Skip directly to content

Defense Industry Daily

Subscribe to Defense Industry Daily feed
Military Purchasing News for Defense Procurement Managers and Contractors
Updated: 57 min 40 sec ago

Poland Poised for Realistic but Low Profile Posture?

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 16:19

  • Poland has adopted [Defence24] a new national security strategy, which explicitly recognizes “a risk of local and regional conflicts in direct vicinity of Poland.” The Economist profiles Ewa Kopacz, Poland’s prime minister since last month, as a pragmatic leader likely to play it safe rather than use a confrontational tone in her dealings with Russia.

  • Reuters has shown pictures of charred tanks in Eastern Ukraine which several analysts thought had to be Russian.

  • Slovakia will purchase 2 C-27J transport aircraft, reports the Slovak Spectator.

Future US Subs

  • The US Navy is starting [USNI] early design work for the next generation of submarines meant to succeed the Virginia class in the 2030s.

Middle East

Categories: News

If Necessary, Alone: The Shield of Poland

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 18:38

In the wake of events in Georgia and Crimea, Poland has emerged as NATO’s key eastern bastion. The Tarcza Polski (Shield of Poland) aims to give it an advanced air defense system to match.

Poland’s military rise has been slow, but steady. Smart economic policies have created growth, and a willingness to finance national defense is slowly improving their equipment. Combat deployments abroad to Iraq and Afghanistan have both sharpened training, and highlighted areas that still need fixing. Missile proliferation in the Middle East, American fecklessness, and a rearming Russia have all led Poland to the conclusion that they can no longer depend on old Soviet-era air defense equipment. They need their own advanced national air defense system, which can benefit from allied contributions without being dependent on them.

Tarcza Polski’s 3 Air Defense Tiers

The Shield of Poland is envisaged as a 3-tier system.

Tier 1: Local Thunder POPRAD/ GROM
(click to view full)

The lowest tier involves shoulder-fired Grom/Piorun missiles. Poland’s Grom (“Thunder”) is reportedly the product of some unauthorized “borrowing” from Russia’s SA-18, with local Polish changes and improvements. Grom/Piorun missiles can also be fielded as additions to fixed, radar-aided 23mm guns (Pilica system), or integrated on truck-mounted quad launchers (Poprad system). Both will be part of Tarcza Polski.

Grom missiles have already claimed a number of Russian aircraft, when used by Georgian armed forces during the 2008 conflict.

The Piorun is an enhanced version of Grom, with a new proximity fuze and warhead.

Tier 2: NAREW Air Defense NASAMS-II
(click to view full)

The next tier is known as the NAREW program. It involves up to 11 batteries of “short range” conventional air defense missiles, without anti-ballistic missile capabilities. While the top-tier systems have garnered the most attention and focus, and will be implemented first as a high-performance deterrent, NAREW’s ability to counter aircraft and cruise missiles at an affordable cost may make it Poland’s most critical purchase.

Competitors reportedly include Diehl (IRIS-T SL), MBDA-Bumar (VL-MICA), Israel’s RAFAEL (SPYDER & Iron Dome); and Raytheon (NASAMS). MBDA-Lockheed’s MEADS system was dealt out after Poland failed to shortlist it for the top-tier WISLA system, but Diehl’s IRIS-T remains.

MBDA’s VL-MICA. This variant of their medium range air-to-air missile is still looking for a truck-mounted land order, though it has been picked for a few naval vessels. The Platoon Command Post and 3D radar are complemented by missiles that come in infrared and radar guided versions. That makes the system quite dangerous, even if its radars are shut down to protect them from enemy detection.

MEADS / IRIS-T. This consortium was led by Lockheed Martin and MEADS, creating a top-tier BMD system that can also mount Diehl’s IRIS-T. Aircraft and cruise missile missiles could be engaged with either MEADS’ PAC-3 MSE or IRIS-T, depending on distance, priority, etc. This dual role made MEADS’ bid something of an all-or-nothing affair. When Poland decided that MEADS was too risky to become a WISLA finalist, it effectively killed the system as a NAREW option, though buy-in from Germany and Italy could change its fate.

IRIS-T SL spun out as an independent bid, offering and a vertically-launched variant of the infrared-guided air-to-air missile, complete with an enhanced rocket motor, an aerodynamic hood for extended range, a data link, and an autonomous GPS/INS navigation system. That’s paired with an Australian CEAFAR AESA radar, Rheinmetall Air Defence’s Oerlikon Skymaster battle management system, and Terma’s BMD-Flex command, control and communication system.

SPYDER

RAFAEL’s SPYDER. Israel’s system uses a pair of Python-5 IIR-guided and derivative Derby radar-guided missiles to the same effect as the different MICA variants, cued by a combination of radar and optical sensors. The truck-mounted system comes in SR (4 missiles) and MR (8 missiles with range-extending boosters) options. One interesting question is whether SPYDER-MR could also mount the Stunner missile from David’s Sling, creating a mobile BMD option. There’s already a base for Polish-Israeli cooperation, as Peru’s new air defenses are a combination of Poprad and SPYDER-SR systems, via a partnership between Poland’s Bumar (Poprad), RAFAEL (SPYDER system), and Northrop Grumman (long-range TPS-78 radar). It will be interesting to see if that arrangement rebounds back to Poland. SPYDER has been publicly exported to Georgia, India, Peru, and Singapore.

Raytheon’s NASAMS-II. This system seems to hold the high ground, if NAREW is considered on its own. Its flexible open-architecture command and control could place it at the center of Poland’s tactical air defenses, and Raytheon is working with WZU SA in Grudziadz to re-use Poland’s tracked Soviet-era SA-6 launchers as part of the system. Fokker would provide the launcher canisters, and Thales-Nederland the radar. Missile variety (IRIS-T, AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, and longer-range RIM-162 ESSM), and commonality with existing Polish Air Force missile stocks (AIM-9X and AIM-120) help create a powerful edge. NATO and related NASAMS customers include Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Spain; it has also been exported elsewhere.

Tier 3: The WISLA Air/BMD Tier SAMP/T Aster-30
(click to view full)

The top tier is the WISLA program, which will have priority. In this “medium range” competition, up to 8 batteries will act as both long-range air defense, and point defense against short to medium range ballistic missiles. The only reason WISLA isn’t classed as long range is the expected 300+ km reach of land-based SM-3 Block IIA missiles, once the USA’s Aegis Ashore complex goes live at Redzikowo in 2018.

Competitors reportedly include MBDA-Lockheed (MEADS), MBDA-Thales-Bumar (SAMP/T Mamba using Aster-30), Israel’s SIBAT export agency (David’s Sling/ “Stunner”), and Raytheon (PATRIOT). All have killed ballistic missiles in live-fire tests, and all offer different advantages and disadvantages.

MEADS concept
(click to view full)

MEADS. Advantages: European partnership, Advanced unified solution. Disadvantages: Risk. Lost its American customer due to the cost of integrating it with back-end command systems. The PAC-3 MSE missile is migrating to PATRIOT batteries, however, and MEADS’ advanced radars may do likewise eventually. Meanwhile, MEADS program partners Germany and Italy are looking at the possibility of financing the full system into production themselves, and Polish participation would really help. That’s good news in terms of industrial development opportunities, but it also adds real risks. Lockheed Martin and MBDA’s MEADS is a step up from PATRIOT in all respects, and its ability to launch Diehl’s short-range IR-guided IRIS-T SL missiles as a supplement adds to its appeal over PATRIOT.

The catch is that Poland would have to accept project risk, cost risk, and coalition risk in exchange. They chose not to, but there are reports that MEADS’ PAC-3 MSE missile could be an option as part of Raytheon’s bid.

PATRIOT explained
(click to view full)

PATRIOT (Finalist). Advantages: No-risk choice. Disadvantages: Performance. Raytheon offers the most widely deployed and proven option, with zero development risk, a set path to integration with American and NATO back-end systems, full compatibility with American units already on Polish soil, and a massive global installed base that guarantees long-term upgrades and support. Raytheon IDS VP Sanjay Kapoor has added that that Polish systems would include the “PAC-3 MSE missile and recent technological enhancements introduced into the Patriot radar and command and control…”

On the flip side, PATRIOT currently has the least powerful radar in this group, and there is some concern that even with the PAC-3 MSE, future Russian aircraft and weapons will begin to outpace its capabilities. In response, Raytheon is offering Poland a variant of the TPQ-65 with 360-degree rotating coverage, an all-new antenna, and a new IFF system built in cooperation with Poland’s Bumar. RAFAEL’s Stunner missile is also an option, as an optional “Low Cost Interceptor”. Beyond that, Raytheon’s TPY-2 could also help even up the radar equation quickly, if it’s offered as part of the overall Wisla bid. It’s already being exported to the UAE as part of their land-based THAAD BMD system, and a TPY-2 is currently operating on NATO’s behalf in Turkey.

SAMP/T Mamba (Finalist). Advantages: European partnership, Range. Disadvantages: Cost, French diplomacy. MBDA’s SAMP/T uses an advanced Arabel radar, and an Aster-30 missile with longer proven reach than Poland’s other WISLA options. The SAMP/T system already serves with France and Italy, and France is implementing its own national BMD system within NATO’s ALTBMD. That makes it a ready model if Poland wants a European system. On the industrial front, MBDA has already secured key partnerships.

All of these considerations make SAMP/T a strong contender in Poland, if Mamba’s cost and France’s snake-eyes diplomacy don’t destroy its chances. America’s relationship with Poland had been damaged before the Ukrainian crisis, but France’s continued willingness to sell Russia amphibious assault ships after Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine is an odd case of “anything vous can do, nous can do meilleur”. Still, senior members of the Polish government have been recorded saying that American security guarantees are worthless. In that context, EuroSAM’s status as a finalist becomes less surprising.

DS intercept test
(click to view full)

Stunner/ David’s Sling. Advantages: Cost. Disadvantages: Initial capabilities. This system is just completing development in Israel, where it will replace existing MIM-23 Hawk and MIM-104 PATRIOT batteries. Its Stunner missile said to be significantly less expensive than Lockheed Martin’s PATRIOT PAC-3, and the firm has even worked with Raytheon to tout a PAAC-4 system that would use Stunner on top of Raytheon’s PATRIOT Config-3 core system. Unfortunately, Stunner’s initial release won’t have key capabilities like cruise missile/ UAV interception, or the ability to hit maneuvering ballistic targets. Israel’s SIBAT tends to be closed-mouthed about its offerings, but it does have the leeway to offer Poland other advanced equipment like the Green Pine long-range radar used in Israel, South Korea, and India.

We thought that “the Israeli firm could have a tough climb here,” and pressure from the USA was the final nail. The Israeli firm was not a finalist, but the Stunner missile survives as a PAAC-4 option within Raytheon’s official bid.

Contracts & Key Events 2013 – 2014

Budget plan set and WISLA finalists confirmed; Israel reportedly out – but Raytheon brings them back in; NAREW timeline & shortlist; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine speeds up plans, somewhat. Raytheon, MSPO 2013

Oct 23/14: NAREW. Col. Adam Duda of Poland’s Armament Inspectorate outlines their candidates and timelines for the NAREW medium-range air defense system. The technical dialogue will begin in November 2014, for completion in Q1 2015. They believe that Poland can continue to provide all of its own command and control systems, but basic tactical and technical assumptions, and feasibility studies, will continue until the end of 2015. The winning system would be picked in 2016. Poland is only looking at complete system packages, and announced candidates include:

“Kongsberg NASAMS, MBDA Mica VL, Israeli Spyder and Iron Dome systems and the German IRIS-T. [Duda] claimed though that “other solutions” may also be taken into account during the proceedings.”

Note the addition of Iron Dome and the absence of MEADS, which was eliminated from WISLA. Germany and Italy are still deciding whether to invest in it independently, however, and the door seems open if those decisions change the landscape. Meanwhile, IRIS-T SL survived as an independent bid, offering and a vertically-launched variant of the infrared-guided air-to-air missile, complete with an enhanced rocket motor, an aerodynamic hood for extended range, a data link, and an autonomous GPS/INS navigation system. That’s paired with an Australian CEAFAR AESA radar, Rheinmetall Air Defence’s Oerlikon Skymaster battle management system, and Terma’s BMD-Flex command, control and communication system. Sources: Defence24, “Poland to Begin Short Range Air Defence System Procurement in 2016″.

June 30/14: WISLA Finalists. Poland’s MON announces the Wisla program’s finalists: Raytheon’s ‘PATRIOT with options’ offer, and EuroSAM’s SAMP/T Mamba system that uses the Aster-30.

Poland won’t become part of the MEADS program, nor will it buy Israel’s David’s Sling. The 2-stage technical dialogue led Poland to conclude that they required an operational system that is deployed by NATO countries. Once those requirements were set, MEADS and David’s Sling failed to qualify. Sources: Poland MON, “Kolejny etap realizacji programu Wisla zakonczony” | Raytheon, “Poland invites Raytheon to participate in final phase of WISLA competition”.

Finalists

June 12/14: Raytheon. Raytheon Company and Bumar Elektronika announce a partnership to design and develop a modernized Patriot Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) antenna that can upgrade previous ground systems. Meanwhile, Raytheon has begun laying out its broader vision for WISLA.

The IFF system will be used as part of an “advanced Patriot 360 degree radar.” Raytheon says that it would be based on the current AN/APG-65 with the new Radar Digital Processor, but it would carry an all-new antenna, and rotate for full hemispheric coverage. The result would also be an attractive upgrade for customers whose emplaced PATRIOTs are currently limited to a 120 degree field of regard. It would also bring Raytheon closer to parity with Lockheed’s MEADS, which substitutes three 360-degree radars (2 X-band MFCR, 1 UHF-band VSR) in place of the PATRIOT system’s single G-band MPQ-53 (PAC-2) or MPQ-65 (PAC-3).

A new open-architecture, NATO-compatible Common Command and Control (CC2) system would be a joint Raytheon-Polish development, incorporating PATRIOT fire control software, but allowing the integration of options like NASAMS and other systems. CC2’s design, development, and testing would be done in partnership with Polish industry, with the final product produced in Poland.

Missile choice would be up to Poland. Raytheon makes PAC-2 GEM missiles, while Lockheed Martin makes PAC-3 and PAC-3 MSE missiles. To flank their rival at the high end, Raytheon is offering a “new advanced Low Cost Interceptor (LCI)” option. This refers to Raytheon’s PAAC-4 offering, which can add RAFAEL’s Stunner missiles from the competing David’s Sling air defense/ ABM system. If previous reports are true (q.v. May 14/14), Raytheon has effectively recruited their Israeli competitor into their team. The final LCI missile solution would be based on Polish requirements, and it’s worth noting that Raytheon is also RAFAEL’s partner for the famous Iron Dome counter-rocket system. Sources: Direct discussions | Raytheon, “Poland’s Bumar Elektronika and Raytheon Partner to Develop New Patriot IFF Antenna”.

May 14/14: No Israel in WISLA. The USA has reportedly used export clearance to block Israel’s David’s Sling system from WISLA consideration. Israel’s silence concerning Russia’s ongoing annexation of eastern Ukraine hasn’t helped them in Poland, either. France is one-upping the Israelis with their continued willingness to sell Russia amphibious assault helicopter carriers, but they seem committed, even though a SAMP/T win in Poland would earn around 5x what Russia is paying for the Vladivostoks. Which leaves a strong likelihood that WISLA will be American-made. Reuters:

“As compensation, the manufacturer of the Israeli David’s Sling missile defense system may get a role in a future U.S.-led arms sale to Warsaw, the [Israeli] official, who has been briefed on the competition, told Reuters on condition of anonymity…. The involvement of U.S. technologies gives Washington an effective veto over export of the system, which the Israeli defense official said had been quietly wielded in this case. “There has been pressure,” he said, without elaborating. “We cannot sell everything we want to.””

At the same time, Lockheed Martin’s Marty Coyne told Reuters that the US government had “supported the MEADS bid by giving Lockheed permission to offer producing its baseline PAC-3 missiles in Poland, and to help Polish industry set up production of its own long-range missile.” If the winner is MEADS, that would mean either a PAC-3 downgrade within the more advanced MEADS system, or full local production of the PAC-3 MSE, which is the USA most advanced air defense missile. Sources: Reuters, “Exclusive: Israel’s David’s Sling will not win Polish missile tender – official”.

March 20/14: Polish Deputy Defence Minister Czeslaw Mroczek tells Reuters that Polish priorities are changing. With respect to the Shield of Poland:

“By the end of this year we want to already have chosen an offer. That is the acceleration by several months, compared to our original plans, that we are talking about…. To a certain extent, the decision on accelerating this process is the result of a review commissioned by the prime minister and the defence minister because of the situation in Ukraine.”

The full system is still slated to be ready by 2022, and could cost up to $13 billion. The WISLA medium range system is reportedly going to be Phase 1. Sources: Reuters, “Poland speeds up missile defense plan amid Ukraine crisis”.

March 17/14: MEADS. With Russia in the middle of invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute writes that:

“Both [China and Russia] field ballistic missiles and airborne weapons that would present a challenge to Patriot in its current form, and the outlook is for such weapons to become more capable…. in an unusual move, the Obama Administration late last week gave prime contractor Lockheed Martin permission to offer the Medium Extended Air Defense System to Warsaw for use in the Polish Shield. The Poles have known about MEADS for some time, because two other European NATO nations – Germany and Italy – provided 42% of the money needed to develop it. A Polish delegation showed up for November tests in which a MEADS prototype demonstrated its ability to intercept a drone and a ballistic missile approaching from opposite directions.”

Meanwhile, Warsaw Business Journal confirms just 4 finalists: SAMP/T (MBDA & Thales), MEADS (MBDA & Lockheed Martin), Raytheon (PATRIOT), and the Israeli government (David’s Sling). Sources: Forbes Magazine, “Ukraine Crisis: Poland’s Air Defenses Become A Pressing Concern For Washington” | Warsaw Business Journal, “Four in the running for medium range air defense system”.

Feb 11/14: WISLA. Poland’s Ministry of National Defense announced the start of Phase 2 of WISLA’s technical dialogue. Stage 2 aims to identify the areas of potential technical and industrial cooperation, the transfer of knowledge, technology, and production, and the intellectual property rights available.

Raytheon says that they are 1 of 5 shortlisted parties, and recently signed a Letter of Intent with Poland’s Polski Holding Obronny sp.z o.o. (PHO) to explore cooperation. Their WISLA offering is based on PATRIOT, and Raytheon and PHO are hosting a Partnering Conference on March 18-19/14 at the Hilton Hotel in Warsaw, Poland. Sources: Raytheon, “Poland invites Raytheon to participate in round two of WISLA technical dialogues”.

Nov 26/13: Defense News offers an update on Polish plans:

“Poland plans to modernize its anti-aircraft and anti-missile system by 2022 by adding short- and middle-range missiles. The program is estimated to be worth as much as 26.4 billion zloty (US $8.4 billion), according to figures obtained by local daily Gazeta Wyborcza, which makes it the country’s largest armament program.”

Poland reportedly had 14 firms interested in WISLA, including Boeing, Israel’s SIBAT export agency, MBDA (incl. a consortium led by Poland’s Bumar), and Raytheon. Some of the interested firms would have to be sub-contractors, or supply just part of a system: Turkey’s Aselsan, Northrop Grumman, Selex, Spain’s Indra and Sener, and Thales.

Lockheed Martin is notably absent, but MEADS is being offered through MBDA as a 2nd bid, alongside their SAMP/T offer through Bumar. Lockheed Martin would remain an active MEADS participant, and remaining development funds are estimated at $400 – 600 million. Germany and Italy and considering “a transition to European development work” by the end of 2014, and have invited Poland to join them. Sources: Defense News, “Building the Shield” | NTI Global Security Newswire, “Poland Eyes Up to $8.4 Billion in Air and Missile Defense Costs”.

Sept 18/13: Budgets. Poland’s government introduces a 10-year military modernization law that lays out a comprehensive modernization program. Once enacted, it will remove the problem of unspent modernization funds having to be returned each year, and prevent attempts to shift the money to other purposes. The catch? Poland’s “Law on the reform and technical modernization of Polish Armed Forces” includes a guarantee that every year, Poland will spend 1.95% of GDP on defense. The good news is that this sets a solid minimum. The bad news is that it also sets an effective maximum, so successful financing of these programs will depend on the long-term state of Poland’s economy.

“Among the priorities defined by the President Bronislaw Komorowski and Prime Minister Donald Tusk in November 2011, written in “Technical Modernization Plan for 2013-2022″ the following key operational programs are listed:

1. Air defence system – among other things the following items will be procured under this program:
– air defence medium-range missile systems WISLA;
– air defence short-range missile systems NAREW;
– self-propelled air defence missile systems POPRAD;
– mobile air defence missile system GROM/PIORUN;
– air defence short-range artillery-missile systems PILICA [DID: ZU-23-2 with 2 Grom missiles];
– mobile three-coordinates radio stations SOLA/BYSTRA.”

Sources: Polish MON, “Money for new military equipment guaranteed”.

2007 – 2012

Poland burned by USA, resolves to field their own system as well. Aegis Ashore
(click to view full)

Aug 6/12: Poland fixing its “mistake”. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski states that Poland is prepared to create its own anti-aircraft and missile defense system as part of a NATO shield, at a cost of $3-6 billion. With respect to the USA’s defensive plan, which Poland hasn’t rejected:

“Our mistake was that by accepting the American offer of a shield we failed to take into account the political risk associated with a change of president. We paid a high political price. We do not want to make the same mistake again.”

The missile and air defense system proposed by the Polish president would target all short and some medium range missiles, just like the initial 2 stages of the EPAA. The system would be part of the emerging NATO Missile Defense shield, but beyond that, details regarding radars, weapons, etc. would have to be fleshed out in subsequent contracts. Germany and France were specifically mentioned as potential partners, and MBDA’s naval PAAMS system and Aster-30 missiles have already been converted to a land equivalent of their own. Their SAMP/T is the logical competitor if Poland wants to buy a non-American system. Its weakness is that it wouldn’t be able to grow into a counter against IRBM or ICBM missiles, but that could make it a very good complement to an American system that can. Relations with Israel are close, but David’s Sling is a joint development with Raytheon, and past American behavior has involved use its weapon export rules against potential competitors. Polskie Radio | Forbes | German Marshall Fund of the United States | Russia’s RIA Novosti | UK’s The Telegraph | UPI | WSJ Emerging Europe.

Sept 20/10: Budgets. Defense Minister Bogdan Klich announces that the 2011 military budget will grow 7.1% after 2010’s austerity measures, to PZL 27.25 billion ($8.79 billion). A national air and missile defense system will likely need its own separate approval, and:

“Anticipating the tender announcement, all likely bidders presented their offers from Sept. 6 to 9 at the International Defense Industry Exhibition MSPO in Kielce…. included a proposal based on the short-range VL Mica and medium-range Aster-30 missiles from European missile maker MBDA integrated with radars and Grom missiles from Poland’s Bumar Group; Norway’s Kongsberg and Raytheon’s joint bid comprising Patriot and NASAMS II systems; and Israeli Rafael and Raytheon with the Spider and Stunner interceptors.”

Sources: Defense News, “Poland’s Defense Budget Rises, With Emphasis on Modernization”.

December 2009: Status of Forces agreement between Poland and the USA paves the way for emplacement of US Army PATRIOT missile batteries in the country.

Sept 17/09: “Smart” Diplomacy. President Obama calls Polish Prime Minister Tusk to tell him, without any prior consultation, that the USA is changing their plans.

While the military rationale for cheaper, more proven missiles that can handle multi-missile raids is solid, calling the diplomatic handling incompetent would be kind. After announcing a “reset” in relations with Russia, the USA tells Poland that a different system will be delayed from 2011 until 2018. While trying to convince people that it isn’t a cave-in to Russian demands. As a final capper, the call from Obama comes on the anniversary of Russia’s attack on Poland at the start of WWII. Read “SM-3 BMD, in from the Sea: EPAA & Aegis Ashore” for full coverage of the revised EPAA plans.

Switch to EPAA

July 1/09: MBDA. The firm takes its existing Polish agreements (q.v. Sept 3/07) a step further, and signs a framework agreement:

“This agreement will see MBDA and BUMAR jointly involved in a project to modernise Poland’s ground based air defences. Long term co-operation will permit significant exchanges of technology between the two partners and the optimisation of investments already made. In this respect the new system will draw on elements of MBDA’s short-range VL MICA and medium-range Aster 30 missiles with other major subsystems such as the radars and the command and control systems developed by PIT (the Warsaw-based telecommunications research institute – Przemyslowy Instytut Telekomunikacji) and RADWAR (one of several companies within the BUMAR group which is Poland’s largest defence equipment manufacturer).”

Sources: MBDA, “MBDA and BUMAR sign framework agreement for the future Polish air defence system” | Microwave Journal, “MBDA and BUMAR Sign Polish Air Defense Agreement.”

Aug 20/08: BMD OK. Poland acceptes the G.W. Bush administration’s missile defense program, which promises to complete a base in Poland by 2011. The proposal had been the subject of vigorous debate, but Russia’s invasion of Georgia helps firm up Polish resolve.

BMD OKed

Sept 3/07: MBDA. The firm signs initial Polish partnership deals:

“The agreement, signed in the presence of Polish Vice-Prime Minister Przeyslaw Dosiewski and Polish Secretary of State for Defence Marek Zajakala, is aimed at future cooperation to meet the Polish Armed Forces’ long term ground based air defence requirements.

Under the agreement MBDA, along with Przemyslowy Instytut Telekomunikacji (PIT) and RADWAR (part of BUMAR, Poland’s largest defence equipment manufacturer) will have the common aim of providing the Polish Armed Forces with the range of Polish made weapon systems that will be needed to meet the country’s national anti-air defence requirements as well as its NATO and European commitments over the next 20 years.”

Sources: MBDA, “MBDA signs cooperative air defence agreement with Polish”.

Additional Readings

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

General Background

WISLA Contenders

NAREW Contenders

News & Views

Categories: News

General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman: Flattish Revenue but Growing Order Book

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 15:20

  • General Dynamics had basically flat Q3 2014 revenue, with total sales of $7.7B, masking a 13% drop in information systems balanced by growth of about 7% in aerospace, combat systems, and marine systems. Their total backlog reached $74.4B and has been robustly growing throughout the year, though most of that growth is unfunded.

  • Like Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman’s Q3 sales dropped by 2% YoY to $5.9B. However their total backlog grew by 8% to $38.5B thanks to $9B in new awards (a 150% book-to-bill ratio) led by the E-2D Hawkeye.

  • Boeing’s Q3 sales [PDF] grew by 7.7% to $23.8B, again thanks to commercial aircraft as Defense, Space and Security’s revenue slightly declined by $100M to $7.9B, with book-to-bill barely above 50%.

  • For perspective, Apple’s free cash flow for the same quarter was $9.3B, more than what defense primes pull in *revenue*, an an order of magnitude more than their free cash flow.

  • The US Air Force released a draft RFP [FBO] for the development and production of its Advanced Radar Threat System Variant 2 (ARTS-V2), a “pre-Milestone B Program to develop and field a high fidelity threat emitter for live aircrew training for anti-access/area denial environments.” They will hold an industry day on Nov. 19 at Hill AFB, UT.

  • Intelsat was awarded a contract by the USAF to study the commercialization of its Satellite Control Network which could help lower costs.

Israeli Programs

  • Elbit announced an $85 million contract for “an F-5 aircraft avionics upgrade program and… electro-optic and communications systems” over 3 years. Jane’s rules out previous upgrade customers Singapore and Thailand, but Thailand’s F-5T upgrades were a late 1980s deal, and Singapore’s F-5S variant achieved FOC in 1999. We wouldn’t rule either of them out.

  • The Gatestone Institute, a think tank with neoconservative instincts, argues that fatalities have decreased while Hamas fired more rockets at Israel, ergo Iron Dome works.

Europe

  • Sweden continues to hunt [National Post] an elusive, putative Russian sub, while Estonia says [AP] a Russian Ilyushin-20 surveillance aircraft crossed into its airspace on Tuesday, leading to the usual scrambling and intercepting dance [Reuters]. Support among Swedish political parties for increased defense spending may be rising [The Economist].

Asia/Pacific

  • A Chinese national who tried to fraudulently obtain technology from U.S. companies in 2003-06 was sentenced [FBI] to 15 Months in prison. Will he get a medal for effort when he returns home, or punishment for getting caught?

  • New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence released a report [PDF] on how to optimise industry involvement in the local defence sector. Defense spending is now two-thirds local, but that’s out of a small NZD 800M total (about $626M). And while operating expenditure is 80% local, 70% of capital expenditure is sourced abroad.

Developing Fast but Safe Rockets

  • Today’s video from Los Alamos National Lab shows their work testing a new rocket design which tries to combine high-energy fuel and a motor design meant to provide safe performance:

Categories: News

Two to Tango? Argentina Looking for New Warplanes

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 15:01
Kfir C2
(click to view full)

Argentina’s air force is having a hard time maintaining its core Nesher/”Finger” fighters, even as the Kirchner regime seeks to take control of the Falkland Islands and their potential offshore oil reserves. That led Argentina to search for new fighter options, as the most reliable way of projecting power to likely exploration zones. Britain’s defenses are also much more run down than they were in the 1980s, and their complete lack of a carrier force leaves ongoing protection of the islands’ surrounding economic zones to just 2-4 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, an offshore patrol vessel, and part of a regular navy ship rotation.

Argentina’s window of opportunity will close when Britain’s advanced carrier force enters service in 2020, which has added urgency on both sides as Argentina tries to make a deal. Can Argentina find its partner?

Forces Around the Falklands: Situation Report British Breakdown Gone.

The islands’ inhabitants voted overwhelmingly to remain part of Britain during the referendum. Unfortunately, Britain has lost more than just its carrier force in the intervening years since the Falklands War. The Vulcan bombers and Victor tankers that staged ultra-long range bombing raids are long gone. The Harriers bought after the war ended, and modernized for use in Afghanistan, were retired. So were the Tornado F3 aircraft that were bought in the 1980s for long-range combat air patrols. The Royal Navy’s number of serious surface combatants has sunk to just 19, only 1 of which patrols the South Atlantic and West Africa at any given time. Worse, it has readiness issues with its attack submarines.

All this creates a window of opportunity for Argentina – one that will slam shut decisively around 2020, once Britain’s new 65,000t HMS Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B fighters steam into service.

RAF C-17
(click to view full)

Until then, an Argentinian force with modern jets and enough anti-ship missiles could conceivably open the door for a repeat invasion, by making recapture too risky and difficult. First, however, they’d have to take the island. Britain has extended and considerably reinforced the Mount Pleasant airfield with radars, air defenses, and a rotating infantry battalion. The addition of long-range C-17 heavy jet transports to the RAF makes fast long-range troop & vehicle reinforcement possible, forcing any invader to capture, destroy, or interdict the airfield in order to succeed. Meanwhile, the mere threat of nuclear submarines will continue to keep Argentina’s surface navy, such as it is, out of the picture as always.

That’s why harassment and access denial attempts are far more likely, as Argentina continues to attempt intimidation of any oil & gas companies that will be working in the Falklands’ Economic Exclusion Zone. That sort of gambit is harder to thwart, requiring the British to commit more forces and incur more expense than they would like.

If Britain wants to protect the Falklands this time, the rag-tag state of Argentina’s military is its biggest asset. Their goal is too keep Argentina from acquiring the tools they need to create even a moderately effective anti-access zone. If Argentina gets any new fighters at all, Britain’s goal becomes much harder and more expensive.

Argentina’s Efforts FAA Super Etendards

Argentina’s Super Etendard fighters, which were used to launch Exocet missiles in the 1980s and still serve, come from France. Its Mirage III/ V/ “Nesher” fighters were originally bought second-hand from Israel and Peru, but they have deteriorated badly. Its A-4R “Fightinghawk” Skyhawk models were sold to Argentina by the USA, and what’s left of those deliveries make up the bulk of their jet fleet.

Despite steadily-worsening relations with Britain under the Obama administration, the USA is not about to sell Argentina jet fighters. British diplomacy has already worked to delay Argentina’s proposed Super Etendard modernization, and also scuttled a reported deal to buy 16 second-hand Mirage F-1M fighters from Spain.

Cheetahs & Gripens
(click to view full)

That leaves Argentina’s original source for the Neshers. Israel doesn’t have any of those left, but they do have their own Kfir design that made structural changes to the Nesher blueprints, added a more powerful American J-79 turbojet, and received progressive modifications to its radar, electronics, and weapons. Those upgrades continued even after the Kfirs were retired from Israeli service in the late 1990s, on behalf of customers like Colombia, Ecuador, and Sri Lanka. Kfir C.10/ Block 60s carry modern radars and electronics on par with F-16 Block 40/50s, and have the ability to use beyond visual range aerial weapons, advanced short range AAMs, and a variety of precision strike weapons. Their combat radius is a bit short, and it would take a brave Kfir pilot to face a Eurofighter Typhoon in single combat. Even so, they’re capable fighters with aerial refueling capability, which makes them well suited to intimidation and presence patrols. Negotiations for a sale are in an advanced stage.

The good news for Britain, such as it is, is that Argentina still has to hang weapons on any fighters they buy. The FAA must either stick with their existing set of old equipment and forego most of the new fighter’s potential, or buy new weapons from the USA or Israel. Any new weapon sales would be a double escalation, making those sales less likely. The most dangerous Kfir-related sale, of Gabriel 3 anti-ship missiles, would make Britain an outright enemy of Israel’s. That won’t happen. The question is whether Britain can pressure Israel to block the Kfir fighter sale in toto – or have it blocked by the Americans, who control the J-79 engines.

If the Israeli sale falls through for some reason, South Africa has already sold similar Cheetah fighters to Ecuador and Chile. Enough were produced to sell 18 more to Argentina, but the best airframes have presumably been taken already. Cheetahs are powered by French Snecma Atar 9K50 engines, instead of the Kfir’s American J-79. That removes a key American veto, but it also means that South Africa would need some level of French cooperation. Given French delays and demurrals around refurbishing Argentina’s French Super Etendards, that cooperation could become problematic.

Chile’s decommissioned Mirage 50 Pantera fighters are similar to the Cheetahs, but Chile isn’t interested in selling any to Argentina.

JF-17 – note C802!
(click to view full)

If those options fail, Argentina faces a shrinking set of choices.

South Korea’s TA-50 and FA-50 light fighters would be more expensive than the proposed Israeli deal, which already strains Argentina’s finances. They also use American F404 engines, requiring US export approval, and can’t mount anti-ship missiles yet.

Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters are the subject of talks with Brazil, but they use American F414 engines and British Martin-Baker ejection seats.

The only sources free of American or European influence are Russia and China.

Chinese F-8s “Finback-Bs” would be a very cheap used option, presenting no serious threat, but good for harassment patrols and shows of force at range. The question is whether they could be kept in the air. The JF-17 Thunder from China and Pakistan would be a more advanced option and a definite threat, thanks to its ability to carry C802 subsonic and CM-400AKG supersonic anti-ship missiles. Argentina has expressed interest in the JF-17, and has held discussions directly with China.

Russia is the other potential source. They may have used or used/new-build MiG-29S+ multi-role planes to offer, if Putin wants to stick a finger in Britain’s eye for sanctions over the annexation of Crimea. The problem with the MiGs is that even with the extra fuel tanks in recent variants, the fighters have poor range. That makes them less useful to Argentina. SU-30 family planes have plenty of range, but they’re more expensive, and may be out of Argentina’s reach unless Russia really wants to make a point by offering subsidies.

