Defense Industry Daily
LM Gets $100M for JASSM Support | 2nd Type 209 Sub to Egypt from ThyssenKrupp | BAE Wins $1.77B MoD Contract for Nuke Pwr Sub for Brit Royal Navy
- The USAF has awarded Lockheed Martin a $100 million contract to support efforts related to the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM). Work to be carried out by Lockheed includes life cycle support for all the missile’s variants, including the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile and the Extended Range variant, as well as the provision of system upgrades, integration, production, sustainment, and logistical support. The contract is expected to run until April 2020. Alongside the USAF, foreign operators of the JASSM include Finland, Poland, and the Royal Australian Air Force.
- VSE Aviation has announced that its subsidiary, Prime Turbines LLC, will undertake servicing the engines used by UH-1H Huey helicopters operated by the US Department of State for counter-narcotics operations. With a ceiling value of $16.6 million, the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract calls for the repair, overhaul and modification of the T53-L-703 engines used on the 85 Huey’s in the Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs aviation. The aircraft provide support for the eradication and interdiction of illicit drugs, the training of contractor and host national personnel, embassy support, movement of personnel and equipment, reconnaissance, personnel recovery, medical evacuation and other purposes.
- Egypt has received its second new Type 209 submarine S41 from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, marking the halfway point for scheduled deliveries of the vessels to Cairo. The first two submarines were initially ordered in 2011 and were followed by orders for two more in 2014, and will be used to support national security missions. Equipped with missiles and torpedoes, and capable of operating at a range of 11,000 nautical miles at a maximum speed of 21 knots, 69 individual Type 209 submarines (in five variants) have been exported by ThyssenKrupp to 13 individual operators.
- Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces are to receive nearly $300 million worth of equipment after the US State Department cleared the sale to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The equipment, which includes 4400 rifles, 113 Humvees, and 36 howitzers, will go toward supporting two infantry brigades and two support artillery battalions for Iraqi Kurds in order to continue pushing against the militants of the Islamic State. AM General, Oshkosh Defense, Navistar Defense, Harris Radio, and Colt Corporation have all been listed as contractors in the deal. The Peshmerga, autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan’s military forces, alongside Kurdish forces from neighboring countries, have been fighting against ISIS since August 2014, following the launching of an offensive by the jihadists after the Fall of Mosul in June 2014.
- Washington is also seeking additional ways of supporting Saudi Arabia in an effort to break the ongoing stalemate currently experienced by the Riyadh-led coalition in Yemen. Additional military support is expected in order to break the deadlock and bring the opposing Houthi rebels—who have found a friend and military support in Saudi’s regional rival, Iran—to the negotiating table and a potential ceasefire. Since the war started in March 2015, as many as 10,000 civilians have been killed and some 3 million Yemenis have been displaced, with chronic food shortages leading the country toward famine.
- BAE Systems will build a sixth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine for the British Royal Navy following the award of a $1.77 billion MoD contract. Dubbed the Agamemnon, the sub will be about 318 feet long, have a submerged speed of 30 knots and an endurance of 90 days. It can carry Tomahawk missiles as well as torpedoes. The first three Astute class submarines HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful are currently in service with the Royal Navy with a further four in various stages of construction at the company’s site in Barrow, Cumbria.
- Saab has been contracted by the Polish Navy to conduct maintenance and logistics support for the service’s RBS15 MK3 surface-to-surface missile system. First bought by Warsaw in 2006, the RBS15 system has been used by Poland as a naval defense platform and has been typically integrated on the country’s three Orkan-class fast attack craft. Produced jointly by Saab and Germany’s Diehl Defense, the system features a prelaunch programmable active radar seeker, which enables a fire-and-forget capability in all weather conditions.
- The Taiwanese Navy has issued a request for tender to produce the island’s first indigenous landing platform dock. Funding worth $207 million has been allocated for the project up to 2021, and calls for a length of 502 feet and a weight of 10,000 tons. The tender also requires that the vessel be fitted with a 76mm gun and Phalanx close-in weapon system, as well as the indigenous TC-2N missile system for air defense, a top speed of 21 knots, and a range of up to 7,000 miles. It’s expected that Taipei will build two such vessels by 2021 and use them to support amphibious operations and transport tasks, and act as hospital ships and vessels for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in peacetime.
- Egypt’s Type 209 submarine:
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Britain retired its nuclear-powered 4,900t SSN Swiftsure Class fast attack boats in 2010, and has begun phasing out its follow-on 5,300t SSN Trafalgar Class, before the effects of the ocean’s constant squeezing and release start making them dangerous to use. The last Trafalgar Class boat is expected to retire by 2022, and replacements were required. Submarines are considered to be a strategic industry in Britain, which remains committed to nuclear-powered submarines for their entire fleet. As such, there was never any question of whether they’d design their own. The new SSN Astute Class were designed to be stealthier than the Trafalgars, despite having 39% more displacement at 7,400t submerged.
Britain’s 6 Swiftsure and 7 Trafalgar Class boats will eventually find themselves replaced by 7 of the new Astute Class. The new submarine class has had its share of delays and difficulties, but the program continues to move forward with GBP 2.75 billion in contracts over the past week.
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Nuclear weapons are reserved for Britain’s 4 SSBN Vanguard Class boats, but the Royal Navy’s SSNs have a unique role of their own in their fleet. They’re the only platforms used to launch long-range UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, in order to deliver conventional strikes against land targets. Other navies also use surface ships for this role, but Britain chose not to.
The Astute Class will offer the novel feature of a bunk for each submariner, at the cost of more cramped layouts, and is the 1st British submarine to use an optronic day/night periscope that doesn’t pierce the hull. That periscope may allow the British to move the attack center control room in later boats of class from the top level Deck 1, to a roomier section in Deck 2 and a bit aft. In either case, they’ll be using a common base computing environment for critical systems. The attack center will have more to control, too. Torpedo tubes go from 5 to 6, and a larger weapons room roughly doubles capacity to 36-38 UGM-109 Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes. Another weapon will be launched from the large lockout chamber aft of the fin, which allows SBS commandos to exit the sub underwater into a dry deck shelter. A mini-submarine can be mated to the DDS for added mobility.
Astute Class boats have worked to add stealth enhancements via rafted sections throughout, plus new coatings, exterior tiles, and paints. On the listening end, a new 2076 Stage 5 sonar system combines arrays all over the submarine, and it reportedly surprised the US Navy during qualification exercises against a Viginia Class boat. As usual for modern submarines, the Astute Class will also carry advanced electronic eavesdropping gear for quiet above-water snooping. High-bandwidth communications round out key electronics improvements, and allow fast transmission of intercepted signals to Royal Navy vessels or agencies like GCHQ.
A new reactor design won’t require refueling during the submarine’s operating life, which saves hundreds of millions of pounds. It’s mated to a new control system that includes independent diving plane controls handled by a new, complex autopilot system. The control system has been praised by its commanders, but the submarine won’t be able to reach its advertised top speed.Building the SSNs
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The first 3 Astute Class boats cost about GBP 1.22 billion each (about $2.4 billion in 2008), a price tag that’s very similar to the USA’s new 7,300t Virginia Class.
After HMS Astute has come S120 Ambush, with S121 Artful, S122 Audacious, S123 Anson, S124 Agamemnon, and S125 Ajax in various stages of planning, construction, and testing. All Astute Class submarines will be based at HM Naval Base Clyde, where a GBP 150 million state-of-the-art jetty was built for them.Contracts & Key Events, 2007 – Present 2017
April 20/17: BAE Systems will build a sixth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine for the British Royal Navy following the award of a $1.77 billion MoD contract. Dubbed the Agamemnon, the sub will be about 318 feet long, have a submerged speed of 30 knots and an endurance of 90 days. It can carry Tomahawk missiles as well as torpedoes. The first three Astute class submarines HMS Astute, HMS Ambush and HMS Artful are currently in service with the Royal Navy with a further four in various stages of construction at the company’s site in Barrow, Cumbria.2015
August 14/15: The Royal Navy’s third Astute-class submarine has begun sea trials. HMS Artful is the third of seven Astute-class boats, with HMS Astute and HMS Ambush, the first two subs in class already in service with the Royal Navy. Artful is slated to join the fleet toward the end of this year.2014
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Nov 24/14: Basing. Britain moves a step closer to making HMNB Clyde home to all of its submarines. The Trafalgar Class fast attack boats HMS Torbay and HMS Trenchant will be decommissioned at their current base in Devonport in 2017 and 2019, respectively, since it makes no financial sense to move them now. By 2020, HMS Talent and HMS Triumph will have moved from HMNB Devonport to Scotland, and that will be the end of HMNB Devonport as a submarine base.
This single-base approach offers financial efficiencies, but there’s a real price in terms of strategic vulnerability. Sources: UK MoD, “Ministry of Defence confirms future submarine basing plan”.
Nov 18/14: Sub-contractors. Cohort plc subsidiary SEA Communications receives a GBP 23 million (about $37.5 million) contract from BAE Systems to deliver their “Project Aurora” external communications systems (ECS) for integration into the UK Royal Navy’s submarine fleet, including the Astute Class. It builds on their Coherency for Submarines (CCSM) system, which already serves on upgraded Trafalgar Class SSNs.
ECS’ biggest selling feature is that it works to make the hardware an independent consideration, allowing a simpler and cheaper approach to upgrades. This is Phase 1 of a 2-phase program, and SEA expects another significant order in 2015. Sources: SEA, “Case Study: Submarine External Communication System (ECS) ‘Project Aurora'” [PDF] | SEA, “SEA secures £23m deal to enhance submarine communications”.
Oct 10/14: #2. HMS Ambush returns to HMNB Clyde after a successful maiden mission that lasted about 4 months. The boat left Falsane on July 4/14 to visit Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, before heading for the North Atlantic and the United States. Sources: Royal Navy, “HMS Ambush returns to Clyde after international deployment”.
Oct 7/14: #1: HMS Astute returns to HMNB Clyde after an 8-month deployment. The submarine’s Lady Sponsor, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay (The Duchess of Cornwall), joins senior naval officers and over 150 friends and family to welcome her return at a special ceremony at Faslane.
That’s the kind of sponsor you want for your vessel! Sources: Royal Navy, “Happy Homecoming for HMS Astute”.
May 19/14: #3. The 97m long Artful is launched into the water at Barrow-in-Furness. She is scheduled to begin sea trials in 2015. Sources: Royal Navy, “Artful enters the water as latest hunter killer submarine is launched”.
March 26/14: Recognition. Northrop Grumman announces that they’ve received the Customer Focus Award from BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines, in recognition of the role Sperry Marine has played in supplying the Astute Class platform management system (PMS) for the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Astute nuclear-powered submarine program. Sources: NGC, “Northrop Grumman Wins Supplier Award for Role in Royal Navy’s Astute Submarine Programme”.
March 23/14: Mini-sub. British media spot HMS Astute moored off of Gibraltar with a new mini-sub attached to the dry-deck shelter (q.v. Dec 3/12). The mini-sub can reportedly carry 8 Special Boat Service Commandos in full assault gear:
“Before it was mounted to the top of the HMS Astute, the miniature submarine had to be airlifted by helicopter to seas near its destination…. The miniature submarine, codenamed ‘Project Chalfont’, has been tested since it was installed in 2012, but this is the first time it will reach active service…. The miniature submarine’s main duties are for counter intelligence, as it allows for incredibly covert ops from discreet locations, and will now be able to deploy while hidden underwater, rather than having to travel by helicopter, which runs the risk of revealing its position.”
The dry-deck shelter can also be used in simple swim-out mode, without a mini-submarine. Sources: Daily Mail, “Britain’s super-sub: Navy unveils James Bond-style mini submarine carried on board HMS Astute which can launch from under water”.2013
NAO Report; Failure at Devonport dockyard raises concern over nuclear responsibility; Radiation leak highlights aging submarines issue; Sub-contracts for boats #6-7.
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Oct 6/13: Not good. The Independent newspaper reports that a 90-minute breakdown of all reactor coolant supply at Devonport dockyard’s Tidal X-Berths in Plymouth, UK nearly led to a major nuclear incident. Based on a heavily redacted report from the Ministry of Defence’s Site Event Report Committee (SERC), both the electrical power for coolant supply to docked nuclear submarines, and the diesel back-up generators, failed at the dockyard on July 29/12. That failure followed a similar failure involving HMS Talent in 2009, and a partial failure involving HMS Trafalgar in 2011.
The newspaper adds that an internal Babcock investigation blamed the incident on the central nuclear switchboard, but added a note of concern about “inability to learn from previous incidents and to implement the recommendations from previous event reports.” This will not help existing uneasiness over the next generation of nuclear submarines, and “Nuclear scare at Navy submarine base after ‘unbelievable’ failures” adds that:
“Its own “stress test” on Devonport safety, launched after the Fukushima disaster, said that in the event of the failure of both power supplies, heat levels in reactors could be controlled by emergency portable water pumps, and added that such a failure had occurred a “number of times” previously.”
Sept 20/13: #3 named. The 3rd Astute Class submarine is formally named “Artful” in a ceremony. The ship’s crew also picks a mascot, in keeping with the ship crest chosen in 1945 by the Admiralty Advisor on Heraldry. “Artful” is a ten-month-old baby ring-tailed lemur at South Lakes Wild Animal Park. While it isn’t a monkey, it is a prosimian primate, and lemurs are generally threatened or endangered throughout their homes in Madagascar. No word on whether the ship’s motto will change to the Latin translation of “We like to move it!” Sources: UK MoD release, Sept 20/13 | Royal Navy release, Sept 20/13.
Sept 10/13: Sub-contractors. DCNS signs their latest contract with BAE Systems for high-efficiency heat exchangers. This one covers 4 sets, for Astute Class boats 6 and 7. The last one will be delivered in mid-2016. Sources: DCNS, Sept 10/13 release.
Sept 10/13: Sub-contractors. Northrop Grumman’s Sperry subsidiary has supplied the final batch of Platform Management System hardware for the S123 Anson (#5), and remains under contract for submarines 4, 6, and 7. The systems do pretty much what you’d expect: control and monitor most of the submarine’s machinery and onboard systems. Sources: NGC, Sept 10/13 release.
July 18/13: #6. Keel laid for Agamemnon at BAE’s Barrow-in-Furness facility. Sources: Royal Navy, July 18/13 release.
May 28/13: SSOP. Thales UK signs a 10-year, GBP 600 million Sensor Support Optimisation Project (SSOP) with the Ministry of Defence. It extends the 2003 Contractor Logistics Support deal that covered electronic warfare/ ESM and sonar system support on an array of submarines and surface ships. Coverage on the Astute Class includes all electronic warfare and ESM sensors, the sonar, and the optronic mast. Read “SSOP: Britain Extends Contracting Innovations into Naval Sensors” for full coverage.
May 25/13: Sub-contractors. Applied Integration in Stokesley, North Yorkshire wins a “multi-million pound” deal to design “visual mechanisms allowing Royal Navy operators and sailors to manage conditions” on S124 Agamemnon and S125 Ajax. Sounds like they’re building touch displays that integrate with platform management and other systems.
This is the firm’s 3rd nuclear submarine contract, and the small firm has consistently delivered beyond its contracts while winning business against larger firms. Co-founder Lee Raywood says something we don’t see often enough in releases and reports: “Our senior engineers are truly exceptional and our staff deserve great credit for our success.” That attitude might have something to do with the fact that their teams win. Sources: The Northern Echo, “Applied Integration, in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, wins contract to supply control systems for HMS Agamemnon and HMS Ajax”.
May 20/13: Bernard Gray, the UK MoD’s Chief of Defence Materiel, talks about the Astute program experience during a Public Accounts Committee hearing concerning carrier strike. Excerpts:
“While I appreciate that the defence industry will quite often say that it wishes to be left alone, thank you very much, my experience is that that is not on the whole a good idea. It is fair to say that on most occasions when I have pushed on specific issues, they are not as well covered off as they should be. If I just let a contract and walked away and invited defence contractor A to get on with it and “Do just please drop by and deliver the equipment at the end of it and I’ll write you a cheque”, I am unlikely to get that equipment.
….If I can take you back to the most salient example of this, in the Astute programme we did what you suggested. It was a disaster. From 1996 to 2003 we let them get on with it. We had a contract and that is what we cared about. In 2003, it almost broke BAE Systems. It cost them hundreds of millions of pounds. We then had to step back in, reformulate the programme and effectively recuperate the whole of our submarine-building activity, which is something that is only beginning to come right some 10 years after that disaster…. My point is that the happy-go-lucky world of us writing out a contract and then allowing industry to get on with it is not one that I live in.”
Sources: HC 113 Public Accounts Committee Session 2013-14, “Public Accounts Committee – Minutes of Evidence.”
May 8/13: HMS Ambush. Without mentioning its April breakdown, the Royal Navy describes its “raft up” exercise to moor alongside RFA Diligence at sea, “assisted by a cluster of tugs”. RFA Diligence is the Royal Navy’s sole vessel for submarine support. They’re still talking about “early 2014” as the submarine’s operational date. Sources: Royal Navy, May 8/13 release.HMS Ambush sea trials
April 11/13: Schedule. Without ever mentioning HMS Ambush’s breakdown the previous day, the Royal Navy puts out a press release that says HMS Astute will be operational in 2013, after hot weather trials and operational sea training. S119 Astute was commissioned on Aug 27/10.
HMS Ambush [S120] will go through the same trials and training and “be ready to deploy in early 2014.” It remains to be seen what effect yesterday’s breakdown will have on that schedule. Royal Navy.
April 10/13: HMS Ambush. HMS Ambush is towed back to the Faslane naval base after coming to an unexpected halt in the middle of Gare Loch. Crew members are seen by local anti-nuclear protesters standing on top of the vessel, which was venting steam and surrounded by 3 tugs. The exact problem still isn’t clear, as the MoD would say only that:
“Following HMS Ambush’s maintenance period, undertaken at HM’s Naval Base Clyde, an issue with a non-nuclear system was identified. A decision was taken to return it to the base to allow remedial action to take place.”
HMS Ambush breaks down
March 10/13: Aging fleet. Britain’s Daily Express says that Britain’s submarine fleet is now finding it difficult to maintain patrols around the Falkland Islands, even as Argentina becomes more aggressive:
“THE Navy is finding it “increasingly difficult” to deploy a nuclear hunter-killer submarine to patrol British waters around the Falkland Islands. Senior sources made the warning last night, three weeks after the Sunday Express reported exclusively that the forced return of HMS Tireless [due to a reactor leak] means that just one of Britain’s five Trafalgar-class submarines is fully operational and even that is about to undergo a brief period of maintenance after duties in the Middle East…. HMS Torbay is undergoing maintenance, HMS Trenchant will need servicing after its deployment in the Middle East, HMS Talent is awaiting decommissioning and HMS Triumph, which should have been decommissioned last year, is being used for training.
HMS Astute, the first of our new £1.2billion Astute class submarines, is still not fully operational.”
March 1/13: S120. A formal commissioning ceremony takes place at Naval Base Clyde for the 2nd boat in the class, though its sea trials aren’t finished yet. There ceremony comes fully 2 1/2 years after the commissioning of HMS Astute.
HMS Ambush commissioned
Feb 25/13: Sub-contractors. Thales announces a contract from BAE for the last 2 Sonar 2076 systems in the Astute program, to equip Agammemnon and Ajax as long-lead buys. Those are the last submarines in the program.
A complete sonar system includes both inboard and outboard of the bow, fin, intercept and flank arrays, and the associated inboard processing. The cost of this contract isn’t announced, but based on past contracts, it’s more than GBP 60 million.
Feb 22/13: BAE’s overall results were down in 2012, but the submarine yard in Barrow is one of the bright spots, thanks to work on the Astute SSN program and the Successor Class next-generation SSBN. North-West Evening Mail.
Feb 17/13: Radiation Leak. The Trafalgar Class fast attack boat HMS Tireless experiences a small reactor coolant leak. It’s contained within the sealed reactor compartment, but the submarine will be out of action for 10 months in drydock. The boat was launched in 1984, had experienced a previous radiation leak off of Gibraltar in 2000, and was due for decommissioning in 2013. The only reason this wasn’t the end of her career is the Astute program’s delays, which led to Navy to extend her planned service to 2017.
The incident underscores the issues involved in operating submarines beyond their expected lifetimes. It also underscores issues with British force structure. Right now, the Royal Navy has 7 SSNs, but HMS Tireless is out of action, HMS Astute still isn’t fully operational after running aground in 2010, and a 3rd boat is in maintenance. That leaves just 4 operational submarines, instead of the recommended 7 + 1 spare. Scottish Express.
Feb 13/13: Reactors. The UK MoD signs a 10-year, GBP 800 million (then about $1.2 billion) contract with Rolls Royce, financing the Submarines Enterprise Performance Programme (SEPP) envisioned in the 2010 SDSR. The goal is to consolidate costs under one contract with consistent incentives, and improve operational efficiency in the infrastructure that delivers and supports the UK’s naval nuclear propulsion systems. They’re hoping for a GBP 200 million saving over this 10 years. Time will tell.
Feb 1/13: Sub-contractors. Babcock announces a contract to supply its weapon handling and launch system (WHLS) for the 6th and 7th Astute class submarines, with a total value around GBP 55 million.
The WHLS and its combat system interfaces were developed to handle the complicated task of loading, moving, and readying large weapons like heavy torpedoes, missiles, mines, etc. within the confined space of a submarine. Babcock’s Weapons Handling Equipment (WHE) sub-system uses a semi-automated and modular approach to maximize storage, and a “unique” method of shock mounting that offers adaptable protection according to the number of weapons stored on each stowage tier. Babcock’s programmable firing valve (PFV) technology allows the system to match the launch requirements precisely to a range of variables including weapon type, boat speed and depth, using less air and making less noise.
Babcock WHLS systems are used in Britain’s Astute Class, and a variant will also be featured in Spain’s diesel-electric S-80 boats.
Jan 13/13: NAO Report. Britain’s National Audit Office releases their 2012 Major Projects Report [PDF]. The Astute Class is featured, and the table of planned vs. actual cost, time, and performance for various milestones on pg. 39 is interesting, but most of the program’s major dislocations lie in the past. They do offer a quick update regarding the fleet’s progress.
The Astute Class Training Service (ACTS) has provided training for the ships companies of both HMS Astute and Ambush, and delivered its 1st Submariner Qualification course for the Royal Navy.
S120 Ambush, launched in January 2011, has finished fitting out and is in trials and testing, following her first test dive in the shipyard’s basin in early October 2011.
S121 Arful continues construction in the Devonshire Dock Hall at Barrow, and “is making good progress”. Diesel Generator Trials successfully completed in August 2011.
S122 Audacious has had all hull and casing units moved to the Devonshire Dock Hall.
S123 Anson recently got underway with manufacturing, following her October 2011 keel-laying.2011 – 2012
Main contract for boat #4 Audacious; Grouped long-lead work for boats #5-7; Common Combat System coming for boats #3-7; Various sub-contracts; #2 Ambush goes to trials; #5 Ansom keel-laying.
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Dec 10/12: #5-7 lead ins. The UK Ministry of Defence awards BAE a GBP 1.5 billion contract to begin early build work on S123 Anson, and begin long-lead time buys of supplies like nuclear reactors for boats #6 Agamemnon & #7 Ajax. The Ministry of Defence touts these contracts as safeguarding 3,000 skilled jobs at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.
Anson is named after after Admiral of the Fleet George Anson, who died in 1762 at the age of 65. Agamemnon & Ajax are 2 famous Greek heroes of the Trojan War. UK MoD.
Long-lead items and work on S123 – S125
Dec 10/12: #4. The UK Ministry of Defence awards BAE a GBP 1.2 billion contract to finish building S122 Audacious, the 4th of 7 planned Astute Class attack submarines. This brings total announced contracts to GBP 1.4 billion (q.v. May 21/07 entry), which is around $2.25 billion at current conversions. The boat is about half way through its build process, and subsequent NAO reports estimate her commissioning in January 2018. The Guardian is less than impressed, pointing out that:
“HMS Astute cannot reach the top speed the MoD boasted it could, sprang a leak that required it to perform an emergency surfacing, and was fitted with electrical circuit boards that failed the navy’s safety standards. A lead-lined water jacket, which surrounds the submarine’s nuclear reactor, was also constructed with metal of the wrong quality. And the living quarters for the 98-strong crew are also more cramped than those on submarines made more than 50 years ago… However, the navy is adamant the vessel can overcome the difficulties.”
Despite its launch in 2007 and commissioning in 2010, HMS Astute is still undergoing sea trials. These have included deep dive trials, and the successful firing of Tomahawk land attack missiles and Spearfish torpedoes. The 2nd submarine, Ambush, is also in sea trials that have tested diving, propulsion, and torpedoes. The 3rd boat, Artful, is reaching the final stages of her construction at Barrow shipyard. UK MoD | BAE Systems | The Guardian.
S122 Audacious main contract
Dec 6/12: Common Combat System. Britain’s Ministry of Defence issues BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines a GBP 46 million contract to create a common combat & navigation system baseline for use in all of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines.
“The Royal Navy operates three classes of submarine, totalling 10 vessels, which are used to safeguard the UK’s interests around the world. Currently, different combat systems are used across the fleet. This new contract will help drive adoption of a common combat system across all current and future Royal Navy submarines, with considerable benefits to training, maintenance and updating costs.”
S122 Audacious will introduce a shared computing environment for the combat, navigation, and sonar systems, mounted in common consoles and cabinets, and using “commercial off the shelf” computing electronics. These changes are due to be implemented on the remaining submarines in the class, and have been back-fitted to S121 Artful. The eventual aim is to back-fit the “Common Combat System” to HMS Astute and Ambush, and progressively to the remaining SSN Trafalgar Class and SSBN Vanguard Class boats. The CCS would also implicitly cover Britain’s SSBN Successor submarines, currently in the initial design stages at BAE. UK MoD | BAE.
Dec 3/12: Mini-Sub. HMS Astute has been fitted with an underwater dry-deck shelter (q.v. Dec 5/11) from which Special Boat Service (SBS) commandos could launch a midget submarine designed and built under Project Chalfont. From Strategic Defence Intelligence, “INSIGHT – Astute submarines fitted with Special Forces mini-sub dock”:
“According to a report in The Sunday Times, HMS Astute has sailed from Faslane naval base on the River Clyde with the dock, known as a Special Forces payload bay, fitted behind the conning tower to carry out trials…. the dock is a portable fixture that can be fitted to whichever of the Astute fleet is heading towards a crisis zone…. The SBS currently launch their midget submarines from surface warships or helicopters, risking discovery.”
Nov 15/12: Submarine problems. The Guardian publishes a report concerning issues with the Astute Class. A number can be described as teething problems, but a couple are potentially serious. The “teething problems” category includes a recent episode of leakage during a dive, computer circuit boards that didn’t meet safety standards, questions about the quality of installation of some equipment, and lack of trust in the boat’s new optronic periscope.
More serious problems include corrosion in a new boat, “…the instruments monitoring the nuclear reactor because the wrong type of lead was used [in the shielding]”, and an apparent mismatch between the nuclear reactor and the steam turbine sets:
“At the moment, the boat, heralded as the most sophisticated submarine ever built for the navy, cannot sprint to emergencies or away from an attack – an essential requirement for a hunter-killer boat. It would also be incapable of keeping pace with the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers, which will be able to travel at more than 30 knots and need the submarines to protect them.”
Sources: The Guardian, “Slow, leaky, rusty: Britain’s £10bn submarine beset by design flaws”.
Sept 14/12: #2 trials. The Royal Navy announces that S120 Ambush is ready to depart the shipyard and begin sea trials, 9 years after she was laid down and 18 months since she was launched.
June 18/12: Reactors. Britain’s Ministry of Defense signs a GBP 1.1 billion contract with Rolls Royce for submarine nuclear reactor cores, (GBP 600 million) and industrial investment in the Raynesway plant that manufactures them (GBP 500 million). The contracts will secure 300 jobs at Rolls-Royce.
The nuclear reactor cores will be used to power the 7th and final SSN Astute Class fast attack submarine, and the 1st of the Royal Navy’s next generation of SSBN nuclear deterrent submarines, currently known as the Successor Class.
Rolls Royce is the sole Technical Authority for the UK Nuclear Steam Raising Plant, whose reactors have powered British nuclear-powered submarines for the past 50 years. The GBP 500 million infrastructure contract aims extend the operating life of the Rayneway plant in Derby, UK, by more than 40 years. Rolls-Royce will continue to maintain and operate its existing reactor core manufacturing facility, while undertaking a parallel phased rebuild and modernization of buildings on site. UK MoD | Rolls Royce | The Telegraph.
Feb 6/12: Sub-contractors. Thales UK announces a GBP 30+ million sub-contract from BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, to supply S123 Anson’s full Sonar 2076 Phase 5 system. Deliverables will include arrays both inboard and outboard of the bow, plus fin, intercept and flank arrays, and the associated inboard processing.
Thales UK is a major sub-contractor for the program as a whole. Beyond the sonar system, they also supply each Astute Class submarine with its 2 non-hull penetrating CM010 optronic masts, the mast’s UAP4 electronic support measures (ESM) system for gathering, classifying, and locating communications and radar emissions, the ECB680 communications and SEEPIRB emergency beacon buoys, and the UHF satellite communications antenna. Thales.
Dec 5/11: An interview with HMS Astute’s commander highlights some of its features. Among other things:
[HMS Astute commanding officer Cmdr. Iain] Breckenridge ticked off a list of new features aboard the sub…. features a large lockout chamber aft of the fin, or sail, and can carry a drydeck shelter…. “That was a real design driver for the boat, and that’s why we’ve got a big sail,” he explained. “The shapes and curves [of the hull] help the dry deck shelter sit in the right place”…. The captain was especially proud of the sub’s maneuvering and hovering capabilities…. In my situation, I’ve got a much wider operating envelope because, if the stern plane does fail to dive, it’s probably only going to be one of them, and I can immediately correct it by slowing down and putting the noncasualty plane to rise. It gives us a much broader operating envelope.”
Sources: Defense News, “‘Trail-blazing’ U.K. Attack Sub Proves Itself in U.S.”
Oct 13/11: #5. S123 Anson’s keel is formally laid – vertically. The submarine’s “keel” is actually an 11m long x 7m diameter, 190t hull ring that will house the control center for Anson’s propulsion plants, and the diesel generator module. It’s also one of the most sophisticated and technically-challenging parts of the boat, and it’s laid vertically because that position makes the work easier. Royal Navy.
S123 Anson keel laying
Sept 15/11: #5. Astute submarine #5 will take the name HMS Anson when she is commissioned. The 2012 NAO report suggests that this will be in August 2020. BFBS.
Feb 16/11: #4. BAE Systems delivers S122 Audacious’ final hull segment by public road through the town of Barrow-in-Furness, to the huge the Devonshire Dock Hall (DDH). It’s the 270 tonne forward dome.
The boat is still a long way from done. The process of installing all of the machinery in these framework units, and then beginning to join hull pieces, is quite long and exacting. BAE Systems.
Jan 6/11: #2 launched. S120 Ambush is launched. The submarine will still have a fitting-out period before it can even start contractor trials. Royal Navy.2007 – 2010
1st of class HMS Astute commissioned; Sonar upgrades for S119 – S121.
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Aug 27/10: HMS Astute. The 1st-of-class submarine S119 Astute is commissioned into the Royal Navy, and becomes “Her Majesty’s Ship Astute.” UK MoD.
Feb 12/10: Sonar 2076 upgrade. Thales UK announces the ‘Stage 5 Inboard Replacement’ (Stage 5 IR) contract from BAE Systems. They’ll upgrade 3 Trafalgar Class boats, and the first 3 Astute Class submarines, to Sonar 2076 Stage 5 system. Once all of the work is completed, 2076 Stage 5 will be fully deployed across the Royal Navy’s (RN’s) nuclear-powered attack (SSN) submarine fleet.
Thales’ Sonar 2076 is said to have 13,000 hydrophones spread between its inboard and outboard bow, flank, fin, and towed arrays. Stage 5 IR adds new hardware, new software functionality and new algorithms, while moving the sonar system to open architecture electronics. The UK MoD’s long term vision involves the evolution of a common sonar and combat system across their entire submarine flotilla, and an open architecture sonar system is an important milestone along that path. Thales | Aviation Week.
May 21/07: #4 lead-in. The UK MoD has announces a GBP 200 million contract (about $395 million) to begin preparing for construction of the 4th boat at the BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria.
This initial contract for S122 runs to March 2008, and covers initial build work only. The MoD aims to contract for the whole boat by late 2008, and detailed terms and conditions will be agreed over the intervening period.Additional Readings The Astute Class
- Royal Navy – Astute Class
- BAE Systems – Astute Class
- BAE Systems, via WayBack – The Astute Launch
- Naval Technology – SSN Astute Class Nuclear Submarine, United Kingdom
- Royal Navy Info – Astute-class Submarine. Unofficial site.
- RUSI (October 2008) – Evolutionary Trends In UK Sonar [PDF]
- Royal Navy – Spearfish Torpedo. Range is just 14-30 miles, significantly below peers like Atlas Elektronik’s new Seahakes. British SSNs are a bit unusual in the modern era, in that they don’t carry anti-ship missiles as an option to accompany their torpedoes.
- DID – Tomahawk’s Chops: xGM-109 Block IV Cruise Missiles
- DID – New Nukes: Britain’s Next-Gen Missile Submarines. The SSBN Successor project, which would carry Britain’s future nuclear deterrent.
- The Guardian (Nov 15/12) – Slow, leaky, rusty: Britain’s £10bn submarine beset by design flaws.
- Dougie Coull Photography (Sept 29/12) – HMS Astute – Departing Faslane Naval Base. Note the mounted Dry Deck Shelter.
- Defence Management (March 6/12) – US ‘taken aback’ by HMS Astute. At least the Virginia Class boat USS New Mexico [SSN 779] was.
- Defense News (Dec 5/11) – ‘Trail-blazing’ U.K. Attack Sub Proves Itself in U.S. The captain discusses several features of the boat, while pointing out its first-of-class status.
On October 6, 2006, Saab Bofors Dynamics and the Polish companies MESKO and BUMAR signed a contract for production of the RBS15 Mk3 anti-ship missile. MESKO and BUMAR are procuring the RBS15 Mk3 on behalf of the Polish Ministry of Defence, and the contract value is EUR 110 million (about $140 million). The ordered missiles will arm Poland’s Project 660 Orkan Class corvettes, which are currently part of a broad fleet modernization effort via a 2001 upgrade contract with Thales Naval Netherlands. The RBS15 is currently in service with Sweden and Germany (via partner Diehl BGT Defence in September 2005); Poland is the second NATO country to adopt it.
The contract became effective when a separate industrial offset agreement was signed with the Polish Ministry of Economy…
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RBS-15 fire-and-forget missiles grew out of Sweden’s need for missiles that excelled in littoral warfare situations like Sweden’s fractured coastlines and innumerable bays. They have a longer reach and heavier punch than counterparts like the USA’s Harpoon; the RBS15 Mk3 has a range up to 200 km (120 miles) but a weight of 800 kg (1,750 pounds) and corresponding size. A set of rocket boosters are used to launch the missiles, after which they use their turbojets until target impact. They can be fired from ships, land vehicles, or aircraft to hit ships or land targets as required, using a combination of radar and GPS guidance during an stealthy, terrain-hugging approach that includes programming for indirect attack vectors, evasive maneuvers, and re-attacks. Additional features like salvo launch, which allows several missiles to arrive at the same target simultaneously from different directions, increase the missile’s lethality.
Note that Saab has never released public domain range figures. 200 km/ 125 miles is the RBS15 Mk3’s estimated operational range given flight profile variances; its maximum range is commonly believed to be about 250 km/ 155 miles. The earlier RBS15 Mk2 has a reputed 100 km/ 60 mile operational range, and 150 km/ 90 mile maximum range.Updates
April 20/17: Saab has been contracted by the Polish Navy to conduct maintenance and logistics support for the service’s RBS15 MK3 surface-to-surface missile system. First bought by Warsaw in 2006, the RBS15 system has been used by Poland as a naval defense platform and has been typically integrated on the country’s three Orkan-class fast attack craft. Produced jointly by Saab and Germany’s Diehl Defense, the system features a prelaunch programmable active radar seeker, which enables a fire-and-forget capability in all weather conditions.
April 5/11: Jane’s Maritime Review reports that the first batch of at least 2 Saab Bofors Dynamics RBS15 Mk 3 surface-to-surface antiship missiles was delivered to the Polish Navy “around mid-February 2011”, adding that:
“Poland’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) has not confirmed the delivery. According to the current delivery plan 12 missiles should be handed over during 2011 while the remaining 24 should arrive by the end of 2012.”
Oct 6/06: Saab Bofors Dynamics and the Polish companies MESKO and BUMAR sign a contract for production of the RBS15 Mk3 anti-ship missile. MESKO and BUMAR are procuring the RBS15 Mk3 on behalf of the Polish Ministry of Defence, and the contract value is EUR 110 million (about $140 million). See Saab release
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The radar-guided, rapid-firing MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS, pron. “see-whiz”) can fire between 3,000-4,500 20mm cannon rounds per minute, either autonomously or under manual command, as a last-ditch defense against incoming missiles and other targets. Phalanx uses closed-loop spotting with advanced radar and computer technology to locate, identify and direct a stream of armor piercing projectiles toward the target. These capabilities have made the Phalanx CIWS a critical bolt-on sub-system for naval vessels around the world, and led to the C-RAM/Centurion, a land-based system designed to defend against incoming artillery and mortars.
This DID Spotlight article offers updated, in-depth coverage that describes ongoing deployment and research projects within the Phalanx family of weapons, the new land-based system’s new technologies and roles, and international contracts from FY 2005 onward. As of Feb 28/07, more than 895 Phalanx systems had been built and deployed in the navies of 22 nations.
The MK 15 Phalanx system was originally developed as a last-ditch defense against enemy missiles, and possibly aircraft. It weighed in at around 13,600 pounds, and carries 1,550 rounds of 20mm ammunition. As radars have improved, and electronics have become both smaller and more powerful, the system has been improved to defend against a wider range of threats.
Block 1, Baseline 2. Uses high pressure air instead of hydraulics to release the rounds, boosting the MK 15’s firing rate from 3,000 rounds per minute to 4,500. That gives the system 21 seconds of full-rate firing before a reload is required, enough for several engagement sequences.Phalanx maintenance
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Block 1B. This is the new standard for the US Navy, and the baseline for SeaRAM missile systems. Block 1B adds day/night FLIR optics that boost performance against drones, small boats, and missiles with low radar cross-sections, while boosting angle tracking against conventional targets. For conventional MK 15s, the gun barrels are tweaked, and new MK224 “Enhanced Lethality Cartridge” (ELC) ammunition has a 48% heavier tungsten penetrator that maximizes the effect of the small 20mm round.
The US Navy wants to be an all-1B fleet by 2015, at a conversion cost of about $4.5 million per unit. A number of allies are following that lead within their own time frames. Paul Gilligan, head of platform integration for Raytheon’s UK subsidiary, was quoted saying that:
“This upgrade is vitally important, especially in the context of the evolving threats worldwide… It provides protection to ships and their crews against an increased number of threats including small, fast gunboats; standard and guided artillery; helicopters; mines and a variety of shore-launched, anti-ship missiles.”
Block IB Baseline 2. Radar modifications swap out some hard-to-get analog components for digital off-the-shelf signal processing electronics, a new signal source and mixer, and a “surface mode” software upgrade that improves performance against targets on or near the water’s surface.
The US Navy wants to standardize at this level by 2019, using upgrade kits that cost just under $1 million.Phalanx: New Frontiers SeaRAM
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The high speed and hence low warning time provided by many supersonic anti-ship missiles are also an evolving concern for global navies. Given the Phalanx’s limited range of just a couple of miles, coping with saturation attacks by missiles traveling at speeds of 0.5 – 1 mile per second requires layered defenses. To that end, the MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B’s mountings and electronics are also the base platform for the SeaRAM short range anti-air missile system. Unlike vertically-launched missiles, the SeaRAM’s RIM-116 missile is fired on a flat trajectory from an 11-round launcher. That saves precious seconds compared to vertical launch, allowing the system to provide an intermediate zone of defense between Phalanx guns and medium-range vertically-launched missiles like the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow or SM-2.
RIM-116 missiles can also be used against surface targets, and a number of ships use RAM or SeaRAM systems instead of standard Phalanx guns.
Another option to extend the system’s range involves an entirely new technology: lasers. Kevin Peppe, Raytheon’s Phalanx program director, has said that “a robust but relatively low power, low beam-quality commercial laser” is under investigation. It could offer an effective range about 3 times that of the existing M61A1 20mm gun, along with lower life-cycle costs and fewer worries about civilian casualties when used on land. Even so, this concept is a long way from becoming a practical battlefield weapon. More powerful solid-state lasers will probably be required in order to make the concept feasible against the full range of threats, and other complications like the effects of fog on lasers, and stopping power issues, must also be overcome.Phalanx C-RAM
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One area of clear progress for the Phalanx system is on land. Back in June 2005, “Phalanx R2D2s to Counter Land Mortars” drew attention to the US Army’s land-based version, imaginatively known as the “Land-based Phalanx Weapon System” and also known as MK 15 MOD 29 Centurion. The MK 15 MOD 29 Centurions are Block 1B CIWS weapon systems mounted on low-boy trailers, with self contained diesel electric power and cooling water.
Centurion fires explosive rounds that self-destruct if they don’t hit a target, so that falling 20mm bullets don’t kill people in the base itself or in nearby populated areas.
Unofficially, many refer to these weapons as “R2D2s,” after the Star Wars robot they resemble. Originally developed to defend US bases against mortar attack, these trailer-mounted weapons could also provide defensive options against the kinds of rocket attacks encountered in Round 1 of Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah, Iran & Syria. This appears to be a spiral development contract, with fielding of interim solutions as development progresses.AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder
Centurion can reach beyond its own array and use other target acquisition sensors to detect and track fired rounds, including Northrop Grumman’s AN/TPQ-36 short-range Firefinder radar and the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar.
C-RAM (Counter Rockets, Artillery and Mortars) is both a term used to refer to Centurion’s general role, and a specific command and control program that makes use of the weapon. The fire-control subsystem Northrop Grumman Mission Systems provides for C-RAM uses software modified from their Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2) system, which ties together the sensors and weapons of the Army’s short-range air-defense battalions. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for FAAD C2, which is operational throughout the world and has been especially critical to homeland security efforts in the Washington, DC area.
Once a threat is detected by Army sensors FAAD C2/C-RAM triggers audio and visual alarms sound to warn exposed soldiers. A fire-control subsystem predicts the mortar’s flight path, prioritizes targets, activates the warning system, and provides cueing data to help Centurion defeat the mortar round while still in the air.
