all required AESA functions including beam generation, steering and control, performance at full rated power, operating bandwidth and automated array calibration techniques.

Testing of this array is taking place at the company’s antenna test facility in Norwalk, CT; in 2009, a prototype partial G/ATOR array was tested at the same facility, and expanded testing on that prototype radar array continues at NGC’s engineering and manufacturing complex in Baltimore. Once the 2nd, full array completes testing, it will be integrated with the other G/ATOR components for the next levels: full systems-level integration testing, and subsequent environmental testing.

January 2010: G/ATOR program is re-baselined due to cost and requirements growth. Source: GAO.

Re-baselined

Dec 29/09: More SDD. A $35.5 million contract modification increases the estimated cost ceiling and target cost of CLIN0001, finalizing change orders to the configuration the G/ATOR’s new up-armored MTVR carrier trucks. It also covers the modification and implementation of the upgraded UPX-40 as the identification-friend-or-foe system, and a change of the IFF system from government furnished property to contractor-acquired government property.

Approximately 80% of the work will be performed by Northrop Grumman in Linthicum Heights, MD, and approximately 20% will be performed by Northrop Grumman’s subcontractor, Sensis Corp. in Syracuse, NY. The contract modification was not competitively procured, as the contract cost increase is within scope of the current contract and is entered into pursuant to the changes clause (M67854-07-C-2072).

Dec 10/09: Program support. General Dynamics Information Technology in Fairfax, VA received a $5.8 million task order under a firm-fixed-price contract. They’ll provide on-going technical, managerial and logistics support for Program Executive Office – Land Systems, Program Manager Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR).

Emerging development efforts include engineering, architecture and logistical analysis of G/ATOR. Support requirements include supporting the G/ATOR Milestone C processes, and engineering and technical reviews (since Milestone B is complete). Additional support requirements include development and maintenance of programmatic information to be displayed in a G/ATOR Program Operations Center, information security, admin support, information assurance, joint interoperability, family of system definition/development and business analysis to define investment strategies, contract administration, planning programming and budgeting planning, logistics support, equipment specialist, earned value management system, program management plan support and cost/risk assessments. Due to in-sourcing, cost proposal and analysis efforts will not be required.

Support requirements include for the contractor to conduct/complete the logistics assessment of the manpower, personnel and training requirements and facilities analysis needed to support G/ATOR, the development of Manpower Training Integrated project team, to use as input and/or the development of the Manpower Personnel and Training plan. Work will be performed in Quantico, VA, and the contract will end in December 2010. The Marine Corps System Command in Quantico, VA manages the contract (M67854-02-A-9014, #0042).

Nov 16/09: More SDD. A $44.5 million modification under previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract. It increases the estimated cost ceiling for the G/ATOR’s SDD phase, target cost, and target cost plus target fee of contract line item number 0001 by $17.5 million to reflect “undefinitized change orders for the UPX40,” which is an identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system. Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (75%), and Syracuse, NY (25%), and is expected to be complete on Sept 15/11. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

That alternation also confirms a change in G/ATOR’s intended towing vehicle, from Humvee jeeps to up-armored MTVR medium trucks. Experiences in Iraq caused the Marines to re-think their intended use of Humvees, and their MTVR trucks with TAK-4 suspension for all-terrain mobility were the natural next step up. The change would improve the radar’s mobility and survivability, at the cost of added weight and limited helicopter portability. The radar module itself will remain helicopter-portable, but its accompanying vehicle will not be – unless the USMC decides to mount G/ATOR on a modified M-ATV MRAP, or future vehicles like the JLTV Category C.

Another contract modification increases the estimated cost ceiling, target cost and target cost plus target fee of contract line item number 0001 by an additional $27 million, to reflect the estimated cost increase associated with the 9-month schedule extension (M67854-07-C-2072).

New vehicle platform

Oct 6/09: More SDD. A $14 million modification under a previously awarded contract to increase the estimated cost ceiling for G/ATOR system development and demonstration to reflect its anticipated cost overrun. The contract modification was not competitively procured, as the cost overrun is within scope of the current contract, and is entered into pursuant to the changes clause. Discussions with US MARSYSCOM indicate that this increase is cumulative with the March 2009 ceiling increase.

Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (75%) and Syracuse, NY (25%), and is expected to be complete in September 2011. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (M67854-07-C-2072).

Oct 5/09: Testing. Northrop Grumman announces that a prototype G/ATOR partial array antenna has completed successful testing at a company antenna test range in Norwalk, CT. The partial array is now being integrated with additional radar subsystems for follow-on testing at Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector headquarters in Baltimore, MD. Meanwhile, a 2nd G/ATOR AESA is scheduled for testing at the Norwalk, CT test facility later in 2009.

The G/ATOR AESA array can be thought of as “networked mini-radars,” so meeting all test objectives with a partial array that includes transmit/receive functionality, hardware and software communications, array tuning, and calibration techniques gives Northrop Grumman a high degree of confidence that the first fully populated array (currently under integration/test) will likewise be a success. Northrop Grumman representatives told DID that some test objectives were exceeded, and all were met. They added that their goal was, and is, to field a test radar that is as close to Full Rate Production versions as possible, using the same people and processes.

FY 2006 – 2009

SDD re-award, after initial award canceled; Additional funds and cost overruns, incl. early finding for interaction design.

G/ATOR concept
(click to view full)

March 3/09: More SDD. A maximum $40.5 million contract modification reflect the anticipated cost overrun associated with completion of the G/ATOR’s SDD phase. The contract modification was not competitively procured, as the cost overrun is designated as being within the scope of the current contract.

Northrop Grumman estimated an additional $36 million to complete the SDD phase, of which the Government is immediately funding $16.8 million to support contract requirements for completing the Critical Design Review (CDR) scheduled from March to mid-April 2009. In addition, the contract modification increases the contract value by $4.5 million for engineering services and support over the life of the contract through June 2012. Those engineering services will be requested on an as-needed basis, and the Government has begun by requesting $238,695.

Work will be performed by Northrop Grumman Corp., in Linthicum Heights, MD (69%), and by Northrop Grumman’s subcontract, Sensis in Syracuse, NY (31%). Of the total funds obligated with this contract modification so far, $120,215 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (M67854-07-C-2072, P00024).

Dec 19/08: Sub-contractors. A $6.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract for Human Systems Integration (HSI) work, to be completed by June 2012. Work will be performed by Northrop Grumman Corporation in Linthicum Heights, MD (69%), and by their subcontractor Sensis, in Syracuse, NY (31%). The modification was not competitively procured, sine it’s classified as an engineering change within scope of the current contract (M67854-07-C-2072):

“The contractor shall develop and implement a plan to effectively apply HSI principles during G/ATOR design, production and integration. The contractor shall ensure Human Factors Engineering, Manpower, Personnel, Training, System Safety, Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health (ESOH), and Personnel Survivability requirements are incorporated into the layout, design, and arrangement of equipment having an operator or maintainer interface.”

As technology companies in Silicon Valley and beyond are beginning to realize, serious interaction design generally needs to begin earlier in the process. This is an improvement over the frequent practice of saving HSI for last, when it’s very difficult to change anything no matter what the findings show.

June 26/08: PDR. Northrop Grumman announces that G/ATOR has completed its 3 1/2 day Preliminary Design Review (PDR) at Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Electronic Systems sector headquarters, granting approval to proceed to critical design. The PDR involved an extensive U.S. government review and subsequent approval of the G/ATOR system and subsystem design for both hardware and software, including a program management review of cost and schedule.

The PDR was attended by more than 70 Marine Corps, Navy, Army, and other Department of Defense officials and civilian subject matter experts. NGC release.

PDR

June 17/08: More SDD. A $28.2 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to extend the schedule by 8 1/2 months and increase the level of effort for G/ATOR system development and demonstration.

At this time, no additional funds are being committed, but the option is there if additional support and engineering effort is needed. Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (75%) and East Syracuse, NY (25%) and is expected to be complete December 2016 if all options are exercised (M67854-07-C-2072).

March 10/08: Sub-contractors. Curtiss-Wright Corporation announces a contract from Northrop Grumman to provide their new VPX boards and subsystems, high density digital signal processing products and optimized software tools.. The result will be a rugged air-flow-through radar processing subsystem using open architecture-based standards and software.

The initial $4.3 million contract is for development, which is expected to be complete in 2010. This subsystem will be designed and manufactured at Curtiss-Wright’s motion control facility in San Diego, CA, and will include products from its Leesburg, VA and Ottawa, Canada locations. The production phase of the G/ATOR program will be executed as an option under the current contract, and is planned to start in 2010.

Feb 27/08: No fries, chips. A $10.7 million modification to previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for design and development of a new Serial Rapid I/O processor for the G/ATOR. Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (75%) and East Syracuse, NY (25%), and is expected to be complete March 2011 (M67854-07-C-2072).

Sept 6/07: SRR. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) successfully reviewed and agreed upon 768 G/ATOR contractual design requirements during the recent System Requirements Review (SRR) held at Northrop Grumman’s Electronic Systems sector headquarters in Baltimore, MD. NGC release.

March 30/07: Northrop Grumman wins again, with a $256.6 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for System Development and Demonstration of the USMC’s Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR), Increment I. The contract includes a Radar Environmental Simulator (RES); alternative generator; the G/ATOR Technical Data Package; Model Driven Architecture Models; interim contractor logistics support; and performance based logistics; Other direct costs and travel; and engineering services and support.

The Pentagon DefenseLINK’s announcement also cites production of 2 G/ATOR Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) systems, and 13 full-rate production (FRP) G/ATOR systems. Northrop Grumman’s release cites 2 LRIP and 15 FRP systems. A 2012 change revised that to just 8 LRIP systems.

Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (75%) and East Syracuse, NY (25%) and is expected to be complete in March 2016, if all options are exercised. This contract is a result of a full and open competition solicitation available to industry via the Navy Electronic Commerce Office, with 5 offers received (M67854-07-C-2072).

Main System Development

Sept 16/05: Initial SDD. A $7.95 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar (G/ATOR) Increment I system development and demonstration. Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD (75%) and East Syracuse, NY (25%) and is expected to be complete September 2009. The award is a result of a full and open competition solicitation that was available via the Internet, with 5 offers received (M67854-05-C-2000).

Northrop Grumman’s Sept 22/05 release estimated the total value of the contract at $125 million over 4 years and 4 system capability increments. It doesn’t matter, because the award is protested, and the Navy decides to re-compete it.

Canceled SDD

Additional Readings & Sources Background: AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR

DID thanks the personnel of Northrop Grumman for multiple interviews over the life of this article.

 

News & Views

 

Related Systems

  • DID – USA Developing New 3DELRR Long-Range Ground Radar. Northrop Grumman believes that a scaled-up version of G/ATOR would fit, but lost to Raytheon before submitting a GAO challenge.

  • Northrop Grumman – AN/APG-81 AESA Radar. Its technical design contributed to Northrop Grumman’s G/ATOR solution.

  • DID – TPQ-53 Counterfire Radars: Incoming…. Originally developed to track incoming artillery and rockets, and locate their source. It stemmed from a 2002 research effort whose scope was similar to G/ATOR’s, and the Army is now talking about extending the Lockheed Martin radar’s capabilities to include air defense. Other extensions may follow.

  • Saab – Giraffe 4X. Truck-mounted AESA radar for air defense and counterfire missions.

  • ThalesRaytheon – AN/MPQ-64F1 Improved Sentinel. Integrated into NASAMS/ SL-AMRAAM air defense systems, but they’ve developed an additional C-RAM counterfire mode.

  • US Marine Corps (July 3/07) – New radar system brings the fight back to terrorists. They’re talking about the 150 lb. Lightweight Counter-Mortar Radar deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Its convenient, tactically-useful size means that it may continue to exist alongside the vehicle-mounted G/ATOR Increment III, despite have some function overlap.

  • DID (July 20/06) – Germany Orders New AESA Battlefield Radars. Cover the German BUR system, which will be mounted on blast-resistant Dingo 2 vehicles.

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

India Selects S-70B as Its Naval Multi Role Helicopter… No more.

Defense Industry Daily - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 04:50

Indian Ka-28
(click to view larger)

In September 2008, Flight International reported that India’s defence ministry has issued a tender for “advanced multirole naval helicopters” to several manufacturers around the world, including AgustaWestland, EADS and Sikorsky. The initial RFP reportedly covered 16 helicopters, with a potential expansion to 60 helicopters.

The problem, as usual, is that nothing happened for years, while critical Indian defenses were left rotting. India’s naval sphere of influence is growing, and the country purchased long-range P-8i jets to improve its territorial coverage. Unfortunately, that can’t paper over a glaring hole in India’s defenses. The Navy currently has many high-end ships without serious naval helicopter capability. Few of their Russian Ka-28s are still fit for service, and their small and aged Sea King fleet faces both technological and airframe limitations. It’s a terrible policy for a country that continues to add high-cost, high-value ships to its fleet, in a region with more and better submarines.

Finally, by the end of 2014 India indicated interest in expediting its initial naval multirole helicopter acquisition.

India’s Anti-Submarine Weakness Helicopters: Flying Low, Dying Slow

Indian Sea King
(click to view full)

As of 2014, the situation has become grave. India’s Ka-28 fleet has dwindled to just 4 operational helicopters, while a mid-life upgrade that would restore 10 to flying condition and give them modern sensors has been trying to get underway since 2008. The effective Sea King helicopter fleet has dwindled to just 16-17 upgraded machines, and all of them won’t be in flying condition all of the time. India’s Naval Air Arm also has a small number of Dhruv utility helicopters, and a somewhat larger set of very old Chetak helicopters that are only suitable for light supply and search and rescue roles, but neither is much help in sea control roles. The resulting situation is dire:

“For instance, between the six Talwar class frigates, which include the recently inducted frigates Teg, Tarkash and Trikand, only three carry a helicopter. Some other frigates don’t have even one helicopter between them. Coming to larger ships like the destroyers, one Kamov [Ka-28] helicopter is being shared between five Rajput class ships.”

These are key ships that would normally be tasked with anti-submarine duties. Without helicopters, their ability to perform those roles drops sharply. Which means that they are not fit for purpose to protect India’s carriers against Pakistani or Chinese submarines. A July 2014 report in India Today said that just 20% of available slots were filled in the Indian Navy, based on:

  • Delhi Class destroyers can carry 2 helicopters
  • Kolkata Class frigates can carry 2 helicopters
  • Shivalik, Betwa, and Godavari Class frigates can carry 2 helicopters
  • Talwar Class frigates can carry 1 helicopter
  • Offshore Patrol Vessels can carry 1 helicopter
  • Landing Ship Tank (Large) can carry 2 helicopters
  • INS Viraat aircraft carrier can carry 8 helicopters
  • INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier can carry 12 helicopters

Towed Sonar: Rolling in the Deep

Talwar Class
(click to view full)

To make things worse, the Indian Navy has been trying to import an Advanced Towed Array Sonar (ATAS) for its ships since the mid-1990s, but the Ministry of Defence has blocked it in favor of DRDO projects that went nowhere. The Nagan project was finally shut down in 2012, but DRDO just turned around and started a new ALTAS project in its place. As a result, 21 destroyers, frigates and corvettes bought since 1997 lack key sonar systems: 3 Delhi Class destroyers, 3 Kolkata Class destroyers, 6 Talwar Class frigates, 3 Brahmaputra Class frigates, 3 Shivalik Class frigates, and 4 Kamorta Class corvettes. They must depend, instead, on an Indian HUMSA passive array towed sonar with limited capabilities.

Indian MoD approval for a limited 6 ATAS buy was finally granted to an exasperated navy in 2009, but baseless complaints of wrongdoing left Atlas Elektronik’s systems in limbo, despite investigations that cleared the procurement.

That leaves India’s navy with a double ASW handicap, just as advanced submarine systems are proliferating in Pakistan and the Southeast Asian region. At the same time, the country is introducing advanced vessels like aircraft carriers and their accompanying multi-role surface ships. It’s a very poor situation, which would quickly turn disastrous if put to a military test.

Helicopters: Acquisition Programs

MH-92
(click to view full)

In response, there are 2 acquisition programs underway, and 2 potential upgrade programs.

NMRH: An initial tender for 16 front-line medium naval helicopters. India wants full anti-submarine capability, and anti-surface warfare capability that includes anti-ship missiles. Required secondary roles will include search and rescue (SAR), transport, casualty evacuation, etc. The RFP included options for 44 more, which could bring the total to 60. If an American helicopter is picked, India wants a Direct Commercial Sale that lets them manage the entire procurement themselves.

The final contenders were Sikorsky’s S-70B-x and NH Industries NH90 NFH; and even though trials finished in 2011, Defense Acquisition Council clearance didn’t happen until 2014. NH Industries’ complaints about requirement waivers granted to the S-70B caused most of the delay, which had predictable results within India’s Byzantine bureaucracies. It got to the point that the Navy openly criticized NH Industries, while insisting that both helicopters met naval staff qualitative requirements. Sikorsky was generally considered to have a strong edge, and ended up winning by default after the NH90 was removed.

A follow-on program is expected in the 9 – 12.5 tonne medium to medium-heavy classes, with reported numbers that have varied over time. If the anti-ship missile requirement changes or is dropped, Sikorsky is widely expected to substitute the MH-60R/S Seahawks, whose lack of an anti-ship missile made them ineligible as an NMRH candidate. Meanwhile, NHI’s NH90 isn’t going away, Airbus could push the NH90 or the naval Super Puma, Kamov can expect to keep trying, and AgustaWestland could offer the AW101 naval helicopter – if their position with the Indian government allows them to bid.