Contracts & Key Events Kfir, improved

Oct 22/14: Gripen NG. During the Embraer KC-390 medium jet transport’s rollout, Argentina and Brazil sign a formal “Alianca Estrategica em Industria Aeronautica.” Argentina is already making parts for the KC-390, and they need a larger partner for a number of other reasons. The FAB’s releases add that Argentina is also thinking of buying JAS-39E/F Gripens from Embraer. The company will assemble at least 36 of the advanced Swedish fighters under the pending F-X2 program, and will receive regional export rights:

“El Gobierno nacional decidio iniciar una negociacion con la administracion de Dilma Rousseff para la adquisicion de 24 aviones Saab Gripen dentro del programa denominado FX 2…”

That could get interesting, because the Gripen has systems from the USA and Britain in it. You might be able to replace electronics, but ejection seats and engines are a bit tougher. Sources: FAB NOTIMP, “Argentina quiere comprar 24 cazas supersonicos”.

March 23/14: Kfir. A high-level Argentine delegation has reportedly visited Israel to finalize the sale of 18 Kfir jets. Most sources mention the “Block 60″ version, which is very similar to the Kfir C10 that has been sold to Ecuador and Colombia, and reports also mention the EL/M-2032 radar. Once again, however, this is a proposed deal that comes despite issues with Argentina. Ha’aretz:

“…Kirchner government made [a deal] last year with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Buenos Aires Jewish community building that killed 85 people and is widely believed to have been carried out by Hezbollah with Iranian backing.”

That may cause controversy in Israel, and British pressure can be expected as well. On the other hand, Israel was less than pleased by Britain’s recent role in ending sanctions against Iran for its nuclear weapons program. A fighter sale to Argentina would certainly be one way to attach significant consequences to Britain’s actions, without the anti-ship capabilities that would mark a huge escalation. The British do have one big lever left, however: the Kfirs’ J79 turbojets need American approval for re-export. America needs British support regarding Russia right now, so despite past snubs, the Obama administration will find it inconvenient to alienate Britain further.

Finally, note that Ha’aretz is wrong about Kfirs being sold to South Africa. Israeli expertise was likely transferred, but they are not interchangeable in a fleet – Cheetahs use different engines than the Kfirs, and South Africa did modify its Mirages locally. Is basic fact-checking and editorial oversight too much to ask? Sources: Ha’aretz, “Argentina buying 30-year-old Israeli fighter jets” | LU22 Radio Tandil, “Avanzan las negociaciones para la compra de aviones Kfirs Block 60 a Israel”.

March 10/14: Super Etendard. Argentina’s efforts to upgrade 10 of its 11 remaining Super Etendard fighters have hit a bit of a snag in France:

“The Argentine Navy still wants 10 SEM kits for its Super Etendards, but has to date received no indication from France as to how or when this order might be filled.

Moreover, military relations between the two states have cooled due to a deal last year between France and the UK that could create roadblocks to France’s selling the kits, and an updated version of the Exocet missile, to Argentina…”

Sources: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Argentine Super Etendard modernisation hits major snags”.

Colombian Kfirs
(click to view full)

Jan 23/14: Kfir. Argentina has reportedly opened discussions with Israel about selling up to 18 refurbished Kfir fighters. The proposed deal is reportedly worth about $500 million, with 6 jets to be refurbished in Israel. Another 12 would be shipped to Argentina along with modernization kits, for local assembly under Israeli supervision.

“Brazilian journalist Roberto Lopes, who specializes in defense issues was the first to reveal that Israel/Argentina deal negotiations caused concern in the government of PM David Cameron and allegedly representatives from the UK Defense ministry asked their Israel counterparts “for a detailed description of the electronic systems and avionics” of the 18 Kfir…. London fears the aircraft could be used to track and intimidate vessels involved in the Falklands oil and gas industry development…. Lopes also reveals that “the issue is being monitored since the end of 2013 by Brazil’s Itamaraty (foreign ministry) and defense ministry”.”

IAI’s offer had reportedly been made earlier, but the proposal was reportedly pursued only after Spain declined to pursue the Mirage F1 deal any further. Sources: MercoPress, “Argentina after Israeli fighter planes; concern in London and Brasilia, says defense expert”.

Jan 2/14: Mirage F1. Argentine sources tell IHS Jane’s that the Spanish Mirage deal has stalled and could be cancelled.

“Local media reports indicated that the Argentine Air Force (FAA) has begun analysing other options, including second-hand Dassault Mirage 2000s from France or Brazil, but appears to be leaning towards an Israeli offer of 18 IAI Lahav Kfir Block 60 multi-role fighters for USD500 million, with a possible delivery date some 15 months after a contract signature.”

While Spain’s economic situation made then receptive to Argentina’s request, could lose much more if relations with Britain become problematic. Sources: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Argentine Mirage F1 buy reportedly stalls”.

Oct 6/13: Kfir. IAI and even the Israeli Air Force begin to talk about the new “Block 60″ Kfir variant, which is based on Colombia’s refitted C10 aircraft:

“The Kfir Block 60 offers a robust and versatile Mach 2+ multi-role jet fighter, carrying 5.5 tons payloads on nine hard-points under the wings and fuselage. The weaponry is enhanced to include Python 5 and Derby. Kfir Block 60 has also completed the integration of RAFAEL Spice autonomous guided weapon, (second platform offering that capability, after the F-16). Conforming to NATO standards, Kfir Block 60 supports Link-16 datalink protocol. The aircraft has combat radius of 1,000 km (540 nm) unrefueled. With refueling the aircraft can fly to a range of 1,100 nm.”

Whether or not Israeli Kfir C2s could carry Gabriel Mk.III anti-ship missiles, Argentina doesn’t have any, and any sale by Israel would have serious diplomatic repercussions. Refurbished Kfirs are reportedly restored to 8,000 safe flight-hours hours under warranty, meaning the plane can easily serve for 20-30 years. “Sources: Defense Update, “At 40 Years of age, Kfir Turns into a “Networked Fighter”” | Israeli Air Force, “Roaring Back”.

Spanish F1M
(click to view full)

Oct 1/13: Mirage F1. After several months of advance reports, Argentina has reportedly come to an agreement with Spain to buy 16 used Mirage F1s. Iraq’s F1EQ-5 jets were modified to carry the Exocet anti-ship missile, but they required modifications. Spain upgraded their F1Cs to F1Ms, but it isn’t clear whether their planes ever added Exocet capability.

The deal is something of a surprise, given the Argentine government’s 2012 seizure of Spanish oil major Repsol’s majority stake in Argentina’s national YPF oil company. Respol’s international legal claim is for $10 billion, but the Spanish government is facing depression-level economic conditions, and has few other options to sell those planes. Sources: MercoPress, “Argentina buys 16 Mirage F 1 from Spain; half have air-refuelling capacity” | UPI, “Argentina goes for second-hand jets for air force”.

Aug 5/13: Mirage F1. Spain is reportedly working on a deal with Spain for its recently-decommissioned Mirage F1 fighters, which have been replaced in Spain’s service by the Eurofighter:

“The only real hard news and from Spanish defence media, is that Spain is effectively decommissioning the last eight Mirage F 1 –which have been on service for 35 years–, to be replaced by the Eurofighter, and is looking for buyers and among the countries named are Argentina, Egypt and Ecuador…. The Argentine air force currently has an estimated 25 Mirage 5 and Mirage III with over thirty years in service…. However according to Argentine sources the aircraft are virtually out of use because of lack of spares and an adequate maintenance.”

Depending on how one counts, it has been more like 22 years of service since their deep modernization to F1M status. The RAF won’t give an on-the-record response, but British newspapers are told by unnamed sources that “If the Argentines start playing games and escalate the tension we will see more RAF aircraft being deployed to the Falklands.” That would help prevent a takeover, but unless Britain adds a lot of fighters, it may not quite stop intimidation flights against energy companies working in the Falklands EEZ. MercoPress, “Falklands and the Mirages: playing with the Islanders worst memories” | Daily Express, “Jet fighter threat to the Falkland Islands” | Daily Mirror, “Falklands alert as Argentina strikes £145 million deal for 20 Mirage warplanes” | Israel’s Globes, “IAI selling upgraded Kfir jets for $20m”.

June 27/13: JF-17. Argentina is reportedly in talks with China concerning the FC-1/ JF-17 fighter, a joint project with Pakistan whose performance lies somewhere between a Mirage F1 and an F-16. It can use radar-guided air-to-air missiles, but its most important asset is the CASIC CM-400AKG supersonic anti-ship missile, with a range that’s longer than France’s sub-sonic Exocets. Its is also shown at air shows like Farnborough with China’s C802 sub-sonic anti-ship missile, which is very similar to the American Harpoon.

“Speaking at the Paris Air Show in mid-June, officials from Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA) told IHS Jane’s that the company has had multiple discussions with Chinese officials over co-producing the fighter in Argentina. Although the FC-1/JF-17 is already jointly built with Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, FAdeA officials stressed that they are dealing solely with the Chinese…. While discussions are said to be far from over, if realised they will open up a wide panoply of Chinese weapon systems to Argentina…”

Sources: IHS Jane’s Missiles & Rockets, “Fighter talks may afford Argentina advanced Chinese missile systems”.

Additional Readings

Up above, DID asked of Ha’aretz, “Is basic fact-checking and editorial oversight too much to ask?” Sometimes, that comes back to bite. Thanks to readers who wrote in to us about local defensive measures and options in the Falklands that we had not covered. We had good discussions, but the plain fact is that some of the omissions were important items. They have been added to the article, with our thanks – and our apologies.

Background: Aircraft

News & Views

Categories: News

Lockheed Sees Slight Revenue Decreases Continuing Into 2015

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:36

  • Lockheed Martin reported Q3 2014 sales down 2% to $11.1B, a trend that they expect will continue through next year. That was reflected in all segments but Space Systems. At $76.5B, total backlog is $6.1B below where it was at the end of 2013, most of that decline being found in aeronautics. Yet they’ve delivered just 18 aircraft this quarter.

  • We’re about to wrap up our readership survey. Your input is avidly read, deeply appreciated, and informs how our plans to improve our content and service.

Acquisitions

  • BAE Systems is to acquire SilverSky [Telegraph], a cloud security software vendor, for $232M.

  • Finmeccanica’s Selex ES has completed the acquisition of electronic warfare specialists Tactical Technologies Inc. (TTI) in Ottawa, Canada. They believe that its Tactical Engagement Simulation Software (TESS) will help them enhance operational support for their entire EW line.

Canada

UAVs

  • CybAero applied for a new export license to China after it got rejected by ISP (the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls). They had announced an order from Chinese customs back in March.

  • Airbus is trying to create a certification path for its commercial Atlante UAV, which is designed to survey pipelines and such. That will be a real boon to European militaries, by giving them some idea of what UAV certification might cost, and what will be necessary. Uncertainty in that sphere has already killed Germany’s Q-4 Euro-Hawk program.

RAZAR, For the Ultimate Shave

  • The USA’s Sandia National Labs introduces the Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles (RAZAR) scope, which zooms in on a target you’ve acquired at the push of a button, without forcing the wielder away from the scope. Yes, this tech is coming to other optics – maybe even your future cell phone camera.

Afghanistan

  • Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, wants to run a lean and efficient office, reports the NYT.

  • The London-based IISS reviews security in and around Afghanistan in today’s video (which is an audio stream really):

Categories: News

PAK-FA/FGFA/T50: India, Russia Cooperate on 5th-Gen Fighter

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 15:45
PAK-FA at MAKS-2011
(click to view larger)

Russia wants a “5th generation” fighter that keeps it competitive with American offerings, and builds on previous aerial and industrial success. India wants to maintain technical superiority over its rivals, and grow its aerospace industry’s capabilities. They hope to work together, and succeed. Will they? And what does “success” mean, exactly?

So far, preliminary cooperation agreements have been signed between Sukhoi/United Aircraft Corporation, for a platform based on Sukhoi’s T50/PAK-FA design. This DID FOCUS article consolidates specific releases and coverage to date, and adds analysis of the program’s current state and future hurdles.

The PAK-FA/ FGFA Sukhoi’s “T50″ Movable LEX
(click to view larger)

The plane behind the project has taken on several names. The T50 may eventually become the SU-50, but for now it’s referred to as PAK-FA. The aircraft project is also known as FGFA (India: Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft), and PMF (Russia: Prospective Multirole Fighter). Key characteristics include:

Shaping: Some observers have tried to characterize the T50 as a copy. That’s a mistake. The PAK-FA’s first flight revealed a distinctively Russian stealth-driven configuration, which borrows from previous Sukhoi designs and priorities. The prototype has some clear stealth-limiting features, from fit quality, to features like Sukhoi’s standard spherical InfraRed Scan & Track (IRST) system mounted near the cockpit. Those may change in the production aircraft; meanwhile, a smaller tail, clear stealth shaping, and internal weapons carriage all indicate a strong push toward a stealthier plane.

The PAK-FA’s air intakes are set back from the leading edge root extensions (LERX), and one interesting wrinkle involves movable LERX shapes that come forward from the wings to join the aircraft body. This “PChN/ Movable LEX” feature apparently allows some of the maneuverability bonuses normally associated with canards on planes like the SU-30SM, SU-34, etc., but in a much lower profile design.

RT feature

Engines: Reports concerning the fighter’s initial engines vary. Some sources contend that the engines used in its test flight are 5th generation engines, but most of them report that it is borrowing from the SU-35 program for now, until more advanced engines designed specifically for the plane can be fielded. Both descriptions could be correct. The SU-35S reportedly uses a heavily-upgraded and more reliable version of NPO Saturn’s AL-31F, named the Saturn 117S. It is said to offer over 30,000 pounds of thrust, with full 360 degree thrust vectoring, and is believed to equip initial PAK-FA fighters. The longer-term question is whether incremental 117S upgrades will let the aircraft reach its required “5th generation” performance levels, or whether the AL-41F project, which aims to use a new and improved engine core, will be able to replace the 117S in future.

Weapons: Russian reports cite carriage of 8 missile suspension points inside the fuselage, to match the F-22. While the Raptor has 2 body bays (with space-saving AVEL launchers) and 2 smaller side bays, the Russian plane is big enough to have 4 body bays and 2 side bays. Air-to-air weapons will certainly include the improved AA-11 (RVV-MD SRAAM) and AA-12 (RVV-SD MRAAM), but RIA Novosti adds that it has the ability to carry 2 ultra long range AAMs, presumably the 200-400 km Novator K-100-1. These “AWACS killers” are also intended for use on the SU-35, and their size may force the PAK-FA to carry them externally.

To date, the T50’s ground-attack weapon capabilities remain something of a mystery.

PAK-FA prototype
(click to view larger)

Sensors: The PAK-FA’s advanced Tikhomirov AESA radar is still undergoing testing on other platforms, and its readiness could be important to the project. As is true of all 4+ generation Russian designs, the radar will be supplemented by an IRST that looks for the heat produced by engines and air friction. This allows long-range, no warning missile attacks, and offsets enemy advantages from radar stealth.

Another approach to offset enemy radar stealth involves L-band radars in the wing’s leading edges, to help the plane find other X-band optimized stealth fighters. The plane’s SH121 radar complex will reportedly add another 3 small X-band AESA radars around the front and sides of the aircraft, in order to provide full radar coverage. Harmonizing these features with stealth, and ensuring that they don’t become a maintenance nightmare, will be another important technical challenge for the new fighter.

The fighter’s biggest technical challenge will involve harmonizing all of these sensors into a single view for the pilot. Russia and India aren’t short on programming talent, but pilot ergonomics has been a long-standing weakness in Russian fighters, as western pilots found when they began flying East German MiG-29s. Good sensor fusion is a technically challenging task, especially if the goal is a system that can accommodate upgrades without ruinous expense. The talent is there, but both Russia and India have mixed histories trying to manage those kinds of military efforts.

Other Electronics: Sukhoi’s releases emphasize an advanced datalink that allows PAK-FA aircraft to share situational awareness, much like NATO’s “Link 16″ standard. As the USAF has discovered, however, having other platforms share information with stealth aircraft, while retaining “low probability of intercept” to avoid giving the stealth aircraft’s positions away, is difficult. Russia and India will need to resolve that issue, or accept the operational limitations of a unique but incompatible datalink.

Test flight
click for video

All of these characteristics show a convergence of Russian design with leading-edge technologies. Russian 4+ generation fighter designs have always placed a premium on super-maneuverability, and so does the T50. Russian AESA radars are becoming service-ready, and the T50 looks set to be a key platform for their use. Engine improvements may even allow Mach 1+ supercruise if the T50’s weight can be kept down, and if Saturn can deliver on promised operational performance – but both of those “ifs” remain to be proven.

Once it becomes operational, this plane is expected to get the designation SU-50. The big question right now is how close it is to reaching that goal.

Development Timelines, Risks, & Differences of Opinion Defined Design? A Disagreement From YF-22 to F-22
(click to view full)

As of February 2014, 5 PAK-FA prototypes are flying, and 2 more are in ground test roles, which is short of the 8 that were expected to be available by the end of 2013. The “T3″ prototype was the first to have the full avionics and radar suite, including the AESA radar. The plane is reportedly preparing for full operational trials in 2015, and VVS fielding in 2016-2017, but the history of stealth fighters justifies some caution about those dates.

In 2009, former Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. chairman Ashok Baweja took that caution several steps further, saying that that the current PAK-FA prototype and tests were only “proof of concept” level work. The Russians had already approved the design in 2008, so they clearly didn;t see things that way, but America’s F-22 program history made Baweja’s thesis plausible. The YF-22 prototype made quite a few modifications en route to its F-22A designation, over a period lasting several years. The Russian design has changed since 2009, including visible reinforcements to indicate a need for redesign in the wings and other areas. On the other hand, external design changes haven’t been much in evidence, and they continue to move forward with more advanced tests.

India’s low level of expertise designing advanced fighters, and the advanced nature of Russia’s project before India joined, both point toward a final FGFA design that’s much closer to the planes Russia is already flying.

Russian & Indian Timelines PAK-FA Mach flow
(click to view full)

Differences of opinion re: the fighters’ readiness also express themselves in each side’s proposed timelines. Russia is focused on 2015-2016 production and 2017-2018 fielding, though senior officials acknowledge that full serial production won’t begin until 2020 – 2024.

Indian officials have pushed a timeline that’s up to 4-5 years longer, in order to develop many of the FGFA’s systems and make a long list of changes. As the cumulative cost and risk of their chosen course become apparent, however, they’re reducing their demands. A 2012 interview with Air Chief Marshal Browne suggests that India’s FGFAs will hew much more closely to Russia’s design, beginning with the current single-seat configuration instead of a new 2-seat layout. About 100 HAL engineers are already working on the project from a facility in Bangalore, and another contingent has moved to Russia to work in the Sukhoi design bureau.

That’s all well and good, but it’s 2014, and the joint R&D contract between Russian and India remains unsigned. Plenty of time remains for meddling, as India was expecting to receive prototypes in 2015, 2017, and 2018. India would still have to fund their own national program of FGFA (SU-50KI?) customization for the Indian air force by a joint team of Russian and Indian engineers. The difference is described as “mission hardware and software,” though it would be surprising if Indian bureaucrats’ fetish for “indigenization” was forced to stop there. Each prototype will be slightly different, creating an incentive for the military and political figures to press for additional changes and alternations.

If India’s FGFA R&D program can get underway in 2014, and if it progresses without major delays, a 2018 prototype would finalize the base configuration, and Indian development could end in 2019. Whereupon series manufacturing would begin at HAL in 2022.

Note the number of “ifs” required to meet even that target. Which will also have to contend with HAL’s known high-tech production industrial issues (vid. LCA Tejas & M-MRCA programs). They’ll need to be solved by the time FGFA production begins, because its manufacturing techniques are likely to be a step beyond anything HAL has attempted to date.

So much for the original plan of IAF service by 2017. If current dates hold true, India wouldn’t see operational serving FGFA fighters until 2025 at the earliest. At the same time, India’s planned FGFA buy is shrinking, from over 200 to around 144.

In a project of this nature, it’s par for the course for Russia and India to both end up being too optimistic in their initial schedules. There’s still more than enough room for that dynamic to happen within the revised schedules, as the project works through configuration, testing, and production issues. The history of modern fighters suggests that software could prove to be particularly troublesome.

Contracts & Key Events 2014

Negotiations with India turn tense, remain in limbo as Russia moves ahead; Better stealth than the F-22? Airshow demo

Oct 21/14: Sub-contractors. Russia’s Radio Electronic Technologies concern has provided the 1st batch of Himalayas internal electronic warfare systems for the new jet.

The Himalayas EW system was developed by RET’s Kaluga Scientific Research and Radio Technology Institute, and is manufactured at its Signal Radioplant in Stavropol. Sources: Defense World, “Russian T-50 Aircraft Gets Himalayas EW System”.

Sept 15/14: Negotiation. The Russians and Indians are saying different things to Defense News. “A “Russian diplomat in India” tells them they they “have finally sorted out all sticky issues that have been holding back an agreement,” adding that India’s workshare was eventually expected to increase from 13-18% to 40%. India’s MoD refused to confirm this, “especially those [issues] related to workshare between the two countries”.

We’ve seen enough programs involving India to be skeptics, even when Indian officials will confirm such stories. The magazine’s sources say that India and Russia will sign a final agreement on the program the end of 2014. Take that as the metric, and believe it when you see it. Sources: Defense News, “Indo-Russian Jet Program Finally Moves Forward”.

Aug 30/14: Tension. India isn’t pleased with the lack of response to its questions concerning the recent PAK-FA engine fire (q.v. June 10/14), NPO Saturn AL-41FI jet engine performance, Byelka AESA radar performance, the lack of permission for its pilots to fly the jet in Russia, and HAL’s low workshare. India’s lack of a firm development agreement is the 1-sentence argument for much of this situation, except for the engine fire question and HAL’s workshare.

HAL’s workshare has reportedly dropped from 25% to just 13%: tires, the VOR-DME basic navigation avionics, coolant for the radar, a laser designation pod and the head-up display. This list appears to justify analysis that HAL simply doesn’t yet have the capability to be a full partner in such a sophisticated aircraft, and may also be a function iof Indian dithering as Russia simply goes ahead and makes final decisions about the PAK-FA’s development..

Within HAL’s workshare, the Laser Designation pod itself is unlikely to come from India, but may be produced under license. Israel’s RAFAEL LITENING pods equip many Indian aircraft, including the SU-30MKI, but Eastern European and American pressure on Israel makes SU-50 integration tough to contemplate. Thales’ Damocles pod, which already equips Malaysia’s Su-30MKMs and would equip Indian Rafales, would be a more logical choice.

The real challenge here is twofold. One is the M-MRCA program, whose $10 billion cost growth really shrinks the overall room for PGF funding within India’s budgets. The related challenge is time, and “IAF sources told IHS Jane’s that this deadline [to begin Indian production in 2020 - 2021] would be missed by several years.” Sources: Daily Mail India, “India-Russia jet deal hits turbulence over ‘technical worries’ ” | IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Indian Air Force unhappy at progress of PAK-FA fifth-gen fighter”.

Aug 4/14: Negotiations. Still no firm production agreement re: the PAK-FA/ FGFA/ PMF, following the end of the initial engineering development contract in 2013. Russian sources continue to make hopeful noises, but at this point, it means very little until there’s a firm contract in place. Sources: Itar-Tass, “Sukhoi to sign another contract with India on FGFA”.

June 10/14: Fire. A commission will be investigating:

“Today after the regular test flight of the T-50 aircraft at the airfield of the M.M.Gromov Flight Research Institute in Zhukovsky near Moscow, while the plane was landing, a smoke above the right air intake was observed, then a local fire broke out. The fire was quickly extinguished. The plane is to be repaired…. This incident will not affect the timing of the T-50 test program.”

The Moscow Times suggested that the damage might leave the plane out of action for a little while, as people reportedly: “…saw smoke and flame billow out of the front of the engine and [it] caused visible damage to the exterior of the aircraft.” Sounds like an engine issue. Maybe one day, we’ll know. Sources: Sukhoi, “Sukhoi’s message over the incident with the T-50 aircraft” | Moscow Times, “Russian Advanced Prototype Fighter Jet Erupts into Flames on Landing”.

Fire

Feb 21/14: Production version. Sukhoi announces that their production version will not be waiting until 2016, while the current set of 4 flying and 2 ground prototypes continue their work at Zhukovsky. In fact:

“Today the flight model of the prospective 5th — generation fighter aircraft (PAK-FA, T-50) arrived to the 929th Chkalov State Flight Test Centre’s airfield in Akhtubinsk for State Joint Tests…. The PAK FA tests program included aero-dynamic features evaluation, tests of stability and controllability and of dynamic strength, function check of on-board equipment and aircraft systems. Optical locator system as well as active electronically scanned array radar was tested on the aircraft with positive results obtained. Air refueling mode was tested. Supermaneuverability tests of the aircraft are under way. Aircraft systems are being tested on the test stands, ground experimental works continue.”

It’s still possible for hardware or software problems to make the delivery of 60 combat-capable aircraft an impossible goal by 2020, and Russian reports aren’t going to involve public accountability or discussion of test results. Even so, the Akhtubinsk arrival is embarrassing timing for War Is Boring’s same-day report. Sources: Sukhoi, “T-50-2 fighter aircraft made the flight to Akhtubinsk” | Russia & India Report, “Russian Air Force receives first FGFA T-50 fighter for tests”.

Feb 21/14: No mystery. “Russia’s New Air Force Is a Mystery” wonders why Russia is buying SU-30MK2s, SU-30SMs and SU-35s, in addition to the future PAK-FA. It turns out that the answer is extremely simple: industrial priorities that bought up aircraft the Chinese stopped buying, took advantage of successful advanced SU-30MKx export developments, and aim to provide the SU-35 with a home country order base for potential exports. That sort of thing happens all the time, everywhere. The article ends up stinging itself with this quote re: the PAK-FA:

“The T-50’s schedule has stretched farther and farther to the right. Originally planned for handover to the air force’s Akhtubinsk flight test center for evaluation in 2014, recent announcements suggest this might now slip until the second half of 2016. This would derail plans to declare initial operational capability, and the start of full-scale production, at the end of 2016.

The best-case scenario would have seen 60 production T-50s delivered between 2016 and 2020, but this now seems a distant hope. As a result, the air force is badly in need of supplementary equipment.”

The 1st PAK-FA arrives in Akhtubinsk for testing that same day. Sources: War Is Boring, “Russia’s New Air Force Is a Mystery”.

Feb 7/14: Timelines. Russia and India are still negotiating the FGFA R&D contract, but India’s Chief of the Air Staff and Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar (A K) Browne tells the Press Trust of India that the 1st FGFA prototype will arrive in India this year, for testing at Ojhar AB, located NE of Mumbai. One imagines that he’s speaking on the basis of a draft R&D contract that would have Indian scientists and test pilots in Russia until the R&D phase is scheduled to end in 2019.

2022 is now given as the planned in-service date, as India slip farther and farther from the original plan of having these planes in service by 2017. That 2017 date was always a pipe dream, and even present dates depend on very large financial decisions being made very soon by an unpopular government, or by its electoral successor. It’s more realistic to assume that the draft R&D agreement won’t actually become a signed contract and disbursed funds until 2015 or later, with attendant effects on India’s schedule.

Meanwhile, Russia continues to develop the plane,m but even they are several years from serious fielding. Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) First Deputy Director Alexander Fomin is quoted as saying that testing and manufacturing ramp-ups will require: “At least… [6-10 years] before we build a sample of the fifth generation fighter plane and being its serial production.” Sources: Itar-Tass, “Russia fulfils FGFA obligations with India – Alexander Kadakin”.

Jan 21/14: India. India’s Air Force is directly criticizing the stealth fighter program, according to the minutes of a Dec 24/13 meeting chaired by secretary of defence production Gokul Chandra Pati:

“Business Standard has reviewed the minutes of that meeting. The IAF’s three top objections to the FGFA were: (a) The Russians are reluctant to share critical design information with India; (b) The fighter’s current AL-41F1 engines are inadequate, being mere upgrades of the Sukhoi-30MKI’s AL-31 engines; and (c) It is too expensive. With India paying $6 billion to co-develop the FGFA, “a large percentage of IAF’s capital budget will be locked up.”

On January 15, the IAF renewed the attack in New Delhi, at a MoD meeting to review progress on the FGFA. The IAF’s deputy chief of air staff (DCAS), its top procurement official, declared the FGFA’s engine was unreliable, its radar inadequate, its stealth features badly engineered, India’s work share too low, and that the fighter’s price would be exorbitant by the time it enters service.

Top MoD sources suspect the IAF is undermining the FGFA to free up finances for buying 126 Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for an estimated $18 billion, an acquisition that has run into financial headwinds because of budgetary constraints….”

Perhaps if India hadn’t structured its MMRCA competition to completely ignore the costs of the competing aircraft, this wouldn’t be happening. But they did, and it is. Sources: India’s Business Standard, “Russia can’t deliver on Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft: IAF”.

Jan 16/14: T-50 trolling. Rosoboronexport’s parent firm Rostec decides to troll the aviation world, with claims that the PAK-FA will have better stealth than the American F-22 Raptor:

“The average [radar cross section value] for the T-50 fighter is between 0.1 and 1 square meter…. the T-50 is now ahead of not only all other fighters of the Russian Army, but also foreign models. For example, the visibility of the American fifth-generation F-22 fighter is 0.3-0.4 square meters, according to PAK FA chief designer Alexander Davidenko.”

This means almost nothing. First, the Russian PAK-FA range includes values that are a closer match for the Eurofighter than the F-22. Second, Davidenko couldn’t know the F-22’s real production values without access to American flight test data, and there are rumors that it’s smaller than 0.3 m2. The third issue is production. Davidenko’s claims for the PAK-FA back existing assessments that it’s a legitimate stealth aircraft design, but production work affects final values for any plane. If it’s shoddy and alignment is poor, for instance, a design with RCS of 0.1 m2 could easily hit 1.0 m2 in reality. Russia is known for many things, including excellent and robust fighter designs, but precision work? Not so much. A real comparison would require test data from production aircraft (q.v. Nov 12/12 caveats), including different values from various angles, and their different success levels against different radar bands. That isn’t on offer for either plane.

Other points in the release are more informative, if true. Rostec says that composite materials are just 25% of the fighter’s weight, but cover 70% of its surface. A new power system design from Rostec’s Aviation Equipment provides double the amount of electrical power offered by previous Russian systems. We hope they have better luck than Boeing has, but that power will be needed by Radioelectronic Technologies’ new avionics and related systems. With respect to the plane’s biggest current deficit, UEC has an initial-model of the next-generation AL-41F1 thrust-vectoring engines installed in a prototype now, and Rostec is feeding general expectations that the AL-41 will give the new fighter supercruise capability. Sources: Rostec, “The T-50 Fighter will feature even greater stealth capabilities” | Air & Cosmos, “Le T-50 russe serait plus furtif que le F-22″.

2013

Test flights, incl. the new 5th prototype; Negotiations and tensions with India. T50, incoming
(click to view full)

Oct 28/13: #5. Sukhoi flies the 5th T50 prototype at its Y.A.Gagarin KnAAZ aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Once it finishes local flight tests, the aircraft will join the program flight tests at Zhukovsky, near Moscow.

Sukhoi pegs the number of flights to date at “more than 450″, with another 2 planes are involved in ground tests as a complex ground stand and static testing platform, respectively. Sources: Sukhoi release, Oct 28/13.

Oct 21/13: Indian complaints. Aviation Week reports that India is dissatisfied with their development workshare, in a project they came op late and close to lockdown on their partner’s side, and for which they have only recently managed to produce anything resembling their specifications (q.v. April 10/13):

“We have a major opportunity in the FGFA program,” Indian air force (IAF) Deputy Chief Air Marshal S. Sukumar says. However, “at the moment [the 15% development share] is not very much in favor of Indian development. We are flagging it through the government. It should be much more focused towards indigenous development capability.”

The problem is that 4 Russian T50 prototypes have performed about 450 test flights since January 2010, and the VVS plans to begin inducting the fighter in 2015-2016. Even if they’re a year late, it doesn’t leave much room for development. That would have required fast decisions to begin the contract early, when the design was still in need of refinement.

India’s desires and its modus operandi are in conflict once again, and the question is whether the dichotomy will become a stumbling block in negotiations for the final $11 billion system development contract. At this point, the only way to square that circle would be to increase the number of differences between the Russian and Indian fighters, or to involve India in developing the “Block 10″ next iteration of a fighter whose core technologies are already a big stretch for Indian firms. Either approach would drive up overall costs for the contract under negotiation (q.v. July 15/13), and add substantial risk to India’s plans to begin manufacturing at HAL in 2022 – itself a problematic proposition, given HAL’s record. Sources: Aviation Week, “India Concerned About Fifth-Gen Fighter Work Share With Russia”.

Oct 18/13: Aircraft issues. An article in The Aviationist looks at issues with the PAK-FA, which don’t get the same exposure as western projects with their public oversight. Piotr Butowski of the Polish Magazyn Lotnictwo notes that:

“…the plane still suffers from the strict g-limits…. The plane underwent a modernization in the Sukhoi facility on the Polikarpov Street in Moscow Dec. 2012 and May 2013. The airframe was reinforced according to the flight tests and static tests that were already carried out; many new [metal strip] overlays can be seen on the airplane’s surface.”

Problems and modifications aren’t abnormal. The 1st PAK-FA prototype has structural cracks in 2011, and the 2nd had an engine flameout cancel its public MAKES 2011 air show performance. Sources: The Aviationist, “Russia’s most advanced fighter jet’s troublesome childhood”.

July 15/13: India Delays. The FGFA project’s parameters may be set (q.v. April 10/13), but there’s a problem with the R&D deal, which was pegged at $11 billion equivalent. The Times of India:

“Defence ministry sources said the inking of the final design and R&D contract for the stealth fighter has been hit by a huge delay, with Russia also jacking up costs for the futuristic project. “It’s very unlikely the FGFA final design contract will be concluded in the 2013-2014 fiscal,” said a source. “The timeframes will now have to be revised. MoD has established a committee of specialists and finance officials to verify the rise in costs. An internal contract negotiation committee is also in progress…”

Russia isn’t going to wait, and will continue development of their version while they wait for India’s signature. Operational testing is slated to begin in 2014. If FGFA negotiations stretch into 2015, the net effect will be to severely delay India’s variant, even as the base Russian design becomes more and more firmly set.

April 25/13: VVS flight. The Russian air force’s (VVS) Chkalov Flight Test Center begins flying the PAK-FA prototypes, with a 2-hour flight from the M.M. Gromov Flight Research Institute in Zhukovsky (Moscow region).

At present, Sukhoi has 4 flying test planes, which are mostly flown by company test pilots, and 2 ground test planes. Sukhoi.

April 10/13: India. Sukhoi announces that the parameters for their joint FGFA project with India are set:

“The contract to develop a sketch and technical project of the Russian-Indian perspective multi-functional 5th-generation fighter (PMI/FGFA) was completed. The fighter design was fully developed. The both parties have agreed upon on the amount and division of work during the research and development (R&D) stage. A contract for the R&D is being prepared. It is to be signed this year.”

March 1/13: Plans & Schedule. High-level Russian and Indian sources offer a bit more clarity concerning dates, but they seem to be at odds regarding electronics.

Russian VVS commander Gen. Victor Bondarev expects weapons release trials to begin in 2013, as the number of aircraft rises from 4 – 8. If tests go well, the fighter could enter series production in late 2015 or early 2016. Based on past fighter programs, that may be a bit optimistic.