Centurion has been deployed by the USA, and Britain. In October 2008, Raytheon and Oshkosh unveiled the Mobile Centurion, which mounts the system on a hybrid-electric HEMTT A3 heavy truck.Phalanx: Competitors Thales Goalkeeper
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Phalanx is not alone on the market. Its principal competitor is the Thales Nederland Goalkeeper system, which uses the same GAU-8 30mm tank-killer gatling gun mounted on the A-10 Thunderbolt close support aircraft, and a dual frequency I/K-band track while scan radar. The GAU-8/A offers a firing rate of 4,200 rounds per minute, and the heavier projectiles offer more hitting power, which may help stop fragments of a supersonic missile from hitting a ship and doing damage. On the flip side, Goalkeeper takes up a larger footprint of space on board ship, and requires significant “deck penetration” and integration instead of being a bolt-in offering like Phalanx. The Goalkeeper is a distant second in the market, but it has a solid foothold. It’s currently in service with the British Royal Navy, as well as Belgium, Chile, the Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, and the UAE.
There are no reports of a 30mm Phalanx, but Raytheon is taking other steps to keep its platform on top of the market, and relevant to modern threats.
Unless otherwise specified, all contracts are issued by the US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC to Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ.FY 2014 – 2017
Korea buys Block 1Bs for FFX frigates; Japanese multi-year support; Australia requests upgrades; Other contracts.
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April 20/17: The Taiwanese Navy has issued a request for tender to produce the island’s first indigenous landing platform dock. Funding worth $207 million has been allocated for the project up to 2021, and calls for a length of 502 feet and a weight of 10,000 tons. The tender also requires that the vessel be fitted with a 76mm gun and Phalanx close-in weapon system, as well as the indigenous TC-2N missile system for air defense, a top speed of 21 knots, and a range of up to 7,000 miles. It’s expected that Taipei will build two such vessels by 2021 and use them to support amphibious operations and transport tasks, and act as hospital ships and vessels for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions in peacetime.
April 6/17: Raytheon has tested a new electric gun that allows varying rates of fire for the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System. The gun has been designed to replace the Phalanx’s pneumatic motor, compressor and storage tanks, resulting in a 180 pound weight reduction. Testing conducted aimed to validate if the gun could handle the platform’s heavy vibrations. Capable of firing 75 rounds a second, the new gun also possesses a larger magazine, allowing operators to fight for longer.
December 23/16: The US Navy has awarded Raytheon a $64.6 million contract to perform technical support services for several of the service’s naval anti-ship weapon systems. Systems included in the work are the Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS), the SeaRAM, and the Land-based Phalanx Weapon System, and the contract also involves foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Canada, Britain, South Korea, Portugal, and Greece. Work is expected to be completed by January 2018, and the deal is comprised of options which, if exercised, have the potential to raise the contract value to $398 million.
August 15/16: Taiwan has agreed to part of a US weapons package that will see delivery of 13 sets of Phalanx close-in weapons systems (CIWS) and other equipment set to the tune of $286.6 million. While not due for delivery until at least 2024, the new CIWS systems will add to one MK 15 Block 1B CIWS system found on one of its Kidd-class destroyers and give an uplift in capabilities to the older Phalanx systems currently in use. The deal is part of a wider $1.83 billion defense package that includes two Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates, 36 AAV-7 amphibious assault vehicles, and 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles.
July 11/16: The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is to install the Phalanx close-in weapon systems (CIWS) on its three two Canberra-class landing helicopter dock (LHD) ships. Each vessel will potentially have up to three systems on board pending final design and radar cross-section analysis. Installation is unlikely to begin until 2018 at the earliest.
February 16/16: The US State Department has approved a $154.9 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Saudi Arabia. The deal includes the provision of five MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) Block 1B Baseline 2 Kits, equipment, training, and logistics support. The systems will be installed on Patrol Chaser Missile (PCG) Ships operated by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces Eastern Fleet, as well as one going to the Naval Forces School. The Phalanx CIWS will give the ships greater defense capabilities against enemy anti-ship missiles.
November 11/15: Raytheon has received a $10.4 million contract modification for Navy Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) SeaRAM upgrades. The company received a $159 million production contract in October for CIWS systems, with the contract also covering support equipment for the Rolling Airframe Missile-based SeaRAM system. The SeaRAM improves the CIWS’s Phalanx Block 1B radar system with an eleven-missile RAM launcher to expand the system’s defensive capabilities.
October 27/15: The Navy has awarded Raytheon a $159 million production contract for the company’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon System. The contract also includes an option valued at $291 million for FY2016. The company will manufacture, inspect and test the new systems and provide support equipment for the Rolling Airframe Missile-based SeaRAM air defense system, including Block 1B radar upgrades, which equips Independence-class Littoral Combat Ships.
May 22/15: Turkey has requested upgrades for its Phalanx close-in weapon systems, as well as four new systems, in a potential $310 million deal. The deal would also include Remote Weapons Stations, equipment, parts and training, as well as contractor (Raytheon) support. The Phalanx has been exported to several countries, with Australia recently requesting an upgrade package, with the UK and South Korea having imported the system, alongside other international customers. The CIWS is designed to provide a final tier defensive capability, with radar guiding a cannon to shoot down missiles and aircraft.
Oct 30/14: Japan. Raytheon announces a multi-year, $205 million bulk-buy contract to provide Phalanx upgrade kits, support equipment, and hardware spares to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon awarded $205 million Phalanx upgrade contract”.
Japan: multi-year support
Oct 14/14: Australia. The US DSCA announces Australia’s formal export request for up to 3 Phalanx Block 1B Baseline 1 to Block 1B Baseline 2 upgrade kits; overhaul and upgrade of up to 9 Phalanx Block 1A mounts to Block 1B Baseline 2 systems; 11 Remote Control Stations; 11 Local Control Stations, spare and repair parts; support equipment; test equipment; personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation; and other forms of US Government and contractor logistics and technical support.
The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ, and the estimated cost is up to $76 million. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Australia. Sources: US DSCA #14-50, “Australia – Close-In Weapon System Block 1B Baseline 2 Upgrade”.
DSCA request: Australia
Sept 26/14: Support. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ, receives a $15.5 million contract modification, which buys spares for Land-based Phalanx systems. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 and 2014 US Army budgets.
Work will be performed in Williston, VT (23.4%); Louisville, KY (16.9%); Andover, MA (11.6%); Grand Rapids, MI (6.2%); Phoenix, AZ (4.5%); Tucson, AZ (3%); and other locations under 1% (34.4%), and is expected to be complete by February 2017. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-13-C-5406).
June 27/14: Support. Serco Inc. in Reston, VA, received a $31.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee/ firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) waterfront installation support. they’ll help with installation of Ship Alterations, Ship Change Documents, and Ordnance Alterations for Phalanx systems on US Navy and US Coast Guard vessels, and for the US Army. Only $114,000 is committed immediately, with the rest awarded as required.
Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (41%); San Diego, CA (30%); Pearl Harbor, HI (5%); Everett, WA (6%); Mayport, FL (6%); and various overseas ports (12%); and is expected to be complete in June 2017. This contract was competitively procured via FBO.gov with 3 offers received by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division in Indian Head, MD (N00174-14-D-0028).
May 22/14: Support. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $115.5 million contract modification for MK15 Phalanx upgrades and conversions, system overhauls and associated hardware.
All funds are committed using various FY 2013 & 2014 budgets, with $43.6 million expiring on Sept 30/14. Work will be performed in Williston, VT (13%); Melbourne, FL (9%); Andover, MA (6%); Louisville, KY (5%); Tempe, AZ (5%); Pittsburgh, PA (5%); Ottobrunn, Germany (5%); Bloomington, MN (3%); Ashburn, VA (3%); Phoenix, AZ (3%); El Segundo, CA (2%); Hauppauge, NY (2%); Syracuse, NY (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Joplin, MO (2%); Bracknell, United Kingdom (2%); Grand Rapids, MI (1%); Norcross, GA (1%); and various other locations less than 1% each (29%); it is expected to be completed by September 2017. US NAVSEA in Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N0024-13-C-5406).
Feb 24/14: South Korea. Raytheon announces a $123 million Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) contract to deliver 9 Phalanx Block 1Bs for installation aboard the ROK Navy’s FFX Batch II light frigates, and aboard the AOE II successors to their 3 Cheonji Class fast combat support ships. Phalanx deliveries will begin in 2016, and are scheduled to be complete in 2022.
DCS contracts are subject to different announcement rules than Foreign Military Sale contracts, and are managed directly by the buyer instead of by a US military surrogate. This is Raytheon’s largest DCS contract for Phalanx systems, and it was actually signed in Summer 2013. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon awarded $123 million Phalanx contract from Republic of Korea”.
9 Block 1Bs for ROK FFX
Jan 3/14: Support. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $52.1 million Design Agent Engineering and Technical Support Services modification for maintainence of, and improvements to, the Mk15 Phalanx, Land-based Phalanx, and SeaRAM weapon systems.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by January 2015. $12.5 million is committed immediately from a wide array of USN FY 2014 and FY 2013 R&D, weapons, and shipbuilding budget lines, plus a US Army budget. Of that, $4 million will expire on Sept 30/13 (N00024-12-C-5405).FY 2012 – 2013
British order; US upgrades.
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Sept 10/13: FY 2013-14. A $136.2 million contract to overhaul and upgrade 19 MK 15 Phalanx systems, and produce 4 new SeaRAM systems. This contract provides purchases for the U.S. Navy (80%), Japan (15%), the US Army (4%) and Pakistan (1%) under the foreign military sales (FMS) program; and all funds are committed immediately. $55 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13.
Another $94.8 million in options exist for a FY 2014 buy of 12 more Phalanx upgrades, and another 4 SeaRAM systems, to bring the total contract to $231 million.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (26%); Anaheim, CA (16%); Melbourne, FL (11%); Dayton, OH (11%); Syracuse, NY (10%); McKinney, TX (5%); Andover, MA (5%); Bloomington, MN (5%); Radford, VA (5%); Salt Lake City, UT (3%); and Tucson, AZ (3%), and is expected to be complete by September 2017. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with FAR 6.302-1(a)(2)(iii) “one responsible supplier” provisions (N00024-13-C-5406). Sources: Pentagon | Raytheon Sept 11/13 release.
FY 2013 order
Oct 23/12: 5 for RFA. Raytheon signs a GBP 42.8 million (about $68.6 million) contract to deliver 5 Phalanx Block 1B systems to Britain, beginning in 2013. Installation and in-service support will be provided by Babcock Marine.
The weapons are destined for Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels. At the moment, Raytheon’s Phalanx system is installed on 14 Royal Navy vessels, including their 6 new Type 45 destroyers. Other British ships use Thales’ Goalkeeper 30mm system. Royal Navy | Raytheon.
May 17/12: FY 2012. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $57.9 million contract modification, covering FY 2012 requirements for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). It includes Phalanx Block 1B BL2 upgrade kits and conversions; MK 15 Mod 31 CIWS SeaRAM missile upgrade kits and conversions in support of Austal’s forthcoming LCS 10 and 12; 2 Phalanx Block 1Bs for the forthcoming DDG 116 destroyer; MK 15 CIWS hardware product improvements and ancillary equipment; Block 1B Ordalt (Ordnance Alternation) kits; and MK 15 CIWS Block 1B Class A overhauls.
Raytheon’s release cites 9 Phalanx overhauls and upgrades, 20 Phalanx radar upgrade kits, and 2 SeaRAM systems that use the Phalanx system as the chassis for an 11-shot RIM-116 short-range anti-aircraft missile launcher, instead of a 20mm gatling gun.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (39%); Germany (12%); Palm Bay, FL (12%); Tucson, AZ (9%); Pittsburgh, PA (8%); Burlington, VT (6%); Andover, MA (4%); Syracuse, NY (4%); Long Beach, CA (1%); Radford, VA (1%); Bloomington, MN (1%); Salt Lake City, UT (1%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%); and is expected to be complete by September 2015. $24.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-10-C-5427).
FY 2012 orderFY 2011
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Dec 27/11: Support. A $45.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Phalanx, SeaRAM, and Land-based Phalanx design agent engineering and technical support services covering overall maintainability, reliability, and improvements. The contract is initially funded with $726,000, with more to be allocated as needed.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be completed by January 2013. This contract was not competitively procured by US NAVSEA in Washington, DC (N00024-12-C-5405).
Sept 12/11: Raytheon signs a $65.5 million Direct Commercial Sale contract to deliver 5 Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon Systems to the Republic of Korea Navy for the new 3,200 ton Ulsan-1 Class FFX inshore patrol frigates.
The contract calls for the systems to be installed starting in April 2013, and represents Phalanx’s largest sale to the ROK fleet – which generally uses Thales’ larger 30mm Goalkeeper instead. Raytheon.
South Korea: FFX buy
Aug 31/11: Support. A 5-year, $162.2 million not-to-exceed fixed-price requirements contract for performance based logistics support for the Phalanx CIWS. This announcement includes service to the governments of Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, Poland, and Bahrain, which will be issued as separate delivery orders, on an as-required basis.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY, and is expected to be completed August 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, by US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Mechanicsburg, PA (N00104-11-D-ZD43).
Aug 25/11: FY 2011. A not-to-exceed $161 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for MK 15 Mod 31 SeaRAM systems in support of Independence Class ships LCS 6 Jackson and LCS 8 Montgomery, and Japan’s “DDH 2405 helicopter destroyer”; as well as Phalanx CIWS Block 1B class “A” overhauls, and land-based Phalanx Weapon System class “A” overhauls.
The SeaRAM systems differ from other RAM launchers by having the full Phalanx enclosure, including the accompanying radar, as well as added infrared sensors. This creates a bolt-on missile system that can be operated semi-autonomously, or integrated and coordinated via the ship’s combat system. In exchange, it holds just 11 missiles in its launcher, instead of 21. DID covers it as a separate system.
As for Japan’s “DDH-2405,” this is the first ship of Japan’s new 22DDH project to field 800 foot, 30,000t vessels that are larger than its existing 18,000t Hyuga Class. These ships are properly characterized as escort carriers, but Japan’s constitution forbids them from owning carriers. The SH-60 Seahawk helicopters on board JMSDF Hyuga and JMSDF Ise certainly proved themselves in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, however, which should mute any domestic criticism.
The Pentagon adds that Phalanx CIWS is currently installed on approximately 152 US Navy and 14 US Coast Guard ships, and is in use in 23 foreign navies. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (9%); Germany (7%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburgh, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2015, but $90.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-5427).
FY 2011: USA, (Japan)
Aug 1/11: Support. A $7 million contract modification for MK 15 Phalanx engineering and technical services to the US military, and the governments of Japan and Saudi Arabia (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by April 2012. $200,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-07-C-5437).
July 26/11: Poland submits a DSCA notice for service life extensions of its FFG-7 frigates, which includes upgrades to its MK 15 systems from Block 0 to Block 1B/ Baseline 2. Read “Poland to Extend, Improve its FFG-7 Frigates” for full coverage.
June 21/11: UK. Babcock International Group announces the pending qualification and testing of Raytheon’s Phalanx 1B 20mm close-in weapon system on HMS Daring. The Type 45 air defense destroyers were not delivered with secondary defensive systems for use against UAVs, small boats, and incoming missiles, so the pending qualification will help to patch the gaps in their defenses.
Babcock will supervise the installation of 2 systems in HMS Daring at Portsmouth Naval Base, as a lead-in to Naval Weapon Sea Trials (NWST), including a towed target firing. Most British ships have used Thales larger 30mm Goalkeeper system, but the Phalanx is an easier and cheaper “bolt-on” addition. Babcock’s previous Phalanx installations have been upgrades on the Type 42 destroyer HMS York, and the fleet replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria.
April 29/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Britain’s official request for Ordnance Alteration Kits for 36 MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) upgrade (Ordnance Alternation, or OrdAlt) kits. The request includes 20 kits for converting Phalanx Block 1A systems to Block 1B Baseline 2, and 16 kits that raise systems from Block 1B Baseline 1 to Baseline 2. Spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, software support, and other US government and contractor support are also included. The estimated cost is up to $137 million, but exact costs will depend on a negotiated contract.
The Block 1B Baseline 2 upgrades improve optical and radar close-in detection, tracking and engagement, and extend Block 1A capabilities to include targets like helicopters, UAVs, and fast boats. Raytheon Systems Company in Tucson, AZ will be the contractor, but implementation will not require any contractor or US government support personnel.
April 11/11: Raytheon announces that it has delivered the 1st 20mm Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon System to the Republic of Korea Navy. The direct commercial sale calls for the Phalanx Block 1B system to be installed on the lead FFX light frigate in 2011.
Other South Korean ships use Thales 30mm Goalkeeper system, but Phalanx’s bolt-on nature makes it a friendlier choice for smaller vessels. Raytheon expects to sign another contract with South Korea for an additional 5 Phalanx systems in the near future, representing the other 5 FFX ships.
South Korea: initial order & deliveryFY 2010
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Sept 29/10: Support. A $35.2 million contract modification for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx close-in-weapon system. Work will be performed in Tucson, Z, and is expected to be complete by December 2011. $8,379,133 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10 (N00024-07-C-5437).
May 19/10: Support. A $22.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437) for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx CIWS. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $5.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
March 31/10: FY 2010. A $204 million not-to-exceed contract for MK 15 Phalanx Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) upgrades and conversions, system overhauls, and associated hardware.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburgh, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1% ); and New Albany, IN (1%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2014, and $51.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-10-C-5427).
March 24/10: Support. A $5.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437), exercising options for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2010.
March 9/10: Testing. USS Abraham Lincoln [CVN-72] successfully completes a PACFIRE test firing of her 20mm Phalanx Close In Weapons System (CIWS), while exercising the boat’s combat systems. Upgrades to the close-in self-defense weapon system included transition from block 1 baseline 0, to block 1 baseline 2.
The main improvement uses compressed high pressure air instead of hydraulics to release the rounds faster, allowing the gun to fire 4,500 rounds per minute instead of 3,000. US Navy.FY 2009
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Sept 23/09: Support. A $13.7 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437), exercising options for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
June 19/09: The Government of Canada awards Raytheon Canada Limited of Calgary, AB an 8-year, C$ 180 million contract to overhaul, repair and upgrade the Canadian Navy’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). The Phalanx serves on Canada’s Halifax class frigates, its aged Iroquois/Tribal class “air defense” destroyers, and its Protecteur class supply ships. The upgrades will likely take the systems to Phalanx Block 1B status, which improves capabilities against fast boats, helicopters, and UAVs.
Canada’s Industrial and Regional Benefit (IRB) Policy applies to this procurement. It requires that Raytheon Canada Limited undertake “high quality and advanced-technology business activities in Canada valued at 100 per cent of the contract value.”
Canada support & upgrades
May 15/09: FY 2009. A $259.9 million contract modification for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System (CIWS) Block 1B upgrades and conversions, system overhauls, and associated hardware. This includes the MK 15 MOD29 Centurion land-based system. $8.8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/09.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburg, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%), and is expected to be completed by September 2012 (N00024-07-C-5444).
May 13/09: Training. A $5.8 million contract modification for phalanx simulated infrared/visible engagement target simulator kits with shorting plugs in support of the Phalanx CIWS Program. The shorting plugs are useful, in order to make sure the simulated targets can’t lead to live firing.
Raytheon will work on the contract in England (80%); Louisville, KY (15%); and Tuscon, AZ (5%); and expects to complete work by January 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command manages the previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5444).
April 21/09: Israel. Despite news reports that Israel would order the land-based Mobile Centurion system, the Jerusalem Post quotes “senior defense officials” who say that a decision won’t be made until Israel can watch live tests in summer 2009. The report adds that Israel is interested in the system’s potential along the Gaza Strip border, but there are still several obstacles that must be overcome first.
One is its effectiveness against Kassam rockets and mortars, which will be answered by the live tests. The second obstacle is cost, given that each system covers 1.2 square km and costs about $25 million. That works well for protecting a base, but protecting a city like Sderot become far more costly. In a democracy, issues like noise levels are an obstacle that must be evaluated under environmental regulations, though that’s likely to be a minor hindrance at best. The final obstacles would involve American approval of the sale, which is very likely, and the willingness of American military customers to give up their own production slots, which is less certain. If they do not expedite delivery with production slot swaps, the required wait time might affect the rationale for choosing the Phalanx-based system over other options.
Jan 30/09: Laser Phalanx. White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico state continues to test a solid-state laser version of the Phalanx weapons system. The laser has proven capable of “rapidly” penetrating armor plating even when not at full power, and the next step is to test the system on mortar rounds.
The exact time required for burn-through or detonation of incoming rounds is a very important number. US Army release.
Oct 8/08: Mobile Centurion. Raytheon and Oshkosh unveil the “Mobile Centurion,” which mounts the Phalanx system on a hybrid-electric HEMTT A3 heavy truck. To make room, the truck’s normal load-handling system was removed, in favor of a fixed platform for the Phalanx. The ProPulse drive A3 model was picked because it has 120 kW of power to divide between the truck’s drive train and the Pahlanx as needed, which removes the need to tow a bulky generator.
The other benefit is air mobility. Instead of fitting just 1 current model Centurion/C-RAM trailer into a C-17 strategic transport plane, 3-4 Mobile Centurions could be fitted instead. Defense News.FY 2008
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Sept 22/08: Support. A $31.3 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-07-C-5437, exercising an option for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx CIWS.
Phalanx CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 USN ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies. This modification combines support for the US Navy, US Army and the Governments of Egypt, Portugal and Australia under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $1.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
Sept 18/08: FY 2008. A not-to-exceed $220.5 million modification to a previous contract for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System Block 1B upgrades and conversions, system overhauls, and associated hardware. Contract funds in the amount of $19.9 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
Most Phalanx Block 1B conversions involve naval ships, due to the upgrade’s defensive value against small boats. The land-based C-RAM system is also based on Block 1B, however, and they will require system overhauls and spares of their own as part of their regular maintenance.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburg, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%), Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%), and is expected to be complete by September 2012 (N00024-07-C-5444).
May 23/08: Support. A $14.3 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437) provides more incremental funding for engineering and technical services, bringing the contract’s current exercised value to $57.6 million. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Army (45%); U.S. Navy (42%) and the Government of Pakistan, (13%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be completed by September 2008. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC issued the contract.
May 16/08: New Zealand’s TV3 reports that the country’s 2 ANZAC Class frigates will upgrade their Phalanx guns to Block 1B status, as the first step in a larger overhaul and upgrade. See “NZ Looks to Upgrade ANZAC Frigates.”
May 12/08: Centurion. A not-to-exceed $61.2 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5444) for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System (CIWS) ordnance alteration kits, spares, and associated hardware for Land-Based configurations to support the Global War on Terrorism.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (22%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (9%); Long Beach, CA (9%); Radford, VA (7%); Burlington, VT (7%); Palm Bay, FL (3%); Pittsburg, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%); and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
Jan 22/08: Support. An $18.7 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437) for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by September 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $3.6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
“PHALANX CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 USN ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies.”
Nov 9/07: FY 2007. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $225.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) Block 1B Upgrade and Conversion equipment, plus U.S. Army Block 1B Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS) Upgrade and Conversion equipment, and U.S Army Block 1B LPWS’s and associated spares and support equipment. This effort also includes purchases for the Governments of Portugal (1.23%) and Australia (1.09%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.
A subsequent Raytheon release adds more details: they will overhaul and upgrade 34 Phalanx CIWS systems for the U.S. Navy and 1 system for the Royal Australian Navy, and will build 12 Land-Based Phalanx Weapon Systems for the U.S. Army, while providing associated hardware to all customers under the agreements.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (55.7%), Burlington, VT (12.4%), Palm Bay, FL (8%), Andover, MA (4.9%), Pittsburg, PA (4.8%), Carson, CA (4.1%), Tucson, AZ (3.4%), Brooklyn, NY (3.4%), Bloomington, MN (3.3%), and is expected to be complete by November 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $7.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC (N00024-07-C-5444).
FY 2007: USA, Australia
Oct 1/07: Overhauls. A $16.7 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5460) for 7 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) Class A Overhauls. PHALANX CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 USN ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete in February 2011. All contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year.FY 2007
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Sept 27/07: Centurion. Jane’s International Defence Review reports that Raytheon is planning to approach NATO with a strategy to lease or sell a number of its Centurion land-based Phalanx systems for deployment at fixed bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sept 25/07: Ammo. Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) in Mesa, Ariz., USA, won an estimated $44.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for MK 244 Mod 0, linked armor-piercing discarding sabot (APDS) 20mm cartridges, electric-primed 20mm rounds designed to be fired by the M61A1 20mm gatling cannon mounted in the shipboard Phalanx CIWS. This cartridge is referred to as the Enhanced Lethality Cartridge, as it contains a heavier projectile and inflicts more damage to the target than the precursor to this round, the MK149 Mod 4.
Work will be performed in Independence, MO, and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $512,519 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Internet, with 2 offers received [General Dynamics ATP was almost certainly the other bidder]. The US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, Ind. issued the contract. (N00164-07-D-4285)
Sept 11/07: Laser Phalanx. Jane’s reports from the British DSEi exhibition that Raytheon is working on a Phalanx variant that can fire lasers. What advantages would a laser system offer? Would it really be an advance over the current Phalanx system? DID explains.
Aug 23/07: Sub-contractors. DRS Technologies, Inc. announced a $26 million contract, with an option for an additional $23 million contract, to produce, integrate, test and deliver Phalanx Thermal Imagers for the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS). The contract was awarded to DRS by the Missile Systems business of Raytheon in Louisville, KY. The imagers were developed by the company’s DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems unit – California Division in Cypress, CA, and DRS-produced work for this contract will be accomplished by the unit’s Optronics Division in Palm Bay, FL. DRS will start delivering the imagers immediately, with completion expected by July 2008.
DRS’s Phalanx Thermal Imagers incorporate 2nd-generation FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) technology, similar to that used by the company in the Horizontal Technology Integration series of sighting system products being delivered to the U.S. Army and Marines for ground combat systems like the M2/M3 Bradley IFV and M1 Abrams tanks, LRAS3, et. al. The new systems will replace 1st generation FLIR technologies currently in use on MK 15 Phalanx mounts.
May 25/07: UK C-RAM. Jane’s Defence Weekly reports that Britain will deploy a C-RAM system to protect UK forces in southern Iraq. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI’s) Air Power conference in London on May 17/07, Air Chief Marshal Sir Clive Loader, Commander-in-Chief of the RAF’s Air Command, disclosed that the Raytheon Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS) was being acquired “to protect the UK’s deployed bases in operational theaters.”
May 2/07: EDO Corporation announces a $15 million follow-on award for expanded support of the Army’s C-RAM (Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar) system, which includes a land-based Phalanx weapon coupled with self-destructing explosive bullets. The task order was effective April 1, 2007 and includes in-theater support.
EDO services have included testing and validation of the systems at test facilities and in the field, assistance in fielding systems, and logistics services to ensure their continued operation. These services are being provided in the U.S. and in support of nearly 20 locations in combat zones. EDO release
Feb 28/07: Call UPS! Raytheon announces a 5-year, $169.9 million Performance Based Logistics contract to manage the spare parts for the U.S. Navy’s Phalanx CIWS. More than 1,100 part numbers amounting to more than 30,000 individual Phalanx parts are warehoused in Louisville, KY, where, for a firm-fixed-price, Raytheon, in partnership with United Parcel Service Supply Chain Solutions, guarantees delivery of spares to drop points within an agreed-to time frame.
The distribution and management functions allow for worldwide delivery using the best commercial carrier available, while maintaining process control through in-transit tracking. This process also allows for retail and wholesale spares modeling, spares procurement and, perhaps most importantly, inventory management. The provisions and benefits of the contract apply to both the U.S. Navy and the 24 international navies that have Phalanx in their inventories. Frank Wyatt, vice president for Raytheon’s Naval Weapon Systems in Tucson, AZ:
“The partnership with United Parcel Service, developed through the previous Phalanx logistics contract, has greatly improved inventory accuracy. Currently, Phalanx inventory accuracy stands at 99.9 percent resulting in a substantial increase in supply availability and a reduced wait time… Future cost savings and improved responsiveness can be anticipated by reducing parts demands through engineering redesign of selected high-demand, high-cost parts.”
Feb 8/07: Shingo. Raytheon Missile Systems’ Louisville, KY facility has captured a prestigious Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, marking the 4th consecutive year that Raytheon facilities have won. The Louisville facility manufactures the Phalanx CIWS and RAM/SeaRAM systems.
Jan 3/07: Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Huntsville, AL received a delivery order amount of $29.9 million as part of a $144.5 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control/ Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar Systems (FAAD C2/ C-RAM) Integration contract. Work will be performed in Huntsville, AL and is expected to be complete by Sept. 28, 2009. This was a sole source contract initiated on Nov. 20, 2006 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-06-D-0029).
Northrop Grumman’s Jan 17/07 release describes it as “a contract valued at up to $71 million to continue their support in system engineering, integration, and installation for…C-RAM… In addition to continuing to support systems engineering, integration and installation of C-RAM capabilities, the indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) C-RAM installation and support contract includes logistics and training support.”FY 2006
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Sept 29/06: Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Huntsville, AL received a delivery order amount of $28.6 million as part of a $670 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Forward Air Defense Command and Control/ Counter-Rocket Artillery and Mortar Systems (C-RAM) Integration. Work will be performed in Huntsville, AL and is expected to be complete by Sept. 28/08. This was a sole source contract initiated on May 4, 2006 by The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-06-D-0029).
Under a $38 million contract awarded in October 2005, Northrop Grumman was tasked with integration, deployment, and installation of the C-RAM command and control systems architecture; assisted in integrating the command and control with target acquisition and tracking radars, warning, and response subsystems; and trained soldiers to operate and support the “system of systems.”
Sept 13/06: FY 2006. A $369.1 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract N00024-04-C-5460 for Phalanx CIWS and associated spares for FY 2006 US Navy (51%) and US Army (35%) purchases, and the Governments of Pakistan (12.8%) and Australia (1.2%) under the foreign military sales requirements.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete December 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $7.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
FY 2006: USA, Pakistan, Australia
Aug 9/06: Centurion. A $6.9 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5460) for land-based Phalanx weapon system ancillary equipment. This is the land-based configuration for the US Army’s counter-rocket, artillery, mortar program. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete by April 2007.
Feb 7/06: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received a $169.9 million firm-fixed-price requirements contract for performance-based logistics in support of the Phalanx CIWS.
This contract combines procurements between the US Navy (74.79%); US Coast Guard (4.6%); and the Governments of Australia (5%); Israel (5%); New Zealand (5%); Japan (1%); United Kingdom (1%); Canada (1%); Taiwan (1%); Poland (1%); Bahrain (0.4%); and Saudi Arabia (0.21%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (90%), and Tucson, AZ (10%), and is expected to be complete by April 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Inventory Control Point in Mechanicsburg, PA (N00104-06-D-L007).
January 2006: UK. The British Defence Logistics Organization’s (DLO) Maritime Gunnery and Missile Systems (MGMS) Integrated Project Team signs a 10-year support, maintenance and availability contract with DML, with incentives to increase the number of days the guns are available and fit for use.
On Oct 31/06, the DLO noted that the target time each Phalanx spends having operational defects fixed was 1.56 days per operational mount, but DML was already achieving 1.24 days. As of October 2006, there were 36 Phalanx guns in service on Royal Navy Ships and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries; an upgrade of these units to Mk 15 Phalanx 1B status is slated to begin entering service by May 2008.
British long-term support
Oct 24/05: Northrop Grumman announces that the U.S. Army has selected them the prime contractor for the Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) Integration and Fielding contract. Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems sector is developing a systems architecture and integrating the C-RAM target acquisition, fire control, warning and engagement subsystems. Under a $38 million contract, Northrop Grumman will first deploy a mortar-attack warning capability and install that capability at 8 forward operating bases in Iraq. Northrop Grumman Mission Systems will also train soldiers to use the system and integrate an intercept subsystem as it is fielded. Northrop Grumman release | DID article.FY 2005
Canada; Portugal.Phalanx CIWS
May 16/05: FY 2005. A $45 million not-to-exceed, firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5460) for Block 1B Upgrade and Conversion performance enhancement equipment for United States and Portuguese Navy Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (31%) and the government of Portugal (69%) under the Foreign Military Sales program: 3 upgrade and conversions for the U.S. Navy, and 3 Phalanx MK-15 CIWS and ancillary hardware are planned in support of Portugal requirements.
Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete by December 2007.
FY 2005: Portugal, USA
March 24/05: A $5.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to previously awarded contract N00024-04-C-5460 for production of 99 sets of Reliability and Maintainability Spares in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS) program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (10%) and Louisville, KY (90%), and is expected to be complete by July 2007.
March 3/05: A not to exceed $129 million firm fixed price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-04-C-5460 for the Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS). The contract includes Block 1B upgrades, overhauls, parts and support equipment, and other ancillary equipment. This equipment will be installed aboard several Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers (DDGs 107, 108, 109, 110, 111 & 112) and backfit upon various classes of ships. Additionally, 2 mounts will be provided to the United States Army. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (90%) and Tucson, AZ (10%), and is expected to be complete by May 2009.
Dec 8/04: Canada exercised a contract option, engaging engage Raytheon Canada to repair, overhaul and upgrade its 16 Phalanx Close in Weapon Systems (CIWS). The contract lasts to 2009 and will cost at least C$ 82.5 million (about $68 million).
The original multi-million dollar contract was signed between Raytheon Canada and Canada’s Department of Public Works and Services in 2003. Under that contract, Raytheon Canada was to provide total life-cycle support for Canada’s 21 Phalanx CIWS systems, including fleet repair work, field service support, overhauls, upgrades, overhaul support material and engineering services.
The new contract extends Raytheon’s service to the Royal Canadian Navy to 2009, and the new C$ 44.6 million modification means the contract is now valued at in excess of $82.5 million. Work, including upgrade to the Mk 15 Phalanx 1B configuration, will be performed in Calgary, Alberta, at Raytheon Canada’s Naval Systems Support (NSS) facility.
Canadian upgrades & support
- US Navy – MK 15 – Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS).
- Raytheon – Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS).
- GlobalSecurity.org – MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS).
- GlobalSecurity.org – Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar (C-RAM).
- LiveLeak – C-RAM video.
- Defense Tech (Aug 21/13) – Navy Overhauls Phalanx Ship Defense Weapon. Good overview of the changes in Block 1B, and of refit costs.
- US military DVIDS (July 3/10) – Army, Navy Team Up to Protect Victory Base Complex. In Iraq. Illustrates how the land-based Centurion system works in practice. They seem to be rather maintenance intensive.
- US Army (March 16/09) – Iron Shield mission forges Army, Navy bond.
- DID – A Laser Phalanx?.
- DID FOCUS Article – RAM Missile Systems: Contracts & Events. SeaRAM is based on the MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B platform, but has an 11-round missile launcher instead of a gun and ammunition drum.
- Northrop Grumman (July 12/06) – Northrop Grumman Develops Skyguard Laser Defense System For U.S., Allies to Defend Against Rocket, Missile, Mortar Attacks. See also DID’s Oct 20/07 article, “Israel Facing Sharp Debates Over Missile Defense Approaches.” Lasers aren’t a competitor yet, even in 2013, but steady progress to the 20-40 kW level says they will become one soon.
- Rheinmetall subsidiary Oerlikon-Contraves (November 2006) – New challenges for air defense. Describes their competitor Skyshield system for land-based defense, which is also gun and radar based but claims longer range and heavier projectiles.
- Thales – Goalkeeper – close-in weapon system. See also product datasheet [PDF]. Phalanx’s top naval competitor.
USN Selects Raytheon for Work on Standard Missile Variants | Gen Atom to Supply LiFT for SAHRV | Russians Begin Weapon Trials on T-50/PAK-FA
- The US Navy has selected Raytheon to perform engineering and technical services for several Standard Missile variants used by the service. Valued at $113 million, work to be carried out under the agreement calls for the procurement for other government agencies and foreign military sales to undisclosed customers, as well as engineering work for the Standard Missile 2, 3 and 6. Other tasks to be carried out by Raytheon include research and development efforts, component improvement, shipboard integration and evaluation services. Scheduled to be completed by April 2022, the contract contains options that if exercised, could bring the cumulative value of the contract to $466 million.
- General Atomics has announced that they will supply a Lithium-ion Fault Tolerant (LiFT) battery system to power the US military’s Semi-Autonomous Hydrographic Reconnaissance Vehicle (SAHRV), a platform developed for maritime intelligence gathering operations. The battery is built to support both manned and unmanned platforms, and designed to prevent uncontrolled cascading cell failure, which according to the company, makes the system safer to use, and can keep equipped vehicles functional to complete their missions. The company added that the battery has been successfully fielded for underwater applications.
- A Saudi Arabian military helicopter that crashed in Yemen on Tuesday was caused by friendly fire. The Black Hawk was conducting combat operations when the incident happened, resulted in the deaths of 12 officers onboard, and it is one of the largest death tolls in a single incident involving Saudi forces since a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015. While the Saudi news agency SPA quoted a statement from the Saudi-led coalition as saying the Black Hawk came down in Marib province, east of the Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa, Yemeni defense ministry’s 26 September news website quoted an officer in Yemen’s military high command as saying the helicopter was shot down 5 km (3 miles) from its landing spot because of “a technical fault that caused a misreading of the air defense system, which resulted in the destruction of the plane before it landed.”
- Having barely won a referendum aimed at giving the Turkish presidency extensive new powers, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks to use his new authority to get more involved with weapons programs and procurement. Once a position that was aimed at being non-partisan, largely ceremonial, and without constitutional powers, Erdogan will now be head of state, head of government and head of the ruling AK party, and have powers to appoint vice presidents, Cabinet ministers, state bureaucrats and senior judges. A long-time advocate of Turkey’s local industry, experts now believe he will now take a more active role in defense procurements, and will “give pace to efforts to further nationalize defense systems, present and future.” Having been in power since 2002, under Erdogan, Turkey has launched scores of indigenous programs including helicopters, armored vehicles, naval platforms, drones, a new-generation battle tank and a fighter jet.
- After taking damage during a landing mishap last year, Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) hybrid Panther UAV is to have its vertical take-off and landing design’s fuselage and wing updated to boost performance. Developed in partnership with South Korea’s Hankuk Carbon—who have supplied composite materials and other subsystems—the Front Engine Panther was damaged during its first flight demonstration during a hard landing last December, and an investigation into the matter has resulted in a decision to change the airframe and wings. A follow on to the all-electric Panther UAV, the FE Panther uses electric batteries to power three motors during take-off and landing, and a gasoline engine during the cruise phase of flight. IAI says that this hybrid propulsion system increases endurance and payload capacity over its predecessor.
- Russia has commenced weapon testing trials on the T-50/PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter cannons, with plans to have the trials completed later this year. Designed to have similar capabilities to the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation F-22 Raptor, Moscow, with the T-50, hopes to break the US-held monopoly on fifth-generation fighters, as Washington finalizes development on its second, the long-delayed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Five T-50s are expected to be operational by the end of 2017.
- Norway has begun testing the brake parachute it will deploy on their fleet of F-35As. The testing will assess how the fighter handles with the parachute fitted, as well as braking on both dry and wet runways. Follow up testing will continue in Alaska in 2018, where testing will look to evaluate the parachute’s performance on icy runways. Sharing the cost with fellow F-35 program partner the Netherlands, modifications to the Norwegian F-35 fleet include strengthening the fuselage and adapting the aircraft to house the parachute between the two tailfins. The modifications have been included to make the fighter more prepared for the more adverse weather conditions found in Scandinavia such as low temperatures, strong winds, poor visibility and slippery runways. Oslo is scheduled to receive its first F-35s this November.
- Development of South Korea’s Haeseong II ship-to-ground missile has been completed with serial production of canister and vertical launch versions expected to begin in 2018. Based on the earlier SSM-700K Haeseong anti-ship missile and the culmination of a seven-year development program led by the Agency for Defense Development, the new missile will give an added ground attack capability to South Korean warships that have usually relied on anti-ship or anti-aircraft guided missiles, and will form a part of Seoul’s Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system designed to tackle a North Korean military provocation. The vertical launch variant will be operational on a number of vessel types, including the upcoming Incheon-class frigates, by 2019.
- Baykar Makina’s Mini V.3 UAV, recently inducted into the Turkish armed forces:
SwRI Mobile Treatment Destroys Chem Warfare w/o Hazard | Turkey’s Aselsan to Help Mod 10K Mi-series Copters | Iran Unveils F-313 Stealth Fighter
- A US Navy ban on T-45 flights has been lifted, although lower altitude restrictions have been put in place. The trainers were barred from flying late last month after instructor pilots reported incidents of physiological problems by pilots while in the cockpit. The pilot trainer will now fly below 10,000 feet to avoid the use of the aircraft’s On Board Oxygen Generator System as authorities continue to investigate the causes of physiological episodes experienced in the cockpit by aircrew. Air crew will also wear a modified mask that circumvents the OBOGS system.
- EDO Corp. Defense Systems, a subsidiary of Harris Corp., has been awarded a $29 million US Navy contract to deliver BRU-55A/A bomb ejector racks to the service. The contract calls for the delivery of 300 aircraft bomb ejector racks. BRU-55A/A racks are integrated with aircraft, enabling planes to carry a variety of munitions for combat missions including Joint Direct Attack Munitions, the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser and the Joint Standoff Weapon. Delivery is expected to be complete by April 2020.
- The Southwest Research Institute has developed a mobile treatment system that destroys chemical warfare agents without producing hazardous waste. The system comes in two configurations—wet and dry—with the wet pollution system developed by a Canadian company that has a stand-alone plasma torch treatment device with a liquid scrubber system. The dry system, used in arid or remote conditions, uses a Dedicated EGR engine thermal destruction device developed by Southwest Research Institute for the Agnostic Compact Demilitarization of Chemical Agents program of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). When chemicals are destroyed, exhaust gases pass through a fluidized bed where the combusted byproducts are captured.
- Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense manufacturer, has announced that they will play an “active part” in the modernization of some 10,000 Mi-series helicopters across the globe. A specialist in defense electronics, the firm added that they have a particular interest in upgrading the helicopters of Gulf and Central Asian, or Turkic, countries. As part of a demonstration to showcase their abilities, Aselsan has already upgraded a Mi-17 helicopter for an undisclosed user which included adding its own products to upgrade multi-function displays, keyboard display units, inertial navigation systems, mission computers, digital moving map systems, internal communications systems, and very/ultra-high-frequency and high-frequency radios. The company said that after the demo upgrade on the Mi-17 they expect to start work on other platforms in the inventory of the “country concerned.”