Indian Multirole Helicopter (IMRH). A program to build a domestic 12-tonne class helicopter as a joint venture with HAL. They want a maximum speed of 275 kmh, maximum payload of 3.5 tonnes at sea level, 500 km range at sea level, and a service ceiling of 6,500 metres.

India’s pattern of behavior makes the potential for interference with any NMRH follow-on obvious; in standard style, state industry lobbying for an exclusive contract would be followed by long delays before equipment reaches the Navy. One possibility is to bring in the NMRH/follow-on contenders for this partnership. Sikorsky’s S-92, for instance, is a 12-tonne helicopter that’s already partly manufactured in India at Tata, with a strong civil record in the offshore oil & gas industry and a naval helicopter variant that’s being (slowly) developed for Canada. Airbus has the precedent of their license manufacturing agreement with Brazil for EC725s, including an unarmed naval utility variant. The disadvantage? It throttles the development of a viable private competitor to HAL.

AS565 Panther
(click to view full)

NUH: The Naval Utility Helicopter involves machines with a maximum take-off weight of 4.5 tons, as a replacement for existing HAL Cheetah and Chetak designs derived from the ancient Alouette-III. India’s Navy and Coast Guard were poised to benefit, and the 2012 RFP included 56 helicopters, 3 simulators, 28 spare engines, etc., with an option for another 28 helicopters (TL = 84). RFIs were issued in 2010 and 2011, and the RFP was issued in 2012 at an estimate of $900 million, with entry into service expected for 2016. In 2014, however, the Indian government canceled the competition and restarted it under different terms, which will require full manufacturing in India. Service by 2016 is extremely unlikely.

Coast Guard helicopters must include Search and Rescue duties as a matter of course, along with sensors for finding boats and people. Naval NUH helicopters also need to go beyond transport roles, and will be used both on shore and abord ship. India wanted the ability to carry rocket launchers, lightweight torpedoes, and depth charges on “a modern airframe design, proven fuel-efficient engines and fully-integrated advanced avionics.”

Candidates reportedly included Airbus’ popular AS565 Panther light naval helicopter, and a derivative of AgustaWestland’s AW109 LUH. As a wild card, HAL’s locally-designed Dhruv began shore-based naval utility and SAR service in Kochi in November 2013. Navy disappointment with Dhruv was a key factor in pushing NUH’s existence, but since then, HAL has been working on a naval version with some anti-submarine capability, and has already fielded an armed Rudra ALH-WSI version for India’s land forces. The Navy has been very lukewarm about the Dhruv, citing stability issues, concerns about the ability to operate from ships, a lack of naval features like folding rotors, and the helicopter’s accident rate. Still, delays to NUH create time for more advances, fixes, and lobbying. In other words, a new opportunity for HAL.

Modernized S-61
(click to view full)

Upgrade Programs include both of India’s current naval helicopter fleets.

Ka-28s. At present, India has just 4 flyable Kamov Ka-28 ASW helicopters. The other 6 Ka-28s have been mothballed for spares, while a mid-life upgrade that would restore the 10 to flying condition and give them modern sensors has been trying to get underway since 2008. Bids were finally opened in 2012, and a combination of Russia’s Kamov and Italy’s Finmeccanica won the INR 20 billion project. Contracts are set, and both the Cabinet Committee of Security and India’s CBI investigators cleared the deal, but nothing has been done.

Sea Kings. India also wants to upgrade its 17 Sea Kings with new composite main rotor blades to improve lift, and modern avionics to include a glass cockpit and automatic flight control systems. A 2008 proposal to use Israeli equipment as the upgrade package was vehemently opposed by AgustaWestland, which delayed things. That firm’s limited bidding ability in the wake of the AW101 VVIP helicopter dispute could exclude them now, leaving the door open for Israeli firms. If India needs a competition, Sikorsky’s S-61T contract for the US State Department offers another viable model. S-61 is the Sea King’s civilian designation.

NMRH/ IMRH Naval Helicopters: Contenders

Italian AW101
(click to view full)

The initial NMRH competition narrowed down to the NH90 NFH vs. the S-70B, then the S-70B alone, but subsequent buys could introduce additional options. Flight International:

“Defence ministry sources say the new aircraft will be equipped with potent anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare equipment including cruise missiles and torpedoes, and also be capable of being refuelled in flight. The type will operate from both naval vessels and land bases, they add.”

As a further wrinkle, India wants anti-ship missiles with a range of 100+ km, which is about 2-3x farther than most helicopter-launched missiles. They’re reportedly interested in Kongsberg’s stealthy Naval Strike Missile, or MBDA’s Marte-ER.

Sikorsky (winner, S-70B). The S-70 is an export designation for Sikorsky’s H-60 family, designed for international markets through options like federated avionics that can more easily accept country-specific items. Depending on the specific configuration ordered, a wide range of technologies can be included, making them anything from a basic ASW choice to a very advanced helicopter. What will an Indian S-70B naval helicopter look like?

For starters, it will carry an anti-ship missile, per Indian missile requirements. Kongsberg’s AGM-119B Penguin is the S-70B’s standard option, but doesn’t have the range India wants; switching to Kongsberg’s NSM or MBDA’s Marte-ER would require testing for aerodynamic compatibility, and additional integration work. On the flip side, the S-70B offers greater versatility, carrying up to 8 AGM-114 Hellfire short-range strike missiles for troop support ashore, or defense against fast boat swarms. DID has confirmed that qualified torpedoes include Raytheon’s MK-46, Eurotorp’s A244 Mod 3 (Singapore), and the new MK-54 torpedo (Turkey). India is already buying MK-54s for their new P-8i sea control aircraft fleet.

MH-60Rs fire Hellfire
(click to view full)

Sikorsky’s most produced naval helicopters are their MH-60R/S Seahawks. Lockheed Martin’s bid for India’s maritime patrol aircraft competition reportedly included 16 MH-60Rs (est. cost: $350-400 million), alongside 8 of its P-3 aircraft. They lost, but this MRH tender offers Sikorsky a way to get their foot in the door again, and subsequent buys may open up a broader market for their MH-60 family.

The MH-60R’s inability to be exported as a Direct Commercial Sale disqualified it from the initial NMRH competition. It also lacks an anti-ship missile of any kind. On the other hand, it carries a number of potent and attractive anti-submarine and surface warfare technologies. Sikorsky is reportedly looking to offer it for India’s follow-on buys, or it could assemble an S-70B offer that draws on some of those technologies. MH-60R submarine detection options include new processing systems for advanced sonobuoys, while the S-70B’s standard HELRAS dipping sonar is replaced by the same FLASH sonar used in the NH90-NFH. The S-70B’s standard is the AN/APS-143 radar family, which will also be used on India’s P-8i sea control jets; in contrast, the MH-60R uses the AN/APS-153, with inverse SAR mode for detecting submarine periscopes. MH-60R/S helicopters carry AGM-114 Hellfires for use against small boats and land targets, and will soon add APKWS 70mm laser-guided rockets, alongside the latest Mk.54 torpedoes. Australia has ordered some MH-60Rs to replace its S-70B-2s, and of course they’re the current and future mainstay of the US Navy’s ASW force, which ensures wide operational compatibility and future upgrades. The MH-60S is more of a naval utility helicopter, though it can also be armed with Hellfire missiles and APKWS rockets, or fitted with a limited Airborne Mine Countermeasures suite. Thailand has ordered a couple of MH-60S.

Sikorsky had a larger option, but they chose not to offer it here. Canada chose Sikorsky’s larger H-92 Superhawk as the basis for its CH-148 Cyclone naval helicopter, and full production of S-92 helicopter cabins is already outsourced to a joint venture with India’s Tata. Unfortunately, Canada’s program remains beset by delays and capability issues, including the lack of an anti-ship missile. Until its issues are fixed and the helicopter is performing in service, the MH-92 isn’t a viable export candidate anywhere. On the other hand, it could be a logical joint venture partnership offering for the proposed IMRH.

NH90: TTH & NFH

AgustaWestland/ Airbus (quasi finalist, NH90). The NH90 NFH medium naval helicopter finally entered full operational capability service in late 2013. AgustaWestland is the NH Industries consortium lead for the naval variant, but Indian politics may force another consortium member to take the lead. Note that a number of European navies have needed to upgrade and modify their ships to support the NH90 NFH, due to its size and fully-loaded weight.

The NH90 NFH can fire MBDA’s Marte Mk.2/S light anti-ship missile, and work is already underway to integrate the Marte-ER as a heavier and longer-range option. The AM39 Exocet used in Indian submarines isn’t an option, because of its effects on turbulence and the NH90’s center of gravity. Qualified torpedoes include Eurotorp’s MU90, Raytheon’s Mk.46, or BAE’s Stingray. NH90-NFH helicopters have been ordered by Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and Qatar.

NMRH specifications were too heavy for AgustaWestland’s Super Lynx naval helicopter, which fits a very wide range of naval vessels and is in service all around the world. Britain’s AW159 Lynx Wildcat offers even more advanced technologies. At the heavier 12 tonne end, the AW101 medium-heavy helicopter is used in both naval and search-and-rescue roles with Britain’s Royal Navy, Denmark, and Italy.

Airbus. Eurocopter is the top shareholder in the NH90 consortium, so they’re technically a participant in the NH90 bid, and they may need to step to the fore. Their own AS532/ EC725 Super Puma/Cougar also serves with a number of navies, including some customers near India, and there’s an earlier AS332F variant for ASW roles.

AgustaWestland’s entanglement in the AW101 VVIP helicopter’s legal proceedings left Airbus with a decision: push the NH90-NFH as a more popular and proven alternative with partial Airbus workshare, or push an all-Airbus design instead? The NH90’s disqualification from the initial tender seems likely to push Airbus toward a more exclusive path.

Rosoboronexport/ Kamov can play the commonality and standardization cards, because India’s Navy already uses its Ka-28s and Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters. On the other hand, it would appear to have the most limited set of upgrade options. India has delayed modernizing the handful of helicopters they have, and reports don’t indicate that they’re a contender, but Kamov is trying anyway.

Contracts & Key Events 2014 – 2017

AW101 VVIP deal blows up, affecting other competitions; Sikowrsky wins initial NMRH competition. NUH canceled and re-started as “Buy & Make India”; Dhruv ASW?

S-70B fires Penguin
(click to view full) February 14/19: EoI for new NUH The Indian Ministry of Defense called for Expressions of Interest (EoI) related to the planned procurement of 111 aircraft via its Naval Utility Helicopter (NUH) requirement, leading up to a request for proposal. The Naval Utility Helicopter is set to replace the Indian Navy’s Hindustan Aeronautics Chetak helicopters. Potential candidates could include the Airbus Helicopters AS565, Bell 429 and the Sikorsky S-76. The expression of interest calls for 16 examples to be produced overseas, and the remaining 95 in India. Whilst Indian companies have been given two months to respond to the EoI, the foreign manufacturers get three months to respond due to the nature of inputs required.

December 13/17: New Plan-Off the ShelfIndia has put forward a new $1.87 billion procurement plan for 24 off the shelf naval helicopters, following a collapse in talks with Lockheed Martin over 16 Sikorsky S-70B naval helicopters, and an urgent capability require for such rotorcraft by the Indian Navy. Negotiations with Lockheed were terminated following the expiry of the price bid in March, and subsequently the tender was withdrawn in April, an MoD official said. An Indian Navy official added that the service asked the MoD in July to consider procuring the helicopters from the US under the Foreign Military Sales program, however, the request was turned down because Indian procurement procedures do not allow for single-supplier preference but instead prefer global competitions through which weapons or platforms are selected based on lowest price. New Delhi is also planning a major $7 billion procurement for 123 naval multi-role helicopters in the 9- to 12.5-ton categories, that will be manufactured by a domestic private company with technology transfer from an overseas helicopter original equipment manufacturer. The winning helicopter model will then be manufactured by a private Indian company—to be decided by a separate competition—in an Indian facility, despite the fact that no private Indian company has ever built a helicopter platform, having only supplied subsystems.

June 21/17: A long-floundering deal to bring the Sikorsky S-70B multi-role helicopter to India has been dropped. 16 Seahawks had been ordered back in 2014 to fill a naval requirement but both sides have been dragging over the price as Sikorsky is unwilling to extend the validity of its commercial bid. The sale’s failure is likely to frustrate naval officials who are in need to fill an urgent requirement to replace 42 SeaKing helicopters bought from Westland helicopters.

August 5/16: India’s MoD has approved $294 million to go toward a program to upgrade its ten Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters. A 42 month modernization will see state-of-the-art western weapons and sensors integrated on a fleet that currently suffers from poor serviceability. First purchased in 1980, only four Ka-28s are currently operational.

Jan 26/15: RFP for additional 123-unit NMRH purchase expected. Sikorsky’s win of the NMRH contract, to build 16 helicopters, is just weeks old, but the Indian Navy will again put out to tender the next 123 units. Sikorsky does not appear to have won much of an advantage for the larger competition in its many-years fight for the first 16 helicopters. Making things more interesting, the Indian government, under nativist political pressure, is said to be preparing the RFP as a design and price competition with the manufacturing to be done by Indian firms. A new trade group, the Confederation of India Industry’s National Committee on Aerospace (CIINCA), has been loudly insisting on future contract structures that bring manufacturing to India.

At the heart of the long and somewhat embarrassingly
mismanaged helicopter procurements in recent years has been India’s domestic helicopter manufacturer HAL, whose light, single-engine choppers have served the Indian Army – which, in recent times, has not had much love for the manufacturer. The CEO of HAL is currently the chair of CIINCA.

Dec 5/14: Sikorsky wins NMRH. India’s ministry of defense and Sikorsky both announce that the firm has won a contract for 16 S-70B Seahawk naval multirole helicopters, with an option for another 8 helos. The deal is valued at Rs. 6,000 crore (about $1B), but the two parties still have to negotiate procurement details as well as attached logistics, support, and training. Indian officials use the increasingly popular “fast tracking” qualifier to signify they intend to expedite the conclusion of this acquisition.

The US has been putting renewed energy in its courtship of India, but in this case, Sikorsky had been left competing only against possible Indian inaction for the past month.

NMRH winner

AW101 VVIP

Nov 5/14: NH90 out. Sikorsky’s S-70B is now the sole bidder for India’s initial buy of 15 naval helicopters. The NH90 and S-70B both cleared the technical trials a couple of years ago, but the legal fights around the AW101 buy have resulted in a de facto ban on Finmeccanica outside of existing tenders – even though India lacks the evidence to bring a case (q.v. July 29/14). Despite the Attorney General’s opinion (q.v. Aug 7/14), the NH90-NFH has now been removed from the initial tender, leaving Sikorsky’s offering all alone.

Indian procurement laws generally prohibit contracts if there’s only 1 bidder. It remains to be seen whether the government will argue that there were more bidders (a rationale that hasn’t been effective in many similar cases where blacklisting left just 1 vendor), issue an override the law on the basis of emergency needs, or do nothing and sabotage a critical acquisition. Sources: India’s Economic Times, “Finmeccanica out, US’s Sikorsky joins Navy copter acquisition race”.

Oct 15/14: Helicopters – NUH. India’s new BJP government cancels the INR 90 billion NUH tender, and re-starts it on similar terms to the Army’s canceled RSH light helicopter contract. Instead of buying abroad and requiring industrial offsets locally, the competition would buy a foreign design that would be assembled in India by local partners.

Previous rumors (q.v. Sept 20/14) appear to have picked the wrong competition, though some news reports conflict. Note that despite the navy’s earlier unhappiness (q.v. Aug 20/12), HAL is now supplying Dhruv helicopters to the Navy for shore-based SAR and transport roles (q.v. July 20/14), and appears to be working on an ASW variant with DRDO (q.v. June 16/14). If this quote from Defense World is true, therefore, one might have legitimate cause to wonder about the NUH competition’s future:

The DAC has reportedly approved a proposal to allow HAL to manufacture 440 light utility helicopters to be supplied to the Army, Navy and Air Force. The HAL helicopter has not even been fully developed. According to unconfirmed reports, HAL is rushing to finish development of the prototype which it plans to unveil in time for the Aero India show scheduled to take place in February 2015.”

Note that HAL’s stalled LUH project is a single-engine helicopter like existing Chetaks, rather than the twin-engines demanded by NUH. Then again, the welfare of the people who have to perform night rescues in inclement weather isn’t generally a priority for state-run industry lobbyists. Sources: Defense News, “India Cancels Navy LUH Tender; Issues New Request” | Defense World, “Tender Cancellations Bring International Helicopter Procurements To A Halt In India” | India’s Economic Times, “Tender for 56 naval choppers scrapped”.

NUh canceled and restarted

Sept 20/14: Helicopters – NMRH. Indian media report rumors that the NMRH competition is about to be canceled. It would shift from foreign construction with Indian industrial offsets, to a “Buy & Make India” class of competition that requires foreign vendors to find a local partner and have that partner make the helicopters in India. That seems really odd, given recent (q.v. Aug 29/14) DAC approval for the initial NMRH buy.

A shift of that kind does two things, from the Navy’s perspective. One, it delays the project by pushing it back through the bureaucracy, and forces vendors to find a partner it can trust at that level and then re-calculate its bid. That bid is likely to be more expensive, and a shortage of local Indian capability means that manufacturing will also take longer. If confimed, the delay would certainly be measured in years. Sources: India’s Financial Express, “Anti-submarine choppers to be made in India soon”.

Sept 14/14: Helicopters – NUH. India Strategic explains some of the hurdles faced by HAL’s Dhruv, which seems to be trying to angle its way into the NUH contract, even though NUH was floated due to dissatisfaction with Dhruv (q.v. Aug 20/12):

“IAF has often expressed discomfort – and displeasure – at aircraft made/ serviced by HAL…. Its HPT-32 trainer was a poor product, and the Dhruv helicopter, made with French collaboration and parts, still does not inspire confidence, thanks to the number of crashes. There have been two crashes recently, and many IAF officers openly challenge HAL’s capability to give “perfection.” Former Air Chief NAK Browne had also said that HAL charged three times the cost for something that IAF engineers and technicians would do also more efficiently.”