Meanwhile, IAF chief of staff Air Marshall N.A.K. Browne is expecting to sign the big design & development contract for the FGFA in 2013. They’ll receive 3 developmental prototypes in India in 2015, 2017 and then 2018, rather than the wider 2014-2019 window reported earlier. That SDD version would apparently be fully common between Russia and India, making Pogosyan (vid. Feb 7/13) correct to that point. India would then fund, as a separate project, FGFA (SU-50KI?) customization for the Indian air force by a joint team of Russian and Indian engineers. The difference is described as “mission hardware and software,” though it would be surprising if Indian bureaucrats’ fetish for “indigenization” was forced to stop there. Series manufacturing would begin at HAL in 2022.

If true, it means that India wouldn’t see operational serving FGFA fighters until 2025 at the earliest, and that’s only if HAL’s known industrial issues with high-tech production are fully solved by 2022. AIN.

Feb 7/13: Avionics. At Aero India 2013, Obedinnoe Avaitstroitel’noi Corporatsii (United Aircraft Corp.) President Mikhail Pogosyan says that the new fighter will “have a single set of on-board equipment [cockpit avionics],” as a requirement of the Indian Air Force. He adds that India’s fighters will also share the Russian single-seat configuration.

Both of those statements would represent major changes from India. India’s initial plans involved a 2-seat variant that would follow the example of programs like the SU-30MKI, and create a unique cockpit avionics set that used equipment from Indian companies and foreign vendors. If Pogosyan is correct, India has backtracked toward a standard type configuration, and joint funding of upgrades. UPI.

2012

India’s timeline keeps falling back, as it cuts plans to 144 jets; No SU-50 for ROKAF; Prototype #4 flies; AESA radar testing begins. #T2 lands
(click to view full)

Dec 12/12: #4 flies. The 4th prototype takes flight at the snowy Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO). UAC.

Nov 12/12: RCS guess. Airpower Australia uses public-domain photos coupled with the Physical Optics (PO) method for predicting the Radar Cross Section of complex targets on Russia’s T50, using VisCam View software to produce a PolyChromatic Spherical Representation (PCSR). Without flight test data, it’s still a guess, but it’s a kind of guess that Moore’s Law has made available outside of large intelligence agencies.

Their guess? It won’t match the F-22, or even China’s J-20, but if they introduce a rectangular faceted design to the engine nozzles and add radar absorbent coatings, they might beat the F-35. Sources: Airpower Australia, “A Preliminary Assessment of Specular Radar Cross Section Performance in the Sukhoi T-50 Prototype” | WIRED Danger Room, “Russia’s Stealth Fighter Could Match U.S. Jets, Analyst Says”.

Oct 9/12: During an interview with India Strategic, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne confirms that HAL has committed $6 billion to joint development. Plans have changed, and India’s 144 planned FGFAs will all be single seaters, now, hewing much more closely to the Russian baseline. In the same vein as India’s SU-30 MKIs, however, they’ll have some avionics and integration differences. According to the ACM Browne:

“… the first prototype is likely to be delivered to India in 2014 followed by two more in 2017 and 2019. The series production then “will only be ordered based on the final configuration and performance of the third prototype.”

See: India Strategic | IANS.

Aug 19/12: Even later to India. Reports now indicate that the 1st FGFA prototype flight tests should start in India in 2014, with deliveries to the Indian Air Force by 2022, a full ten years from now. This would be the start of a $30+ billion, 250 plane program over the next decade, at roughly $100 million each.

Closer to the present, Russia and India are reportedly finalizing the research and development phase at $11+ billion, split evenly between the two parties. Business Standard | AviationWeek.

Aug 8/12: Radar. Sukhoi announces that they’ve begun flight tests of the PAK-FA’s Tikhomirov “active phased array radar system” in both air-to-air and air-to-surface test modes. Initial trials toward flight refueling also take place this month. Sukhoi | The DEW Line | RIA Novosti.

May 14/12: Late to India. India is already backtracking on service dates for its FGFA variant of Sukhoi’s T50, bringing them closer to predictions made by outside observers years ago. M M Pallam Raju has moved the plane’s certification and production start date from 2017 back to 2019. Close examination shows that 2020 or beyond is more likely.

India’s Business Standard also highlights a number of areas that aren’t settled, where ongoing specifications changes and/or technical problems may end up delaying the fighter and send India’s costs skyrocketing. India reportedly wants 40-45 design changes to the current PAK-FA, including its own avionics and a “360 degrees” AESA radar. That last requirement is likely to involve AESA “cheek fairings” that need to maintain aircraft stealth levels, a tailcone radar, and the internal computing and software required to fuse all of those radars into a single picture. They also want at least 2,000 hours of certification flying, and possible configuration changes in light of tests. India now expects their fighters to prepare for service no earlier than 2019, and if the IAF fields a 2-seat version, it’s likely to take even longer. All of India’s changes add 3 types of risk.

One is technical risk. India’s history is littered with overly ambitious projects that India’s Ministry of Defense and associated state-run agencies approved, but could not execute. The cutting-edge nature of the FGFA project magnifies those risks, even with Sukhoi’s assistance.

The 2nd risk is cost risk. Sukhoi’s help, and the associated design, production, and testing of new FGFA equipment, won’t come for free. The more changes India makes, the more the project will cost them. Russia isn’t going to pick up the tab for changes to a design their air force has already approved, and even the “Tactical Technical Agreement” that specified Indian changes isn’t going to mean much if costs become a problem. Russia has forcibly renegotiated critical defense contracts with India several times, and won’t hesitate to do so again.

The 3rd risk is schedule risk. Since Russia is focused on fielding the current single-seat configuration in its current form, while India is focused on major configuration changes and is still debating a 2-seat variant, both of those timelines could turn out to be true. Russia could wind up fielding SU-50 squadrons several years before India even finishes development. India’s Business Standard.

Jan 29/12: Korea: No PAK-FA. The Korea Times quotes a DAPA spokesman, who confirms the potential F-X-III competitors:

“No Russian firm submitted an application to attend the program’s explanatory session, which was a prerequisite to participate, by the Friday registration deadline,” a spokesman of DAPA said. He noted that a representative from Swedish company Saab, which has been searching for additional export orders for its Gripen multirole fighters, successfully filed an application for the mandatory session along with Boeing, Lockheed Martine [sic] and EADS.”

This means that the Indo-Russian PAK-FA will not be part of the $7+ billion competition, despite reports (vid. July 20/11) that it was intending to participate, just as Russian disinterest kept the SU-35 out of F-X-2.

2011

Prototypes #2 & 3 fly; Testing flameout; South Korean opportunity? PAK-FA: takeoff!
(click to view full)

Dec 22/11: #3 flies. First flight of the 3rd PAK-FA prototype from Sukhoi’s KNAAPO aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Sukhoi.

Sept 6/11: Exports? Russia & India Report highlights an analysis by Russia’s unofficial Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade (CAWAT), which takes a look at potential buyers of the PAK-FA’s export version. They see a potential for 274-388 export units beyond India or states that spun out of the Soviet Union, like Kazakhstan et. al. Their projections for possible buyers, and their projected purchasing periods, include:

  • Algeria (2025-2030)
  • Argentina (2035-2040)
  • Brazil (2030-2035)
  • Venezuela (2027-2032)
  • Vietnam (2030-2035)
  • Indonesia (2028-2032)
  • Iran (subject to lifting of the arms embargo, 2035-2040)
  • Kazakhstan (2025-2035)
  • China (“subject to certain conditions”, 2025-2035)
  • Malaysia (2035-2040)
  • Syria (2025-2030)

Aug 24/11: Flameout. Flight International conveys NPO Saturn general director Ilya Federo’s explanation of the MAKS 2011 failure:

“The motor did not fail – in fact, it was put by erroneous control input into a wrong mode that caused the surge. This is not an engine failure, but the wrong data input caused by a malfunctioning sensor feeding data to the flight control system. After what had happened the motor was checked [and] the malfunctioning sensor was replaced by a good one. Today, there is no issue with this engine.”

Aug 22/11: Flameout. After performing a basic fly-over with the PAK FA, Sukhoi intended to close Russia’s MAKS 2011 air show with a bang – and did, sort of. The pilot of its second prototype PAK-FA/T50-2 was forced to abort his take-off run, and the planned flying routine, after 2 bursts of flame erupted from the right engine.

The show’s organizers compounded the embarrassment by promising that the 1st prototype would fly instead – but it was not on site, and is believed to be in maintenance following its Aug 17/11 demonstration. Flameout: Flight International (incl. flame burst picture) | India’s Open magazine | China’s Xinhua || Appearance: Moscow Times | Pravda | RIA Novosti | Voice of Russia | Reuters | UPI | WSJ Emerging Europe blog | op-ed – Right-wing Heritage Foundation, USA.

July 20/11: PAK-FA for South Korea? As South Korea’s DAPA eases the criteria to try and foster more competition, DAPA’s Col. Wi Jong-seong says that “Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi expressed its intent to compete in the fighter jet procurement project early this year.” The report quotes him as saying that Sukhoi’s T50 PAK-FA will be up against Boeing’s stealth-enhanced F-15SE Silent Eagle, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II, and EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon. Assuming we don’t have an F-X-2 repeat, where all competitors but one drop out.

At this point, FX-III is being touted as a 60 jet buy of high-end fighters, with a budget of 8.29 trillion won ($7.86 billion). Eurofighter reportedly offered a better deal than the F-15K in F-X-2, but lost. The firm recently proposed to phase in Korean assembly for Phase III, with the 1st 10 made in Europe, the next 24 using Korean components, and the last 26 assembled in Korea. Korea Times.

March 3/11: #2 flies. Russia’s 2nd PAK-FA fighter prototype successfully completes its 1st test flight in Russia’s Far East region of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Note that China’s Xinhua cites local reports dated Feb 23/11, but Sukhoi’s release pegs the date at March 3/11.

UAC’s Mikhail Pogosyan adds that they expect to have a fleet of 3 test aircraft by year end, and says the existing jets have now made 40 flights since last January to test the model’s aero-dynamic characteristics and electronics. Beyond that, Pogosyan tells Russian media that the Indian Air Force will “acquire 50 single-seater fighters of the Russian version” before their 2-seat FGFA is developed. If true, it would go a long way toward ensuring that India meets its 2017 induction target. On the Russian end, plans are to purchase the first batch with existing engines, buying the first 10 aircraft after 2012 and then 60 after 2016. Russia’s Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies director Ruslan Pukhov predicts that Vietnam will be the 2nd export customer for the fighter. Sukhoi | Russia’s Pravda | China’s Xinhua.

Feb 9/11: With Aero India 2011 underway, Sukhoi offers some additional details regarding the December 2010 agreement with India:

“This is the first of a series of documents governing the obligations of the parties at different stages of the program. The PMF project includes the design and development of a next-generation fighter, which will have such advanced features as stealth, supersonic cruise speed, high maneuverability, highly integrated set of avionics, an advanced warning system about the situation, the internal deployment of weapons and the possibility of a centralized reporting and electronic warfare system. The fighter is being developed on the basis of the Russian perspective aviation complex (PAK FA) according to stringent technical requirements of the Indian side. The further development of the program envisages design and development of a two-place version of the aircraft and integration of an advanced engine with increased thrust. The two sides are supposed to cooperate in joint marketing of the complex in other countries.”

Feb 9/11: India. Indian defence minister AK Antony reiterates their target of a 2017 induction for the FGFA. India’s defense procurement history suggests that they’re unlikely to make it. Time will tell. Sukhoi.

2010

1st flight; Russian air force plans; Contract with India. Sukhoi PAK-FA: 1st flight
(click to view larger)

Dec 20/10: Contract. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reportedly signs a set of defense and nuclear agreements in India, including the FGFA development contract. Details remain sketchy. Bloomberg | BBC.

Dec 16/10: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Chairman Ashok Nayak tells Russia’s RIA Novosti that Russia and India have agreed on key features of the design contract for their joint fifth-generation fighter project. The cost of preliminary design is estimated at $295 million, with work expected to be complete within 18 months. The partnership will develop both a single-seat and a twin-seat version of the aircraft by 2016, focusing on the single-seat version in the initial stages of development.

Nayak said the contract could be signed by the representatives of India’s HAL and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) during a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to India on December 20-22. RIA Novosti.

Development contract

Nov 30/10: The right-wing American Heritage Foundation think tank releases an analysis of the Russia program and its implications: “What Russia’s Stealth Fighter Developments Mean for America“.

July 23/10: Testing. Sukhoi’s KnAAPO issues a release saying that:

“Sukhoi Company has completed the preliminary on-land and in-flight activities which involved all 3 engineering prototypes of the Frontline Aviation Advanced Airborne Complex (PAK FA)… These prototypes were used for testbed strength tests, on-land optimization of fuel systems and other work towards flight trials. The flying prototype has made 16 flights… enables execution of a complete program of flight trials… Vladimir Popovkin, the Russian Defense Minister First Deputy, in his interview to the Rossiyskaya Gazeta newspaper estimated the Russian Air Force’s demand for the 5th-generation fighters at 50 to 100 units. It is planned to complete all tests of the PAK FA airframe in 2011-2012, and to sign a contract in 2013 for a pilot lot of ten aircraft for testing the model’s entire weapons suite.”

July 13/10: Russia. RIA Novosti quotes senior Russian figures. Russian Air Force chief Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin confirms the expected delivery dates of over 60 planes, which they hope to begin in 2015-16, but equipped with older, “non-fifth” generation engines from existing SU-30 family planes.

“Deputy Defense Minister for Arms Procurement Vladimir Popovkin said the Defense Ministry would purchase the first 6 to 10 aircraft after 2012, based on the outcome of initial tests… The prime minister said 30 billion rubles (around $1 billion) had already been spent on the project and another 30 billion would be required to complete it, after which the engine, weaponry and other components would be upgraded.”

April 2010: Testing. The 1st flying prototype of the fighter, and the avionics testbed used for systems optimization before flight trials, are delivered to the flying test center of the OKB Sukhoi Experimental Design Bureau in Zhukovsky, near Moscow. On April 29/10, the flying prototype begins preliminary tests. Source.

March 29/10: Welcome to the new world of intelligence, where a pair of YouTube videos appear to provide insights into PAK-FA technologies. Veteran aviation journalist Bill Sweetman reports that:

“…the video highlights a new honeycomb core material designed for high temperatures. It also states that the T-50 will have no fewer than five radar arrays: the 1500-module forward active electronically scanned array (AESA), two side-facing X-band sub-arrays and two “decimetric” (L-band) arrays in the leading-edge root extensions. It also states that the goal is to fight the F-22 by closing within visual range. Another new video shows a novel inlet radar blocker… It uses flexible vanes with a rotating ring at the rear end: in the “stealth regime” it provides extensive blockage, but it clears the airflow when it doesn’t matter or you need full speed or power.”

Late March 2010: Testing. Acceptance trials of the flying prototype are fully completed. Source.

March 16/10: Russia. In “The future of the Russian Air Force: 10 years on“, RIA Novosti military commentator Ilya Kramnik discusses planned buys and pending recapitalization of the Russian Air Force over the next decade:

“According to various media reports, the Ministry wants to buy at least 1,500 aircraft, including 350 new warplanes, by 2020. The fleet would include 70% new equipment at that point, said Air Force Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Alexander Zelin… The Defense Ministry has now signed contracts for the purchase of 32 Su-34 Fullback advanced fighter-bombers to be delivered by 2013, 48 Su-35 Flanker-E fighters by 2015, 12 Su-27SM Flanker-B Mod. 1 fighters by 2011, 4 Su-30M2 Flanker-C planes by 2011 and 12 Su-25UBM Frogfoot combat trainers. This year, the Defense Ministry intends to sign a contract for the delivery of 26 MiG-29K Fulcrum-D fighters by 2015. Additional contracts for the delivery of at least 80 Su-34s and 24-48 Su-35s are expected to be signed. In all, the Russian Air Force is to receive 240-260 new aircraft of these types. It is hard to say much about the specifications of another 100-110 aircraft, due to be manufactured primarily after 2015. They will probably include 25-30 MiG-35 fighters, another 12-16 Su-30 combat trainers for Su-35 squadrons and 40-60 Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA (Advanced Frontline Aviation Aircraft System) fifth-generation fighters…”

Feb 12/10: Testing. The PAK-FA prototype reportedly makes its 2nd flight at Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Times Now | RT .

Feb 6/10: Some aviation watchers ask “How long has the PAK-FA or T50 been flying?” They believe that the first prototype may have flown before January 2010, and that there may be more than 1 prototype, based on differences in available photos.

Jan 29/10: Fly! The first prototype PAK-FA fighter lifts off from KNAAPO’s Komsomolsk-on-Amur facility for a 47 minute flight, piloted by Sukhoi test-pilot Sergey Bogdan. Sukhoi says that the plane met all expectations. Sukhoi JSC release | NPO Saturn release [in Russian] | Russia 1 TV video | Pravda | RIA Novosti | Times of India | Aviation Week | Defense News | Agence France Presse | BBC | Canadian Press | Washington Post | China’s Xinhua | Aviaiton Week’s Bill Sweetman: Preliminary Analysis.

1st PAK-FA flight

Jan 6/10: India’s Business Standard covers the workshare and capability issues that have must be addressed before production contracts and arrangements can be finalized. The project is currently expected to have development costs of $8-10 billion, and Russia and Sukhoi have already made substantial investments.

The crux of the negotiations revolves around HAL’s designated development workshare, and the areas it will be applied to. On the other side of the table, the Russian United Aircraft Corporation is wary of India’s lack of design credentials, coupled with the cutting-edge nature of this project. HAL is intent on a 25% share, to include the mission computer and critical software (building on Indian SU-30MKI work), navigation systems, cockpit displays, counter-measures dispensing (CMD) systems, composites expertise and production to complement Russia’s titanium expertise, and modifying Sukhoi’s single-seat design into a twin-seat fighter for the IAF. HAL’s Chairman Ashok Baweja seems to have a different view of the fighter’s design state, referring to existing prototypes as “proof of concept” items rather than nearly final designs.

Once the 2 sides come to a firm agreement on issues of design and funding, UAC and HAL will sign a General Contract, and set up a joint venture to design and build the aircraft. That has not happened yet, while Sukhoi has continued to push forward with general design, and has produced a prototype aircraft. Business Standard describes India’s workshare as “almost finalised,” but as we’ve seen with other Indian procurements, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Jan 3/10: Rollout. Reports surface that the first prototype of Russia’s PAK-FA aircraft has rolled out on the runway at KNAAPO’s plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, but did not fly. The test pilot reportedly switched on the engines and made 2 runs on the airstrip, while testing the brakes.

Russia’s vice premier Sergei Ivanov had promised that tests would commence in December 2009-January 2010, and the Russian Air Force reportedly plans to induct the fighter beginning from 2015. DNA India.

2008 – 2009

Russia – India MoU signed; Russia approves their version’s design; Exports could be a challenge. PAK-FA: early concept
(click to view larger)

Oct 9/09: India. The Indian Ministry of Defence issues a release regarding the 9th meeting of the Russia-India Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation on Oct 14-15/09:

“Among the major new projects which will be high in priorities of the Indian agenda for bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries, will be projects for joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and of the Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTA). The co-development and co-production of the FGFA with Sukhoi Design Bureau Russia has been progressing, with several rounds of discussion already completed to finalize the technical requirements. During discussions in the meeting of the Commission, Shri Antony would highlight New Delhi’s interest in ensuring that the development phase of the FGFA is completed by 2016, as originally anticipated and that induction of the aircraft into the IAF can start by 2017.”

See also: Times of India.

Aug 28/09: Radar. Tikhomirov’s NIIP reportedly exhibits models of the PAK-FA’s active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Tikhomirov reportedly says the AESA antenna entered bench testing in November 2008, and was mated with the radar’s other blocks for an initial integration test “this summer,” with a 2nd radar produced by mid-2010 for integration with the operational prototype aircraft.

The Milaz report adds that Sukhoi will complete 5 prototypes for initial testing, including 2 to be dedicated for ground test activities. Initial trials are scheduled for completion in 2011-12, with the company expecting to produce an initial batch of aircraft for operational trials by 2015.

April 16/09: Exports? Forecast International offers a cautionary market assessment of the FGFA:

“…with the PAKFA program under increasing tension and the West’s major aerospace firms seeking to shore up additional orders for soon to be closed fourth-generation aircraft production lines, Russia faces the prospect of declining presence in the world’s most high sought after arms markets… Faced with the considerable research & development costs associated with developing a new, advanced fighter platform, Russia is seeking to both distribute costs and ensure that a viable export market will exist… Sukhoi, is reported to have already invested as much as $115 million in company capital…

Several factors are working against the Rosoboronexport’s attempts replicate the international cost/production-sharing development model implemented for the F-35, which is expected to become the dominant fighter in the fifth-generation market… the unproven status of the PAKFA… its timeline for delivery its far behind its western competitors. Deliveries of the PAKFA are not anticipated to begin until 2017. Finally, as production of the Eurofighter Typhoon and Lockheed Martin F-35 ramp up, the western aerospace firms currently producing advanced variants of fourth-generation aircraft are likely to push hard to gain additional order to extend production lines.”

Aug 8/09: RIA Novosti quotes the chief of the Russian Air Force, Alexander Zelin, from the MAKS-2009 arms show. Zelin says there are problems with the PAK-FA’s proposed new engines, and:

“For the time being the aircraft will use Saturn engines. There are problems, I admit, but research is continuing.”

Dec 29/08: MoU. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) sign the deal to jointly develop and produce a 5th generation fighter aircraft. HAL Chairman Ashok K Baweja:

“We (HAL and UAC) are moving forward as per schedule. We (have) just done the general contract yesterday. I went to Delhi and signed the general contract.”

According to reports, Russia and India will simultaneously develop 2 versions of the aircraft: a 2-seat version for India, and a single seat version for the Russian Air Force. India Defence.

India – Russia MoU

Sept 29/08: India Today magazine reports that the Russian and Indian designs for the FGFA project will differ somewhat, while efforts continue to define India’s participation in a project that has reportedly already had its design frozen by Sukhoi. HAL Chairman Ashok Baweja is quoted as saying that the Indian aircraft will be a 2-seat aircraft, which changes some aspects of design and has an especial impact on stealth unless carefully managed. Bajewa added that both stealth and supercruise capabilities were expected for the aircraft, adding that both sides were closer to a real agreement defining India’s participation, almost a year after the original cooperation memo was signed. India’s capabilities in composite materials manufacturing was mentioned as a possible basis for industrial participation.

Meanwhile, Russia’s the United Aircraft Corporation President Alexey Fedorov says that the single-seat T50 is set to fly in Russia in 2009 as planned; Bajewa adds that it will be powered by an ALF-31 FP engine.

The most interesting quote was Indian Air Vice Marshal Kak’s, who noted that the opportunity to gain from being part of the design process was gone, and added that “…if we have missed out on the design phase, we have to analyse the cost-benefits of acquiring only super cruise and stealth technology for $10 billion.”

A fair question. One likely to be asked in the political realm as well, when the time comes to finalize the agreement. Which leads to the corollary questions: How important each aspect is to the IAF? And where, if anywhere, might enough of these performance benefits be acquired at less cost?

Summer 2008: Design approval. The fighter’s initial design is approved in Russia, and the prototype blueprints are delivered to the KNAAPO aircraft building company based in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Source.

Russia approves design

April 3/08: RIA Novosti reports that Russia plans to begin flight tests of a new fifth-generation fighter based on Sukhoi’s PAK FA project in 2009.

Feb 28/08: HAL explains some of the timelines facing the FGFA program. HAL Chairman Ashok Baweja explains the process, which is also the set of implicit points of failure where the project can become stalled or canceled:

“We have only signed an Inter-governmental Agreement which agrees to cooperate in developing the FGFA. Now from that will flow the project report, general contract, the structure of the company that will be set up, and where the funding will come from. An aircraft design, development, certification, the complete entity with its power plant, systems, weapons, trials, is a process which takes 15 years to be completed.”

2004 – 2007

India signs key agreement, but it isn’t finalized. India’s SU-30 MKIs
(click to view full)

Nov 6/07: India. Issues and rifts may be developing between India and Russia over the FGFA contract, which still lacks key signatories. Defense News reports that key difference include the design’s level of finalization (India wants more input and hasn’t finalized requirements, Russia says the design is final), India’s monetary share (HAL says $2 billion, agreement suggests $5-6 billion), and other issues. The Defense News report does claim that Sukhoi’s secret PAK-FA/ I-21/ T50 design has been selected as the foundation.

The first prototype of the aircraft is reportedly projected to be test-flown by 2015, but the number of aircraft to be built remains among the unsettled issues, and the 2 state-owned firms (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. & Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau) have not signed any agreements yet.

All of these things are solvable by negotiations, of course, but that means the partnership is still effectively in negotiations, rather than a final deal.

Oct 18/07: India and Russia sign an Intergovernmental Agreement for joint development and joint production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA). The agreement was signed in Moscow, Russia at the conclusion of the 7th Meeting of the India- Russia Intergovernmental Commission for Military and Technical Cooperation.

India’s Defence Minister Mr. AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Mr. Anatoly Serdyukov also signed a Protocol which envisages a ‘new strategic relationship’ based on greater interaction at various operational levels. The two countries have agreed to strengthen and expand relations in all areas, especially in the areas of more frequent joint exercises and greater R&D cooperation. Talks with Russia to extend the 2000 Military Cooperation Agreement beyond 2010 have now begun, and Antony also expressed hope that the two countries would soon sign an Intergovernmental Agreement on co-development and co-production of Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MRTA). The India MoD release adds:

“The Defence Minister described the Agreement on FGFA as a ‘major landmark’ and said that the Indo-Russian relationship is on a trajectory to reach new heights. He Mr. Antony expressed satisfaction at the outcome of discussions on other important projects e.g., supply and licensed production of T-90 tanks, SU-30 MKI aircraft and other strategic issues. He admitted that there has been a delay in the delivery of the repaired and refurbished aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov along with supply of deck-based fighter aircraft MiG-29K and said it was decided that some more studies by technical groups would be done to go through the details. He appreciated the efforts made by the Russian side to resolve issues relating to life cycle support of equipment of Russian origin.”

Inter-Governmental Agreement

Aug 29/07: India. India’s MoD issues a familiar release, in response to renewed questions:

“Co-development of a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft has been identified as an important area of cooperation between the Indian and Russian Government. Technical discussions to work out the details are in progress. Efforts are on for finalizing the draft Inter Governmental Agreement in this regard. This information was given by the Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh in a written reply to Shri Gurudas Dasgupta and Shri CK Chandrappan in Lok Sabha today.”

March 1/07: India.Advanced Combat Aircraft” release from India’s Minister of State for Defence Production Shri Rao Inderjit Singh:

“The co-development of a Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft has been identified as an important area of cooperation between the Indian and Russian governments. Technical discussions to work out the details are in progress. Efforts are on for negotiations and finalization of the draft Inter-Governmental Agreement in this regard.”

Dec 10/04: The new fighter’s exterior design is approved. Source.
 

Appendix A: “Fifth Generation”? MiG 1.44 MFI
(click to view full)

Russia’s SU-27/30 Flanker family fighters were invented in the 1980s and 1990s, and attempted to incorporate the lessons from America’s 4th generation “teen series” fighters (F-14, F-15, F-16, F/A-18) into their designs. They were successful, and India’s Air Force may now be flying the world’s second best air superiority fighter in the SU-30MKI. The MKI, and European designs like the Eurofighter, Rafale, and JAS-39 Gripen, are typically referred to as “4+ generation” aircraft.

The term “fifth generation” fighter is part marketing hype, and partly based in reality. There are no objective criteria for this designation, and very few examples, which means it’s mostly applied based on when the development of a front-line, advanced fighter begins. There are a few general constants on the American side: some level of stealth, and internal weapon carriage to maintain it; arrays of embedded sensors within the airframe’s structure, rather than as bolt-ons; and sensor fusion into single displays. On the other hand, level of application varies for each category, and key capabilities like super-maneuverability and supercruise (Mach 1+ without using fuel-guzzling afterburners) have not been constants.

F-22, bays open
(click to view full)

The USA’s “5th generation” F-22A Raptor offers full stealth, supermaneuverability, an advanced AESA radar, huge computing power that creates a single “sensor fusion” picture from the plane’s array of embedded sensors and datalinks, and the ability to “supercruise” above Mach 1 instead of just making short supersonic dashes. It is operated by the USAF, and just over 190 aircraft will constitute America’s entire fleet. America has refused to export it, despite interest from very close allies.

To a lesser extent, there’s also the cheaper F-35 Lightning II, with some stealth, a smaller AESA radar, sensor fusion, and even more computing power and sensors embedded around the aircraft. It lacks supercruise or super-maneuverability, and will be produced for domestic use and export in Air Force, Marines/STOVL, and Navy variants.

Russia’s MiG 1.44 (if indeed it was a real project?) and/or “I-21″ type aircraft were early attempts to keep up with the Americans, but lack of funds suspended both efforts.

The obvious solution was a foreign partner, but Europe had limited funds, and had invested in its own 4+ generation projects: Dassault’s Rafale, EADS’ Eurofighter, and Sweden’s Gripen. India, on the other hand, has a long-standing defense relationship with Russia, and the funds to pursue advanced projects. From their point of view, a joint development agreement is one way to restrict Russian cooperation with China along similar lines. See Vijiander K Thakur’s “Understanding IAF interest in the MiG fifth generation fighter” for more background.

Until similar aspects of the Russian design became clear, however, it was impossible to know exactly what Russia and India meant by “5th generation.” Some of those ambiguities were resolved when Russia unveiled its T50 demonstrators.

Appendix B: DID Analysis – Under Pressure (2008) The competition?
(click to view full)

If there’s one watchword to use for this deal, it’s “pressure.” Russia has been putting pressure on India lately to remain a customer, by giving China export rights to jet engines that will power Pakistan’s new fighters, and by working to evict India from its base in Tajikistan. Verbiage concerning deepened strategic cooperation needs to be seen in this light.

The second kind of pressure at work here is the fiscal variety. With the Navy also demanding funds for new ships, submarines and aircraft as India’s geostrategy shifts toward securing the Indian Ocean sea lanes, any additional fighters will face an extremely tight fiscal environment over the next decade and more.

India already faces cost pressures given limited defense budget and pressing need to refurbish its existing fleet, modernize its fighters via the MRCA competition, and bring the Tejas LCA on line to replace its MiG-21s. Not to mention adding new platforms to patrol India’s vital sea lanes, fulfill naval fighter needs, upgrade its transport aircraft fleet, and extend the IAF’s reach. Meanwhile, India’s SU-30MKIs remain one of the best 4th generation aircraft in the world, with a comfortable edge over regional rivals, good growth prospects, and superiority over most current and planned US aircraft as well.

SU-30MK2s, China
(click to view full)

Then there’s pressure in future, as the strategic agreement lays the foundations for something of a dilemma down the road. There are no real guarantees when dealing with Russia, only its interests of the moment and the logic of cash. Any fighter whose R&D is partly underwritten by India can easily be sold to China later on if relations turn sour, or if India does not buy enough aircraft to make exclusivity worthwhile from Russia’s point of view. One might think that this would be counterbalanced somewhat by Russian wariness about giving a potential rival its best technology, but past experience shows that even this will be for sale. China’s real military budget is about 4-5 times India’s according to most credible estimates, and is likely to remain so.

Given the amount of Russian equipment in India’s military, and the limitations of defense budgets in a democracy that prevent a massive “throw-out and re-equip” exercise, India’s options for retaliation would be very limited.

India faces high hurdles to retaining future exclusivity – and is handing a potent lever to Russia for future “negotiations” involving Russian armaments.

Additional Readings Background: PAK-FA

  • Global Security – PAK FA [Perspektivnyi Aviatsionnyi Kompleks Frontovoi Aviatsyi].

  • Air Power Australia (Feb 15/10) – Assessing the Sukhoi PAK-FA. “While the failure to account for the imminent arrival of this design in United States TACAIR force structure planning qualifies the PAK-FA as a “known capability surprise”, the important advances in PAK-FA aerodynamic, kinematic and low observables design also qualify it as a “surprising capability surprise”.

  • Wikipedia – Sukhoi PAK FA. Wikipedia is a useful source for concept aircraft, because it tends to aggregate the various sources. This article is a good example. Note that all articles concerning this aircraft must be regarded as very provisional.

  • Warfare.RU, via WayBack – PAK-FA Sukhoi T-50. As of 2011. The “T-50″ is an internal designation; the operational aircraft will be SU-##.

  • RIA Novosti, via WayBack – FACTBOX: Russia’s fifth-generation fighter T-50 (PAK FA). As of 2012.

  • NPO Saturn – 117S. The engine that equips the Su-35, and early T50 models. For its successor, see Aircraft Engines of the 5th Generation [in Russian].

News and Views

Categories: News

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: The USA’s New Amphibious Ships

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 18:12
LPD-17 cutaway
(click to view full)

LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.

While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Capabilities and Features Roles and Innovations LPD-17 Class & ATF
(click to view full)

The LPD-17 Class featured both an innovative development process, and 21st century features that optimize them for a number of roles. These range from an assault ship that carries and sustains Marine Expeditionary Units, to use as a US Navy command node, the ability to play the lead roles in disaster relief operations, etc.

The ships will operate as part of larger Amphibious Task Forces (ATFs) in conjunction with a full set of airpower, additional assault ships, and air and sub-surface defense vessels. They can also be parceled out as the keystones of smaller three-ship Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs)/ Expeditionary Strike Groups (ESGs). At minimum, they can operate independently in low-threat scenarios during “split-ARG” operations, helping the group cover multiple areas of responsibility and respond to more than one contingency simultaneously.

A total of 11 ships of this class are slated to assume the functional duties of up to 41 previous ships, including the USA’s older LSD-36 USS Anchorage class dock landing ships (all decommissioned as of 2004, LSD-36 and LSD-38 transferred to Taiwan) and its LPD-4 USS Austin Class ships (12 built and serving, LPD 14 Trenton now India’s INS Jalashva). The San Antonio class ships may also replace 2 classes of ships currently mothballed and held in reserve status under the Amphibious Lift Enhancement Program (ALEP): the LST-1179 Newport class tank landing ships, and LKA-113 Charleston class amphibious cargo ships.

MV-22 Osprey

The San Antonio Class will also serve in a number of roles beyond combat.

While LPD-17 vessels will have their own helicopter contingent for patrols and transport operations, their large deck also makes them useful inshore “lilly pads” that can quickly refuel and turn around rotary aircraft from elsewhere in order to keep them on station longer. The ships are also designed to function as casualty receiving and treatment vessels, with 24 beds and two operating rooms. With communications capabilities that surpass most US and foreign vessels,

San Antonio Class vessels are potential command ships for US and joint task forces, and should make excellent UAV hosts and/or controllers.

Their 72,000 gallon per day reverse-osmosis water production certainly improves onboard creature comforts. It also allows the ship to operate in a critical lifesaving role in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the 2005 Asian tsunami, when fresh water is often the most urgent and difficult requirement.

Yet the ships’ combat role remains top-of-mind, and reminders of their purpose are deeply embedded in the names – and in some cases, the very fabric – of these ships. The USS New York [LPD 21] incorporated bow steel cast from salvaged remains of the World Trade Center. Later vessels in its class include USS Arlington [LPD 24], named after the section of the Pentagon that was also hit by an airliner on September 11. USS Somerset [LPD 25] is named in memory of United Flight 93, whose passengers’ heroic struggles with al-Qaeda hijackers crashed the plane in a Somerset County, PA field instead of the intended targets of the Capitol building or White House.