- It’s been reported that Russia’s Zircon hypersonic anti-ship missile has reached speeds of Mach 8 during recent tests. Designed to be launched from the 3S14 Agat vertical launch system, the missile’s firing range is about 400 kilometers, while the maximum speed of the missile is indicated in about 4-6 Mach. The missile will be installed at the heave nuclear-powered cruisers Peter the Great and Admiral Nakhimov. Moscow plans for the missile to enter production next year.
- Iran has presented, for the first time, an indigenously-built stealth fighter jet. Previously reported as a hoax in Western media due to several aesthetic irregularities, the Qaher F-313 was unveiled during a ceremony attended by high-ranking government officials which included an address from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. It must also be noted that no flight display was given although the aircraft has under gone taxi tests. The ceremony also saw the unveiling of the Kowsar, a jet trainer that is capable of conducting short-range aerial support missions armed with various weapons.
- A delegation from Vietnam’s Defense Ministry has visited the Kazan Helicopter plant in Russia, amid expressions of interest in procuring a number of civilian and military model helicopters for the South-east Asian nation. Models being sought include the Mi-17V-5, Mi-38 and Ansat helicopters, and the visit to the plant was in order to discuss terms of delivery. Vietnam has been in talks with several nations, including India and the US, over acquisitions of new defense platforms and training, as it looks to beef up capabilities to deter against neighboring China.
- South Korea will decide next month if their M-SAM air-defense system will be declared operational. According to sources, testing and evaluations of the low-tier missile system have been completed and it now awaits a final process next month to determine its suitability for intended combat missions. Seoul had initially intended to have the system deployed in the early 2020s, but ongoing tensions with North Korea caused the government to push the deployment between 2018 and 2019. Employing hit-to-kill technology, the system will intercept incoming hostile ballistic missiles at altitudes of around 20 kilometers.
- F-35’s first deployment to Europe:
Pining for Control: South Korea’s KAMD National Ballistic Missile Defense System & M-SAM Surface to Air Missile
South Korea continues to modernize its forces, and take steps toward full sovereign control of its defenses. PAC-2 GEM+ missiles were ordered in 2008 to be operational in 2010 and fully in place by 2012. South Korea doesn’t appear to be aiming as high as Japan, with its license-produced Patriot PAC-3s and long-range naval SM-3 systems, but medium range SM-2 Block IIIA/B missiles fired from ROKN KDX-III destroyers do offer another limited option for the ROK’s coastal cities.
As countries like the UAE have been quick to recognize, turning a series of point defenses into a cohesive system that can respond in time requires long-range detection, and strong regional command-and-control systems. Now, a key contract has been signed, as South Korea prepares to field its Air and Missile Defense Cell (AMD-Cell) radars and command system.
Note that this article doesn’t cover every South Korean BMD purchase. It focuses on the core AMD-Cell command and control system, key radars, and overall assessments. Beyond that, it notes key milestones and decisions that may involve weapons within KAMD, like PATRIOT missiles, KDX-III destroyers, etc. Links to in-depth coverage of more specific systems are provided in the “Additional Readings” section.2010 – 2017
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North Korea is believed to have deployed more than 600 short-range Scud missiles with a 320-500 km range, and around 200 Rodong missiles with a 1,300 km range.
April 18/17: South Korea will decide next month if their M-SAM air-defense system will be declared operational. According to sources, testing and evaluations of the low-tier missile system have been completed and it now awaits a final process next month to determine its suitability for intended combat missions. Seoul had initially intended to have the system deployed in the early 2020s, but ongoing tensions with North Korea caused the government to push the deployment between 2018 and 2019. Employing hit-to-kill technology, the system will intercept incoming hostile ballistic missiles at altitudes of around 20 kilometers.
May 27/14: Thinking THAAD through. The US government is considering exo-atmospheric THAAD interceptors as an option to protect American forces in South Korea, and has conducted a site survey in South Korea. The issue is that South Korea is developing its own national KAMD missile defense system, and continues to reiterate that it won’t be part of a joint system with the USA and Japan. Which means that interoperability with systems like THAAD is a potential issue.
The Americans are thinking in geo-political terms, as a visible response to North Korea, and there’s also that standard underlying “of course they want to do it our way and buy THAAD” flavor. Very American. The thought that perhaps South Korea is happy with its Green Pine radars, frequently says that terminal defense is all it can use, and would rather deploy its own Cheolmae 4-H missile developed in conjunction with Russia, never enters the picture. On the other hand, the Americans might reply that their own forces would rather have THAAD’s protection, that more than 2 long-range radars might be a good idea against an enemy whose war plan includes in-depth terrorist attacks, and that a shared set of PATRIOT PAC-3 and THAAD systems could create a basis for independent command and control systems that can still cooperate. Sources: Wall St. Journal, “Washington Considers Missile-Defense System in South Korea”.
May 26/14: KAMD. Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski looks at past and current regional tensions are preventing South Korea from fully participating in an integrated missile defense network with Japan and the US. The tensions have also prompted Seoul to modernize its defense industry, and to collaborate with Russia and Israel instead. It also has a good summary of KAMD’s current state and plans, though it fails to pay much attention to KM-SAM program efforts with Russia:
“Since 2006, Seoul has been working on low-altitude defence, the Korea Air and Missile Defence (KAMD), which would initially cost $3 billion. This is currently based on the Israeli C3I Citron Tree system and two Green Pine early warning radars. Since 2009, KAMD has included eight strategic location batteries with 48 launchers and 192 PAC-2 GEM-T missiles. Negotiations about the delivery of an additional 112 PAC-2 missiles from the U.S. are ongoing (at a cost of $404 million). Between 2008 and 2012, ROK Navy also received three modern KDX-III Sejong-class destroyers with Aegis systems and SM-2 missiles…. In the context of the growing threat, ROK has decided to augment KAMD further between 2016 and 2020, with American PAC-3 missile interceptors ($1.3 billion). Seoul is planning another three Sejong-class destroyers with SM-6 missiles, more advanced than the SM-2s. It is possible that Seoul will decide to buy more capable missile defence systems, such as THAADs, SM-3s, Arrows, or even S-400s. Due to the scale of the rocket threat, the large area of Seoul and the costs of interceptors, procurement of the Israeli Iron Dome system is much less likely. However, ROK is planning to buy 10 RPS-42 TASRS Israeli radars ($191 million) in the near future, for detecting drones and cruise missiles at very low altitude.”
Sources: ISN, “South Korea’s Air and Missile Defence: Below the Threat Level”.
April 28/14: PATRIOT. South Korea’s defense establishment formally confirms their intent to upgrade existing PATRIOT systems to PAC-3/Config-3 status (q.v. March 12/14). The budget is WON 1.3 – 1.4 trillion (about $1.25 billion), and they aim to deploy the system between 2016 – 2020. Sources: The Korea Herald, “Seoul to upgrade missile defense”.
PATRIOT upgrade OK
July 26/13: KAMD. South Korea is investing in deterrence and ISR capabilities that will complement its KAMD system, and plans to devote $63 billion of its $192.6 billion 2014 – 2018 budget period for KAMD and deterrent systems.
“The activation of a new Air and Missile Defense Cell (AMD-Cell) was planned for this month, after few months delay. This command and control center will support the entire KAMD enterprise. The AMD-Cell will integrate early warning and target tracks from multiple sources, including US Early Warning Satellites (DSP), SPY-1 naval radars deployed on the KDX-III AEGIS destroyers and the new, land-based Green Pine delivered by israel.”
Deterrent systems include their own ballistic missiles and mediu-long range cruise missiles, and the new budget also contemplates high-altitudes, long-endurance RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 30 jet-powered UAVs. These systems aren’t enough to seriously threaten China yet, but once deployed, they will create a full defense and kill chain that completely outclasses North Korea.
Even all of this equipment won’t stop the DPRK from destroying Seoul if the tense cease-fire reverts to full conflict. What it will do is make South Korean retaliation very thinkable if North Korea decides to shell populated areas, blow up a number of Cabinet members in a terrorist attack, sink South Korean ships, etc. as it has done in the past. An enemy that is comprehensively outclassed loses at least some of its escalation dominance, no matter how aggressive they may be. Sources: Defense Update, “Seoul to Invest US$63 Billion in Strategic Deterrence, Missile Defense”.
June 11-12/13: Naval. The Yonhap news agency quotes “a senior government official,” who says that its KDX-III destroyers will have their SM-2 missiles supplemented by SM-6 purchases as of 2016, as part of KAMD. The SM-6 will complement the ROK’s existing SM-2s. By 2016, they’ll be usable as terminal point defense against ballistic missiles, while also providing long-range air defense against enemy fighters, cruise missiles, etc. If the 2016 delivery date is fixed, it implies a 2014 order for SM-6 missiles. It also implies a future system upgrade for the ships, from a standard Aegis combat system to Aegis BMD 5.0.
On land, South Korea is looking to upgrade its PATRIOTs to the latest PAC-3/Config-3 standard. The question is how compatible that system will be with the USA’s missile defense systems. A working group has been set up with the USA, and findings are expected in early 2014. South Korea hopes to have KAMD v1.0 fully ready by 2020. Sources: Yonhap, “S. Korea to deploy new surface-to-air missiles for Aegis destroyers” | Global Post, “S. Korea aims to establish missile destruction system by 2020”.
Naval BMD OKed
Dec 23/12: Issues. Korea and the USA are talking about integrating AMD-Cell in Osan with the U.S. Forces Korea’s PATRIOTs. The problem is that they need to create a firewall that would insulate that joint system from other US BMD assets outside South Korea. Which is to say, in Japan.
Korea was invaded by Japan during WW2, and Japanese atrocities left a lot of hard feelings. South Korean governments have faced firestorms of criticism when proposals have been made to share intelligence with Japan, even if that intelligence concerns North Korean missile launches. North Korea’s networks of sympathizers in South Korea are happy to stir up those hard feelings up whenever it’s convenient, of course. Sources: SLD, “Defending South Korea: The Challenge of North Korean Missiles.
Dec 5/12: Green Pine deployment. South Korea’s Green Pine radars are almost ready to deploy:
“South Korea brought in two Israeli-made “Green Pine” radars this year, one of them in August and the other last month, and has since been conducting tests to ensure they have no defects.
“Acceptance testing of the Green Pine radar No. 1 comes to an end today with a final assessment of 24-hour continuous operation,” the source said. “It will be deployed immediately after the acceptance testing and will be in service when North Korea launches its long-range rocket.”
Testing of the second radar will be completed by mid-December and deployed thereafter, the source said.”
Sources: Yonhap, “S. Korea to deploy newly introduced radar ahead of N. Korea rocket launch”.
Green Pine radars deployed
Oct 28/12: PATRIOT. A joint study by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses and the US Missile Defense Agency concludes that the PATRIOT PAC-2 system has an interception success rate of below 40% against ballistic missiles. South Korea’s government looked at that, then concluded that they need to buy PAC-3 batteries, in order to push their odds above 70% for covered areas.
The PAC-3 systems appear to be a priority, with deliveries to begin in 2014. To achieve that, a DSCA export request will need to be issued in the very near future. As PAC-3 systems arrive, South Korea reportedly plans to divert their billion-dollar buy of German PAC-2 batteries to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles. ROK’s Yonhap News Agency, S. Korea moves to upgrade Patriot defense system” | Chosun Ilbo, “PAC-2 Missiles Flunk Intercept Test”.
Oct 26/12: Made in Korea. Despite American urgings, South Korea sees America’s system as unsuitable for their needs. American systems tend to focus on midcourse intercepts, but the Koreans see hundreds of missiles just 5-10 minutes flight from their territory, and prefer terminal intercept capabilities. They also aren’t about to give up their own research and capabilities in this critical area, given their doubts about US resolve, but it’s best not mention this to your ally:
“The MD system that the United States envisions is a multi-layered defense system, which is fundamentally different from the Korean type of missile defense system that is oriented to low-layer defense,” a defense ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “We cannot but build a low-layer defense system under operational situations on the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, building the KAMD (Korean Air and Missile Defense) means never participating in U.S. efforts to build a multi-layer defense system,” the official said.”
It’s the “never” that tells you there’s more at work here than just operational considerations. Sources: Yonhap, “Defense ministry denies possibility of S. Korea joining U.S. missile defense”.
April 10/10: KAMD. South Korea is sticking to its course and deploying an indigenous missile defense system, with initial deployment scheduled for July 2010.
“South Korea, which decided not to join the U.S.-led global missile defense system, has gradually been building an independent, low-tier missile shield called the Korea Air and Missile Defense System (KAMD) since 2006 by acquiring Patriot missiles and long-range early warning radars.
The KAMD involves early warning radars, ship-to-air and land-based missile defense systems, arming Seoul with the ability to track and shoot down the North’s low-flying, short- and medium-range missiles, with help of U.S. early warning satellites.”
Sources: Yonhap, “S. Korea to deploy indigenous missile defense system in July”.2009
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Sept 23/09: Israel Aerospace Industries announces a $280 million pair of contracts with South Korea, one of which covers the Oren Yarok (EL/M-2080 Block B “Green Pine”) radar. South Korea will join Israel and India as customers for the system. Globes adds that IAI’s usual contract policies involve a down payment of 25-35%, suggesting that it will record $70-98 million revenue from these contracts in its consolidated financial report for 2009.
Reports as early as Sept 17/09 had indicated that the Israeli radar had won the AMD-Cell competition against Raytheon and Thales, and that a contract was imminent. Earlier discussions had revolved around figures of about $215 million for 2 Green Pine radar systems, and current reports offer a figure of $200 million for an undisclosed number of systems. The low number of TA-50 and F/A-50 fighter orders at this early stage of their development, and the EL/M-2032 fighter radar’s low R&D needs given its mature state, make those figures plausible in the absence of a detailed breakout between the 2 contracts. Ha’aretz adds that:
“South Korea is discussing with the IAI the possibility of purchasing the Arrow missile defense system [link DID’s]. Israel is making contacts with other countries on this issue as well, with Turkey among those that have expressed interest. Nonetheless, chances are slim that a foreign country will purchase the Arrow before a joint Israeli-American missile defense development occurs.”
Ha’aretz is referring to 2 trends. One is America’s government using blocking tactics or pressure, in order to stymie Israeli sales to mutual allies in international competitions. If the equipment might be said to contain any American or American-derived technologies, the sale can be blocked outright, or simply made untenable by dithering over permissions. Otherwise, diplomatic pressure and sales of advanced American equipment to Israel become the lever. South Korea’s E-X AWACS competition, India’s MMRCA fighter competition, and Turkey’s tank competition have all featured as recent examples. The other trend is an evolving jockeying between Boeing’s GBI and Arrow, Raytheon’s SM-3 (which Israel is reportedly considering), and Lockheed Martin’s THAAD missile for significant long-term roles in land-based missile defense. IAI release | Korea Times | Ha’aretz newspaper | Globes business | Agence France Presse | Flight International.
2 Green Pine radars
May 19/09: Competition. The Korea Times reports that 3 foreign bidders have submitted contract proposals for South Korea’s AMD-Cell program: Israel’s Elta, Raytheon of the United States, and Thales Nederland.
IAI Elta’s Green Pine radar has already been discussed below. Thales Nederland manufactures a number of advanced active array naval radars, some of which are capable of ballistic missile tracking; SMART-L is probably the best known, and South Korea already uses it on their Dokdo class amphibious assault ships. Raytheon’s products include a number of missile defense radars, including the AN/TPY-2 used as part of the USA’s THAAD theater defense system.
South Korea’s DAPA defense procurement agency plans to select the finalist by the end of the year after reviewing each firm’s contract proposal, and finishing price negotiations.
Feb 15/09: Competition. The Korea Times reports that South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is likely to select Israel’s EL/M-2080 Green Pine radar systems, buying 2 radar sets by 2010 in a WON 300 billion/ $215 million deal. Green Pine radars are an integral component of Israel’s own national missiles defense system, where they are used in conjunction with Patriot PAC-2 GEM+ missiles and Boeing/IAI’s longer-range Arrow-2 interceptors. They may also become part of India’s emerging ABM system.
Green Pine radars have a claimed detection range of 500 km/ 300 miles, which can be extended to 800 km/ 480 miles in the most modern versions. Just one of those “Super Pine” radars cold cover all of North Korea from a position well behind the armistice’s front lines.
The ballistic missile early warning radars are part of the ROK’s planned Air and Missile Defense-Cell (AMD-Cell), a missile defense command-and-control center that will play a key role in monitoring, tracking and intercepting incoming cruise and ballistic missiles from North Korea. AMD-Cell will reportedly be interoperable with US Forces Korea’s own theater missile defense system.
An anonymous source told the paper that the USA’s Forward-Based X-Band Radar-Transportable (FBX-T) was denied due to export restrictions, which the French M3R radar failed to meet all requirements. Overall:
“The DAPA concluded negotiations with foreign bidders over the selection of the early-warning radar systems last week and believes the Israeli radar is the most suitable for the country’s theater missile shield in terms of price and capabilities.”
Israel and South Korea have had limited defense ties over the years, but those ties appear to be growing. South Korea has begun buying Israeli UAVs, and Israel is considering South Korea’s T-50 jets as its future advanced flight trainers. See also: Korea Herald | Ha’aretz, Israel.Additional Readings
- IAI – ELM-2080 Green Pine Radar system
- Radar Basics – Green Pine Radar
- Army Technology – Arrow 2 Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence System, Israel. Technically, an IAI/Boeing collaboration. Includes information regarding the Green Pine.
- Wikipedia – Arrow (missile). Includes a section covering the EL/M-2080.
- IEEE Digital Library (Oct 15-18/96) – EL/M 2080 ATBM early warning and fire control radar system. “This paper describes the system concept and some of the hardware design…”
- DID – Korea’s KDX-III AEGIS Destroyers. Naval component of KAMD national ballistic missile defense, which will use SM-6 missiles for terminal point defense.
- DID – Timely Defenders: Keeping Patriots in Shape. South Korea bought PAC-2 systems from Germany, and will be buying new missiles and upgrading the ground systems to reach PAC-3/Config-3 status.
- Defense Update (Dec 17/11) – Cheongung – a New MR-SAM for the South Korean Multi-Tier Defense System. Medium-range M-SAM system and Cheolmae-2/ Cheongung missile, developed in conjunction with Russia’s Almaz-Antey. May develop ABM capabilities with a larger Cheolmae 4-H missile, which would benefit from Russian S-400 technologies.
- Missile Defense Review (Sept 3/14) – Patch up Asian BMD.
- ISN (May 26/14) – South Korea’s Air and Missile Defence: Below the Threat Level.
- Yonhap (May 26/14) – Acquiring SM-3 missiles not an option for S. Korea: defense ministry.
- Yonhap (Oct 15/13) – S. Korea seeks multi-layered missile defense against North.
- The Diplomat (July 26/13) – South Korea Goes All In On Missile Defense.
- RUSI (March 12/13) – South Korea’s Emergent Missile Defence Capabilities.
- SLD (Dec 23/12) – Defending South Korea: The Challenge of North Korean Missiles. More specifically, of integrating AMD-cell with US Forces Korea’s PATRIOTs.
- DID (Dec 1/08) – Raytheon Begins SAM-X/Patriot Missile Work in South Korea. Eventually led to sales of ground systems, which were combined with ex-German PAC-2 missiles.
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The T-45 Training System includes T-45 Goshawk aircraft, advanced flight simulators, computer-assisted instructional programs, a computerized training integration system, and a contractor logistics support package. The integration of all 5 elements is designed to produce a superior pilot in less time and at lower cost than previous training systems.
The US Navy uses the Hawk-based T-45TS system to train its pilots for the transition from T-6A Texan II/ JPATS aircraft to modern jet fighters – and carrier landings. This is not a risk-free assignment, by any means. Nevertheless, it is a critical link in the naval aviation chain. This DID FOCUS article covers the T-45TS, and associated contracts to buy and maintain these systems, from 2006 to the end of FY 2014.
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In 1981, the T45TS beat out the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet in a bid to replace two US Navy training aircraft: the TA-4J Skyhawk and T-2C Buckeye. The new system trains U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots for conversion into the F/A-18A-D Hornet, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet family, the AV-8B Harrier II Plus, and the EA-6B Prowler. It will also serve as a lead-in fighter trainer (LIFT) aircraft to future platforms like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter variants.
The T-45 Training System, or T45TS, is more integrated than past systems. The system includes the T-45 Goshawk aircraft, advanced flight simulators, computer-assisted instructional programs, a computerized training integration system, and a contractor logistics support package. The combined value of all five integrated elements produces a superior pilot in less time and at lower cost than previous training systems.
Goshawks come in two variants: the T-45A and T-45C. What distinguishes them is the “Cockpit 21″ digital avionics in the C variant. The cockpits are equipped with two monochrome 5” multifunction displays supplied by Israel’s Elbit, which provide navigation, weapon delivery, aircraft performance and communications data. In addition, the aircraft have been equipped with a new open systems design MDP that manages the avionics and the displays in the aircraft. Approximately 80% of the MDP’s software and circuit card assemblies were reused from the F/A-18E/F Advanced Mission Computer, making project development faster and less expensive, and improving commonality with the advanced aircraft the Goshawks train their pilots to fly.
A number of air forces around the world choose to use BAE Systems’ Hawk trainer in a reserve or even front-line role as a light attack aircraft. The US Navy could do so, but haven’t chosen to. The do plan to keep the Goshawks flying until 2035, however, training the next several generations of US Navy pilots.T-45: Basing & Industrial T-45 Goshawks
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T-45s are currently based at NAS Kingsville, TX and NAS Meridian, MS. The aircraft are permanently based ashore, and are flown out to the training carrier for deck landings.
Since the transition to the T-45, performance has indeed improved. The training task has been accomplished with 25% fewer flying hours, using 42% fewer aircraft and 46% fewer personnel. Overall, the T45TS has enabled the US Navy to reduce student flight time by 13% for each student pilot, and the average training time by 17 weeks. Even so, with the current T-45 training demand the U.S. Navy has been able to average more than 60 hours per month per airframe – one of the highest utilization rates in the world.
While the core Hawk aircraft is British, the prime contractor is Boeing Aircraft Company, St. Louis, MO.
British Aerospace (BAE Systems) of Kingston, England provides the center and aft fuselage; and Rolls Royce, Ltd. of Bristol, England provides the F405-RR-401 Adour engines, along with its trademark Power By The Hour(R) support based on availability. Tests have been conducted using the more advanced F405-RR-402 as well.
Smiths Industries supplies the head-up display (HUD) with its video camera system for post-mission analysis, along with primary and secondary air data indicators and a weapon aiming computer and display.
L-3 Vertex provides contractor logistics support for the fleet as a whole, under 2 similar contracts.Flight’s end
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This article began coverage as the T-45 was fading from production. Pentagon budget documents note that the FY 2005 budget covered 10 systems for $301 million, but FY 2006 production dropped to 6 systems and $278.8 million. The FY 2007 figures rose again to 12 systems and $410.6 million total, and were the last T-45s ordered.
The FY 2008 budget request of $90.7 million was aimed at modifications to correct discrepancies and deficiencies, address critical avionics obsolescence and diminishing manufacturing source issues, and fund upgrades to the aircraft cockpit and navigation systems. Those tasks have continued beyond 2008, but by FY 2010, the T-45 was no longer listed in Pentagon budget reports for major weapons systems.
Unless otherwise specified, all contracts are issued by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD; and Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas is the recipient. Maintenance and support contracts tend to go to L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC, and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce; they will be specifically noted where appropriate. Note that Rolls Royce’s trademarked Power By the Hour approach is designed to charge a fixed price per flight hour.FY 2017 T-45s over CVN 77
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April 18/17: A US Navy ban on T-45 flights has been lifted, although lower altitude restrictions have been put in place. The trainers were barred from flying late last month after instructor pilots reported incidents of physiological problems by pilots while in the cockpit. The pilot trainer will now fly below 10,000 feet to avoid the use of the aircraft’s On Board Oxygen Generator System as authorities continue to investigate the causes of physiological episodes experienced in the cockpit by aircrew. Air crew will also wear a modified mask that circumvents the OBOGS system.FY 2014
L-3 retains new support contract.
July 31/14: L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS receives a $29.8 million indefinite-delivery requirements contract modification to provide organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance and logistics support for T-45 aircraft based at NAS Meridian, MS; NAS Kingsville, TX; and NAS Pensacola, FL. This requirement also includes the support and maintenance of the T-45 aircraft at all operational sites, numerous outlying fields, and various detachment sites. Individual delivery orders will be placed as needed.
Work will be performed in Kingsville, TX (58%); Meridian, MS (36%); and Pensacola, FL (6%), and is expected to be complete in September 2014. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity (N00019-14-D-0019).
July 7/14: No T-X Goshawk. Boeing’s partnership with BAE didn’t transfer to the USAF’s huge T-X trainer replacement program, which is expected to begin in 2016. Boeing made some moves to ally with Alenia and its M-346 trainer in May 2008, but decided not to extend that alliance to the USA; they finally signed an agreement with Saab for a joint clean-sheet trainer design in December 2013.
BAE partnered with Northrop Grumman to offer their standard Hawk trainer for T-X (q.v. Sept 19/11), and Northrop Grumman has just shifted to the same lead contractor role that Boeing enjoyed for the T-45 Goshawk. Meanwhile, Boeing will have a very tough competitive row to hoe with an unproven clean sheet design. One wonders if they have any regrets right now about letting a productive Hawk partnership lapse. Sources: Breaking Defense, “Northrop Takes The Lead From BAE On $11B T-X Trainer”.
July 1/14: Support. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS wins a $151.4 million indefinite-delivery requirements contract to provide organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance and logistics services in support of “approximately 200” T-45 aircraft based at Naval Air Station Meridian, MS; NAS Kingsville, TX; NAS Pensacola, FL; and NAS Patuxent River, MD.
This is a new contract, issued after the previous multi-year deal expired (q.v. Sept 30/13, Jan 24/12).
Work on the base contract will be performed in Kingsville, TX (48%); Meridian, MS (44%); Pensacola, FL (7%); and Patuxent River, MD (1%), and is expected to be complete in September 2015. Funds will be committed in individual delivery orders as they are issued. This contract was competitively procured via an electronic request for proposals, with 4 offers received by US NAVAIR (N00019-14-D-0011). See also FBO.gov, “USN T-45 Aircraft Maintenance and Logistics Support, Solicitation Number: N00019-12-R-0001”.
Multi-year support deal
March 28/14: Engines. Rolls-Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, IN receives a $107 million unfinalized contract action to provide intermediate, depot level maintenance and related logistics support for approximately 223 in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines.
Funds will be committed as delivery orders are placed. Work will be performed at US Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, MS (47%); NAS Kingsville, TX (46%); NAS Pensacola, FL (6%); and NAS Patuxent River, MD (1%), and is expected to be complete in March 2015. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, and seems to be either an extension at the end of the current multi-year contract, or the beginning of something new (N00019-14-D-0016).
March 26/14: Support. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS receives a maximum $58.5 million indefinite-delivery, requirements contract to support T45TS aircraft based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, MS; NAS Kingsville, TX; and NAS Pensacola, FL. They’ll provide logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance, while supporting T-45s at all operational sites, numerous outlying fields, and various detachment sites.
Work will be performed in Kingsville, TX (58%); Meridian, MS (36%); and Pensacola, FL (6%), and is expected to be complete in July 2014. Funds will be committed as individual delivery orders as they are issued. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, by US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-14-D-0019).FY 2012 – 2013
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Sept 30/13: FY14 Fleet. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS wins a $65 million indefinite-delivery, requirements contract modification, exercising the annual option for organizational, intermediate, and depot level support for the Goshawk fleet: 36 T-45A and 168 T-45C aircraft based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, MS; NAS Kingsville, TX; NAS Pensacola, FL, and Patuxent River, MD.
The type splits correspond to the FY 2012 fleet contract rather than the FY 2013 contract, which posited the retirement of some T-45As and 3 more conversions to T-45C status. As always, the fleet contract also includes organizational level maintenance for the Rolls Royce Adour engine.
This represents the final contract of a multi-year fleet deal. Announced contracts total $663.8 million, for a contract whose maximum figure was $569 million. Note, however, that each year’s announcement is a maximum, not an amount that must be spent.
Work will be performed in Kingsville, TX (57%); Meridian, MS (36%); Pensacola, FL (6%); and Patuxent River, MD (1%), and will run to March 2014, at which point new multi-year contracts will be needed for the aircraft and engine. Contract funds will not be obligated at time of award. Funds will be obligated on individual delivery orders as they are issued (N00019-08-D-0014).
Sept 25/13: FY14 Engines. Rolls-Royce Defense Services Inc. in Indianapolis, IN receives a maximum $50.7 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery option to support about 223 of its F405-RR-401 Adour engines with intermediate and depot level maintenance, using the Power-By-the-Hour arrangement.
This is the last option in a 5-year contract (q.v. Oct 1/08), and as usual, funds will be obligated for individual task orders as they are issued. All together, announced awards under this contract total $524.2 million.
Work will be performed at NAS Meridian, MS (47%); NAS Kingsville, TX (46%), NAS Pensacola, FL (6%), and NAS Patuxent River, MD (1%), and is expected to be complete in March 2014 (N00019-09-D-0002).
Sept 25/13: R&D. Boeing in St. Louis, MO is being awarded $9.7 million for cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for supplies and services in support of the T-45 Subsystems Service Life Assessment Program. It involves systems other than avionics and engines, and work required to required to meet full service life through 2035. $4 million in R&D funds are committed immediately.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (58.5%) and Brough, United Kingdom (41.5%) and is expected to be complete in July 2016. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-11-G-0001, #1509).
Jan 24/12: Draft RFP. Following a presolicitation process initiated in November 2011, NAVAIR posts the full draft RFP (N00019-12-R-0001) on T-45 Aircraft Maintenance and Logistics Support. A presolicitation conference is scheduled for Feb. 5, with a final RFP expected at the end of February.
As it is currently laid out, the contract would span a maximum of 8 years with all options exercised.
Jan 14/13: Engines. US NAVAIR throws a light on recent T-45 engine problems, which hadn’t been discussed in previous DOT&E reports:
“Safety problems with the Low Pressure Turbine blades in the F405 engine… forced a redesign of the old blades, which ended production [in early 2012]…. problem was that the newly redesigned blades were not yet fully qualified by U.S. Navy standards and could not be used immediately and the stockpile of old blades was forecast to be depleted by April …”
Poor planning, that, and the Navy had to grant a temporary relaxation of the lifetime wear “1,000-hour Accelerated Simulated Mission Endurance Test (ASMET)” requirement. Even at a 100 hour threshold, however, the 4-6 months normally needed for test preparation would have blown the stockpile’s deadline. Instead, the team met the 100-hour deadline between Jan 20/12 – April 11/12. ASMET testing continued at the NAS Patuxent River Aircraft Test & Evaluation Facility, and was fully done by Oct 23/12, ahead of schedule and “several million dollars” under budget. Hopefully, the Navy will pass on some of the things it learned to other programs. US NAVAIR.
Engine problems & blade redesign
Oct 15/12: Training. An $8.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for 12 T-45 Virtual Mission Training System kits and spares.
Work will be performed in Hazelwood, MO (96%), El Paso, TX (3%), and Mesa, AZ (1%), and is expected to be complete in April 2014 (N00019-11-G-0001).
Sept 25/12: FY13 Fleet Support. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS receives a $126.5 million indefinite-delivery, requirements type contract option to support 28 T-45A and 171 T-45C aircraft based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX; NAS Meridian, MS; and NAS Pensacola, FL. That’s 8 fewer T-54As than last year, and 3 more T-45Cs. L-3 Vertex will continue providing logistics support, and the materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance.
Taken together, FY 2013 support costs for the 223 plane fleet will run up to $237.9 million. Taken together, announced fleet support orders under this 5-year contract amount to $598.8 million, which is slightly higher than the contract’s announced $569 million maximum (q.v. Aug 28/08). They could still be congruent, however, because each year’s award is a maximum that could leave unspent dollars for future years.
Orders will be placed, and funds will be released, as needed. Work will be performed in Kingsville, TX (57%); Meridian, MS (36%); and Pensacola, FL (7%), and the option will finish in September 2013 (N00019-08-D-0014).
Sept 20/12: FY13 Engine Support. Rolls-Royce Defense Services, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN receives a $103.3 million firm-fixed-price; indefinite-delivery option to support the T-45 Goshawk’s F405-RR-401 Adour engines with intermediate and depot level maintenance, using the Power-By-the-Hour arrangement. They’ll also provide inventory control, sustaining engineering and configuration management, as well as integrated logistics support and required engineering for organizational-level sustainment.
Work will be performed at NAS Meridian, MS (48%); NAS Kingsville, TX (47%), NAS Pensacola, FL (4%), and NAS Patuxent River, MD (1%), and is expected to be complete in September 2013. Funds will be obligated for individual task orders as they are issued (N00019-09-D-0002).
Dec 12/11: Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives an $8.1 firm-fixed-price delivery order modification, exercising an option to support the integration testing of engineering changes to the T-45 aircraft. Work will be performed at NAS Patuxent River, MD, and is expected to run to December 2012 (N00019-11-G-0001).FY 2010 – 2011
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Sept 27/11: FY12 Fleet Support. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC in Madison, MS receives a $123.2 million indefinite-delivery, requirements contract modification, exercising an option for logistics services and materials for organizational, intermediate, and depot-level maintenance required to support 36 T-45A and 168 T-45C aircraft. This requirement also includes organizational level maintenance for the engine.
No funding will be obligated at time of award. Work will be performed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, MS (36%); NAS Kingsville, TX (54%); NAS Pensacola, FL (6%); and NAS Patuxent River, MD (1%), and is expected to be complete in September 2012 (N00019-08-D-0014).
Sept 27/11: FY12 Engine Support. Rolls-Royce Defense Services, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN receives a $99.9 million firm-fixed-price requirements contract modification, exercising an option for intermediate and depot-level maintenance and related support for in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines, under their Power-by-the-Hour arrangement. In addition, this modification provides for inventory control, sustaining engineering and configuration management. finally, Rolls Royce will handle integrated logistics support and required engineering elements necessary to support the F405-RR-401 engine at the organization level – though that support will be performed by L-3 Vertex.
No funding is being obligated at time of award; it will be called on as necessary. Work will be performed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (48%); NAS Meridian, MS (47%); NAS Pensacola, FL (4%); and NAS Patuxent River, MD (1%), and is expected to be complete in September 2012 (N00019-09-D-0002).
Sept 19/11: T-X. BAE won’t be partnering with Boeing to offer its Hawk trainer to the US Air Force – they’ve signed an agreement with Northrop Grumman instead. The USAF’s current T-38 Talon supersonic trainer is a Northrop product.
Boeing teamed up with Alenia in May 2008, and pledged to act as a marketing partner for Alenia’s M-311 and new M-346 trainer jets beyond Italy and the USA. They still haven’t committed to any trainer partnerships within the USA, but they clearly weren’t focused on extending their partnership with BAE. Sources: Northrop Grumman, “BAE Systems, Inc. and Northrop Grumman Partner to Pursue U.S. Air Force T-X Contract”.
Partner switch for T-X
April 29/11: Avionics. A $10.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for hardware and support associated with the T-45 Required Avionics Modernization Program: 30 T-45 retrofit kits, 1 additional spare mission display processor, and associated engineering support efforts.
T-45 RAMP converts T-45As into T-45Cs, swapping out the analog instruments for a “glass cockpit” of digital display screens, inertial navigation, and other improvements that make them more like the systems found in the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in September 2014 (N00019-09-C-0020).
Sept 27/10: FY11 Fleet Support. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS received a $125 million option against its indefinite-delivery, requirements type contract to support the T-45 fleet. They’ll provide services and materials to provide organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance for 47 T-45As and 158 T-45Cs, plus organizational maintenance support for their engines.
Work will take place where the planes are based, at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (54%); NAS Meridian, MS (41%); NAS Pensacola, FL (4%), and Patuxent River, MD (1%); and the contract option runs into September 2011 (N00019-08-D-0014).
Sept 27/10: FY11 Engine Support. Rolls-Royce Defense Services, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN receives an $89.1 million option under a firm-fixed-price requirements contract for the 2nd option year of intermediate and depot level maintenance and related support for in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines. Work will take place under the firm’s MissionCare/ “power-by-the-hour” arrangement, which pays Rolls Royce for engine hours flown, not hours of maintenance done. Work will include the aforementioned maintenance for the engines and the aircraft’s gas turbine starting system, as well as inventory control, parts supply, sustaining engineering and configuration management, and other required engineering.
The initial Adour engine MissionCare contract was awarded to Rolls-Royce in October 2003, and has been renewed annually. The US Navy’s T-45 fleet reached 1 million flight hours in August 2010, and in September 2010, Rolls-Royce completed 500,000 flight hours of MissionCare support for the fleet.
Work will take place where the planes are based, at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (54%); NAS Meridian, MS (41%); NAS Pensacola, FL (4%), and Patuxent River, MD (1%); and the contract option runs into September 2011 (N00019-09-D-0002). This would appear to be the 2nd of 4 option years under the Oct 1/08 contract. See also Rolls Royce release.
Aug 26/10: Boeing and the U.S. Navy celebrate the Naval Air Training Command’s 1 millionth flight hour with the T-45 Goshawk, after 18 years of service. The ceremony is held at at Cecil Field in Jacksonville, FL. Boeing.
1,000,000 flight hours
Oct 20/09: The 221st, and last, T-45C Goshawk is delivered to the U.S. Navy, during a ceremony at the Boeing production facilities in St. Louis, MO. NAVAIR release.
Final deliveryFY 2008 – 2009
from NAS Kingsville
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Sept 28/09: Avionics. A $10.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for retrofit kits and associated engineering services in support of the T-45’s avionics modernization program, which is part of the T-45C upgrade. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete in September 2014. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-09-C-0020).
Sept 28/09: Avionics. A $7.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement for 36 mission display processor aircraft retrofit kits for the T-45-TS. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, 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, which is Sept 30/09 (N00019-05-G-0026).
Sept 25/09: FY10 Fleet Support. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS received a $112.7 million option against its indefinite-delivery, requirements type contract to support the T-45 fleet. They’ll provide services and materials to provide organizational, intermediate, and depot level maintenance for 49 T-45As and 151 T-45Cs, plus organizational maintenance support for their engines.
Work will take place where the planes are based, at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (54%); NAS Meridian, MS (41%); NAS Pensacola, FL (4%), and Patuxent River, MD (1%); and the contract option runs into September 2010 (N00019-08-D-0014).
Sept 25/09: FY10 Engine Support. Rolls-Royce Defense Services, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN receives a $90.7 million option under a firm-fixed-price requirements contract for intermediate and depot level maintenance and related support for in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines that power the T-45 Goshawks. MissionCare is the defense analogue to commercial Power By The Hour(R) contracts, which offer fixed-price maintenance based on hours flown.
Work will include the aforementioned maintenance for the engines and the aircraft’s gas turbine starting system, as well as inventory control, parts supply, sustaining engineering and configuration management, and other required engineering. It will take place where the planes are based, at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (48%); NAS Meridian, MS (47%); NAS Pensacola, FL (4%), and Patuxent River, MD (1%); and the contract option runs into September 2011 (N00019-09-D-0002). This contract exercises the 1st of 4 option years to the base contract noted in the Oct 1/08 entry.
Sept 10/09: HSRIP Recognition. The T-45 Goshawk Hot Section Reliability Improvement (HSRIP) team here is presented with the Society of Flight Test Engineers (SFTE) 2009 James S. McDonnell Flight Test Team Award at the SFTE’s 40th Annual Symposium Award Banquet in Stockholm, Sweden. HSRIP is composed of personnel from NAVAIR, Boeing, Rolls Royce and Wyle, as well as Navy, Marine Corps and Boeing test pilots. It falls under the Naval Undergraduate Flight Training Systems Program Office (PMA-273).
The HSRIP team is responsible for the US Navy’s incorporation of the F405-RR-402 (Rolls-Royce MK 951 Adour derivative) engine into the T-45, including a Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), an improved backup Manual Fuel Control (MFC) system, and a new hot section that should provide longer life. Operationally, the FADEC provides automatic surge detection and recovery logic, an improved airstart envelope and the potential to optimize the engine’s performance and the plane’s handling qualities.
The program conducted its first HSRIP test flight on Dec 18/07, and has since completed more than 100 flight test missions. The trophy will eventually be on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Annex at Washington-Dulles International Airport. US NAVAIR release.
Dec 10/08: Israel. The Goshawk production line might be saved. After more than 40 years of service, Israel is finally looking to replace its versatile A-4 Skyhawk fleet. The T-45TS is reportedly one of the 4 contenders. Read “Israel’s Skyhawk Scandal Leads to End of an Era” – but salvation doesn’t come for the Goshawk. Israel picks the M346 in 2012, after the Goshawk production line has already shut down.
Oct 31/08: Shutdown. The Grim Reaper issues a Halloween reminder, via a $5.8 million order against Basic Ordering Agreement N00019-05-G-0026. The order is for “near and long term requirements to continue the analysis required for an efficient and orderly shutdown of the T-45 production line transition Phase II and the associated post-production support efforts for the T-45 A/C aircraft series.”
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (77%) and Warton, Lancashire, UK (23%), and is expected to be complete in March 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
Oct 1/08: Engine Support. Rolls-Royce Defense Services, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN received a $90.5 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to provide FY 2009 intermediate and depot level maintenance and related support for in-service T-45 F405-RR-401 Adour engines. The contract is for 1 year with options for 4 additional years, and builds upon a successful 5-year contract established in 2003.
As Rolls Royce reminds us, support is every more important than engine sales. “MissionCare solutions, along with other aftermarket services provided to global customers by Rolls-Royce, account for more than 50 percent of the company’s annual sales.”
These services will be provided under their trademark Power-By-the-Hour (PBTH) arrangement, which pays for flight hours rather than maintenance hours. PBTH services include inventory control, sustaining engineering and configuration management, integrated logistics support and required engineering to support the F405-RR-401 engine beyond the flightline.
Work will be performed on over 200 aircraft at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (48%), NAS Meridian, MS (47%); NAS Pensacola, FL (4%), and NAS Patuxent River, MD (1%), and is expected to be completed in September 2013. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant FAR 6.302-1, “Only one responsible source.” (N00019-09-D-0002). See also Rolls Royce release.
5-year Engine Support contract
Aug 28/08: Fleet Support. L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS continues its status as the T-45’s support contractor. An $111.4 million indefinite-delivery, requirements type contract will have L-3 provide all logistics services and materials for the FY 2009 maintenance and support of 71 T-45A and 108 T-45C aircraft at Naval Air Station Meridian, MS, NAS Kingsville, TX; and NAS Pensacola, FL. The contract also includes organizational level maintenance for the Adour engines, and has 4 one-year option periods that could boost its value to $569 million.