The rest of the article repeatedly stresses the need for timely delivery, lest basic Indian capabilities crumble. Sources: India Strategic, “Choppers, Aircraft and Submarines: More Delays but Some Smiles”.

Aug 29/14: NMRH & ATAS. The new BJP government’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) makes a number of key moves, beginning with cancellation of the 197-helicopter LUH competition. At the same time, however, DAC’s clearances included the INR 18 billion foreign NMRH tender for 16-60 naval multi-role helicopters.

DAC also approved a INR 17.7 billion purchase of integrated Active Towed Array Sonar anti-submarine suites for 11 frontline warships: 4 destroyers and 7 frigates. There’s some confusion regarding that approval, however, and it’s hard to tell which public interpretation would be worse for Indian ASW capabilities in the medium term.

The ATAS effort had been focused on an advanced solution from Atlas Elektronik, but some reports cite a developmental ATAS from India’s DRDO research institute instead. In an era where major opponents are deploying quiet submarines that include Air-Independent Propulsion, that may not be enough to do the job. On the other hand, Ajai Shulka says that the ATAS will be Atlas Elektronik’s product, but the buy involves future warships, rather than additions to serving vessels: the Project 17A frigates that don’t even have a contract yet, and the Project 15B Bangalore variant of the new Project 15A Kolkata Class multi-role destroyers. The Bangalore Class isn’t expected to enter service before 2018, and Project 17A is in limbo. Sources: Business Standard, “Govt clears defence deals worth Rs 17,000 cr” | 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'” | Livefist, “Advantage Sikorsky As Indian MoD To Finally Open MRH Bids”.

Aug 7/14: Finmeccanica. An official legal opinion states that India can’t afford to blacklist Italy’s Finmeccanica, on strategic grounds:

“Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi has given the opinion that blacklisting Finmeccanica with its several subsidiaries, which are supplying a large number of weapon systems, radars and ammunition to the Indian armed forces, is not advisable since the ongoing CBI investigation and the subsequent trial in the VVIP helicopter case could take a decade or so to be completed…. If any Finmeccanica company has already been declared L-1 (lowest bidder) in a finalized tender process, then it should be allowed…. [but] none of the Finmeccanica firms should be allowed to participate in a new defence tender if the equipment in question could be supplied by more than one company outside the group…. There was another category of cases where some Russian defence suppliers to India had a Finmeccanica subsidiary as a sub-contractor. Rohatgi said such cases should be allowed to continue unhindered.”

He’s correct that Finmeccanica is Kamov’s sub-contractor for Ka-28 naval helicopter modernization, and is arguably in a similar position for the NH90, but that will take a formal political decision to affirm. Note also the secondary escape clause that requires more than one competitor before Finmeccanica could be banned from a tender. The NMRH competition could also go ahead under this provision, as long as India’s politicians accept that other options like AW159s, Ka-28s, AW101s, etc. don’t meet Navy requirements, and that HAL’s Dhruv ASW (q.v. July 20/14) isn’t a front-line option.

To put some specifics on Rohtagi’s opinion, a full Finmeccanica ban would cut off sources and spares for many Indian naval guns, a number of radars, the torpedoes needed by India’s new submarines, Ka-28 modernization, and other programs. The real bottom line is that it’s impossible to blacklist any major supplier, if any formal complaints take a decade to resolve. Sources: Times of India, “Finmeccanica ban can hit forces’ battle-readiness, attorney general says”.

Finmeccanica sanctions

Aug 6/14: Kamov. Russia may not be shortlisted for N-MRH, but they haven’t given up. A 2013 proposal to set up a joint venture and assemble Kamov helicopters in India still stands:

“Sources tell RIR that this proposal was discussed as recently as June when high level defence talks held in New Delhi that were led by Indian Defence Secretary R K Mathur and Rostec Chief Executive Sergey Chemezov.”

On the other hand, India’s issues with Russia tend to revolve around reliability and maintenance delays. Sources: Russia & India Report, “Kamov ready to supply seaborne helicopters to Indian Navy”.

July 29/14: Finmeccanica. Finmeccanica announces that the Italian Prosecutor has discontinued its investigations relating to India’s 2010 contract for 12 AW101 VVIP helicopters:

“The Prosecutor specifically acknowledged the non-involvement of Finmeccanica in the alleged wrongdoing, recognizing that that since 2003, Finmeccanica has implemented – and regularly updated – an organizational, management and audit model, sufficient to prevent unlawful conduct…. AgustaWestland S.p.A. and its subsidiary AgustaWestland Ltd., together with the Prosecutor, have agreed to apply for a negligible fine, whilst confirming the appropriateness of their internal control systems and specifically their non-involvement in the misconduct alleged by the Prosecutor. This decision is not in any way an admission of any wrongdoing or liability.”

Finmeccanica says that the fine isn’t an admission of guilt, but it may not be seen that way outside of Italy. On the other hand, without Italian cooperation, India’s CBI has already acknowledged that it doesn’t have enough to bring a case. There’s also an international arbitration case pending, and the firm can try to use the Italian prosecutor’s statements as a finding of fact. Sources: Finmeccanica, “Finmeccanica: Investigations into the Company relating to the AW101 helicopters contract with the Indian Ministry of Defence discontinued”.

July 28/14: Helicopters – NMRH. The investigation into India’s AW101 VVIP helicopter buy, which became a full-blown legal dispute between India and Finmeccanica in 2013, continues to stall India’s maritime helicopter buy. The introduction of a new BJP government doesn’t seem to have changed that yet:

“The Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by defence [DID: and finance] minister Arun Jaitley on July 19, deferred the decision on the MRH helicopter project while clearing other military procurement proposals. The two contenders in the competition are the European NH-90 helicopters, which have Finmeccanica as a partner, and the American Sikorsky-70B choppers.

The contract is crucial for the Navy since it was to be followed by a bigger one for 123 helicopters, with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities as well as customized for amphibious assaults and commando operations, at a cost of over $3 billion…. While the Navy is on track to induct four to five warships every year over the next decade, it is fast running out of helicopters meant to detect, track and kill enemy submarines. The force currently has just 11 Kamov-28 [DID: 4 operational] and 17 Sea King ASW helicopters to defend its existing fleet of over 130 warships. While the Sea Kings are over 20 years old, the Kamov-28s are long overdue for a mid-life upgrade.”

The problem with waiting for the CBI investigation to conclude is that the CBI has a practice of keeping investigations going for years, with no result. They recently had to admit that they had no solid evidence in the VVIP case, though they may be hoping that recent charges against new senior officials might shake something loose. Unless they’re given a time limit, however, India’s naval posture will be crippled for years. Sources: The Times, of India, “Scam-wary govt defers decision on naval copters”.

July 20/14: Dhruv. India’s Defence Acquisition Council cleared a set of acquisitions worth Rs 21,000 crore (INR 210 billion / $3.493 billion). The largest share involves up to 56 light transport aircraft, but DAC also includes 32 HAL Dhruv helicopters, split evenly between the Navy and Coast Guard (INR 70 billion).

The Coast Guard in particular will be very happy to replace its Chetaks with Dhruvs, though they will need many more in order to become effective beyond Porbandar (q.v. July 19/14). The Navy has been less enthused about Dhruv. There has been some notion of outfitting it as an ASW helicopter for the Navy (q.v. June 16/14) but its limitations (q.v. Aug 20/12) remain. The November 2013 stand up of INAS 322 at Kochi demonstrates how the Navy is working within those limitations, by assigning Dhruvs to shore-based transport, Search and Rescue, and day/night patrol roles.

DAC project approvals also added 5 new supply vessels (INR 90 billion), 5 OPV ships (INR 20 billion), 5 fast patrol boats (INR 3.6 billion), and Search & Rescue equipment (INR 9 billion) to India’s approved list. Note what isn’t on the list: MRH helicopters. Sources: International Business Times, “What Does Indian Defence Get in Military Projects Worth [Rs] 34,260 Crore?”

Navy, CG buying more Dhruvs

July 19/14: Helicopters. India Today adds some more hard numbers behind the Indian Navy’s helicopter problem – and hence its ASW problem. they’re noted above. The article adds that:

“With a requirement of over 100 helicopters across different categories, and yet going nowhere, the navy’s predicament is clear. Said an MoD official, “The Indian Navy had to get 16 choppers as a direct replacement for Seaking 42A helicopters which came with the INS Viraat in 1987 and were decommissioned by the end of the century. Categorised as ‘Multi Role Helicopter’ acquisition, it is yet to take off even today.” Then there is the Naval Multi Role helicopter deal to replace the Chetaks which were first introduced into the Indian armed forces in the 60s, and the Naval Utility Helicopter deal. It is all hanging in balance.”

The Coast Guard has a similar problem, with under 20 ageing Chetak helicopters and 2 newer Dhruv machines all deployed solely at Porbandar, in order to keep an eye on Pakistan. The service was asked to gift 1 of its few helicopters to the Maldives, and 15 years worth of attempts to get new helicopters have come to nothing. Sources: India Today, “Exclusive: Navy, Coast Guard send SOS to Defence Ministry on helicopter crisis”.

June 16/14: Helicopters – Dhruv ASW? India is reportedly looking to outfit their locally-designed HAL Dhruv helicopter with some anti-submarine equipment from the state’s DRDO research agency:

“The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-built ALH Dhruv is undergoing trials for carrying out role of detecting hostile submarines using systems developed by the DRDO, Defence officials said…. The system was put under trial at Vishakhapatnam and would be tried further before any final decision is taken on deploying the twin-engine chopper on board the carrier, they said.”

The Dhruv is in the same size and weight class as AgustaWestland’s Lynx, but the final result of this program is likely to fall rather short of capabilities possessed by the AW159 Wildcat, or of larger machines like the NH90 NFH or MH-60R Seahawk. On the one hand, adapting an existing HAL platform circumvents India’s broken procurement system, creating a near-term solution for their astonishing weakness in this area (q.v. March 31/14). It also creates a platform that can be improved over time, which is good for India and its industry.

On the other hand, providing sub-standard protection to the flagship of one’s naval force is a terrible idea if it’s the only proposed solution. The question is whether the long-discussed foreign tender (q.v. Feb 25/14) for helicopters like the AW159 will also go forward, in order to equip platforms like India’s high-end destroyers (q.v. Oct 15/13) and add a higher tier of shipborne ASW protection for key assets. Sources: IBD Live, “Dhruv chopper likely to be deployed on-board INS Vikramaditya”.

May 16/14: ATAS. Ajai Shulka says the reason that operational safety was the reason that India’s new Vikramaditya aircraft carrier was joined by an armada of Indian warships for the last leg of its journey to Karwar. The problem is the lack of an effective towed sonar on Indian surface combatants, due to obstruction by the defense bureaucracy. Coming as it does on top of the MoD derelict performance with respect to anti-submarine helicopters, it creates a huge naval weakness that would doom India’s carriers in a shooting war.

The Indian Navy has been trying to import an Advanced Towed Array Sonar (ATAS) since the mid-1990s, but the Ministry of Defence has blocked it in favor of DRDO projects that went nowhere. The Nagan project was finally shut down in 2012, but DRDO just pulled a switch and started a new ALTAS project in its place. As a result, 21 destroyers, frigates and corvettes bought since 1997 lack key sonar systems: 3 Delhi Class destroyers, 3 Kolkata Class destroyers, 6 Talwar Class frigates, 3 Brahmaputra Class frigates, 3 Shivalik Class frigates, and 4 Kamorta Class corvettes. They must depend, instead, on an Indian HUMSA passive array towed sonar with limited capabilities.

MoD approval for a limited 6 ATAS buy was finally granted to an exasperated navy in 2009, but baseless complaints of wrongdoing left Atlas Elektronik’s systems in limbo, despite investigations that cleared the procurement. It remains to be seen whether changing control of the MoD away from the Congress Party will change anything. Sources: India’s Business Standard, “Warships in peril as defence ministry blocks sonar purchase”.

March 31/14: Helicopters – Ka-28. The Ka-28 force is in sad shape:

“The Navy is today being asked to make do with four Ka28 helicopters that have the technology of mid-80s for training pilots, doing ASW roles against modern submarines for the five Rajput Class destroyers as well as the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya,” said a source.”

The other 6 Ka-28s have been mothballed for spares, while a mid-life upgrade that would restore the 10 to flying condition and give them modern sensors has been trying to get underway since 2008. Bids were finally opened in 2012, and a combination of Russia’s Kamov and Italy’s Finmeccanica won the INR 20 billion project. Contracts are set, and both the Cabinet Committee of Security and India’s CBI investigators cleared the deal. Defence Minister Antony’s office has been sitting on that for over a month, however, while playing extreme hardball with AgustaWestland over the VVIP helicopter deal. Meanwhile, the Sea King fleet has problems of its own, and a proposal to buy up to 16 modern naval helicopters from foreign sources remains stalled. Sources: Daily Mail India, “Navy left ‘defenceless’ after being forced to ‘make do’ with outdated Soviet hardware”.

Feb 25/14: No Helicopters. India’s Ministry of Defence clears a whole series of defense projects: upgrades for 37 airbases, modernization of 5 ordnance depots, 4,000 hand-held thermal imagers for soldiers, 5,000 thermal imaging sights for tanks and infantry combat vehicles, 44,000 light-machine guns, 702 light armored multi-purpose vehicles, and 250 RAFAEL Spice IIR/GPS guided smart bombs. The deals not done?

A program to buy M777 howitzers, 56 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro fleet, produce 4 amphibious LPDs – and 16 naval multi-role helicopters to restore an effective anti-submarine capability. With elections looming, it will take some time before any of them are restarted. Sources: Times of India, “Decision on four key defence deals put off”.

2008 – 2013

ASW weakness exposed; NUH RFP a vote of non-confidence in Dhruv; Sea King upgrades needed.

Merlin & Type 23
(click to view full)

Oct 15/13: ASW weakness. India’s anti-submarine issues continue to surface, which is a serious weakness for a fleet air arm and for a carrier. How serious is it?

“The Navy has given an insight into how it is placed during its ongoing exercise with the Royal Navy off the Goa coast. The Royal Navy’s HMS Westminster – a type-23 frigate known for its advanced anti-submarine capability – is taking part in the exercise Konkan. The frigate is equipped with Merlin helicopters – the maritime version of triple-engine AgustaWestland EH-101 that is used extensively by the Royal Navy… The Indian Navy has pitched a Delhi class destroyer, which is a formidable platform, but it carries only one helicopter although it is capable of operating two. The only helicopter on the destroyer is Chetak, which has a limited role in search, rescue and communication. It cannot carry out advanced anti-submarine or anti-surface operation.”

That isn’t what you want defending your carrier. Sources: Daily Mail India, “Chopper shortage rattles Indian Navy during joint exercise with British fleet”.

Aug 20/12: Helicopters – NUH RFP, etc. India issues its $1 billion NUH RFP for a base of 56 twin-engine light helicopters under 4.5 tonnes, with induction slated for 2016. The helicopters will operate from shore, and aboard ships that range from OPVs to aircraft carriers.

Core NUH utility roles that current Cheetah/ Chetak fleets can’t currently handle include day/night SAR and CASEVAC roles in adverse weather, and transport duties that include underslung cargo. India also wants the NUH to replace some Westland Sea King roles, however, including anti-submarine warfare with a light torpedo or depth charge, and the ability to carry rockets and machine gun pods. Aviation Week adds that:

“A procurement manager with the Indian navy indicates that the NUH has to meld several roles into one modern new platform, after the indigenous naval ALH Dhruv failed to deliver a light, multirole shipborne platform with an ASW capability.”

India Strategic goes farther:

“The rotors have to be foldable so that the machines can be moved to their hangars in the limited space available…. Significantly, the Navy had found the HAL-made Dhruv unsuitable because of excessive vibrations in the rotors as also their large size. The air draft generated by a flying machine and its stability are crucial for landing and takeoffs from moving ships, some of which sail at around 30 knots.”

Other activities are also underway:

“The navy is also finalizing an RFP for a follow-on N-MRH to acquire 75 more helicopters as part of a fresh bid. The N-MRH will progressively replace the navy’s Westland Sea King Mk. 42B fleet…. The navy is also set to solicit bids for a long-delayed upgrade of its Sea King fleet, with original manufacturer AgustaWestland expected to compete against? Israel Aerospace Industries’ Lahav Div. In addition, the navy will shortly begin an effort to upgrade its fleet of Ka-28 Helix ASW helicopters.”

Sources: Aviation Week, “India Floats New Naval Utility Helicopter Requirement” | India Strategic, “Navy floats $ 1 billion RfP for utility Helicopters”.

NUH RFP

Aug 17/12: Sea Kings. India’s Mk.42B Sea King utility/ASW helicopters have readiness issues, which is a problem because India has a shortage of working anti-submarine helicopters. Upgrades have been delayed, and India is considering packages from AgustaWestland and an Israeli consortium. Upgrades to the 20 or so helicopters would include new avionics, electronic warfare suites, new communication kits, and an all-new weapons suite with anti-ship and anti-submarine ordnance. Sources: SP’s Naval Forces, “Indian Navy Sea Kings upgrade process soon”.

Sept 9/08: Tender. Flight International reports on the tender:

“India’s defence ministry has issued a tender for 16 advanced multirole naval helicopters to companies including AgustaWestland, EADS and Sikorsky, with its initial requirement likely to later expand by a further 44 aircraft…. The Indian navy meanwhile plans to acquire five more Kamov Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters [DID: ordered in 2009], and is exploring the possibility of conducting mid-life upgrades to its Ka-28 and Westland Sea King transport helicopters.”