Basic Specifications Specs More Fun Facts

  • The US Navy has taken a tip from the cruise ship industry, and relied on heavy automation to bring down crew size. That frees up more space for troops, but these systems’ performance and resilience have become an issue.

  • The ship auxiliary systems are all electric, including electric heating and water heaters, 7 big York air-conditioning units (which will be appreciated by many troops), and a 72,000 gallon per day reverse osmosis water-generating plant.

  • A new high-power “low-drag” propeller hub design provides improved propeller efficiency, and helps them power the ship to speeds above 20 knots.

  • Within the ship, passageways are 25-30% wider than previous LPDs so combat-loaded Marines can move in full gear inside the skin of the ship just as if they were topside.

  • Those L-shaped berthing spaces have an extra 1-2 feet of headroom, enough for sailors and Marines to sit up in their racks. Personal storage space in all the berthing areas has gone up by 40%, compared to past LPDs.

  • The ships are also designed from the outset to accommodate the modern reality of mixed-gender sailors and Marines.

  • Food service has been modeled for maximum efficiency on both ends via simulation and task/traffic flow analysis that aim to keep both chow line waits and food production humming along.

  • San Antonio Class ships also feature amenities such as a ship services mall to ease long deployments, a fitness center, and learning resource center/electronic classroom enabled by the ship’s improved bandwidth and computing capabilities.

Self-Defense & Survivability: Options & Issues AN/SPS-48E on LPD 17

In order to survive both their missions and the need for upgrades during their long service lives, LPD-17 ships have incorporated significant advances in ship self-defense, survivability, and C4I systems. The question is whether they will be enough, given the ships’ size and cost.

Step 1 involves making detection and lock-on harder. The San Antonio Class was intended to have a significantly reduced radar cross section signature (1/100th of the LSD-41 Class). Indeed, the San Antonio Class works to minimize its signature across a number of spectra. It optimizes radar cross-section by streamlining topside layout, and incorporating reduced radar signature technologies and design. Relevant design features include a boat valley instead of a boat deck, removable coverings over the rescue boat and fueling at sea stations, and accommodation ladders that fold into the ship’s hull. Meanwhile, the advanced composite-enclosed mast/sensors, which cover the ship’s SPS-48E and SPQ-9B radars and its communications antennas, give the ship its distinctive profile. In the end LPD-17 designs do have a smaller signature than the ship classes that preceded them, but a July 2007 article in the San Antonio Express-News points out that the ship’s radar signature won’t be reduced as much as planned, compromising its survivability in near-shore regions.

A minor consolation of the class’ stealth design is that there are fewer edges and seams to collect rust, and corrosion-resistant paint and composite building materials were expected to reduce future maintenance and painting costs. Unfortunately, serious construction flaws in several ships of class are quickly piling up maintenance costs in other, unexpected areas.

RIM-116 RAM Launch

Step 2 is active defense. The class will use Raytheon’s SSDS combat system, which will control and partially automate a set of air, surface, and navigation radars, as well as electronic countermeasures systems, towed torpedo decoys, missile decoy systems, and air defense that will include the short-range RAM missile system. That single layer of active protection has been highlighted as a weakness in Pentagon reports, which state that the ship’s radar and defensive systems can’t defend the ship reliably against the most advanced anti-ship missile threats. That may prompt the Navy to add bolt-on launchers for the medium-range RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles that equip many advanced NATO warships. For close-in defense, the LPD-17 class will use the MK46 stabilized 30mm autocannon with advanced sensors, as well as traditional .50 caliber machine guns mounted about the ship.

Step 3 involves the ability take a punch and keep fighting. The ship’s design worked to optimize the separation of redundant vital systems, and possesses a diverse suite of fire-fighting options. Fiber-optic wiring throughout the ship is designed for high-bandwidth SWAN (Shipboard Wide Area Network) applications, and features long-term upgradeability, redundancy, and durability. It will also help the automated ship control systems manage ship systems, and quickly make changes in the event of damage. It is also used as part of an advanced lighting system that improves visual stealth, lowers power requirements, and makes it easy to switch the entire ship to specified lighting modes.

Unfortunately, these features have not lived up to their promise. Pentagon reports cite reliability and effectiveness issues with the Engineering Control System (ECS), the electrical distribution system, and the SWAN, saying that they may magnify the effects of a crisis, instead of helping the crew save the ship.

Other shipboard vulnerability upgrades include improved fragmentation and nuclear blast protection, and a shock-hardened structure with upgraded whipping resistance and structural connections.

Overall, Pentagon reports rate the class as more survivable than previous LPDs, but question whether they are survivable enough for the modern environment. This reflects the horns of their basic design dilemma. If a ship is made very large, it offers peacetime efficiencies and better capability per ton, but its cost will rise to a level that pushes it toward the addition of advanced radars, defensive systems, etc. These additions improve the odds that one’s ship won’t be lost and destroy the entire naval mission, but they also drive each ship’s price even higher.

The other classic approach to this problem is to build more but smaller ships, which tends to add costs by using more raw materials and building more hulls. On the other hand, cost per ship drops sharply – foreign LPDs tend to be somewhere between 1/3 to 1/10 the price of an LPD-17. With more hulls in the water, the loss of one ship is less likely to destroy an entire mission, and less expensive defensive systems can be used.

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Program, Budgets & Timelines Full flight deck view
(click to view full)

The original December 1996 US Navy contract was awarded to an industrial alliance led by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (formerly Litton Avondale, now Huntington Ingalls Industries), with General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Raytheon Electronic Systems and Intergraph Corporation, to design and construct the first of an anticipated 12 ships under the Navy’s LPD-17 program.

Avondale was supposed to build 8 of these ships, while Bath Iron Works would build 4 ships. In June 2002, however, a revised Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Northrop Grumman and Bath Iron Works. Northrop Grumman would be responsible for the construction of all LPD-17 San Antonio Class vessels, but they would trade construction of 4 of the USA $1.5 billion DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers to Bath Iron Works.

LPD-17 production, originally authorized for 11 or 12 vessels as functional replacements for 41 1960s-era ships, dropped to just 9 as cost spirals took their toll, and was eventually forced back up to 11 with extra spending. 2013 Navy budget documents show an average cost per ship of over $1.6 billion through all vessels, which offers the unusual phenomenon of no reduction in cost vs. the first ship of class.

According to official Pentagon budget documents, recent funding for the LPD-17 class has included:

San Antonio Class budgets, 2002-2012
(click to view full) Excel
download

Even by 2002, Research, Development, Testing & Evaluation (RDT&E) was mostly complete for this class, and the vast majority of funds spent under the program have been focused on building ships. Note that requests for a given year generally include both funds to finish building a ship, and funds for long lead-time items like engines, “government-furnished equipment” that isn’t bought by the shipbuilder, and other items that must be ordered early so construction of the next ship can start on time.

FY 2010 funding would technically buy 0 ships; it finishes LPD 26, and buys long lead time items for LPD 27. FY 2011 funding was the bare minimum, and the LPD 27 order hung on passing a FY 2012 budget. The final shipbuilding contract was placed in July 2012.

Timelines

Current and planned ships in this class, and key milestones include:

San Antonio Class LPDs – Timelines
(click to view full)

For some ships still in progress, we’ve noted discrepancies between announced or estimated dates earlier in a contract, and completion dates for key milestones. For ships that are already in service, noticing the time lapses between key stages for an individual ship, and in the progression of ships through a given stage, provides its own indication of problems that have arisen. The effect of August 2005’s Class 5 Hurricane Katrina can certainly be seen in several of the ship timelines above. So, too, can the effect of manufacturing quality problems.

Flight II: What’s Next LPD Flight II changes
(click to view full)

The LPD-17s aren’t quite done production yet, but unless the shipyard receives new orders, that time is coming soon. HII’s response has been to look ahead, and look beyond amphibious ships.

An LX(R) competition looks to replace existing LSD-41/49 amphibious ships with up to 10 new amphibious support vessels, in the unlikely event that programs like the F-35 and SSBN(X) don’t gut US Navy procurement. The stated goal is 10 ships, with the 1st ship delivered between 2018 – 2022. HII’s response is the LPD Flight II, which keeps the same basic hull, but carries fewer Marines, holds less cargo, and removes a number of elements that add costs. Their stated target is a 30% cost reduction; unfortunately, that still makes their 23,000t design about twice as expensive as a foreign 17,000t LPD like the Dutch Johann De Witt. The benefits of using a mature production line and many common elements are real, but a $1.1 billion price tag per ship simply may not be affordable amidst hugely expensive programs and fiscal crises.

Fortunately for Huntington Ingalls, they didn’t stop there. Once they had stripped the LPD-17 design down and removed the hangar and some superstructure, they realized that they had a platform for other roles as well.

Joint Command and Control. The US Navy currently operates 4 dedicated command ships, all of which are over 30 years old. At some point soon, the Navy must either replace them of forego them. The LPD Flight IIs begin with advanced communication suites, and contain all the space one might require to house and run a full theater command. HII would have some decisions to make about organic on-board helicopter capability, but otherwise, most of the modifications would involve internal layouts and wiring. The big question remains the same: could this be done more cheaply by using another platform?

Hospital Ship. The USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy are converted oil supertankers, originally launched in 1975 and 1976. The San Antonio Class has an internal hospital with 24 beds; in contrast, the USA’s hospital ships can hold and care for up to 1,000 patients, complete with a full pharmacy, advanced tools like radiology, optometry, testing lab, etc. The LPD Flight II is far smaller than these 65,000t+ behemoths, but it does have a good deal of internal space that could be put to good use, and that capacity may be more than adequate for most deployments. Innovative approaches could even modify the Flight II’s enhanced deck space to stack containerized TransHospital systems, for medical satellite deployments ashore.

USNS Mercy actually sat pierside from 1991 – 2004, whereas a platform that could operate at lower cost would be easier and more tempting to deploy. If the Navy can get beyond its steeper acquisition cost.

LPD Flight II for BMD?
click for video

Ballistic Missile Defense. This seems like the most radical change, but it isn’t if you think of the ship as specialized for this air and space defense role. A Flight II BMD ship would remove the well deck, in favor of a deck elevator that leads down to a helicopter hangar. It would also add a superstructure with the 21′ AMDR-S radar that the Navy considers ideal for ballistic missile defense, but which current destroyers cannot carry. The AEGIS BMD combat system would be installed, and the space cleared by the removal of most LPD-17 Class superstructure would be used to mount vertical launch cells around the edges. Notional designs show a nearly-ridiculous 288 Mk.41 VLS cells, or they could cut the number of cells and improve survivability by switching to the same Mk.57 PVLS on board the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class battlecruisers.

Effectively, a FLT II BMD aerospace warfare cruiser would create a more potent air and missile defense platform than current American destroyers, at a similar cost, in exchange for less versatility. US Navy 2009 estimates pegged a similar arsenal ship concept at around $2.55 billion, which still seems about right as a starting point. The Flight II BMD design would be more costly than existing LPD-17s, or existing DDG-51 Flight IIA BMD destroyers (around $1.8 – 2 billion). It might be cheaper than the $2.5 – 3 billion estimates rumored for DDG-51 Flight III destroyers, but it would have limited versatility. It has enough VLS cells to act as an air defense ship, but it would lack the speed required to perform the “plane guard” role for carriers on calm days. It’s possible to load some cells with VL-ASROC anti-submarine missiles, and deploy an MH-60R helicopter from the under-deck hangar, but the ship itself wouldn’t have the systems needed to detect and track submarines. It would be a very effective arsenal ship for land attack with cruise missiles, but other ships and submarines can do the same thing, without putting such high-end BMD capability at risk.

That might be an acceptable trade, depending on the Navy’s commitment to leadership of American missile defense efforts. With discussions regarding DDG 51 Flight IV focusing on power-hungry rail guns and lasers, the Flight II’s power generation capabilities could give them a unique defensive niche. On the other hand, Flight II BMD ships would probably have to be paid for by sacrificing DDG-51 destroyers. The class’ lead shipyard Bath Iron Works needs those destroyers to remain a major shipbuilding concern, which means HII would be cannibalizing its own DDG-51 production.

LPD-17 Program: Performance Problems (click to view full)

The LPD-17 program has done some things well. Reduced operational costs and an improved capability to incorporate technological advances over its 40-year service life were essential design objectives for LPD 17. In working to accomplish these objectives, the design team incorporated hundreds of suggestions and recommendations from more than 1,000 sailors and Marines in the “Design for Ownership” process. Simulation and modeling were used heavily, and virtual crews drawn from other areas of the US Navy took “virtual tours” of the design zones of the ship via a 3D model at initial reviews, at 50% design reviews, and at 90% design reviews. Cargo functions received particular attention.

Meanwhile, the entire project alliance worked together at the same location along with the project sponsor, in order to maximize communication. Those efforts show through in many aspects of the ships’ design.

Unfortunately, the LPD-17 Class has experienced a number of long-running problems, particularly those ships built at the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans.

Financial. Overall, the class’ financial and budgetary performance has been a long-running failure. The LPD 17 San Antonio was initially budgeted at $954 million, but ended with a final price tag of about $1.76 billion. The LPD 18 New Orleans was budgeted at $762 million, but finished at a similar cost to LPD 17.

Northrop Grumman isn’t solely to blame for these overruns. The need to tear down and rebuild completed sections of the LPD 17 San Antonio was a major cause of its cost increases, while workforce attrition rates as high as 35% annually led to its construction delays. According to San Antonio Express-News, a less obvious but equally consequential source of trouble was a computer design program dubbed 3D CAD, which was touted for its ability to give 3-dimensional views, but was not up to the task of designing an entire ship.

What’s far more disturbing is the fact that these massive cost increases over the original $800 million projections have continued throughout the class’ lifetime. Indeed, they showed no improvement at all. That’s never supposed to happen, but FY 2013 budget documents show an average $1.6 billion cost over the full 11 ships.

Workmanship. The 2nd performance failure has involved ship quality. Northrop Grumman delivered the 1st ship, USS San Antonio [LPD 17], in the summer of 2005, but difficulties with her INSURV inspections and acceptance sea trials forced a delay of almost 3 years before her 1st mission, which featured a major mechanical breakdown. A similar fate befell the USS New Orleans [LPD 18], and those delays are clearly visible in the timelines, above.

In contrast, USS Mesa Verde [LPD 19], which was built at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls yard in Mississippi instead of its Avondale yard near New Orleans, performed well in sea trials, and has been reliable in service.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the class’ problems. In 2010 a number of ships of class, especially the Avondale-built ships, discovered very serious problems that took them out of service for difficult repairs. They included USS San Antonio [LPD 17], USS New Orleans [LPD 18], USS Green Bay [LPD 20], and USS New York [LPD 21].

Once again, the bright spot was USS Mesa Verde, built at the Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, MS, which moved to substitute for USS San Antonio on a recent deployment.

Governments have generally ignored this shipyard quality problem. A $50 million grant from the state of Louisiana did help Northrop Grumman modernize production at Avondale, and another $98.6 million in federal funding has also filtered down to local NGSS shipyards in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Nevertheless, scathing Navy inspector general reviews that detailed shoddy construction and basic workmanship problems at Avondale are cause for legitimate concern in areas that will not be fixed by modernization alone.

Eventually, Northrop Grumman spun off its shipbuilding units as Huntington Ingalls Industries, and moved to close the Avondale, LA shipyard. That may finally resolve the issue – after more than $15 billion had been spent on a supposed cornerstone of the future amphibious fleet.

DID will continue to spotlight this issue, in “LPD-17 Reliability Issues Surface Again.”

The Vicious Cycle

The San Antonio class’ problems fit into a larger set of trends. The Navy and Congress make life very difficult for American military shipbuilders, who also operate in ways that come back to bite them. Key challenges include yo-yoing political budget projections and military requirements. That problem leads to “binge and purge” hiring cycles, impairs shipyard effectiveness, and ultimately raises costs, while lowering quality. The growing costs of US Navy ships then feed back into this phenomenon, as budgets and projections break, and require drastic changes to fix.

On the contractor side, lowball initial prices, followed by cost increases once projects begin, leads to inevitable build reductions part-way through. Which means fewer ships per dollar, as R&D dollars are amortized over fewer ships. The Pentagon is often a collaborator in these games, assuring lawmakers of the initial contract’s reasonableness long after outside reports question their realism. Such approaches may ensure shipyard work in the near term, but they also feed into yo-yoing federal budgets, as cost growth makes it impossible for the Pentagon to fund all of the programs it has started.

Poor accountability and oversight can compound these issues, and has, but good oversight alone won’t remove them.

Ultimately, the US Navy loses the most. These escalating requirements and costs mean fewer ships overall. While the resulting fleet may be more capable, the number of contingencies it can cover, and the setbacks that it can safely absorb, drop. Even as the entire process shrinks a US industrial base that no longer builds many civilian vessels, and so has little resiliency.

It’s a vicious cycle – one that is damaging American global power.

LPD-17 San Antonio Class: Contracts & Key Events (1996-Present)

Unless otherwise noted, all contracts were issued by the US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington, DC.

FY 2015

LPD Flight II
click for video

Oct 20/14: LX-R. It hasn’t exactly been a secret that the US Navy has wanted LPD-17 Flight II as its replacement for existing LSD-41/49 ships (q.v. July 25-28/14, Dec 6/13, April 9/13). Now Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has signed an internal memo recommending the use of LPD-17 Flight II ships to replace existing LSD-41/49 ships, rather than rebuilding existing LSDs with changes or opening competition to other designs. The cost?

Start with an estimate of $2.02 billion for LPD 28, which is higher than the original LPD-17’s final figure, in order to keep the production line going until LX(R). The Navy believes themselves to be about $1 billion short in terms of securing that funding. Regardless of what happens with LPD 28, the estimate is $1.64 billion in construction costs for the lead LX(R) Flight II ship, and $1.4 million for the next 10 planned hulls. Plus any funds required to do further design work that fixes existing LPD-17 issues.

Even assuming a multiyear procurement block buy that cuts costs over 10%, it’s hard to see that as affordable, especially in light of the USA’s expected fiscal situation and the demands of other programs. The next major step for the program is the Q2 FY2015 Milestone A review to settle the final outline, then a JROC review in Q1 2016. Purchases would begin in FY 2020, with delivery of the 1st ship expected in FY 2025. Sources: Inside Defense, “Senior Navy Officials Tell Mabus LPD-17 Variant Is Best Option For LX(R)” and “Mabus Signs Decision Memo: LPD-17 Variant Preferred Platform For LX(R)” | USNI, “Memo: Hull Based on San Antonio Design is Navy’s Preferred Option for Next Generation Amphib”.

FY 2014

LPD 24 & 25 commissioned; Testing reports still negative; Lots of pressure to use Flight II for LX(R) – but can the Navy afford it? LPD 25 trials
click for video

July 25-28/14: LX-R. The Navy and Marines have finished the LX(R) program’s in-depth Analysis Of Alternatives (AOA) v2.0. Rebuilding a modernized or enlarged version of the current LSD-49 Whidbey Island Class isn’t on the table for some reason. Instead, they’re focused on either a budget-killing LPD-17 Flight II (q.v. Dec 6/13), a license-built foreign design that may have trouble with higher USN survivability requirements, a clean sheet design that would be risky and potentially expensive, or some combination of JHSVs, MLP ships, and others that wouldn’t really duplicate what the LSDs do.

The Us Navy is reportedly aiming for about 11-ship class that will average about $1.43 billion per hull once they’re in production, or almost $16 billion in production costs alone. First, this figure is also substantially more than many other countries have paid for comparable ships. In many cases, it’s twice as much. One wonders where the Navy expects to find this money, given other major programs like aircraft carriers, submarines, the F-35B/C, growing healthcare costs, etc.. All at the same time as demographics start really stressing social programs, and a shaky fiscal posture for the USA as a whole.

Unsurprisingly, some high-level officials think the AoA could wind up having a v4.0 before all is said and done. Or maybe it’s time for a major break with NAVSEA tradition: a serious examination of each requirement’s defensibility, in light of the AoA. There are some signs that the Navy is asking more questions than usual this time. Sources: Breaking Defense, “‘$1 Billion-Plus Short': Amphib Add Isn’t Enough, So Navy Wants To Repurpose It” | USNI, “Cost Continues To Drive Quest For Next Amphib”.

July 17-25/14: Political. The Senate Appropriations Committee approves a $489.6 billion base FY 2015 budget, plus $59.7 billion in supplemental funding. It includes $800 million to begin funding what would become LPD 28, to fulfill section 123 of S. 2410. Even with $243 million added from FY 2013, the Navy would only have a bit more than half of the monies required, and the SAC is also mindful of the industrial agreement with Northrop Grumman (now HII) and GD Bath Iron Works (q.v. June 8/14):

“While Congress is not a party to this agreement, the Committee directs the Navy to submit a report to the congressional defense committees no later than March 1, 2015, on the Navy’s options and potential courses of action to fulfill the requirements of the SWAP 1 agreement preceding or concurrent with when LPD 28 is placed under contract.”

The House hasn’t voted any money, and the Navy is less enthused. For starters, Sean Stackley makes it clear that they won’t issue an LPD 28 contract until all of the required funds have been appropriated. He adds that the Navy is more interested in funding the RCOH refueling of CVN 73 USS George Washington, and in other amphibious ship programs. Sources: US Senate Committee on Appropriations, “Committee Approves FY 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill – Report: Department of Defense” | Breaking Defense, “‘$1 Billion-Plus Short’: Amphib Add Isn’t Enough, So Navy Wants To Repurpose It”.

June 8/14: Industrial. The Navy, HII, GD-BIW and Congress are all entangled in a ship allocation controversy, as a result of a 2002 MoU that shifted work on 3 LPD-17 ships to Northrop Grumman (now HII), in return for corresponding destroyer awards to GD Bath Iron Works.

Everything was fine until Congress began placing funding in the proposed FY 2015 budget budget for a 12th LPD 28 ship (q.v. May 23/14). If that goes ahead, does HII have to take away one of its destroyers under the current multi-year contract, and give it to GD-BIW? Bath Iron Works says absolutely, yes, and we consider that legally binding. HII says that GD-BIW winning construction of DDG 116 as an extra ship, via competitive bid, satisfies the terms as their 4th extra destroyer. The Navy says “we didn’t want LPD 28, leave us alone.” The lawyers say “job security!” Sources: Defense News, “Fallout From 12th LPD: Fine Print in Old Deal Could Cost Yard a Destroyer”.

May 23/14: Politics. The Senate Armed Services Committee has completed the mark-up of the annual defense bill, which passed by a 25-1 vote. The section relevant to the LPD-17s is explained this way:

“Provides authority for the Secretary of the Navy to use unobligated funds from underperforming programs to transfer up to $650 million for the acquisition of a 12th ship of the USS San Antonio – class of amphibious ships. Acquisition of this ship would enable the Marine Corps to better support the Asia – Pacific defense strategy. Provides permissive authority to incrementally fund LPD-28.”

Sources: US Senate Armed Services Committee, “Senate Committee on Armed Services Completes Markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015″.

April 4/14: LPD 24. USS Arlington is commissioned by the US Navy in Philadelphia, PA. During the ceremony and follow-on tours, the ship’s 684-foot flight deck boasted a Marine MV-22 Osprey, UH-1 Huey, AH-1 Cobra and CH-53 Sea Stallion.

The name honors the first responders and the 184 victims who died when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept 11/01. The ship’s sponsor is Joyce Rumsfeld, the wife of then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was in the building when the plane hit. Donald Rumsfeld initially went to the crash scene and offered some assistance, before heading back into the building by 10:00 am. Sources: Wikipedia, “United Airlines Flight 93″ | US Navy, “In Emotional Ceremony, USS Arlington Joins the Fleet”.

USS Arlington

March 1/14: LPD 25. USS Somerset is commissioned by the US Navy in Philadelphia, PA.

The name honors United Flight 93, whose passengers won the battle for control of their 757 jetliner on Sept 11/01, albeit at the cost of all of their lives. It crashed in Somerset County, PA. It was reportedly headed for Congress or the White House. Sources: US Navy’s Navy Live Blog, “USS Somerset Commissioning Ceremony” | South Jersey Times, “USS Somerset sets sail down Delaware River after Philadelphia commissioning”.

USS Somerset

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The short version re: the LPD-17s:

“The Navy is working to correct deficiencies identified during IOT&E that led DOT&E to assess the ship not operationally effective, not operationally suitable, and not survivable in a hostile environment. However, correction of a number of these deficiencies has not yet been verified by follow-on operational testing and some deficiencies have not been corrected [including issues from Shock Trial Reports].”

DOT&E says that some critical systems have been improved, but “the Navy has not yet demonstrated the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence capabilities needed to support LPD-17 when performing amphibious assault operations,” and the Shipboard Wide Area Network continues to attract scrutiny. they also maintain an interest in “reliability problems with amphibious support equipment and propulsion equipment,” “integration problems with self-defense in multiple warfare areas,” and want demonstrations of improvements re: performance issues created by the AN/APS-48Es radar mast shroud.

Reliability is also an ongoing issue, and DOT&E wants measurements for the ships as a whole, while flagging the gun systems, Magnetic Signature Control System, and SSDS Mk 2-based combat system.

Dec 6/13: LX-R. The US Navy and Marine Corps are working with HII and GD’s NASSCO to understand what’s driving costs for the proposed LX(R) follow-on amphibious ships, after the March 12/13 approval of LX(R) as a pre-major defense acquisition program. The first ship wouldn’t be ordered until FY 2019, and wouldn’t arrive until FY 2025.

CBO and Navy reports of $1.4 – 1.6 billion per ship have to be alarming. First, that’s almost as much as the 27,000 ton LPD-17s, which are already far over budget, to produce a 16,000 ton ship. Second, other countries are building similar 16,000 ton LSD/LPD ships for a bit more than a quarter of that amount. It’s well and good to jaw about a $15.4 billion, 11-ship program for medium size amphibious ships, but its future looks bleak if you project demographic effects, and overlay the other shipbuilding programs that will be underway and competing for limited funds.

The LX(R) alternatives being explored reportedly include resuming production of the LSD-41/49 ships, a modified San Antonio-class LPD-17 ship per HII’s “Flight II” pitch, a wholly new ship design, and an assessment of foreign-designed dock landing ships. Using cheaper commercial components, including propulsion systems, is also a possibility. Sources: Inside Defence, “Eying New Amphibious Ship, Navy Conducts LX(R) Affordability ‘Deep Dive'” | DoD Buzz, “Navy Considers Commercial Technology for New Amphib”.

Dec 6/13: LPD 21 moves. It’s December – time for New Yorkers to head to Florida! USS New York [LPD 21] continues this tradition, as she changes her home port from NNS Norfolk, VA to NNS Mayport, FL.

The entire 3-ship Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) will eventually be based there, as a replacement for the decomMSioned FFG-7 Class frigates USS Underwood and USS Klakring. USS Iwo Jima [LHD-7] and USS Fort McHenry [LSD-45] are slated to join USS New York in 2014. Sources: USN, “USS New York Changes Homeport to Naval Station Mayport”.

Dec 6/13: Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, MS receives a $39.1 million modification for LPD-17 life cycle engineering and support services: planning, repairs, spares, upgrade work, etc.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2014 (N00024-10-C-2203).

Nov 27/13: Support. Raytheon IDS in San Diego, CA receives a $32.4 million contract modification to deliver ongoing engineering and support services for LPD 17 class integrated shipboard electronic systems. the Pentagon’s descriptive hairball includes:

“…lifecycle engineering and support services, including post-delivery planning, logistics and engineering, homeport technical support, integrated product data environment, data maintenance, equipment management, systems integration and design engineering, software support, research engineering, obsolescence management (both technical and logistics), material readiness support, emergent repair planning, training and logistics support; Planning Yard support of integrated electronic systems, including fleet modernization planning, ship alteration development and installation, material management, configuration data management, research engineering, logistics documentation, and other logistics and executing activity coordination, and management; performance-based logistics support, including providing sustaining engineering and obsolescence management support for unique LPD 17 class integrated shipboard electronic systems.”

$6.2 million is committed immediately, and the award uses a hodgepodge of Navy budget lines: FY 2005, 2012, and 2014 shipbuilding and conversion; and FY 2014 operations and maintenance. $1.8 million will expire on Sept 30/14 (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 20/13: LPD 25. General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, CA receives a $12.1 million contract modification, exercising the option for Somerset’s [LPD 25] fitting-out availability. The ship hasn’t been commissioned yet.

$730,431 is committed immediately, and $215,383 will expire on Sept 30/14. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by December 2014. This contract was competitively procured, with 4 proposals received (N00024-12-C-2400).

Nov 15/13: LPD 17. General Dynamics NASSCO-Earl Industries, Portsmouth, VA receives an $11.4 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the USS San Antonio [LPD 17] phased maintenance availability. They’ll conduct miscellaneous structural and mechanical repairs. All funds are committed immediately, and will expire on Sept 30/14.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA, and is expected to be complete by May 2014. This contract was competitively procured via Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with 3 offers received by the Norfolk Ship Support Activity in Norfolk, VA (N50054-14-C-1401).

Oct 18/13: LPD 25 delivered. Somerset is formally handed over to the US Navy at the Avondale shipyard. Sources: HII, Oct 18/13 release.

FY 2013

LDP 24. Weapons. LPD 23 & LPD 24
(click to view full)

Sept 20/13: LPD 25. Somerset returns from successful US Navy acceptance sea trials. Sources: HII, Oct 10/13 release.

Aug 19/13: LPD 25. Somerset returns from 3 days of builder’s trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Sources: HII release, Aug 19/13.

May 4/13: LPD 23 commissioned. The US Navy commissions LPD 23 as USS Anchorage, in her namesake city of Anchorage, AK. Her home port will be San Diego, CA. US Navy.

USS Anchorage

April 12/13: Naming. The last San Antonio Class ship is among the 7 named by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who actually stuck to class naming conventions this time instead of veering into political partisanship.

LPD 27 will become USS Portland, becoming the 3rd ship in the fleet’s history to beat that name. CA-33 was a World War II heavy cruiser, named after Portland, ME. LSD-37 was also an amphibious assault ship, which was decommissioned shortly after Operation Iraqi Freedom began. It was named for Portland, ME and Portland, OR. LPD-27 is named after Portland, OR. Pentagon | Oregon Live.

April 9/13: LX(R)? USMC Commandant Gen. James Amos publicly recommends that the Navy replace its 16,360 ton LSD-41 Whidbey Island Class ships with a San Antonio Class derivative, provided it can be made affordable. The question is whether HII’s stripped-down LPD Flight II proposal drives enough costs out of the base platform to make sense. $1.5 billion per ship won’t cut it for LSD replacement, and even HII’s touted 30% savings of $1 billion for a 23,165t ship would be about double the cost of capable foreign LSDs like the 17,000t Rotterdam/JDW Class.

The Navy is currently conducting an Analysis of Alternatives for its notional 10-ship LS(X), which aims to deliver its first ships to the Navy between 2018 – 2022. It’s called LX(R) because they may want configurability for a wider range of missions than the existing LSDs. The AoA is due in September 2013. Sources: DoD Buzz, “Amos: Replace LSD amphib fleet with LPDs” | Defense News, “Different Missions Might Await New USN Amphib” | USNI News, “Second Act for San Antonio?”.

April 9/13: UAV test. Insitu Inc. announces a successful 1st maritime flight for the RQ-21A UAV from LPD 19, the USS Mesa Verde. The RQ-21A is based on Insitu’s Integrator platform, and was picked as the USMC’s small UAV back in July 2010.

The flight comes after 3 months of land-based development testing and operational assessment, and the RQ-21A’s outstanding endurance for its size will make it an important part of the San Antonio Class’ onboard equipment.

April 6/13: LPD 24 commissioned. USS Arlington is commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk, VA. US Navy Live blog.

Dec 14/12: Weapons. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $12.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 4 refurbished and upgraded Rolling Airframe Missile MK 49 Mod 3 guided-missile launch systems and associated hardware. these 21-missile launch packs will equip LPD 27 John P. Murtha (2 systems), and the Freedom Class ships LCS 9 and LCS 11 (1 each). All funds are committed on award, and there are options for 4 additional launch systems.

At the time of award, a $5.5 million option is also exercised for 2 remanufactured MK 49 launch packs, with Mod 3 updates and associated hardware. They’ll equip the Freedom Class ships LCS 13 and LCS 15.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by December 2015. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304c1 (N00024-11-C-5448).

Dec 7/12: Support. Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, MS receives a $54.5 million contract modification, to exercising the 3rd of 4 options associated with the Feb 16/10 award. HII will perform Life Cycle Engineering and support services on San Antonio Class ships, with $12.9 million obligated at contract award. The total value of this contract is now $157.9 million.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2013 (N00024-10-C-2203). See also HII.

Dec 7/12: LPD 24 delivered. Huntington Ingalls Industries delivers LPD 24 Arlington to the U.S. Navy. HII.

Dec 3/12: LPD 24. BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair in Norfolk, VA receives an $11.1 million contract, exercising options for the USS Arlington’s fitting-out and post shakedown work.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (90.53%), and Chesapeake, VA (9.47%), and is expected to be complete by May 2013. Contract funds in the amount of $2.8 million will be obligated at time of award. This contract was competitively procured via FedBizOpps, with 4 proposals received (N00024-10-C-2204).

Nov 27/12: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $41.9 million modification, exercising Option Year 4 for LPD-17 class Integrated Shipboard Electronic Systems life cycle engineering and support services. Last year, it was $40 million.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (98%) and Norfolk, VA (2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2013. $7.3 million is committed on the contract’s award, and $703,893 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 5/12: LPD 24 trials. LPD 24 Arlington successfully completes US Navy INSURV acceptance trials. She is now set to be commissioned in Spring 2013. HII.

FY 2012

LPD 21 to 23. Osprey onto LPD 21
(click to view full)

Sept 17/12: LPD 23 delivered. HII delivers the amphibious transport dock ship Anchorage [LPD 23] to the US Navy. HII.

Aug 24/12: LPD 24. LPD 24 Arlington returns from successful builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The real key is US Navy sea trials, which are next. HII.

Aug 1/12: Bolted. A new issue involving improperly installed bolts has emerged in the latest ships built by the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans. The Navy’s acceptance of LPD 23 Anchorage is now delayed, and LPD 25 Somerset is also affected.

An Ingalls inspector discovered the issue, which could lead engine mountings to shear under sudden shock, or loosen enough over time to set up damaging vibrations in the ship’s propulsion systems. Fitted bolts that don’t meet the ultra-tight tolerances for engine mountings are being replaced, and the Navy is also checking the 520 applicable bolts on every other Avondale-built ship. The problem is apparently confined to the Avondale shipyard, which has been the source of so many previous problems with the class. Ingalls-built ships from the Mississippi shipyard are unaffected. Gannett’s Navy Times.

More workmanship problems

July 28/12: LPD 25 christened. Nearly 1,800 guests attend the christening of LPD 25 Somerset, at HII’s company’s Avondale shipyard near New Orleans. LPD 25 is named to honor the courage of the passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93, who fought the hijackers and brought their plane down near Shanksville in Somerset County, PA. US Navy | HII.