Work will be performed in Kingsville, TX (58%); Meridian, MS, (36%); and Pensacola, FL (6%), and is expected to be complete in September 2009. This contract was competitively procured via electronic RFP, and 2 offers were received by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-08-D-0014). See also: L-3 Vertex, Oct 27/08 release.
5-year Fleet Support contract
Aug 22/08: The historic 50-year service record of the T-2 Buckeye training aircraft comes to a close with a sundown ceremony and fly-by at the Mustin Beach Officers’ Club aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola.
The T-2C was the US Navy’s intermediate and advanced trainer before the T-45 entered service, and the twin-engined T-2C entered service in 1968. Some of these jets had remained in the fleet, but this ceremony marks their final retirement from service. US Navy release | Navy Fact File: T-2C
T-2 Buckeye retires
June 25/08: Training. Boeing announces a contract with Elbit Systems for a Virtual Mission Training System (VMTS) that will help students prepare for carrier strike-fighter and electronic-attack duty at lower cost. Boeing is currently under contract to develop this capability, and is due to provide 2 test aircraft and then retrofit 18 existing Goshawks by 2012.
“VMTS simulates via data link an unclassified, mechanically scanned tactical radar that provides air-to-air and air-to-ground modes as well as simulated weapons and simulated electronic warfare. These functions can be networked between the participating aircraft and instructor ground stations that control the mission presentation. The current phase of VMTS work will provide flight officers with in-flight training in the use of radar and weapons against virtual enemy aircraft, including cooperative training with friendly real and virtual aircraft.”
April 30/08: L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS received an $11.3 million modification to a previously awarded fixed-price, cost-reimbursable contract (N00019-03-D-0010) adjusting for the effects of union contracts on the T-45 trainer system contractor logistics support effort.
Specifically, this modification covers the fiscal 2007 and 2008 cost impact for wages and fringe benefit adjustments as a result of the collective bargaining agreement, dated Oct 1/06 through Aug 1/09, and area wage determinations No. 05-2300 (Rev-4), 05-2300 (Rev-5), 94-2300 and 05-2508. All this is in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and Service Contract Act – price adjustment clause and notification of changes clause. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (51%) and NAS Meridian, MS (49%).FY 2006 – 2007
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Sept 26/07: FY08 Fleet Support. L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, Miss. received a $95.8 million estimated value modification to a previously awarded fixed-price, cost-reimbursable, time and materials requirements contract (N00019-03-D-0010). It exercises a contractor logistics support option for approximately 189 T-45 Training Systems. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, Texas (51%) and NAS Meridian, Miss. (49%), and is expected to be complete in September 2008.
Sept 26/07: FY08 Engine Support. Rolls-Royce Defense Services, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN received a $66.4 million modification to a previously awarded fixed-price, requirements contract. The option covers Power-By-the-Hour (PBTH) logistics support for approximately 188 of the Adour F405-RR-401 jet engines installed in the T-45 aircraft. Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, Miss. (50%); NAS Kingsville, Texas (48.94%); and NAS Patuxent River, Md. (1.06%), and is expected to be complete in September 2008.
The contract has been developed in line with commercial PBTH agreements under a fixed price per engine flight hours. Rolls-Royce provides all engine maintenance, support, trouble-shooting, parts supply and logistics coverage; work is split between Meridian and Kingsville, TX, along with some functions at Patuxent River, MD. Rolls-Royce employs 110 maintenance, supply and management personnel across five locations in support of this program (N00019-03-D-0012). Rolls Royce release.
Sept 19/07: Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis, Mo. received a $13.3 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract to exercise an option for the procurement of 10 T-45 Training System Airframes, including logistic support analysis, technical manuals, and technical support of support equipment, production integration testing support and flight test instrumentation, system equipment and repair.
This modification brings the total for these items to $278.5 million. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo., and is expected to be completed in September 2009 (N00019-06-C-0309).
June 11/07: A $265.2 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0309) for 10 FY 2007 production T-45 airframes, logistic support analysis, technical manuals and technical support of support equipment, production integration testing support, and flight test instrumentation systems equipment and repair.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (58%) and Warton, Lancashire, England (42%), and is expected to be complete in September 2009.
May 31/07: Engine R&D. A $7.2 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-06-C-0309) for Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) for Phase II of the T-45 Hot Section Reliability Improvement Program.
This effort is in support of flight test, including carrier suitability testing aboard ship, as well as identification of required changes to T-45 publications and retrofit activities. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO and is expected to be complete in November 2008.
Feb 5/07: Production line shutdown. A $7.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0001) provides for T-45 production line transition efforts for orderly shut down. Specific efforts will include technical assessment of parts and tooling to identify areas to reduce post-production parts manufacturing costs.
Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (59%) and Manchester, England (41%), and is expected to be complete in December 2007.
Production line shutdown contractArrested landing
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Sept 28/06: FY07 Fleet Support. L3 Communications Vertex Aerospace LLC in Madison, MS received a $94 million estimated value modification to exercise an option for contractor logistics support for the T-45 Training System. This is a modification to a previously awarded fixed-price, cost-reimbursable, time and materials requirements contract (N00019-03-D-0010); work will be performed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Kingsville, TX (51%) and NAS Meridian, MS (49%), and is expected to be complete in September 2007.
Sept 27/06: FY07 Engine Support. Rolls-Royce Defense Services, Inc. in Indianapolis, IN received a $65.3 million fixed-price modification to a previously awarded requirements contract, exercising an option for power-by-the-hour logistics support for approximately 188 F405-RR-401 Adour engines. Under this arrangement, a single contract line item number is used to pay a fixed price per aircraft flight hours; contract performance is measured almost exclusively against the fleet-driven performance metric of “ready for issue engine availability.”
Work will be performed at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Meridian, MS (50%); NAS Kingsville, TX (48.94%); and NAS Patuxent River, Md. (1.06%), and is expected to be complete in September 2007 (N00019-03-D-0012). See also Rolls Royce release.
April 6/06: Engine R&D. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St. Louis, MO received a $5 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced contract (N00019-04-C-0013). This contract is part of the Hot Section Reliability Improvement Program for integration of the F405-RR-402 engine into the T-45 airframe, and involves nonrecurring engineering effort for Phase 1. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO and is expected to be complete in August 2007. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
March 31/06: Avionics. $14.4 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-05-C-0025) for non-recurring engineering services associated with, and the production of, 12 T-45 required avionics modernization program retrofit kits and two simulator avionics retrofit kits. In addition, this contract provides for technical data, integrated logistics support, and approximately 12 spare kit components. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (77%); Mesa, AZ (15%) and Albuquerque, NM (8%), and is expected to be complete in August 2009.
March 30/06: A $139 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for six FY 2006 T-45 Goshawk training system airframes, plus support to build/specific sustaining engineering, ground based training support, and planning and integration. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (52%) and Warton, Brough, England (48%), and is expected to be complete in September 2008 (N00019-06-C-0309).
March 30/06: $5.7 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-priced contract (N00019-04-C-0013) provides nonrecurring engineering effort required to incorporate an embedded Terrain Awareness Warning System (eTAWS) and associated digital video recorder (DVR) replacement for the current airborne video cassette recorders (AVCR) into the T-45C aircraft, flight simulators located at the T-45’s bases in Naval Air Station Meridian and Naval Air Station Kingsville, and manned flight simulators located at Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Patuxent River. In addition, this contract is for the production of up to seven pre-production DVRs in support of development, integration, simulator tests, and flight test. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (60%) and Germantown, MD (40%), and is expected to be complete in February 2008.
March 17/06: $12.5 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide integrated logistics support for the T-45 training system for calendar year 2006. Support to be provided includes acquisition logistics, logistics analysis, technical manuals and technical support of support equipment, production integration testing, and flight test instrumentation system equipment and repair. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO (80%); Warton, Lancashire, England (13%); and Filton, Bristol, England (7%), and is expected to be complete in December 2006. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-06-C-0309).
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In April 2009, reports surfaced that Vietnam had agreed in principle to a deal with Russia for 6 of its diesel-electric Kilo/ Project 636 Class fast attack submarines. By December 2009, it was an inflection-point deal for a capability that Vietnam has never had before. By November 2013, the new submarines had begun to arrive.
Nor is that the only change in Vietnam’s military capabilities these days, courtesy of their long-standing relationship with Russia. There have been some outside deals for items like maritime surveillance floatplanes, and a Dutch deal will provide high-end frigates. For the most part, however, Vietnam’s new combat power in the air, at sea, and on land is coming from Russia. China’s displays of naval might are only part of the mosaic influencing Vietnam’s decisions in these matters.Southeast Asia
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China’s 2009 display of naval might certainly marks an increased shift toward “forward defense” farther from its borders, a policy that must eventually include China’s trade lifeline to Vietnam’s south, through the Straits of Malacca. It also underlined a growing gap between China’s increasingly advanced ships and high capacity hovercraft, and Vietnam’s fleet of older Soviet and even American ships.
Ownership of the Spratly Islands remains very much in dispute, and Vietnam and China share a centuries-long history of mutual distrust and occupation. Recent punctuations of that animosity include the 1979 3rd Indochina War; this was followed by a significant skirmish in 1981, and a naval skirmish over the Spratly Islands in 1988. Today, Vietnamese protests over a Chinese bauxite mine in Vietnam, and media disobedience over the Spratly Islands issue, serve as a reminder that the 1989 treaty has not changed the relationship’s underlying fundamentals.Key Platforms Submarines Kilo Class for China
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China itself has adopted a strategy of building up a submarine force to counter a superior surface opponent (the US Navy). It’s entirely logical for Vietnam to adopt a similar approach vis-a-vis China, especially given that China’s lifeline of raw materials and exported goods from and to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and parts of Asia passes right by Vietnam’s doorstep.
Aside from Thyssen Krupp Marine’s U209 family of submarines, the Russian Kilo Class are the world’s most widely exported subs. They’re known for a level of quietness that’s significantly better than other Russian designs, and have been produced in the Project 877EKM, and the Project 636M “Improved Kilo” / Varshavyanka Class variant that Vietnam is receiving. Countries operating or ordering these submarines include Russia, Algeria, China, India, Iran, Poland, and Romania.
There had been some speculation that Vietnam’s emphasis on shallow water operations, and proximity to the Straits of Malacca, might have made DCNS’ novel 885t, $200 million Andrasta Class of “pocket submarines” attractive. Instead, Vietnam appears to have opted for a longer-range, higher capacity 3,000t submarine from its tried and true Russia partner. They can be armed with 533mm heavy torpedoes, mines, and/or the 3M54 Klub-S family of missiles. The Improved Kilo Class boats will be named:
- HQ-182 Hanoi (delivered)
- HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City (testing complete 2014-01)
- HQ-184 Hai Phong (launched 2013-08, arrival 2014)
- HQ-185 Khanh Hoa (arrival 2015)
- HQ-186 Da Nang (arrival 2015)
- HQ-187 Ba Ria-Vung Tau (arrival 2016)
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The new submarines are the most important new Russian addition to Vietnam’s capabilities, but they are not alone. A mixed set of 6 stealthy Gepard 3.9/Dinh Tien Hoang Class light frigates will add surface warfare and patrol punch. The first pair optimized for surface attack are already delivered, plus orders for 2 model emphasizing anti-submarine warfare, and 2 upgraded ships with undetermined capabilities as yet.
Gepard 3.9 frigates. These ships are a combined diesel-turbine export version of Russia’s Project 11611 (Tartarstan) frigates, which serve in the Caspian fleet. The 102m/ 2,100t design sits in the grey area between small frigates and large corvettes, and despite their 5,000nm endurance, they’re best suited to local maritime patrol and interdiction. Their stealth-enhanced ship design and 8 sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles make them potentially dangerous adversaries in littoral regions; other armament includes 1 AK-176 76mm main gun, 2x AK-630 family multi-barrel 30mm automated guns, and 12-20 mines. There’s space at the back of the ship for a Ka-27 helicopter, but no hangar.
Air defense is handled by a Palma turret derived from the land-based SA-19 Tunguska, carrying twin AO-18KD multi-barrel 30mm cannons and 8 SOSNA-R 9M337 hyper-velocity laser beam rider missiles. An optical turret in the Palma’s center handles fire control, and a command module includes the 3Ts-99/Positiv ME1 target detection 3D radar. It’s mounted in place of the 9K33M “OSA-M”/SS-N-4 Gecko twin-launcher missile system installed on Russia’s frigates, and provides a maximum air defense reach of 10 km and 19,500 feet altitude, with a 2nd kill zone out to 4 km for the 30mm guns.
The ASW ships can be expected to carry 533 mm torpedo tubes, depth charges, and an RBU-6000 12-barreled Anti-Submarine rocket launcher.
This size and weapons array may not be much to get excited about, relative to other international frigate designs, but it will make them Vietnam’s most capable combat ships until the Dutch Sigma Class frigates arrive. There has been talk about including Shtil-1 air defense missiles with a 50 km range on the last 2 ships, in place of the Palma turret. Adding those would quadruple the ships’ air defense radius, but the ship’s overall changes would need to extend beyond that mounting.
Molniya/ Project 12418 FAC. These missile-armed Fast Attack Crafts, derived from the Tarantul-class Soviet corvette design, will help modernize a fleet that’s mostly made up of aging Soviet FACs, and captured American ships from the Vietnam War. The new ships are small, at just 550t full load, but they pack a very dangerous set of 8 sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles, or 4 Moskit/ SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missiles. Up to 10 may be built under the 2010 contract.
An agreement to license-build the Russian Kh-35 anti-ship missile adds extra impetus to Vietnam’s maritime modernization.Air Force: SU-30MKs, and…? SU-30MK2 weapons
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Vietnam’s air force is still reliant on the same core platform that formed their high end during the Vietnam war: the MiG-21. Swing-wing SU-22M4 strike and close air support fighters are only slightly newer. After that, there’s a sharp technological break to SU-27 air superiority fighters. Vietnam is slowly extending that modernized base with newer multi-role SU-30 planes from the same fighter family, strengthening air defenses and adding a long-range strike capability. They need that kind of firepower, given China’s own set of SU-30/J-11s, and the existence of flash-points like the Spratleys far from the mainland. The question is how they manage to balance that qualitative improvement with the need for fighter numbers, as the MiGs and SU-22s age out.
Note that even the most modern fighters will be limited without AWACS/ AEW support for wider awareness and coordination, and patrol ranges around key disputed territories like the Spratlys will be limited without mid-air refueling platforms. The bad news is that Vietnam doesn’t have a lot of budget to spare, and its ground forces are also in need of significant upgrades. The good news is that options like the Airbus/IAI C295 AEW, BAe 146 tanker conversions, and IAI Bedek’s K-767 tanker conversion of used commercial aircraft are creating new lower-cost options.
This section covers only Vietnamese contracts with Russia. As the “Additional Readings” section notes, Russia is not Vietnam’s exclusive arms provider – but it is the country’s most important defense relationship.2014 – 2017
April 18/17: A delegation from Vietnam’s Defense Ministry has visited the Kazan Helicopter plant in Russia, amid expressions of interest in procuring a number of civilian and military model helicopters for the South-east Asian nation. Models being sought include the Mi-17V-5, Mi-38 and Ansat helicopters, and the visit to the plant was in order to discuss terms of delivery. Vietnam has been in talks with several nations, including India and the US, over acquisitions of new defense platforms and training, as it looks to beef up capabilities to deter against neighboring China.
June 28/16: While the lifting of the US arms embargo on Vietnam may have led some to believe there would be an immediate rush to purchase US hardware, Hanoi seems more interested in acquiring weaponry from Japan instead. Kawasaki Heavy Industries’s P-3C maritime patrol aircraft, a license built version of the Lockheed Martin P-3 Orion, is currently being swapped out for the newer indigenous P-1 and offers a cheaper alternative to getting them second-hand from Lockheed Martin. Another advantage Vietnam hopes to tap into is Japan’s expertise in operating the P-3. The JMSDF has deployed its P-3s to Danang, Vietnam for exercises, and the Vietnamese have experience working with Japanese crew.
May 27/16: Just days after the lifting of the US arms embargo, Vietnam look like they may request F-16s and P-3 Orions from Pentagon’s excess defense articles (EDA) program. Hanoi may also look into purchasing US made UAVs alongside the aircraft to improve its air defense and maritime security capabilities in order to enhance its position in the South China Sea. It’s also likely that the government will look to achieve a similar P-3 deal given to Taiwan including torpedoes (banned under the embargo) and an F-16 EDA procurement given to Indonesia.
May 24/16: US President Barack Obama has announced the lifting of a decades long arms embargo on Vietnam. Speaking in Hanoi with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and under a looming bust of Communist leader Ho Chi Minh, Obama said that the move will end a “lingering vestige of the Cold War” and pave the way for more-normal relations between the two countries. The move comes as Vietnam looks to recenter allies amid a growing spat with China over ownership of islands in the South China Sea, while also looking to lessen their reliance on Russian weapons manufacturers, factors that may make Hanoi one of Washington’s new best friends in the region.
January 5/16: Vietnam has received possession of two more Su-30MK2 fighters, bringing the current number now operated to to thirty two. Dubbed the King Cobra, the Vietnamese Air Force hopes to have this increased to thirty-six by the end of 2016. The latest order, for twelve jets, was signed in 2013 and worth $600 million. Flight training for the aircraft is being provided by the Indian Air Force, who also operate the Russian made aircraft in their own military. In the past, India has trained Vietnamese naval personnel in operating Russian Kilo-class submarines.
Dec 10/14: Submarines. HQ-184 Hai Phong is reportedly on its way to Vietnam, after technical acceptance was signed on Dec. 4. The rest of the project appears on track: sea trials for boat #4 started in June, while the keel of #6 was laid in May.
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines: Admiralty Shipyards provide Vietnamese Navy with third Project 636.1 submarine, Vietnam media relaying Russian sources.Testing “Lightning” ships
Dec 8/14: Fast Attack Crafts. HQ 377 and HQ 378, the first 2 of 6 Molniya fast attack, are handed over by Ba Son Corporation for induction by the Vietnamese navy. The ships had been tested in April and delivered in June. The government seems to support Ba Son’s request to build a new, more modern shipbuilding factory.
Sources: Nhan Dan: Ba Son Corporation urged to complete, hand over missile boats | Tuoi Tre News: Vietnam to boost defense development, improve military combat capacity | Vietnam Breaking News: Vietnam to build more Russian missile boats | Asitimes: Vietnam holds technical test for its first 2 domestically-made high-speed missile boats.
Aug 27/14: SU-30s. Russia & India Report says that negotiations are underway to deepen Vietnam’s training relationship with India, progressing beyond subs to include its 36 SU-30MK2 jets by 2015. Malaysia already trains with India, as their SU-30MKM jets have a lot in common with the IAF’s SU-30MKIs. Vietnam’s SU-30MKs lack canards and thrust vectoring, but India is a logical pairing:
“India and Vietnam are likely to sign a defence agreement, under which Vietnamese pilots will be trained to operate Russian-built Sukhoi fighters, sources in the Indian Defence Ministry told RIR. The agreement is likely to be signed when Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visits the Southeast Asian country in September. The details are being finalised during the on-going visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Vietnam, the sources said…. India will also consider the sale of the Indo-Russian BrahMos missiles to Vietnam [DID: q.v. Dec 3/13 entry], although a deal is not imminent, the sources added.”
Adding the air-launched, supersonic BrahMos to Vietnam’s arsenal would make Indian training the only sensible solution, while greatly increasing Vietnam’s strike reach and capabilities. Sources: Russia & India Report, “India to train Vietnamese pilots to fly Sukhoi fighters”.
April 23/14: Frigates. Russia’s Nudelman Precision Engineering Design Bureau confirms that the “People’s Army of Vietnam Navy” (Maoist heritage, much?) will equip its Project 11661 Gepard anti-submarine light frigates with the same Palma air defense and CIWS system that sits on the first 2 surface warfare frigates. The ships are scheduled for delivery in 2017, and given the space constraints involved in a 2,100t platform, it’s always interesting to see what can and can’t stay when they’re equipped for a new role. Sources: IHS Jane’s Navy International, “Vietnam to arm new Gepard-class frigates with Palma CIWS”.
April 1/14: Frigates. Vietnam’s 2nd batch of Gepard frigates are scheduled for delivery in 2017, according to Zelenodolsk Shipyard’s annual financial statements. That set is supposed to be optimized for anti-submarine duties. Sources: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Vietnam to receive two more Gepard frigates in 2017”.
Feb 27/14: Frigates. Vietnam has reportedly ordered 2 more Gepard Class/ Project 11661K frigates from Russia’s Gorky Shipyard, which will bring their fleet to 6.
None of the announcements discuss terms, or mention which variant Vietnam is buying this time. The small 2,100t frigates have space limitations, which forces some role-based equipment tradeoffs. Current orders involve 2 Gepards ordered in 2006 and optimized for surface strike with anti-ship missiles (q.v. March 5/11), plus 2 frigates ordered in 2011 and equipped as anti-submarine specialists (q.v. Dec 7/11). There have been unconfirmed reports that subsequent ships would add Russia’s SA-17 derived 3S90E Shtil-1 naval anti-aircraft missile system, providing much wider air defense out to 50 km. Sources: Vietnam.NET, “First of a New Class Patrol Ships Laid Down at Zelenodolsky Shipyard in Russia” | Defense Update, “First of a New Class Patrol Ships Laid Down at Zelenodolsky Shipyard in Russia” | Defense Studies, “Second Batch of Gepard Equipped with Sthil-1 Missile”.
2 more frigates
Jan 16/14: Submarines. Vietnam’s 2nd submarine, HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City, completes operational tests in Russia and receives its checkout certificate. It will be loaded onto a barge, and is expected to arrive in Vietnam around May 3/14.
HQ-184 Hai Phong was launched on Aug 28/13, and is also expected to be delivered to Vietnam in 2014. HQ-186 Khanh Hoa is due in 2015, and HQ-185 Da Nang can be inferred as also arriving that year. HQ-187 Ba Ria Vung Tau is due in 2016. Sources: Bao Dat Viet, “Tau ngam HQ-185 Da Nang ha thuy ngay 28/3” | Thanh Nien News, “Vietnam’s second Russian submarine completes testing” | Vietnamnet, “Russia hands over the second submarine to Vietnam”.T-90
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Jan 10/14: Tanks. Vietnam is reportedly investigating the possibility of upgrading at least some of their existing fleet of about 480 T-72 main battle tanks, and buying T-90s to begin replacing their force of almost 1,000 elderly T-55s. Due diligence has reportedly been done with India’s T-90s, which also face the ravages of hot climates.
The problem is cost. T-72 upgrades can be sourced from a number of countries besides Russia, but top of the line new tanks are costly. If new armored personnel carriers also have to be bought for Vietnam’s armored formations, the entire project gets very expensive very quickly. On the other hand, defeats on land are very, very expensive when you have a large and aggressive neighbor on your border, and a long history of animosity. Tanks may not be the whole answer, but Vietnam will have to spend money to upgrade its land forces in some way.
Vietnam’s armored forces include various models of Russian and Chinese equipment, which means their fleets are fragmented as well as old. Consolidation of any sort would be helpful, though their terrain means that light vehicles can be as important as heavy armor. Israel has been talking to Vietnam about military deals, and one wonders if they’ve discussed conversion of the T-55s into refurbished Achzarit heavy APCs. Sources: Tinnong, “Viet Nam xem xet mua xe tang T-90 cua Nga”.
Jan 3/13: Submarines. HQ-183 Hanoi is unloaded from the Dutch Rolldock Sea carrying vessel into Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. Sources: Vietnam.NET, “In pictures: Hanoi submarine arrives at Cam Ranh port” | Thanh Nien, “First Russian-made submarine arrives in Vietnam” (also several pictures) | Vietnam.NET, “Vietnam’s most modern submarine launched” | Taiwan’s Want China Times, “Vietnam receives its first Russian Kilo-class submarine”.
1st sub arrives2012 – 2013
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Dec 3/13: Weapons. Vietnam has reportedly placed an official request for a derivative of the Russian SS-N-26 Oniks missiles that already equip a couple of its shore batteries:
“Vietnam formally requested India to supply the Indo-Russian BrahMos cruise missiles at a meeting in New Delhi, informed sources told RIR. The request was made when Vietnam Communist party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visited the Indian capital, the sources said, adding that the Southeast Asian country was looking at enhancing security cooperation with India… During Phu Trong’s visits, requests were also made to India for submarine training and for conversion training for Vietnamese pilots to fly Sukhoi-30 aircrafts.”
The PJ-10 Brahmos is also a supersonic, radar-guided, medium-range anti-ship and strike missile. Vietnam’s current and planned ships aren’t good platforms for BrahMos, and Vietnam already has similar SS-N-26 shore batteries in place. A buy from India could deploy mobile shore batteries, but the most likely interest involves the developmental air-launched BrahMos, designed to be carried by SU-30 fighters. That would add about 300 km of strike range to Vietnam’s fighters, using a lethal threat to both enemy ships and shore installations. Deploying that combination would be almost as significant as Vietnam’s new submarines in shifting the South China Sea’s overall balance of power. Sources: Russia & India Report, “Vietnam looking to purchase BrahMos cruise missiles”.
Nov 7/13: Submarines. The Improved Kilo Class boat HQ-183 Hanoi is handed over to the Vietnam Navy in Russia, where its crew has been undergoing training. It will be loaded onto a barge on November 11/13, and prepared for shipment to Vietnam.
At the same time, representatives from Russia and Vietnam sign a document that will transfer a new submarine sailor training center in Cam Ranh Bay to the Vietnam Navy in January 2014, when the Hanoi and its cadre arrive at Cam Ranh Bay. By the end of 2014, Vietnam is expected to have 3 of its 6 ordered submarines. Sources: Vietnam Bridge, “Russia hands over Cam Ranh submarine sailor training center to Vietnam” | RIA Novosti, “Russia to Deliver 2 More ‘Black Hole’ Subs to Vietnam in ’14”.
Oct 25/13: Infrastructure. Vietnam officially inaugurates a maintenance line in Da Nang’s “Factory A32” for Su-27 and Su-30 fighters. Other countries have had real problems waiting for Russian support, so moving more of that support in-country will boost the fighter fleet’s availability. Sources: People’s Army Newspaper Online, “Maintenance line for Su-27 and Su-30 fighters unveiled”.
Sept 26/13: Infrastructure. Vietnam is committing to a ship repair facility in Cam Ranh Bay that can handle Russian ships by 2015. It’s a win for their ally, but Vietnam is also trying to turn Cam Ranh Bay into a broader maritime service center. US Military Sealift Command ships have received repairs and basic maintenance there over the last couple of years.
Strong naval maintenance capabilities for Russian designs is also a big asset to a force that operates Russian ships almost exclusively. Sources: RIA Novosti, “Vietnam Sets 2015 Deadline for Soviet, Russian Ship Repair Facility”.
Sept 24/13: Frigates. Russia’s Zelenodolsk shipyard has begun construction on Vietnam’s next Gepard Class 2,100t light frigates, which will be optimized for anti-submarine warfare instead of surface attack (q.v. Dec 7/11). Sources: RIA Novosti, “Russia Starts Building 2 Frigates for Vietnamese Navy”.
Sept 6/13: Submarines. Singapore and Vietnam sign a Memorandum of Agreement regarding submarine rescue. If there’s an accident involving a Vietnamese submarine, Singapore’s 85m, 4,300t submarine rescue and support ship MV Swift Rescue will steam over with its submersible rescue vessel, Deep Search and Rescue Six (DSAR 6).
Singapore operates its own set of ex-Swedish diesel-electric submarines: 4 old but modernized and “tropicalized” Challenger/ Sjoormen Class boats, and 2 modern Archer/ Vastergotland Class Air Independent Propulsion boats that received similar treatment. Sources: RSN – Assets – Ships | RSN – Assets – Submarines | Singapore MINDEF, “Republic of Singapore Navy and Vietnam People’s Navy Sign Submarine Rescue Memorandum of Agreement”.
Submarine rescue agreement
August 21/13: SU-30s. Interfax and RIA Novosti report, and Vietnam confirms, that a new contract signed earlier this month will lead to the delivery of another batch of 12 SU-30MK2s by 2015. When added to 2 earlier contracts, Vietnam’s SU-30MK2 fleet will rise to 32 fighters.
Sources differ in their reporting of this contract’s value, worth $450 million or $600 million depending on whom you ask. The higher value is similar to the previous batch of 12 planes, and is probably the fully-loaded cost with support and parts, but excluding weapons. This is about the level of detail you can publicly expect from such countries. Communist Party of Vietnam.
July 5/13: Submarines. Russia’s Interfax says that Vietnam’s 2nd submarine, Ho Chi Minh City, has returned to Admiralty Shipyards of St. Petersburg after series of sea trials. The 1st sub, Hanoi, was launched in August 2012 (vid. Aug 28/12 entry), and both are scheduled for handover to the Vietnamese Navy later in 2013. Earlier reports had targeted the end of 2012 for Haoi’s handover.
Note that the photograph in the linked article is not a Kilo Class sub. Thanh Nien News.
May 21/13: SU-30s. A Tuoi Tre News article offers some revealing information, alongside the classic Stakhanovite paeans.
“Living in rented houses, many of the [SU-30 maintenance] staff have to work as part time teachers in local schools to earn extra income for their families. They even use their own money to buy devices to test tools of their own invention before submitting ideas to leaders.”
Needless to say, economic conflicts of interest among the maintenance staff for your nation’s premiere air asset offers all kinds of potential vulnerabilities.
May 17/13: SU-30s. A Tuoi Tre News article discussed the propensity of Vietnamese pilots to stay in the aircraft and try to land, even if the failure is very serious. Materiel worth more than people? That does seem to be part of the attitude, but if so, it’s a long-standing predisposition:
“For example, three-star colonel and pilot Dao Quoc Khang managed to save his Su-27 when its engines broke down just seconds after taking off…. in April last year, captain and chief of Air Strike Regiment 935 Nguyen Xuan Tuyen and flight head Nguyen Gia Nhan saved a Su-30MK2 while they were on a regular patrol over East Sea and its engines suddenly stopped working when it was 600km from the coast. “….We told ourselves in our minds that we are responsible for keeping the US$50 million asset of the State in one piece. It is made from the labor of citizens. And we must protect it at any price, even if that means our lives,” pilot Tuyen said.”
In fairness, ejecting 600 km from the coast is near-certain death, given Vietnam’s limited search and rescue resources. So the brave and selfless-sounding justification doesn’t actually change their decision, and is the sort of thing you’d expect in an article that quotes political commissars with a straight face. Or is the mentality in the pilot’s justification real? That’s the interesting question.
March 29/13: Submarines. Rubin design bureau general director Igor Vilnit pledges to deliver the 1st Project 636M Improved Kilo Class submarine to Vietnam “in 2013 as scheduled.” Odd. Earlier reports from RIA Novosti (vid. Aug 28/12) had the handover taking place at the end of 2012.
The first boat has been built by Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is undergoing sea trials. All 6 boats are due for delivery by 2016. What isn’t addressed in these reports is Vietnam’s recruiting, training, infrastructure, and maintenance preparations. As Vietnam’s Australian neighbors have discovered the hard way, neglect of any of these 4 “invisible” elements leads to an undeployable submarine force. Vietnam has the advantage of beginning with a proven, tested submarine design, but in all other areas, they’re building from a very low foundation. RIA Novosti.
Oct 26/12: SU-34s? Phun.vn cites a report from the mysterious site “Periscope 2,” wherein it’s suggested that Vietnam plans to replace its fleet of 50 or so aged SU-22 strike aircraft with SU-34s, and that export approval will be given immediately, once it’s requested. The report also suggests that Saab JAS-39 Gripens will replace the VPAF’s even older fleet of 150 or so MiG-21s, that L-159s may replace existing L-39 trainers alongside Vietnam’s reported Yak-130 options, and that Vietnam may be interested in C295-AEW planes.
All of the above are possible, and militarily reasonable choices. Even the L-159 could be reasonable, if bought second-hand as a dual role trainer and MiG-21 fill in, to give the VPAF a dual Russian & Western fleet with appropriate weapon options. The thing is, “reasonable” doesn’t mean “likely”, and DID could find no other reports along these lines. Any of the non-trainer deals would be quite expensive, and Vietnam’s economy is a bit shaky these days. In addition, all of the non-Russian equipment would require export approval for American military items.
We throw this item in for reader interest, with a strong caution concerning its reliability. Phun.vn [in Vietnamese].
Aug 28/12: Submarines. Russia’s RIA Novosti reports that the Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg has launched Vietnam’s 1st Project 636 diesel-electric submarine. The boat is due for handover to Vietnam by the end of 2012.
July 27/12: Political. Vietnam says that Russia can set up a base in Cam Ranh Bay, but it would be a maintenance base, not a military base. Vietnam is trying to promote Cam Ranh as a ship maintenance center, and has even worked on ships from US Military Sealift Command. Sources: RIA Novosti, “Vietnam Ready to Host Russian Maritime Base”.
June 21/12: Fighters. Vietnam is conducting air patrols over the disputed Spratly Islands, using its long-range Su-27 fighters.
“Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, protested against the patrols by Vietnamese Su-27 fighters over the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea at a press conference in Beijing…. The flights by fighters from the Vietnam People’s Air Force over the Spratlys are routine and will continue, according to the Vietnamese military officials.”
State-owned China Radio International makes some valid points when it cites reasons not to be too concerned about Vietnam’s Su-27s: payload limitations, the lack of AWACS support for wider awareness and coordination, and the lack of mid-air refueling platforms. On the other hand, there’s no denying that the Su-27s and Su-30s offer Vietnam a leap forward in both air superiority and strike roles. With that foundation in place, it’s possible for Vietnam to begin closing some of the other gaps in coming years. Sources: Taiwan’s Want China Times, “Beijing downplays threat of Vietnam’s air force”.
March 29/12: Sub training from India? Singapore’s Asia Times:
“For full-scale underwater warfare training, it appears Vietnam will turn to India. The two countries have been engaged in high-level military talks with special emphasis on maritime cooperation. Since the Indian navy also employs Kilo-class submarines, New Delhi would be well suited to train Vietnamese crews. China responded warily to this bilateral warming trend in both words and deeds when a Chinese warship reportedly confronted an Indian navy vessel leaving a Vietnamese port in August… Moscow will reportedly build a submarine base for Vietnam at strategic Cam Ranh Bay, a one-time American and later Soviet naval base…”
Feb 15/12: Kh-35. RIA Novosti reports that Vietnam will begin joint production of a modified SS-N-25 Switchblade/ Kh-35 Uran subsonic anti-ship missile, whose base characteristics are similar to the American xGM-84 Harpoon. The project is described as similar to joint Russian-Indian production of the PJ-10 BrahMos missile, which was derived from the supersonic SS-N-26 Yakhont.
The Kh-35 can be launched from Ka-27 naval helicopters, ships, or shore batteries, but haven’t been integrated with Vietnam’s new SU-30MK model fighters, or its forthcoming Kilo Class submarines. Even so, this joint venture will give Vietnam assured low-cost production and support for an important element of naval deterrence in the South China Sea.
The Kh-35 looks set to become Vietnam’s mainstay anti-ship missile for its navy, and a joint project also gives them a base to make changes. India undertook to integrate Brahmos with its Su-30MKI fighters, for example, and Vietnam’s air force may have similar plans for their modified Kh-35 project. The urge to use locally-built weapons in new ships also seems to be deep-seated. Kilo Class submarines are already configured for 3M54 Klub family (SS-N-27) missiles, and only time will tell what the Vietnamese plan to do with this shared technology.
KH-35 missile partnership2009 – 2011
Vietnam orders 6 Improved Kilo Class subs, 12 SU-30MK2 fighters, 2 Gepard Class ASW frigates; 2 Gepard/ Dinh Tien Hoang Class surface warfare frigates delivered; Vietnam begins building Molniya FACs locally; China’s underwater neighborhood getting crowded.
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Dec 7/11: ASW Frigates. Rosoboronexport and the Zelenodolsk Gorky Plant have finished shipping Vietnam’s 1st 2 Gepard Class frigates, and have just signed a contract for 2 more. That isn’t a surprise, as reports from March 2010 were already discussing a set set. Unlike the first set, however, this next 2 will concentrate on anti-submarine warfare, rather than surface attack missions.
Vietnam’s example may also be creating ripples in the region. Gorky Plant Deputy Director Sergei Rudenko adds that Vietnam’s neighbor Cambodia has expressed its own interest in the Gepard Class. Interfax-AVN.
2 more Gepard Class frigates
Oct 25/11: FACs. Vietnam is beginning to get assembly kits and components for its Molniya/ Project 12418 missile-armed fast attack craft. They’re working under the technical supervision of the “Almaz” Central Maritime Design Bureau in St. Petersburg, and the OJSC Vympel shipbuilding plant. Russia has built 2 for Vietnam, and Vietnam is building its first 4 boats of class, with an option for 4 more. The ships are small, at just 550t full load, but they pack a very dangerous set of 4 Moskit/ SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missiles, or 8 of the sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles.
Deliveries of parts to Vietnam, which began in 2010 under a $30 million contract, will continue through 2016. ITAR-TASS (Google Translate).
Vietnam begins assembling FAC boats
Oct 20/11: Patrol boats. Vietnam signs acceptance certificates for the last 2 of 4 Project 10412/ Svetlyak Export Class patrol boats at Almaz Shipbuilding Firm. The 390t class was originally developed for the KGB’s border guards, mounting an AK-176M 76.2mm cannon, an AK-630 30mm gatling gun, and a mount for very short range SA-16/SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles.
The first 2 ships were delivered to Vietnam in 2002, and the 2 follow-on order ships were laid down in June 2009. Unfortunately, repeated issues with key components, including the Arsenal AK-176M gun mounts, delayed construction. The ships will be moved to St. Petersburg, and embarked on a transport ship for shipping to Vietnam. RusNavy.
Aug 22/11: Frigates. The Gepard Class frigate Ly Thai To [HQ-012] arrives at Cam Ranh Bay. Sources: Defense News, “Vietnam Receives Second Russian-Made Frigate”.
March 5/11: Frigates. The Vietnamese Navy officially accepts the 1st Gepard class frigate from Russia, naming it the Dinh Tien Hoang, after the first Vietnamese emperor. Vietnam became the class’ 1st export order with a contract for 2 ships in December 2006, and the HQ-011 Dinh Tien Hoang was launched in August 2009. HQ-012 Ly Thai To, the 2nd frigate in the order, was launched in March 2010, and has been in sea trials since August 2010.
The Gepard 3.9 ships are a combined diesel-turbine export version of Russia’s Project 11611 (Tartarstan) frigates, which serve in the Caspian fleet. The 102m/ 2,100t design sits in the grey area between small frigates and large corvettes, and despite their 5,000nm endurance, they’re best suited to local maritime patrol and interdiction. Their stealth-enhanced ship design and sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles make them potentially dangerous adversaries in littoral regions, and other armament includes 76mm and 30mm guns, 533mm torpedoes, depth charges, and a 9K33M “OSA-M”/SS-N-4 missile system for air defense. This size and weapons array may not be much to get excited about, relative to other international frigate designs, but it will make them Vietnam’s most capable combat ships. DatViet report [Google translate] | AvWeek Ares.
Gepard Class frigate accepted
March 27/10: RIA Novosti reports that Chinese admirals are beginning to grasp the implications of advanced diesel-electric attack submarines in the hands of several regional neighbors, located right near China’s shipping lifelines.
Vietnam’s Kilo Class, Malaysia’s Scorpene Class, and Singapore’s Vastergotland Class submarines are all on China’s Southeast Asian radar. In the background, Indonesia continues to express its intent to buy Kilo Class submarines of its own.
Postscript: Indonesia eventually ended up buying a modern South Korean variant of the German U209.
March 25/10: Submarines. It’s good to be a good customer. Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov says that Russia will help Vietnam build the submarine base it needs to house its new Kilos, provide a loan to help buy rescue and auxiliary vessels and planes for Vietnam’s navy, and build a ship repair yard. That yard would benefit the Russians, too, as it could service visiting Russian navy ships.
Vietnam’s geographic position could make its service yard attractive to other navies as well, giving other countries even more reason to focus on relations with the Southeast Asian nation. A good service yard could wind up being as important to Vietnam’s geo-political position as the submarines themselves. Associated Press | China’s Xinhua.
March 23/10: Russia’s Voice covers growing ties between Russia and Vietnam, which is becoming one of Russia’s biggest arms customers:
“Vietnam backs multilateral cooperation with Russia especially in military defense, stated Vietnam’s president Nguyen Minh Triet during talks with Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in Hanoi. “Each of Russia’s victories is like our own, the president said, and we support Russia in the Georgian conflict.” The president said that the US decision not to deploy its ABMs in Eastern Europe is also a victory for Russia… Anatoly Serdyukov noted that Vietnam is Russia’s strategic partner and Russia is ready to train Vietnamese personnel at the Russian Defense Ministry’s academies.”
March 16/10: Frigates. Russia’s Zelenodolsk PKB shipyard launches Vietnam’s 2nd Project Gepard 3.9 light frigate into the River Volga. In May 2010, the warship will sail to St. Peterburg and then travel by sea to Vietnam for sea trials. The 1st ship in the order was launched in August 2009.
Feb 10/10: SU-30s. Interfax reports the signing of a formal contract between Russia and Vietnam for 12 SU-30MKK fighters, for delivery in 2011-2012, plus associated weapons, service, and support. The deal is reportedly worth $1 billion, and is signed the day after a Russian contract to build Vietnam’s first nuclear plant.
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Dec 15/09: Shortly after Vietnam makes its defense white paper public, reports indicate that it has ordered 6 Improved Kilo Class submarines and 12 SU-30MKK fighter jets from Russia, during a visit to Moscow by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry official on Dec 15/09, who said the submarines were improved “Project 636” types, and gave the deal’s value at of $2 billion, with delivery taking place at a rate of 1 submarine per year. The Sukhoi Su-30MK2 fighter jet deal was valued at $600 million, and would raise Vietnam’s SU-27/SU-30 family fleet to 20 fighters.
Vietnam also invited Russia to help build its 1st nuclear power plant, and hopes to begin construction in 2014 and put it on line by 2020. The country has been growing its manufacturing capacity in recent years, partly at China’s expense, and needs to improve its electric grid in tandem. Vietnam’s Thanh Nien News | RIA Novosti | Agence France Presse | Associated Press | BBC News | China’s Xinhua | Agence France Presse analysis.
12 SU-30s & 6 Improved Kilo submarines
Dec 4/09: Russia’s RIA Novosti reports:
“According to the Vedomosti business daily, Moscow and Hanoi are close to sign deals on the purchase of six Kilo class diesel-electric submarines and 12 Su-30MK2 Flanker-C multirole fighters. The submarine contract, worth an estimated $1.8 billion, includes the construction of on-shore infrastructure and training of submarine crews and will be the second largest submarine contract concluded by Russia since the Soviet era after the 2002 deal on the delivery of eight subs to China.”