Sources: Flight Global, “India launches tender for up to 60 maritime helicopters.”

ASW Helicopter Tender

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.

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Categories: Defense`s Feeds

McKinsey wins additional $15.7m for F-35 Affordability Efforts | Turkey launches TCG Ufuk | IAF to receive Rafale in September

Defense Industry Daily - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 14:00
Americas

The Naval Warfare Center Weapons Division awarded Raytheon a $88.4 million contract for the modification and upgrade of the sensor system software and hardware of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft to incorporate updates, improvements, and enhancements of tactical capabilities. The deal includes technical support for hardware and software anomaly investigation, design, development, documentation, integration, test, and evaluation of systems and support equipment. The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet are twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The Super Hornet is able to carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. The Growler is a specialized version of the Super Hornet. It is a carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft with the ability to perform escort jamming as well as the traditional standoff jamming mission. Work under the contract will take place in El Segundo, California and is scheduled to be finished by February 2024.

The Navy contracted the management consulting firm McKinsey with a $15.7 million modification in support of the F-35 Lightning II affordability campaign for the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The F-35 Lightning II was designed to be an affordable 5th Generation fighter. The program received considerable criticism for cost overruns during development and for the total projected cost of the program over the lifetime of the jets. By 2017, the program was expected over its lifetime (until 2070) to cost $406.5 billion for acquisition of the jets and $1.1 trillion for operations and maintenance. The modification provides for maturation of the current effort through expansion and refinement of existing scope, including strategic sourcing, senior leadership team offsite, and major contract actions. Work will take place in Arlington, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by June this year.

Middle East & Africa

Turkey launched its first test and training ship on February 9 at Tuzla shipyard near Istanbul. The ship, which was previously unnamed, is called A-591 TCG Ufuk. Ufuk is 99.5 meters long, 14.4 meters wide, displaces 2,400 tonnes, and has a draft of 3.6 meters. It can attain a speed in excess of 18 kt and has a landing pad that can accommodate a 10-tonne helicopter. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan describes the ship as the country’s first „intelligence corvette“. The ship will have an endurance at sea of 45 days, allowing it to detect threats to Turkish national security instantly and without interruption. Turkish defense technology and engineering company STM is the main contractor in the Ufuk corvette project, with Aselsan developing its command-and-control, electronic, and test/training systems. The commissioning of TCG Ufuk is scheduled for July 2020.

Europe

Spain joins France and Germany on the project to build a new combat fighter plane in replacement of the Eurofighter and the Rafale. The Future Combat Air System (FCAS) launched in July 2017 and also plans to include drones and cruise missiles. Just last week the French and German Defense Ministers Florence Parly and Ursula von der Leyen signed the first ever contract to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the FCAS. The new fighter jet will replace the Eurofighter which is assembled in Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy, and the French Rafale around 2040 and will compete with the US F-35 or its successor. Spain, where Airbus’s military transport planes are assembled, had sent a letter in December to Paris and Berlin asking to be associated with the project.

Asia-Pacific

The US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $211.9 million contract modification for incorporation of remaining Baseline J7 scope for new-construction DDG Aegis Weapons System J7 Baseline development and integration in support of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Per the deal, Lockheed Martin will provide full operational capability at the development test sites, integration of Japanese domestic ship systems, support and provision of technical manuals, logistics, and staging activities. Lockheed is developing an Aegis Baseline 9.C2 (BMD 5.1) variant computer program, referred to as J7, for deployment on Japan’s Aegis destroyers—which is a centralized, automated, command-and-control weapon system used to rapidly detect and track more than 100 targets at once. Aegis is the world’s most advanced combat system. The computer-based command and decision providing ability is the key element of the AEGIS combat system. The Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system is the primary sea-based component of the U.S. missile defense system. Work will take place in the USA as well as Japan and is scheduled to be completed by October 2021.

Despite the controversy, the Rafale fighter jet procurement process is on schedule and the first aircraft will be delivered to the Indian Air Force in September this year. The delivery of the aircraft is set to take place in France and will be brought to India. The French twin-engine, multirole fighter was one of six aircraft competing in the Indian Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition, which was a competition to supply 126 multirole combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). In 2012 the IAF announced Rafale as the preferred bidder. However, this sparked a political controversy.

Today’s Video

Watch: TYPE 26 FRIGATE BRITAIN – HOW CAPABLE IS IT ?

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

Vigor wins $17m MSC contract | Elbit Systems to supply Philippine Army with Armored Mortar Carriers | IAF to train Astronauts for Gaganyaan

Defense Industry Daily - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 05:00
Americas

The Navy contracted General Dynamics NASSCO-Bremerton with a $34.3 million modification for repair and alteration requirements for USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) dry-docking planned incremental availability (DPIA). The USS Carl Vinson is the USA’s third Nimitz-class carrier. The Nimitz-class consists of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The ships under this class were the largest warships built and in-service until USS Gerald R. Ford entered the fleet in 2017. The USS Carl Vinson had its maiden voyage in 1983 and underwent refueling and overhaul between 2005 and 2009. The DPIA is the opportunity in the ship’s life cycle to conduct repairs and alterations. Just at the end of last month the aircraft carrier sailed into Sinclair Inlet bringing its crew of 3,000 to a new homeport and venue for revitalization. The Vinson is set to become the first aircraft carrier in the Navy to deploy with a squadron of F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters as part of its full air wing compliment. Work under the order will fully be performed in Bremerton and is scheduled to be finished by July next year.

The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) awarded a $17 million contract to Vigor Marin Inc. for a 75-calendar day shipyard availability for the regular overhaul and dry docking of USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7). USNS Carl Brashear is a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship delivered to the Navy by General Dynamics on March 4, 2009. Lewis and Clark Class T-AKE dry cargo/ammunition ships are 210 meters in length and 32.2 meters in beam, with a design draft of 9.12 meters. Vigor Marine provides vessel construction and repair services including dry-docking, structural repair, welding, machinery repair, diesel engine repair, shaft seal replacement, tube renewal among others. Work for this contract, which will take place in Portland, Oregon will entail clean and gas-free tanks, voids, cofferdams and spaces, propulsion motor and cooler, main generator maintenance and cleaning, high voltage switchboard and emergency switchboard cleaning, five-year main engine flex hose replacement, dry-docking and undocking, propeller shaft and stern tube inspect, freshwater stern tube lubrication, underwater hull cleaning and painting, freeboard cleaning and painting, sea valve replacements, renew flight deck nonskid, and reverse osmosis unit sea-chest installation. Work is scheduled to be completed by May 15 this year.

The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded Donjon Marine Co. with a $10.4 million order to provide pumping assets (equipment and personnel) to Puerto Rico to assist with pumping operations designated by the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE). Donjon Marine Co. provides marine services. It offers dredging, marine salvage, heavy lift transport, tug/barge transportation, demolition as well as pollution control and remediation services. The company also provides land-based metals recycling, demolition, and landfill remediation/site management services. In addition, it offers shipbuilding and repair services, such as dry-docking, barge construction, vessel conversion, repowering, maintenance, steel fabrication, steel assembly, and other related services. The current contract modification is under Zone A Salvage Services Contract. The Action is in response to a salvage services request from ACOE to provide pumping assets given hurricane season commencement and anticipated near-term heavy rainfall. Work will take place in Puerto Rico and is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

The Air Force contracted Textron Aviation Defense with a $10.4 million modification to supply 12 T-6C aircraft maintenance and pilot training support to Argentina. The contract includes interim contractor support for maintenance. The Beechcraft T-6 Texan II is a single-engine turboprop aircraft. The Argentine Air Force received the first four of 12 T-6C in October 2017 from Textron Aviation. Textron delivered another two in June 2018. Argentina purchased the aircraft to replace Embraer EMB-312 Tucano to train its military pilots. Contractor will provide supplies and services to provide for the replacement of current training aircraft fleet and the enhancement of the Argentina Air Force surveillance and border security mission. Work will be performed in Wichita, Kansas, and is expected to be completed by June 30, 2021.

Middle East & Africa

Israel’s Elbit Systems will supply 15 Armored Mortar Carriers to the Philippine Army as part of the Horizon 2 phase of the Revised AFP Modernization Program, which is the phase covering the years 2018 to 2022. The Cardom 120mm Recoil Mortar System will be mounted on the Army’s M113 armored vehicles. The system has a range of 7,000 meters and a maximum fire rate of 16 rounds per minute. It can be used in “shoot and scoot” manner and can be operated by two or four crewmen. Another part of the deal is the platform where the Cardom mortars will be installed, and Elbit will deliver 15 refurbished and upgraded M113A2 tracked armored vehicles. The deal will also include Elbit’s Combat NG Battlefield Management System, which is already in use with the Philippine Army. The Combat NG is a command, control, communications and intelligence system designed to improve artillery and air defense unit’s ability to engage targets by improving its target engagement speed and accuracy, provide real-time situational awareness, and provide coordination capability with other forces. The project is a Government-to-Government deal between the Philippines and Israel.

Europe

L3 ASV successfully delivered a long-endurance autonomous vessel known as the C-Enduro to the British Royal Navy. The C-Enduro is utilized to collect data at sea. It uses energy harvesting technology combined with an efficient self-righting hull. The 4.8-meter autonomous vessel is equipped with 10 sensors combining scientific and hydrographic survey equipment. The USV will be used for military data gathering trials by the Royal Navy’s Mine countermeasures and Hydrographic Capability program. This project marks the fourth delivery of a C-Enduro vessel, and previous successful missions include an 11-day over-the-horizon marine science mission north of Scotland for the National Oceanography Center.

Asia-Pacific

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tasked the Indian Air Force for selection and training of 10 crew members for India’s first human spaceflight program known as Gaganyaan. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is to train 10 candidates for the mission, of which the ISRO will pick three finalists for the maiden space journey. The first two stages of training will take place IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine. The final phase is set to take place abroad. Institute of Aerospace Medicine is the only institute in India and south east Asia that conducts research in aerospace medicine and trains airmen and pilots. It is affiliated to the Armed Forces Medical Services. The Center will be responsible for the implementation of the Gaganyaan project, which involves end-to-end mission planning and development of engineering system for crew survival in space.

After India officially received four Ch-47 Chinooks from the US, the helicopters arrived in the country and were offloaded at the Mundra port of Gujarat. The CH-47 is a twin-engined, tandem rotor, heavy-lift helo that will provide the Indian Armed Forces (IAF) with unmatched strategic airlift capability across the spectrum of combat and humanitarian missions. The IAF currently has 15 Chinook helicopters on order. The arrival of the helicopters happened ahead of schedule, which proves Boeing’s commitment to delivering on its promise of modernizing the Indian Defense Forces.

Today’s Video

Watch: Special Force Surprise: UK to purchase Two Future Littoral Strike-Ships (FLSS)

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

CVN 70 Carl Vinson’s Mid-Life RCOH Refueling & Maintenance

Defense Industry Daily - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 04:58

CVN 70: Homecoming
(click to view full)

Osama Bin Shot, Osama Bin Buried. (May 3/11)

In November 2005, Northrop Grumman Newport News in Newport News, VA was awarded a $1.94 billion cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for accomplishment of the FY 2006 mid-life refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the Nimitz Class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70]. The ship was commissioned in 1982, and this effort shall provide for the accomplishment of the overhaul, alterations, repair, maintenance, and refueling of CVN 70 and its nuclear reactor plants to ensure continued safe operation of the ship. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the Carl Vinson is scheduled to remain in service until 2032.

It’s interesting to note that the US DoD comptroller’s FY 2007 “<http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2007/fy2007_weabook.pdf>Program Acquisition Costs by Weapon System” document lists split-funding of the CVN 70 RCOH over FY 2006-2007, with a total cost of $2.89 billion. So, how does this $1 billion discrepancy resolve itself? What about all those contracts before FY 2006? And how did the program go, now that the USS Carl Vinson has returned to the fleet at last?

The RCOH and the Damage Done

CVN 70 with destroyer
(click to view full)

During an American Nimitz Class carrier’s 50 year life span, it has 4 Drydocking Planned Incremental Availabilities and 12 Planned incremental availabilities. It has only one Refueling and Complex OverHaul, however, which is the most significant overhaul the ship receives during its 50-year life span. After nearly 25 years of service, the USA’s current nuclear aircraft carriers must undergo a 3-year maintenance period to refuel their nuclear reactors, upgrade and modernize combat and communication systems, and overhaul the ship’s hull, mechanical and electrical systems.

NAVSEA’s official cost figure for the CVN 70’s entire RCOH is $3.1 billion. As of April 2007, they told DID that the program was on budget, and releases marking the ship’s re-delivery make the same claim for the now-complete program.

In addition to the years of advance procurement, advance planning, and then installation work conducted by Northrop Grumman and the government, the other billion dollars or so is used for the development, procurement and installation of Government Furnished Equipment and Government Furnished Information. Examples of major systems that will be developed or procured for the USS Carl Vinson include new communications systems, new navigation systems, radar replacements or refurbishments, new ship self defense missile systems, new oxygen and nitrogen generating systems, modifications to air conditioning plants, new catapult control systems, new environment oil pollution control system and upgrades to aviation landing and recovery systems.

Note, also, that the cost of the replacement nuclear power units is not covered under the Newport News contracts. The power units used to refuel a CVN during RCOH cost about $510 million in FY 2007 dollars.

Hence $1.94 billion in contracts to Northrop Grumman’s Newport News, within a $2.89 billion split-year appropriation over FY 2006-2007, and other contracts as well to bring it to $3.1 billion overall.

The new CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class will have a redesigned nuclear power plant that’s expected to make use of advances from the USA’s Seawolf and Virginia Class submarine reactors, in order to eliminate expensive reactor refueling entirely. It will also have more modular, “open architecture” computer systems that will simplify modernization of the ship’s combat and communication systems. These changes are expected to significantly lower RCOH time and costs for the new carrier class, and allow many electronics upgrades to take place in earlier phases.

USS Carl Vinson RCOH: Contracts & Key Events

Seagoing again
(click to view full)

Unless otherwise noted, all contracts are issued by Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC.

 

February 12/19:  DPIA The Navy contracted General Dynamics NASSCO-Bremerton with a $34.3 million modification for repair and alteration requirements for USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) dry-docking planned incremental availability (DPIA). The USS Carl Vinson is the USA’s third Nimitz-class carrier. The Nimitz-class consists of ten nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. The ships under this class were the largest warships built and in-service until USS Gerald R. Ford entered the fleet in 2017. The USS Carl Vinson had its maiden voyage in 1983 and underwent refueling and overhaul between 2005 and 2009. The DPIA is the opportunity in the ship’s life cycle to conduct repairs and alterations. Just at the end of last month the aircraft carrier sailed into Sinclair Inlet bringing its crew of 3,000 to a new homeport and venue for revitalization. The Vinson is set to become the first aircraft carrier in the Navy to deploy with a squadron of F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters as part of its full air wing compliment. Work under the order will fully be performed in Bremerton and is scheduled to be finished by July next year.

November 7/16: Live-fire exercises have been conducted on the USS Carl Vinson in order to test its RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) and Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS). The nuclear-powered super carrier fired at two drones using the ship’s aft RAM launcher and fired the CIWS as part of a pre-aim calibration firing evolution during Carrier Strike Group 1’s Composite Training Unit Exercise. Crew on board said the CIWS PAC fire served a dual purpose, allowing Carl Vinson Sailors to perform a maintenance check as well as readying the mounts for a rogue drone situation.

May 2/11: Osama Bin Shot, Osama Bin Buried. Less than a day after a SEAL team raid into a fortified compound in Abbotabad, 40 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad, the body of Osama Bin Laden is buried at sea, from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson. San Diego Examiner.

Dec 4/09: Northrop Grumman Corporation re-delivers USS Carl Vinson to the U.S. Navy, after the ship successfully completes sea trials, 2 days ahead of schedule. The redelivery follows the completion of modernization, maintenance, and guarantee work accomplished during the ship’s post shakedown availability (PSA) and selected restricted availability (SRA), 2 stages that generally follow the RCOH. Northrop Grumman release.

July 31/09: The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70] is returning to Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, VA for $50 million worth of post-RCOH maintenance work via a modification to a previously awarded contract (N62793-03-G-0001). Northrop Grumman expects to complete the work by December 2009, and $30.7 million in contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/09. The Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair in Newport News, VA manages the contract. See also Northrop Grumman release.

July 11/09: USS Carl Vinson is re-delivered to the US Navy, and accepted back into active service, marking the formal completion of its $3.1 billion, 20+ million man-hour RCOH process. The ship is now working towards a flight deck re-certification.

USS Carl Vinson is the 3rd Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to complete RCOH at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News. USS Theodore Roosevelt [CVN 71] will begin her RCOH later in summer 2009, advance Planning is currently underway for the USS Abraham Lincoln’s [CVN 72] RCOH. US Navy release | NGC release.

RCOH done

July 1/09: USS Carl Vinson completes initial sea trials, the last stage of the RCOH process. The carrier, which departed on June 28/09, returned to Naval Station Norfolk flying the traditional broom on its mast to signify a sweep of all trials.

The RCOH project was performed by the company’s Shipbuilding sector in Newport News, VA, and is projected to complete within budget. The ship is scheduled to be delivered to the U. S. Navy next week. NGC release.

Oct 28/08: Northrop Grumman announces a $2.1 million contract from U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). NGC’s Sperry Marine business unit will upgrade the steering control systems for USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70] – but not as part of the RCOH.