July 27/12: LPD 27 ordered. Huntington Ingalls Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives the main order contract for LPD 27: a sole-source $1.514 billion fixed-price-incentive contract modification. When added to previous long-lead item orders, the shipbuilding cost is $1.8 billion, with key “government furnished equipment” like weapons on top of that.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (82%), Crozet, VA (4%), Beloit, WI (2%), and New Orleans, LA (1%), with other efforts performed at various sites throughout the United States (11%). Work is expected to be complete by June 2017 (N00024-06-C-2222). See also HII release.

LPD 27 main order

June 25/12: LPD 23 completes INSURV. HII announces that LPD 23 Anchorage has returned to her Avondale, LA shipyard, after successfully passing 3 days of Navy trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Delivery to the US Navy is set for Q3 (summer) FY 2012.

May 21/12: LPD 23 trials. LPD 23 Anchorage returns to Avondale, LA from successful builder’s trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship will now prepare for acceptance sea trials by the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), in preparation for delivery later in 2012. HII.

May 19/12: USS San Diego. The US Navy commissions LPD 22 into the 3rd Fleet as USS San Diego, based in San Diego. US Navy.

USS San Diego

May 15/12: LPD 27 lead-in. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a maximum $133.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for advance buys of LPD 27 long-lead-time materials and pre-construction activities. HII confirms that this is their 5th long-lead materials contract for LPD 27. This brings total long-lead contracts for this ship, from all contractors, to $419.6 million.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to complete by June 2017 (N00024-06-C-2222).

April 13/12: LPD 19. Small business qualifier MarineTec, a joint venture between Marine Hydraulics International, Inc., and Tecnico Corp. in Norfolk, VA, wins a $10 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for USS Mesa Verde’s [LPD 19] phased maintenance availability (PMA). They’ll perform miscellaneous structural, mechanical, and electrical repairs, and the contract runs until September 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11.

This contract was competitively procured via the Norfolk Ship Support Activity’s solicitation website, with 4 proposals solicited and 3 offers received (N50054-12-C-1203).

March 27/12: LPD 21 deploys. The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (IWO ARG) and 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24 MEU) depart for deployment from Norfolk and Camp Lejeune, NC, headed to the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf/ Indian Ocean areas.

The IWO JIMA ARG/24 MEU includes the amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima [LHD 7], USS New York [LPD 21], and USS Gunston Hall [LSD 44]; and is manned by Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (BLT 1/2); Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced); and Combat Logistics Battalion 24. USS New York.

March 19/12: General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, CA receives a $29.3 million contract modification for post shakedown work on USS San Diego [LPD 22] and fitting-out work on USS Anchorage [LPD 23]. Work will include program management, planning, engineering, design, liaison, scheduling, labor, and procurement of incidental material.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by December 2014. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC, is the contracting activity (N00024-12-C-2400). See also Oct 7/11 entry.

March 14/12: LPD 22 captain relieved. Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 3, relieves Cmdr. Jon Haydel as captain of the “Pre-Commissioning Unit San Diego,” 1 day before it was due to leave its Pascagoula, MS shipyard for San Diego. Haydel was reportedly well-liked, and the Navy did not disclose the reasons. He was reassigned to Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters, pending an investigation into the “personal misconduct” allegations. Stars and Stripes.

March 1/12: LP 27 lead-in. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA wins a $55.1 million contract modification, exercising the option for LPD 27’s integrated shipboard electronics. That’s actually a long list of items, including the engineering control system; magnetic signature control system; ship control system; navigation data distribution system; shipboard wide area network; wireless portable communication system; integrated voice communication system; sensors; Marine Corps support equipment; and AN/SPS-73 surface search radar.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by February 2018 (N00024-11-C-2404).

Feb 23/12: LPD 27 lead-in. Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a not-to-exceed $70 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification for advance procurement of long-lead-time materials in support of LPD 27. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by April 2012 (N00024-06-C-2222). This pushes announced LPD 27 long-lead contracts to $230.8 million.

HII notes that this is the 4th advance procurement contract for LPD 27 since October 2010, adding that these contracts are used for items like main engines, diesel generators, electrical switchboards, deck equipment and fire extinguishing systems. If they’re not ready in advance, they won’t be on hand when HII needs them, which would delay the build.

Dec 20/11: LPD 22 delivered. The US Navy takes delivery of LPD 22 San Diego. The crew will move aboard the ship on Jan 4/11 to begin the certification process, before a short Caribbean sail in mid-March 2012, followed by passage through Panama and then a sail up to San Diego for commissioning in May 2012.

The ship will be homeported in San Diego, alongside USS New Orleans [LPD 18] and USS Green Bay [LPD 20]. Mississippi Press-News.

Dec 6/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $60.4 million contract modification to make and test LPD 26’s Integrated Shipboard Electronics, with an option for LPD 27 that would raise it to $111.3 million. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by February 2017 (N00024-11-C-2404).

Nov 22/11: Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS received a $51.3 million contract modification, to provide life cycle engineering and support services for LPD-17 San Antonio Class integrated shipboard electronic systems. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2012. $104,981 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-10-C-2203).

Nov 22/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $40 million contract modification, exercising an option to continue providing life cycle engineering and support services for LPD-17 San Antonio Class integrated shipboard electronic systems.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (98%), and Norfolk, VA (2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2012. $719,252 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 18/11: LPD 22 passes INSURV. The US Navy’s future USS San Diego [LPD 22] completes US Navy INSURV acceptance trials. Delivery to the Navy is slated for mid-December 2011. HII.

Oct 7/11: Defense News reports that LPD 22 San Diego was damaged in late September 2011, during builder’s sea trials. A relief valve was installed backwards, causing part of the ship’s ballast system to overpressurize and damage 3 ballast tanks. The ballast tanks are used to lower the ship in the water, in order to flood its well decks.

Despite this mishap, the ballasting and de-ballasting tests were completed successfully, and Navy INSURV acceptance trials are expected to take place in November 2011.

Oct 7/11: General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, CA receives a $37.4 million cost-plus-fee contract for USS San Diego’s final fitting-out work, which could rise to $134.5 million if all options are exercised. That’s an unusually large figure.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by December 2014. This contract was competitively procured via FBO.gov, with 2 offers received (N00024-12-C-2400).

FY 2011

Testing troubles. HII spinoff. NSSA suspended. LPD 24 Arlington launch
(click to view full)

Sept 7/11: BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair in San Diego, CA receives a $12.1 million contract modification for the USS Green Bay’s [LPD 20] FY 2011 phased maintenance availability (PMA). PMAs provide for an extensive renovation and modernization of an LPD class ship, including alterations and repairs as well as inspection and testing to all ships systems and components ensuring safe and dependable operation of the ship. the Pentagon says that it won’t require a dry-docking.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by May 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. The US Navy’s Southwest Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego, CA manages the contract (N00024-10-C-4407).

July 13/11: LPD 20 XO relieved. Gannett’s Navy Times reports that USS Green Bay’s Executive Officer was relieved of duty by the Commodore of Amphibious Squadron 1 “after an investigation substantiated allegations of personal misconduct”. The ship is on deployment in the Persian Gulf, and Jones is being reassigned to temporary duties in San Diego with Expeditionary Strike Group 3.

The report also confirms LPD 20’s 1st mission, which began in February 2011.

July 12/11: LPD 27 long-lead. Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a maximum $98.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for advance procurement of long-lead-time materials in support of LPD 27, the 11th ship of the LPD class. This pushes LPD 27 long-lead contracts to $160.8 million, and HII notes that the category covers “main engines and diesel generators and other equipment, including electrical switchboards, deck equipment and fire extinguishing systems.”

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by January 2012 (N00024-06-C-2222). See also HII release, Oct 20/10 entry.

May 25/11: LPD 26 begins. The official start of fabrication on LPD 26 signifies that 100 tons of steel have been cut and fabricated, using Ingalls’ robotic plasma arc cutting machines. Huntington Ingalls says that the next milestone will be the ship’s keel laying, scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. LPD 26 is scheduled to be launched in Q3 of 2014, and delivered to the Navy in Q4 of 2015.

With respect to other ships, LPD 22 San Diego will undergo sea trials later in 2011; LPD 23 Anchorage is currently 82% complete, and is expected to be delivered in Q2 2012. LPD 25 Somerset is more than 50% complete, and will be launched “in 2012.” HII.

May 6/11: Maintenance termination. NAVSEA announces that it has terminated Earl Industries, LLC’s multi-ship, multi-option (MSMO) maintenance contract for the San Antonio Class. The move comes in response to:

“…Navy findings of improper work performed and concern regarding Earl Industries’ quality assurance program and the company’s ability to control the quality and documentation of work it performs. Those concerns were triggered by the number and severity of corrective action reports issued… “The company’s performance on this contract was not in keeping with the type of quality work the Navy expects from our industry partners,” said NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy. “These failures are unacceptable, and we have lost confidence in Earl’s ability to continue successfully performing this same type of work… under the MSMO contract.”

It’s the most severe option – a complete termination of all work in process by the Norfolk, VA contractor, as well as all options for future scheduled and unscheduled maintenance work on the class over a 5-year period. In place of Earl’s contract, the Navy plans to compete scheduled Chief of Naval Operations availability and all necessary Emergent Maintenance/ Continuous Maintenance work for the San Antonio-class ships homeported in Norfolk, among all eligible contractors in the Norfolk area.

The Virginia Pilot’s “Earl Industries’ $75M Navy contract: What went wrong?” has a pertinent examination, which notes that Earl won the contract, despite having a higher bid, on the basis of Navy evaluations of “exceptional” performance on past contracts. The firm retains maintenance contracts involving the USN’s carriers.

April 20/11: USN suspends NSSA’s warrant. The US Navy announces that it has suspended the oversight authority of its Norfolk Ship Support Activity, at Norfolk Naval Station, VA, which is responsible for supervising maintenance work done by private companies on Navy surface ships in the mid-Atlantic region. Investigations are also underway concerning specific repairs to the USS San Antonio [LPD-17].

By suspending the command’s oversight authority – formally known as its “technical warrant” – the Navy essentially said it no longer trusts it to make sure work by contractors is being done properly. The issue is reportedly that the government can’t tell, based on required reports, what work was done and what wasn’t.

Thomas J. Murphy, who had been the command’s civilian executive director since 2004, was replaced in March 2011, and sources outside the Navy said several other officials at the command were also removed. Virginian Pilot | Information Dissemination | UPI.

NSSA suspended

April 1/11: LPD 26 contract. Northrop Grumman spinoff Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $1.496 billion fixed-price-incentive contract modification for all detail design and construction of LPD 26. That ship is the future USS John P. Murtha, unless the name is changed during a subsequent administration.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (82%); Crozet, VA (4%); Beloit, WI (2%); and New Orleans, LA (1%). Other efforts will be performed at various sites throughout the United States (11%). Work is expected to be complete by February 2016. The contract was not competitively procured (N00024-06-C-2222).

LPD 26 main order

March 31/11: HII Spinoff. Northrop Grumman completes the $6.7 billion spinoff of its shipbuilding sector, which begins trading as Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. [NYSE:HII] Bloomberg.

From NGC to HII

March 26/11: LPD 24 christened. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s shipbuilding sector, with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps participating, christens LPD 24 as Arlington, in memory of those who lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon. NGC.

March 8/11: US Senate Armed Services Committee hearings get a spotlight on the LPD-17 program, as ranking member Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] says in his opening statement:

“From the first ship in this class, this program has displayed major problems in terms of safety, engineering, and the quality of workmanship. Those problems have been so widespread that they give rise to concern about a broader readiness problem afflicting our surface fleet. I am gratified by the leadership of the Atlantic Fleet Commander Admiral Harvey in starting to turn these problems around. But, I am perplexed by how we got to this point. And, as to the LPD-17 class of ships, how (with five delivered and four under construction) we have been left with a class of ships that, according to the Pentagon’s chief tester is ‘not effective, suitable and not survivable in combat.’ In addition to addressing this point, I would also like our witnesses to also address what I see as an overall downward trend in maintenance funding – with the negative impact falling more heavily on the Navy’s surface combatants than on carriers and submarines.”

See: Sen. McCain statement | Hearings Transcripts, etc. | Hearings video [Flash 10].

Feb 12/11: LPD 23 launch. LPD 23 is launched into the Mississippi River. She is about 78% complete, and some new pre-launch installations include items like mechanical completion of the anchor windlass hydraulic system. US Navy.

Building LPD 23 Anchorage
(click to view full)

Dec 12/10: The Washington DC area Sun Gazette reports that LPD 24 Arlington is tentatively scheduled for christening on March 26/10, and is now expected to be commissioned into service as USS Arlington in “mid-2012″ after trials.

Nov 30/10: NAVEA issues a pair of contracts for “LPD 17 class integrated shipboard electronic systems.” Services will include planning yard support of integrated electronic systems, including fleet modernization program planning, plus: post-delivery planning, logistics and engineering, homeport technical support, integrated product data environment, data maintenance, equipment management, systems integration and design engineering, software support, research engineering, obsolescence management (both technical and logistics), material readiness support, emergent repair planning, training and logistics support, ship alteration development and installation, material management, configuration data management, research engineering, logistics documentation, and other coordination, and management. The contractors will also provide performance-based logistics support, including obsolescence management support for out-of-production electronics, for “unique LPD 17-class integrated shipboard electronic systems.”

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $43.7 million contract modification. It’s the 1st of 4 annual options associated with the contract referenced in the Feb 16/10 entry, which could grow to $249.4 million. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2011; but $109,947 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-2203). See also NGC release.

Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA received a $38 million contract modification. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (98%), and Norfolk, VA (2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011; but $1,134,760 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-2205).

Nov 23/10: LPD 24 launched. Northrop Grumman’s Pascagoula, MS shipyard launches Arlington [LPD 24]. The ship launches at 77% complete, and upgrades over previous ships-of-class include a new water purification system, and a new operating system for the ship’s computing environment. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s LPD 17 program manager, Doug Lounsberry, says that: “This ship was the most complete LPD to date at time of launch and the schedule was also the shortest time from keel laying to launch.” If that has resulted in lower build costs, however, the budgets don’t indicate it.

Arlington is named for the county in which the Pentagon is located, as a memorial to the heroes and victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The ship’s christening is tentatively scheduled for spring of 2011. US Navy | Northrop Grumman.

Oct 29/10: LPD 26 long-lead. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives a $7.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the long-lead-time materials in support of LPD 26’s integrated shipboard electronics.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by March 2012. This contract was not competitively procured, since Raytheon is set as the contractor responsible for that aspect of the ships (N00024-11-C-2404).

Oct 29/10: USN Command Failure. Based on the Bloomberg report, the naval blog Information Dissemination looks at the DOT&E reports from 2006-2009, and matches them with command histories. The results are enlightening, and the op-ed point following those report excerpts is apt:

“There are clearly issues here that raise serious questions of specific industry companies as to why they have been unable to meet requirements. There are also serious questions for the Navy though, starting with why the recommendations made by DOT&E have gone ignored for several years in a row through at least December of 2009… LPD-17 class features networks with single points of failure that appear to be perpetually unreliable, new weapon systems that don’t meet requirements, and unreliable communication and information exchange equipment – all of which piles on top of the incredible number of HM&E problems identified as a result of poor construction and shipyard practices that have had most the class sidelined.

…Admiral Harvey took over Fleet Forces Command in July of 2009, and if you look over the CRS report by Ronald O’Rourke (PDF) that lists the history of construction problems from pages 17-45 (28 pages!), 10 of those pages disclose problems identified and reported over the 15 month time period since ADM Harvey took over responsibility at Fleet Forces Command… from June 2005 until July of 2009 – 49 months – very few of the major problems that are class-wide and often discussed today were apparently identified, or reported. Why did everyone have to wait for Admiral Harvey to assume command of Fleet Forces Command… Why was ADM Jonathan Greenert, who was in charge Fleet Forces Command from September 2007 to July 2009, unable to uncover any of these issues?

…As a reward for ADM Greenert’s apparent ignorance (or intentional concealment) regarding the depth of the LPD-17 class problems – he was promoted to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. I would also think there are plenty of questions for VADM Kevin McCoy who was the Chief Engineer in NAVSEA from 2005-2008 until he became commander of NAVSEA in June of 2008 – because all of the problems with LPD-17 took place while VADM McCoy was part of the leadership in NAVSEA over the last 5 years.

Problems with the LPD-17 class are similar to problems seen in other classes of ships built and maintained over the last several years, and these are problems that leadership at the time did not address and have gone on to cost the Navy billions to resolve. Noteworthy, as a reward for their work (and the problems listed in the Balisle Report is basically the resume of failure at Fleet Forces Command under ADM Greenert btw), the current CNO promoted these folks and the Senate approved those promotions… Screw up as a leader at sea – You’re Fired! Cost the country billions while leading ashore – You’re Promoted! That is my definition of a leadership culture that selectively applies accountability.”

Naval command failure

FY 2009 DOT&E report
(click to read)

Oct 28/10: Survivability, quality questioned by Pentagon. Bloomberg News reports on a classified report sent to Congress in June 2010, outlining Pentagon testing that found serious issues with the LPD-17 San Antonio Class’ ability to survive combat situations. Their report is based on an unclassified summary of that report, and an email response from Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, who described the ships as “not effective, suitable and not survivable in a combat situation.” The core of those reports is that the ships continue to experience widespread, persistent engineering problems, and couldn’t continue to operate reliably after being hit by enemy fire, in part because of the engineering problems mentioned. From the Pentagon’s DOT&E FY 2009 Annual Report:

“Chronic reliability problems associated with critical ship systems across the spectrum of mission areas reduces overall ship suitability and jeopardizes mission accomplishment… Emerging results from [Navy] trials indicate the ships could not demonstrate the required levels of survivability, largely because of critical ship system failures after weapons effects.”

“…Reliability problems related to well deck ramps, ventilation, bridge crane, and Cargo Ammunition Magazine (CAM) elevators… [and] Engineering Control System (ECS), including frequent failures and high false alarm rates, and the electrical distribution system, including unexplained loss of service generators and the uncommanded opening of breakers… The Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) identified similar deficiencies in identical areas (propulsion, auxiliaries, electrical, damage control, deck) during both acceptance and final contract trials across all four of the first ships of the class. Catastrophic casualties recorded prior to the Full Ship Shock Trial in LPD-19 and during LPD-17’s deployment revealed serious fabrication and production deficiencies in the main lube oil service system. The ship is capable of supporting [C4I] requirements in an ESG environment; however, reliability problems with the SWAN(Shipborne Wide Area Network) and the Interior Voice Communications System degrade command and control and are single points of failure during operations.

The LPD-17 exhibited difficulty defending itself against several widely proliferated threats, primarily due to… Persistent SSDS Mk 2-based [DID: link added] system engineering deficiencies… The ship’s RAM system provided the only hard kill capability, preventing layered air defense [DID: in fairness, the ships were designed this way]… Problems associated with SPS-48E and SPQ-9B radar performance against certain Anti-Ship Cruise Missile attack profiles [DID: also a known design limitation]… Degraded situational awareness due to Mk 46 [30mm remotely-operated] Gun Weapon System console configuration… The survivability of the San Antonio class ships appear to be improved over the LPD class ships they will replace. However, problems encountered with critical systems during testing (particularly with the electrical distribution, chilled water, SWAN, and ECS) and difficulty recovering mission capability may offset some of the survivability improvements and have highlighted serious reliability shortcomings.”

Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor and SPQ-9 radar provider, while Raytheon provides some of the items mentioned above, such as the SSDS combat system, shipboard network, etc. ITT makes the SPS-48E radar. The report comes as various firms are considering buying all or part of Northrop Grumman’s shipbuilding business. Pentagon DOT&E FY 2009 [PDF] | Bloomberg | DoD Buzz | Reuters.

Testing troubles

Oct 20/10: LPD 27 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $62 million cost-plus-fixed-fee not-to-exceed contract modification, to buy long lead time materials for LPD 27. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by August 2014 (N00024-06-C-2222).

Oct 18/10: BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair in San Diego, CA receives an $11.1 million contract modification for the USS New Orleans’ [LPD 18] FY 2011 phased maintenance availability. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by March 2011. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. The Us Navy’s Southwest Regional Maintenance Center in San Diego, CA manages this contract.

Oct 15/10: LPD 19 switch-in. U.S. Fleet Force Command (USFF) Commander Adm. John C. Harvey Jr. announces that USS Mesa Verde [LPD 19] will replace USS San Antonio [LPD 17] in the USS Bataan’s [LHD 5] Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) in the summer of 2011. Mesa Verde, which was built in Mississippi instead of the San Antonio Class’ primary yard at Avondale near New Orleans, returned from a 7-month deployment to the Persian Gulf in August 2010, and wasn’t expected to deploy again until late 2012.

San Antonio is currently scheduled to conduct comprehensive crew certification and sea trials in early spring 2011, but Adm. Harvey would only say that: “San Antonio will deploy when it is operationally sound and ready to go.” The ship’s overhaul at Norfolk was expected to take about 4-5 months and cost $5 million, but bolts in the foundations of the diesel engines and the main reduction gears were improperly installed at the shipyard. That created vibrations in the drive train that could have completely destroyed the propulsion system over time, and repairs are now expected to take about 11 months and at least $39 million, possibly more. USFF | Defense News.

Oct 3/10: Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding loads 100,000 gallons of fuel aboard the San Diego [LPD 22]. That step requires that all of the machinery spaces are prepared and ready, and helps flush the fuel system ahead of the upcoming generator light off in November 2010.

San Diego was christened in June 2010, and is scheduled for sea trials in Q2 2011. NGC.

FY 2010

Flawed construction. Avondale shipyard closed. LPD-17: Welcome to Norfolk…
(click to view full)

July 29/10: Flaws. Gannett’s Navy Times reports on testimony before the House Armed Service Committee’s readiness panel, indicating unique problems with USS Green Bay’s [LPD 20] steering system. That’s in addition to other problems generic to the class involving metal shavings polluting the lube oil systems and damaging the engines.

Like her sister ships San Antonio, New Orleans, and New York, all of which have experienced major post-delivery problems on top of their cost overruns, USS Green Bay was also built at the Avondale shipyard near New Orleans. Read “LPD-17 Reliability Issues Surface Again” for more.

July 13/10: Closing Avondale. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces plans to consolidate its Gulf Coast shipbuilding operations in Pascagoula, MS, and try to sell its entire shipbuilding business. Its Avondale, LA shipyard will close by 2013, transferring all LPD-related work. With the hysteria surrounding Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath a thing of the past, and a new emphasis on financial performance in the firm’s boardroom, these moves become politically possible at both the corporate and national levels.

“The consolidation of Gulf Coast ship construction is the next step in the company’s efforts to improve performance and efficiency at its Gulf Coast shipyards… Since [early 2008] Gulf Coast organization and leadership, operating systems, program execution, risk management, engineering, and quality have been the focus of intense improvement efforts. Consolidating new ship construction on the Gulf Coast in one shipyard will position Shipbuilding to achieve additional performance improvement and efficiency over the long term. Ship construction at Avondale will wind down in 2013. Future LPD-class ships will be built in a single production line at the company’s Pascagoula, Miss. facility. The company anticipates some opportunities in Pascagoula for Avondale shipbuilders who wish to relocate.

…the company expects higher costs to complete ships currently under construction in Avondale due to anticipated reductions in productivity and, as a result, is increasing the estimates to complete LPDs 23 and 25 by approximately $210 million. Of this amount $113 million will be recognized as a one-time, pre-tax cumulative charge to Shipbuilding’s second quarter 2010 operating income. The balance will be recognized as lower margin in future periods, principally on the LPD 25. The company also anticipates that it will incur substantial restructuring and facilities shutdown-related costs including, but not limited to, severance, relocation expense, and asset write-downs. These costs are expected to be allowable expenses under government accounting standards and recoverable in future years under the company’s contracts. The company estimates that these restructuring costs will be more than offset by future savings expected to be generated by the consolidation.”

Closing Avondale, LA shipyard

June 30/10: Flaws. Gannett’s Navy Times offers excerpts from a US Navy report, which indicated continued problems with basic workmanship aboard the Navy’s billion-dollar San Antonio Class ships:

“Inadequate government oversight during the construction process failed to prevent or identify as a problem the lack of cleanliness and quality assurance that resulted in contamination of closed systems,” said the Navy report, [dated May 20th but] released Thursday. “Material challenges with this ship and other ships of the class continue to negatively impact fleet operations. Failures in the acquisition process, maintenance, training and execution of shipboard programs all share in the responsibility for these engineering casualties… [With its automated systems] not functioning as designed, the ship was unable to effectively operate and maintain the engineering plant.”

The problems reported in January 2010 were traced to contaminated lube oil systems that were damaging their main engines, and USS San Antonio [LPD-17] and USS New York [LPD 21] remain affected, with San Antonio expected to be in dry dock until late 2010 as engineers attempt to repair a bent crankshaft.

Flawed construction

June 12/10: LPD 22 launched. San Diego [LPD 22] is christened. That ceremony formally gives the ship its designated name, but she does not become USS San Diego until later. Biloxi-Gulport Sun-Herald | Mississippi Press | LA Times.

June 2/10: General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. in Woodbridge, VA receives a $22.3 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed fee contract for the MK46 MOD 2 gun weapon systems (GWS) and associated hardware, spares and services. There are several Mk46s in the US Navy, but this one is a 30mm enclosed turret packing a Mk44 Bushmaster chain gun and advanced sights. The turret is operated from a console inside the LPD-17 San Antonio Class amphibious ships, and the Littoral Combat Ship’s surface warfare package. This contract covers both naval platforms.

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (69%); Tallahassee, FL (12%); Lima, OH (12%); Westminster, MD (4%); Scranton, PA (2%); and Sterling Heights, MI (1%). Work is expected to be complete by May 2013. $812,412 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Sea Systems Command, in Washington, DC (N00024-10-C-5438).

LPD-22 launch
(click to read)

May 7/10: LPD 22 launched. The future USS San Diego [LPD 22] is launched from Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, MS. US Navy.

April 30/10: LPD 26 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives an $184 million cost plus fixed-fee advance procurement contract modification that will provide long lead materials for LPD 26. Equipment bought under this contract includes main engines and diesel generators and other equipment including electrical switchboards, deck equipment and fire extinguishing systems, and the contract is expected to be complete by August 2012 (N00024-06-C-2222). Northrop Grumman release.

This is the second advance procurement contract for LPD 26, totaling $397.8 million; see also June 23/09.

April 14/10: USS John P. Murtha?!? The Navy announces the proposed name for LPD 26. Gannett’s Navy Times:

“Navy Secretary Ray Mabus notified Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead that he had selected “John P. Murtha” for the previously unnamed LPD 26. It’s the latest example of the Navy breaking a convention for naming its warships; the previous ships in the San Antonio class have been named for American cities.

Capt. Beci Brenton, a spokeswoman for Mabus, who is traveling on the West Coast, said she had no comment on the memo… [which] appeared to reflect both [Murtha's] support in Congress for more of the gators and his service in the Marine Corps… But Murtha might also prove to be a controversial pick: He was accused of ethics violations several times over the course of his career and he caused outrage among Marines in 2005 when he accused troops of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, of “killing innocent people” in a shooting in Haditha, Iraq.”

As of April 14/10, 6 of the Marine defendants had their cases dropped, 1 was found not guilty, and SSgt. Wuterich, the last defendant, is scheduled to stand trial Sept 13/10.

April 13/10: BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair in Norfolk, VA won a $29.6 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for post shakedown availability of LPD 21, the USS New York. PSAs fix last-minute issues that are found on the initial shakedown cruise, after a ship’s commissioning. BAE will perform program management, planning, engineering, design, liaison, scheduling, labor, and procurement of incidental material required.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (91%), and Chesapeake, VA (9%), and is expected to be complete by July 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $5,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with 4 proposals received (N00024-10-C-2204).

Marines Help Evaluate
click to play video

April 1/10: SAR to 11 ships. The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. The LPD-17 program qualifies:

“Program costs increased $4,417.5 million (+31.0%) from $14,241.7 million to $18,659.2 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of two ships from 9 to 11 ships (+$2,075.5 million) and associated schedule, estimating, and other allocations[1] (+$1,291.7 million), and additional full funding and outfitting and post delivery increases associated with the quantity increase (+$484.2 million). Costs also increased due to the addition of cost to complete funding for ships 22 through 25 (+$239.0 million), Hurricane Katrina supplemental funding for ships 20 through 24 (+$192.7 million), and special transfer authority and outfitting and post delivery requirements for ships 21 through 25 (+$132.0 million).”

More ships

Feb 16/10: Northrop Grumman announces that it received a $41.3 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program. If all options are exercised, the contract has a potential value of $249.4 million.

Under the contract (N00024-10-C-2203), Northrop Grumman will provide the following services: post-delivery planning and engineering, systems integration and engineering support, research engineering, material support, fleet modernization program planning, supply chain management, maintenance and training for certain LPD 17-class shipboard systems. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2010. This is a follow-on contract to one awarded in 2005 (see Feb 11/05 entry), and beyond this year, there are 4 more option years that could increase its total value.

Jan 22/10: Flaws. Following the problems with USS New York, Gannett’s Navy Times reports that:

“Inspectors are rechecking every pipe weld aboard every ship built in the last several years at Avondale, La., or Pascagoula, Miss., including destroyers and small- and big-deck amphibs, after discovering so many problems that all pipe welders and Navy inspectors at both yards had to be decertified and then recertified to work on ships… The disbarring and reapplication took place last summer, when some of the problems were first discovered… A major question was how or why NavSea’s inspectors approved work that subsequent Navy inspections later found inadequate… Inspectors are looking at the entire San Antonio class of amphibious transport docks to determine what has caused systemic lube-oil problems in multiple ships, as well as damage to engine bearings that recently sidelined the newest ship, New York.”

Most LPD-17 class ships have been built at Avondale, near New Orleans, LA – a shipyard that has has demonstrated extensive workmanship problems throughout the program. USS Mesa Verde [LPD 19], which was built at Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, is currently at sea, inspected, and will continue its mission to Haiti and the Middle East. USS New York [LPD 21] is dealing with lube oil and engine problems, and a bowed crankshaft that will need to be replaced in an unprecedented procedure. Northrop will pay for work on USS New York, which is still under warranty. Any problems found in other ships will be subject to negotiation.

Flawed construction

Jan 8/10: Major breakdown. The US Navy announces that a week long, at-sea examination following USS New York’s commissioning has discovered the “premature failure” of bearings associated with the ship’s Colt-Pielstick main propulsion diesel engines. After the damage was found, the ship returned to Naval Station Norfolk under its own power.

The USS New York was built in Northrop Grumman’s Avondale shipyard in Louisiana near New Orleans, as opposed to the Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi. The failed components are under warranty, and will be repaired. It’s currently unclear how long the repairs will take, however, how serious the failures are, or whether the problems affect other ships in the San Antonio class. Virginia-Pilot | Hampton Roads WTKR.

LPD 21 breaks down

Dec 11/09: LPD 23 keel. Keel-laying ceremony for LPD 23 Somerset. USN PEO Ships.

Nov 7/09: LPD 21 commissioned. The US Navy commissions LPD 21 as USS New York, at a ceremony in New York City. The ship arrived in New York on Oct 2/09 and hosted Mayor Bloomberg for the sail-in, after leaving its homeport of Naval Station Norfolk, VA on Oct 29/09. It contains over 7 tons of steel salvaged from the destroyed World Trade Center. US Navy on NYC arrival | US Navy on commissioning.

USS New York

Nov 2/09: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in San Diego, CA receives an $8.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee sole-source contract covering life cycle engineering and support (LCE&S) services for LPD 17 Class integrated shipboard electronic systems. This contract includes options which could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $197.1 million.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (95%); Chula Vista, CA (3%); and Norfolk, VA (2%), and the base period is expected to be complete by December 2009 (N00024-10-C-2205).

FY 2009

LPD 17 repairs. LPD 21. LPD-21, sea trials
(click to read)

July 23/09: LPD 21 passes INSURV. LPD 21 New York returns to its Avondale shipyard in New Orleans July 23 flying 3 brooms, signifying a successful sweep of its U.S. Navy Acceptance Trials. The ship demonstrated a variety of systems including main propulsion including a full power run, engineering and ship control systems, combat systems including self defense detect-to-engage exercises, damage control, food service and crew support. During the tests, its ballast system for flooding the ship’s well deck test setting a new LPD ship record for time to ballast down. Northrop Grumman release.

July 2/09: Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that the New York [LPD 21] successfully accomplished its builder’s sea trials this week in the Gulf of Mexico.

LPD 21 is under construction at the company’s Avondale facility in Louisiana. The ship is especially notable for the fact that its bow stem contains 7.5 tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center following the terrorist attacks of Sept 11/01. NGC release | NGC video.

June 23/09: LPD 26 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $213.8 million contract modification for long lead time materials (LLTM) in support of LPD 26, the 10th San Antonio class ship. The award covers early procurement or manufacture, inspection, test, storage and maintenance of these items, which include main engines and diesel generators. A contract for the detail design and construction of LPD 26 is anticipated in mid-2010. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS and is expected to be complete by December 2013.

See also Dec 19/08 entry, and the accompanying NGC release for this contract. The total cost of announced LPD 26 long-lead materials contracts so far is $223.8 million.

May 12/09: LPD 18 fixed. USS New Orleans [LPD 18] prepares to return to sea after completing dry dock repairs at the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard (ASRY) Shipyard dry dock in Bahrain. US Navy photo release.

April 14/09: BAE Systems San Diego Ship Repair in San Diego, CA received a $24.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-2200) for LPD 20 Green Bay’s post shakedown availability tasks, and acceleration of fleet required ship alterations. Work will include:

“…completion of government responsible deficiencies; correction of LPD 19 [Mesa Verde] shock trial related deficiencies, class pipe hangers deficiencies, and FCT trials cards; and the acceleration of fleet required ship alterations such as upgrades to the SWAN GiGE (Gigabit Ethernet) Upgrades, MK46 [30m RWS] Gun System Upgrade, HF-SAR, SSEE Inc E, Joint Biological Point Detection System (JBPDS) and SLQ-32 [ship electronic countermeasures system] ICAD.”

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be completed by Jan. 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

April 6/09: LPD 27 postponed. US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announces his FY 2010 budget recommendations. They include postponement of LPD 27 funding to build the 11th ship of class.

March 20/09: LPD 18 collision. A collision between the USS Hartford [SSN 768] and the USS New Orleans [LPD-18] in the Strait of Hormuz, slightly injures 15 sailors. Both vessels are able to proceed under their own power after the incident, although the New Orleans suffered a ruptured fuel tank, releasing 25,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the strait. US Navy | US Navy repairs photo.

Dec 19/08: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS received a $10 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to a previously awarded contract, in order to buy long lead-time materials for LPD 26. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be complete by December 2010 (N00024-06-C-2222).

Dec 4/08: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans, LA received a $16.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217) for Life Cycle Engineering and Support services on the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (60%) and New Orleans, LA (40%); the contract period will end the end of the fiscal year on Sept 30/09, but contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Oct 31/08: Major breakdown. The USS San Antonio [LPD 17] is forced into to a Bahraini shipyard for at least 2 weeks of repairs. On Oct 9th and 17th, leaks were discovered in the pipes that deliver lubricating oil to the ship’s 4 diesel engines. The fault is classified as hazardous, because the leaks drip flammable oil into open spaces. When the ship pulled in, it was greeted by a large team of 30-40 engineers, pipefitters and welders flown to Bahrain from the U.S.

It is rare to find such serious faults in a new ship. Many analysts, including former 3-star rear admiral Rep. Joe Sestak [D-PA], see the problems as further evidence of systemic workmanship flaws.