April 27/09: Initial media reports. The submarine deal’s value is reported to be around $1.8 billion, and the SSKs would be built at Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg. In addition to submarines, the Vietnamese Navy order is said to include new heavyweight torpedoes and missiles (most likely Klub family) to arm them.
This is a big step forward. There have been rumors that Vietnam owns 2 ex-Yugoslav mini-submarines for use in commando operations, but the Vietnamese People’s Navy doesn’t own any full size submarines that can take on enemy subs and ships.
Some of the Russian reports note that these 6 submarines were once planned for Venezuela, adding that Russia’s Rosoboronexport canceled the deal following Hugo Chavez’ meeting with US President Barack Obama. That must be judged an extraordinarily thin public rationale for canceling a $1.5+ billion purchase. A sinking global oil market, and Venezuela’s growing economic dependence on its declining oil production for revenue, are far more likely reasons for any delay and/or shift. See: RIA Novosti | MosNews | St. Petersburg Times | Singapore Straits Times | Defpro.
- Haze Grey – World Navies Today: Vietnam
- Naval Technology – SSK Kilo Class (Type 636) Attack Submarine, Russia
- Rubin Design Bureau – Project 636. “Improved Kilo”/ Varshavyanka Class.
- Zelenodolsk Shipyard – Frigate of 11661 project “Gepard – 3.9”
- Air Force Technology – Su-30MK Multi-Role Two-Seater Fighter Aircraft, Russia
- Army Technology – T-72S Main Battle Tank, Russia
- The Armor Site – Russian T-90/T90S Main Battle Tank
- Military Today – Achzarit Heavy Armored Personnel Carrier. An option for converting the large fleet of T-55s?
- Unbiased Jottings (April 1/13) – Maritime Contours: India – Vietnam & India-Japan Relationships. The site is by Indian Rear Admiral S Kulshrestha (ret.)
- Tuoi Tre News (May 21/13) – Caretakers of Sukhoi jet fighters in Vietnam
- Tuoi Tre News (May 17/13) – The ‘Air cobra’ of Vietnam’s air force
- The Diplomat (Nov 1/12) – Vietnam’s Underwater Anti-Access Fleet
- Reuters (Feb 10/12) – Vietnam seen courting Western arms deals. Israel is also in this mix, and can leverage experience with nearby clients in India, Thailand, and Singapore.
- DID (Oct 30/11) – More than the Sum of Its Parts: Dutch SIGMA Ships for Vietnam?
- DID (May 5/10) – Vietnamese Navy Orders DHC-6 Twin-Otter 400s. The durable float planes are a clever choice for short-range maritime surveillance.
- Reuters (Dec 14/09) – U.S. eyes Vietnam, Libya arms sales. The focus at this point is on “non-lethal” equipment, in Vietnam’s case, the focus is on maritime patrol aircraft, coastal radar systems, and English language training..
USAF Tests Inert B61-12 Nuke | KAI Wins $378M to Supply Parts for Embraer’s E2 & KC-390 | Seoul in Talks with Supplier Nations to Beef Up Defense Projects
- The USAF has tested an upgraded inert B61-12 nuclear bomb over the Nellis Test and Training Range Complex in Nevada. Testing of the munition was conducted in order to demonstrate the capability of an F-16 to employ the weapon and the functioning of the bomb’s non-nuclear components, such as the arming and fire control system, radar altimeter, rocket motors, and weapons control computer, the Air Force said. Capable of being carried on B-2A, B-21, F-15E, F-16C/D, F-16 MLU, F-35 and PA-200 aircraft, the recent test is part of the B61 life-extension program run by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, together with the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, and the upgraded variant is scheduled to replace four versions of the B61 currently in the US nuclear stockpile.
- Meanwhile, the US Army has conducted tests on two new dune buggy-like platforms designed to travel through various types of terrain and provide operators with aircraft detection and tracking capabilities. Called Hunter and Killer, the 8 wheel vehicles were tested between April 3 and April 13 during the 2017 Maneuver Fires Integrated Experiment (MFIX). While still in early development stages (they were merely slides on a PowerPoint presentation last September), the vehicles have been created with several mission functions in mind such as tracking aircraft activity throughout the battle space, call precision fires in an automated fashion, and allow operators to communicate with friendly planes for support. The vehicles can also support Navy operations by contacting nearby ships in order to attack a target.
- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has won a $378 million contract to supply parts for Embraer’s E2 and KC-390 programs. Under the agreement, which is scheduled to last until 2033, KAI will supply wing bottom panels for the E-190 E2 and E-195 E2 regional jets, and panels for both top and bottom of the KC-390 tactical airlifter. Separately, the firm announced that it has completed delivery of all 20 KT-1P basic trainer aircraft ordered by the Peruvian air force.
- New Offshore Patrol Vessels being developed for the US Coast Guard are to receive hybrid electric drive systems from Leonardo DRS Technologies. A US subsidiary of the Italian defense giant Leonardo, the company will deliver nine such systems at a cost of $10.7 million to Eastern Shipbuilding, the shipyard tasked with constructing the vessels. The auxiliary power system, when coupled to the main propulsion gearbox, allows the vessels to operate quietly and efficiently during loitering operations.
- Beechcraft has been awarded a $60.5 million USAF contract to support the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS)—the program associated with the procurement of T-6 Texan II trainer aircraft to train Air Force and Navy pilots. Services to be provided under the deal include program management, engineering, sustainment, deficiency reporting, and maintenance. Also provided are diminishing manufacturing sources, technical manual updates, data management and mechanical structural integrity efforts. The contract will run until April 2021.
- The UK MoD is looking to industry to design and develop new unmanned platforms for the resupply of troops in combat, with the goal of providing their military with more safety. Funding for the vehicles design will come out of the ministry’s Innovation Initiative, a $1.24 billion effort to develop modernized battlefield solutions for the British armed forces. Speaking on the announcement, Parliament Undersecretary for the MoD, Harriet Baldwin, said “our investment in innovative solutions demonstrates how the government’s [$223 billion] equipment plan, supported by a rising defense budget, will ensure that the U.K. maintains a military advantage in an increasingly dangerous world.”
- As part of efforts to better equip them to tackle North Korea, the South Korean government is in talks with a number of supplier nations to lease several spy satellites and expects to sign a contract next year. The procurement is part of a wider policy aimed at boosting the country’s military surveillance and strike capabilities between 2018 and 2022 under the revised mid-term national defense blueprint. Under the plan Seoul intends to spend $210 billion on various defense projects that will establish a “three-axis system” intended to help outgun Pyongyang’s superior manpower—NK boasts some 1.1 million troops to SK’s 625k—if open conflict between the two were to commence again. This axis will include the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) strategy.
- Upon his arrival in South Korea, US VP Mike Pence has warned North Korea of Washington’s resolve, as the hermit kingdom conducted another unsuccessful ballistic missile launch. Pyongyang also marked the occasion with a military parade, which showcased their new Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), however, it has been known for NK to “show off” new concepts before even testing them. In response to the launch Pence warned: “Just in the past two weeks, the world witnessed the strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” adding that North Korea “would do well not to test his resolve or the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region.” Pence’s visit to Seoul is one of a four-nation Asia tour intended to show America’s allies, and remind adversaries, that the Trump administration is not turning its back on the increasingly volatile region.
- Reverse engineered: Iran’s Fakour-90 air-to-air missile, based on the AIM-54 Phoenix missile sold to Tehran (along with the F-14) in the late 1970s:
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Nov 1/12: DynCorp International LLC in Fort Worth, TX receives a $72.8 million contract modification for contractor operated and maintained base supply services for the T-6A/B Texan II Joint Primary Aircraft Training System aircraft. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, TX until Oct 31/13, and the AFLCMC/WLZJC at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH manages the contract (FA8617-12-C-6208, PO 0004).
The T-6 is the result of iterative modifications to the popular Pilatus PC-9 turboprop trainer, but in time the modifications left the 2 aircraft with no common parts. Now the T-6 serves as the USAF’s and US Navy’s JPATS intermediate to advanced training aircraft for prospective pilots. Variants have also been ordered for export by countries including Canada, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, and Morocco.Update
April 17/17: Beechcraft has been awarded a $60.5 million USAF contract to support the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS)—the program associated with the procurement of T-6 Texan II trainer aircraft to train Air Force and Navy pilots. Services to be provided under the deal include program management, engineering, sustainment, deficiency reporting, and maintenance. Also provided are diminishing manufacturing sources, technical manual updates, data management and mechanical structural integrity efforts. The contract will run until April 2021.
PCU Gerald R. Ford to the Rescue | General Atomics to Enter the Sea Avenger in USN Drone Competition | F-35As Head for Europe for Training Deployment
- Just days into its first sea trials, the PCU Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) responded to an emergency on the USS Oak Hill, where a sailor onboard needed urgent medical attention. The mission involved a MH-60S from HSC-22 which took off from the ship and rendezvoused with Oak Hill on Apr. 11 to take the patient to Navy Medical Center Portsmouth. Following the successful transportation, Capt. Richard McCormack, Ford’s commanding officer, addressed the crew and expressed his pride in Ford sailors and the embarked squadron for their flexibility, mission readiness, and eagerness to help a Shipmate in need. The sailor is in a stable condition.
- The UK and Brazilian governments are in talks over the potential sale of the Royal Navy helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, for the reported price of $100 million. Designed to support amphibious landing operations, the vessel was commissioned in 1998 but had been designated in 2015 for decommissioning in 2018 with no plans for a like-for-like replacement. Brazil’s interest in the vessel comes as their Navy decided to abandon the refit of the aircraft carrier Sao Paulo and decommission the vessel after a series of technical issues and accidents.
- General Atomics is “confidently” putting forward the Sea Avenger platform into the US Navy’s MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial tanker competition. Based on their successful Avenger (AKA Predator C), the company states the solution will fit the Navy’s needs, and that their previous work as prime contractor for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear programs has given them precious insights into carrier operations, adding that the firm is the “industry lead” on armed UAVs. The Navy’s request for proposals for the MQ-25A is expected to be released this summer.
- VSE Corporation has received a number of delivery orders from the US Naval Sea Systems Command International Fleet Support Program Office including a number of NAVSEA Foreign Military Sales support contracts for the Egyptian Navy. The first contract involves the supply and installation of a SMART-S Radar system on an Egyptian Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate at a cost of $21.8 million, to be completed in 14 months. Another two include the provision of in-country follow-on technical support for Egyptian Osprey-class mine hunter coastal vessels, with support to include vessel modernization, technical, logistics, training, facilities, and administrative support. The combined cost of the two Osprey contracts is valued at $36.8 million.
- The US State Department has cleared the potential Foreign Military Sale of a pilot and maintenance training and contractor support package to the Iraqi government. Potentially valued at an estimated $1.06, the contract includes pilot and maintenance training, contractor logistical support (CLS) for trainer aircraft, and base support. This covers support for C-172, C-208, and T-6 aircraft for up to five years and includes contractor aircraft modification; repair and spare parts; publications; aircraft ferry; and miscellaneous parts, along with training base operation support, base life support, security, construction, and other related elements of program support. If approved by Congress, the Spartan College in Tulsa, Okla., would be the principal contractor for the proposed deal.
- Mali looks to have moved ahead with its purchase of the Mi-35M from Russia after pictures of the attack helicopter emerged online. Snapped during flight testing at the Rostvertol plant in Rostov-on-Don, the images clearly show the mark of the Mali Air Force on the rotorcraft’s belly. It had been reported last September that Mali, along with Angola, Sudan, and Nigeria, were all interested in purchasing the Mi-35M as Rosoboronexport continues to aggressively market it on the continent. Nigeria received delivery of their first two units in January, 2017.
- This weekend has seen a number of F-35A Joint Strike Fighters make their way to Europe to participate in a training deployment that will last several weeks. The jets and airmen will conduct training with other US and NATO aircraft based in Europe as part of the European Reassurance Initiative—started in 2014 by the Pentagon to increase US presence in Europe for security purposes. Officials say the deployment marks an important milestone for the F-35 program as it allows both the USAF to further demonstrate the capabilities of the fighter, as well as assisting in refining the requirements for basing the F-35A in Europe, scheduled to commence in the early 2020s.
- For the first time in combat history, the USAF have dropped a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb as part of an operation targeting an ISIS-K tunnel complex in Achin district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan. Often known as the “Mother Of All Bombs,” last Thursday’s blast killed an estimated 92 militants in what some have described as a “baffling choice”. In response, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai (known to be against the use of US airpower during his tenure) accused his successor, President Ashraf Ghani of committing treason by allowing such a strike to take place. However, Afghan’s response to the strike has been mixed, with some residents near the blast praising Afghan and US troops for pushing back the Islamic State militants.
- General Atomics’ Sea Avenger UAV:
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The 22,500t HMS Ocean is similar to some of the smaller LHD designs like the 21,300t French Mistral Class. Built to commercial standards, LPH01/ L12 carries a crew of 255, an aircrew of 206, and 480 Royal Marine Commandos; an additional 320 marines can be accommodated in a short-term emergency. The ship has capacity for 40 vehicles, but its 4 Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) Mk 5s aren’t designed to handle heavy vehicles like tanks. Its main assets are up to 18 helicopters: usually 12 transport (EH101 Merlins or H-3 Sea Kings), and 6 smaller maritime/ scout/ attack helicopters (multi-role Lynx variants, and/or WAH-64D Apache attack helicopters). H-47 Chinooks can be refueled and serviced on deck.
HMS Ocean’s primary role is as an amphibious support vessel. Secondary ship roles include training, a limited anti-submarine warfare role, humanitarian assistance, and acting as a base for anti-terrorist operations. The 2011 campaign over Libya added a strike carrier role of sorts, using the WAH-64D. Those kinds of events have forced the ship to remain at sea near more distant shores, and on longer voyages, than originally anticipated. Hence the priority on crew-related modifications. Not to mention some of the other changes being made under recent refits.
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HMS Ocean [L12] was built on the Clyde by Kvaerner Govan, launched in October 1995, named by Her Majesty the Queen on Feb 20/98, and commissioned in September 1998 in her homeport of Devonport.
April 16/17: The UK and Brazilian governments are in talks over the potential sale of the Royal Navy helicopter carrier, HMS Ocean, for the reported price of $100 million. Designed to support amphibious landing operations, the vessel was commissioned in 1998 but had been designated in 2015 for decommissioning in 2018 with no plans for a like-for-like replacement. Brazil’s interest in the vessel comes as their Navy decided to abandon the refit of the aircraft carrier Sao Paulo and decommission the vessel after a series of technical issues and accidents.
Dec 12/12: Refit. The UK MoD announces another refit for HMS Ocean. Her 15-month, GBP 65 million (about $105 million) upgrade will be carried out in the newly developed 10 Dock facility at Babcock’s Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth. The work will secure about 300 jobs in Devonport, plus another 300 or so jobs with over 70 contractors who are set to be involved in the project.
Defensive upgrades include the new Type 997 “Artisan” Medium Range Radar system; 4 automated 30mm cannons and 20 km of accompanying power and control cabling to replace existing 20mm manned guns, and complement the ship’s 3 MK15 Phalanx advanced 20mm close-in weapon systems; a new fire detection system; the new multi-service Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) (DII(F)) communications system; and the DNA(2) Command System.
Mechanical and crew improvements include a first-of-class ballast water treatment system, and a first-of-class Membrane Bio-Reactor (MBR) system to treat waste water and sewage. They’ll ensure compatibility with environmental legislation and permit discharge at sea. Represervation work on the ship, and numerous improvements to crew quarters and facilities, round out major requirements. In all, about 1.2 km of new pipework will be installed; over 100 pumps, motors and valves will be overhauled in Babcock’s main factory, and around 100,000 litres of paint will be applied; and major structural modifications will be made to the interior of the ship.
Babcock has also introduced a number of improvements and new processes of its own to optimise delivery of this upkeep, including a new organisation structure in the form of zone management to further improve the planning and execution. Royal Navy | Babcock International.
Sept 21/12: The Royal Navy recounts HMS Ocean’s central role during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The ship steamed up the Thames and moored in the middle of the river, becoming a visible attraction of her own. She embarked 450 soldiers from a mixture of Army units for venue security at Greenwich Park, whilst simultaneously supporting Fleet Air Arm (FAA) and Army Air Corps (AAC) helicopters – with Royal Marine and RAF Regiment snipers in the back – in order to assist the Metropolitan Police. Royal Navy.
Feb 18/09: Fleet return. HMS Ocean deploys as part of TAURUS 09, steaming in the Royal Navy’s Amphibious Task Group through the Mediterranean, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Far East. Royal Navy.
Oct 13/08: Trials done. HMS Ocean has successfully conducted 2 weeks of sea trials. HMS Ocean will return to sea again to resume her program of sea trials, before embarking on operational sea training in November 2008. UK MoD | Just Plymouth.
Aug 22/07: Refit. The UK MoD announces HMS Ocean’s GBP 30 million (about $59.5 million) refit, and provides details. The work is part of the developing Surface Ship Support Alliance, a new contracting approach that was a pre-requisite to approval of the Royal Navy’s new 65,000t CVF Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.
The year-long refit of HMS Ocean will involve the fitting of new main propulsion shaft sections, extensive improvements in accommodation (including mess-deck dining areas in troop accommodation areas, storage for troop equipment, improvements to the galley and accompanying food storage areas), and an upgrade to the ship’s aviation support facilities to improve support to the Army’s WAH-64D Apache attack helicopters. Work is expected to start in September 2007 and, the ship is expected to return to service in September 2008 after a set of sea trials.
HMS Ocean participated Iraqi operations near Al-Faw in 2003, and her most recent assignment involved deployment to the Caribbean to counter drug smuggling (see video – at GBP 29 million, the value of seized drugs was about equal to the present refit costs), work with US Marine Corps’ HMM-774 “Wild Geese”s and their CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters in a joint training deployment, and offer humanitarian assistance to hurricane victims. In her absence, Britain’s 20,000t escort carrier and fleet flagship HMS Ark Royal will take on HMS Ocean’s role, embarking the helicopters and Royal Marines and serving as a less-optimized backup.
Orbital ATK to Supply Rocket Motors for AIM-9P | LM Works on Exoskeleton Tech for Mil Mkt | Leonardo Hosts Ceremony to Deliver 500th Eurofighter
- Orbital ATK has won a USAF contract to supply rocket motors for AIM-9P Sidewinder missiles. The agreement, which could reach a potential value of $67 million, covers the production and provision of motors for ordinance that will be sold to other governments under the US foreign military sales program. First developed in the 1970s, the AIM-9 has undergone significant upgrades to improve its capabilities and lethality over the years, with the present version featuring Orbital ATK’s SR116-HP-1 reduced-smoke rocket motor. Work will continue through until February 2022.
- UTC Aerospace Systems’ MS-177 sensor has been successfully tested by Northrop Grumman onboard an RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV. The sensor is a high-resolution imaging device designed to improve capabilities for the Global Hawk in addition to several other surveillance platforms operated by the USAF, with UTC adding that the sensor will provide warfighters with the most advanced reconnaissance tools to date. Demonstrations with the sensor began in early March and Northrop will continue through the first half of 2017. Prior to being integrated on such a high altitude platform, the MS-177 has been equipped on the E-8C JSTARS aircraft.
- The USAF’s F-16 fighting fleet is to receive service life extension work from Lockheed Martin. The decision boosts the service life for the jets from 8,000 Equivalent Flight Hours to 12,000 with the service looking to continue operating the jets through to 2048. As many as 300 F-16C/D Block 40-52 aircraft will be affected by the work, and will also benefit foreign military customers. It’s intended that the aircraft will supplement US and allied forces while they recapitalize with new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
- Lockheed Martin has secured legal permission to explore the potential use of exoskeleton technology for the military market. The firm secured licensing of bionic augmentation technology from B-Temia and will incorporate it to supplement its FORTIS industrial exoskeleton project. Designed to make labor easier by transferring pressure through the exoskeleton to the ground in a process that makes heavy tools “weightless,” the system requires no external power to operate, and can boost military capabilities by enabling soldiers to carry more equipment over longer distances. The product can be used in standing or kneeling positions, and uses a tool arm to reduce muscle fatigue and boost productivity.
- Despite issues with gaining certain technology transfers for the Altay, Turkey could begin serial production of the main battle tank as early as this May, according to Defense Minister Fikri Isik. Pakistan and some Gulf nations are believed to be lined up as potential customers for the vehicle. Talk of potential delays to the Altay surfaced when local contractor Tümosan was unable to continue working on providing a domestic diesel engine for the tank, after Austria’s AVL List GmbH, which it had as a technical support partner, ceased working with the Turkish firm amid concerns that the Turkish government were sliding on human rights issues. It now looks like Ankara may instead turn to Ukraine for help, with the Altay possibly adopting the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau’s (KMDB) 1,500 hp 6TD-3 diesel engine.
- Italian manufacturer Leonardo has handed over its 500th operational Eurofighter Typhoon to the Italian Air Force. Marking the occasion was a ceremony at the firm’s Turin facility and saw attendance from various military and security industry representatives, including leaders from Leonardo, NETMA, and Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug. Speaking at the event, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug CEO Volker Paltzo stated that the “500-strong Eurofighter Typhoon fleet represents one of the largest and most capable fighter fleets in the western hemisphere, and will be the backbone of European airpower for decades to come.” European armed forces have been operating the Typhoon since 2003, when the first completed jet was delivered to Britain’s Royal Air Force. The service received their 100th plane in September 2006 while Germany’s air force accepted the delivery of the 400th jet in 2013.
- Russia has displayed its Pantsyr-S1 and Tor-M2 air defense systems integrated on DT-30-series all-terrain tracked carriers (ATTCs) optimised for Arctic operations. The DT-30 vehicle is amphibious, has a load-carrying capability of around 30 tonnes, and wide tracks that provide a low ground pressure that allows it to cross terrain that is not passable by conventional tracked and wheeled platforms. It consists of two sections that are joined by an articulated joint to allow for a high degree of articulation while moving across rough terrain, including sand, ice, and snow. However, while normally the Pantsyr-S1 usually contains 12 missile launch tubes (six on each side) and two twin 30 mm 2A38M cannons, the arctic version drops the use of the 30mm guns.
- The first three months of the year have shown an increase in the number of times that the Japanese air force has had to scramble its fighter jets to ward off foreign aircraft. Figures released by Tokyo show that fighters were scrambled 1,168 times over the 12 months, up from 873 last year. A record 851 jets headed off approaching Chinese planes, or 280 more instances than in the corresponding period last year. The uptick in Chinese activity has contributed to rising tension in East Asia since the start of the year as North Korea pushes ahead with ballistic missile and nuclear bomb tests that have stoked fears in Japan, the United States and elsewhere.
- The 500th Eurofighter:
Most military programs don’t coordinate news releases with major motion pictures. With Iron Man in theaters and getting reviews that may get DID’s staff to go see it, Raytheon is taking the time to promote its US Army-funded exoskeleton suit. Originally funded under a 7-year, $75 million DARPA program, the suite has now gone on to the next stage under a 2-year, $10 million follow-on Army grant:
The problem they’re trying to address is no stunt. The weight of a soldier’s equipment easily approaches 80-100 pounds, far higher than the 30 pounds recommended for maximum mobility. As we load our soldiers down with more technical gadgets, that weight tends to go up, not down. The USA and Japan are only a couple of the countries working on aspects of a mechanical exoskeleton that would give its wearers vastly improved strength and endurance. While Japanese demographic and cultural trends in particular are giving concepts like individual soldier augmentation a push, we can still expect a very long wait before we see exoskeletons that can deliver the required performance to justify their cost, can handle military conditions, and can be maintained in the field at reasonable cost. It’s far more likely that first fielding, if there is one, will involve more limited use by disabled soldiers, or be used like Cyberdyne Japan’s HAL-5 in private, para-public, and first responder roles. Raytheon release | Raytheon feature | Popular Science [PDF].Updates
April 13/17: Lockheed Martin has secured legal permission to explore the potential use of exoskeleton technology for the military market. The firm secured licensing of bionic augmentation technology from B-Temia and will incorporate it to supplement its FORTIS industrial exoskeleton project. Designed to make labor easier by transferring pressure through the exoskeleton to the ground in a process that makes heavy tools “weightless,” the system requires no external power to operate, and can boost military capabilities by enabling soldiers to carry more equipment over longer distances. The product can be used in standing or kneeling positions, and uses a tool arm to reduce muscle fatigue and boost productivity.
US Navy Frigates May Get Upgraded Air Def Capabilities | Fire Scout UAV Tested Aboard LCS | UAC to Provide MiG-29M/M2 Aircraft to Egypt in $2B Sale
- Lockheed Martin has won a $372 million contract modification in order to address several issues with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The US Navy contract did not specify any particular work that needed to be undertaken under the agreement, however it facilitates deficiency corrections for US operators as well as the country’s foreign military customers. Work will be carried out in Texas, California, New Hampshire, Japan and Britain, and is expected to be complete by March 2020.
- Future US Navy frigates may come with added air defense capabilities as a new study group is being commissioned to examine adding such a platform to the requirements. At present, service specifications call for a vessel to have enough surface-to-air missiles to protect itself. The new idea is to double the RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) load from 8 to 16 or having a Mark 41 Vertical Launching System loaded with eight Standard Missile-2 (SM-2). Upgunning the frigates will change the Navy designation for the ships from FF, meaning frigate, to FFG — guided missile frigates able to provide area air defense.
- General Dynamics has proven that Raytheon’s ALR-69A Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) can work on an MQ-9 UAV. The demonstration used a company-owned Predator B with the RWR stored within GA-ASI’s standard payload pod against a series of various ground-based radars. A company statement said that the new radar provided enhanced situational awareness by identifying potential radar threats to ground-based crew, and that more test demonstrations are planned that will include the aircraft flying with an integrated Link 16 data link.
- An MQ-8C Fire Scout UAV has been tested onboard a littoral combat ship (LCS) for the first time. 37 recovery evolutions were conducted onboard the USS Montgomery over the course of seven days in order to verify the MQ-8C launch and recovery procedures and test interoperability between the unmanned helicopter and the ship. A larger version of the MQ-8B, the “C” variant was given Milestone C status by the Navy earlier this month and will begin initial operational test and evaluation this fall.
- United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) President Yuri Slyusar has confirmed that the Egyptian government has bought a number of MiG-29M/M2 aircraft, with the first batch of deliveries expected for this year. As part of the $2 billion sale, Cairo will receive as many as 50 of the fighters by 2020 as well as receiving pilot training and associated equipment. Improvements on the legacy MiG-29 aircraft include design changes to the airframe, improved turbofans in the RD-33MK (which is similar in weight to the RD-33, but benefits from a higher thrust rating and full-authority digital engine control), fly-by-wire flight control system, updated avionics and Zhuk-ME pulse-Doppler radar.
- The NATO Eurofighter 2000 and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) has contracted Saab to deliver 29 units of the latest version of its BOZ-101 electronic warfare self-protection and countermeasures system for the German Air Force. The wing-mounted pod has been in use on Tornados for many years and provides pilots with early warning and missile detection capabilities while in flight. Saab’s work will be performed at its facilities in Järfälla, Sweden and Centurion, South Africa. German authorities expect deliveries to take place between 2017 and 2020.
- Leonardo believes its AW139M helicopter will suit all the requirements for the Czech Republic’s new fleet of multi-role helicopters, as Prague prepares for the release of a request for proposal (RFP). The company stated that the AW139M is “fully compliant with the [defence ministry’s] request for information and subsequent request for additional data,” which includes requirements such as being capable of carrying troops and air-to-surface weapons; including anti-tank missiles as well as being capable of flying in all weather conditions and at night. Leonardo will not disclose details of the proposed aircraft configuration ahead of RFP release, but the AW139M is also likely to feature defensive aids system equipment and countermeasures dispensers. The company has released an image of a notional fire-support-roled aircraft carrying air-to-surface missiles, guided/unguided rocket pods, a pod-housed gun and an electro-optical/infrared sensor payload.
- India is looking to secure long-term ammunition supply contracts with local private industry worth $3 billion over ten years. The initiative aims to encourage capital investments by private sector companies in ammunition manufacturing facilities as India struggles with critical ammunition shortages — of the total 170 types of ammunition, there is a shortage in 125 types. Various types of ammunition wanted by New Delhi include: 500,000 rounds of 30mm high-explosive grenades (VOG-17) for automatic grenade launchers; 125mm APFSDS-T (Armor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot — tracer) ammo for T-90 and T-72 tanks; 122mm extended-range multiple rocket launcher ammo for the BM GRAD; 23mm HEI/APIT (high-explosive incendiary/armor-piercing incendiary tracer) ammo for ZU-23 air defense guns; 30mm HEI/T (high-explosive incendiary — tracer) ammo for BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles; 40mm MGL/UBGL (multiple grenade launcher/underbarrel grenade launcher) ammo; and electronic fuzes for artillery guns.
- Sikorsky-Boeing Future Vertical Lift (FVL) concept:
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The RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) is used to protect ships from attacking missiles and aircraft, and is designed to counter supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. Compared to the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow, ESSM is effectively a new missile with a larger, more powerful rocket motor for increased range, a different aerodynamic layout for improved agility, and the latest missile guidance technology. Testing has even shown the ESSM to be effective against fast surface craft, an option that greatly expands the missile’s utility. As a further bonus, the RIM-162 ESSM has the ability to be “quad-packed” in the Mk 41 vertical launching system, allowing 4 missiles to be carried per launch cell instead of loading one larger SM-2 Standard missile or similar equipment.
This is DID’s FOCUS article for the program, containing details about the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile family, and contracts placed under this program since 1999. The Sea Sparrow was widely used aboard NATO warships, so it isn’t surprising that the ESSM is an international program. The NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and the USA – as well as non-NATO Australia. Foreign Military Sales ESSM customers outside this consortium include Japan, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
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The RIM-162 is based on the RIM-7P, but it’s a new missile in almost all respects. The ESSM is a tail-controlled missile with strakes instead of the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow’s wings and fins, using thrust vectoring to achieve a 50g maneuvering capability. ESSM also features a larger and completely new boost-only solid rocket motor (25.4 cm, 10 in diameter), a new autopilot, and a new insensitive-munition blast-fragmentation warhead. Effective range is significantly bigger than that of the RIM-7P, making ESSM a short to medium-range surface-to-air missile that fits in between “zone defense” options like the SM-2/3 and short-range point defenses like Mistral, RBS-70, RIM-116 SeaRAM, et. al.
ESSM Block I is a semi-active radar homing missile that depends on reflected radiation from the ship’s radar to see its target. Within that approach, the missile proceeds through various modes and phases. Generally speaking, there are 3 fundamentally different guidance modes used by ESSM Block I: Home All the Way (HAW), S-Band Midcourse Guidance (SB MCG), and X-Band Midcourse Guidance (XB MCG).
During Home All the Way operation, ESSM receives target illumination and rear reference for the entire flight from launch to intercept. This limits the number of missiles the ship can guide against multi-path saturation attacks, because on ships that must use HAW, limited shipboard radar resources must focus completely on one target if they focus at all. The only way to get around this limitation of the launching ship is to use missiles with active seeker heads of their own, sacrificing radar power and hence accuracy against difficult targets. ESSM Block II will begin to offer that option.
The RIM-162 missile always begins in the transition guidance mode where the missile safely exits the launcher, clears the ship’s structures, and then completes the pitch-over maneuver. At this time, the Thrust Vector Control (TVC) unit is jettisoned, and midcourse guidance begins unless it’s operating in HAW mode. For ships whose systems are advanced enough to use it, midcourse guidance allows search radars to keep track of multiple incoming missiles, offering navigation updates to each ESSM missile in the air. This lets them all remain roughly on target as they close in. SB MCG is the mode used when operating with the S-band AEGIS radar & combat system. XB MCG is the mode used with combat systems with X-band Multi-Function Radars (MFRs) like APAR, SPY-3 and CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT.
ESSM flies an energy efficient profile during midcourse guidance, switching to proportional navigation and full homing guidance from the ship during the last moments before intercept. This gives the missile maximum accuracy, while minimizing the use of limited shipboard radar resources.ESSM Variants ESSM stages
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The RIM-162A. Has an S-band uplink for SB MCG use with AEGIS-equipped ships, and is the most frequently produced version. It equips some American Arleigh Burke Class destroyers, and some Ticondergoa Class cruisers are also being modified to carry it. Foreign AEGIS ships that are slated to carry it include Japan’s Kongo Class destroyers, Norway’s Fridjhof Nansen Class frigates, Spain’s F100 Alvaro de Bazan Class frigates, and Australia’s derivative Hobart Class destroyers.
RIM-162B. A version for use on non-AEGIS ships equipped with the MK 41 Vertical Launch System; as such, it lacks the AEGIS S-band uplink. It’s used with on ships like Germany’s F124 Sachsen Class frigates and their Dutch De Zeven Provincien Class counterparts, which use advanced Thales APAR X-band radars. Australia ANZAC Class frigates being upgraded to add new CEAFAR/CEAMOUNT radars, which allow XB MCG.
The RIM-162C and RIM-162D. These are derivatives of the RIM-162B, for use with the MK 48/56 VLS and MK 29 box launchers, respectively. The UAE’s Baynunah Class corvettes, for instance, will pack the RIM-162C, fired from the MK56 8-cell vertical launchers.
US Carriers and LHD/LHA amphibious assault aviation ships pack the RIM-162D in 8-box launchers, as the USA replaces RIM-7 missiles on those platforms and builds new ships with RIM-162 ESSM.
RIM-162 Block II. This program is just beginning. Right now, it aims to define the changes needed in order to address emerging aerial threats, and assess their cost, technical risks, and potential development time. The biggest goal for Block 2 is to give the missile an active seeker option that allows independent guidance. That would make ESSM much more effective against saturation attacks, though ESSM would also retain the ability to home in on reflected radiation from the ship’s much larger and more powerful radar. The bottom line is simple: as more competitors are fielded with independent guidance (Raytheon SM-6, Eurosam Aster-15, MBDA Sea Ceptor, etc.), ESSM needs to keep up.
Older ships will find active guidance especially useful, but even some newer ships could benefit in certain scenarios. So can a wholly different class of equipment…
Go to Ground. A different change involves work to make the RIM-162 a ground-based air defense option. Norway’s Kongsberg is leading the way integrating ESSM missiles into both its AMRAAM-based NASAMS system, and into older MIM-23 Hawk missile systems that are still used by 17 countries. Raytheon is even working with Poland’s WZU to convert old Russian-built SA-6 systems into modern ESSM launchers, with the addition of new missile canisters, radars, etc. If they succeed at that, it could open up a big market.
ESSM Block II’s active guidance will be especially helpful to land-based air defense systems, which are constantly under threat from enemy missiles, rockets, etc. Air defense systems can foil some radar-killing missiles by intermittently shutting off their radars. They can also use transmitted results from other search radars, while depending on their own active seeker missiles to handle target tracking once they get close.
Countries that already deploy naval ESSM and ground-based NASAMS systems include the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain. Countries that already deploy both naval ESSM and ground-based Hawk missiles in their militaries include Greece, Spain, Turkey, and the UAE. Countries like Morocco, which deploys advanced Hawk missiles, or Finland, which adopted an AMRAAM based system as its main air defense option, may also find diversification into ESSM appealing.ESSM Program: The USA, and Beyond
Under the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium, Raytheon’s Missile Systems business unit is leading a team of 18 companies from 10 countries (as of late 2002) in developing and producing various aspects of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile system. Different launch platforms and configurations mean that only some of these components are common for all customers. One aspect that makes the ESSM program unusual is that the design responsibility for each sub-system is vested in the industrial partner producing it, rather than at the prime contractor level.
The average cost per missile varies slightly with annual production, but seems to be consistently in the $1.3 – 1.5 million range.
Note that Mitsubishi Electric Corporation also has a final assembly line, under a 2012 license-production agreement with Raytheon. The international program’s full timeline follows:Related systems
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Unless otherwise noted, contracts are issued by the US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC to Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ. Fiscal years are by US fiscal year, which ends on September 30th.
Note that ORDALT stands for ORDnance ALTeration. It usually means that a ship which had been configured to carry RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles is having those launch systems swapped out for the RIM-162 ESSM package.FY 2016-2017
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April 12/17: Future US Navy frigates may come with added air defense capabilities as a new study group is being commissioned to examine adding such a platform to the requirements. At present, service specifications call for a vessel to have enough surface-to-air missiles to protect itself. The new idea is to double the RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Missile (ESSM) load from 8 to 16 or having a Mark 41 Vertical Launching System loaded with eight Standard Missile-2 (SM-2). Upgunning the frigates will change the Navy designation for the ships from FF, meaning frigate, to FFG — guided missile frigates able to provide area air defense.
May 13/16: Raytheon Missile Systems has been awarded a $76 million contract from the US Navy for long lead support for the production of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) Block I. The procurement will last for fiscal years 2016, 2017 and 2018. The ESSM program is an international cooperative effort to design, develop, test, and procure ESSM missiles for the US Navy and the governments of Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and Norway as part of the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium.
November 2/15: November 2/15: Thailand has been cleared by the State Department to buy RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles. The potential deal is estimated to value $26.9 million, including canisters and other auxiliary equipment. The Royal Thai Navy became the thirteenth ESSM customer in January 2013, with the country signing a letter of acceptance with prime contractor Raytheon following a DSCA request in August 2012.FY 2014 – 2015
Nov 14/14: Support. BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services Inc. in Rockville, MD receives an $8.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, exercising Option Year 1 for a NATO Seasparrow Consortium support contract. It covers the RIM-162 ESSMs, RIM-7P NATO Seasparrows, the Stalker long range electro-optical sensor suite, and day-to-day office operation in support of the 12 nation consortium. $4 million in FY 2015 US Navy and international funds is committed immediately.
Work will be performed in Arlington, VA (90%), and Chesapeake, A (10%), and is expected to be complete by October 2015 (N00024-14-C-5404).
Sept 30/14: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, receives a $10.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for FY 2014 ESSM spares, on behalf of the United States (94.75%), and the governments of the United Arab Emirates (2.77%), and Japan (2.48%), under the Foreign Military Sales program. $9.5 million in FY 2014 US Navy and international funds is committed immediately.
Work will be performed in Grand Rapids, MI (16%); Mississauga, ON, Canada (14%); Canton, NY (13%); Elmadag, Turkey (11%); McKinney, TX (8%); Ottobrunn, Germany (7%); Koropi Attica, Greece (7%); Raufoss, Norway (6%); Tucson, AZ (5%); Salem, NH (4%); Cincinnati, OH (3%); Melville, NY (2%); Brockton, MA (1%); Andover, MA (1%); Greensboro, NC (1%); and Richmond, VA (1%), and is expected to be complete by October 2016 (N00024-13-C-5409).
Sept 26/14: Launchers. Raytheon IDS in Portsmouth, RI receives a $12.1 million contract modification for FY 2014 NATO Seasparrow Surface Missile Systems (NSSMS) MK 57 MOD 13 and Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) MK 29 MOD 4/5. The upgraded MK57 NSSMS integrates commercial off-the-shelf hardware for processing and displays, state-of-the-art microprocessors for signal processing, and new solid-state transmitter technology. The result is an open system that integrates seamlessly with the SSDS combat system, optimizing the detect-to-engage capabilities with the advanced ESSM. The MK 29 is also a valid launch platform. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy budgets.
Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete by July 2016 (N00024-13-G-5413).
May 9/14: Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $30.9 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for MK 698 Guided Missile Test Sets with Evolved Seasparrow Missile and Standard Missile test capability, upgrade kits, installation kits, repair tool kits, associated spares and technical support. This contract includes Foreign Military Sales to Australia and the Netherlands (100%).
The MK 698 GMTS is common to the RIM-162 ESSM and RIM-67 SM-2 Standard, and has also been used with the RAM missile.
$22.5 million in FY 2013 Navy procurement, foreign funding, and NATO Seasparrow Consortium funding is committed immediately. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (86%), Australia (10%), and the Netherlands (4%), and is expected to be complete by December 2016. NAVSEA in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024 13 C-5409).
March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. ESSM buys are dropping slightly each year vs. the FY 2014 plan, in parallel with a steady rise in R&D spending as work begins on ESSM Block II with its active seeker head. Average cost per missile remains in the $1.4 – 1.5 million range through 2019.
See the chart above for full figures.
Oct 31/13: BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services in Rockville, MD receives a $21.7 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for major production and in-service efforts such as the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System, Stalker Long Range Electro-Optical Sensor Suite and day-to-day office operation in support of the 12 nations that comprise the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium. This is a follow-on, continuing efforts that were performed under contract N00024-08-C-5404. $2.7 million are committed immediately.
This contract was not competitively procured based upon International Agreement IAW 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(4). US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington DC manages the contract (N00024-14-C-5404).FY 2013
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May 14/13: Testing. Raytheon announces that an ESSM missile successfully destroyed a high-diving, supersonic threat during a recent firing from the U.S. Navy’s Self-Defense Test Ship.
The short warning time from low-altitude flight, and violent maneuvering at the end, make this a challenging target profile. That challenge, and the added damage done by blasting through lightly-armored decks toward the ship’s keel, is why a number of supersonic anti-ship missiles use this approach. Sources: Raytheon, “ESSM intercept of high-diving threat proves expanded defensive capability”.
Jan 14/13: Thailand. Initial order, as Raytheon announces a Letter of Offer and Acceptance with the U.S. government for 9 ESSMs, making them the 13th country to order the missile.
Per the Aug 8/12 DSCA request, below, these ESSMs are destined for the 8-cell MK.41 vertical launchers on Thailand’s 2 Naresuan Class frigates, which are currently undergoing overhauls and upgrades. By using the MK 25 Quad Pack canisters, each ship could carry up to 32 RIM-162s, but Thailand’s initial order looks set to fit only 1 VLS cell on each ship, plus 1 spare. Raytheon.
Jan 17/13: DOT&E testing. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The ESSM is included tangentially, under the SSDS combat system:
“The CVN-68 ship class [DID: Nimitz Class aircraft carriers] combat system continues to have several problems that hinder it from successfully completing the ship self-defense mission. Specific problems include deficiencies in weapon employment timelines, sensor coverage, system track management, and NATO ESSM performance [emphasis DID’s], as well as deficiencies with the recommended engagement tactics for use against multiple ASCM [DID: Anti-Ship Cruise Missile] threat classes.”
They aren’t more specific, for understandable reasons, but DOT&E’s recommendations include: “Develop combat system improvements to increase the likelihood that ESSM and RAM [DID: RIM-116 short-range air defense missile] will home on their intended targets.”
Dec 27/12: Production. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $226.8 million firm-fixed-price, multi-year contract, covering FY 2013 – 2015 ESSM production, with options that could raise it to $259.9 million. $45.2 million is committed immediately, and just $139,772 will expire on Sept 30/13. The contract total appears to support an initial plan of about 250-260 missiles.