Sperry Marine will replace the steering units and helm control console on the bridge and install new electronics and software, during the ship’s first scheduled maintenance period following its RCOH. The contract also provides for engineering support and documentation.

Drydock to Pierside
(click to view full)

May 9/07: Northrop Grumman Corporation completes the dry dock portion of work for the USS Carl Vinson 5 days ahead of schedule. Tugboats moved the ship from dry dock to a new multi-level shipyard pier where it will undergo final outfitting and testing. This is approximately the half-way point of the RCOH.

Work accomplished while the ship was in dry dock includes removing, refurbishing and reinstalling the propellers, propeller shafts and rudders; painting the carrier’s massive hull and replacing thousands of valves, pumps, and piping components. Shipbuilders also removed the top two levels of the island and mast and replaced it with a reconfigured island structure and new mast to provide enhanced capability.

So, what work remains between now and redelivery to the Navy in 2009? Installation and testing of updated combat and electronic systems; overhaul and energization of electrical distribution systems; overhaul, repair, and testing of propulsion plant systems; habitability upgrades and modernization; crew move-aboard; and installation and testing of aircraft launch and recovery equipment. See Northrop Grumman Newport News release.

March 30/07: U.S. Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, issues a release re: the US Navy’s announcement that USS Carl Vinson will shift its home port to San Diego once it re-enters service. According to Rep. Hunter’s release, San Diego was selected on the basis of several factors, including existing infrastructure, family support facilities, and proximity to training areas. The carrier will join its fellows USS Nimitz [CVN 68] and USS Ronald Reagan [CVN 76].

Screwed.
(click to view full)

Jan 7/07: Workers finish installing Carl Vinson’s 4 new propellers (“screws”) at Northrop Grumman Newport News. The installation marks the achievement of a milestone in the work outside the ship’s hull, preparing her for undocking from the shipyard’s Drydock 11 to Pier 3 later in 2007. See US Navy release.

The screws are close to 21 feet in diameter and weigh about 65,000 pounds each. They are very similar in size, weight, and material to the propellers on previous ships of the Nimitz Class, but the blades are shaped differently to reduce wear and erosion. The propellers have been outfitted with a protective covering that will be removed later in the construction process. The new propellers are also planned for use on the future-generation CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class carriers, and were recently installed on the last Nimitz Class carrier George H. W. Bush [CVN 77].

Dec 29/06: AMSEC LLC in Virginia Beach, VA received a $10.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for program management, material procurement, and installation of shipboard equipment for the USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70]. This effort supports work performed under the previous contract for Phase I: Planning and developing processes, procedures, preliminary Plan of Action & Milestones (POA&M), and timelines for the accomplishment of re-outfitting of Vinson. This effort also supports Phase II: Program Management, to include material/ equipment procurement from Phase I and final installation on board the ship.

Work will be performed in Newport News, VA and is expected to be complete by May 2009. This contract was not competitively procured by the Supervisor of Shipbuilding Conversion and Repair in Newport News, VA (N62793-07-C-A022).

Into Drydock
(click to view full)

Nov 29/05: Northrop Grumman Newport News in Newport News, VA is awarded a $1.94 billion cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the FY 2006 mid-life refueling and complex overhaul of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Work on Northrop Grumman’s portion of the RCOH effort will be performed in Newport News, VA and is expected to be complete by March 2009, as detailed further in this Northrop Grumman release. Funding is provided and work is authorized in accordance with Public Law 109-77 and Public Law 109-104. The contract was not competitively procured (N00024-06-C-2115).

Dec 13/04: Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Newport News, VA received a $215.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-01-C-2103) for FY 2005 advanced planning and material procurement for the Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) of the USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70]. Work will be performed in Newport News, VA (99%) and Puget Sound, WA (1%), and is expected to be complete by November 2005.

Feb 6/04: Northrup Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Newport News, VA received a $139.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-01-C-2103, for fiscal 2004 advanced planning and material procurement for the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70]. Work will be performed in Newport News, VA (99%), and Puget Sound, WA (1%), and is expected to be complete by November 2004.

CVN 70: Turnaround
(click to view full)

Dec 11/02: Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Newport News, VA received a $143 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification for FY 2003 advanced planning and material procurement for the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70]. Work will be performed at Newport News, VA (97%) and Puget Sound, WA (3%), and is to be complete by November 2003. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-01-C-2103).

March 29/02: Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Newport News, VA received a $42.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-01-C-2103, a May 15/01 cost-plus-fixed-fee $9.3 million contract for advanced planning and engineering services for “future aircraft carrier availabilities.”

Under this modification, they will perform advanced planning, design, documentation, engineering, procurement, ship checks, fabrication and preliminary shipyard work in order to prepare and make ready for alterations, repairs, maintenance and routine work on the USS Carl Vinson [CVN 70], and its reactors. Work will be performed in Newport News, VA (98%) and Puget Sound, WA (2%), and is to be complete by November 2002. This contract was not competitively procured.

Additional Readings and Sources

Many thanks to US NAVSEA for working with DID to clarify key figures.

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

US Navy on the T-AKE As It Beefs Up Supply Ship Capacity

Defense Industry Daily - Tue, 02/12/2019 - 04:56

USNS Sacagawea
(click to view full)

Warships get a lot of attention, but without resupply, an impressive-looking fleet becomes a hollow force. The US Navy’s supply and support fleet has been aging, and needed new vessels. T-AKE is part of that effort, and the ships have also found themselves performing “naval diplomacy” roles.

The entire T-AKE dry cargo/ ammunition ship program could have a total value of as much as $6.2 billion, and a size of 14 ships, as the US looks to modernize its supply fleet. How do T-AKE ships fit into US naval operations? What ships do they replace? What’s the tie-in to US civilian industrial capacity? How were environmental standards built into their design? And what contracts have been issued for T-AKE ships to date?

T-AKE Ships: Mission & Capabilities

How it works
(click to view full)

T-AKE multi-product fleet replenishment ships will provide logistics lift to station ships and other ships operating with naval forces from supply sources such as friendly ports, and at sea from merchant vessels. In other words, their primary mission is to provide a steady stream of ammunition, spare parts and provisions (dry, refrigerated and frozen) to naval forces at sea in their role as a shuttle ship.

As a secondary mission, they may operate in concert with a T-AO oiler as a semi-substitute for one AOE-1 Sacramento Class, or with AOE-6 Supply Class fast combat logistics support ships if the situation so dictates. Given the T-AKE’s fuel capacity, it would certainly require at least a T-AO oiler as well in order to service any Carrier or Amphibious strike group.

The AOEs are also referred to as “station ships.” They offer a form of one-stop shopping by carrying dry stores (food, consumables, spare parts), ammunition (bombs, missiles) and fuel (oil, jet fuel), and are able to transfer them all simultaneously. Often, shuttle ships simply resupply the AOE station ship.

T-AKE 1 in Crete
(click to view full)

Lewis and Clark Class T-AKE dry cargo/ammunition ships are 210 meters (689 feet) in length and 32.2 meters (105.6 feet) in beam, with a design draft of 9.12 meters (29.9 feet). They displace 41,000 tons, and the ships can carry almost 7,000 metric tons of dry cargo and ammunition and 23,500 barrels of marine diesel fuel. The specifications demanded that the transfer rates for ammunition and stores must be at least equal to those of the AOE-6 Class. Maximum speed is slower, however, at around 20 knots of burst speed.

The T-AKEs will provide a 2-product (ammunition; and combat stores – including dry stores, frozen and chilled products, spare parts, and consumables that may include drinkable water) shuttle ship replacement for US Military Sealift Command’s aging Combat Store (T-AFS 1 Mars Class) and Ammunition (T-AE 26 Kilauea Class) shuttle ships. They are designed to be fully inter-operable with all US Navy and North Atlantic Treaty organization ships capable of underway replenishment, using standard US Navy Underway Replenishment (UNREP) equipment, or improved systems developed by industry.

ASRS test
(click to view full)

As one example, the US Navy is testing the Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS), an automatic shipboard storeroom system that can be configured to store Navy-standard pallets, Joint Modular Intermodal Containers, or any other packaging container, offering faster performance, less work, and fully selective offloading. ASRS is intended to be a low-maintenance system that can operate in Sea State 5 (waves up to 7 feet, just under Small Craft Advisory), and survive to Sea Sate 9 (hurricane force winds and/or waves well over 14m/45 feet, “hey isn’t that Laird Hamilton out there?” conditions). With their single propulsion screw (mariners do not call them “propellers”) and single rudder, however, mechanical problems can become disabling more quickly than is the case for multiple screw or multiple rudder designs.

T-AKE ships are the US Navy’s first full-size all-electric ships, with diesel-electric generation that can be used for propulsion or for internal systems. The use of electric drive creates more internal redundancy in the event of damage. It also eliminates the need for drive shaft and reduction gears, which brings benefits to the ship’s internal space and makes for a quieter ship that’s harder to find using sonar. The ship class’ 4 Fairbanks Morse/MAN B&W 9L and 8L 48/60 diesel generators can generate up to 35.7 MW of power for use around the ship, compared to just 7.5 MW of power generated by the DDG-51 AEGIS destroyers to run internal machinery and combat systems.

SA330 from T-AKE 1
(click to view full)

T-AKE ships have a crew of 124 CIVMARs – civilian mariners who function under Secretary of the Navy instructions, and are Excepted Service employees of the US government. Military Sealift Command’s Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force serves as their program manager, but the ships are assigned to Fleet Forces Command. As such, these ships are given the USNS (name) designation and “placed in service,” unlike Navy warships which are given the USS (name) designation and commissioned. The T-AKE’s military detachment is 11 Navy sailors, who provide operational support and supply coordination.

Another effect of this CIVMAR difference can be seen in the ship’s air assets. T-AKE ships are capable of landing, fueling and maintaining up to 2 utility helicopters like the CH-46D Sea Knight or MH-60S Knight Hawk, with hangar space for 2 machines. In practice, however, they do not carry US Navy helicopters. Instead, they carry contracted Eurocopter SA330 Puma medium helicopters, which are used to help transfer personnel and cargo in VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment) operations. Other Navy helicopters may land on T-AKE ships and assist, of course, but they are not part of the T-AKE ship’s native complement.

The T-AKE Program

USS George Washington
& USNS Carl Brashear
(click to view full)

As noted below, the initial October 2001 contract called for the design and construction of the lead ship and the 1st follow ship, with additional follow-on ships included as contract options. At the time, the total cost if all options were exercised and 11 ships were built was projected at $3.75 billion (presumably in FY 2001 dollars). In April 2007, the Pentagon’s Selected Acquisition Report placed total actual and estimated program costs at $5.715 billion, based on 12 ships, with inflation rates included over the project’s entire lifetime. Thanks to a multi-year agreement hammered out in August 2007, the T-AKE program now has the potential to produce a total of 14 ships to be awarded through 2011, with a total value of $6.2 billion. Named USNS ships of the T-AKE Lewis and Clark Class all have a strong exploration bent; named ships to date include:

  • T-AKE 1 USNS Lewis & Clark
  • T-AKE 2 USNS Sacagawea
  • T-AKE 3 USNS Alan Sheppard
  • T-AKE 4 USNS Richard E Byrd
  • T-AKE 5 USNS Robert E. Peary. No disrespect, but this should have been USNS Dave Brubeck.
  • T-AKE 6 USNS Amelia Earhart
  • T-AKE 7 USNS Carl Brashear
  • T-AKE 8 USNS Wally Schirra
  • T-AKE 9 USNS Matthew Perry
  • T-AKE 10 USNS Charles Drew
  • T-AKE 11 USNS Washington Chambers
  • T-AKE 12 USNS William McLean
  • T-AKE 13 USNS Medgar Evers
  • T-AKE 14 USNS Cesar Chavez

Of these 14, 12 will serve in the classic logistics lift role. Another 2 T-AKE ships will go into the Maritime Prepositioning Service with a different cargo loadout, to support the US Marine Corps. The BOLD ALLIGATOR exercise’s February 2012 landing of an MV-22 Osprey aboard USNS Robert E. Peary is connected with that role. It means the Marines can lift ammunition directly from a T-AKE ship to shore, rather than using further transfer to other ships. Turning this test into an operational capability will take more work and testing. Having 2 T-AKE ships in the MPS should provide plenty of opportunity.

T-AKE Ships: The Civilian Industry Angle

T-AKE Drawing
(click to view full)

As a deliberate design decision, T-AKE ships have been built to commercial standards to the extent that this was practical. The commercial standards approach removes the potential bottlenecks of military standards, and removes the need for commercial shipbuilders to follow a whole different set of procedures and requirements. This minimizes costs, allows the USA to take advantage of industry innovations and commercial best practices (which can reduce life cycle cost and improve efficiencies), and allows the shipbuilders to build up their civilian industrial capacity.

That last item was especially important to the T-AKE program.

In recent decades, the US Merchant Marine has declined, most civilian shipbuilding has migrated away from the United States to nations like South Korea, and ship ownership has migrated strongly toward direct and indirect ownership by Chinese firms. This has obvious implications for the overall sustainability of the US shipbuilding industry, and raises national security self-sufficiency concerns for the world’s pre-eminent naval power. GlobalSecurity.org notes that the ADC (X) program (which eventually became T-AKE) was seen as especially critical to demonstrate America’s ability to produce affordable and flexible container-type ships without going overseas. The idea was that ships would contribute to America’s overall shipbuilding infrastructure because their design would be a common hull having tremendous application to the civilian shipbuilding industry. So T-AKE’s goal was really two-fold: re-capitalization of the Navy’s sealift needs, and implementing a program that would impact America’s ability to competitively build ships on the civilian market.

NASSCO’s Jan 31/06 release noted that the exercise of the option for the 9th T-AKE ship brought NASSCO’s backlog to 10 ships, including the 9 T-AKEs and the 4th of 4 double-hull oil tankers being built for BP Shipping Company of Alaska. The question is what will happen when T-AKE construction ends, which is due to happen soon. Building the USA’s Mobile Landing Platform ships will take up some of that slack, but it’s a small class.

T-AKE Ships and the Environment

(click to feel better)

The existing T-AO Kaiser Class Fleet Oilers are not all double-hulled like the T-AKE – only the last 3 T-AOs are double-hulled. The Kaiser Class will need to be updated to meet international oil pollution conventions, and to address the wear being placed on them by the current high operational tempo.

Given the inevitable reductions in active T-AO ships during the refit period, T-AKE vessels will be particularly welcome in the fleet. For several reasons.

GlobalSecurity.org notes that this new class of T-AKE ships was envisaged as the first Navy Environmentally Sound Ship of the 21st century built with protection of the marine environment as a design objective. Performance requirements were crafted in the T-AKE ships’ System Specification that would ensure compliance with environmental regulations projected for the next 20 years.

Central themes are compliance with international and national regulations, adaptation of pollution prevention measures though elimination of pollutants at the source (design them out at the onset), establishment of a hazardous material prohibition list, and a second list of materials that may only be used with government concurrence. USNS Lewis and Clark is the first Navy ship designed to be Ozone Depleting Substance free. It is also capable of performing mid-ocean ballast water exchange to minimize introduction of invasive species, and incorporates a combined sewage/graywater treatment system, and a double hull around cargo fuel areas to afford port access. Analysis of total pollutant loading between the T-AFS and T-AE ships and the T-ADC (X)/ T-AKE design showed a drop of 95% in total pollutants being introduced into the marine environment.

Management of the Environmental Protection Program rests with the Assistant Project Manager, and the government/ industry team is responsible for ensuring environmental performance through the Environmental Protection Working Group.

The T-AKE program received a Secretary of Defense Environmental Award on May 1/02.

T-AKE Ships: Contracts & Key Events

UNREP: USS Essex &
USNS Alan Sheppard
(click to view full)

Thanks to a multi-year agreement hammered out in August 2007, the T-AKE program is now slated to produce a total of 14 ships, with a total value of up to $6.2 billion. Unless otherwise specified, US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued these contracts and modifications to General Dynamics subsidiary National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (GD NASSCO) in San Diego, CA.

FY 2013

 

T-AKE 10 & DDG-92
(click to view full) February 12/19: T-AKE7 overhaul and dry-docking The US Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) awarded a $17 million contract to Vigor Marin Inc. for a 75-calendar day shipyard availability for the regular overhaul and dry docking of USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE 7). USNS Carl Brashear is a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship delivered to the Navy by General Dynamics on March 4, 2009. Lewis and Clark Class T-AKE dry cargo/ammunition ships are 210 meters in length and 32.2 meters in beam, with a design draft of 9.12 meters. Vigor Marine provides vessel construction and repair services including dry-docking, structural repair, welding, machinery repair, diesel engine repair, shaft seal replacement, tube renewal among others. Work for this contract, which will take place in Portland, Oregon will entail clean and gas-free tanks, voids, cofferdams and spaces, propulsion motor and cooler, main generator maintenance and cleaning, high voltage switchboard and emergency switchboard cleaning, five-year main engine flex hose replacement, dry-docking and undocking, propeller shaft and stern tube inspect, freshwater stern tube lubrication, underwater hull cleaning and painting, freeboard cleaning and painting, sea valve replacements, renew flight deck nonskid, and reverse osmosis unit sea-chest installation. Work is scheduled to be completed by May 15 this year.

July 5/13: T-AKE 7 drydocking. BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair in San Francisco, CA receives a $10.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 56-calendar day regular overhaul and dry docking of USNS Carl Brashear. All funds are committed immediately, but the contract includes options which could bring its total value to $12.3 million.

Work will include inspection of the propeller shaft and stern tube, cleaning and painting of the hull, inspection and polish of the bow thruster propeller, installation of the cloropac unit and overhaul of the seal valves. Work will be performed in San Francisco, CA, and is expected to be complete by Sept 25/13. This contract was competitively procured, with proposals solicited via FBO.gov, and 1 offer received. US Military Sealift Command Norfolk in Norfolk, VA manages the contract (N32205-13-C-3015).