Oct 22/08: Raytheon announces that the U.S. Navy has exercised the 3rd of 3 one-year options, paying Raytheon up to $23 million for San Antonio Class life cycle engineering and support. The original contract was issued in 2005.

Raytheon’s work on the LPD 17 program is performed at the Expeditionary Warfare Center in San Diego, CA; the Seapower Capability Center in Portsmouth, RI; and by Raytheon Technical Services Company in New Orleans, LA and San Diego, CA. Raytheon release.

FY 2007 – 2008

Initial Operating Capability. First deployment. LPD 18 to 20. LPD-22 construction
(click to view full)

Aug 28/08: A mission, at last. The USS San Antonio [LPD 17] becomes the first ship of class to deploy on a mission, over 2 1/2 years after the ship was commissioned into service.

The ship will be part of the USS Iwo Jima’s [LHD-7] Expeditionary Strike Group, and is en route to the 5th Fleet (CENTCOM area/ Middle East) and 6th Fleet’s (Mediterranean) areas of responsibility. The Iwo Jima ESG also includes the dock-landing ship USS Carter Hall [LSD 50], the guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf [CG 72], the guided-missile destroyers USS Ramage [DDG 61] and USS Roosevelt [DDG 80], and the Improved Los Angles Class fast attack submarine USS Hartford [SSN 768]. US Navy.

1st mission for the class

Aug 1/08: LPD 20 passes INSURV. Green Bay [LPD 20] passes its sea trials and INSURV inspection, clearing the way for the Navy to accept her.

During the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) Acceptance Trials, LPD 20 successfully demonstrated a variety of systems including main propulsion, engineering and ship control systems including the Shipboard Wide Area Network, combat systems, damage control, food service and crew support. Among the highlights of the trial, Green Bay successfully completed a full power run, self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, ballasting, deballasting, and steering and anchor handling demonstrations. US Navy | Raytheon.

May 8/08: Raytheon announces a $32 million contract to develop and integrate the total ship electronics systems for LPD 25, the 9th ship of the U.S. Navy’s LPD 17 class. Under the contract, awarded by Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Raytheon continues its role as the total ship electronics systems integrator for all ships of this class. Raytheon IDS will provide the Shipboard Wide Area Network, integrated product data environment, total ship information management, and integrated ship electronics architecture.

May 23/08: CRS on LPD-17s. The US Congressional Research Service releases an updated version of “Navy LPD-17 Amphibious Ship Procurement: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress” [PDF]. See also Information Dissemination’s excerpts at “Thinking LSD (X) and Motherships“.

May 5/08: IOC for LPD-17s. MarineLink reports that The LPD 17 class has reached Initial Operating Capability. The USS San Antonio is reportedly on track to deploy with the USS Iwo Jima [LHD 7] Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) later in 2008.

IOC

March 1/08: LPD 21 launch. The US Navy christens and launches LPD 21 New York at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in New Orleans, LA. The ship is named New York in honor of the state, the city and the victims of Sept 11/01. A unique characteristic of the ship is the use of 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the World Trade Center wreckage that was incorporated into the construction process. The steel was melted and formed to make the bow stem of the ship. US Navy | DefenseLINK.

Dec 21/07: LPD 25 order. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Inc. in Pascagoula, MS received a $1 billion fixed-price incentive modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2222), to finish design and begin construction of the 9th LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock ship [LPD 25 Somerset]. The contract includes design and engineering efforts, material procurement, testing and quality assurance required to support ship construction, initial spares and technical documentation loadout, plus management efforts – including subcontract and risk management – during the entire period of construction and testing.

Coupled with the advance procurement contract funded for LPD 25 (q.v. Nov 6/06 entry) total contracts for the ship to date are valued at more than $1.2 billion. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (85%) and Pascagoula, MS (15%), and is expected to be complete by November 2011. NGC release.

LPD 25 main order

Dec 15/07: LPD 19 commissioned. LPD-19 is commissioned as the USS Mesa Verde. She will ultimately join the fleet in its home port of Norfolk, VA.

LPD 19 is named for the Mesa Verde National park in Southwestern Colorado. Congress established Mesa Verde, meaning “green plateau,” as the first cultural park in the national parks system in 1906 to preserve the notable cliff dwellings of the ancestral Pueblo culture dating back 13 centuries ago. Northrop Grumman release | US Navy release.

USS Mesa Verde

Dec 15/07: The crew of the USS New Orleans [LPD 18] executes the ship class’ first amphibious launch and recovery of the USMC’s new expeditionary fighting vehicle (EFV). US Navy release.

Dec 7/07: LPD 19 Mesa Verde receives LCAC certification. The ship has already received a newly modernized hovercraft [LCAC 39], which has been through the service life extension program upgrades. See US Navy story.

Nov 26-30/07: LPD 17 passes INSURV. An INSURV (Board of Inspection and Survey) underway material inspection examines San Antonio for the 3rd time, and finds her fit for sustained combat service in the Fleet. US Navy | MarineLink.

Mesa Verde, trials
(click to view full)

Sept 28/07: Raytheon Co. in San Diego, CA received a $27.1 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2207) to exercise an option for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on select electronic systems for the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by September 2008. Raytheon release.

Sept 28/07: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans, LA received a $13 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217) to exercise an option for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on the LPD 17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (60%) and New Orleans, LA (40%), and is expected to be complete by September 2008.

Sept 20/07: LPD 19 passes INSURV. Northrop Grumman announces that its 3rd San Antonio Class ship, the Mesa Verde [LPD 19], has successfully completed its acceptance trials for the U.S. Navy. The ship will be delivered later in September 2007, and is scheduled to be commissioned as USS Mesa Verde in Panama City, Fla. on Dec 15/07. Northrop Grumman gave no further specifics, noting only that “the ship performed well”; U.S. Navy Cmdr. Shawn Lobree, LPD 19’s prospective commanding officer, said that the ship “passed all major testing events.” Northrop Grumman release.

Aug 13-16/07: LPD 19. Mesa Verde [LPD 19] successfully completes builder’s trials in the Gulf of Mexico, in a collaborative effort involving the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman. The ship’s compartments were 100% complete, and all systems and certifications were completed and tested 100% to pre-trial requirements. Testing was performed on the ship’s main propulsion, communications, steering, navigational, radar and other systems. Other exercises included anchor handling, flight operations, compartment air balancing, and ballasting/de-ballasting of the well deck that launches amphibious landing craft.

Note that unlike her predecessors, Mesa Verde was built at the Pascagoula, MS shipyard, rather than at Avondale near New Orleans. Next month, the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team will conduct acceptance trials aboard LPD 19, which will involve more rounds of extensive testing of the ship’s major systems. Northrop Grumman release.

June 30/07: Flaws. The Virginia Pilot runs another article about LPD 17’s test failures and program issues. An excerpt:

“Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter criticized shipbuilder Northrop Grumman Ship Systems for substandard work and, in a letter last week, questioned the future of amphibious and destroyer ship programs under contract with the company. “By taking delivery of incomplete ships with serious quality problems, the Fleet has suffered unacceptable delays in obtaining deployable assets,” Winter wrote to Ronald Sugar, Northrop Grumman’s chief executive officer.

Two years after accepting the San Antonio, “the Navy still does not have a mission capable LPD ship,” Winter wrote… In March 2006, chief of naval operations Adm. Mike Mullen also attacked Northrop Grumman over its work quality. The average cost per ship has risen 50 percent over original estimates, according to the Navy… The worst problems were in the propulsion, auxiliary and aviation systems. Nearly two-thirds of those serious problems were discovered during an earlier inspection, reported as fixed, but still existed during the later check.

The second ship in the amphibious class, the New Orleans, has fewer problems but was still incomplete when accepted by the Navy, Winter wrote to Northrop Grumman. The company’s “inefficiency and mismanagement of LPD 17 put the Navy in an untenable position,” according to Winter.

He has assigned a deputy to perform quarterly reviews on the shipyard and all ships under contract with Northrop Grumman.”

April 14/07: Flaws. The Virginia Pilot reports that LPD-17 continues to have reliability and workmanship issues, with major failings in 3/17 tests and no ability to be sea-tested during a five-day inspection period because one of its two steering systems completely failed. See The Virginia Pilot report | full DID coverage, incl. June 30 follow-up.

Flawed construction

April 9/07: SAR Increases. The Pentagon releases its April 2007 Selected Acquisition Report, and the LPD-17 Class is one of the systems covered. Program costs increased by $1,107.4 million (+8.9%) from $12,486.6 million to $13,594.0 million, due primarily to the addition of Hurricane Katrina Supplemental funding (+$1,155.4 million).

Cost jump

LPD 18 New Orleans
(click to view full)

March 10/07: LPD 18 commissioned. USS New Orleans is commissioned at a ceremony in New Orleans. The ship’s sponsor is Carolyn Shelton, wife of Gen. Henry H. Shelton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. See USN release | Northrop Grumman release. As of December 2007, the ship has yet to be assigned to an operational mission.

USS New Orleans

Feb 27/07: BAE Systems in San Diego, CA received an $11.3 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for accomplishment of the Fitting-Out Availability (FOA) for the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship New Orleans [LPD 18]. The contract includes performance of specified work items inclusive of tests and post repair sea trials. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by July 2007; contract funds in the amount of $1.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured and posted on Federal Business Opportunities website, with 3 offers received (N00024-07-C-2200).

Nov 6/06: LPD 24 ordered, LPD 25 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in New Orleans, LA received a $1.45 billion modification under previously awarded contract N00024-06-C-2222 to exercise two fixed-price incentive options for construction of the 8th LPD 17 Class amphibious transport dock ship [LPD 24 Arlington], with long lead time materials and associated labor for the 9th ship of the LPD 17 Class, LPD 25.

In addition to ship production, this effort will include procurement of long lead material and also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining the long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. The contractor will also provide management efforts, including subcontract and risk management. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (90%) and New Orleans, LA (10%), and is expected to be complete by March 2011. See also Northrop Grumman’s press release.

LPD 24 main order

Dec 22/06: LPD 18 delivery. Northrop Grumman representatives and Navy officials signed documents officially transferring custody of the LPD 18 New Orleans at the company’s New Orleans facility. The ship is scheduled to be commissioned in March 2007. See Northrop Grumman release.

FY 2005 – 2006

LPD 17 commissioned. LPD-17 commissioning
(click for full size)

Sept 29/06: Raytheon Co. in San Diego, CA received a $26.7 million cost-plus award fee modification under previously awarded contract N00024-06-C-2207, exercising an option for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on select electronic systems for the LPD-17 Class as ships are delivered and commissioned. Under this contract, Raytheon will establish integrated support services for sustainment of the complete shipboard mission systems suite that the company delivers to this class of ships. Raytheon is the prime contractor for life cycle engineering and support for electronic systems on the LPD-17 Class; see this article’s June 27/06 contract entry. Work will be performed in San Diego, CA and is expected to be complete by September 2007. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., issued the contract. See Raytheon’s October 18 press release.

Sept 29/06: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, New Orleans, LA received a $13.3 million cost-plus award fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217) to exercise an option for continued Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on the LPD-17 Class. Services include: post delivery planning and engineering, homeport technical support, Class Integrated Product Data Environment (IPDE), data maintenance and equipment management, systems integration and engineering support, research engineering, obsolescence management, material readiness team operations, emergent repair provisions (including warranty enforcement), training and logistics support. Support services include: Fleet Modernization Program planning, ship alteration development and installation, material management, operating cycle integration, availability planning, configuration data management, research engineering, logistics documentation, and other logistics and executing activity coordination, and management of all related data within the Class IPDE. LPD 17 Class Engineering: engineering, logistics, and technical studies of shipbuilding requirements and design change development. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by September 2007. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract.

July 15/06: LPD 20 christened. Christening ceremony for LPD 20 Green Bay at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ Avondale operations in New Orleans, LA. As one might imagine, the famous Green Bay Packers American football team featured prominently in the ceremonies.

June 27/06: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems is subcontracted by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems to provide the electronic systems and integration for the next 3 ships in the LPD-17 class: USS San Diego [LPD 22], USS Anchorage, and USS Arlington [LPD 24]. Work also includes the shipboard wide area network, voice and video systems, et. al. The $218 million subcontract extends Raytheon’s role as the ship electronic systems integrator for the class. See Raytheon release.

June 1/06: LPD 22 & 23 ordered. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received $2.49 billion fixed-price incentive contract for construction of two LPD-17 Class amphibious transport dock ships (LPD 22 San Diego and LPD 23 Anchorage), with long lead time materials and associated labor for a third (LPD 24 Arlington). In addition to ship production, this effort will include procurement of long lead material and also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. In addition, the contractor will provide the management efforts including subcontract and risk management. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS and New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by October 2011 (N00024-06-C-2222). See also N-G corporate release, also Navy PEO ships release.

LPD 22 & 23 main orders

Jan 27/06: Norfolk Shipbuilding and Drydock Corp. in Norfolk, VA received a $6.8 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2224) to exercise an option for the Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) of the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship USS San Antonio [LPD 17]. The contract is for services and material for total fitting-out availability (FOA) and PSA efforts for LPD 17. Specific efforts include: engineering and management, labor and procurement of material to correct government responsible deficiencies and accomplish system upgrades; perform specified FOA/PSA work items inclusive of tests and post repair sea trials; task additional man-hours and material in order to complete emergent repairs. Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA and is expected to be complete by April 2007.

Jan 11/06: LPD 17 commissioned. The ship becomes USS San Antonio.

USS San Antonio

Nov 1/05: Raytheon Co. in San Diego, CA received a $19.2 million cost-plus award fee contract for Life Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services on select electronic systems for the LPD-17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program. Work will be performed at San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by September 2006. Contract funds in the amount of $250,000, will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C. issued the contract. (N00024-06-C-2207)

Oct 18/05: LPD 22 & 23 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $50.7 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-01-C-2224. It covers additional long lead-time materials in support of two Amphibious Transport Dock Ships, LPD 22 San Diego and LPD 23 Anchorage. The contractor will procure long lead material necessary to prepare for construction of LPD 22 and LPD 23. The effort will include not only procurement but also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long-lead material. Contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. Limited advance construction activities for LPD 22 San Diego are also included. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (88%) and Pascagoula, MS (12%), and is expected to be complete by January 2010.

Sept 30/05: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $22.4 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2217). It exercises an option for life cycle engineering and support services on the LPD-17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (80%) and San Diego, CA (20%), and is expected to be complete by September 2006.

Aug 30/05: Norfolk Shipbuilding & Drydock Corp., Norfolk, VA, received a $5.2 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for the Fitting-Out Availability (FOA) of the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship LPD 17 San Antonio. The contract will provide services and material for the total FOA and Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) efforts for LPD 17. Specific efforts include: engineering and management in support of the FOA/PSA; labor and procurement of material to correct government responsible deficiencies and accomplish system upgrades; performance of specified FOA/PSA work items, including tests and post repair sea trials; task additional manhours and material to complete emergent repairs. Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA, and is expected to be complete by February 2006. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Internet, with three proposals received (N00024-05-C-2224).

April 19/05: Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense Systems’ (Raytheon IDS) role as a mission systems integrator for the LPD-17 San Antonio Class of amphibious warfare ships took another step forward, thanks to a $12.5 million subcontract from lead integrator Northrop-Grumman. Raytheon IDS will “provide performance-based logistics and establish integrated support services for sustainment of the complete shipboard mission systems suite” that the company delivers to this class of ships. Raytheon is also creating battle management systems for the Navy’s new DD (X) destroyer and CVN-21 future aircraft carriers. This will provide all three classes of vessel with a common system, improving coordination among different types of ships in the U.S. fleet. See DID coverage.

Feb 11/05: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $26.9 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for LPD-17 Class Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Program Life-Cycle Engineering and Support (LCE&S) services. The LPD 17-class life-cycle engineering and support contract, worth $26.9 million, combines the expertise of shipbuilder Northrop Grumman and electronic-systems integrator Raytheon to manage critical life-cycle cost/performance ship-class drivers such as technology upgrades, software support and ship-systems integration by managing ship-class hardware and software as a single entity.

Services will include: post delivery planning and engineering, homeport technical support, Class Integrated Product Data Environment, data maintenance and equipment management, systems integration and engineering support, research engineering, obsolescence management, material readiness team operations, emergent repair provisions, and training and logistics support. Work will be performed at Pascagoula, MS (58%) and New Orleans, LA (42%), and is expected to be complete by September 2005. This contract was not competitively awarded (N00024-05-C-2217). See corporate release.

LPD 17, Dockside

Jan 15/05: LPD 19 christened. Christening ceremony for LPD 19 Mesa Verde at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ Ingalls Operations in Pascagoula, MS.

Dec 23/04: LPD 22 & 23 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $165.1 million maximum-priced modification to existing letter contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for to procure additional long lead-time materials necessary to prepare for construction of two Amphibious Transport Dock Ships, LPD 22 San Diego and LPD 23 Anchorage. The effort will include inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. In addition, contractor will provide subcontracting and risk management. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by December 2008.

Dec 11/04: LPD 18 launched. New Orleans [LPD 18] launched. Note that this does not mean the ship is finished, and indeed the ship was not yet ready to leave the New Orleans yard when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast in 2005.

Nov 19/04: LPD 19 launched Mesa Verde [LPD 19] is launched, at Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, MS.

FY 2004 and Earlier

First orders. From WTC to LPD-21
(click to view full)

Sept 10/04: LPD 21 keel. Keel-laying ceremony for the New York [LPD 21]. The ship will include steel in the bow section cast from salvaged portions of the World Trade Center in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Aug 17/04: LPD 23 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $107,121,910 letter-contract modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for additional long lead time materials necessary to support build preparation for the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship LPD 23 Anchorage. The effort shall include not only procurement but also inspection, testing, storing and maintaining the long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance, and will provide the management efforts including subcontract and risk management. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to complete by December 2008.

May 26/04: LPD 22 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $100,414,220 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for long lead material and associated effort for LPD 22 San Diego. Work will be performed in Avondale, LA, and is expected to be complete by October 2008.

Nov 25/03: LPD 21 ordered. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received an $816.6 million cost-plus-incentive/award-fee contract for the detailed design and construction of the LPD 21 New York. Included under this effort are provisioning spares, design engineering services, research and development for future product improvement and the creation of a sustained engineering environment for the ship wide area network.

LPD 21 will become USS New York, and steel from the destroyed World Trade Center has been saved for its construction. It will be melted down, and included in her bow.

Work will be performed in Avondale, LA (87%); Pascagoula, MS (12%); and Gulfport, MS (1%), and is expected to be complete by August 2007. The contract was not competitively procured (N00024-04-C-2204).

LPD 21 main order

Aug 11/03: Keel-laying ceremony for the Green Bay [LPD 20]

Feb 25/03: Keel-laying ceremony for the Mesa Verde [LPD 19].

Oct 14/02: Keel-laying ceremony for the New Orleans [LPD 18].

July 30/02: LPD 21 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $171.05 million modification to previously awarded letter contract (N00024-01-C-2224) for long-lead time materials for the New York [LPD 21]. Work will be performed in Avondale, LA and is to be complete by February 2003.

March 28/01: Litton Avondale Industries, Inc., Shipyards Division, New Orleans, LA, received an $11.3 million modification to previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00024-97-C-2202) for 159,065 man-hours of engineering services in support of the LPD 17 Program. The contractor will provide product engineering, logistical analysis, and technical studies to support the LPD-17 Class ships. Services will be provided to support the integrated product data environment, engineering change analysis, life cycle support planning, and total ownership cost reduction efforts. This contract contains four options, which if exercised, will bring the total cumulative value of this contract to $41.6 million. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA, and is expected to be complete by March 2005.

July 19/01: LPD 21 & 22 long-lead. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operations in New Orleans, LA received a $113.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for advance procurement long lead time material in support of amphibious transport ships New York [LPD 21] and San Diego [LPD 22]. The effort shall include procurement, inspection, testing, storing and maintaining long lead material. The contractor will perform material sourcing, material ordering, vendor interface and material quality assurance. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (50%), and Bath, ME (50%), and is expected to be complete in October 2002. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-01-C-2224).

LPD-17 construction.
(click to view full)

May 30/00: LPD 20 ordered. Litton-Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA, received a $477.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee option for the construction of the Green Bay [LPD 20], the fourth LPD-17 Class amphibious transport dock ship. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (83%); San Diego, CA (12.2%); Waynesboro, VA (4.6%); and Bath, ME (.2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2004. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-97-C-2202).

LPD 20 main order

Feb 15/00: LPD 19 ordered. Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA received a $491.9 million cost-plus-incentive fee option to previously awarded contract N00024-97-C-2202 to exercise an option for the construction of the LPD 19 Mesa Verde. Work will be performed in Bath, ME (85%); San Diego, CA (9%); Waynesboro, VA (4%) and places yet to be determined (2%), and is expected to be complete by March 2005.

LPD 19 main order

April 28/99: AlliedSignal Technical Services Corp., Columbia, Md., received an estimated $5.9 million indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee, delivery order contract to provide systems engineering and integration support services including design, development, integration, installation, test and evaluation, certification, maintenance, modification and logistics support on a wide variety of electronic equipment, systems, and subsystems. These systems are communication systems installed on LPD 17 San Antonio, CVN 76 Ronald Reagan, and TADC (X) & JCC (X) class ships. Work will be performed in Charleston, SC and is expected to be complete by April 2000. The contract contains options, which, if exercised, will bring the cumulative value of the contract to $30 million. This contract was competitively procured with 107 proposals solicited and 3 offers received by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Charleston in Charleston, SC (N65236-99-D-3813).

Dec 18/98: LPD 18 ordered. Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA received a $312.8 million modification to previously awarded contract, exercising an option for the construction of the LPD 18 New Orleans. Given the ship’s total cost this is just an initial payment, on top of previous orders for long lead-time, early construction items like engines etc.

Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA and is expected to be complete by February 2004. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-97-C-2202).

LPD 18 main order

Dec 4/98: Raytheon Systems Co., Naval and Maritime Systems Div. in San Diego, CA received a $22.5 million cost-plus-award-fee letter contract for three ship self-defense systems (SSDS) for MK 2 equipment shipsets in support of CVN 76 Ronald Reagan, LPD 17 San Antonio, and LPD 18 New Orleans. The SSDS implements an evolutionary development of improved ship self-defense capabilities against high-speed, low-flying, anti-ship cruise missiles for selected non-AEGIS ships including the US Navy’s new Nimitz Class carriers (CVN 76 USS Ronald Reagan and CVN 77 USS George H.W. Bush). SSDS will be an integration of all the ship’s self-defence systems including sensors, weapons, radars and electronic warfare, data links, the ship’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) with the rest of the fleet, and the Shipboard Wide Area Network (SWAN) which is a fiber-optic ship wide area computer network including both classified and unclassified components.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (90%), and Portsmouth, RI (10%), and is expected to be complete in February 2000. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-99-C-5108).

Aug 4/98: Avondale Industries, Inc. in New Orleans, LA received a $9.7 million modification to previously awarded contract for research, development, test and evaluation of new technologies potentially applicable to the LPD-17 Class ship. This modification will cover the exploration of various emerging innovative production processes, shipboard automation techniques, and system design concepts with emphasis on reducing maintenance, manning, and radar cross section and improving structural design concepts, electronics integration and habitability.

Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (38%), San Diego, CA (32%), and New Orleans, LA (30%), and is expected to be complete in July 1999. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-97-C-2202).

Oct 2/97: TRW, Information Services Div. (ISD), Fairfax, VA received a $11.6 million modification to a previously awarded contract N00024-91-C-6456 to provide for technical and management services to support PMS 377, Amphibious Warfare Program Office and PMS 317 LPD-17 Amphibious Transport Docking Ship Program Office. This contract contains options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $24.8 million.

Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA (62%); Arlington, VA (22%); Alexandria, VA (5.5%); Chantilly, VA (4%); McLean, VA (3.5%); Severna Park, Md. (2%); and Fredricksburg, VA (1%), and is expected to be complete March 1998. This modification combines purchases for the US Navy (99%), and the Government of Japan (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract.

Dec 17/96: LPD 17 ordered. Avondale Industries, Incorporated in Avondale, LA received a $641.4 million cost-plus-award-fee contract for detail design, integration and construction of the LPD 17 Amphibious Transport Dock Ship, with options for construction of LPD 18 and LPD 19. Teaming with Avondale on this contract are General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works, Hughes Aircraft Company, and Intergraph Corporation. Bath Iron Works will participate in the detail design and will construct the LPD 19. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of the entire contract to $1,526,134,594. It actually ends up costing more than that for just the 1st ship.

Work will be performed in Avondale, LA (48%); Bath, Maine (32%); Fullerton, CA (16%); and Waynesboro, VA (4%). The expected delivery of LPD 17 is 67 months after contract award (June/July 2001). This contract was competitively procured with full and open competition and two offers were received. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA issued the contract (N00024-97-C-2202).

LPD 17 main order

Additional Readings & Sources LPD-17 Class Ship Background

Background: LPD-17 Ancillaries & Issues

Official Reports

News and Views

Categories: News

Who’s Willing to Step Up for Europe’s Defense?

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 16:06

  • Finnish Defence Forces have started researching [Uutiset] how to replace an aging Hornet fighter fleet, for an estimated €6B. Greater air defense cooperation with Sweden could give the JAS-39E/F Gripen a “second time lucky” edge; the original JAS-39A/B Gripen lost to Boeing’s F/A-18C/D Hornet.

  • Sweden has been investigating for several days sightings of “foreign underwater activity” which is a euphemism for “Russian submarine”. The Russians said maybe the Dutch confused Swedish surveillance, which the Dutch of course deny. BBC | FT.

  • This reminder that we’re running our yearly readership survey is not so stealthy, but we’re blaming the Estonians for putting it there anyway. Thanks for your time and input.

  • NATO would like [Navy Times] to see more US ships in the European theater, as Russia becomes more aggressive and active in the region. The USA would like to see Europe spend more and take its own defense seriously, as Russia becomes more aggressive and active in the region. That’s a tall order, when the French government can’t figure out the math [Le Monde, in French] to back up supposed savings necessary to stop its healthcare system from bleeding billions of euros every year.

  • The modern Royal Navy as seen by the Daily Mirror: 22 surface combatants and assault ships, 33 admirals. You can’t fire admirals at the enemy. Well, you can, but the kinetics are really poor.

Littoral Ship Market

  • CMN’s proposed OCEAN EAGLE 43 MH trimaran minehunter [Navy Recognition], displayed at Euronaval 2014, is interesting as a comparative look at other proposed solutions for littoral patrol and mine warfare ships. Like the American LCS it does aim to operate with a small crew while being modular, but on the other hand this design doesn’t try to break speed records.

How to Grow Exports

  • Martin Neill, a former staffer at the British Embassy in Washington and now a consultant in international defense sales, explains [Defense News] some of the challenges facing defense companies trying to develop their sales abroad.

Middle East

  • McClatchy : the deepening U.S. commitment to Kobani ties Obama’s Islamic State effort to Kurds’ fate.

  • After the Shaitat massacre [WaPo], don’t expect a ton of Sunni tribal revolts against ISIS. “We saw what the Americans did to help the Yazidis and the Kurds. But they have done nothing to help the Sunnis against the Islamic State…” Given that the Sunnis are the key element required to defeat ISIS, that’s a problem.

  • Iraq is requesting [DSCA] a $600M tank ammunition Foreign Military Sale from the US.

Asia

  • The Stimpson Center think tank hosted a panel on US-Japan-Australia relations, in the video below:

Categories: News

E-2D Hawkeye: The Navy’s New AWACS

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 16:03
(click to view full)

Northrop Grumman’s E-2C Hawkeye is a carrier-capable “mini-AWACS” aircraft, designed to give long-range warning of incoming aerial threats. Secondary roles include strike command and control, land and maritime surveillance, search and rescue, communications relay, and even civil air traffic control during emergencies. E-2C Hawkeyes began replacing previous Hawkeye versions in 1973. They fly from USN and French carriers, from land bases in the militaries of Egypt, Japan, Mexico, and Taiwan; and in a drug interdiction role for the US Naval Reserve. Over 200 Hawkeyes have been produced.

The $17.5 billion E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program aims to build 75 new aircraft with significant radar, engine, and electronics upgrades in order to deal with a world of stealthier cruise missiles, saturation attacks, and a growing need for ground surveillance as well as aerial scans. It looks a lot like the last generation E-2C Hawkeye 2000 upgrade on the outside – but inside, and even outside to some extent, it’s a whole new aircraft.

From E-2A Hawkeyes to the E-2D NGC on E-2D

The Hawkeye is based on the same airframe as the USA’s C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft, with the obvious addition of the 24 foot diameter, frisbee-shaped, rotating radome on its back. It carries a crew of 5 – pilot, copilot, and 3 mission system operators.

The first E-2A was delivered in 1964, the first E-2B upgrade in 1969, and as noted above, the first true “second generation” E-2C Hawkeye was delivered in 1973. In 1992, an E-2C Block II update program added the AN/APS-145 and L-304 radar systems; improved Rolls Royce T56-A-427 engines; JTIDS, Link-4A, -11, and 16 datalinks; GPS capability; and various avionics, and electronics upgrades. It finished in 2001. By 2003, Hawkeyes were proving their worth over Iraq in a new capacity: close air support. Smithsonian Air & Space magazine’s July 2008 issue discusses:

“The Hawkeye, of course, wasn’t designed for close air support, but time and again during the fighting in the Gulf, ground troops advanced so rapidly that they passed beyond radio contact with the units that were supposed to coordinate close air support for them. Early on in Iraq, E-2s were pressed into a stopgap role as airborne communications relays between ground forces and the U.S. Army’s Air Support Operations Center. But because the battleground was so fluid and so many airplanes had to be re-routed so quickly, Hawkeyes were given more latitude to pair warfighters with targets. “If the Hawkeye hadn’t been there, I think the [Air Support Operations Center] would have failed,” says Lieutenant Commander Brent Trickel, an E-2 naval flight officer who served as the Navy’s only officer in the Air Support Operations Center during the first few weeks of the war.”

CEC Concept
(click to enlarge)

Technology moves quickly, however, and technology that was cutting edge in 1992 isn’t so cutting edge any more. A subsequent upgrade called the Hawkeye 2000 (HE2K) added the 8-bladed NP2000 propeller, replaced the old computer platform that was inhibiting further modernization with commercial-standard computer component upgrades; and added associated electronics, power, and maintainability modifications, including integrated satellite communications. All of these upgrades pale, however, in comparison to the effectiveness boost offered by adding Co-operative Engagement Capability (CEC). With CEC, the Hawkeye can see everything the ships in its task group can see – and vice-versa, turning the aircraft into a force multiplier to all ships in the group and even enabling ballistic missile defense roles.

Hawkeye 2000 aircraft were first deployed in 2003 aboard USS Nimitz, and additional customers have included Egypt, France, Japan & Taiwan (The UAE submitted a formal request in 2002, but later decided to put its money elsewhere).

E-2D Features
(click to view full)

The next-generation, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is planned as a major platform upgrade, rather than the incremental improvements of Hawkeye 2000. Cruise missiles are becoming stealthier, smaller targets are becoming important, and surveillance in coastal areas and overland is as important to the Navy as aerial surveillance.

The most important improvement to the E-2D AHE is the new APY-9 radar, which can detect and track smaller (or stealthier) targets, in larger numbers, and at greater ranges. It has been described as a 2-generation improvement over previous Hawkeye aircraft. Figures discussed to date involve up to 2,000 targets over 6 million cubic miles, on land and sea. The electronically scanned array offers improved in-service time and maintenance, allows simultaneous air/ground scans with extremely fast focusing on multiple targets, and features lower ‘sidelobe’ leakage, as well as other improvements. Improved clutter & interference cancellation offer significant improvement in tracking small land and sea targets, as well as better performance against electronic jamming. Additional features allow the radar to flip from 3660 degree scan, to 45 degree focused scan, to full power on one target mode against intermittent or stealthy contacts.

The E-2D’s internal equipment also gets a makeover. ESM (Electronic Support Measures) and IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) systems offer improved classification of radar contacts at longer ranges. The communications suite is modernized to include dual-band SATCOM (SATellite COMmunications), as well as improved datalinks. Engines are improved. In-flight refueling capability for longer missions on-station is part of the basic aircraft, not an option. Etc.

E-2D vs. E-2C
(click to view full)

Like any electronic system, however, the E-2D needs an improved interface in order to take advantage of its full capabilities. New mission computers and tactical workstations use commercial off-the-shelf components, providing more power to integrate incoming information into a coherent picture, and easier future upgrades. More to the point, the onscreen interface features dramatic improvements, including larger displays and advances in the front seats that allow the pilot or copilot to participate as 4th mission system operator once the aircraft is on station. The cockpit itself has also received attention, and has been fully modernized with an “all glass” (i.e. screens, not dials) system and a number of enhancements.

The end result is an aircraft that looks a lot like the E-2C Hawkeye 2000, but can scan larger areas for smaller targets; offers a new dimension in coverage by combining strong aerial, maritime, coastal, and land surveillance; can function as an integral part of missile defense efforts against both cruise and ballistic missiles; and allows operators to make better use of its capabilities.

Advances have also taken place on the manufacturing floor. When Northrop Grumman was awarded the system development and demonstration contract for the Advanced Hawkeye in 2003, the company chose to change its manufacturing approach. Engineers created a virtual design environment that integrated the engineering team in Bethpage, NY with the manufacturing team in St. Augustine, FL. They then began to re-engineer the structure, beginning with single detail parts.

In previous Hawkeye platforms, individual sheet-metal components were the basis for all structural assemblies. For the E-2D, a number of substructures were re-designed as machined components. This removes many detail parts, improves the production process, and leaves fewer potential points of failure in the finished aircraft.

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye: Program E-2D Rollout
(click to view full)

The US Navy remains the E-2D’s only confirmed customer at this point, but export interest has already been expressed by the UAE and by India. As of April 2011, all 5 test & pilot production E-2Ds had been delivered, and aircraft #10 had begun construction.

Initial operational capability was scheduled for 2011, and the type’s first carrier launch and landing did take place in February 2011, but testing and evaluation lags forced IOC back to October 2014.

As of 2013, an R&D program is underway to add in-flight refueling capability, but that development program will run to 2019.

Full Operational Capability is now scheduled for 2023, when a total of 75 aircraft (2 test, 3 pilot production, 70 operational) will have been delivered as the cornerstone of future US naval surveillance.

American Budgets

At present, total E-2D program cost has risen 40.6% over the original baseline figure of $14.752 billion FY 2012 dollars. The Pentagon’s April 2012 SAR (Selected Acquisition Report) placed the E-2D’s entire program cost, including R&D, production of all aircraft, internal equipment, and equipment required for initial fielding, at $20.737 billion. That works out to $276.5 million per aircraft, up from $196.7 million. Part of the reason for these high figures is that the number bought is only 75, so R&D adds a lot of money per-plane. Part of it is because AWACS aircraft of any type are expensive assets, thanks to all of the advanced radars, electronics etc. crammed into them.

Excel
download

Finally, part of it is because of deliberate buying decisions by Congress & the Pentagon, which eliminated a money-saving multi-year buy, and slowed production to stretch budgets, even though the program was performing well. Stretching programs out always costs more money, because every year you extend a production program is another year of fixed costs.

Annual budgets to date include:

Industrial Partners E-2D Advanced Hawkeye: Contracts & Key Events

Unless otherwise specified, US Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, MD manages these contracts, and Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY, is the contractor.