This contract combines purchases for the US Navy (83.47%); NATO Sea Sparrow consortium members Australia (1.13%); Denmark (1.42%); Canada (2.87%); Germany (2.36%); Norway (0.60%); Greece (1.37%); Netherlands (2.29%); Spain (0.04%); and Turkey (0.84%); plus foreign sales to Japan (0.08%); and Thailand (3.53%).
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (19%); Norway (13%); Germany (11%); Australia (10%); Canada (9%); Andover, MA (7%); The Netherlands (6%); San Jose, CA (4%); Spain (4%); Greece (3%); Camden, AR (3%); McKinney, TX (3%); Turkey (2%); Beverly, MA (1%); Minneapolis, MN (1%); Reston, VA (1%); Cincinnati, OH (1%); Cheshire, CT (1%); and Denmark (1%) and is expected to be complete by September 2016. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c)(1), by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-13-C-5409). See also Arizona Daily Star.
Dec 27/12: 2013 support. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $140 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for calendar year 2013 work as ESSM’s Design Agent, plus in-service support, technical engineering support services, and work on RIM-162 Block 2 risk reduction. Options could raise this contract to $237 million. This contract combines:
- Evolved Sea Sparrow Design Agent Services for the US Navy (77%), Australia (19%), and Denmark (4%).
- ESSM Block II Risk Reduction Support for the USS Navy (25%), Australia (33%), Canada (22%), and Norway (20%).
- In-Service Support and Technical Engineering Support Services for the US Navy (32%), Australia (17%), Canada (15%), Germany (11%), The Netherlands (6%), Norway (5%), Turkey (5%), Denmark (3%), Greece (4%), and Spain (2%).
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (90.65%); Germany (2.55%); Norway (2.11%); Australia (1.53%); The Netherlands (1.36%); Canada (0.68%); Spain (0.42%); Turkey (0.30%); Denmark (0.28%); and Greece (0.12%) and is expected to be complete by December 2013. $13 million is committed immediately, with the rest to follow as required. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c)(1), by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-13-C-5410).
2013 supportFY 2012
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Sept 4/12: ESSM swap on SA-6s? The MSPO 2012 show has an interesting display, courtesy of Raytheon and Poland WZU: a 2K12 Kub/ SA-6 “Gainful” launcher, modified to incorporate 4 RIM-162 ESSM launch canisters instead of the Russian missiles. Raytheon is building upon on the successful May 2012 Norwegian tests, involving a NASAMS launcher and the HAWK XXI High-Power Illuminator (HPI) radar. The modified “Pelican” launch vehicle is a useful step, but the team will have to either let the ESSM work with the system’s Russian radars, or (more likely) create a mobile radar system refit that uses a modern system like NASAMS’ AN/AMPQ-64F1 Improved Sentinel.
Poland is looking to modernize its national air defense system at all levels, and Raytheon hopes to offer a unique, low-cost solution for mid-tier air defense. If the team succeeds, Poland isn’t the only NATO country with Soviet equipment and an interest in air defense modernization. The SA-6 was widely deployed beyond the Warsaw Pact, which could create a very interesting market niche for Raytheon’s SL-AMRAAM/ ESSM solutions. Army Recognition.
Aug 8/12: Thai request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Thailand’s request to buy an initial lot of 9 RIM-162 ESSM missiles, 3 MK25 Quad Pack canisters to fit into a Mk41 Vertical Launch System, 4 MK783 shipping containers; plus spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.
The prime contractors will be Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ and BAE Systems in Aberdeen, SD. The estimated cost is up to $18 million.
The proposed FMS case includes support equipment, training and technical assistance required for the Royal Thai Navy to effectively incorporate the ESSM into its fleet. Which is a very interesting story all by itself. After a poor initial experience buying Chinese Type 053H2 Jianghu-III frigates, improved Thai familiarity and Chinese processes led Thailand to place a follow-on order for 2 stretched Type 053 frigates later in the decade. HTMS Naresuan and HTMS Taksin were very different, however, in that they had western systems on board. Recent upgrades give them an array not seen on any other Chinese ships: Thales radars, Saab’s 9LV combat system and datalinks, BAE’s 127mm naval gun, Boeing’s RGM-84 Harpoon missiles, and an American 8-cell Mk41 vertical launch system intended to host 32 ESSM missiles. The missiles and packs noted above appear to be test articles, and once the upgrades are all tested, the 3,000t Naresuan Class will become the Royal Thai Navy’s most advanced ships.
Aug 2/12: #2,000. Raytheon announces that they’ve delivered the 2,000th Evolved SeaSparrow Missile to the NATO SeaSparrow Consortium, and expect continued production past 2017. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon Evolved SeaSparrow program delivers 2,000th missile”.
July 9/12: NASAMS firing. Raytheon announces that the Royal Norwegian Air Force has successfully fired ESSM from a Norwegian NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air-Missile System) launcher, which usually fired AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. The risk-reduction firing event used the NASAMS Fire Distribution Center (FDC) and launcher, but ESSM Block I also needs a radar to illuminate the target for guidance. Kongsberg and Raytheon used the Hawk air defense system’s High-Power Illuminator radar (q.v. May 2012) for that purpose.
During the test at the Andoya Rocket Range in Northern Norway, the ESSM intercepted and destroyed its aerial target. NASAMS has now fired AIM-120 AMRAAMs with active seeker heads, shorter-range infrared guided AIM-9X missiles, and ESSM Block I with its semi-active seeker head. ESSM Block I, in turn, has now demonstrated compatibility with Hawk XXI and NASAMS. Sources: Raytheon, “Norway fires first ground-based Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile from NASAMS launcher”.
Land firing: NASAMS
May 2012: Onto land. The United States Security Assistance Management Directorate, Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF), Raytheon, and Kongsberg co-operate to test-fire a RIM-162 ESSM missile from a Hawk XXI air defense system. The missile successfully engaged its air target at the Andoya Rocket Range in Norway. Kongsberg makes the point that:
“…HAWK system is deployed by 17 nations worldwide. The ESSM ground launched missile will enhance HAWK’s capability and provide operators with an in-production replacement missile.”
That’s an attractive offer, but the Hawk version required for that level of compatibility is fielded only by Morocco, South Korea, Romania & Turkey. Other Hawk customers could choose to perform a similar upgrade, of course, which involves an almost complete switch of radar and control systems. The selling point would be continued use of their MIM-23 Hawk missiles, with new electronics that are easier to maintain and replace, combined with “future-proofed” options to launch AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM and RIM-162 missiles. For existing NASAMS customers, it’s a much more straightforward upgrade that lets them mix and match AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles with shorter range Sidewinders and longer-range RIM-162 ESSMs. Kongsberg | Raytheon | Raytheon Technology Today | Video. See also June 22/11 entry.
Land firing: Hawk XXI
Jan 10/12: Japan. Raytheon announces a 2-year Direct Commercial Sale contract to provide Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) the components and assemblies necessary to license-build ESSMs for the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Licensed production will take place at MELCO’s facility in Japan.
They announce it as part of a pair of orders totaling $212.8 million, and the numbers and dates strongly suggest that the other contract is the Sept 30/11 entry, below. That would value the MELCO license-production contract at $68.9 million.
Dec 22/11: A $26.7 million contract modification for calendar year 2012 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) production support. That includes missile improvement, support equipment improvement, software engineering and improvement, reliability monitoring, system safety monitoring, quality assurance, risk management, test equipment, parts control, obsolete materials, manufacturing qualification, logistics impacts, and other activities needed to support the engineering of an effective ESSM for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium.
The United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates will fund the effort under this contract modification. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Australia (11%); Andover, Mass. (10%); Germany (8%); Canada (7%); the Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); Camden, Ark. (2%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%); and is expected to be complete by December 2012 (N00024-07-C-5432).FY 2011
Annual order & support; Block 2 studies.
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Sept 30/11: The FY 2011 order for ESSMs commits just $15.6 million, but the core contract modification has a maximum of $143.9 million, and options could bring the cumulative value to $177 million. This includes RIM-162 missiles, associated shipping containers, and spares. This contract action combines purchases for the US Navy (27.9%, $40.1M), and the governments of Australia (32.2% $46.3M), Denmark (29.8%, $42.9M), Germany (4.2%, $6.0M), Norway (3.4%, $4.9M), Greece (0.8%, $1.2M) and Canada (0.6%, $863k) under the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium, plus Foreign Military Sales to Japan (1.1%, $1.6M).
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Australia (11%); Andover, MA (10%); Germany (8%); Canada (7%); Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); Camden, Ark. (2%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%); and is expected to be complete by August 2014. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N00024-07-C-5431).
Aug 30/11: Australia’s government gives both 1st pass and 2nd pass approval to an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Upgrade program, also known as SEA 1352 Phase 1A. It will begin with an A$20 million to the NATO Sea Sparrow Project Office, to conduct the study to develop an upgraded ESSM, the “RIM-162 Block 2,” that can replace the current production “Block 1” missiles currently serving on Australia’s upgraded FFG-7 Adelaide Class, and on its ANZAC Class frigates.
Australia’s DoD says that this multinational study is meant to look at emerging aerial threats, and figure out what kind of performance, and hence cost and risk, might be needed to counter them. The NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium would then have to consider cost targets and associated performance tradeoffs, before finalizing a design, and paying for system development. Once that’s complete, Australia can choose to order upgrades, or new missiles, depending on what makes the most sense.
From an operational point of view, it will be some time before this new weapon is deployed to sea. When it does, the Royal Australian Navy plans to begin by installing the RIM-162 Block 2 as the primary air defense weapon aboard its (probably-upgraded) ANZAC frigates, and as the second-tier air defense weapon on its Hobart Class air defense ships, behind the SM-2/SM-6. The total cost of Project SEA 1352 Phase 1 is cost capped between A$ 1-2 billion in current the Public Defence Capability Plan.
Block 2 study
June 22/11: Onto land. At the 2011 Paris Air Show, Raytheon announces that the ESSM will follow its larger SM-3 counterpart onto dry land as an air defense option. It won’t take on ballistic missiles like the SM-3, but it becomes a serious medium range competitor against options like SLAMRAAM and even Patriot, while offering more commonality for countries already using the ESSM at sea.
April 11/11: Industrial. Raytheon announcesthat the firm delivered 366 ESSM missiles in 2010, more than doubling 2009’s total, while still using an international manufacturing base.
Feb 21/11: UAE. UAE’s The National reports on Raytheon’s industrial offset commitments, which are attached to the UAE’s 2008 Patriot missile buy (vid. Dec 17/08 entry). The firm is waiting for the UAE’s Offset Program Bureau to approve 2 new facilities:
- A joint venture with Abu Dhabi Ship Building to build an intermediate level maintenance facility for missiles used by the UAE Navy, incl. Raytheon’s RIM-116 RAM and RIM-162 ESSM ship defense missiles.
- A 3 way joint-partnership with Lockheed Martin and Emirates Advanced Investment’s Global Aerospace Logistics, to build a consolidated maintenance facility for Patriot missiles. Since The UAE ordered both PAC-2 GEM and PAC-3 missiles, both Lockheed and Raytheon need to participate.
Feb 18/11: A $57.2 million contract modification for Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) production support and technical engineering tasks needed to support missile production, but which are not directly associated with the manufacture of missile hardware for the NATO Sea Sparrow consortium and the United Arab Emirates. These tasks include missile improvement, support equipment improvement, software engineering and improvement, reliability monitoring, system safety monitoring, quality assurance, risk management, test equipment, parts control, obsolete materials, manufacturing qualification, logistics impacts, and other activities.
The NATO Sea Sparrow consortium will fund the effort. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%), Australia (11%), Andover, MA (10%), Germany (8%), Canada (7%), The Netherlands (6%), Norway (5%), Spain (3%), Camden, AR (2%), Denmark (1%), Greece (1%), and Turkey (1%).FY 2010
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Aug 11/10: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $36.1 million contract modification (N00024-05-C-5346) for mission systems equipment (MSE) that will be used on the US Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship, in support of the Anti-Air Warfare Self Defense Enterprise Test and Evaluation Master Plan. The equipment will support the DDG 1000 and CVN 78 classes of ships, which use the new Dual Band Radar.
May 26/10: A $36.7 million cost-plus fixed fee modification to the existing contract (N00024-07-C-5432) establishes a contract line item (CLI) ceiling covering ESSM production support and technical engineering from May 2010 through December 2010.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Camden, AR (2%); Andover, MA (10%); Australia (11%); Canada (7%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); Germany (8%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); and Turkey (1%). Work is expected to be complete by December 2010, and $936,401 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10.
March 26/10: A $7 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5431) for funding for savings on value engineering change proposals for warhead fairing, dual band antenna, telemetric data transmitting set, rear receiver, Unit 10 front microwave receiver, power converter, 2-piece Marmon clamp, and control section component parts of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.
Value Engineering Change Proposals allow contracts to submit proposals for reducing system costs, and keep a specified percentage of those savings. It resembles a number of successful industrial programs, including the supplier model that sparked Chrysler’s 2nd big turnaround in the late 1980s to early 1990s.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%), Camden, AR (2%), Andover, MA (10%), Australia (11%), Canada (7%), Denmark (1%), Greece (1%), Germany (8%), The Netherlands (6%), Norway (5%), Spain (3%), and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by August 2013.
Feb 1/10: The Pentagon releases its budget request for FY 2011. American RIM-162 orders tailing off somewhat, from budgeted totals of $84.6 million for 50 missiles in FY 2009, to $51.2 million for 43 missiles in FY 2010, to $48.2 million for 33 missiles requested in FY 2011.
Dec 30/09: Establishment of a contract line item (CLI) ceiling worth $13.2 million, to offer ESSM production support for January through April of calendar year 2010. Production support includes tasks needed to support missile production that are not directly associated with the manufacture of missile hardware, and this modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed fee contract combines purchases of the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium for the US Navy and the governments of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Turkey.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Camden, AR (2%); Andover, MA (10%); Australia (11%); Canada (7%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); Germany (8%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); and Turkey (1%). Work is expected to be complete by April 2010 (N00024-07-C-5432, #P00025).
Dec 18/09: Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $200.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract from the NATO Sea Sparrow consortium, covering 241 missiles and 47 shipping containers.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AR (2%); Australia (11%); Germany (8%); Canada (7%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by August 2013 (N00024-07-C-5431).
Dec 10/09: A $9.8 million modification exercising options for MK 56 tactical missiles and shipping containers, ESSM inert operational missiles and shipping containers, and auxiliary equipment to accompany them. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Camden, AR (2%); Andover, MA (10%), Australia (11%), Canada (7%), Denmark (1%), Greece (1%), Germany (8%), The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by August 2012 (N00024-07-C-5431).
The Mk56 [data sheet, PDF] is a compact vertical launch system, specifically designed for the ESSM. It is well suited to smaller ships like corvettes, or ship upgrades that face severe space constraints.FY 2009
2009 order; Support contracts; What’s an EVCP?
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Aug 20/09: A $151.6 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5431), buying 186 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, 77 shipping containers, and spares for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE will use them on its new Baynunah class corvettes. The contract includes a $210.3 million option to produce an additional 255 missiles, which would bring the total to $361.9 million and 441 missiles.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Camden, AR (2%); Andover, MA (10%), Australia (11%), Canada (7%), Denmark (1%), Greece (1%), Germany (8%), The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by August 2012. See also Raytheon release.
April 9/09: A $15.4 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-07-C-5432 for production support and technical engineering support for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM). This involves tasks needed to support missile production, which are not directly associated with the manufacture of missile hardware. These activities can include missile improvements, support equipment improvements, software engineering, reliability monitoring, system safety monitoring, quality assurance, risk management, test equipment, parts control, obsolete materials, configuration management, production verification inspection, and manufacturing qualification.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AK (2%); Australia, (11%); Germany (8%); Canada (7%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete in April 2010.
March 12/09: A $9.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5431), to incorporate something called a “Value Engineering Change Proposal (VECP).” VECPs are cost-saving ideas from industry, which may also enhance performance as a side-benefit. In an arrangement that mirrors Chrysler’s successful initiatives with its supply chain in the 1990s, contractors are rewarded by being allowed to share in some of the savings created by their accepted VECPs. This contract modification incorporates VECPs to the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles for Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Norway, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the United States.
The NATO Sea Sparrow consortium, which includes the United States and 10 other countries, will fund the effort. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Camden, AR (2%); Andover, MA (10%); Australia (11%); Canada (7%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); Germany (8%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011.
Dec 12/08: An $11.8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-5422), exercising the NATO Sea Sparrow Program Office’s FY 2009 options. This modification is a follow-on effort, which was previously performed under contract N00024-02-C-5421. The NATO Sea Sparrow consortium, which includes the United States and 12 other countries, will fund all of the effort under this modification.
Under this order, the USS Theodore Roosevelt [CVN 71] will receive 2 MK29 MOD 4 ESSM ORDALT Kits, and 4 Solid State Transmitter (SSTX) MK73 MOD 3 ORDALT Kits. That effort is part of the ship’s multi-billion dollar mid-life RCOH overhaul. This order also includes 2 more MK29 MOD 4 ESSM ORDALT Kits for use on LHD ships. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI and is expected to be complete by October 2010.
Nov 24/08: An $11.3 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-07-C-5432 for ESSM technical engineering support. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Camden, AR (2%); Andover, MA (10%); Australia (11%); Canada (7%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); Germany (8%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by November 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $349,968 will expire at the end of FY 2009.FY 2008
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June 3/08: A $16.5 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-07-C-5432 for ESSM production support. This contract action will fulfill required production support activities for FY 2008 for multiple production contracts. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (55%), Camden, AZ (2%), Australia (11%), Canada (7%), Denmark (1%), Greece (1%), Germany (8%), The Netherlands (6%), Norway (5%), Spain (3%), and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by May 2010.
This contract modification procures production support for the ESSMs for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium. Tasks under this contract include maintaining the integrity of the missile requirement and design, maintaining missile reliability, monitoring parts obsolescence, maintaining data package configuration, system safety monitoring, quality assurance, risk management, test equipment, configuration management, performance verification testing, manufacturing qualification, logistics impacts, and other activities needed to support the production of an effective ESSM missile.
May 12/08: A $21.2 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-5435) for 68 MK 20 MOD 1 Canisters and 156 MK 20 MOD 1 Frangible Covers in support of the EESSM. The MK 20 MOD 1 Canisters are for Canada. The MK 20 MOD 1 Frangible Covers are designed to keep seawater out of the canister, then break harmlessly when the missile is fired and begins rocketing out. The covers are being ordered for Canada, Netherlands and Belgium. The NATO Sea Sparrow consortium will fund this modification. Work will be performed in Hooveveen, the Netherlands, and is expected to be complete by December 2010.
May 9/08: BAE Systems Applied Technologies, Inc. in Rockville, MD received a $10 million sole source, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for engineering and technical services to the to support the NATO Sea Sparrow Program Office (NSPO) “in support of the NATO Sea Sparrow surface missile system, target acquisition system, MK48 guided missile vertical launching system, and the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) and any improvements thereto.” The contract includes 4 options which would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $46.3 million, if exercised.
Work will be performed in Arlington, VA (72%); Silver Spring, MD(12%); and Chesapeake, VA (16%), and is expected to be complete by April 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $311,845 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00024-08-C-5404). This contract is actually a follow-on effort, which was previously performed under contract (N00024-01-C-5402). The NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium, which includes the United States and 12 other countries, will fund most of the effort under this contract. A small amount of effort may be funded by Japan and Korea under Foreign Military Sales program cases.
May 9/08: Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $10.8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5432), covering technical engineering support for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium and for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Foreign Military Sales case funding will provide the funding for the UAE portion, while the NSSC will fund the remaining effort under this contract modification. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (55%); Camden, AK (2% – could they mean, Camden, AR?); Australia (11%); Canada (7%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); Germany (8%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
April 7/08: A $245.5 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5431) to procure 307 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), 163 shipping containers, and spares for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium and the United Arab Emirates.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%), Andover, MA (10%), Camden, AR, (2%), Australia (11%), Germany (8%), Canada (7%), The Netherlands (6%), Norway (5%), Spain (3%), Denmark (1%), Greece (1%), and Turkey (1%); and is expected to be complete by December 2010. This contract was not competitively procured.
Feb 22/08: A $17.8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-5422) to procure Mk 57 MOD 12/13 NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System (NSSMS) Ordnance Alteration (ORDALT) Kits, MK 73 Solid State Transmitter (SSTx) ORDALT Kits, MK 29 Guided Missile Launcher System (GMLS) Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) ORDALT Kits, and related spares for U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier (CVN), Amphibious Assault (LHA/LHD), and consortium ship installations. These kits will convert existing launchers for RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles to RIM-162 ESSM launchers. Raytheon release.
The upgraded MK57 NSSMS integrates commercial off-the-shelf hardware for processing and displays, state-of-the-art microprocessors for signal processing, and new solid-state transmitter technology. The result is an open system that integrates seamlessly with IDS’ Ship Self Defense System, optimizing the detect-to-engage capabilities with the advanced ESSM. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (23%); Andover, MA (22%); Waterloo, Canada (14%); Windber, PA (13%); Long Island, NY (15%); Dallas, TX (13%), and is expected to be complete by February 2010.FY 2007
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Sept 18/07: A $9.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5432) for ESSM technical engineering support, including tasks needed to support missile production. These tasks include missile improvement, support equipment improvement, software engineering and improvement, reliability monitoring, system safety monitoring, quality assurance, risk management, test equipment, parts control, obsolete materials, logistics impacts, and other activities or the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AR (2%); Australia (11%); Germany (8%); Canada (7%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%). This modification combines support for the U.S. Navy/NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium (99%), and the United Arab Emirates (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales program.
Sept 11/07: Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $22.5 million firm-fixed-price modification to procure 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM) and 40 shipping containers, under a Foreign Military Sales case with the United Arab Emirates and for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium. This modification procures ESSMs for the United Arab Emirates’ Baynunah Class corvettes, and containers for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium.
FMS Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AR (2%); Australia (11%); Germany (8%); Canada (7%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be completed by February 2010 (N00024-07-C-5431).
UAE initial buy
Aug 20/07: Australia. The Australian Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigate HMAS Sydney fires an ESSM against a Kalkara unmanned airborne target, destroying it. The missile was launched from a new Vertical Launch System, which was recently installed in HMAS Sydney as part of Australia’s FFG Upgrade Program. The firing was supported by the Australian Distributed Architecture Combat System (ADACS) software, developed and delivered by Thales Australia. The FFG Upgrade Project is scheduled for completion in December 2009.
This Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile firing is the first from an FFG-7 class frigate, which presumably uses the RIM-162B missile and homing all the way guidance. Australian DoD announcement & photos.
June 27/07: A $223 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5431) to procure 294 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (RIM-162 ESSM), 68 shipping containers, and spares for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (45%); Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AK (2%); Australia (11%); Germany (8%); Canada (7%); The Netherlands (6%); Norway (5%); Spain (3%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); Turkey (1%), and is expected to be complete by February 2010. The contract was not competitively procured.
May 30/07: Raytheon announces that it has worked with the U.S. Navy and successfully completed the first test of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile’s improved surface-to-surface capability against surface threats. It was also an at-sea firing of the ESSM using the MK 57 MOD 12 fire control system that marked the first Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile firing from the MK 29 MOD 4, 8-cell trainable launcher that is being installed on U. S. Navy aircraft carriers and select L-Class ships, and the first at-sea demonstration of the MK 57 MOD 12/13 and its MK 73 MOD 3 solid-state transmitter to support Evolved Sea Sparrow.
The surface-to-surface improvements to Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile’s capability were implemented completely through changes to the missile’s software. This software improvement was co-developed by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA, and Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ. Additional surface-to-surface firings are scheduled later this year from the Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship (formerly USS Paul F. Foster [DD 964]) and from a Dutch frigate. Raytheon release | SpaceWar.
May 25/07: Japan. Raytheon announces an agreement with representatives of Mitsubishi Electric Company (MELCO) that will allow both companies to cooperatively explore global market opportunities in naval radars and combat systems. The release adds that:
“The agreement extends a relationship into new markets that has existed for more than 40 years between the two businesses. MELCO is already the licensed producer for some Raytheon systems, including HAWK, Sea Sparrow, ESSM, and Patriot.”
March 5/07: A $23.7 million, cost-reimbursement contract for long lead material in support of FY 2007 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) production. The components will be used in production for some NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium countries (Australia, Canada, Germany, Greece, Norway, Spain, USA) and Foreign Military Sales customers (the United Arab Emirates).
Work will be performed in Australia (26%); The Netherlands (25%); Spain (19%); Tucson, AZ, USA (12%); Norway (6%); Greece (4%); Germany (4%); Canada (2%); Denmark (1%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be completed by Feb. 2010. This contract (N00024-07-C-5431) was not competitively procured.FY 2006
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July 6/06: Lockheed Martin, Maritime Systems & Sensors (MS2) in Moorestown, NJ recveived a $30.3 million cost-plus-award-fee/cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for combat system engineering, computer program support, system integration and test, ship integration and test, staging, FMS program management, and integrated logistics support to include training and technical manuals, for the upgrade of the AEGIS Weapon System on Spanish F-100 Frigates (F101 through F104) in support of the Foreign Military Sales Case SP-P-LFZ. This effort is a follow on to NAVSEA Contract N00024-97-C-5171 which procured the AEGIS computer program and support for the Spanish F-100 AEGIS Combat System program.
The new effort described herein is the upgrade to the AEGIS Computer Program to include the addition of Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) and SM-2 BLK IIIB functionalities. Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (85%), and Spain (15%), and is expected to be complete by December 2008. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-06-C-5113).
April 28/06: ORDALT. A $21.5 million letter contract to procure Mk 57 Mod 12/13 NATO Sea Sparrow Surface Missile System (NSSMS) ordnance alteration (ORDALT) kits, MK 73 solid state radar transmitter ORDALT kits, MK 29 guided missile launcher system Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) ORDALT kits, and related spares for Navy aircraft carrier and amphibious assault ship installations.
Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (60%); Long Island, NY (20%); and Waterloo, Canada (20%), and is expected to be complete by June 2008. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-06-C-5422).
These upgrades appear to improve capabilities on these ships, allowing Ship Self Defense System Mk 2 combat systems and Mk 57 NSSMS on-board hardware to be capable of mounting and fully using ESSM missiles. The core of the NSSMS consists of the Mk 91 Guided Missile Fire Control System (GMFCS), and the Mk 29 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS).
The Mk 73 is the focus of the US navy’s Solid State Continuous Wave Illuminator Transmitter upgrade program. This will allow the solid state Mk73 radar to illuminate targets for the Standard Missile family (SM1-3), the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Missile, and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).
The GMFCS Mk 91 is a computer-operated fire control system that provides automatic acquisition and tracking of a designated target, and generates launcher and missile orders. In automatic mode, it can initiate firing as soon as a target can be engaged, albeit with operator intervention and override at any time.
The GMLS Mk 29 is a swiveling, lightweight 8-box launching system, and associated electronics. On many ships, it still contains the old RIM-7 Sparrow series, which is much less capable than ESSM.
Feb 9/06: A $21.4 million firm-fixed-price modification under a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5482) to exercise options for additional missiles and shipping containers to satisfy FY 2006 requirements. Budgeted quantities for FY 2006 are 116 missiles for a total of $98.5 million. The modification will provide 31 (ea) RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles and 22 shipping containers to satisfy FY 06 requirements for The United States.
ESSM has been a multi-national program from the start, and work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (38%), Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AZ (5%), Minneapolis, MN (1%), Australia (13%), Canada (7%), Germany (7%), Norway (7%), The Netherlands (6%), Spain (3%), Denmark (1%), Greece (1%), and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be completed by October 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract.
Dec 22/05: a $152.5 million firm fixed price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-05-C-5482, to procure 198 (ea) RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), 59 (ea) shipping containers and spares for the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium. This modification procures ESSMs for Germany, Greece, Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, Norway, and the United States. The NATO Sea Sparrow consortium will fund the effort.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (38%); Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AR (5%); Minneapolis, MN (1%); Australia (13%); Canada (7%); Germany (7%); Norway (7%); The Netherlands (6%); Spain (3%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be completed by October 2008. Raytheon release.
2006 orderFY 2002 – 2005
Full-Rate Production approved; 2005 order; Australia’s ANZAC frigates add ESSM.
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May 5/05: A $162.8 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5482) to procure 251 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM), 38 shipping containers and spares for the NATO Sea Sparrow consortium.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (38%); Andover, MA (10%); Camden, AR (5%); Minneapolis, MN (1%); and the countries of Australia (13%); Canada (7%); Norway (7%); Germany (7%); The Netherlands (6%); Spain (3%); Denmark (1%); Greece (1%); and Turkey (1%), and is expected to be completed by October 2007. Raytheon release.
March 4/05: Japan ORDALT. A $12.7 million firm fixed price contract upgrades to modify existing Japanese MK 48 vertical launch units to launch more modern Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM). The contract provides for Ordnance Alteration (ORDALT) support and test equipment, updated technical documentation, training, and associated material, in support of the Government of Japan under the Foreign Military Sales program.
Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (60%) and Sudbury, MA (40%), and is expected to be completed by July 2007. It was not competitively procured (N00024-05-C-5483).
Aug 5/04: Sub-contractors. Raytheon Australia announces that it is recognizing Australian radar technology company CEA Technologies for outstanding achievement in the NATO Sea Sparrow Program. The focus is CEA’s G710386-1 Waveform Synthesizer, a Stable Master Oscillator providing the main reference signal for Raytheon’s Mk 73 Solid State Continuous Wave Illuminator Transmitter upgrade program. This allows the solid state Mk73 radar to illuminate targets for the Standard Missile family (SM-1/2), the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow Missile, and the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).
CEA has produced over 90 Waveform Synthesizer units for Raytheon as of this release, with further orders in the pipeline.
July 6/04: Advanced Technology & Research Corp. in Burtonsville, MD received a $15 million ceiling cost-plus fixed-fee completion, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for research & development technical, engineering and analytical support services in the program areas of Continuous Rod Warhead, Assault Breaching Systems, Thermobaric Warhead and Evolved Sea Sparrow. The task areas include the following: weapon shipboard systems, weapons effects tests, submarine and surfaces survivability, warheads, energetic-material devices and delivery systems, design/analyze and optimize projectiles, evaluate performance of explosives and other energetic materials.
Work will be performed in Carderock, MD, Dalhgren, VA, and Indian Head, MD, and is expected to be complete by July 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured and advertised on the Internet, with 1 offer received by the Naval Sea Systems Command, Indian Head Division in Indian Head, MD (N00174-04-D-0012).
April 20/04: A $6.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-5473), exercising an option for FY 2004 ESSM production support. Raytheon and a consortium of European participating companies were funded for the Low-Rate Initial Production of the ESSM and associated production support.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (35.7%); Andover, MA (8.9%); Camden, AR (2.9%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Australia (12%); Germany (10%); The Netherlands (9%); Toronto, Canada (7%); Norway (4%); Spain (3%); Denmark (2%); Greece (2%) and Turkey (2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2004.
March 17/04: A $5.5 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for final development, qualification, and shock and vibration testing of the MK 29 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) Ordnance Alteration (ORDALT).
Work will be performed in Sudbury, MA (51%) and Portsmouth, RI (49%), and is expected to be complete by May 2005. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-04-C-5455).
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Jan 12/04: The Honorable John J. Young, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research and Development, approves the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) to enter into full rate production. The USS Chaffee (DDG-90) is the first ship to receive tactical rounds in February 2007.
Full Rate Production
Oct 28/03: A $6.4 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-5473), exercising an option to fund FY 2004 ESSM production support.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (35.7%); Andover, MA (8.9%); Camden, AR (2.9%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Australia (12%); Germany (10%); The Netherlands (9%); Toronto, Canada (7%); Norway (4%); Spain (3%); Denmark (2%); Greece (2%) and Turkey (2%), and is expected to be complete by January 2005.
May 2/03: A $6.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-5473), exercising an option to fund FY 2003 production support for the ESSM program. This procurement supports the funding for the countries of Australia (24%), Germany (19%), The Netherlands (18%), Canada (14%), Norway (7%), Spain (6%), Denmark (5%), Turkey (4%) and Greece (3%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (35.7%); Andover, MA (8.9%); Camden, AR (2.9%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Australia (12%); Germany (10%); The Netherlands (9%); Toronto, Canada (7%); Norway (4%); Spain (3%); Denmark (2%); Greece (2%); and Turkey (2%) and is expected to be complete by January 2004.
Jan 30/03: Australia test. Managing Director of Raytheon Australia Mr Ron Fisher today congratulated the Royal Australian Navy on its landmark firing of an Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) from HMAS Warramunga. In the Raytheon Australia release, Mr Fisher said: “This missile launch from an ANZAC Class frigate was a first-of-class firing for the RAN and follows the first ever firing from a surface combatant, USS SHOUP (DDG 86) in July last year.”
Oct 31/02: A $6.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-5473), exercising an option for FY 2003 production support for the ESSM. Raytheon Co. and a consortium of Canadian, Australian and European participating companies were funded under this contract for the Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of the ESSM. This procurement funds the U.S. Navy’s share of the FY 2003 production support effort associated with the production of the ESSM.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (35.7%); Andover, MA (8.9%); Camden, AR (2.9%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Australia (12%); Germany (10%); The Netherlands (9%); Toronto, Canada (7%); Norway (4%); Spain (3%); Denmark (2%); Greece (2%) and Turkey (2%) and is to be completed by January 2004.
Dec 3/02: Raytheon announces a $118.7 million contract from the U.S. Navy for the second year of low-rate initial production of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM). This award includes funding for 163 all-up-round missiles. Raytheon also has been awarded a $6 million contract for ESSM radome production. Raytheon release.FY 2002 and earlier
1st production order; 1st production missile delivered; 1st USN firing from VLS.Multinational ESSM
Sept 4/02: 1st delivery. Raytheon delivers the first production Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) to the U.S. Navy.
July 23/02: 1st VLS launch. A Raytheon ESSM is successfully launched for the first time from a Mk41 Vertical Launch System aboard the Arleigh Burke Class AEGIS destroyer USS Shoup [DDG 86], destroying the incoming target at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division sea range near Point Mugu, CA. The closure rate between the missile and the target, a BQM-74, approached Mach 3. In Raytheon’s release, Capt. Ken Graber, the NATO Sea Sparrow program manager, said:
“This was the first ESSM firing from an AEGIS destroyer, first firing from a Mk41 at sea, first firing using a U.S. Navy crew, first ESSM firing using AEGIS Baseline-6 Phase III, and demonstrates ESSM is ready for the OPEVAL firings planned for the second quarter of next year from this same ship…”
Gary Hagedon, Raytheon’s ESSM program manager, added that:
“This test, in conjunction with the successful firings over the last six months from the Self Defense Test Ship, demonstrates ESSM is the right choice…”
July 11/02: a $6.75 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-5473), exercising an option for FY 2002 production support of the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (35.7%); Andover, MA (8.9%); Camden, AR (2.9%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Australia (12%); Germany (10%); The Netherlands (9%); Toronto, Canada (7%); Norway (4%); Spain (3%); Denmark (2%); Greece (2%) and Turkey (2%), and is to be complete by January 2004.
Nov 5/01: a $6.6 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-99-C-5473) to fund the U.S. Navy’s share of FY 2002 production support for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (35.7%); Andover, MA (8.9%); Camden, AR (2.9%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Australia (12%); Germany (10%); The Netherlands (9%); Toronto, Canada (7%); Norway (4%); Spain (3%); Denmark (2%); Greece (2%); and Turkey (2%), and is expected to be complete in January 2004.
Aug 30/01: A $212.6 million modification to previously awarded fixed-price-incentive and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This modification is for 255 NATO Evolved Sea Sparrow (ESSM) Missiles including production support and technical engineering services.
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (35.7%); Andover, MA (8.9%); Camden, AR (2.9%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Australia (12%); Germany (10%); The Netherlands (9%); Toronto, Canada (7%); Norway (4%); Spain (3%); Denmark (2%); Greece (2%); and Turkey (2%), and is expected to be complete by January 2004. This contract was not competitively awarded (N00024-99-C-5473).
March 29/01: A $7.3 million modification to previously awarded cost reimbursable contract (N00024-99-C-5473) for the procurement of the Phase III Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (48%) and Camden, AR (1%), and within NATO consortium countries Australia (12%), Denmark (9%), Greece (9%), Norway (7%), Germany (5%), The Netherlands (3%), Canada (2%), Spain (2%), and Turkey (2%), and is expected to be complete by March 2003. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract.
Oct 28/99: A $25.5 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-99-C-5473 for the fabrication of ESSM long lead material (LLM) Phase #2. This contract is a NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium involving the countries of: Australia (69.18%); Denmark (12.25%); United States (10.78%); Germany (2.09%); The Netherlands (1.98%); Canada (1.56%); Norway (0.78%); Spain (0.62%); Turkey (0.40%); and Greece (0.36%).
Work will be performed Adelaide, Australia (68.5%); Schrobenhausen, Germany (14%); Tucson, AZ (7%); Rocket City, WVA (6.1%); and Ankara, Turkey (4.4%), and is expected to be completed by October 2000. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract.
Sept 16/99: A $9.2 million cost-reimbursable contract for the fabrication of ESSM Long Lead Material Phase #1 which includes the thrust vector control and warhead components. This contract is a Royal Australian Navy (83%) and Royal Danish Navy (17%) requirement, as both nations are participants in the NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium. Funding obligated at contract award will be $6.7 million for Australia and Denmark. Work will be performed in Adelaide, Australia (68.5%); Schrobenhausen, Germany (14%); Tucson, AZ (7%); Rocket City, WVA (6.1%) and Ankara, Turkey (4.4%), and is expected to be complete by May 2002. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-99-C-5473).
- Raytheon – Products & Services: ESSM.
- Designation Systems – Raytheon RIM-162 ESSM.
- GlobalSecurity.org – RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM).
- Designation Systems –RIM-7 Sparrow series.
- NATO Sea Sparrow Consortium.
- Common Defence Quarterly – Origins of a Four Decade Success Story: NATO SeaSparrow’s founders got it right [PDF].
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A helicopter UAV is very handy for naval ships, and for armies who can’t always depend on runways. The USA’s RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle has blazed a trail of firsts in this area, but its history is best described as “colorful.” The program was begun by the US Navy, canceled, adopted by the US Army, revived by the Navy, then canceled by the Army. Leaving it back in the hands of the US Navy. Though the Army is thinking about joining again, and the base platform is changing.
The question is, can the MQ-8 leverage its size, first-mover contract opportunity, and “good enough” performance into a secure future with the US Navy – and beyond? DID describes these new VTUAV platforms, clarifies the program’s structure and colorful history, lists all related contracts and events, and offers related research materials.
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The MQ-8AB Fire Scout (see Northrop Grumman’s full 655k cutaway diagram) is based on the Schweizer 333 light commercial helicopter. Up to 3 MQ-8Bs were envisioned in a ship’s complement, if it wished to fully replace 1 H-60 Seahawk medium helicopter slot.
The 9.4-foot tall, 3,150-pound MQ-8B Fire Scout can reach speeds of up to 125 knots, and altitudes of 20,000 feet. It’s capable of continuous operations that provide coverage up to 110 nautical miles from the launch site. Flight International quotes FCS Class IV UAV program chief engineer Michael Roberts as saying that the MQ-8B’s:
“Endurance with full fuel and a baseline 55kg [120 pound] payload is more than 8h, and flight time with a 250kg payload is more than 5h, and to get more out of the engine we’ve upgraded the main rotor transmission [to be rated for 320shp continuous power, with a 5 minute emergency rating of 340shp].”
The Fire Scout’s baseline payload includes a Brite Star II chin turret with electro-optical/infrared sensors and a laser rangefinder/designator. This allows the Fire Scout to find and identify tactical targets, provide targeting data to strike platforms, track and designate targets for attack, and perform battle damage assessments. The turret could be swapped out in order to mount different sensor suites, including hyperspectral sensors, 3-D LADAR/LIDAR, etc. FLIR Systems’ Star SAFIRE III, Northrop Grumman’s Airborne Surveillance Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS), and Telephonics’ RDR-1700B/ ZPY-4 wide-area maritime scan radar have been qualified on the platform, and Arete’s DVS-1 COBRA beach mine detection system was expected to deploy on the MQ-8B.
At present, the Fire Scout is being modified to arm itself with up to 8 APKWS II laser-guided 70mm rockets, per an urgent US Navy request. The Pentagon has stopped production of the MQ-8B, so it remains to be seen whether they’ll invest in any more payloads after that. Odds aren’t good.
If they did, the MQ-8B Fire Scout could also carry gun pods, or small smart weapons like Raytheon’s Griffin-A short-range laser-guided mini-missiles, and Northrop Grumman’s own GBU-44 Viper Strike precision glide weapons. Even Lockheed Martin’s larger Hellfire II laser-guided missiles would be possible, but it would carry fewer of them than a full-size helicopter.MQ-8C: Is Bigger Better? S-100, armed
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Compared to a standard medium naval helicopter. the MQ-8B is small. On the other hand, it’s substantially bigger than its European competitors. Schiebel’s S-100 Camcompter, for instance, weighs just 250 pounds empty. It can carry up to 110 pounds of payload, distributed among belly, side, and nose stations, with a maximum takeoff weight of just 440 pounds. Over 200 have been ordered by the UAE, the Russian Coast Guard, and other customers. Saab’s Skeldar V-200 is about the same size as the Camcopter.MQ-8C test
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Instead of looking for numbers and lower-cost with a mid-tier VTUAV, however, the US Navy is pushing for larger and more expensive unmanned platforms within the Fire Scout program. The MQ-8C “Endurance Upgrade Fire Scout” is based on Bell Helicopter’s 3-ton 407 model, which serves as the base for the Iraqi Air Force’s manned IA-407 armed scout helicopters.
MQ-8C is effectively a full-sized light naval utility helicopter, with 8 hours endurance carrying a 1,250 pound payload, and a maximum underslung payload of more than 2,600 pounds. To put that in perspective, it could sling-load 10 empty Camcopters.
The MQ-8C is slated to debut with US Africa Command under an urgent operational request, with 19 purchased from FY 2012 – 2019. Uses will primarily involve Special Operations Forces, but the Navy also envisions deploying it from the Littoral Combat Ship. Fielding was slated to begin in FY 2014 – which later slipped to early FY15 – and the MQ-8C’s future is the future of the Fire Scout program. Current plans involve 96 UAVs, but that will happen only if production is restarted in FY 2020 or later.Navy MQ-8B CONOPS
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The Fire Scout program is managed by the Navy’s PMA-263 Unmanned Vehicles program office, under PEO Strike Warfare and Unmanned Aviation at Patuxent River, MD.