Feb 5/13: TAKE-5 drydocking. Detyens Shipyards Inc. in North Charleston, SC receives an $8.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 55-calendar day regular overhaul and dry docking of USNS Robert E. Peary. Improvements will include installing a reverse-osmosis system to produce fresh water; inspecting the propeller shaft and stern tube; overhauling sea valves; installing a chlorpac unit; and cleaning and painting of the underwater hull. It’s not quite the same as T-AKE 4’s list, which explains why the price is so different. The contract includes options which could bring the total value to $9.9 million.

Work will be performed in North Charleston, SC, and is expected to be complete by May 2013. All contract funds are committed in FY 2013, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year of Sept 30/13. This contract was competitively procured via FBO.gov, but just 1 offer was received by Military Sealift Command Norfolk in Norfolk, VA (N32205-13-C-3010).

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). T-AKE is included, and most of the type’s previous deficiencies now list as corrected.

One deficiency that popped up is potential vulnerability to hackers. Category I vulnerabilities were found during an Information Assurance audit, and a subsequent Red Team effort gained system access.

The other 2 are related to T-KAE’s protection measures again chemical, biological or radiation attacks. Corrosion in the Countermeasure Water Wash Down’s (CMWWD) mild carbon steel piping system is still a problem, and the new IPDS-LR alert system doesn’t automatically activate the ship’s general or chemical alarm. The crew must manually activate this alarm, unlike US Navy ships. IPDS-LR still works, and isn’t formally on the “fix it” list, but it is worth noting.

Nov 21/12: TAKE-4 drydocking. BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair in San Francisco, CA receives $13.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 53-calendar day regular overhaul and dry-docking of T-AKE 4, the USNS Richard E. Byrd. Improvements will include freeze chill decking structure support and repairs; installing a reverse-osmosis system to produce fresh water; inspecting the propeller shaft and stern tube; cleaning and painting of the underwater hull; and replacing the flight deck foam sprinkler piping. The contract includes options which would bring the total to $15.1 million.

Work will be performed in San Francisco, CA, and is expected to be complete by Jan 17/13. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. This contract was competitively procured via FBO.gov, with 1 offer received (N32205-13-C-3012).

Oct 24/12: T-AKE 14 delivered. Military Sealift Command accepts delivery of its newest and last T-AKE ship, USNS Cesar Chavez, during a short ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO Ship Yard San Diego, CA. US MSC

Final T-AKE

FY 2012

Osprey lands; T-AKE 13 launched with greatly reduced labor hours, then delivered; T-AKE 3 drydock.

UNREP: T-AKE 11 to CG 52
(click to view full)

Sept 28/12: T-AKE 14 trial. The future USNS Cesar Chavez completed its Integrated Acceptance Trial which should lead to delivery later this (civil) year. NAVSEA.

April 24/12: T-AKE 13 delivered. US Military Sealift Command accepted delivery of T-AKE 13 as USNS Medgar Evers, during a short ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego. US MSC | US Navy | GD NASSCO.

March 16/12: T-AKE 3 drydock. BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair in San Francisco, CA receives a $12.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 55-calendar day regular overhaul and dry-docking of the USNS Alan Shepard [T-AKE-3]. Some of the major work items include dry-docking and undocking the ship, repairing interior decks, structural repairs, overhauling the main diesel generators, and inspecting and refurbishing the propeller shaft and stern tube. This contract includes options, which could raise it to $14.3 million.

Work will be performed in San Francisco, CA, and is expected to be complete by May 28/12. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. This contract was competitively procured, with 1 offer received by US Military Sealift Fleet Support Command in Norfolk, VA (N40442-12-C-3011).

Feb 9/12: Osprey landing. A USMC MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft from VMM-266 makes the 1st landing aboard a T-AKE ship, on USNS Robert E. Peary [T-AKE 5]. The Osprey landed aboard Robert E. Peary while conducting an experimental resupply of Marines during exercise Bold Alligator 2012. US Navy photo release.

Nov 12/11: T-AKE 13 launched. USNS Medgar Evers [T-AKE 13] is christened at NASSCO’s San Diego, CA shipyard. She is named in honor of the African American civil rights leader from Mississippi, who was assassinated on June 12/63 in the front yard of his Mississippi home, by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith. Evers had tried to end segregation at the University of Mississippi in the 1950s, and was appointed Mississippi’s first NAACP field officer in 1954. He held the position until his assassination, working for economic boycotts and peaceful protests against “Jim Crow” segregation laws. His widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, christened the ship.

NASSCO says that its culture of continuous improvement has as reduced the labor hours required to build T-AKE 13 by 67%, compared to T-AKE-1. The ship is due for delivery to the US Navy in Q2 2012, after at-sea testing. US MSC | GD NASSCO.

FY 2011

Cam Ranh return; T-AKE 11 delivered; T-AKE 12 launch & delivery; T-AKE 13 keel laid; T-AKE 14 named & keel laid; T-AKE 1 drydock.

Building T-AKE 13
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Sept 28/11: T-AKE 12 delivered. General Dynamics NASSCO delivers USNS William McLean to the U.S. Navy, during a signing ceremony at its San Diego, CA shipyard. US MSC | GD NASSCO.

Aug 23/11: Cam Ranh Bay. USNS Robert E. Byrd [T-AKE-4] leaves Cam Ranh Bay, after becoming the 1st US Navy vessel to visit the southern Vietnamese port in over 30 years. She spent 7 days at Cam Ranh Shipyard for routine maintenance and repairs that included underwater hull cleaning, polishing of the ship’s propeller, repairing shipboard piping, and overhaul of the salt water cooling system.

MSC Ship Support Unit Singapore routinely contracts shipyards throughout Southeast Asia to conduct maintenance and repairs, reducing transit times and hence the amount of time these ships are off-mission. US MSC.

May 19/11: T-AKE 14 named. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announces that T-AKE 14 will be named USNS Cesar Chavez. Chavez served in the Navy from 1944-1946, then became a leader in the American labor movement, and a civil rights activist who co-founded the National Farm Workers Association union. The choice ends up focusing unfriendly attention on Mabus’ politicization of ship names. US MSC.

May 10/11: T-AKE 14 keel. General Dynamics NASSCO hosts a keel laying ceremony for T-AKE 14 at its San Diego, CA shipyard. Construction began in October 2010, and the ship is scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Navy in Q4 2012. GD NASSCO also touts shipbuilding progress to date:

“During the course of the decade-long T-AKE Program, General Dynamics NASSCO has implemented more than 20,000 ideas to drive down costs and improve quality as part of its continuing commitment to the efficient production of world-class ships for the U.S. Navy. These enhancements are the result of ongoing process improvement initiatives, Lean Six Sigma projects, facility investments of more than $300 million since 2000 and capturing and rigorously applying lessons learned… In just five years, NASSCO has reduced the labor hours required to build a T-AKE by more than 60 percent, while completing construction in half the scheduled time required to build the first T-AKE ship…”

April 17/11: T-AKE 12 launched. GD NASSCO launches the USNS William McLean [T-AKE 12] dry cargo/ammunition supply ship at its San Diego shipyard. William Burdette McLean was a Navy physicist who conceived and developed the heat-seeking Sidewinder missile. NASSCO began building the USNS William McLean in September 2009. Following its at-sea testing phase, the ship will be delivered to the Navy in the 3rd quarter of 2011. GD NASSCO | US Navy pic.

March 25/11: T-AKE 1 drydocking. Detyens Shipyards, Inc. in North Charleston, SC wins a $7.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 55-calendar-day regular overhaul of USNS Lewis and Clark [T-AKE 1], including options which would bring the cumulative value to $8.8 million. This regular overhaul will include dry-docking and undocking the ship; underwater hull painting; main engine overhaul; propeller shaft inspection; cleaning and gas freeing tanks, voids and cofferdams; tank structural surveying and testing; and non-skid renewal.

Work will be performed in Charleston, S.C., and is expected to be completed by June 2011. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. This contract was competitively procured and posted to the Federal Business Opportunities Web page, with 3 offers received. The U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Fleet Support Command manages the contract (N40442-11-C-3049).

Feb 23/11: T-AKE 11 delivered. US Military Sealift Command accepts delivery of its newest T-AKE dry cargo/ammunition ship, the USNS Washington Chambers [T-AKE 11], following successful sea trials. US MSC | GD NASSCO re: trials.

Jan 26/11: T-AKE 11 trials. GD NASSCO begins contractor sea trials for the Washington Chambers [T-AKE 11], before a scheduled return to the shipyard on Feb 3/11 for additional work. NASSCO spokesman Jim Gill told Sign-On San Diego that the ship:

“…goes out 20-plus miles… They test all the systems, including drop anchor and hauling it back up. This is usually done just off Coronado Roads (Silver Strand). Take the engine through all its configurations. Test the cranes, test the replenishment equipment (cabling, winches), run the fluids through the lines. Test the radar, fire fighting systems, top side sprinkling systems.”

Oct 26/10: T-AKE 13 keel. General Dynamics NASSCO lays the keel for T-AKE 13, the Medgar Evers. The ship is named in honor of the African American civil rights activist whose 1963 murder prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill.

NASSCO also cites a number of improvements since launching T-AKE 1, aimed at driving down costs and improving quality. These improvements involved facility investments, workforce training and capturing and applying lessons learned. For example, design enhancements feature an electronic sensor-triggered fire extinguishing system that eliminates a mechanical arrangement. This results in fewer parts, and hopefully higher reliability and lower costs.

Oct 21/10: T-AKE 14 begun. General Dynamics NASSCO begins construction of the 14th T-AKE ship, which is scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Navy in Q4 2012. Source.

FY 2010

T-AKE 9 delivered; T-AKE 10 launched & delivered; T-AKE 11 launched; T-AKE 13 & 14 ordered; T-AKE 13 named.

USNS Amelia Earhart
(click to view full)

Sept 11/10: T-AKE 11 launch. General Dynamics NASSCO launches the USNS Washington Chambers [T-AKE 11], during a christening ceremony at the shipyard, on San Diego’s working waterfront. NASSCO.

July 14/10: T-AKE 10 delivered. General Dynamics NASSCO delivers USNS Charles Drew [T-AKE 10] to the U.S. Navy, formally completing construction work that began in October 2008. Like other T-AKE ships, she is crewed by 124 civil service mariners, and 10 U.S. Navy sailors.

The ship is named in honor of Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950), the African American surgeon and hematologist who pioneered the procedures for the safe storage and transfusion of blood. US MSC | GD NASSCO.

May 14/10: Small business qualifier Pacific Ship Repair & Fabrication in San Diego, CA will handle post-shakedown availability contracts for USNS Matthew Perry [T-AKE 9] and USNS Charles Drew [T-AKE 10]. The multi-ship solicitation contracts include options which would bring the total contract value to $18.9 million, if exercised.

Post-shakedown availability is a normal process for ships, in order to fix and tune problems found on the initial shakedown cruise. This one will include work on the lube-oil-tank, second-deck-cargo and galley modifications; cargo hold overhead insulation; and deck air compressor and radar installation.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete within 75 calendar days, once work begins for each ship. This contract was competitively procured on a set-aside for small business basis, and posted to the Military Sealift Command, Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities Web sites. A total of 4 offers were received by US Navy Military Sealift Fleet Support Command in Norfolk, VA, and they issued the contracts using funds from US NAVSEA PMS 325 (N40442-10-C-3020 for the USNS Matthew Perry; N40442-11-C-3000 for the USNS Charles Drew).

March 26/10: T-AKE 12 keel. General Dynamics NASSCO lays the keel for T-AKE 12, the William McLean. It’s named for the research scientists whose accomplishments include the iconic AIM-9 sidewinder short-range air-air missile. NASSCO.

Feb 27/10: T-AKE 10 launch. General Dynamics NASSCO launches USNS Charles Drew [T-AKE 10] at its San Diego shipyard. Dr. Charles Drew researched and developed methods of blood collection, plasma processing and storage. US Navy | General Dynamics release.

Feb 26/10: T-AKE 13 & 14 ordered. A $824.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-02-C-2300) for construction of T-AKE 13 and T-AKE 14; the contract modification also includes design and construction, technical manuals, special studies, analyses and reviews, engineering and industrial services, and data.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by December 2013 for T-AKE 13 and November 2014 for T-AKE 14. See also Dec 12/08 long-lead items buy, GD NASSCO release.

Feb 24/10: T-AKE 9 delivered. General Dynamics NASSCO delivers USNS Matthew Perry [T-AKE 9]. GD release.

Oct 9/09: T-AKE 13 named. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi from 1988-1992, announces that the Navy will name a dry cargo ammunition ship after the civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The Mississippi native’s 1963 murder, and the subsequent deadlock of 2 all white juries, prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill. Evers’ murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, was finally convicted in 1994 based on new evidence. US Navy.

FY 2009

T-AKEing an expanded role; T-AKE 6 delivered; T-AKE 7 delivered; T-AKE 8 launched; T-AKE 9-12 named; T-AKE 9 launched; T-AKE 10 keel laid; T-AKE 11 & 12 ordered; T-AKE 11 begun.

T-AKE-1, Crete
(click to view full)

Sept 16/09: Expanded role. USNS Richard E. Byrd [T-AKE 4] has to make some changes, in order to serve as the lead Pacific Partnership 2009 vessel instead of the Austin class amphibious assault vessel USS Dubuque [LPD 8]. Dubuque’s crew had begun to come down with flu symptoms, raising concerns about H1N1 transmission.

The US Navy describes the shifts on board the Byrd, including substitution of outside personnel for some crew, bringing in Army cots, adding a reverse osmosis water purifier on deck, carrying full fuel and 3 months worth of provisions for the ship’s own use, adding cargo for medical needs, adding and deploying 4 small 7m RHIB boats, etc.

Aug 17/09: T-AKE 9 launched. The US Navy christens T-AKE 9 Matthew Perry, named after the famed South Pole explorer. GD release | US MSC release.

May 6/09: US MSC announces that USNS Lewis and Clark [T-AKE 1] foils a pirate attack off the coast of Somalia. Once shipboard lookouts spotted the 2 suspected pirate skiffs, the ship conducted evasive maneuvers and increased speed to elude the pirates. The pirates fired small arms weapons from approximately 2 nautical miles toward Lewis and Clark, which fell 1 nautical mile short of the ship’s stern. Lewis and Clark continued to increase speed and the skiffs ceased their pursuit.

March 19/09: T-AKE 11 begun. GD NASSCO begins construction of the future USNS Washington Chambers [T-AKE 11]. The Washington Chambers is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in the first quarter of 2011. Source.

March 17/09: T-AKE 10 keel. GD NASSCO lays the keel for the future USNS Charles Drew [T-AKE 10]. Construction of the Charles Drew began in October 2008, and the ship is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in the 3rd quarter of 2010. General Dynamics release.

March 8/09: T-AKE 8 launched. The US Navy christens T-AKE 8 Wally Schirra, named after the American astronaut and command pilot of Apollo 7, the first manned flight in the Apollo program. US MSC | San Diego Tribune | San Diego Navy Compass | General Dynamics release.

March 4/09: T-AKE 7 delivered. US Military Sealift Command accepts delivery of USNS Carl Brashear, after a series of tests and trials prior to delivery. MSC release | General Dynamics release.

Feb 8/09: Gannett’s Navy Times offers a profile of life aboard the USNS Robert E. Peary [T-AKE 5]. The ships do have some limitations compared to their predecessors, and their electronics can be a source of adjustment and extra work, as well as improved performance:

“He remembered serving aboard an Arctic-class ammunition ship, powered by gas turbines, and being able to keep pace with a carrier strike group at 30 knots or more. The Peary and its siblings can make a top speed of 20 knots, but not for very long. Where earlier ships had twin screws and twin rudders, affording better reliability, the Peary has a single screw and a single rudder, rendering it all-the-more vulnerable to engineering problems.

When the Peary needed to get underway for a week’s worth of qualification trials in late January, the ship’s engine systems were acting up. Just as computer users have done for years, the Peary’s engineers shut down the engine system and re-started it, temporarily solving the problem. But the touchy plant forced Karavalos to cancel a day’s worth of practice unreps so his technicians could locate problems in the propulsion system.”

DID would add that despite the article’s description of pleasant quarters and dispensed formalities compared with Navy ships is partly reflective of the fact that MSC mariners are away from home over 70-80% of the time. The ships are home, and the lack of duty seamen to do trivial work means that everyone must pitch in.

Jan 27/09: Cascade General in Portland, OR won a $13.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for post-shipyard work on USNS Amelia Earhart [T-AKE 6] and USNS Carl Brashear [T-AKE 7]. Work involves ship alterations, including the lube-oil-tank, second-deck-cargo and galley modifications; cargo hold overhead insulation; and deck air compressor and radar installation. Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA PMS 325) provides the funding for post-shipyard work, and this contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the total contract value to $17.9 million.

Work will be performed in Portland, OR and is expected to be complete within 75 calendar days. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with 2 offers received by U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Fleet Support Command, a field activity of Military Sealift Command (N40442-09-C-3009).

Dec 12/08: T-AKE 11 & 12 ordered. A $940.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-02-C-2300), exercising 2 construction options for T-AKE 11 Washington Chambers and T-AKE 12 William McLean. Earlier this year, NASSCO received a total of $200 million to purchase long lead time materials for these ships.

These funds also cover $200 million for engines and other long lead time materials and components for T-AKE 13 and T-AKE 14. GD NASSCO expects a contract that fully funds both ships by February 2010.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by February 2012 for T-AKE 11, January 2013 for T-AKE 12, December 2013 for T-AKE 13 and November 2014 for T-AKE 14. Se also GD NASSCO release.