FY 2015

Initial Operational Capability E-2D IOC flight
(click to view full)

Oct 10/14: The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye achieves Initial Operational Capability, signifying that a 5-plane Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW-125 “Tigertails”), is manned, trained, equipped and ready to start deployment preparation.

They’re currently assigned to USS Theodore Roosevelt [CVN 71], with deployment scheduled for 2015. Sources: US NAVAIR, “U.S. Navy’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft achieves Initial Operational Capability” | US Navy, “CARAEWRON One Two Five” | C4ISR & Networks, “Navy’s Advanced Hawkeye will deploy next year”.

IOC

FY 2014

$3+ billion multi-year buy; DOT&E continues to report technical issues, esp. CEC; E-2D directs JSOW glide bomb; Program production cut over medium term, despite multi-year deal. E-2D landing
(click to view full)

Sept 11/14: Support. A $7.2 million fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract modification for E-2D FRP Lot 2 software sustainment. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy budgets.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL (82%); Liverpool, NY (14%); and Greenlawn, FL (4%), and is expected to be complete in March 2015 (N00019-13-C-9999).

Sept 2/14: Support. A $10.5 million fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract modification for E-2D LRIP Lot 2 product support and engineering investigations. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy aircraft budgets.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL (61.32%); Herndon, VA (15.66%); Syracuse, NY (10.84%); Indianapolis, IN (8.81%); Rolling Meadows, IL (2.83%); and St. Augustine, FL (0.54%), and is expected to be complete in April 2015 (N00019-13-C-9999).

Aug 28/14: Support. A $32.5 million to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive, firm target contract modification for non-recurring engineering in support of the Full Rate Production Lot 2 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Program. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy budgets.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (53.47%); Melbourne, FL (20.16%); St. Augustine, FL (9.83%); Indianapolis, Indiana (5.70%); Woodlawn Hills, CA (3.63%); Aire Sur L’Adour, France (2.48%); Menlo Park, CA (1.36%); El Segundo, CA (1.11%); Johnson City, NY (0.97%); Greenlawn, NY (0.80%); Falls Church, VA (0.31%); Marlboro, MA (0.14%); and various locations throughout the United States (0.04%), and is expected to be complete in July 2017 (N00019-13-C-999).

Aug 1/14: Japan. In December 2013, Japan introduced a new defense strategy that aims to improve air and maritime surveillance, as part of a drive to counter increasingly-aggressive Chinese moves. In response, Northrop Grumman is promoting the E-2D as a natural upgrade, since Japan already flies the E-2C. APY-9 radar manufacturer Lockheed Martin is also pushing the E-2D:

“Brad Hicks, vice president of radar programs at Lockheed’s Mission Systems and Sensors business, told the conference that the radar on the E-2D, built by his company, can detect advanced threats. He noted that 800 foreign aircraft violated Japan’s airspace last year…. The E-2D is designed to operate in concert with Lockheed’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, Hicks said.”

Japan uses the AEGIS BMD system on its Kongo and Atago Class destroyers. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman are also touting their Global Hawk family of UAVs, which includes the RQ-4B Global Hawk and a maritime MQ-4C Triton. Sources: Stars and Stripes, “Defense contractors hawk their surveillance planes in Japan”.

July 7/14: Testing. Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems in Bethpage, NY receives a $52.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for material and services to perform an Equivalent Flight Hours fatigue test, which will substantiate the E-2D’s expected service life.

$7.8 million is committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy R&D funds. Work will be performed in El Segundo, CA (68%); Melbourne, FL (30%); and Bethpage, NY (2%), and is expected to be completed in July 2019. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-14-C-0036).

June 30/14: MYP 2014-18. A $3.643 billion modification, finalizing the E-2D’s multi-year fixed-price-incentive-firm target contract for 25 planes from FY 2014 – 2018, bringing the total number of E-2Ds under contract so far to 50, but note that the original proposal to savings that qualified for a multi-year deal involved 32 planes + 7 options (q.v. April 10/13, March 4-11/14). Other contracts that fall within this ambit include:

  • $113.7 million: FRP-2 long-lead (July 2/13)

$871.8 million in FY 2014 USN aircraft budgets are committed immediately. Work will be performed in St. Augustine, FL (24.90%); Syracuse, NY (20.58%); Melbourne, FL (7.60%); El Segundo, CA (4.56%); Indianapolis, IN (4.06%); Menlo Park, CA (3.90%); Rolling Meadows, IL (2.30%) and various locations throughout the United States (32.10%); and is expected to be complete in August 2021 (N00019-13-C-9999).

The E-2D Hawkeye is slated to deploy with the first operational squadron, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, in Fall 2014. See also NAVAIR, “U.S. Navy awards E-2D aircraft contract, saves $369 million” | NGC, “Northrop Grumman Receives $3.6 Billion Multiyear Contract for 25 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aircraft”.

Multi-Year Buy: 25

June 26/14: Support. An $8.3 million contract to repair 51 line items used in the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye system. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Navy aircraft budgets.

Work will be performed at Melbourne, FL (40.26%); Liverpool, NY (18.39%); Baltimore, MD (13.74%); Davenport, IA (6.54%); Falls Church, VA (5.56%); and 12 other various locations in the United States (15.51%). Work will complete by June 25/15. This is a non-competitive requirement in accordance with 10 U.S.C 2304(c)(1), issued by US NAVSUP Weapons System Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-12-G-034G, DO 7252).

May 29/14: CEC. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Largo, Florida, is being awarded an $11 million contract modification. It exercises an option for 5 AN/USG-3B Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) Airborne Systems, which will be installed in E-2Ds to give them 2-way sharing of targeting quality information with other ships and aircraft. The systems need to be installed in new aircraft now, even though performance has been a problem and all parties are working on a fix (q.v. Jan 28/14).

All funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed in St. Petersburg, FL (90%) and Largo, FL (10%), and is expected to be complete by November 2015 (N00024-12-C-5231).

April 17/14: SAR. The Pentagon releases its Dec 31/13 Selected Acquisitions Report. For the E-2D. Costs are increasing, but about 2/3 of that that is Congress & the Pentagon’s fault:

“Program costs increased $1,210.7 million (+5.9%) from $20,455.8 million to $21,666.5 million, due primarily to the net stretch-out of the procurement buy profile delaying 10 aircraft beyond the Future Years Defense Program and extending the end of production two years from FY 2021 to FY 2023 (+$759.1 million). Also, there were other increases for the addition of fighter-to-fighter backlink, data fusion, integrated fire control, net enabled weapons J11 message, navigation warfare anti-global positional system jam electronic protection, and stores performance assessment requested quality (+$341.3 million).”

We haven’t added this to the article’s program dashboard, because Pentagon figures and GAO figures aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison. It’s worthy of note, however, that when past SARs (q.v. March 30/12) are included, Congress and the Pentagon’s decisions have cost this program $2.486 billion.

Delays cost money

March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The USN unveils their preliminary budget request briefings, followed by more detailed figures over time. R&D continues, with a FY 2015 focus on adding in-flight refueling, and continuing mission system software development, countermeasures against jamming etc., MIDS-JTRS integration, full-scale fatigue tests, testing and evaluation expenses. RDT&E funding will also be ramping up, rather than down, in subsequent years.

The E-2D continues to be a target for cuts. Despite a multi-year deal for 32 planes and 5 options from FY 2014 – 2018, the current budget aims to cut 7 planes from that base by ordering just 4 in FY15 (-1), 5 in FY16 (-1), 6 in FY17 (-2), 5 in FY18 (-3), and then 5 in FY19. Total cuts from FY 2015 – 2018 are $1.01 billion. Yet the Navy says that:

“The E-2D combined with the SM-6 missile, Cooperative Engagement Capability and the AEGIS combat system is a key component of Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA), enabling use of the missile at its maximum kinetic range. The E-2D will ensure the “eyes” of the nation’s sea-based strike capability remain focused on emerging threat systems.”

It’s hard to reconcile the words with the consistent actions. The missing FY15 aircraft can be seen in the Unfunded Priority List That Shall Not Be Named So, and near-term reductions might make sense on technical grounds (q.v. Jan 17/13, Jan 28/14). Cuts 3 and 4 years out tell a different story. Sources: USN, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF] | Detailed budget documents.
March 4/14: Testing. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Liverpool, NY receives a $16.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for specialized test equipment and associated technical data packages and adapters required to perform testing of E-2D AN/APY-9 radar system LRMs (line replacement module “black boxes”).

All funds are committed immediately, using USN FY12 aircraft budgets. Work will be performed in Liverpool, NY, and is expected to be complete in February 2017. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, and is managed by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-14-C-0145).

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The entry focuses on the USG-3B Cooperative Engagement Capability module used in E-2D naval AWACS aircraft. Bottom line: it’s worse than the USG-3 carried by its E-2C predecessors. UGS-3B is operationally suitable (maintaiable), but not operationally effective.

Key problems include misalignments that make it hard to depend on consistent object tracking between platforms (which is CEC’s core purpose). In a similar vein, the system has an issue with dual tracks for single objects that’s well above normal. There are also integration problems with the mission computer, and EM interference problems that affect the radar altimeter. The problems were persistent enough that the Navy has decoupled CEC testing from the E-2D’s own IOT&E evaluation as a new platform.

Oct 27/13: Testing. At the US Navy’s Trident Warrior 2013 demonstration, Super Hornet fighters simulated the launch of an AGM-154C-1 JSOW precision glide bomb, while the E-2D directed the imaginary weapon toward the positively identified target, and received status updates from the “weapon.” In effect, they made the E-2D itself an offensive weapon.

This mirrors a 2009 simulation involving a JSOW C-1 with a Navy P-3 Orion and USAF E-8C JSTARS battlefield surveillance aircraft. Sources: Raytheon, Oct 27/13 release.

FY 2013

Multi-Year deal for 32 + 5 options; FRP-1 orders; Development order for in-flight refueling capability; Testing has some gaps, but good enough for full production; Exports update. E-2D displays
(click to view full)

Sept 27/13: Refueling. A $226.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract to design, develop, install, test, and document an In-flight Refueling capable E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. $8.6 million is committed immediately.

The aerodynamics of in-flight refueling for a plane like the E-2D will be a challenge for NGC engineers, but extending the aircraft’s range would be a very big payoff. USN test squadron VX-20 has been conducting limited scope test flights over the past couple of years, in order to identify potential risks. Aerial refueling would be a nice foundation for a Block II/ Increment 2 variant, and NGC has also been working on improving the Standard Automatic Flight Control System (SAFCS) to assist the pilots when refueling. New seats whose adjustments can address pilot field-of-view and crew fatigue are a minor development with a strong payoff, and NGC’s proposed formation lights certainly have their uses as well.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (64%); St. Augustine, FL (21%); Irvine, CA (3.7%); Endicott, NY (2.7%); Ronkonkoma, NY (1.6%); Bohemia, NY (1%); and various locations throughout the United States (6%), and is expected to be complete in January 2019. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-13-C-0135). See also Northrop Gruman, “Northrop Grumman Awarded $226.7 Million for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye In-Flight Refueling”.

R&D to add in-flight refueling

Sept 17/13: An $11.7 million for firm-fixed-price delivery order orders the design, development, first article, and production units for 10 pieces of support equipment unique to the E-2D (PSE); and the procurement of 29 pieces of existing PSE items. All funds are committed immediately from FY 2011 procurement budgets.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, and is expected to be complete in March 2016. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages the contract (N68335-10-G-0021, #0009).

Aug 28/13: FRP-1. A $31.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification buys engineering support for E-2D Full Rate Production Lot 1. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (29.88%); St. Augustine, FL (24.38%); Bethpage, NY (12.64%); Greenlawn, NY (10.21%); Woodland Hills, CA (8.2%); El Segundo, CA (6.99%); Menlo Park, CA (4.5%); and various locations within the United States (3.2%); and is expected to be complete in September 2016 (N00019-12-C-0063).

July 24/13: FRP-1. A $617.1 million modification finalizes the 5-plane Full Rate Production Lot 1 advance acquisition contract into a firm-fixed-price contract. All funds are committed immediately.

Total announced contracts under FRP-1 have reached $855.8 million (q.v. Feb 1/12, April 24/13, June 4/13, June 27/13, Aug 28/13), or $171.6 million per plane.

The E-2D was cleared for FRP on Feb 8/13. Work will be performed in St. Augustine, FL (24.90%); Syracuse, NY (20.59%); Bethpage, NY (7.60%); El Segundo, CA (4.56%); Indianapolis, IN (4.6%); Menlo Park, CA (3.90%); Rolling Meadows, IL (2.3%), and approximately 200 various locations within the United States (TL 32.1%) that are individually under 5% (N00019-12-C-0063).

FRP-1: 5 E-2Ds

July 2/13: FRP-2. $113.7 million in advance contracts for FRP Lot 2 long lead materials and related support, which will cover 5 aircraft. The Pentagon announced it as a $9.3 million option, which may be true initially, and $9.3 million is committed immediately. Northrop Grumman gave the maximum figure. This award also changes the FRP-2 advance acquisition contract to a fixed-price contract.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (36.9%); Bethpage, NY (15.6%); El Segundo, CA (7.8%); Chicago, IL (7.4%); Menlo Park, CA (7.1%); Indianapolis, IN (6.8%); Cleveland, Ohio (3.3%); Aire-Sur-L’Adour, France (2.6%); Owego, NY (2.4%); Torrance, CA (2.1%); Edgewood, NY (1.7%); Falls Church, VA (1.4%); and various locations throughout the United States (4.9%); and is expected to be complete in March 2014 (N00019-13-C-9999).

NGC says that total E-2D procurement, including low-rate initial production and full-rate production aircraft, now stands at 30. The USN received its 10th E-2D in June, with another 10 in various stages of manufacture and testing. 2015 remains the expected date for Initial Operational Capability with the U.S. Navy. NGC.

June 27/13: Support. A $32.3 million delivery order to provide spares in support of FRP Lot 1’s 5 ordered E-2Ds. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (37.8%); Indianapolis, IN (23.1%); Bethpage, NY (13.7%); Woodland Hills, CA (6.7%); Greenlawn, NY (3.4%); Marlborough, Mass. (1.9%); Tustin, CA (1.8%); Rockford, IL (1.4%); Falls Church, VA (1.3%); Garden City, NY (1.1%); and other locations within the United States (7.8%), and is expected to be completed in December 2016 (N00019-10-G-0004).

June 4/13: Saved for later. On FBO.gov, NAVAIR announces their intent to give Northrop Grumman a Cost Plus Incentive Fee contract under a “Post Initial Operational Capability” solicitation. The E-2D’s planned IOC date is October 2014, and the contract involves adding an Installation Data Package for adding Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) Chat, Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) and Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) Accelerated Mid-Term Interoperability Improvement Program (AMIIP). That will allow retrofits of existing aircraft, and installation in production models.

Northrop Grumman will manage the set as a single entity, but each separate capability may be delivered separately and incorporated into the most appropriate E-2D DSSC software build.

June 4/13: Support. A $17.1 million contract modification for additional product, fleet, and engineering investigations support for the 5 planes in Full Rate Production Lot 1.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (81.94%); Norfolk, VA (8.98%); Syracuse, NY (3.71%); Indianapolis, IN (3.32%); and St. Augustine, FL (2.05%), and work is expected to be complete in June 2014. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 budgets (N00019-12-C-0063).

June 4/13: Support. A not-to-exceed $7.5 million delivery order for the repair of 43 line items on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye System. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 budgets. This is a sole-source contract in accordance with 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1), and is managed by NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Philadelphia, PA (N00383-12-G-034G, 07192).

May 31/13: R&D. A $12.8 million delivery order modification, to conduct in-flight refueling risk reduction trade studies for the E-2D (N00019-10-G-0004).

Seems a little late for those – wasn’t that supposed to be a standard feature? We’re asking NAVAIR.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (67%); Endicott, NY (12.6%); Irvine, Calif. (10%); Bohemia, NY (3.8%); Ronkonkoma, NY (3.6%); Windsor Locks, CT (2%); St. Augustine, FL (.8%); and Stanford, CT (.2%), and is expected to be completed in September 2013. Fiscal 2013 Research, Development, Test & Evaluation, Navy contract funds in the amount of $12,808,636 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

April 24/13: Software. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY receives a $23 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for software sustainment of Full Rate Production Lot 1 aircraft. This delivery order provides all aspects of software management support, including the update and maintenance through the life cycle support. Test reports say the E-2D has some significant software issues (vid. Jan 17/13 entry), so there’s no shortage of things to do.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (86.5%); Syracuse, NY (9.7%); Marlborough, MA (1.3%); Greenlawn, NY (1.3%), and Woodland Hills, CA (1.2%), and is expected to be complete in October 2014. FY 2011 and 2012 Aircraft Procurement funds are being used, and the entire amount is committed immediately. $14.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13 (N00019-10-G-0004).

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.

The FY 2014 request proposes a multi-year agreement (MYP) for 32 E-2Ds, plus options on another 5 from FY 2014-2018, leaving 18 planes left to buy. If the Navy exercises its MYP options in FY 2015-2016, it could bring full-rate production to a steady rate of 8 planes per year. The Navy is estimating MYP savings of $522.8 million over 5 separate annual contracts. About 30% of that is attributable to electronic components whose minimum buy quantities can’t be met under single year procurements, which makes their cost artificially high unless bought in a multi-year deal.

Note that Navy budget documents show the E-2D as a 114-plane program, a figure that must count a number of E-2C 2000 buys. A careful look at actual E-2D orders and schedules confirms that it remains a 75 plane program.

March 28/13: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. The assessment notes that the Navy has stretched production out in order to “save” annual funds, but will pay $1.3 billion more in total – nearly double the March 30/12 SAR’s figure. That might be reduced a bit if the program gets a 32-38 plane multi-year buy approved for FY 2014 – 2018.

On the good news front, the E-2D remains a low-drama program, and the long-standing issue of radar reliability (vid. Jan 17/13 entry) has improved and reached the test plan requirement.

Feb 8/13: FRP. US NAVAIR says that the E-2D has been cleared for Full Rate Production by the Pentagon.

NAVAIR added that their own VX-1 Air Test and Evaluation Squadron had declared the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye “suitable and effective” in their Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) report.

FRP approved

Feb 7/13: Exports. A report in Shephard’s UV Online says that India, Malaysia, and the UAE have all been approved for E-2D exports by the US government. Which is not the same thing as saying that all 3 are negotiating contracts.

Northrop Grumman has responded to India’s RFI for a fixed-wing carrier-based AEW platform, to complement its Ka-31 heliborne AEW. The request is a bit odd, because Indian carriers won’t have catapults, but it is just an RFI. Northrop Grumman continues to promote the E-2D in India.

The UAE has issued a full RFP, after establishing an initial AEW&C capability with an interim order of Saab’s S340-AEW Erieye turboprops. The E-2D is expected to compete against an order of more Saab systems, and against Boeing’s E-737 AEW&C.

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 E-2D is included, and it has generally performed well in over 600 hours of carrier and land-based Initial Operator Testing & Evaluation (IOT&E) from February – September 2012. The aircraft demonstrated improvements over the E-2C, but a few key gaps remain.

Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) is the biggest gap. It’s supposed to create a single picture, based on inputs from other ships, planes, etc. Instead, it was creating multiple tracks for the same object, and had to be decoupled from other testing. New software loads have been added, and renewed CEC testing began in October 2012, but CEC and full Theater Air & Missile Defense (TAMD) capability won’t be fully tested now until 2015.

The radar and software combination also has a serious problem with tracks. The automated system sometimes swaps labels when tracks get too close, which can be a fatal error. This problem had shown up in previous developmental testing, but IOT&E went ahead anyway. The problem became so serious that operators must now manually label tracks. Obviously, in any stressful environment with many tracks, that’s going to fall apart. Overland reliability in all situations, and radar reliability (vid. March 30/12 entry), were also cited by DOT&E, albeit without specifics.

The final gap is maintenance and training. A maintenance training system for the E-2D won’t be delivered until July 2013, and the E-2D integrated simulator wasn’t available for IOT&E, either.

Dec 28/12: Unplanned Obsolescence. Northrop Grumman Corp., Integrated Systems, Bethpage, NY, is being awarded a $34.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for “obsolescent component redesign” of the E-2D’s mission computer and displays, integrated navigation and control display system, and network file system systems. Once again, we see the phenomenon of key computing components that become outdated and/or unavailable before a major US weapon system can even reach Initial Operational Capability.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (49%); Woodland Hills, CA (20%); Marlborough, MA (21%); Redwood City, CA (8%), and at various locations within the United States (2%), and is expected to be complete in December 2014. All contract funds are committed immediately, and $8.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD, is the contracting activity (N00019-10-G-0004).

FY 2012

LRIP-4 contract; FRP-1 lead-in; program evaluations. E-2 concept
(click to view full)

Sept 27/12: Support. A $15 million cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a fixed-price-incentive-fee contract for additional E-2D system engineering and software maintenance for Production Lot 1 and 2 aircraft.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, and is expected to be complete in May 2015. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00019-08-C-0027).

Sept 27/12: Spares. An $8.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order modification, to provide spares for 10 E-2D Low Rate Initial Production Lots 3 and 4 aircraft.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (51.3%); Bethpage, NY (13%); Owego, NY (7.1%); Greenlawn, NY (6.3%); Woodland Hills, CA (6.1%); West Chester, OH (4.2%); North Hollywood, CA (3.0%); Marlborough, MA (2.3%); Horsham, PA (1.6%); New Port Richey, FL (1.6%), and various other locations in the United States (3.5%); and is expected to be complete in October 2015 (N00019-10-G-0004).

April 27/12: Spares. A $31.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against a previously issued basic order agreement for spare components of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye low rate initial production, Lots 3 and 4 – which is to say, 10 planes.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (54%); El Segundo, CA (9.6%); Bethpage, NY (5.1%); Greenlawn, NY (4.4%); Owego, NY (3.8%); West Chester, Ohio (3.4%); Woodland Hills, CA (3.2%); Irvine, CA (3.5%); Marlborough, MA (2.1%); Bayshore, NY (1.8%); Cleveland, Ohio (1.3%); Davenport, Iowa (1.3%); North Hollywood, CA (1.1%); Horsham, Pa. (0.9%); Rome, Italy (0 .7%); New Port Richey, FL (0.5%); and various other locations in the United States (3.3%). Work is expected to be completed in August 2016 (N00019-10-G-0004).

April 27/12: Electronics. A $15.3 million firm-fixed-price order to buy, store and deliver 146 E-2D avionic units under test.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (53%); Greenlawn, NY (11%); Bethpage, NY (8%); Woodland Hills, CA (7%); Marlborough, MA (5%); West Chester, Ohio (4%); Falls Church, Va. (3%); Ronkonkoma, NY (3%); Rome, Italy (3%); New Port Richey, FL (2%); and Indianapolis, Ind. (1%). Work is expected to be completed in April 2016 (N00019-10-G-0004).

March 30/12: Good GAO review. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” for 2012. The E-2D program is #13 on the list of highest cost programs to complete, at $11.3 billion. That hasn’t been because of poor program performance, though – a “should cost” analysis helped them negotiate a 4.5% reduction in its 3rd production contract. The GAO sees the E-2D’s technologies as mature, and its design and manufacturing processes as stable. Overall development costs are up 18% from the 2003 baseline to $4.53 billion, and costs are up because of buying decisions, but the remaining technical issues are pretty minor:

“[E-2D testing is done, but] Some development test points related to the Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) remain to be completed… because of late deliveries from the CEC program… The E-2D program reported the current radar reliability rate is 71 hours. The radar must achieve a rate of 81 hours prior to the decision to enter full-rate production, which is scheduled for December 2012. DOD test organizations expressed some concern about whether the radar will be able to meet some reliability and performance measures… [but] initial results from a test exercise conducted in November partially addressed the performance concerns, according to an official at a DOD test organization.”

March 30/12: SAR – Congress costs. The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 31/11 includes the E-2D. The short version: costs are going up because of Congress. They still plan to buy the same 75 planes, just less frugally or intelligently:

“Program costs increased $2,279.3 million (+12.4%) from $18,457.9 million to $20,737.2 million, due primarily to an affordability-driven stretch-out of the procurement buy profile (i.e., movement of 12 aircraft over multiple years) and the addition of two production lots from FY 2012 to FY 2021 (+$780.6 million). The addition of two production lots also increased other support (+$294.7 million). There were further increases due to the removal of projected savings from cancellation of the FY 2014-2018 multi-year procurement (+$651.6 million), the application of revised escalation indices (+$224.6 million), a revised estimate for In-Flight Refueling (+$208.9 million), and increases due to capability enhancements for Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) Chat, E-2D Hawkeye Integrated Fire Control Training, Long Range Tracking, and Counter Electronic Attack (+$161.2 million).”

It’s common for defense programs that are performing well to end up paying for programs that are performing poorly, by being subject to stretch-outs and/or cuts. Unfortunately, the E-2D is a good example.

SAR – how Congress adds costs

March 30/12: Support. A $22.9 million firm-fixed-price order will buy: avionics source data consisting of detailed functional description document packages; development of systems synthesis modeling reports for 34 units under test; and 392 pieces of organizational “O” level support equipment for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, and is expected to be complete in June 2015. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages this contract (N68335-10-G-0021).

Feb 1/12: FRP-1 lead-in. A maximum $157.9 million advance acquisition contract for long lead material etc., in order to support 5 E-2Ds in FY 2013’s Full Rate Production Lot 1. FRP-1 was planned at 7 aircraft, but the eventual plan is reduced to the 5 planes covered here.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (32.6%); Bethpage, NY (15.5%); Dallas, TX (12.4%); Menlo Park, CA (9.8%); Woodland Hills, CA (6%); and various other locations within the United States (23.7%) into March 2013. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-12-C-0063).

Jan 24/12: LRIP-4 contract. A $781.5 million contract modification for 5 FY 2012/ LRIP(low rate initial production) Lot 4 E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (25.36%); Bethpage, NY (25.10%); St. Augustine, FL (19.3%); El Segundo, CA (5.34%); Indianapolis, IN (4.84%); Menlo Park, CA (4.64%); Rolling Meadows, IL (2.50%); and various locations within the United States (12.92%). Work is expected to be complete by May 2015 (N00019-10-C-0044).

LRIP-4: 5 E-2Ds

Jan 20/12: Spares. A $31.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for integrated E-2D LRIP program spares support. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, and is expected to be complete in May 2013 (N00019-10-G-0004).

Jan 17/12: 2011 DOT&E – Radar & CEC. The Pentagon releases the FY2011 Annual Report for the Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation. The E-2D Hawkeye is included, and concerns revolve around 3 core areas: Overland radar performance; Cooperative Engagement Capability; and Reliability. For radar performance, DOT&E suggests a post-evaluation processor upgrade to boost overland performance. It adds:

“As of December 2011, 93% of CEC test points are complete. Carrier suitability testing and the initial cadre of pilots completed carrier qualification in January, August, and September 2011, to support upcoming IOT&E… Discovery of hardware and software integration discrepancies significantly delayed E-2D/CEC integration and testing in FY11… now appears CEC developmental testing will complete in 1QFY12 and is the pacing event for… IOT&E… for the E-2D… [and] for new CEC aircraft hardware (AN/USG-3B) under development by the Navy…

“The [APY-9] radar system reliability, specifically radar mean time between failures, does not currently meet established requirements of 81 hours. While low radar mean time between failures has been a concern for the last two years, it has steadily improved and was 64.3 hours as of July 2011. [Other data are based on small sample sizes, but are under reliability goals].”

FY 2011

DAB approval; LRIP 2/3; carrier and EMALS launch. 1st carrier takeoff
(click to view full)

Sept 27/11: EMALS launch. The EMALS test site at Lakehurst, NJ launches an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. The EMALS electro-magnetic catapult, which will outfit the new USS Gerald R. Ford and replace the old steam catapults on refitted Nimitz Class ships, has already launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet, a T-45 Goshawk jet trainer, and the Hawkeye’s C-2A Greyhound cargo cousin.

About 63 – 65 launches are planned for each aircraft type, and the 2nd phase of aircraft compatibility testing is scheduled to begin in 2012. Engineers will continue reliability testing through 2013, then perform installation, checkout, and shipboard testing, with the goal of shipboard certification in 2015.US Navy.

EMALS catapult launch

August 16/11: SDD. A $47.6 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for maintenance and repair of components and/or systems that are unique to the E-2D, as part of the SDD program.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (63%); Greenlawn, NY (35%); and Rolling Meadows, IL (2%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012 (N00019-03-C-0057).

July 22/11: LRIP-3 Order. A $760.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to manufacture and deliver 5 LRIP Lot 3/ FY 2011 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, including associated support connected to the delivery. This contract also provides for long lead time materials and related support for 5 LRIP Lot 4/ FY 2012 planes.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (25.36%); Bethpage, NY (25.10%); St. Augustine, FL (19.3%); El Segundo, CA (5.34%); Indianapolis, IN (4.84%); Menlo Park, CA (4.64%); Rolling Meadows, IL (2.50%); and other locations within the United States (12.92%). Work is expected to be completed by May 2015 (N00019-10-C-0044). See also April 13/11 entry.

LRIP-3: 5 E-2Ds

July 22/11: A $34 million contract modification finalizes a fixed-price-incentive-fee contract for 1 additional LRIP Lot 2/ FY 2010 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, bringing it to $170 million, plus long-lead buys, plus Government-Furnished Equipment that’s bought separately.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (25.36%); Bethpage, NY (25.10%); St. Augustine, FL (19.3%); El Segundo, CA (5.34%); Indianapolis, IN (4.84%); Menlo Park, CA (4.64%); Rolling Meadows, IL (2.50%); and various locations throughout the United States (12.92%), and is expected to be complete in July 2013 (N00019-08-C-0027). See also July 22/10 entry.

LRIP-2: now 3 E-2Ds

April 15/11: Spares. A $6.6 million contract modification to provide spare consumables and repairables for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye LRIP Lot 2 as well as the Hawkeye Integrated Training System trainers.

Work is expected to be complete in August 2013 and will be performed in El Segundo, CA (52%); Woodland Hills, CA (27%); Marlborough, MA (16%); Syracuse, NY (4%); and Rolling Meadows, IL (1%) under contract N00019-10-G-0004.

April 14/11: DAB approval. The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has a successful Defense Acquisition Board review. That leads to authorized funding for an additional 10 E-2Ds, via an Acquisition Decision Memorandum signed by undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Dr. Ashton Carter. Subsequent conversations with NAVAIR add some clarity to this announcement:

“The Navy’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye program received approval for procurement of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 3 (4 aircraft) and Lot 4 (6 aircraft), as well as Advance Acquisition Contract (AAC) for the procurement of long-lead items to support Full Rate Production (FRP) Lot 1 (7 aircraft) [after it] met all criteria needed to continue LRIP.”

LRIP Lot 4 is 6 planes because there are 5 E-2Ds + 1 combat loss replacement requested in FY 2012. To date, Northrop Grumman has delivered 5 E-2D aircraft to the Navy, and production on the 10th aircraft recently began at Northrop Grumman’s East Coast Manufacturing and Flight Test Center in St. Augustine, FL. The aircraft is on track to enter Initial Operational Test and Evaluation later in 2011. Northrop Grumman.

DAB approval

April 13/11: LRIP-4 lead-in. A $94.6 million contract modification to finalizes a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-10-C-0044) to a fixed-price agreement. As a first step, this modification buys long-lead items for 4 LRIP (Low Rate Initial Production) Lot 4 E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes. NAVAIR tells DID that:

“The average unit recurring flyaway (URF) cost for 70 aircraft in then-year dollars is $166.1 million based on President’s Budget 2012.”

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (46.8%); Bethpage, NY (13.5%); El Segundo, CA (2.6%); Potez, France (2.4%); Edgewood, NY (1.9%); Menlo Park, CA (1.6%); Woodland Hills, CA (1.4%); Owego, NY (1.2%); St. Augustine, FL (1.2%); Marlborough, MA (1.1%); Brooklyn Heights, OH (1%); Greenlawn, NY (.6%); and various locations within the United States (24.7%). Work is expected to be complete by December 2011. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-10-C-0044).

April 5/11: Spares. A $21.3 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for both consumable and repairable E-2D spares, covering the LRIP Lot 2 buy of 3 planes, and Hawkeye Integrated Training System trainers.

Work is expected to be complete in July 2015, and will be performed in El Segundo, CA (30 %); Syracuse, NY (23 %); Woodland Hills, CA (7.6 %); Menlo Park, CA (6.4 %); Marlborough, MA (6.1 %); Bethpage, NY (3.6 %); Indianapolis, IN (3.1 %); Rolling Meadows, IL (1.6 %); St. Augustine, FL (0.75 %); and various locations throughout the United States (17.85%) under contract N00019-10-G-0004.

Feb 8/11: India. India Defence reports that:

“While briefing media personnel in Bangalore on the eve of Aero India 2011, (Retired) Commodore Gyanendra Sharma, Managing Director of Northrop Grumman India announced that the Ministry of Defence has sent a Request for Information (RFI) for E-2D Naval Airborne Early Warning aircraft to Northrop Grumman. As per details given by Mr. Sharma, Indian Navy has shown interest in procuring at least four such aircrafts… Northrop Grumman is positive that a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the same would be issued by year end.”

Feb 1/11: Carrier landing. An E-2D flown by VX-20 squadron makes the type’s 1st carrier takeoff and landing, aboard the USS Harry S. Truman [CVN 75]. Carrier suitability testing is now underway, with 99% of radar testing complete. US Navy | Northrop Grumman.

1st carrier takeoff & landing

Jan 28/11: India. Northrop Grumman announces that an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye crew work-station will be among its Aero India 2011 exhibits, adding that “India is among the very first countries for which the Advanced Hawkeye capability has been released.” Unfortunately, its carriers don’t carry the catapults required to operate it, so any E-2Ds would be based from shore.

Dec 27/10: Industrial. A $7.4 million firm-fixed-price modification to a previously awarded fixed-price-incentive-fee contract. It covers one time efforts associated with turning E-2D engineering drawing changes into E-2D production changes. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (71.5%), and St. Augustine, FL (28.5%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. $1,000,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00019-08-C-0027).

Dec 7/10: Support. A $19.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order under the basic order agreement to provide integrated logistics support for low rate initial production E-2D aircraft. A performance based support contract is expected down the road, and this contract is expected to handle the transition period. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, and is expected to be complete in October 2011 (N00019-10-G-0004).

FY 2010

1st delivery; SATCOM; IFF. Catapult test
(click to view full)

Sept 29/10: IFF. A $59.2 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract for IFF Mode 5 and Mode S upgrades. Efforts will include design, implementation, test and evaluation, verification, documentation, acceptance, and certification. Mode 5 IFF offers improved encryption, range, and civil compatibility. It also adds “lethal interrogation” as a must-respond last chance, and the ability to see individual aircraft even when they’re close together. The further addition of the civilian Mode S assigns a discrete ‘squawk’ which is unique to that aircraft. Together, they improve combat identification, and enable unrestricted flight in civilian airspace.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (63%); Greenlawn, NY (35%); and Rolling Meadows, IL (2%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2013 (N00019-03-C-0057).

Sept 29/10: Industrial. A $25 million firm-fixed-price fixed-price-incentive-fee contract modification covers one-time efforts associated with E-2D engineering drawing modifications, and incorporation of open corrective actions required to produce production-ready documentation. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (67%), and St. Augustine, FL (33%), and is expected to be complete in September 2012 (N00019-08-C-0027).