Fire Scout began as a Navy program in 2000, became an Army program instead, morphed into a joint Army/Navy program, then became a Navy-only program again in 2010. In 2009, the Navy cut their planned buy from 168 MQ-8B VTUAVs to 121, and by 2012 they had terminated MQ-8B production at just 23 machines.
The follow-on MQ-8C Endurance Upgrade is based on the larger Bell 407 airframe instead. The FY 2014 budget listed the potential for up to 179 MQ-8Cs after the cancellation of the MRMUAS program, but current US Navy plans reportedly involve around 119 total MQ-8s of both types: 23 MQ-8Bs and 96 MQ-8Cs. The program will extend beyond FY 2019, but the 17 MQ-8Cs ordered are as far as Pentagon budgets will plan right now:
In general, Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Development Center in Rancho Bernardo, CA manages the contract and provides engineering services. System design work on the Fire Scout is performed at Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems Western Region Unmanned Systems Development Center in San Diego, CA; while the VTUAVs are assembled at Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, MS.
The basic MQ-8B airframe is manufactured in Elmira, NY by Schweizer Aircraft Corporation. The basic MQ-8C airframe is manufactured in Mirabel, Quebec, Canada by Bell Helicopter Textron. The MQ-8B Fire Scout Industry team includes:MQ-8A firing Hydra
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The MQ-8B’s “economic production” rate was given as 10 per year, with capacity for up to 33 per year. While the eventual average unit cost of the MQ-8Bs was expected to be about $10 million in present dollars, low-rate production raises the cost for each VTUAV bought that way, since the same required fixed costs aren’t producing as many machines as they could.
That’s no longer a current issue with MQ-8B production effectively at zero, but this dynamic is worth keeping in mind during the MQ-8Cs order run. Years with production rates of at least 5 machines have a flyaway cost of around $16 million, but current plans show only one year like that: FY 2014.
The MQ-8’s initial history had it rising from the ashes like a phoenix. In January 2002, the US Department of Defense decided not to fund the RQ-8 program beyond initial test production. A year later, everything had changed. Northrop Grumman made significant improvements to usable power, payload capacity, and range; then drew attention to them by moving the vehicle near the Navy’s major test facility in Patuxent River, MD. By January 2003, the Navy had announced its intention to evaluate Fire Scout for possible deployment on the new Littoral Combat Ships, and funding was restored by Congress in July 2003.
Could the same thing happen again? Based on testing reports, it has no chance of happening to the MQ-8B, which was halted at 23 machines. The MQ-8C could still do well, and regain some momentum as a Special Operations/ Littoral Combat Ship platform, but it will have to overcome current US Navy plans.
The MQ-8B’s August 2003 selection as the US Army’s brigade-level Class IV Future Combat Systems UAV fared even worse than the Navy buy. The Army liked its ability to operate at low ground speeds, to operate in remote and unprepared landing zones, to move with the brigade, and to acquire and track targets in complex and urban terrain. Unfortunately, FCS Class IV was slowed by software and hardware (esp. JTRS radio) development delays. By February 2010, instead of having MQ-8Bs on the front lines, the US Army had only a couple of suggestive exercises using MQ-8 prototypes. Meanwhile, other VTUAV and UAV technologies had moved ahead. The US Army responded by dropping the Class IV UAV program, even before it dissolved Future Combat Systems as a whole. That’s why the MQ-8B’s eventual land deployment to Afghanistan happened in 2011 with the US Navy.
It’s said that the larger Fire-X/MQ-8C, based on a the same Bell 407 airframe that was once tapped to become the Army’s next armed scout helicopter, has attracted Army interest again. Time will tell if that turns into a commitment of any kind.Other Markets Bringing it in…
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Beyond the US Navy and Army, opportunities still beckon, but Fire Scout will have to compete.
At home, December 2006 Flight International article saw the Fire Scout as a top competitor for the US Marine Corps’ 2008-2010 (now postponed) VUAS contest, in order to replace their RQ-2 Pioneer UAVs around 2015 or so. Naval deployment and weapons integration strengths should keep the MQ-8 family around as a contender for USMC interest.
The US Coast Guard has frozen development work on its planned “Eagle Eye” tilt-rotor UAV. In its absence, the Fire Scout stands a reasonable chance of being selected as an interim or future UAV provider, though the MQ-8C’s size growth could create an opening for smaller platforms that can operate from smaller ships. So far, the US Coast Guard remains very far behind the curve on UAVs, and has only begun trialing smaller options like Boeing’s catapult-launched ScanEagle.
The MQ-8 VTUAV family has yet to attract foreign orders, though the UAE and Saudi Arabia have reportedly expressed interest. Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8s are clearly aimed at customers who want larger VTUAVs that carry either weapons or cargo, and are willing to a buy a UAV whose size allows those things.
Within that segment, Kaman & Lockheed’s K-MAX is now a fielded cargo alternative with the USMC. Boeing’s troubled A160 Hummingbird offers the lure of exceptional endurance, with a payload somewhere between the MQ-8B’s and MQ-8C’s. Boeing is also working with European firms like Thales, using its more conventional MH-6 Unmanned Little Bird. Northrop Grumman’s Fire-X beat these options for the MQ-8C Fire Scout contract, but other customers will make their own choices.
Meanwhile, Fire Scout’s much smaller Schiebel S1000 Camcopter competitor has been ordered in numbers by Jordan, Russia, and the UAE. The clear trend on the international stage is for Fire Scout to face smaller and cheaper European competitors, from the Camcopter to Saab’s Skeldar, Indra’s Pelicano, etc. The Europeans see a strong market for smaller VTUAVs to operate from remote outposts, from small ships like Offshore Patrol Vessels, and from larger naval vessels that still need to carry a full-size helicopter.
Unless otherwise noted, all announced contracts were awarded to Northrop Grumman in San Diego, CA, and/or managed by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD.FY 2015 – 2017
April 12/17: An MQ-8C Fire Scout UAV has been tested onboard a littoral combat ship (LCS) for the first time. 37 recovery evolutions were conducted onboard the USS Montgomery over the course of seven days in order to verify the MQ-8C launch and recovery procedures and test interoperability between the unmanned helicopter and the ship. A larger version of the MQ-8B, the “C” variant was given Milestone C status by the Navy earlier this month and will begin initial operational test and evaluation this fall.
October 19/16: MQ-8C Fire Scout UAVs will be supplied with Leonardo’s 2-panel Osprey AESA radar following the dismissal of a protest by rival bidderTelephonics. Five radars will be delivered to the US Naval Air Systems Command in the first financial quarter of 2017 and will be used for integration, test and evaluation on-board the Bell Helicopter 407-derived MQ-8C, and the USN holds an option to buy a larger quantity for operational use. The radar will provide only 260-degree field of view and will come equipped with air-to-air targeting mode.
September 29/16: A MQ-8B Fire Scout was used to laser designate a moving target for an AGM-114N Hellfire missile fired from an MH-60S for the first time. Conducted on September 14, the test was part of a program to use the drone as a remote designater for the helicopter to shoot moving targets . The successful Hellfire shot marks a significant milestone in the integration between Navy-manned helicopters and unmanned assets.
September 13/16: Northrop Grumman has landed a $108 million Navy contract to provide 10 MQ-8C Fire Scout drones. The unmanned system provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, target acquisition, laser designation, and battle management and can operate from any air-capable ship or land base. Delivery of the new systems will be completed by August 2019.
June 30/16: The MQ-8B deployed on board USS Coronado (LCS-4) is the first to be equipped with the new AN/ZPY-4(V)1 radar. Previously, the unmanned helicopter was fitted with the RDR-1700 maritime surveillance radar under an urgent requirement. Compared to the previous radar, the AN/ZPY-4(V)1 will increase the search area of the LCS, improving the ability to simultaneously track up to 150 targets and increase detection accuracies out to 70 nautical miles.
June 10/16: Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s new Osprey X-band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar has been selected by the US Navy for mounting on its MQ-8C VTOL unmanned aerial vehicle. Consisting of three panels for 360 degree field of regard, the Osprey contains incorporated algorithms from the company’s other radar product lines such as the Seaspray maritime search radar and Vixen air-to-air radar. This now makes it possible for the MQ-8C to function with an airborne early-warning capability while operating on small ships.
April 25/16: The USMC has borrowed a number of MQ-8C Fire Scouts from the US Navy to test how they could be operated from the amphibious assault ships. It is believed that they may want a Group 4 or 5 unmanned aerial system (UAS), which are larger and have longer range and endurance, and that are capable of conducting ISR and fires missions. At present the RQ-21 Blackjack is operated from the corps ships, but that system, a smaller Group 3 system, is launched from a small catapult and recovered by hooking onto a tether, all of which limit the payloads that can be put on the aircraft.
January 14/16: The US Navy is to have Northrop Grumman provide software sustainment services for their MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters in a contract worth $8.02 million. Northrop has been continuously advancing the capabilities of the MQ-8B since its introduction in 2006. By next year, they plan to have mine-detection sensor capabilities in coastal waters to be used in the protection of LCS class vessels.
December 2/15: Northrop Grumman has completed the three week operational assessment of the MQ-8C Fire Scout. The naval UAV took part in 11 flights, spending over 83.4 hours in the air. The MQ-8C was also tested against maritime and surveyed land targets and will begin ship based testing in the 2017 fiscal year. The Fire Scout is currently being developed for the Navy, however the program had been been adopted and dropped by both the Navy and Army in the past. With the successful tests announced, one wonders will the Army wish to jump back on board?
August 26/15: Northrop Grumman’s naval UAV the Fire Scout is completing endurance demonstrations, flitting about for 10 hours at a time.
April 16/15: The Fire Scout MQ-8C’s IOC deadline has been pushed back a year, owing principally to the limited availability of Littoral Combat Ships for testing. The first MQ-8C system was delivered to the Navy in December.
Dec 3/14: MQ-8C. Northrop Grumman announces it delivered the 1st operational MQ-8C to the US Navy. Tests are to begin this winter aboard USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) and last into the summer 2015, so operations should start a year from now if the aircraft performs as expected. Land-based tests had already taken place back in August on small sloped platforms meant to simulate at-sea take-offs and landings.FY 2014
May 12/14: MQ-8 MUT. USS Freedom [LCS 1] operates an MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV together off the coast of San Diego, CA for VBSS (visit, board, search & seizure) exercises. Flying them together doesn’t seem like much, but operating safely in the same space as a manned helicopter is something that needs to be worked out very thoroughly before it can be used operationally.
Fire Scouts can maintain longer surveillance over a target or area of interest, but these helicopter UAVs lack the total firepower and/or troop capacity of an MH-60R or MH-60S. Sources: NGC, “Northrop Grumman, US Navy Conduct Successful Simultaneous Manned, Unmanned Helicopter Flight Tests Aboard the Littoral Combat Ship”.
April 2/14: FY14 order. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., San Diego, CA, is being awarded a $43.8 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract modification for 5 MQ-8C VTUAV and 1 ground control station. Unless the line is restarted after FY 2020 begins, this is the last MQ-8C order. Including development and demonstration vehicles, NGC says they have been contracted for 19 MQ-8Cs.
All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 and 2014 US Navy aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in Dallas, TX (32%); Ozark, AL (27%); Rancho Bernardo, CA (25%); Moss Point, MS (15%); and Point Mugu, CA (1%), and is expected to be complete in December 2015. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-12-C-0059). Sources: Pentagon, NGC, “Northrop Grumman to Build Five More MQ-8C Fire Scouts for the U.S. Navy”.
March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. With respect to the Fire Scout:
“The engineering design of the MQ-8C is complete as it is based on the MQ-8B design, which appeared to be stable before halting production. The program completed operational test and evaluation of MQ-8B in December 2013 and a Quick Reaction Assessment of MQ-8C will be completed in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2014. The program plans to conduct an acquisition strategy review in the first quarter of fiscal year 2014 that assesses overall program health, including production readiness.
….a Quick Reaction Assessment is planned for MQ-8C 3 to 4 months prior to ship deployment, which is expected to be in the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. The program is planning to test the MQ-8C at-sea in 2014 on the DDG-109 and on the Littoral Combat Ship in 2015.”
March 4-11/14: Budgets. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. The MQ-8 sees a cut in buys, and in the program. While the GAO still publishes the program goal as 175, this has changed to a maximum of 119 total MQ-8Bs (23) and MQ-8Cs (96), with only 17 MQ-8Cs bought until FY 2019:
“The Navy has truncated MQ-8B procurement with the last LRIP buy in FY11. 21 of the 23 LRIP aircraft (90%) have been delivered. Once delivery is complete, the 23 aircraft will support 8 Fire Scout systems. MQ-8B airframes will continue to support maritime based ISR from FFGs, support LCS DT/OT events and LCS deployments. MQ-8B airframes will sunset through attrition…. Forty-Eight (48) systems are planned to utilize the MQ-8C air vehicle (96 air vehicles), for a total of 119 air vehicles which includes Primary Inventory, backup inventory and attrition aircraft.
….The Navy will use the MQ-8[B] system from FFGs to provide up to 1/2 orbit of support to SOF until [MQ-8Cs] are available and LCS become available through the Global Force Management Process.”
Despite the goal of 96 MQ-8Cs, FY 2015-2019 buys no VTUAVs, just ancillary equipment which includes GCS, UCARs, special payloads, shipboard TCDL [datalink] systems, and various forms of support. That means the last MQ-8C orders take place in FY 2014, and orders must wait until FY 2020 or later. Statements that key LCS systems like COBRA may move to the MH-60S fleet suggest that the MQ-8C line may not be restarted, since a stalled production line attracts little political support in times of austerity.
Big program shift
Jan 23/14: Sub-contractors. L-3 Corp. Systems West in Salt Lake City, UT receives a $17.6 million indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract modification for supplies and services associated with Littoral Combat Ship configurations of the Hawklink Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) Surface Terminal Equipment, and with Vortex Mini-TCDL Shipset components. While Hawklink is most closely associated with the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, these supplies and services are in support of the Fire Scout MQ-8B/8C.
The high definition Hawklink interface creates point-to-point Internet-equivalent connectivity between a helicopter and ships up to 100 nmi away, enabling both to publish and subscribe for information. That would allow a ship or strike group to request data from the helicopter’s sensors via its AN/SRQ-4 terminal, including sonobuoy data or real-time video, while sending other messages and data to the helicopter’s AN/ARQ-59 system. Terminals can also be configured for interoperability with several generations of CDL surface terminals deployed by the US Army, US Air Force, and American allies.
Funds will be committed as needed. Work will be performed in Salt Lake City, UT (90%), Point Mugu, CA (5%), and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, MD, (5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2014 (N00019-13-D-0001).
November 2013: India. India Strategic magazine says that the Fire Scout will be competing with Saab’s smaller Skeldar VTAUV for a shipborne VTUAV contract:
“The Navy has plans to have at least two more squadrons of UAVs to be controlled from ships to increases the range of surveillance. There are plans to introduce rotary UAVs on ships. The contenders are the Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8 Firescout with the Telephonics RDR 1700B or General Atomics Lynx radar and Skeldar from SAAB… [error deleted here]. Notably MIL-1553 specs and [other onboard systems] are looked at by the Indian Navy’s WEESE i.e. ‘Weapons, Electronic, Electrical Systems Engineering’ Group at New Delhi which has assembled the data bus for integration in to [the destroyer] INS Delhi and other class of ships.”
This is India, so it’s entirely possible that nothing will happen for many years, but the Indian Navy is very familiar with UAVs, and has been operating land-based Searcher II and Heron UAV fleets for over a decade. India’s Coast Guard has also trialed Schiebel’s S100 Camcopter, and other competitors may yet emerge. Sources: India Strategic, “Indian Navy’s Quest to employ and equip its warships with UAVs”
Nov 15/13: MQ-8B. The Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth [LCS 3] spends Nov 5-13/13 conducting testing with the MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV in the Point Mugu Test Range, CA. Fort Worth is scheduled to deploy in 2014 with “The Mad Hatters” of HSM-35, Detachment 1. The Navy’s first “composite” Air Detachment will include both a manned SH-60R helicopter and smaller MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter UAVs. Sources: USN, “USS Fort Worth Launches First UAV, Demonstrates LCS Capability”.
Nov 14/13: +3 407s. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Hurst, TX receives an $8.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for 3 Bell 407 ‘analog’ helicopters. They don’t have all the equipment you’d find in even a civil 407, because most of that gets added when they’re turned into MQ-8C Fire Scouts. All funds are committed, using the Navy’s FY 2013 procurement budget.
Work will be performed in Fort Worth, TX (52%); Mirabel, Canada (46%); and Ozark, AL (2%), and is expected to be complete in June 2014. This contract wasn’t competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-14-C-0022).
Oct 31/13: 1st MQ-8C flight. A pair of flights, actually. The 1st was just a 7-minute check-out to validate the autonomous control systems, while the 2nd was a 9-minute circuit around the airfield at at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, CA.
Meanwhile, the MQ-8B is back from Afghanistan (q.v. Aug 16/13), but the platform is also in the middle of its 7th at-sea deployment on board US Navy FFG-7 frigates. A tour aboard the USS Freedom [LCS-1] is next. Sources: NGC, Oct 31/13 release.
1st MQ-8C flightFY 2013
6 more MQ-8Cs; 1st MQ-8C delivered; MRMUAS competition canceled, which will expand Fire Scout; Just how much is the Fire Scout program expanding?; Pentagon testers say MQ-8B production stopped in 2012 – very negative review explains why.Fire-X (MQ-8C) test
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Aug 16/13: Next steps. After logging over 5,000 flight hours in Afghanistan, the Navy’s MQ-8B detachment and their contractor operators have packed up and headed home. Fire Scout program manager Capt. Patrick Smith discussed the UAV at AUVSI 2013.
Next steps for the MQ-B include a November 2013 deployment aboard USS Freedom [LCS 1], and delivery of the Telephonics ZPY-4/ RDR-1700B surface scanning radar (q.v. Dec 20/12), which has had its final delivery pushed back from June 2014 to December 2014. The larger MQ-8C now intends to begin formal Navy flight tests in October 2013, with the 1st at-sea tests involving the USS Jason Dunham [DDG 109] in 2014.
Smith adds that Navy is now looking at a total buy of 96 MQ-8B/C UAVs, which implies a total of 73 MQ-8Cs – just 40% of the number listed in the FY 2014 budget. Source: Defense News, “Fire Scout ends Afghan mission; future includes new variant, LCS work”.
Aug 6/13: Deployment. US NAVAIR praises the achievements of 4 MQ-8B Fire Scouts from HSM-46, aboard the USS Samuel B. Roberts [FFG 58] in the Mediterranean Sea. The detachment flew 333 hours in June 2013, blowing past the previous monthly record by more than 100 hours.
That figure is over 10 hours per day for the detachment, with some days featuring over 18 hours of coverage. It’s the 6th deployment of Fire Scout helicopters aboard US Navy ships. Source: US NAVAIR, “Fire Scout surpasses flight hour record aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts.”
July 19/13: MQ-8C. Northrop Grumman announces their 1st MQ-8C delivery to the US Navy “in early July,” in preparation for ground and flight testing. Source: NGC.
April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. See ongoing DID coverage. The MQ-8 undergoes yet another big procurement shift, as the planned total jumps to 202 UAVs over the life of the program, supporting both Special Operations and the Littoral Combat Ship. The program will also include a limited number of land-based control stations, mission training devices, and engineering moves to ensure stocks of parts that are going out of production, or their replacement by new designs.
“The MQ-8 is currently deployed on FFG ships and may be deployed on alternate class of ships to support the Special Operations Forces (SOF) mission. In support of the SOF mission, aircraft were moved forward in the budget starting in FY 2012 and additional ship control stations will be procured for outfitting of the FFG/DDG and alternate class of ships such as the Joint High Speed Vessel. MQ-8 will perform land-based operations in support of the ISR Task Force and Army units…. In addition, specialty payloads and communications equipment will be procured in support of SOF ISR, ISR Task Force, shipboard requirements. Weapons Stores Management Systems are included in the aircraft cost starting in FY 2013 that support on-going RDCs.
There will be 34 MQ-8C Endurance Upgrade aircraft procured between FY12-FY18 to support an AFRICOM JEONS RDC. The increase over PB13 results from the Navy canceled Medium Range Maritime UAS program prior to Milestone A and the need to sustain the SOF 3 orbit requirement. Initial spares and repairs are needed to support the RDC operational tempo of 27,000 flight hours per year. All aircraft procured in FY12-FY18 are MQ-8C. The MQ-8 Endurance Upgrade capability will start transitioning to a Navy program of record in FY14 to support Littoral Combat Ship requirements. The Navy is evaluating the VTUAV procurement quantity requirement in light of the Endurance Upgrade capabilities and will lay in the updated procurement profile during future budgets. [This submission marks down another 145 MQ-8Cs after FY 2018.]”
March 12/13: MQ-8B. US NAVAIR states that:
“After exceeding the 8,000-flight-hour mark Friday [presumably for its entire flight career], an MQ-8B Fire Scout assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 22 Detachment 5 prepares to land aboard USS Robert G. Bradley for a “hot pump” and re-launch while conducting maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea March 11. Fire Scouts aboard Bradley are routinely flying 17-hour days while providing 12 hours on station ISR coverage in the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.”
March 11/13: MQ-8C. A $71.6 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract modification to deliver 6 MQ-8C VTUAVs and 7 ground control stations, using FY 2012 & 2013 Navy aircraft funds.
The company is now under contract to produce 14 MQ-8Cs, of a planned rapid acquisition program total of up to 30. Both figures include test aircraft.
Manufacturing and assembly operations are already underway for the 407-based variant, with airframe modifications being made at Bell’s facility in Ozark, AL (27%), and final assembly being completed at Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, MS (15%). Other locations include Dallas, TX (32%); Rancho Bernardo, CA (25%); and Point Mugu, CA (1%) (N00019-12-C-0059). See also Northrop Grumman.
6 more MQ-8Cs
Feb 13/13: MRMUAS. Military officials announce plans to end the Medium-Range Maritime Unmanned Aerial System program, which was going to produce a surveillance UAV with up to 8 hours endurance.
With funds tight, and the MQ-8C available as an interim solution, the potential gains from offerings like BAE/OVX’s compound ducted fan concept was deemed less important. Which leads to the question of what happens after the initial rapid buy of MQ-8Cs. sUAS News.
Jan 31/13: MQ-8C. Greenwich AeroGropup’s Summit Aviation delivers the MQ-8C’s 1st Faraday Cage assembly, designed to protect the UAV’s electronics from lightning, electro-magnetic interference, etc. NGC.
Jan 17/13: DOT&E testing. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The MQ-8s are included, and the news isn’t good. The overall program has stopped production at 23 MQ-8Bs, and may supplement them with 31 MQ-8C Fire-X/ Endurance Upgrade Fire Scouts (3 test + 28 Urgent Operational Requirement).
MQ-8C testing hasn’t really begun yet, but the verdict on the MQ-8B is really poor. Reliability well below program planning levels has created a “critical” shortage of spares, and produced “unacceptable values for Availability, Mean Flight Hours Between Operational Mission Failures, and Mean Flight Hours Between Unscheduled Maintenance Actions.” It’s so far below plan that the MQ-8B hasn’t had Initial Operational Test & Evaluation, and probably isn’t going to, even though MQ-8Bs are now being armed in response to an urgent Navy requirement. Its communications relay remains a problematic issue.
On the bright side, software improvements tested in 2012 now allow dual air vehicle operations, something that should transfer to the MQ-8C. Frigate deployments continue to show the value of a VTUAV system, and at the moment, there’s no sign that the MQ-8Bs will be retired. On the other hand, it would take a long string of successes to have the MQ-8 program even approach its original scope.
MQ-8B stopped, panned
Dec 20/12: Radars. A $33.3 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to develop, integrate, test, and deliver 9 radar systems for the MQ-8B. The Navy wants a wide-area surface search radar (vid. July 7/11 entry), which would sharply improve the UAV’s effectiveness for missions like anti-piracy, blockades, near-port monitoring, search & rescue, etc.
Northrop Grumman has confirmed to us that they’ll be using the Telephonics RDR-1700B [PDF]radar, which has been tested with the MQ-8B over the last few years (vid. Oct 19-23/09, Sept 19/08 entries), and a Jan 8/13 Telephonics release makes it clear that they’ll be using the AN/ZPY-4(V)1 upgrade, complete with moving target indicator functions and the ability to track AIS ship transponders. Subsequent reports establish the number as 12 radars, plus 3 spares.
$15.8 million is committed on award, and $11.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/13. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (70%) and Patuxent River, MD (30%), and is expected to be complete in June 2014. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C 2304c1 (N00019-13-C-0020).
New ZPY-4 radar
Dec 20/12: Support. A $19.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for MQ-8B spares and deliveries.
All funds are committed, and $19 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (90%), and Patuxent River, MD (10%); and is expected to be completed in November 2013. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C 2304c1 (N00019-13-C-0007).
Oct 5/12: Support. A $24.5 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for MQ-8B spare parts and supplies.
Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (36%), Horseheads, NY (30%); Salt Lake City, NV (11%); Sparks, NV (11%); and various other locations within the United States (12%); and is expected to be complete in April 2014 (N00019-10-G-0003).FY 2012
USN commits to add MQ-8Cs, signs development contract; 2 quick crashes ground MQ-8B fleet; Experience highlights serious problems with MQ-8B targeting, communications relay; Ground control system completing Linux transition; MQ-8B & MH-60 testingMQ-8B, Afghanistan
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Sept 27/12: Radars. A Telephonics release touts successful completion of their “AN/ZPY-4(V) Maritime Surveillance Radar.” This release touts it as “an enhanced version of the radar designed and built for the US Navy’s MQ-8 Fire Scout.” It has been upgraded with a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) mode, and incorporates the US Navys Ocean Surveillance Initiative (OSI) in the software. With OSI, it can receive ship Automatic Information System (AIS) transponder data, and identify compliant vessels. Subsequent releases make it clear that the USN has shifted to this radar for the Fore Scout contract.
Sept 27/12: Support. A $28.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for software sustainment and development, non-recurring engineering support, and obsolescence efforts for the MQ-8B.
Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (90%), and NAS Patuxent River, MD (10%); and is expected to be complete in September 2013. All contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304c1 (N00019-12-C-0126).
Sept 20/12: Personnel. US NAVAIR describes their efforts to develop in-house expertise with the MQ-8B. That’s a bit of a challenge, because the end of the Afghan deployment means that the detachment will revert back to a contractor-operated structure. The officers in charge and sailors who deployed are being moved to shipboard deployments, and the new Unmanned Helicopter Reconnaissance Squadron (HUQ-1) training squadron in Naval Air Station North Island, CA.
July 10/12: Training. Northrop Grumman opens a new UAV training facility for Fire Scout operators at at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, FL. It offers improved flight simulators, plus hands-on maintenance and classroom instruction. NGC.
June 6/12: Linux TCS. Raytheon Intelligence and Information Systems in Dulles, VA receives a $27.9 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract to “complete Linux transition” on the MQ-8’s TCS ground control system. Linux is emerging as a key standard for American UAV ground control systems. The MQ-1/9 Predator/ Reaper’s ground stations are being migrated from Windows to Linux, and AAI’s multi-UAV OneSystem/UGCS already use the open-source computer operating system.
Work on this contract will be performed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, and is expected to be complete in February 2014. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, and $5.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00019-12-C-0102). See also March 25/09 entry.
May 8/12: LRIP-5. Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector in San Diego, CA received a $25.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, buying 3 MQ-8B Fire Scout vehicles and 1 ground control station as Low Rate Initial Production Lot 5. This appears to be the FY 2011 order.
Work will be performed in Moss Point, MS (55%), and San Diego, CA (45%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013. US Naval Air Systems Command manages the contract (N00019-07-C-0041).
LRIP-5: 3 more
April 23/12: MQ-8C contract. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in San Diego, CA gets an unfinalized, not-to-exceed $262.3 million contract to finish developing the Fire-X/ MQ-8C, based on Bell Helicopter’s 407 model. They’ll develop, manufacture, and test 2 VTUAVs, produce 6 air vehicles; and supply spare parts in support of the “VTUAV endurance upgrade rapid deployment capability effort.”
Work will be performed in Moss Point, MS (47%); San Diego, CA (46%); and Yuma, AZ (7%), and is expected to be complete in May 2014. $24.9 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-12-C-0059). See also NGC.
April 10/12: Grounded. US NAVAIR announces that they’re suspending operations of their remaining 14-UAV Fire Scout fleet, in the wake of the last 2 crashes. While the fleet is grounded, NAVAIR will be reviewing the incidents, the MQ-8B’s technical components, and their operational procedures.
Later queries to NAVAIR reveal that the grounding is over by the end of April 2012.
Since 2006, the MQ-8B Fire Scout has accumulated over 5,000 flight hours, with more than 3,000 flight hours tallied during operational deployments. US NAVAIR.
April 6/12: Crash. An MQ-8B operating in northern Afghanistan crashes, while conducting a routine surveillance mission in support of Regional Command North. Source.
March 30/12: Crash. An MQ-8B Fire Scout operating off USS Simpson [FFG-56], and returning from a maritime surveillance mission in support of Africa Partnership Station, cannot achieve UAS Common Automated Recovery System (UCARS) lock on. Operators tried multiple approaches and exhaustive troubleshooting, but couldn’t achieve UCARS lock, which meant they couldn’t risk a landing attempt on the ship. Their only option was to position it a safe distance from USS Simpson, terminate the flight, and perform a night-time recovery. Source.
March 21/12: Arming the MQ-8B. US NAVAIR announces that they are working to get the MQ-8B tested and operationally-cleared to fire laser-guided 70mm APKWS rockets, per an urgent US Navy request. The 1st of a series of tests on the newly-installed hardware began March 7/12. Even though the Fire Scouts have conducted armed Army tests before, it is the first time the US Navy will arm an unmanned aircraft. Jeremy Moore is Fire Scout weapons system integration lead, and Bill McCartney is the Fire Scout’s Air Vehicle flight test lead. McCartney:
“We had a very tight timeline to conduct trade studies and complete design reviews… Now, we are starting to execute tests, and there is little time in the schedule for repeats.”
Feb 13/12: MQ-8Bs and Cs. The USA’s FY 2013 budget documents include a section on the MQ-8B Fire Scout, which has survived cuts. The MQ-8C will also move forward:
“The MQ-8 system will support Surface Warfare, Mine Countermeasures Warfare, and Anti-Submarine Warfare mission modules while operating onboard Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The MQ-8 is currently deployed on [frigates] and will be deployed on [destroyers] to support the Special Operations Forces (SOF) mission. In support of the SOF mission, aircrafts were moved forward in the budget starting in FY 2012 and additional ship control stations will be procured for outfitting of the FFG and DDG ships… A limited number of land-based ground control stations supplement… [and] will also support depot level maintenance/ post-maintenance activities. Mission training devices will be procured and integrated into the land-based ground control stations for predeployment and proficiency training… In addition, specialty payloads and communications equipment will be procured in support of SOF ISR and ISR task force. Radar payloads and Weapons Stores Management System are included in the aircraft cost starting in FY 2013 that support on-going RDCs.
A minimum of 28 MQ-8C Endurance Upgrade aircraft are being procured between FY12-FY15 to support an AFRICOM JUONS(Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement) RDC. Initial spares and repairs have increased to support the RDC operational tempo of 27,000 flight hours per year.”
Jan 17/12: Testing report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The Fire Scout program is included, and the review is mixed. For starters:
“The Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) approved in 2007 is outdated and does not contain a clear path to successful completion of IOT&E. The TEMP does not clearly define the objectives of near-term testing nor prioritize future upgrades…”
Initial OT&E is scheduled for March 2012, which is almost 3 years after the original June 2009 plan. DOT&E considers previous issues with poor reliability, and with excessive cautions, warnings, and advisories, to be fixed. Operations controlling 2 MQ-8B UAVs in the air, which weren’t possible before, were demonstrated in September 2011. On the other hand, issues with UAV and datalink reliability, target geo-location errors so large that the system “does not support precision attack missions”, limited available frequencies, and an unreliable communications relay suite are all listed as problems that threaten a successful IOT&E. Beyond IOT&E, the report cites issues with incomplete technical publications, spare parts support, and pre-deployment training.
Some of this can be attributed to deployment pressures. DOT&E itself says that “time spent training additional operators and maintainers, modifying air vehicles, integrating non-program of record payloads, and a requirement to provide spare parts to three operating locations, delayed the program’s efforts to address those deficiencies.” They would also like the program to get some clarity re: future plans, especially the issue of the MQ-8B vs. the MQ-8C, which has resulted in “in the lack of a coherent long-range schedule to be ready for IOT&E and field the system.”
Nov 14/11: Helico-operation. Inside the Navy reports that the USN is testing communications between manned MH-60s and unmanned MQ-8Bs, in the hopes that the two working in tandem could expand the Navy’s reach.
The US Army recently finished a test in which a Predator family UAV was controlled by an AH-64D Block III attack helicopter, which could give orders to the UAV and its payload, and receive video etc. from the MQ-1C. A similar configuration at sea could extend the MQ-8B’s controllable range, while enhancing the MH-60R’s effectiveness. Even a lesser configuration, in which MH-60R/S helicopters acted only as a communication relay, would offer benefits for the Navy.FY 2011
MQ-8B to Afghanistan; Navy will convert Army’s 8 Fire Scouts; Fire-X picked as “MQ-8C”; Navy approves arming MQ-8Bs; COBRA mine-detection tested on MQ-8B; LCS flight tests begin; Army may be also interested in larger VTUAV.MQ-8B in Afghanistan
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Sept 29/11: Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Unmanned Systems in San Diego, CA received a $7.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for MQ-B software sustainment services. They’ll include analysis of engineering change proposals; development of plans of action and milestones; laboratory facility studies and analysis; software upgrades; configuration management and quality assurance; and keeping the technical documentation up to date.
Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete in June 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year – which is Sept 30/11 (N00019-10-G-0003).
Sept 28/11: Afghanistan. An $18.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to extend MQ-8B intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services in Afghanistan (90%, q.v. April 8-13/11 entry), and at Patuxent River, MD (10%) until October 2012. $1.4 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-11-C-0094). On Nov 8/11, NGC’s Fire Scout operations lead, Rick Pagel says:
“We are providing a level of situational awareness many soldiers in the field have never experienced… In the first five months we surpassed 1,500 hours with over 400 flights. Since Fire Scout doesn’t require a runway, we are conveniently nearby and arrive on station quickly.”
They haven’t experienced it, but their grandfathers may have. The US Army used light propeller planes called “Grasshoppers” in a similar fashion during World War 2.
Sept 22/11: Weapons. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in San Diego, CA received a $17.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the MQ-8B’s Rapid Deployment Capability Weaponization Program. See also Aug 19/11 entry.
This contract includes the installation, engineering, manufacturing, and data development of the weapons systems, which include 12 Stores Management Systems. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (75%), and Grand Rapids, MI (25%), and is expected to be completed in March 2013. $14.8 million will expire at the end of the fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR6.302-1 (N00019-11-C-0087).
Aug 29/11: A $10.5 million cost-plus fixed-fee contract in support of the MQ-8B Fire Scout system. Logistic support services includes: logistics management, maintenance support, supply support, air vehicle transportation, training services, logistics management information, technical data updates, flight operations and deployment support.
Work will be performed in St. Inigoes, MD (40%), San Diego, CA (20%), and various locations outside the continental United States; and is expected to be complete in August 2012. $6.4 million will expire at the end of the fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR6.302-1 (N00019-11-C-0075).
Aug 19/11: Weaponization approved. Aviation Week reports on 2 key milestones for the program. One is the addition of the MQ-8C/ Fire-X.
The other is weapons approval for the MQ-8B, beginning with the APKWS-II laser-guided 70mm rocket that’s already cleared for use from Navy ships. Raytheon’s laser-guided short-range Griffin mini-missile is slated for a demonstration before the end of August 2011, and will be the platform’s next weapon, as opposed to Northrop Grumman’s own GBU-44 Viper Strike.
The report also adds confirmation from official sources that an MQ-8B from USS Halyburton was indeed shot down over Libya by enemy fire.
Weapon approval for MQ-8BFire-X: MQ-8C?
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Aug 16/11: Fire-X recommended. In the wake of a joint urgent operational need statement from Special Operations Command and the US Navy for a longer-endurance VTUAV, the office of the secretary of defense validates the requirement. The Fire Scout program office has decided to recommend the NGC/Bell 407 Fire-X design over the Lockheed/Kaman K-MAX, or Boeing’s A160T Hummingbird, but the Navy hasn’t formally accepted their recommendation yet.
The requirement is to develop the larger MQ-8C within 24 months, for deployment in 2014, with plans to acquire 28 air vehicles over 3 years. USN Fire Scout program manager Capt. Patrick Smith reportedly said at AUVSI 2011 that “Our recommendation is to go with the 407 airframe, based on the time frame limitations,” though the A160 and K-MAX have both been flying for far longer. The first unmanned Fire-X flight took place on Dec 16/10. Source.
Aug 3/11: The FFG-7 frigate USS Halyburton returns to port in Naval Station Mayport, FL with 2 MQ-8B VTUAVs on board. US NAVAIR:
“HSL-42 Det. 2 simultaneously fielded manned SH-60 and unmanned MQ-8B flight operations for airborne support of Halyburton’s transits through the Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al Mandeb. The MQ-8B operators pushed the unmanned helicopter to its operational limits, setting records for maximum altitude, range, and endurance. More than one thousand deployment flight hours were recorded, with 438 hours flown by Fire Scout.”
Aug 3/11: Army, again? Flight International covers ongoing developments among American UAV programs, including the MQ-8:
“Despite the backlog of MQ-8Bs and an apparently forthcoming order for the MQ-8C – an improved version based on a new airframe – the navy has an open tender for a replacement. The replacement is called the medium range maritime UAS (MRMUAS), and entry into service is planned for 2018-19.
The newest stumbling block in the navy’s programme is the possible inclusion of the army… After [canceling the MQ-8B and] making do with the RQ-7 Shadow, the army has re-declared its interest and is studying a joint buy with the navy… The contest is still open but several clear contenders have emerged, and first among them is Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8C… Boeing is likely to put forward the A160, and EADS has briefed the army on its own options… Requirements concerning lift capacity, endurance, range and even intended function are not yet written in stone… Both army and navy are examining possibilities for weaponisation…”
July 7/11: Defense News reports that the Pentagon is looking to shift $920 million in funding to surveillance-related projects, in order to support ongoing wars. That includes $32.6 million for 9 radar units that give the MQ-8B a wide area surface search capability, plus $1 million to:
“…develop and integrate an upgrade… [that] extends the Fire Scout’s combat radius, increases its payload, and improves on-station endurance to meet the urgent SOF (Special Operations Forces) maritime ISR requirements outlined.”
June 21/11: Shot down. NATO loses communication with the USS Halyburton’s MQ-8 Fire Scout, during a reconnaissance and targeting mission over western Libya, near Zlitan. It was delivering intelligence data from about 5,000-7,000 feet, with no sign of malfunction before its crash. Libya claims to have shot it down, which turns out to be true. Aviation Week | IEEE | RTT News.
Shot down over Libya
June 14/11: US NAVAIR discusses the MQ-8B Fire Scout’s Afghan deployment:
“Fire Scout’s initial flight in theater took place May 2. Only 19 days later, PMA-266 Detachment Alpha established initial operational capability during its first tasked mission from the [ISAF] Regional Command North area of responsibility… Cmdr. Brian Stephens, Officer in Charge (OIC) for PMA-266 Detachment Alpha. “In less than one month, we have flown more than 200 flight hours and completed more than 80 sorties and we are on track to fly 300 hours per month.” PMA-266 Detachment Alpha is a government owned/contractor operated deployment. The detachment includes a military OIC and assistant OIC,  Navy intelligence analysts, and 21 Northrop Grumman contractors…”
May 16/11: Convert 8. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems Unmanned Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $42 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, to convert 8 Army Fire Scouts to the Navy configuration. A logical move, since the Army has abandoned the program.
Work will be performed in Moss Point, LA (71%), and San Diego, CA (29%), and is expected to be complete in February 2013 (N00019-07-C-0041).
Conversion: 8 Army to Navy
April 8-13/11: To Afghanistan. The Navy ships 3 MQ-8B Fire Scouts and 2 ground control stations to northern Afghanistan for about a year, to support Army and coalition forces. It will be operated by a team of U.S. Navy sailors and Northrop Grumman employees. Pensacola News Journal | Satnews Daily | StrategyPage.
Feb 25/11: The MQ-8B Fire Scout marks a new single-day flight record of 18 hours – but that’s a single aircraft in a series of flights over 24 hours, not a single 18-hour flight. These were operational flights, though, from the frigate USS Halyburton [FFG 40], while on anti-piracy missions in the Indian Ocean with the 5th Fleet.
Northrop Grumman’s release adds that in late January 2011, operators from the Halyburton located a disabled boat using Fire Scout’s Brite Star II sensor.
November 13-24/10: LCS. The MQ-8B Fire Scout flies dynamic interface (DI) testing flights from the U.S. Navy’s littoral combat ship, USS Freedom [LCS-1], off the coast of southern California. DI testing is designed to verify that Fire Scout control systems have been properly integrated on the ship. It includes a series of shipboard takeoffs and landings from various approaches, subjecting the system to various wind directions and ship speeds.
As of February 2011, this marks the 4th ship and the 3rd ship class that has flown the Fire Scout. Previous flight operations have been conducted from the Austin class amphibious ship USS Nashville [LPD-13], and the Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates USS McInerney [FFG-8, now Pakistan’s PNS Alamgir] and USS Halyburton [FFG-40]. Additional DI testing will be conducted on the first-of-class USS Independence [LCS-2] by 2012. Northrop Grumman.
Oct 13/10: Sensors. The Navy successfully conducts the 1st flight test of the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Block I system at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, on board the MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical take-off unmanned aerial vehicle. The tests were successful.
The AN/DVS-1 COBRA system is designed to detect minefields and obstacles to prepare for amphibious assaults in the beach zone and inland areas. The COBRA Block I system will enter low-rate initial production under a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase III contract, with the first production unit scheduled for delivery to the fleet in FY 2012. US Navy.FY 2010
Army FCS dies, and so does its MQ-8B plan; 1st Navy deployment; 1st ever UAV drug bust; Navy wants more MQ-8Bs; Navy considering larger VTUAV; MQ-8B autonomous cargo drop; MQ-8B a bit too autonomous over Washington; NGC begins private “Fire-X” project; Program cost increases; UAE & Saudi interest
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Aug 2/10: Going rogue. An MQ-8B based at Webster Field, VA loses communication 75 minutes into a routine operational evaluation test flight, then flies about 23 miles NNW at 17,000 feet, into the National Capital Region’s restricted airspace. The FAA was notified, and the MQ-8B program suspended while the fault is investigated. The problem appears to have been a software fault, and the program expects to resume testing in September 2010. Southern Maryland Newspapers Online’s Aug 27/10 article adds that:
“The Navy is seeking to give the Fire Scout program a 50 percent budget boost as part of an 89-page “omnibus reprogramming request” submitted to Congress last month. The Navy Times, which obtained a copy of the funding request, reports that the Navy is seeking to shift $13 million to the program to finish operational testing aboard the frigate Halyburton.”