Dec 2/08: T-AKE 9-12 named. Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter announces the names for the next 4 Lewis and Clark class T-AKE ships. All still have exploration theme, but some of these namings involve different kinds of pioneering and exploration. NAVAIR will be especially pleased by 2 of the names.

T-AKE 9 honors Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858), who is most famous for sailing a naval squadron to Japan and opening it to trade. Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors executives are probably wishing that he had stayed home.

T-AKE 10 honors Dr. Charles R. Drew (1904-1950), a physician and medical researcher whose pioneering work in the late 1930s and early 1940s led to the life-saving discovery that blood could be separated into plasma. Dr. Drew was African-American, and has a medical university named after him in south Los Angeles.

T-AKE 11 honors Navy Capt. Washington Irving Chambers (1856-1934), who arranged the world’s first airplane flight from a warship on Nov 14, 1910, when Eugene Ely flew from the light cruiser the USS Birmingham [CL-2].

T-AKE 12 honors William Burdette McLean (1914-1976), who conceived and developed the iconic Sidewinder short-range, heat-seeking air-to-air missile while serving as a physicist for the Navy. As NAVAIR’s release notes, he also pioneered the testing facility at China Lake, CA.

Nov 24/08: NAVFAC Marianas announces the 2nd increment of an $83 million firm-fixed price contract to the IBC/TOA Corporation Joint Venture based in Barrigada, Guam. The $43 million increment will be used to complete expansion of U.S. Naval Base Guam’s Kilo Wharf, used for ammunition. Cmdr. Matthew Suess, executive officer for NAVFAC Marianas:

“The extension is to accommodate the new T-AKE class of ammunition vessels, meet current seismic standards, and provide for containerized cargo operations with the installation of new crane rails.”

The project is scheduled for completion in 2010. US Navy release.

Oct 30/08: T-AKE 6 delivered. The USA’s Military Sealift Command accepts delivery of the USNS Amelia Earhart [T-AKE 6] in San Diego. In early December 2008, the ship will go on a short “shakedown cruise” where the ship’s crew will test a range of shipboard operations. Earhart will operate mainly in the Pacific Ocean out of Guam, and is anticipated to begin conducting missions for MSC in summer 2009. US MSC | GD NASSCO.

FY 2008

Revised program SAR (to 12 ships); T-AKE 4 delivered; T-AKE 5 delivered; T-AKE 6 launch; T-AKE 7 named & launched; TAKE 8 named; T-AKE 10 ordered; T-AKE 12 long-lead.

T-AKE 7 construction
Ken Wright, GD NASSCO
(click to view full)

Sept 18/08: T-AKE 7 launched. USNS Carl Brashear [T-AKE 7] is christened and launched during a morning ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, CA. After a series of tests and sea trials, the ship will be delivered to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command for operations in 2009.

The ship honors Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear, who joined the U.S. Navy in 1948. See March 3/08 entry for more on Carl Brashear. MSC release.

Sept 10/08: Detyens Shipyards, Inc. in Charleston, SC won a $7.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for a post-shipyard availability of Military Sealift Fleet Support Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Peary [T-AKE 5]. This shipyard availability is primarily for ship alterations, including lube-oil-tank, second-deck-cargo and galley modifications; cargo hold overhead insulation; and deck air compressor and radar installation. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the total contract value to $9.1 million.

Work will be performed in Charleston, SC and is expected to be complete within 75 calendar days. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via Military Sealift Command, Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 2 offers received by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (N40442-08-C-3011).

June 10/08: T-AKE 12 long-lead. A $100 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-02-C-2300) to exercise an option for long lead time material for T-AKE 12.

Long-lead material includes items like engines et. al. These items take time to make, but must be delivered early or else construction will be delayed. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by January 2013. See also GD release.

June 5/08: T-AKE 5 delivered. USNS Robert E. Peary [T-AKE 5] is officially accepted by the U.S. Navy.

At the end of July 2008, the ship will go a short ‘shakedown cruise’ where the ship’s crew will test a range of shipboard operations. By the end of the summer, Peary will depart for her homeport in Norfolk, and soon deploy on its first operational mission. Navy release | GD release.

April 7/08: SAR. The Pentagon releases its Selected Acquisition Reports for the period up to December 2007. T-AKE is included due to cost increases:

“Program costs increased by $1,086.4 million (+23.5 percent) from $4,628.8 million to $5,715.2 million, due primarily to the addition of one ship from 11 to 12 ships (+$471.0 million), associated outfitting and post delivery costs (+$84.5 million), and cost growth on previous ships (+$520.6 million).”

April 6/08: T-AKE 6 launch. USNS Amelia Earhart [T-AKE-6] is launched and christened at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. See also May 28/07 entry. US Navy release.

March 14/08: At a House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee hearing, chairman Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS] says:

“Although I put the T-AKE in the list of programs which are healthy, I would like our witnesses to address why the T-AKE [ship] that was requested and funded in fiscal year 2008 is not being put on contract. The subcommittee understands that the money that was requested to purchase a ship was instead used to re-negotiate contract terms. I understand the Navy thinks they can do this because the money is in a working capital fund called the National Defense Sealift Fund or NDSF.

I assure you that it is not the intent of the Congress that money authorized and appropriated for a specific purpose, in this case the procurement of a ship, would be used for any other purpose without further authorization or reprogramming.”

Read “US Navy’s 313-Ship Plan Under Fire in Congress” for more.

March 7/08: Pacific Ship Repair & Fabrication in San Diego, CA won an $11 million firm-fixed-price contract for a post shipyard availability of the USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4). This contract is designed to take care of post-construction alterations, including conversions to the bakery, galley and scullery, as well as modifications to the 2nd deck cargo hold and bow thruster chilled-water piping system. The ship is expected to deploy on its first operational mission this summer, and the contract includes options that could bring the total contract value to $12.7 million.

Work will be performed by Pacific Ship Repair & Fabrication at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, CaA and is expected to be completed by June 2008. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with 3 offers received by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (N40442-08-C-3004).

March 3/08: T-AKE 7 & 8 named. Secretary of the Navy Dr. Donald C. Winter announced the naming of the 7th and 8th Military Sealift Command ships of the Lewis and Clark-class Auxiliary Dry Cargo ships (T-AKE) as Carl Brashear and Wally Schirra.

Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate (Master Diver) Carl M. Brashear joined the United States Navy in 1948, and became its first black deep-sea diver, first black Master Diver, and the first U.S. Navy diver to be restored to full active duty as an amputee, almost 2 difficult years after a salvage operation went awry. Brashear was the subject of the 2000 movie “Men of Honor,” starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

Wally Schirra was of the original 7 Mercury astronauts profiled in the movie “The Right Stuff,” and holds the distinction of being the only astronaut to fly in each of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. USN PEO ships release.

Jan 31/08: T-AKE 10 ordered. General Dynamics, National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) in San Diego, CA received a $459.8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-02-C-2300), exercising an option for construction of T-AKE 10. See the July 20/07 entry, which involved $100 million in long-lead time items for T-AKE 10. This $459.8 million contract also includes technical manuals and data, special studies, analyses and reviews, engineering and industrial services, and an unspecified value of long lead time material for T-AKE 11 like engines et. al.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and construction of T-AKE 10 is scheduled to begin in January 2009, with delivery to the Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) in Q4 2010. Construction of T-AKE 11 is scheduled to begin in the Q1 2010, with delivery in Q4 2011. GD release.

T-AKE 2 Sacagawea
and CG-53 Mobile Bay
(click to expand)

Dec 19/07: Cascade General Portland Shipyard in Portland, OR won a $9.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 70-day post shipyard availability (PSA) of Military Sealift Fleet Support Command’s dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Alan Shepard [T-AKE 3] “to undergo a number of modifications that could not be economically accomplished under the ship construction contract.” NAVSEA PMS-325 provided funding for the alterations to be completed during the PSA, and the contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $10.8 million.

Work will be performed in Portland, OR and is expected to be complete by Apr. 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $10.8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with 3 offers received by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Fleet Support Command, a field activity of Military Sealift Command in Washington, DC (N40442-08-C-3003).

Nov 14/07: T-AKE 4 delivered. General Dynamics NASSCO delivers USNS Richard E. Byrd [T-AKE 4] to the U.S. Navy. See May 15/07 entry for information about the ship’s namesake. In 2007, NASSCO delivered T-AKE 2 USNS Sacagawea in February, T-AKE 3 USNS Alan Shepard in June, and now USNS Richard E. Byrd. T-AKE 1 USNS Lewis and Clark was delivered in June 2006, and the 5th-8th ships of the class are currently under construction for deliveries through the third quarter of 2009.

General Dynamics NASSCO employs more than 4,600 people and is the only major ship construction yard on the West Coast of the United States. In addition to the T-AKE program, the San Diego shipyard is building the first of 9 commercial product carriers for U.S. Shipping Partners LP. GD release.

FY 2007

Multi-Year deal could order 9-14; T-AKE 2 delivered; T-AKE 3 launched & delivered; T-AKE 6 named & keel laid; T-AKE 10 long-lead.

Aug 23/07: Multi-Year Deal for #9-14. GD NASSCO announces a multi-year agreement with the U.S. Navy for options to build up to 5 additional T-AKE dry cargo ammunition ships. Contracts for the ships, valued at approximately $2.5 billion if all options are exercised, and are expected to be awarded over the next 4 years. Including the 9 ships previously under contract, this agreement means the San Diego shipyard would build a total of 14 T-AKE ships for the Navy. GD release.

July 27/07: T-AKE 3 delivered. Military Sealift Command accepts delivery of dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Alan Shepard [T-AKE 3] in San Diego, CA. MSC release.

July 24/07: “The US Navy (USN) and General Dynamics’ subsidiary National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) are “very close in negotiations” to restructuring its T-AKE combat and logisitics support ships contract to buy two additional vessels, USN Deputy Assistant Secretary Allison Stiller told Jane’s…”

July 20/07: T-AKE 10 long-lead. A $100 million fixed-price-incentive modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-02-C-2300), exercising an option for long lead time material and associated labor for the 10th ship of the T-AKE Class (T-AKE 10). The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface, and material quality assurance for the ship’s engines and other components that have significant manufacturing lead times. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by September 2009.

A contract that funds full construction of the 10th T-AKE ship is expected to be awarded by January 2008. Construction of T-AKE 10 is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2009, with delivery scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. GD NASSCO release.

May 30/07: T-AKE 6 keel. General Dynamics NASSCO holds a keel-laying ceremony for T-AKE 6. A keel-laying ceremony is a shipbuilding tradition that signifies important milestone as full-scale production begins. In recognition of that milestone, event honoree, Darlene Costello, deputy director for Naval Warfare in the office of under secretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, welded her initials into the keel.

The Amelia Earhart is scheduled to be delivered to the US Military Sealift Command (MSC) in the fall of 2008. GD release.

May 28/07: T-AKE 6 named. The US Navy declares that T-AKE 6 will be named USNS Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart became a household name in 1932 when she became the 1st woman – and 2nd person – to fly solo across the Atlantic, flying from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Londonderry, Ireland. That year, she received the Distinguished Flying Cross from the U.S. Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from the French government, and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from President Herbert Hoover. In January 1935, Earhart became the first person to fly solo “across” the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu to Oakland, CA. Later that year she soloed from Los Angeles to Mexico City and back to Newark, NJ. In a tragedy that cemented her legend, Earhart and her Lockheed 10E “Electra” vanished utterly in 1937, during an attempt at an around-the-world flight.

USNS Amelia Earhart will operate out of Guam when she is put into service. Hopefully, modern GPS technology will prevent her from joining her namesake in the South Pacific. US Navy Newsstand.

May 15/07: T-AKE 4 launched. The US Navy christens the USNS Richard E. Byrd. The launching ceremony was held at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company in San Diego, CA. Mrs. Bolling Byrd Clarke, Byrd’s oldest daughter and the ship’s sponsor, christened the ship by breaking the traditional bottle of champagne against its bow. GD release | a US Navy release describes the accomplishments of the ship’s namesake.

May 11/07: Infrastructure. Healy Tibbitts Builders, Inc. in Aiea, HI received a $12.6 million firm-fixed price Task Order 0016 under previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity multiple award construction contract (N62742-04-D-1300) to dredge West Loch Channel at Naval Magazine, Pearl Harbor, so it will accommodate a T-AKE vessel. Construction dredging in the West Loch Channel will provide access and berthing facilities at Wharves W1, W2, and W3 for the T-AKE vessel. The project will also undertake horizontal directional drilling construction of a water line under West Loch channel, and bank stabilization along the dredged/excavated shoreline along Baltimore Point by slope control.

Work will be performed in Pearl Harbor, HI and is expected to be complete by October 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Pacific in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii received 3 proposals for this task order.

May 10/07: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) has announced that H.R. 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2008, has been reported favorably by the committee on a vote of 58-0. The proposed bill includes $456 million for a second T-AKE ship in FY 2008, bringing the fleet to 12 – though this figure would not cover all of the internal systems etc. that must be added to make it operational. MarineLog report.

Feb 27/07: T-AKE 2 delivered. After completing sea trials off the southern California coast, dry cargo/ ammunition ship USNS Sacagawea [T-AKE 2] was delivered to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command. See Navy release.

T-AKE 3 launch
Ken Wright, GD NASSCO
(click to view full)

Dec 15-16/06: USNS Lewis and Clark [T-AKE 1] conducted its first-ever underway replenishment as part of Operation Evaluation Event No. 1 alongside the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt [CVN 71]. The successful UNREP training evolution completed the first of 14 phases of training for Lewis and Clark, assessing the ship’s ability to conduct a ship-ship UNREP and MH-60S helicopter-based vertical replenishment (VERTREP) simultaneously. See Navy release.

Dec 7/06: Detyens Shipyards Inc. in North Charleston, SC received a $6.45 million firm-fixed-price contract for a 90-calendar-day Post Shipyard Availability of Military Sealift Command’s dry cargo ammunition ship USNS Lewis & Clark [T-AKE 1]. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the total contract value to $8.4 million. Work will be performed in North Charleston, SC, and is expected to be completed within 90 calendar days from the commencement of the contract in February 2007. This contract was competitively procured with 2 offers received by US Navy Military Sealift Fleet Support Command, a field activity of US Military Sealift Command (N40442-07-C-3000).

Dec 6/06: T-AKE 3 launched. The USNS Alan Shepard [T-AKE 3] is christened during a launching at General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) in San Diego, CA.

Meanwhile, DID reader Lee R. Wahler wonders “whether the ship’s proper name is [USNS] Alan B. Shepard, Jr or the shortened version [USNS Alan Shepard] which the media types use?” For those unfamiliar with the distinction, the proper name is what ends up on the Certificate of Ownership.

FY 2001 – 2006

T-AKE 1 to 9 ordered; T-AKE 1 to 5 named; T-AKE 1 delivery; T-AKE 2 launch.

USNS Lewis and Clark
(click to expand)

June 24/06: T-AKE 2 launched. The USNS Sacagawea [T-AKE 2] is christened and launched during a twilight ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, CA. The ship is named for a Native American from the Lemhi Shoshone tribe; she served as guide and interpreter for the Lewis and Clark expedition.

July 28/06: T-AKE 4 and 5 named. The US Department of the Navy announces the naming of USNS Richard E. Byrd [T-AKE 4] for the famed Antarctic explorer. As an interesting sidenote, Byrd also led the first expedition to fly over the North Pole. USNS Robert E. Peary [T-AKE 5] is named for the famed Arctic explorer, who is credited as the first person to reach the geographic North Pole. US Navy.

June 20/06: T-AKE 1 delivered. The USNS Lewis and Clark, the first T-AKE ship, is delivered to the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command.

Jan 30/06: T-AKE 9 ordered. A $317.1 million fixed-price-incentive modification for design and construction of the 9th T-AKE Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ship (of 12). Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by May 2009 (N00024-02-C-2300). GD NASSCO release.

Jan 11/05: T-AKE 7 & 8 ordered. A $586.3 million fixed-price-incentive option provides full funding of the detailed design and construction of the 7th and 8th T-AKE Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ships ($293.1 million per ship). Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be completed by May 1, 2008 for the 7th ship and July 31, 2008 for the 8th ship (N00024-02-C-2300).

Jan 27/04: T-AKE 5 & 6 ordered. A $578.2 million fixed-price-incentive modification provides full funding of the detailed design and construction of the 5th and 6th T-AKE Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ships ($289.1 million per ship). Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by July 2007 (N00024-02-C-2300).

July 18/03: T-AKE 4 ordered. A $287.6 million fixed-price-incentive modification exercises an option for design and construction of the 4th T-AKE Dry Cargo/Ammunition Ship. This contract will provide for the full funding of the detail design and construction of the fourth ship of the T-AKE Class. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by December 2006 (N00024-02-C-2300).

July 16/02: T-AKE 3 ordered. A $289.9 million fixed-price-incentive modification exercises an option for design and construction of the 3rd T-AKE Dry Cargo and Ammunition Ship. Work will be performed in San Diego and is to be complete by May 2006. NASSCO would later note that construction on the third T-AKE, to be named the USNS Alan Shepard in honor of the first American in space, began in September 2005.

Oct 18/01: T-AKE 1 & 2 ordered. A $406.9 million fixed-price-incentive (firm targets) contract for the detailed design and construction of the lead ship of the auxiliary cargo and ammunition ship class. T-AKE 1 would later be christened the USNS Lewis and Clark on May 21/05. The contract also provides for spare and repair parts, special studies and analyses, engineering and industrial services and technical data.