See also: Engadget.
July 14/10: UAE. Northrop Grumman announces the end of Fire Scout desert trials in the United Arab Emirates. Tests lasted for 10 days in early July 2010, and included numerous takeoffs and landings in hot, windy and sandy conditions in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celsius (122F), and at altitudes up to 3,000 meters (9,842 feet). The Fire Scout mission demonstrations also included “non-line-of-sight” operations, and its sensors’ ability to gather and transmit high fidelity video imagery. See also Oct 21/09 entry.
June 30/10: +3. Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector in San Diego, CA received a maximum $38.3 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for 3 Low Rate Initial Production MQ-8Bs.
Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete in October 2012 (N00019-07-C-0041).
LRIP: 3 more
June 4/10: Rust never sleeps. US Navy Fleet Readiness Center East begins a new role as one of the Navy’s depot repair points for the MQ-8B, accepting 2 VTUAVs for maintenance and a corrosion assessment. That assessment has already resulted in an improved finish to the main rotor head, and is expected to recommend other modifications before they return to the fleet in mid-June 2010.
The Navy currently plans to field 121 Fire Scouts, and currently has 7: 1 trainer, 2 at Northrup Grumman for development work, and 4 serving in the Navy. US NAVAIR.
May 14/10: Rust never sleeps. Civilian artisans from Fleet Readiness Center East perform maintenance and corrosion assessments on 2 MQ-8B Fire Scouts at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC. Corrosion resistance is a key design feature of any naval aircraft, and experience often teaches things that design didn’t anticipate. Hence the in-depth post-deployment checks. US Navy.
May 4/10: Fire-X. Northrop Grumman announces a private development partnership with Bell Helicopter Textron to turn Bell’s 407 helicopter into a medium-range “Fire-X” VTUAV, using Fire Scout’s systems, for a US Navy medium VTUAV competition expected to begin in 2011. When questioned by DID, Northrop Grumman representatives said that:
“We plan to conduct that demo at the Yuma Proving Grounds… We consider Fire Scout and Fire-X to bemembers of the same portfolio of unmanned systems… We have not been notified of any changes on the MQ-8B Fire Scout program of record.”
Requirements creep does happen, however, and if so, a formal change to a program of record is generally the last step, rather than the first. The firms are moving ahead on a fast track, and Fire-X’s first flight is expected by the end of CY 2010. The Bell 407 was the initial basis for the USA’s ARH-70 Arapaho armed reconnaissance helicopter before that program was canceled, and is the base for Iraq’s ongoing ARH program. Fire-X will carry ISR sensors, offer cargo capabilities, and is expected to provide weapons integration as well. Control will be via the Navy’s Tactical Control Station, the U.S. Army’s One System ground control station, or other standards-based systems. Northrop Grumman | The DEW Line.
April 30/10: Medium VTUAV? The US Navy’s OPNAV Assessment Division (N81), with technical support from NAVAIR, NAVSEA and SPAWAR, issues a solicitation that seems to raise the bar for VTUAVs deploying on Navy warships, introducing competition to an arena once owned by the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
The FBO solicitation “Persistent Ship Based UAS RFI” calls for a UAV that can operate from standard Navy ships by 2016-2020, providing mission radius from 300-1,000 nautical miles, on-station endurance of at least 8 hours for a single UAV and up to 72 hours for multiple UAVs, and an operating ceiling of 15,000 – 25,000 feet. Its payload capacity of 600-1,000 pounds must support basic day/night surveillance, including still & full motion video with target quality resolution of small vehicles and personnel, laser designation and range finding (LD/RF), communications interception, and wide area radar. They’d like it to be able to carry weapons, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for ground surveillance, or Electronics Intelligence (ELINT) and Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) packages.
The solicitation is a open RFI, but those characteristics are well beyond the MQ-8B’s maximums. An improved Bell Textron Eagle-Eye VTUAV might qualify… and so would existing specs for Boeing’s A160T Hummingbird Warrior.
Medium VTUAV RFI, Fire-X begins
April 15/10: The MQ-8B returns from its first operational naval deployment, a 6-month SOUTHCOM cruise in the eastern Pacific Ocean aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigate USS McInerney [FFG 8]. US Navy.Busted!
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April 3/10: USS McInerney [FFG 8] becomes the first ship to make a drug bust using a VTUAV. The ship’s Fire Scout was on a post-maintenance check flight, when the operators spotted suspected narcotics smugglers. The US Navy release says that:
“The Mission Payload Operator completed testing and received permission to pursue. Over the course of three hours, Fire Scout monitored the go-fast with McInerney. With its state-of-the-art optics and extremely small profile, Fire Scout was able to maintain an unprecedented covert posture while feeding real-time video back to McInerney.
Fire Scout proceeded to capture video of the “go-fast” meeting with a fishing vessel for what appeared to be a refueling/logistics transfer. McInerney and its embarked USCG LEDET moved in and seized approximately 60 kilos of cocaine and caused the suspected traffickers to jettison another approximately 200 kilos of narcotics.”
April 1/10: Post-Army SAR. The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. The Fire Scout makes the list – and the reason is a slowed production schedule, forcing the Navy to pay the program’s fixed costs over a longer period of time:
“VTUAV (Vertical Takeoff and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle) – Program costs increased $466.5 million (+21.6%) from $2,158.3 million to $2,624.8 million, due primarily to an increase in air vehicle unit cost resulting from extending procurement at the minimum sustaining rate (+$279.6 million) and the stretch-out of the ground control station and air vehicle procurement profiles from fiscal 2010 to beyond fiscal 2015 (+$164.9 million). There were also increases for initial spares due to component cost increases (+$54.4 million), for integration costs to support an additional ship class (+$35.9 million), and for overseas contingency operations funds to purchase equipment for land-based operations (+$13.4 million). These increases were partially offset by a decrease in other support costs (-$29.3 million) and the application of revised escalation indices (-$49.9 million).”
SAR – Army out
Feb 23/10: Army cancels. Northrop Grumman responds to DID’s queries on the subject, and confirms that the Army’s MQ-8B has been canceled:
“Yes, the Army did cancel the Class IV MQ-8B Fire Scout UAS, their only Vertical Unmanned Aerial System (VUAS) program of record in January, 2010. Obviously, we’re disappointed… In the meantime, we had a very successful demonstration of Fire Scout at the Army’s Expeditionary Warrior Experiment, Ft Benning, Ga. from mid Jan to mid Feb (just days after the Army cancelled the program officially). It was a great opportunity to show soldiers all the things that Fire Scout can do. In addition to its RSTA missions (which the opposition forces at AEWE hated because it revealed their every move), we also demonstrated cargo resupply for small units, comms relay (provided assured comms to all participants in AEWE) and deployment of other unmanned ground systems and unattended ground sensors… We believe that over the long term that the Army wants and needs a vertical unmanned aerial system to support its mission requirements. We continue to have discussions with them…”
The Army probably does need a VTUAV, and MQ-8B will remain an up-to-date platform thanks to development for the US Navy. The Fire Scout may end up taking a short break before receiving an Army order, or this change could open the door to new competitors. Boeing’s A160T Hummingbird VTUAV’s unique rotor technology gives it a larger payload and much longer operating time. This has sparked interest from American Special Forces, and the US Marines. Lockheed Martin and Kaman are competing against the A160T for a USMC resupply contract, and their K-MAX unmanned helicopter could also become a future Army contender if it wins.
Feb 25/10: AEWE Robotic synergy. Northrop Grumman discusses the MQ-8B’s performance in the recent Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) exercise at Fort Benning, GA. Going beyond previous missions for reconnaissance surveillance target acquisition (RSTA), communications relay, and cargo pod resupply, Fire Scout also demonstrated broader autonomous capabilities, and interoperability with ground robots.
In its most unusual mission, the Fire Scout flew to a named area of interest, surveyed the area to ensure it was clear, and landed autonomously within its pre-planned landing point. When the UAV’s on-board skid sensors detected contact with the ground, a command was sent to release a Dargon Runner robot. The UAV then took off and loitered at a higher altitude to observe and provide a communications relay for the robot’s controller. NGC release | NGC video [Windows Media].
Feb 15/10: Unmanned re-supply. Northrop Grumman announces it demonstrated the resupply capability of its MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing tactical unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV). The company conducted the demonstration at the US Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) being held in February 2010 at Fort Benning, GA.
For the AEWE mission, Fire Scout had 2 ruggedized containers attached to external pylons. Fire Scout flew autonomously from take-off to the cargo drop to landing. Fire Scout is equipped with a payload interface unit, which allows it to release the cargo pod without the presence of a soldier. Fire Scout’s skid sensors detected contact with the ground. Upon touchdown, the autonomous mission was preplanned for release of the cargo pod, and the aircraft took off again. The VTUAV also used its electro-optical/ infrared optical payload during the mission to practice reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition techniques.
Feb 10/10: GAO Report. The US GAO issues #GAO-10-493T as it testifies before the House Armed Services Committee: “Opportunities for the Army to Position Its Ground Force Modernization Efforts for Success.” An excerpt:
“Although the details are not yet complete, the Army took several actions through the end of calendar year 2009. It stopped all development work on the FCS manned ground vehicles – including the non-line of sight cannon – in the summer of 2009 and recently terminated development of the Class IV unmanned aerial vehicle and the countermine and transport variants of the Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment [MULE] unmanned ground vehicle. For the time being, the Army is continuing selected development work under the existing FCS development contract, primarily residual FCS system and network development.”
“As part of its ongoing analysis, the service has participated in numerous exercises with other platforms… including Boeing’s A160 Hummingbird, an AeroVironment vehicle and ScanEagle tested on board a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship.
Land-based tests of Fire Scout can “only go so far . . . The next step is to figure out how to get it onboard ship,” says Posage. Over the next few weeks, notional plans are being mapped out for just such a test. In a recent call with reporters, Adm. Ron Rabago, Coast Guard acquisitions chief, said the service hopes “to do a cutter-based test in Fiscal 2010.”
Nov 24/09: LRIP-1 delivered. Northrop Grumman announces that it has completed the first year of Fire Scout Low-Rate Initial Production, with the delivery of all 3 MQ-8B Fire Scouts to the U.S. Navy.
At present, 2 of the 3 Fire Scouts are deployed aboard the USS McInerney for a scheduled operational deployment to complete a Fire Scout Military Utility Assessment (MUA), with a US Coast Guard liaison on board. Prior to the current deployment, Fire Scouts have been aboard the USS McInerney 4 times since December 2008, completing 110 ship takeoffs and landings and 45 landings with the harpoon grid, accumulating over 47 hours of flight time.
Oct 19-23/09: Sensors. A company-owned MQ-8B Fire Scout equipped with a Telephonics’ radar and FLIR surveillance turret performs demonstrations for the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center, under a sub-contract awarded in September 2009 by ABS Group. The test took place in the Chesapeake Bay, and were conducted from the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, MD. Following the maritime sensor demonstration, the Coast Guard participated in a multiple day virtual exercise at the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems Development Center in Rancho Bernardo, CA. NGC release.
Oct 21/09: UAE & Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi paper The National reports significant interest in the Fire Scout in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Gulf nations reportedly see the VTUAV’s capabilities as being very useful in the shallow waters of the Persian/Arabian Gulf and Red Sea, with additional potential for surveillance of critical infrastructure. The report adds that:
“Northrop, which has been developing unmanned systems since the 1940s, puts the potential worldwide market for the Fire Scout at more than 2,000 over the next five years, with more than half coming from international sales… If the UAE decides to purchase the Fire Scout, it would join smaller unmanned systems in its fleet.
The Government has spent the past decade researching the new technology, and has purchased small unmanned surveillance helicopters from Schiebel of Germany and CybAero of Sweden. In 2007, it created its own UAV investment company, now called Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments Company.”
Oct 5/09: 1st deployment. An MQ-8B Fire Scout deploys aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate USS McInerney [FFG-8] after over 600 hours of flight testing, with 110 take-off and landings from the frigate. USS McInerney will work with the US Navy’s 4th Fleet on a counter-narcotics deployment in the Caribbean and Latin America, using the Fire Scout in its missions and refining Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures. The move is also a form of live Operational Evaluation for the Fire Scout. US Navy NAVAIR.
1st deploymentFY 2009
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Sept 21-25/09: GCS. MQ-8B #P7 completes flight tests at Yuma Proving Ground, CA under the command and control of a new ground control station (GCS). Flight activities will continue at Yuma, in preparation for the Army’s Expeditionary Warrior Experiment at Fort Benning, GA.
Northrop Grumman’s new GCS is compatible with NATO’s STANAG 4586, which means that its Vehicle Specific Module can interface with any STANAG 4586 compatible Core Unmanned Control System (CUCS) module such as that used in the Army’s Universal/One System GCS. The Fire Scout’s GCS contains a Tactical Common Data Link for primary command and control and sensor data downlink, plus multiple radios for voice and secondary command and control. The equipment is hosted on commercial personal computers inside, and the GCS intercommunication system is digital, with an external wireless system for other crew members. Mission planning is accomplished with the Army standard Aviation Mission Planning System. Northrop Grumman | NGC video [Windows Media].
Aug 11/09: Northrop Grumman announces that MQ-8B number P7, a land-based version, successfully completes its RSTA(reconnaissance surveillance and target acquisition) / ISR(intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ.
This RSTA/ISR demonstration was conducted with the use of a high-magnification electro-optical, infrared (EO/IR) payload, which includes a long range laser designator and rangefinder (LR/LD). Full motion video was relayed down to ground operators in real time over a Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). After an autonomous launch, Fire Scout demonstrated its ability to find, fix, and track hostile forces during a real-time operational scenario in complex terrain at night.
June 30/09: Northrop Grumman announces that MQ-8B number P7 has successfully completed first flight operations at Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ. Unlike current Navy-configured Fire Scouts, P7 was built in an operational land-based configuration for the US Army.
P7 is the first MQ-8B to fly without flight test instrumentation normally installed for developmental flights, and is supported by P6, the first company owned Fire Scout. P7’s capability demonstrations will continue throughout summer 2009, with missions in support of land-based operations as a priority.
April 6/09: Sensors. FLIR Systems, Inc announces a $4.1 million Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) delivery order from Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8 project for FLIR’s BRITE Star II surveillance and targeting turrets. Work will be performed at FLIR’s facilities in Wilsonville, OR. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2009, and conclude in 2010.
March 25/09: TCS. Raytheon in Falls Church, VA received a $16.5 million modification to a previously awarded cost plus award fee, cost plus incentive fee contract (N00019-98-C-0190) to provide additional funds for the development of the MQ-8’s Tactical Control System Block 2, Version 4 software. TCS is an unmanned aircraft system control that can simultaneously control multiple unmanned aircraft and payloads. The TCS system has been confirmed by the NATO STANAG (Standardization Agreement) Committee as being STANAG-4586 conformed, and is currently the only unmanned system command and control software owned by the U.S. government.
TCS uses a Linux-based operating system, and this contract extension will add key capabilities, including upgrade software to control radars and a universal hand control. The contract will also provide support to TCS integration and testing leading to operational evaluation on the MQ-8B Fire Scout program this summer. Work will be performed in Falls Church, VA (82%), Dahlgren, VA (10%), and San Pedro, CA (8%), and is expected to be complete in March 2010. See also: Raytheon release.
Jan 23/09: +3. A $40 million not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded firm fixed price contract (N00019-07-C-0041) for 3 Low Rate Initial Production RQ-8Bs, including electro-optical surveillance payloads and support. In addition to the UAVs, Northrop Grumman will supply 3 Ground Control Stations, 3 Light Harpoon Grids, 3 UCARS (UAV common automatic recovery systems), and 6 Portable Electronic Display devices.
This is the last of is the last of 3 planned low-rate initial production (LRIP) buys, before OpEval and an expected decision on full rate production. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete in March 2011. See also Northrop Grumman release.
LRIP: 3 moreFY 2008
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Sept 19/08: Sensors. One of Northrop Grumman’s company-owned MQ-8Bs uses a non-developmental (i.e. not yet part of the program) Telephonics RDR-1700B search, surveillance, tracking and imaging radar system to search for, detect, and track multiple targets during a test surveillance mission. at the Yuma Proving Ground, AZ.
See also March 19/08 entry. The ultimate goal is to demonstrate a maritime search radar capability, and this flight was the first of several radar demonstrations that will eventually include an over-water search trial. NGC release.
Aug 20/08: Sensors. FLIR Systems, Inc. announces that they have completed the initial flight test of their BRITE Star II sensor and targeting turret on Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8B.
March 25/08: Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ won a $17.3 million cost contract for “applied research and advanced technology demonstration of an advanced Multi-Mode Sensor Suite to support [VTUAV] intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting missions in the littoral combat environment.”
Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete in September 2012. This contract was competitively procured under a Broad Agency Announcement; 5 offers were received by the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division in China Lake, CA (N68936-08-C-0034).
March 19/08: Sensors. The Navy has decided to commit funds in 2009 to develop a radar capability on Fire Scout, a gap that had been one of the US Coast Guard’s objections to buying it. Demonstrations have been conducted in 2003 using a Predator’s Lynx SAR on an RQ-8A alongside an electro-optical/infrared system.
A similar demonstration will now take place using a non-developmental Telephonics RDR-1700B maritime surveillance and imaging radar on an MQ-8B Fire Scout owned by Northrop Grumman. Radar integration and installation will take place at Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Development Centers in San Diego, CA and in Moss Point, MS. Demonstration flights will be conducted at Webster Field; Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD; or Yuma Proving Ground, AZ. NGC release.
March 3/08: USCG Opportunity? After receiving the service’s formal “Deepwater alternatives analysis” in February 2008, US Coast Guard Chief Acquisition Officer Rear Adm. Gary Blore forwards recommendations to Coast Guard senior leadership in a formal decision memorandum. Commandant Adm. Thad Allen is expected to approve Blore’s decision in the near future.
The report reportedly recommends that the Coast Guard adapt the Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter UAV for its new Bertholf Class National Security Cutters, and the Coast Guard has asked for $3 million in its FY 2009 budget to study UAVs that might replace the suspended Eagle eye tilt-rotor project. The service doesn’t anticipate deployment before 2014, however, on the ground that no current design meets its needs yet. Rear Adm. Blore notes that the Fire Scout does not yet have a surface-search radar package, for instance, and says that it can’t be deployed out of sight of its carrying ship. Inside the Navy’s March 10/08 report [PDF] | Gannett’s Navy Times report | Aero News report
Feb 20/08: Northrop Grumman announces that the US Navy will move to integrate the Fire Scout into another “air capable ship” besides the Littoral Combat Ships. Landing isn’t the issue; it’s a question of testing the interface, integrating the data management, and looking at maintenance and supportability. The Navy and Northrop Grumman are working together to define and develop a roll-on/roll-off Fire Scout ship deployment package that would make expanding the number of compatible ships much easier.
According to the current schedule, the Navy will conduct Technical Evaluation on the Fire Scout on the designated ship in the fall 2008 and OpEval in the summer 2009. The Fire Scout will reach Initial Operating Capability soon after OpEval in 2009. No details are given re: ship type, but the Navy’s DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers and GC-47 Ticonderoga Class cruisers are natural choices, and both are undergoing modernization programs that may ease integration. LCS Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) efforts are still planned for FY 2011. NGC release.
Dec 21/07: +3. A $15 million modification to a previously awarded (Sept 14/07?), unfinalized contract action for 3 Low Rate Initial Production Fire Scout VTUAV air vehicles, including support. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete in July 2009 (N00019-07-C-0041).
LRIP: 3 MQ-8Bs
Dec 15/07: The first MQ-8B flight test with expected shipboard equipment takes place at the Webster Field annex of Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, MD. The Test and Training Control Segment replicates the containerized consoles and other equipment being integrated into Littoral Combat Ships, and integrates the latest B2V4 Tactical Control Segment (TCS) software designed and produced by Raytheon’s Intelligence and Information Systems business. Block 2, Version 4 incorporates provisions for both the baseline FLIR Systems BRITE Star II electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR) payload, and the Northrop Grumman COBRA multi-spectral mine detection payload. Additional payloads will be integrated into the air vehicle and control segment in the future, via a standardized interface.
The current phase of flight test for the VTUAV program covers operations with the new control segment and land based shipboard recovery system testing using UCARS (UAV Common Automatic Recovery System) in preparation for the sea trials in 2009. The next major phase of flight test in early 2008 will include operations with EO/IR payloads using the Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL) data link. NGC’s Jan 7/08 release.FY 2007
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Sept 14/07: A $7.1 million modification to a previously awarded undefinitized contract action for supplies and additional long-lead production items in support of Fire Scout low-rate production. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete in March 2009 (N00019-07-C-0041).
Sept 10/07: C-130 loading. A cooperative effort between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps and Northrop Grumman Corporation demonstrates joint service interoperability, and certifies the MQ-8B for transport in C-130 airlifters (2 per C-130).
As part of an ongoing Navy Fire Scout contract, a Navy MQ-8B was transported from Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, MS to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD facility in the American northeast for flight test operations. The Navy is continuing Fire Scout developmental testing at nearby Webster Field in St. Inigoes, Md. As part of the effort, a US Army MQ-8B was also loaded into the US Marine Corps KC-130T airlifter, to demonstrate that a tandem load was possible.
The transport then unloaded the Army Fire Scout, and took Navy, Marine Corps, U.S. Department of Defense and Northrop Grumman personnel aboard who are associated with the development of procedures, test plans, and equipment required for air transport of the MQ-8B. NGC release.
May 31/07: Milestone C. The U.S. Department of Defense has announced that the MQ-8B Fire Scout has reached Milestone C, signifying the beginning of its low-rate initial production (LRIP) phase. The Fire Scout is the first unmanned aircraft system (UAS) within the U.S. Navy and the third UAS of all U.S. military branches to reach Milestone C. The Fire Scout program remains on track to conduct payload flights in fall 2007 and enter initial operational evaluation, and then achieve initial operational capability in 2008 as planned. Northrop Grumman release.
May 22/07: Army. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces a successful engine run of the first U.S. Army Class IV UAV MQ-8B Fire Scout Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), its proposed division-level UAV in its Future Combat Systems (FCS) mega-project.
The engine run marks completion of final assembly of the initial manufacturing phase of the first Army Fire Scout. The FCS Fire Scout has now completed the initial assembly process and “will await delivery of mission avionics and sensors (see note above, re: delays).” The event took place at NGC’s Unmanned Systems Center in Moss Point, MS. Northrop Grumman release.
December 2006: Navy. The U.S. Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout made its first flight in December 2006 at the Webster Field annex of Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Inigoes, MD. See this US Navy release for test details.
1st Navy MQ-8B flight
Dec 14/06: +2. A $16.2 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-award-fee contract for 2 MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff Unmanned Vehicles (VTUAV) including Concept of Operations support. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete in October 2008. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00019-00-C-0277).
The Navy now has (7+2=) 9 Fire Scouts on contract with Northrop Grumman.
This award will assist the Navy in refining the Fire Scout concept of operations, including operational test and evaluation as well as some spiral development preparations and test of future payloads. Northrop Grumman will work closely with the Navy to refine the system description, including core capabilities, and anticipated deployment and employment for the VTUAV system and other aviation assets aboard the Littoral Combat Ship. Operational requirements may include real-time video imagery collection, intelligence gathering, communications-relay capability, precision targeting and battle damage assessment. See Northrop Grumman Feb 6/07 release.
2 MQ-8BsFY 2005 – 2006
1st autonomous landing on board ship; RQ-8B becomes MQ-8B; Push to finish development.
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July 28/06: A $135.8 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-award-fee contract for continued development and testing of the RQ-8B Fire Scout. The award specifies the remaining portion of the work to complete the program’s systems development and demonstration (SDD) phase through 2008. A total of 9 Navy MQ-8B Fire Scouts are planned under the VTUAV SDD contract.
Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (81%); Moss Point, MS (7%); Horsehead, NY (6%); Wilsonville, OR (4%); and Wayne, NJ (2%) and is expected to be complete in August 2008. It’s issued under a cost-share, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-00-C-0277).
March 20/06: A $29.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract for the continued development and testing of the RQ-8 Fire Scout vertical takeoff unmanned air vehicle (VTUAV). Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (85%) and Elmira, NY (15%), and is expected to be completed in June 2006. It’s issued under a cost-share, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-00-C-0277).
Jan 17/06: 1st sea landing. A RQ-8A Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) System lands on USS Nashville [LPD-13], completing the platform’s first autonomous landing aboard a Navy vessel at sea.
1st autonomous at-sea landing
Dec 15/05: $8.3 million modification adds funds for shipboard testing of the RQ-8 Fire Scout, including shipboard installation and flight testing on the wave-piercing catamaran High Speed Vessel USS Swift.
Dec 8/05: TCDL. Spinoff from the Oct 7/05 award. Northrop Grumman gives Cubic of San Diego an $11 million subcontract to supply the its high-speed data link, plus air and ground data terminals, to serve as the wireless connection between the Fire Scout and control stations aboard Littoral Combat Ships.
Fire Scout is scheduled to be operational in 2008, so the data link will be integrated into the Fire Scout beginning in March 2007, with a testing period to follow. The RQ-8B Fire Scout is the first Defense Department UAV to incorporate Cubic’s tactical common data link (TCDL). Cubic has about 5,950 employees and annual sales of $722 million. Washington Technology
Oct 7/05: $5.8 million modification for the design, manufacture and test of a shipboard compatible control station for the Fire Scout VTUAV so it can operate from the USA’s new Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). Work on this contract will be performed in Owego, NY (65%) and San Diego, CA (35%) and is expected to be complete in June 2006 (N00019-00-C-0190).
July 22/05: The RQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned air vehicle (UAV) successfully fires 2 test rockets at Arizona’s Yuma Proving Grounds, marking the first successful live weapons fire from an autonomous unmanned helicopter. NGC release.
June 30/05: +2. $15.2 million modification to buy 2 MQ-8B Fire Scout Unmanned Air Vehicles, including 2 associated payloads and non-recurring engineering services. It’s issued under a cost-share, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-00-C-0277).
June 30/05: RQ-8 to MQ-8B. The upgraded, new model Fire Scout is formally redesignated from RQ-8B to MQ-8B per a letter from HQ USAF/XPPE. The switch designates a shift from a pure reconnaissance platform to one with multi-mission capability that includes attack roles.
April 5/05: $11.7 million modification or the procurement of Fire Scout Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) hardware for the U.S. Army in support of the Future Combat System as its Class IV brigade-level UAV. Hardware to be procured includes 8 each airframes, identify friend or foe transponders, and radar altimeters and 16 each global positioning systems/inertial navigation systems, antennas; pressure transducers; and precision differents. It’s issued under a cost-share, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-00-C-0277).FY 2000 – 2004
Trimaran LCS Design
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March 26/04: TCS. Raytheon Co. in Falls Church, VA received a $36.8 million not-to-exceed, cost-plus-award-fee/ incentive-fee modification for tactical control system (TCS) software to support the Navy Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) integration onto the littoral combat ship. It will also provide the TCS engineering and test support for the Fire Scout system to achieve initial operational capability. Work will be performed in Falls Church, VA (56%); Dahlgren, VA (30%); San Pedro, CA (10%); and State College, PA (4%), and is expected to be complete in March 2008. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract (N00019-00-C-0277).
March 2/04: A $49 million ceiling-priced undefinitized modification for the continued development and testing of the Fire Scout Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) System, including the procurement of two engineering and manufacturing, development RQ-8B Fire Scout UAVs. It’s issued under a cost-share, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-00-C-0277).
May 1/01: +1. A $14.2 million modification exercises an option for one (1) Fire Scout Vertical Take-Off and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) System, its associated support equipment, data, and initial training. It’s issued under a cost-share, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-00-C-0277).
Feb 9/2000: EMD/SDD? A $93.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, award-fee contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the vertical takeoff and landing tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (VTUAV) program (N00019-00-C-0277).
- Northrop Grumman – Fire Scout. Covers both the MQ-8B and MQ-8C.
- NAVAIR – MQ-8B Fire Scout.
- Designation Systems – Northrop Grumman RQ/MQ-8 Fire Scout
- Naval Technology – Fire Scout – VTUAV Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, USA
- Schweitzer USA – S-333 Overview. Manned base for MQ-8B, Schweitzer is now owned by Sikorsky.
- Bell Helicopter – The Bell 407. Commercial helicopter serves as the base for the MQ-8C. It also comes in 407AH and 407GT armed versions.
- DID FOCUS Article – The USA’s New Littoral Combat Ships. Will become a key platform for both Fire Scout types.
- DID – A160 Hummingbird: Boeing’s Variable-Rotor VTUAV
- DID – K-Max unmanned helo
- EADS Cassidian – Tanan 300 – Unmanned Aircraft System. They also offer the even smaller Surveycopter Copter 4, which is more like a larger, vertical takeoff mini-UAV.
- Indra – Unmanned Platform. Includes its Pelicano VTUAV.
- Saab – Skeldar V-200 Maritime. Smaller than the MQ-8B.
- Schiebel – S-100 Camcopter. Smaller than the MQ-8B and directly aimed at the naval market, but has also been used on land by Jordan, Libya and the UAE.
- Gizmag, via WayBack – The Snark – the meanest VTOL UAV on the planet. From New Zealand based competitor TGR Helicorp. It claims a stealthy design, with radar shaping, recycling of exhaust gasses to minimize IR signature, endurance over 12 hours on a diesel fuel engine, and a payload of 1,500+ pounds that has included Maverick and Sidewinder missiles. The firm entered receivership in May 2008.
- India Strategic (November 2013) – Indian Navy’s Quest to employ and equip its warships with UAVs. Says the MQ-8 is a candidate, alongside Saab’s Skeldar.
- Flight International, via WayBack (April 27/11) – Vertical take-off UAVs come of age
- Jane’s Eurosatory 2010, via WayBack – Indra Pelicano UAV aimed at naval operations. Smaller, designed for use from ships as small as Offshore Patrol Vessels.
- DefenceIQ, via WayBack (Sept 28/10) – The Maritime Drone: Offshore Patrol Vessels Launch UAVs Into the Fray [incl. video]. Smaller Offshore Patrol Vessels are becoming more popular with navies as budgets constrict, and a combination of new threats and irresponsible global bodies makes the maritime domain more dangerous. Indra’s Pablo González Sánchez-Cantalejo talks about the match between OPVs and maritime UAVs for their BAM/ Pelicano projects.
- Flight International, via NAVAIR archive (Dec 13/06) – Born survivor – An in-depth look at the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical take-off and landing UAV. More extensive background re: the program’s near-death experience in 2002, and the myriad of design changes between the RQ-8A and R/MQ-8B versions.
- DID (Oct 11/05) – Four FCS UAV Subcontracts Awarded. Explains the FCS UAV program, and the various levels of UAVs within it. The MQ-8B was the Level IV solution, until the entire FCS program was cancelled.
Orbital ATK Gets $92M for US Army Supply | Next Batch F-35s May See Further Savings | Taiwan Searching Off Shore for Domestic Submarine Tech
- The US Navy has continued the grounding of T-38 Talon aircraft for another week, after the service’s instructor-pilots reported that crew were experiencing physiological episodes. A three-day grounding was initially called last Wednesday in order for an investigation to take place into what was causing the issues. Finding the cause or causes of the problem, however, has been difficult with several investigations taking place, including the aircraft’s oxygen system. A statement by Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Forces said that the service is taking “an ‘unconstrained resources’ approach to the problem, meaning we have not been nor will we be limited by money or manpower as we diligently work toward solutions.”
- Orbital ATK has been contracted $92 million for the supply of small caliber ammunition to the US Army. The 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds will be produced at the company’s Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Mo. The largest manufacturer of small-caliber ammunition for the US DoD, Orbital has produced more than 17 billion rounds of small-caliber ammunition at Lake City to support US and allied troops.
- Negotiations on the next batch of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters could see savings of at least 5% as the unit cost per fighter looks to dip below $80 million. Current talks between the Pentagon and lead contractor Lockheed Martin are said to be for a batch of about 130 planes, 100 of which are likely to be the A-model configuration. It is on these 100 aircraft that between 5-7 percent, or $660 million, could be shaved off the total price in potential savings. This follows comments made by the program’s head Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan last month who said that the government hoped that by 2020 the F-35 would cost less than $80 million, a 16 percent drop from its current price.
- Thirty mostly Democratic Party lawmakers have expressed their concerns to US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, over the potential sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia. The signed letter comes after an earlier attempt to sell the missiles to Riyadh last December was put on hold due to concerns raised over the increased reports of civilian casualties as a result of sorties from the Royal Saudi Air Force’s campaign in Yemen. Congressional aides told Reuters the Trump administration was on the verge of sending a formal notification to Congress about the sale, which would trigger the formal 30-day review to allow members of Congress to attempt to pass legislation to stop any sale.
- Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) Hurkus aircraft has completed its first missile launch with a Roketsan L-UMTAS laser-guided long-range air-to-surface anti-tank missile. The March 7 test was conducted at the Firing Test and Evaluation Group Command test range near the central Anatolian town of Konya-Karapinar. Alongside the L-UMTAS, the Hurkus will be armed with Roketsan UMTAS infrared-guided anti-tank missiles, Cirit laser-guided 70 mm rockets as well as bombs upgraded with Teber precision guidance kits; has five stores pylons and will be able to carry a payload of 1,500 kg. As well as operating as a basic trainer, the aircraft will be used for light assault and armed reconnaissance missions in the counter-insurgency role. The type is planned to enter into service in 2018.
- The Trump administration is moving ahead with a plan to sell as much as $600 million worth of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft and related equipment to help the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram. Initial permission had been granted under the previous Obama administration but was put on hold following Nigeria’s bombing of a refugee camp in January. Congress is expected to receive notification on the sale of 12 Super Tucanos and sophisticated targeting gear within weeks, and Trump plans to go ahead with other foreign defense sales delayed under Obama by human rights concerns.
- Rauma Marine Constructions has been contracted by the Finnish government to design new vessels for the Squadron 2020 project. The announcement of the $7.9 million award came without any specifics of what the design will entail. The Finnish Navy’s Squadron 2020 project is to replace seven Navy corvettes that have been, or will be, decommissioned. Contracts for the construction of the new vessels will be signed in 2018.
- Taiwan is in need of five types of submarine technology for their domestic submarine program, according to local defense analysts. Modern torpedo tubes and periscopes are believed to be some of the tech missing by Taipei, as well as the possible need for air-independent propulsion technology or an equivalent to allow the submarine to be practically silent when operating in a submerged environment. The government has allocated spending of $94.81 million for the program’s design phase, due to run until December 2020, and have already dispatched delegations to find foreign suppliers of the technology it requires. While several nations have established submarine programs, most may shy away from selling such tech to Taiwan for fear of upsetting relations with China.
- Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) 2017:
Embraer’s EMB-314 Super Tucano trainer and light attack turboprop continues to rack up global orders, solidifying its position as the globe’s pre-eminent manned counter-insurgency aircraft. The latest order set of about $180 million expands the plane’s footprint into 3 African states: Angola, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. They join Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Indonesia as customers for this aircraft.
The Super Tucano is known as the A-29 or ALX in Brazil, but abroad, it’s the EMB 314 successor to Embraer’s widely-used EMB 312 Tucano trainer. A-29 is better for marketing, though, and Embraer is trying to shift the designation. The Super Tucano offers better flight performance than the EMB 312 Tucano, plus armoring and wing-mounted machine guns, weapons integration with advanced surveillance and targeting pods, precision-guided bombs, and even air-to-air missiles. This makes it an excellent territorial defense and close support plane for low-budget air forces, as well as a surveillance asset with armed attack capability. Brazil uses it this way, for instance, alongside very advanced EMB-145 airborne radar and maritime patrol jet platforms. Meanwhile, in Africa…
In March 2012, Embraer announced that the total value of all 3 contracts to Angola, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania comes to “more than $180 million” for around 10 planes. This includes “extensive” support, training, and replacement parts packages.
In April 2013, they announced a 4th customer: Senegal, and Ghana joined that list in 2014.
In January 2015, the United Arab Emirates committed UAE to procure a couple dozen Super Tucanos on behalf of Iraq in a deal that is not quite settled.Angola Angolan EMB-314
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Angola sits far down Africa’s southwestern coast. The regime maintains a sizable and advanced fighter force by African standards, at least on paper. Questions abound as to how many of the of those Soviet and Russian fighters are still operational. They have ordered 6 Super Tucanos for counter-insurgency roles, which will join 6 ex-Peruvian EMB-312 Tucanos that were bought in 2002.
Angola is an authoritarian regime, and the country’s economy would be in desperate shape if not for recent oil drilling activity off of its coasts. A 2010 report by the conservative US Heritage Foundation tabbed Angola as China’s #1 supplier of oil, passing Saudi Arabia. As is so often true in Africa, the next question involves how much of that oil wealth is ever seen by the population at large. The country went through a long civil war that lasted from the 1980s to 2002, and the northern enclave of Cabinda is still a focus of separatist activity.
Jan 31/13: The first 3 Super Tucanos are formally handed over to the National Air Force of Angloa, at a ceremony held in Embraer’s Gaviao Peixoto facility near Sao Paulo, Brazil.
These first 3 aircraft were to be delivered in 2012, so they’re a bit late. Angola is far from Mali’s headline making war, but as noted above, the country has its own problems. Embraer.Burkina Faso
This landlocked country in West Africa had already received their 3 Super Tucanos by the time the arch 2012 announcement was made, and were using them on border patrol missions. Adding the Super Tucanos gives the country operational fixed-wing combat aircraft again, though they’re also an AT-802 Air Tractor customer. The AT-802U variant can easily be reconfigured for armed roles, or act as the locust sprayer the country’s AT-802 was purchased to be. In that part of the world, the locusts are a security risk that can easily measure up to any regional turmoil.
Burkina Faso has a good record of free and fair elections by African standards, and dealt with widespread spring 2011 protests through the political process. Its neighbors are Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, and Togo.
In March 2012, we wrote that “some of [these neighbors] harbor regional turmoil that risks spilling over. The Super Tucanos should help to keep an eye on things, and provide a low-key deterrent to trouble.” Things certainly have spilled over in Mali, and the conflict is not confined to that country’s borders. Burkina Faso is a member of the USA’s Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), and its Super Tucanos are probably fairly busy at the moment.Ghana
Ghana sits directly south of Burkina Faso, between the Ivory Coast and Togo. Until recently lauded as a model of development among its sub-Saharan peers, the country has been facing rising inflation and public deficits as of late. A mounting backlog of unpaid wages to defense and security contractors has been piling up. Piracy has also been booming in the Gulf of Guinea, with an oil tanker gone missing for a week off the coast of Ghana in June 2014.
Mark Owen Woyongo, at the time Minister of Defense, first said in March 2014 that the acquisition of 6 Super Tucanos was under consideration, for use at a flying school to be built in Tamale, Ghana’s 3rd city. President John Dramani Mahama then confirmed in November 2014 that the country would buy an unspecified quantity of Super Tucanos, along with Chinese Z-9 helicopters, more M-17 Russian helos, and an additional C-295 tactical transport. The Z-9s are expected to be delivered in June 2015 at the forthcoming Tamale training base. The Super Tucanos are meant to be used for training and attack.
Confirmation came on 18 February from President John Dramani Mahama, indicating that five Super Tucanos will be purchased, along with the Z-9s and other equipment.
December 14/15: Ghana is set to increase it’s fleet of Embraer Super Tucanos in 2016. The order of four more of the aircraft will see a previous contract increase to nine in total. The acquisition is also to include logisitical support and training for pilots as well as maintenance training for mechanics. The announcement comes as the Ghanaian government has been improving the capabilities of its air force to support troops participating in UN peace keeping missions in the region.Mauritania Mauritanian EMB-314
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This country, which sits on Africa’s northwest coasts, is simply mentioned as a customer that “chose the A-29 Super Tucano to carry out counter-insurgency missions.” The country has a very small air force, and its 3-4 ex-French EMB 312 Tucano aircraft are old. Given the overall order total given, and generally understood costs for the Super Tucano, they may have bought just 1 aircraft.
The country is active in the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS), including operations across borders in cooperation with its neighbor Mali, and has fought a number of skirmishes in Mauritania with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. This has been a balancing act for the USA, which has also issued reports citing Mauritania’s Arab rulers for organized repression of its black population, up to and including slavery and human trafficking. That’s a very old pattern for the area, but it’s even more distressing to current sensibilities.
It wasn’t distressing enough to block sales, however, even in a racially mixed country like Brazil.
Oct 22/12: Embraer hands over “the first light attack and advanced training A-29 Super Tucano turboprops to the Air Force of Mauritania”, for use in “border surveillance missions.” The handover ceremony takes place at Embraer’s Sao Paulo facility, and their use of the plural form is interesting. Embraer.Nigeria
April 11/17: The Trump administration is moving ahead with a plan to sell as much as $600 million worth of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft and related equipment to help the Nigerian Air Force in their fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram. Initial permission had been granted under the previous Obama administration but was put on hold following Nigeria’s bombing of a refugee camp in January. Congress is expected to receive notification on the sale of 12 Super Tucanos and sophisticated targeting gear within weeks, and Trump plans to go ahead with other foreign defense sales delayed under Obama by human rights concerns.
May 9/16: Approval is being sought by the Pentagon for the sale of up to 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Nigeria in order to increase military support for the West African nation’s fight against Boko Haram militants. Congress, which needs to approve the sale, has not yet been notified of the foreign military sale. Increased support from Washington comes as new Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari moves to reform a government and military notorious for graft and corruption.Senegal
April 10/13: The Senegalese Air Force signs a contract for 3 A-29 Super Tucano light attack/ advanced training turboprops. The order includes operation and the installation of a training system for pilots and mechanics (TOSS) within Senegal, which will create an independent national training capability – and possibly even a regional capability, if other A-29 customers nearby make arrangements. The cost isn’t revealed, but financing will be handled by Brazil’s BNDES National Economic and Social Development Bank (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Economico e Social).
Embraer’s release states that the planes will be deployed on “border surveillance and internal security missions.” Senegal is a former french colony that sits just below A-29 operator Mauritania, on Africa’s west coast. Its other neighbor is Mali, which was recently the subject of a multinational fight against salafist Islamists, led by the French. If you cross southern Mali, you immediately reach another A-29 customer in Burkina Faso. Embraer.Additional Readings