This original contract (N00024-02-C-2300) has 10 remaining options for follow-on ships, which would bring the total cumulative contract value to $3.75 billion.

Concurrent with this contract award, the US Navy exercises the 1st $301.6 million option for the detailed design and construction of the first follow-on ship: T-AKE 2 would be named USNS Sacagewea.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (75.7%); Iron Mountain, MI (9.3%); Waynesboro, VA (3.9%); Philadelphia, PA (3.5%); Beloit, WI. (3%); Belle Chasse, LA (1.8%); Kingsford, MI (1.8%); Scarborough, ME (0.5%); and Willis, TX (0.5%), and is expected to be complete by September 2005. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Commerce Business Daily and posted to the Naval Sea Systems Command web site. There were three offers received by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC.

Additional Readings & Sources (DID thanks reader Lee Wahler for sharing his USNS expertise, and assisting with research for this article.)

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

General Dynamics tapped for LCS Planning Yard Services | Bahrain gets 12 Vipers | Spain and South Korea to swap aircraft

Defense Industry Daily - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 05:00
Americas

The Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair awarded General Dynamics, Bath Iron Works with a $15.6 million contract modification for LCS Planning Yard Services. The work is for the USS Jackson and future Independence-variant littoral combat ships. Planning yard services include design, material kitting, logistics, planning and execution. The work is specifically for waterjet assembly battle spares for the littoral class ships. The shipyard uses the waterjet cutting machine to fabricate new parts or replace worn parts while the ships are being maintained. The USS Jackson is the third Independence-class littoral combat ship to be built and the second Independence-class ship to carry standard 7 meters long rigid-hulled inflatable boats and improvements in corrosion protection and propulsion over the original Independence design. Work under the modification will take place in Virginia and Maine and is scheduled to be completed by March 2021.

The Naval Sea Systems Command contracted General Dynamics Mission Systems with a $14.5 million modification to exercise options for Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement (SEWIP) Block 1B3 full-rate production. SEWIP is an evolutionary acquisition and incremental development program to upgrade the AN/SLQ-32(V) electronic warfare system. The AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare Suite or „slick-32“ is the primary electronic warfare system utilized by the US Navy. The system achieves EW objectives by providing full threat band frequency coverage, instantaneous azimuth coverage, 100 percent probability of intercept and simultaneous response to multiple threats. It can detect aircraft search and target radars well before they detect the ship. SEWIP provides enhanced shipboard electronic warfare for early detection, analysis, threat warning, and protection from anti-ship missiles. SEWIP Block 1 focuses on obsolescence mitigation and special signal intercept. Work will take place in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and is expected to be finished by May next year.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded Leidos Inc. $33 million to develop Digital Video Surveillance Tech in support of the Navy’s efforts to modernize guided missile ships. The DDG modernization program includes a full spectrum of technical support and supplies for Navy bases, shipyards, repair facilities and contractor facilities within the continental US. The USA’s Guided Missile Destroyers include the Arleigh Burke-class the and Zumwalt-class destroyers. The Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Philadelphia Division coordinates and plans technical and engineering support services for the DDG modernization initiative. Work is scheduled to be complete by February 2024 and will take place in Reston, Virginia.

The Navy contracted Boeing with $23.1 million for the repair of various avionics equipment used on the F/A-18 aircraft. The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet are twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole aircraft variants based on the McDonnell F/A-18 Hornet. Work will take place in Lemoore, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is scheduled to be finished by December 2021. Working capital funds in the amount of $23,108,547 will be obligated at the time of the award and funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Middle East & Africa

The US Navy contracted Bell Helicopter a $240.3 million contract modification for the manufacture and delivery of 12 Lot 16 Ah-1Z aircraft for Bahrain under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The DoD’s FMS program facilitates sales of U.S. arms, defense equipment, defense services, and military training to foreign governments. The Bell AH-1Z Viper is a twin-engine attack helicopter that features a four-blade, bearingless, composite main rotor system, uprated transmission, and a new target sighting system. At the time the sale was approved, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Bahrain would use the AH-1Z to improve its capacity to deter regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. The sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a major Non-NATO ally which is an important security partner in the region.

Europe

Russia’s Beriev A-100 early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft made its first flight as part of the preliminary flight test program. Beriev A-100 is a Russian-built airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A strategic military transporter. The aircraft is developed to replace the Beriev A-50 in the Russian Aerospace Forces service. The external shape of the A-100 is similar to the A-50, with the main radar array housed in a rotating dome mounted on two struts above the fuselage. The mass production of the aircraft is scheduled from 2020.

Asia-Pacific

South Korea and Spain are launching negotiations on a proposed deal to swap Spanish military transport planes with Korean trainer jets. Talks are expected to start this month. In November, Spain proposed to Korea to trade some of its A-400M Airbus transport planes for KT-1 and T-50 trainer jets produced by Korea Aerospace Industries. The A-400M Atlas is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It can also perform aerial refueling, and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment. The KAI KT-1 Woongbi is a single-engined, turboprop, basic training aircraft. It is the first completely indigenous Korean aircraft ever developed. The Kai T-50 is a supersonic advanced trainer and light combat aircraft. Spain has reportedly ordered 27 A-400Ms from Airbus but has decided to sell 13 of them, four to six to Korea. The country received consent from Airbus. In return, Spain hopes to get 30 KT-1s and 20 T-50s. If the deal was realized it would mark South Korea’s first export of aircraft to Europe.

The US Army Contracting Command awarded Textron Systems with a $7.1 million contract modification for contractor logistics support of the One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) for Australia. The OSRVT delivers dismounted troops full-motion video and telemetry from the aircraft’s payload, just as it can be seen from the ground control station. It is able to receive information from a very wide range of UAVs and sources. The modification is part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, Maryland and is expected to be completed by May 7 this year.

Today’s Video

Watch: U.S. Navy’s New, More Lethal Frigate is coming into Focus

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

One for All: AAI Textron’s UAV Control System (UGCS/OSVRT)

Defense Industry Daily - Mon, 02/11/2019 - 04:48

OneSystem UGCS
(click to view full)

Can the Army create a universal ground control system for UAVs? The ability to use hundreds of comparatively cheap UAVs from different manufacturers has been a blessing to ground forces, who finally have the comprehensive aerial coverage they want. It can also be a curse. If each system has its own unique controller and vehicle – or worse, its own receiver and screen – the result will be chaos.

Enter AAI’s One System ground control offerings, which are a step toward a more universal future. This Spotlight article covers the One System concept, its ongoing development, its current reach, and future technology initiatives and requirements that will affect UAV ground control.

AAI’s One System

RQ-7 Shadow, Iraq
(click to view full)

Ground Control Stations for UAVs have 2 main functions. One is secure control of the UAV’s flight and payload(s). The other involves communication back to the larger command network, and the ability to send the UAV’s data to other nodes in the network.

One System uses a 3-tiered set of offerings. One is the full ground control system (GCS), mounted in a shelter. They can fly and land the UAV, control sensors or weapons, and communicate with a range of back-end systems to share data with other platforms and/or send it back to command personnel. The next tier down is a Portable GCS that offers flight and payload control, but very limited communications capabilities. At the lowest and most widely distributed tier is the ROVER-based One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) and its companion MDAS directional antenna, which are currently receive-only.

The original One System platform was designed for Textron subsidiary AAI’s RQ-7 Shadow TUAS (Tactical Unmanned Aerial System). It was also compatible with other UAVs, including the IAI/AAI RQ-2 Pioneer, AAI’s Aerosonde, the IAI/Northrop Grumman RQ-5 Hunter, Northrop Grumman’s RQ-8 Fire Scout helicopter UAV, and Bell Helicopter Textron’s Eagle Eye VTUAV(Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) tilt-rotor. The Block 1 system ran on Sun Solaris, with some ancillary Windows-based communication equipment, and communicated with the UAV over an analog datalink, using a directional antenna. It deployed in a 2-console S-788 Lightweight Multipurpose Shelter, which can be mounted on the back of a Hummer, and had about 6-10 “information exchange” requirements for back-end compatibility with other communications systems.

MQ-1C Sky Warrior
(click to view full)

The next step was compatibility with General Atomics’ Predator-derived MQ-1C SkyWarrior UAV. The One System Block 2 implementation made several changes. The most visible change for SkyWarrior One Systems was the move to a larger an S-280C/G containerized shelter, in order to accommodate 3 consoles and more communications equipment.

The biggest Block 2 changes involved the Block 2 software, which now included compliance with NATO’s emerging STANAG 4586 for standard UAV control system interfaces, and with the USA’s digital Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). With those changes, One System would be able to control any UAV that uses the TCDL as its communications link, or complies with NATO’s STANAG 4586 protocols. The other big shift in the Block 2 software was the explosion of information exchange requirements. This ballooned from Block 1’s 6-10 line of sight options to over 150 compatibility requirements, including beyond line of sight options like Satellite Communication (SATCOM).

AAI is moving to transfer this expertise back to existing platforms. It’s transitioning to the Block 2 software for fielded Hunter and Shadow Ground Control Systems, in order to give them TCDL compatibility. Other platforms like the RQ-8 Fire Scout VTUAV will also be incorporating TCDL, creating a common baseline that will make it much easier to plug future UAVs into a common control system.

MQ-8A firing Hydra
(click to view full)

The next steps for One System are two-fold.

One is the move toward a Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS). This Block 3 shelter will include the latest generation of hardware running Block 2 software on Red Hat and Montavista Linux. It can be mounted in S-788 or S-280 shelters, or installed on board ship. The number of information exchange requirements will exceed 300.

The other shift involves the One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT). Because it’s based on ROVER, it can already receive information from a very wide range of UAVs and sources, from Aerovironment’s hand-launched RQ-11 Raven mini-UAV to an F/A-18 Hornet equipped with a LITENING surveillance and targeting pod. OSRVT Block II, also known as BDRVT, will use the legacy Shadow datalink to create bi-directional links, and give OSRVT operators on the front lines control of the UAV’s sensor payload.

Portable GCS version

The big challenges for OSRVT II are two-fold. Wider bi-directional control of more UAV types will require a common datalink system. AAI is working with Army, Marines, and to some extent the USAF, to ensure interoperability via the digital TCDL link. The other challenge goes deeper, and involves the UAV’s internal control avionics. The UAV’s owner must be able to maintain full responsibility, which means control of the sensor payload must be split from control of the aircraft. For some UAVs, full OSRVT II compatibility will involve internal avionics modifications. Eventually, however, all US Army unmanned aircraft will transition to a common set of control system standards that should remove this problem.

Control of multiple UAVs is possible via One System, but in practice it isn’t used. The Universal GCS network architecture will certainly let the system use multiple datalinks, but communication is point-to-point and based on directional antennas. That makes it hard to efficiently link up with multiple UAVs spread out over wide areas, unless airborne electronically-steered antenna panels or wide, high-bandwidth satellite coverage are present.

Work is actually under way in both of these areas, via satellite constellations like AEHF and the less-secure WGS, and research involving AESA radars as broadband communications links. At present, however, the cost/benefit ratio involved hasn’t justified development of OSRVT-related options.

Contracts and Key Events FY 2012 – 2019

V2 upgrades.

UGCS
click for video

Note that most initial One System purchases are tied up in the original buys for related UAVs, such as the RQ-7 Shadow, MQ-1C SkyWarrior, and MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV. Buys as usually expressed as “Unmanned Air Systems,” which include the control systems and related equipment as well as the UAVs themselves.

February 11/19: Australia The US Army Contracting Command awarded Textron Systems with a $7.1 million contract modification for contractor logistics support of the One System Remote Video Terminal (OSRVT) for Australia. The OSRVT delivers dismounted troops full-motion video and telemetry from the aircraft’s payload, just as it can be seen from the ground control station. It is able to receive information from a very wide range of UAVs and sources. The modification is part of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, Maryland and is expected to be completed by May 7 this year.

Dec 20/12: Support. AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $22.1 millon cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to cover Contractor Logistics Support for the One System Remote Video Terminal.

Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD with an estimated completion date of Dec 30/13. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-13-C-0016).

Aug 29/12: Support. Textron’s AAI Corp in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $7.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, ordering OSVRT technical services. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of Aug 20/13. One bid was solicited, with one bid received. by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-06-C-0190).

July 9/12: Shadow V2. Textron’s AAI Corp in Hunt Valley, MD announces a $358 million award from the US Army’s PEO – UAS for engineering support and system upgrades that will create a fleet of 45 full RQ-7B v2 Shadow systems. Deliveries of 43 systems for the Army and 2 for the Marine Corps are expected to begin in late 2013.

This is a typical example of major ground system advances embedded in a UAV contract. The RQ-7B v2 system incorporates a number of UAV improvements, including weapon hard points on the extended wings, and expanded flight endurance from 6 to 9 hours. It also includes the new control system set: Universal Ground Control Station (UGCS), Universal Ground Data Terminal (UGDT), Portable Ground Data Terminal (PGDT) and Portable Ground Control Station (PGCS). The new UGCS adds several improvements, including multiple radios in convenient locations, dual 30-inch monitors, more comfortable seating and more room, individually controlled vents for heating and air conditioning, and white boards.

New RQ-7B = new OSVRT

May 6/12: Production. Textron’s AAI Corp in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $50.75 million firm-fixed-price contract. The award modifies an existing contract associated with RQ-7 shadow UAVs, in order to buy Universal Ground Control Stations (the OneSystem upgrade).

Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of July 31/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0023).

FY 2007 – 2011

Data link; ground control stations.

MDAS, Soldier w. OSRVT
(click to view full)

March 27/11: Sub-contractors. ChandlerMay announces that it has received the “Above and Beyond” award from Textron System’s AAI Corporation in Hunt Valley, MD, to recognize their performance providing major Ground Control Station (GCS) subsystems to the RQ-7 Shadow program in 2010.

ChandlerMay has been partnered with AAI Corporation since 2001 on the Shadow TUAS program, and continues to provide vehicle-mounted ground control stations, portable ground control stations (PGCS); plus maintenance, RESET, and Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) for the ground control stations. The “One System®” GCS, now being upgraded to the “Universal Ground Control Station,” undergoes final integration and test at AAI’s facility in Hunt Valley, MD.

April 12/11: Production. AAI Corp in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $6.7 million cost plus fixed-fee contract for 1,184 one system remote video terminal (OSRVT) systems. Work will be performed at Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/12. One bid was solicited and one received by the US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-06-C-0190).

March 14/11: Upgrades. AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $7.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to add new receiver components into the OSRVT baseline. Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of Aug 31/11. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-06-C-0190).

June 26/09: TCDL. Textron subsidiary Army Armaments Incorporated (AAI) in Hunt Valley, MD received a $32.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the modification that exercises options for additional engineering services hours to support tactical command data link (TCDL) in Shadow 200 UAV systems. Work is to be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of Oct 30/10. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command/CCAM-AR-A in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0033).

April 30/09: Support. Textron subsidiary AAI Co. in Hunt Valley, MD received a $29.2 million cost plus fixed-fee contract for 12 months of Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) of their One System Remote Video Terminals (OSRVT) and its Mobile Directional Antenna System (MDAS).

Work is to be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, with an estimated completion date of April 30/10. U.S. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM Contracting Center, in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages this contract (W58RGZ-06-C-0190).

May 5/08: Support. AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD receives a $14.5 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for 12 months of Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for their One System Remote Video Terminals (OSRVT) and its Mobile Directional Antenna System (MDAS).

Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, and is expected to be complete by April 30/09. One bid was solicited on January 2008 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-06-C-0190).

Sept 18/07: Production. Smal business qualifier AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, MD received a $13.2 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for One System Remote Video Terminals (OSRVT) and the accompanying Mobile Directional Antenna System (MDAS).

Work will be performed in Hunt Valley, MD, and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/09. This was a sole source contract initiated on April 17/07 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-06-C-0190).

Additional Readings

DID appreciates the technical assistance of AAI Textron’s Divisional Vice President of One System Programs, Tom Bachman.

Categories: Defense`s Feeds

EDA renews Cooperation Arrangement with the Athena Mechanism

EDA News - Thu, 02/07/2019 - 12:41

EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq and Hans-Werner Grenzhäuser, the Athena Administrator, have signed an arrangement renewing the framework for future cooperation between EDA and Athena.

The Cooperation Arrangement signed on 1 February 2019 aims at replacing the previous arrangement which was signed on 27 February 2015 and was valid for a limited period. It offers the option for any CSDP Operation/Mission Commander to call upon EDA to provide technical and overall administrative support for their most complex procurement procedures. The full text of the arrangement is available here.

Under the previous arrangement, the Agency has supported the EU Training Mission in Mali for the procurement in Europe of a medical incinerator between May 2015 and February 2016. EDA also supported operation EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a cost-benefit analysis of camp management in the Sarajevo Camp Butmir from July to October 2015.

In addition, the Agency supports CSDP military operations and missions with other projects as well as contracted support pre-mission solutions. On the project side this has so far included cyber awareness seminars, maritime surveillance, personnel management as well as management of geospatial information. Contracted support reaches from satellite communications to wider logistics support. 

This has already been the case for CSDP military operations in the Central African Republic (EUFOR RCA and later EUTM RCA), the Mediterranean Sea (EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia), Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR Althea), Mali (EUTM Mali), Somalia (EUTM Somalia and EUNAVFOR Atalanta). 

Most recently, EDA also started supporting the newly established Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) with contracted communication services, and it is supporting CSDP civilian missions as well.
 

The Athena Mechanism

Athena is the mechanism established to administer the financing of the common costs of European Union operations having military or defence implications governed by Council Decision 2015/528/CFSP. The Council Decision allows for arrangements to be negotiated with Union bodies to facilitate procurement and/or financial aspects of mutual support in operations in the most cost-effective manner.
 

More information:   

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