Sept 15/10: SATCOM. A $9 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) to develop a dual satellite communication capability in the E-2D.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (75%); Menlo Park, CA (17%); Westminster, CO (4%); Ronkonkoma, NY (2%); and Whippany, NJ (2%); and is expected to be complete in July 2011.

July 30/10: Fleet entry. The first Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft to enter the U.S. Navy fleet is “welcomed home” in a ceremony held at Norfolk Naval Air Station, VA. The 2 pilot production aircraft bought in July 2007 remain on track for delivery in 2010, and Northrop Grumman claims that “manufacturing of four Low-Rate Initial Production aircraft also is progressing well.” Northrop Grumman.

Aug 11/10: C-2 spinoff? Flight International reports that the US Navy has commissioned a 6-month study from Northrop Grumman to look at remanufacturing C-2A Greyhound bodies using tooling and components already developed for the new E-2D Hawkeye, in order to give its 36 carrier-capable cargo planes longer service life.

The C-2As were originally designed to last for 36,000 carrier landings and 15,000 flight hours, and some have already had their center wing boxes replaced. The E-2 Hawkeye is a close derivative, and with Northrop Grumman ramping up E-2D production, refurbishing or building C-2s could become a cheaper option than buying up to 48 V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors for Navy roles that would be anchored by the same Carrier On-board Delivery function.

July 29/10: The 1st E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AWACS is delivered to the fleet at Chambers Field, Naval Station Norfolk, VA. The E-2D will go to the “Greyhawks” of Airborne Early Warning Fleet Replacement Squadron VAW-120, the “Greyhawks,” first. They will fly and operate the new plane, help set its parameters and procedures, and train pilots and Navy flight officers to fly and operate E-2Ds.

Another 2 pilot production E-2Ds are on schedule for delivery in 2010, and 4 Low Rate Initial Production planes are in various stages of manufacture. US Navy | Northrop Grumman | Virginia Pilot.

1st delivery

July 22/10: LRIP-2 partial. A $136 million unfinalized not-to-exceed contract modification for 1 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye from LRIP Lot 2 (FY 2010). This fixed-price-incentive-fee contract is only partial, as LRIP-2 is expected to include 3 planes.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (32.6%); Bethpage, NY (15.5%); Dallas, TX (12.4%); Menlo Park, CA (9.8%); Indianapolis, IN (6.3%); Woodland Hills, CA (6%); Aire-sur-l’Adour, France (2.7%); Brentwood, NY (2.6%); Owego, NY (2.6%); Greenlawn, NY (2.2%); Irvine, CA (1.7%); Marlboro, MA (1.6%); Clemmons, NC (1.6%); Windsor Locks, CT (1.2%); and various locations throughout the U.S. (1.2%). Work is expected to be complete in December 2012 (N00019-08-C-0027).

LRIP-2: 2-3 E-2Ds

March 15/10: LRIP-3 lead-in. A $94.6 million not-to-exceed advance acquisition contract for long lead materials and support associated with the manufacture and delivery of 4 LRIP Lot 3 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft in FY 2010.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (32.6%); various locations within the United States (23.7%); Bethpage, NY (15.5%); Dallas, TX (12.4%); Menlo Park, CA (9.8%); and Woodland Hills, CA (6%), and is expected to be complete in May 2011. This contract was not competitively procured, as the manufacturer is already set (N00019-10-C-0044).

March 4/10: Radar. Lockheed Martin announces a $171.8 million low-rate initial production contract from Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Bethpage, NY, for 4 AN/APY-9 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) radar systems and spare parts.

The company adds that 2 engineering-development models and 4 pre-production radar systems are currently in flight and qualification testing. Mission system and radar-related testing are currently ahead of schedule, with more than 230 radar flights over the last several months, by the Navy/ Industry integrated test team.

Dec 14/09: Sub-contractors. A $9.3 million modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-08-C-0027) for “non-recurring engineering in support of new supplier qualification and startup in support of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft low-rate initial production Lot 1 and 2 aircraft.”

According to Northrop Grumman, CPI Aerostructures in Edgewood, NY is the E-2D Outer Wing Panel supplier. They replaced Vought/Schweizer, who provided the E-2C Outer Wing Panel.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (40.63%); Edgewood, NY (22.35%); St. Augustine, FL (20.86%); Aire-sur-l’Adour, France (14.17%); and various locations within the continental United States (1.99%), and is expected to be complete in January 2011.

Dec 14/09: Support. Wyle Laboratories, Inc. in Huntsville, AL receives a $30.6 million modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity multiple award contract (N00421-03-D-0015) for continued E-2C/ E-2D/ C-2 planning, program and financial services in support of the US Navy and the governments of Egypt, France, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and Canada under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Canada does not operate any C-2 or E-2 family aircraft at this point, which makes their inclusion interesting; the other foreign military inclusions all operate versions of the E-2C. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, MD, and is expected to be completed in December 2010.

Nov 30/09: CEC. A $6.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-5203) build and test AN/USG-3B Airborne Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) Systems for use on the Navy’s new E-2D Hawkeye AWACS aircraft. The AN/USG-3B will create a shared fleet defense capability for the E-2D that will reportedly include assistance with ballistic missile tracking. China’s introduction of anti-ship ballistic missiles will make that a valuable capability twice over.

Work will be performed in Largo, FL (80%); St. Petersburg, FL (19%), and Dallas, TX (1%), and is expected to be complete by June 2011.

Nov 9/09: SDD. A $15.6 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) to provide Phase I aircraft data management for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, as part of the SDD phase.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (71.3%); Grand Rapids, MI (9.3%); Woodland Hills, CA (6%); St. Augustine, FL (5.4%); Cedar Rapids, IA (3%); Norfolk, VA (2.2%); and various other locations within the United States (2.8%), and is expected to be complete in July 2012.

Oct 16/09: Testing. Northrop Grumman announces that its Delta One test aircraft successfully completed its first land-based catapult launch tests. Both E-2D System Development and Demonstration (SDD) aircraft, Delta One and Delta Two, are currently undergoing shore-based carrier suitability testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD with the U.S. Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20).

Oct 8/09: India. The US government’s Voice of America news service reports (Text | Video) that India has ordered the E-2D:

“The latest India-U.S. defense deal is the sale of this Airborne Early Warning Air Craft, Hawkeye E-2D, developed by American arms manufacturer, Northrop Grumman. Woolf Gross, the corporate director at the company, says the reconnaissance plane has yet to be introduced in the U.S. Navy. Its sale to India, he says, is a symbol of how close India/U.S. military relations are. “So they [the Indians] could have advanced Hawkeyes in India about the same time that the U.S. Navy becomes fully operational with the same aircraft,” he explained.”

Direct discussions with Northrop Grumman representatives clarified this situation. The E-2D was recently approved for export to India, which clears the way for the USN to conduct E-2D technical briefings with India under American arms export laws. To date, however, there is no sale and no contract.

FY 2009

Operational Assessment; Milestone C; LRIP-1 contract. Interest from India. FLA flight testing
(click to view full)

Sept 24/09: Spares. A $23 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00421-05-G-0001) for spares in support of 2 E-2D Lot 1 aircraft. Spares include 2 Quick Engine Change Kits; 2 T-56-A-427A engines; 1 Rotodome; and consumables.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN (30.9%); Bethpage, NY (27.8%); Menlo Park, CA (23.9%); Springville, UT (7.5%); St. Augustine, FL (1.8%); and at various locations within the United States (8.1%), is expected to be complete in May 2013.

Sept 23/09: Spares. A $32.3 million firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00421-05-G-0001) for various spares in support of two E-2D Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 1 aircraft.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY, (41%); Bethpage, NY (15.6%); Menlo Park, CA (5.7%); Greenlawn, NY, (4.8%); Woodland Hills, CA (4.6%); Irvine, CA (3.3%); Cleveland, OH (3.2%); West Chester, OH (3.2%); Indianapolis, IN (2.9%); Freeport, NY (2%), and at various locations within the United States (13.7%), and is expected to be complete in February 2013.

Sept 13/09: India. Indian media report that the US government has cleared the E-2D for possible export to India, following the signing of End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) protocols in July 2009.

India is the second country after the UAE to be cleared by the US State and Defense Departments for E-2D sales, but a specific Foreign Military Sales contract would require clearances for other systems as well. The report states that initial operations would be shore-based, because even the converted 40,000t Admiral Gorshkov will lack the required catapults. India would be able to receive E-2Ds within 3 years of signing a contract. Hindustan Times.

July 31/09: SDD. Northrop Grumman Technical Services Sector in Herndon, VA received a $7 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract (N00421-08-C-0065), exercising an option for approximately 89,886 hours of engineering and logistics services in support of E-2C, C-2A test and E-2D System Design and Development (SDD) aircraft located at the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO ZERO (VX-20) in Patuxent River, MD.

Services will include modification and preparation of the aircraft for test operations, correction of safety of flight discrepancies, quality control inspections, engineering investigations, and logistics and parts support. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, MD, and is expected to be complete in July 2010.

July 7/09: Industrial. Northrop Grumman begin manufacturing its 6th E-2D Hawkeye, and the 1st Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) aircraft for operational use, with the start of keel assembly at the company’s East Coast Manufacturing and Flight Test Center in St. Augustine, FL. This work is being performed under the June 15/09 contract. NGC release.

July 1/09: Engines. A $6.4 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) to buy NP2000-3 Propellar Systems and associated spares for 3 E-2D pilot production aircraft – in other words, 6 of the Hamilton-Sundstrand propellers, plus associated spares. Northrop Grumman receives the contract because they’re the prime integrator.

Work will be performed in Windsor Locks, CT (80%, Hamilton-Sundstrand) and Bethpage, NY (20%, Northrop Grumman), and is expected to be complete in October 2010.

June 15/09: Milestone C, LRIP-1 contract. The E-2D successfully passes its Milestone C review, and a $360.5 million modification finalizes the previously awarded $20 million April 7/09 contract for 2 Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) E-2D aircraft (N00019-08-C-0027). In addition, this contract provides long lead materials and related support for the 2 FY 2010 LRIP Lot 2 aircraft. A subsequent Northrop Grumman release adds additional items, and places the contract’s total value at $432 million.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (31.27%); Syracuse, NY (23.57%), various locations within the United States (19.06%); St. Augustine, FL (16.36%); Menlo Park, CA (3.81%); Indianapolis, IN (3.76%); and Rolling Meadows, IL (2.17%), and is expected to be completed in October 2011.

Milestone C and LRIP-1: 2 E-2Ds

June 10/09: To Pax. Northrop Grumman announces that an E-2D test aircraft has flown north to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, to begin carrier suitability testing. The bulk of the testing involves catapult and arrested landing structural tests, also called ‘Shake, Rattle, and Roll Tests’, as well as aerodynamic testing for minimum acceptable approach airspeed, and establishing crosswind limits, etc. Logistics, manpower and interoperability compatibility with the carriers are also tested.

June 3/09: The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Integrated Test Team (ITT) – composed of military, civil service and industry personnel from Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, prime contractor Northrop Grumman, and other program contractors – has received the Weapons Systems Award from the 75 year old Order of Daedalians. Their award, and its Colonel Franklin C. Wolfe Memorial Trophy, are presented annually for the most outstanding weapons system development in the aerospace environment. Other recent awards for the team include recognition as a model ITT by Vice Adm. David Architzel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition); the U.S. Navy’s VX-20 Test Team of the Quarter for Q2 2008; he 2008 James S. McDonnell Test Team of the Year from the Society of Experimental Flight Test Engineers; and the 2007 Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Test Team of the Year.

The NGC corporate release identifies the Navy’s current Advanced Hawkeye program manager, Capt. Shane Gahagan; Northrop Grumman’s Jim Culmo, as VP of Airborne Early Warning and Battle Management Command Control Programs for its Aerospace Systems sector; and Marty McCord, as Northrop Grumman’s Contractor Flight Test Director.

May 13/09: Testing. Northrop Grumman announces that the E-2D program recently reached its 1,000th hour of flight testing at Northrop Grumman’s East Coast Manufacturing and Flight Test Center. The release adds that the aircraft “continues to successfully meet, or exceed, all major program and performance milestones… E-2D pilot production continues ahead of schedule on the first three aircraft, and radar long-range detection performance is exceeding expectations.” The E-2D will fly to NAS Patuxent River later in 2009, for the carrier suitability testing phase.

April 30/09: Support. A $12.7 million modification to a previously awarded cost plus incentive fee contract. They will provide integrated logistics services for E-2D Pilot Production aircraft, as part of the SDD phase. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (91%) and at various locations throughout the United States (8%), and is expected to be complete in September 2011 (N00019-03-C-0057).

April 7/09: LRIP-1 lead-in. A not-to-exceed $20 million modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-08-C-0027), buying long lead-time materials and support for the 2 E-2Ds that will be built under LRIP Lot 1.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (32.6%), various locations within the United States (23.7%); Bethpage, NY (15.5%); Dallas, TX (12.4%); Menlo Park, CA (9.8%); and Woodland Hills, CA (6%), and is expected to be complete in August 2011.

March 31/09: GAO report re: delays. The US GAO audit office delivers its 7th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. The E-2D is included among the 47 programs reviewed. Total program cost growth is under 10%, with just 5.8% cost growth during the R&D phase. Overall, the reports rates all 4 of the E-2D AHE’s critical technologies as mature, and the E-2D AHE design as stable. That’s an uncommon combination among similar stage programs, and the cost and schedule figures mark the E-2D as a successful acquisition program. They added that:

“In early flight testing, the program experienced problems with the high power circulators, hydraulic lines, antenna power amplifier modules, and inclement weather, which has resulted in a 4 to 6 month delay in the program’s flight testing schedule… The program is taking a series of steps to address flight testing delays [but] completing flight testing according to its original schedule may not be feasible. According to program officials, the program will experience additional delays due to budget cuts… likely that the budget cuts will impede the program’s ability to meet its planned initial operational capability date due to the reduced number of aircraft available to perform pilot and maintenance training operations to prepare for initial deployment. Program officials estimate this reduction in two aircraft will cause a 12 to 24 month delay in initial operating capability and a 20% increase in the aircraft’s unit cost.”

March 2/09: Electronics. GE Aviation Systems, LLC in Grand Rapids, MI received a $12.1 million ceiling-priced indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for aircraft recorders. The order includes 27 Crash Survivable Memory Units (CSMU) for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotors; 120 Crash Survivable Flight Information Recorder (CSFIR) Voice and Data Recorders (VADRs) for the E-2D Hawkeye AWACS plane; and 2 CSFIR Integrated Data Acquisition and Recorder Systems for T-6A trainer aircraft. In addition, this contract provides for CSFIR supply system spares; engineering and product support; CSFIR and CSMU hardware; software upgrades, repairs, and modifications for CSFIR/Structural Flight Recording Set (SFRS) common ground station software.

Work will be performed in Grand Rapids, MI, and is expected to be complete in March 2010. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-09-D-0017).

Feb 6/09: With a new administration in place and the “economic stimulus” package pending in Congress, Northrop Grumman and local leaders step up lobbying for restoration of the FY 2009 budget’s $203.4 million cut to production procurement for the E-2D (see October 2008 entry, and related materials). Tom Vice, sector vice president for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector, says that the firm has the manufacturing capacity to accommodate up to 10 E-2Ds per year.

Program Manager Jim Culmo, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of Airborne Early Warning and Battle Management Command and Control Programs, believes that there’s a key industrial base issue. The last E-2C will be delivered in 2009, leaving the E-2D program as the sole support. As a result:

“We have major concerns about the jobs impact and here’s why. Northrop Grumman and its 280 suppliers will make their final E-2C Hawkeye deliveries this year, as well as transfer our two SD&D aircraft to Patuxent River Naval Air Station. During this critical transition to LRIP, a reduction in the number of aircraft the Navy had planned to produce has dramatic consequences. This will increase the unit cost to the Navy by approximately 20% [for the 2 aircraft ordered]. It will mean a loss of 350 jobs across our supplier base in 38 U.S. states beginning in the first quarter of 2009. This loss will erode the highly skilled workforce, particularly in the state of Florida, that has been dedicated to this program for decades… Getting these critical skills back once they are gone is going to be extremely challenging.”

There’s also a timeline issue, as delays at this juncture are expected to push back the E-2D’s Initial Operating Capability to 2012-13. Arguments are being made that this might also have an effect on foreign sales, but E-2C+ Hawkeye 2000s would be a viable offering if the timing was that critical to the buyer. See: NGC release | Florida Times-Union | Reuters | St. Augustine Record op-ed.

Nov 13/08: OA done. Northrop Grumman announces that its E-2D has completed operational assessment (OA) after more than 600 flight hours, over half involving in-flight radar testing. OA testing involves the performance of the platform in an environment that resembles actual missions. The firm had set a date for OA completion 5 years ago, and met it on schedule with 92% aircraft availability, all test objectives executed, and no major system failures. The OA report is due in December 2008, and the firm has been given a green rating on production readiness; a “Milestone C” decision on low-rate initial production is due in 2009.

NGC’s corporate release notes that the E-2D has been recognized for its program performance with numerous industry awards in 2008. They include Aviation Week’s Military Laureate Award and its Program Excellence Achievement Award; the Society of Experimental Test Pilots Leroy Grumman Award; and NAVAIR Commander’s Award for Program Management.

OA done, industry awards

October 2008: Budget cut. the FY 2009 defense budget is passed, with a cut of $165.5 million from the request for Low-Rate Initial Production Lot 1 (3 planes to 2, aircraft deferred until 2022), and $37.9 million from long lead-time item buys for FY 2010 LRIP-2, for a total of $203.4 million. The timing of the cut will delay the E-2D’s expected Initial Operational Capability by 12-18 months, to 2012-13.

Because the underlying infrastructure fixed costs don’t change, and E-2C production is ending and cannot absorb any slack, the changes caused an approximate 20% jump in cost per aircraft in FY 2009, a 12.5% jump in FY 2010, and increase other costs by lengthening total production time and incurring more fixed costs for infrastructure, labor, etc. to produce the same number of machines.

FY 2008

SDD. Pilot production. E-2D cockpit
(click to view full)

Sept 26/08: Pilot production. A $10.7 million modification to a previously awarded cost plus incentive fee contract for procurement of Aircraft Change Directives in support of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) Pilot Production Aircraft, under the E-2D AHE System Development and Demonstration Program. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (71.2%); and St. Augustine, FL, (28.8%) and is expected to be completed in June 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00019-03-C-0057).

Sept 23/08: Support. A $6.2 million modification to a previously awarded cost plus incentive fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) covers support equipment for the 3 Lot 1 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Pilot Production Aircraft.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (69.1%); Menlo Park, CA (5.7%); New Port Richey, FL (5.3%) Islip, NY (3.2%); Dover, NJ (3.1%); Holbrook, NY (2.2%); and other various locations within the United States (11.4%), and is expected to be complete in June 2011.

Sept 22/08: Engines. A $12 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus incentive fee contract for engineering efforts associated with the manufacture and initial fitting of the Lot 1 E-2D Hawkeyes’ T-56-A-427A engines. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN (87%) and Bethpage, NY (13%), and is expected to be complete in Sept 2010 (N00019-03-C-0057).

Sept 10/08: The US Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Approves the FY 2009 Defense Appropriations Bill. Their release and summary includes “Funds procurement of 2 E-2D aircraft, a deferral of 1 aircraft.” The aircraft’s radar testing issues are cited as the reason. That approach is accepted in the final, reconciled House/Senate budget.

July 30/08: SDD. Northrop Grumman Technical Services Sector in Herndon, VA received a sole-source $6.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract for approximately 89,886 hours of engineering and logistics services in support of E-2C, C-2A test and E-2D System Design and Development (SDD) aircraft located at the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron TWO ZERO (VX-20) in Patuxent River, MD.

Services to be provided include modification and preparation of the aircraft for test operations, correct safety of flight discrepancies, quality control inspections, engineering investigations, and logistics and parts support. Work will be performed in Patuxent River, MD and the contract will end in July 2009. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract (N00421-08-C-0065).

July 2008: Radar flight testing resumes for the E-2D, with no subsequent problems reported.

June 27/08: Pilot production engines. A $36.3 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for T-56-A-427A engines and spares in support of the 3 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Pilot Production Aircraft. For 3 aircraft, that’s 6 engines. NGC is listed as the contractor, even though they’re Rolls Royce engines, because NGC is the prime contractor and hence responsible for integration etc.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN (82%) and Bethpage, NY (18%), and is expected to be complete in September 2010 (N00019-03-C-0057).

June 25/08: Spares. A $20.5 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) covering spare parts for the 3 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Pilot Production Aircraft of Lot 1.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (52.02%); Bethpage, NY (19.49%); Woodlawn, CA (5.82%); Greenlawn, NY (5.60%); Springville, UT (2.90%); Cincinnati, OH (2.14%); Ronkonkoma, NY (2.06%); and at various locations within the United States (9.97%), and is expected to be complete in Sep. 2010.

June 24/08: Pilot production. A $9.4 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) for non-recurring engineering efforts involved in the production of required subsystems and components for the Lot 1 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Pilot production Aircraft.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (28.23%); Torrance, CA (14.47%); Dallas, TX (10.80%); Pomezia, Italy (8.74%); Cleveland, OH (8.36%); New Port Richey, FL (8.13%), Owega, NY (6.71%); Freeport, NY (3. 20%) and various locations within the USA (11.54%), and is expected to be complete in Sep. 2010.

June 4/08: Pilot production. A $9.1 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) for Electro Magnetic Interference Reduction System Process Hardware for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Pilot Production Aircraft; 1 Lot (3 subsystems). Work will be performed in Syracuse, N.Y. (90.9%) and Bethpage, N.Y. (9.10%), and is expected to be completed in April 2010.

As noted above, “improved clutter & interference cancellation offers significant improvement in tracking small land and sea targets, as well as better performance against electronic jamming.” It’s also very helpful if an aircraft wishes to collect enemy signals while operating a powerful radar.

April 10/08: SDD. An $11.7 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract for one-time engineering efforts centered around replacing the E-2D’s halon system. Halon is an inert gas used to put out fires by depriving them of burnable atmosphere. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, (87.3%) and St. Augustine, FL (12.7%) and is expected to be complete in Sept 2011 (N00019-03-C-0057).

March 2008: Radar issues. The E-2D program experiences issues as a result of the new radar’s high power requirements. The “high power circulators” that transfer power from the radar amplifiers to the rotodome antenna were initially unable to handle the power levels required by the new radar.

Design changes, and material changes that changed the insulating material in the antenna, are made. General flight testing continues throughout, but radar flight testing is suspended.

Feb 6/08: SDD. A $12 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) for recently-specified changes to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye design during the Development and Demonstration Program. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (79.6%) and St. Augustine, FL (20.4%) and is expected to be complete in June 2008.

Dec 26/07: LRIP-1 lead-in. A $50.4 million not-to-exceed advance acquisition contract for long lead material and support for 3 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye low rate initial production (LRIP) Lot 1 aircraft.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (32.6%), various locations within the United States (23.7%); Bethpage, NY (15.5%); Dallas, TX (12.4%); Menlo Park, CA (9.8%); and Woodland Hills, CA (6%), and is expected to be complete in August 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity (N00019-08-C-0027).

Dec 19/07: CEC. A $22.4 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) for cooperative engagement capability developmental efforts in support of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye System Development and Demonstration Program. Work will be performed in Bethpage, N.Y., (92.6%) and St. Augustine, FL (7.4%) and is expected to be completed in July 2009.

CEC allows the Hawkeye to share both a joint battle picture and targeting data with fleet ships, other surveillance aircraft, and even land-based missile units. Like the CEC-equipped E-2C Hawkeye 2000, the E-2D will have targeting capability, and becomes a potential node for ballistic missile defense.

Dec 17/07: India. According to a report in the forthcoming issue of India Strategic defense magazine, the Indian Navy had issued an request for information for the E-2D Hawkeye to the U.S. government. The report said Washington has confirmed India’s interest and said that “as and when a formal request is received from New Delhi, the answer should be positive.” Note also DID’s February 2006 report that Northrop Grumman was working to integrate HAL into its E-2 Hawkeye AWACS program supply chain by way of sourcing aircraft assemblies and components, digitization and other related services

The Indian Navy reportedly wanted their aircraft to be capable of staying in the air for 8 hours instead of 6, and modifications such as “wet” (fuel carrying) wings and the plane’s existing aerial refueling capability are reportedly set to address this. India Today.

Nov 29/07: Testing. Delta Two, the 2nd E-2D Advanced Hawkeye development aircraft, completes its first flight from NGC’s St. Augustine, FL manufacturing and flight test center in just over 2 hours, followed by a second flight on Dec 4/07. During the flights, the team conducted a series of air vehicle tests to evaluate airplane flying qualities, engine response, and cockpit instruments. Chief test pilot Mike Holton later said in Northrop Grumman’s release that:

“Our go-forward plan is to fly another flight to check out engine air start capability, and high angle of attack flying qualities, and then we will complete the installation of the weapon system. Once the weapon system is in, we will fly approximately 200 flights to evaluate the new radar. And just like Delta One, which flew its first flight on Aug. 3, Delta Two flew just like an E-2C.”

FY 2007

Rollout, 1st flight. E-2D, 1st flight
(click to view full)

Sept 26/07: Industrial. A $14.5 million cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract for non-recurring efforts to prepare for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye production at NGC and its suppliers. Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (56.42%); Menlo Park, CA (23.25%); various locations across the United States, (11.23%); and Bethpage, NY (9.1%) and is expected to be complete in December 2008 (N00019-03-C-0057).

Sept 26/07: Training. A $10 million cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract for the procurement of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Prime Mission Equipment for E-2D Trainer requirements.

Work will be performed in Marlborough, MA (39%); Woodland Hills, CA (36.7%); Owego, NY (12%); Bethpage, NY (9.7%); Baltimore, MD (1.6%); and Sylmar, CA (1%) and is expected to be complete in July 2009 (N00019-03-C-0057).

Aug 3/07: 1st Dev Flight. The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye development aircraft, known as Delta One, completes its first flight at St. Augustine, FL. Northrop Grumman Flight Test Pilot Tom Boutin and U.S. Navy Flight Test Pilot Lt. Drew Ballinger along with Northrop Grumman Flight Test Lead Weapon Systems Operator Zyad Hajo lifted off shortly before 11 a.m. and flew for approximately 1.3 hours. NGC release.

1st flight

July 9/07: A $408 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) for 3 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye pilot production aircraft, under the SDD phase.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (26.5%); at various locations across the United States (25.88%); Syracuse, NY (23.57%); St. Augustine, FL (18.63%); and Menlo Park, CA (5.42%) and is expected to be complete in August 2010. See also Northrop Grumman release.

Pilot production: 3 E-2Ds

April 30/07: Rollout. The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye makes its first public appearance at a rollout ceremony in St. Augustine, FL. NGC release.

Rollout

April 9/07: The Pentagon’s periodic Selective Acquisition Report updates us re: cost growth in the E-2D program. Full weapons program costs increased from $15,721.5 million to $17,487.0 million (up $1.76 billion/ 11.2%), due primarily to higher Mission Electronics, general procurement, and mission systems pricing (+$653.7 million), buying fewer aircraft per year over a longer period from FY 2009-2020 (+$374.8 million), and additional pilot production funding (+$169.0 million). There were also increases for the addition of the automatic identification system, dual transit satellite communication, and in-flight refueling requirements (+$137.1 million), a revised estimate to reflect new pricing for the system development and demonstration contract (+$234.3 million), and increases in initial spares, peculiar support equipment and training, and other production support costs (+$159.1 million).

At this estimate, each E-2D aircraft will cost $233.1 million when all R&D, pilot production, equipment, and initial support funds are factored in and amortized.

SAR – baseline

Nov 13-15/06: Northrop Grumman Corporation hosts the 5th annual International Hawkeye Users Conference at its manufacturing center in St. Augustine, FL. Every year, the company brings together members of the air forces and navies of Egypt, France, Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, Singapore and the United States to share lessons-learned and to learn about new capabilities and improvements planned for the world’s E-2 fleet. The NGC release adds that “together, these nations operate over 100 E-2C Hawkeyes…”

FY 2006 and Earlier

Development; CDR. E-2D #1, Assembly
(click to view full)

July 17/06: Northrop Grumman announces that it has mated the major sub-assemblies of the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye test aircraft into a single fuselage structure at its St. Augustine, FL manufacturing center. NGC release.

Nov 17/05: CDR. Northrop Grumman Corporation and the U.S. Navy announce a successful E-2D critical design review (CDR). All the team’s basic designs, including the new radar, mission computer and workstations had been improved and vetted, and Northrop Grumman can now complete production of the 2 test aircraft to fulfill the SDD phase requirements. NGC release.

CDR

July 20/05: SDD add-on. A $22.6 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) to design, develop, fabricate, assemble, integrate, furnish, manage, test and evaluate an On-Board Oxygen Generating System for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. Work will be performed in Bethpage, N.Y. (93.8%) and Davenport, Iowa, (6.2%), and is expected to be completed in December 2012.

March 29/04: SDD add-on. A $63.7 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (N00019-03-C-0057) exercises an option for a Propulsion System Control Monitoring and Maintenance System (PSCMMS) for the E-2 Advanced Hawkeye (AHE). Specifically, the contractor will design, develop, fabricate, assemble, integrate, furnish, manage, test, evaluate and support a PSCMMS as part of the E-2 AHE System Development and Demonstration (SD&D) effort.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN (52.61%); Bethpage, N.Y. (41.08%); Windsor Locks, CT (3.92%); and Irvine, CA (2.39%), and is expected to be completed in May 2011.

Aug 11/03: SDD contract. A $1.932 billion cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the E-2 Advanced Hawkeye (AHE) system development and demonstration (SDD) phase, which will consist of modifying two E-2 Hawkeye 2000 aircraft to the E-2 AHE configuration. The contractor will design, develop, fabricate, assemble, integrate, furnish, manage, test, evaluate and support the software, hardware and engineering associated with the SDD phase.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, N.Y. (55.39%); at various locations across the United States (20.75%); Syracuse, N.Y. (13.91%); Baltimore, MD (4.98%); Menlo Park, CA (3.22%); and El Segundo, CA (1.75%), and is expected to be complete in December 2012. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-03-C-0057).

E-2D development

Additional Readings

Categories: News

Sons of Sa’ar? Israel’s Next Generation Frigates

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 18:37
Saar 5: INS Hanit
(click to view full)

The 1,227t/ 1,350 ton Sa’ar 5 Eilat Class corvettes were built by Northrop Grumman in the 1990s for about $260 million each. It’s a decent performer in a number of roles, from air defense to anti-submarine work, to coastal patrol and special forces support. In 2006, the Israelis went looking for a next-generation vessel with better high-end capabilities. Six years later, Israel had nothing to show for its search. In the meantime, massive natural gas deposits have been discovered within Israel’s coastal waters, adding considerable urgency to their search.

The USA is Israel’s logical supplier, but given Israel’s size and cost requirements, the only American option was the Littoral Combat Ship. Israel pursued that option for several years, conducting studies and trying to get a better sense of feasibility and costs. Their approach would have been very different from the American Freedom Class LCS, removing the swappable “mission modules” and replacing them with a fixed and fully capable set of air defense, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons. In the end, however, the project was deemed to be unaffordable. Instead, Israel began negotiating with Germany, and reports now include discussions involving both South Korea, and a local shipyard.

Ship Systems: What is Israel Looking For? The Strategic Situation Offshore energy
(click to view full)

Israel’s discovery of massive offshore gas reserves in the Tamar and Leviathan fields has the potential to change Israel diplomatic weight, as well as its economy and energy status. Work is already underway in cooperation with Cyprus, and Greece has shifted from hostile to cooperative over the last decade, but Turkey is making hostile noises, and Syrian hostility is assured.

Potential irregular threats to Israeli drilling installations include UAVs, which have already overflown existing rigs on their way into Israeli airspace, or boat operations with divers or depth charges. Rig owners are working with the IDF to counter the irregular threat, via armed teams on each platform and radars networked to Israel’s coastal defenses. They may need to take further steps with RWS emplacements and missiles, given rules that require enemies to close within 1/2 mile before defenders can open fire.

The higher end is more problematic, and isn’t much discussed, but it exists. Hezbollah has already proven its ability to use long-range surface-launched naval missiles, and drilling platforms are ideal targets if they can be reached. Full state-level threats leave Israel open to the threat of supersonic Russian SS-N-26s in Syria’s possession, and add enemy submarines to this picture. Turkey’s purchase of 6 U214s, Iran’s Kilo Class boats, and a possible Egyptian purchase of 2 U209s fitted with modern systems, are changing the local balance. Turkish saber-rattling and Syrian hostility mean that enemy fighters must also be considered, and the rigs will be placed some distance from Israeli quick-reaction fighter launches.

It’s a complex, multi-dimensional problem, and the solution will have to be multi-layered. Defensive systems and sensors on board the rigs themselves, and naval flotillas of smaller ships that offer presence while providing point defense and surface attack punch, are already in place. Heron UAVs are already operating in maritime patrol mode, which offers Israel a persistent aerial surveillance option, but doesn’t help much with response capability at present. Israel could benefit greatly from maritime patrol aircraft with good on-station time, and offensive capabilities that allow them to intervene. Their aged Westwind 1124N Sea Scan business jets don’t fit that bill.

Meanwhile, their naval flotillas need a boost, and acknowledging higher-end threats becomes very consequential if it means that Israel needs high-end wide-area air defense and anti-submarine capabilities on station.

Israel’s Requirements LCS-I components
(click to view full)

Whatever that solution may be, Israel’s experience with the LCS concept shows where their needs are leading them. From Israel’s point of view, the keys to their original interest in an LCS-I design were threefold.

Flexibility. The 1st key is an open architecture combat system. Israel produces a lot of its own electronics, and the ability to easily integrate their own products into current and future configurations was seen as a huge plus. Lockheed Martin’s VP of Israel Operations, Joshua Shani, meant it when he said that that “participation by the Israeli defense industry will be the cornerstone of [LCS-I's] success.” The same will be true of any other ship type that Israel adopts.

Wider View. The 2nd key is better sensors. LCS-I negotiations focused on Lockheed Martin’s SPY-1F S-band radar, which also equips Norway’s Fridjhof Nansen Class AEGIS frigates. Discussions surrounding other ships have focused instead on IAI Elta’s locally-developed EL/M-2248 MF-STAR “Adir” S-band active array radar, which has been exported to India for use on their Kolkata Class destroyers, and is being installed as a Sa’ar 5 upgrade. AESA radars are much easier to resize for smaller ships, and IAI ELta’s designs scale all the way down to the EL/M-2258 ALPHA (Advanced Lightweight Phased Array) radar, which is being installed on Israel’s 500t class Sa’ar 4.5 Fast Attack Craft.

AN LCS-I would also have offered far superior underwater sensors. The ability to embark larger helicopters, including the MH-60 Seahawk family or similar naval helicopters, would dramatically boosting Israel’s anti-submarine capabilities. A modern bow sonar, which is present in other ship designs, would add a lot all by itself, especially if the ship’s combat system could integrate that data with towed and/or variable-depth sonars.

SM-2 (top), SM-3
 

Weapon Improvements. The 3rd key involves a wider weapon fit, especially when it comes to air defense. Adopting the MK41 Vertical Launch System would give Israel inherent flexibility over time to integrate new missiles of all types, in order to handle Israel’s combat scenarios, and address changes in threats and operational requirements.

LCS-I’s high-end armament would have included torpedo tubes, mounts for Harpoon or Gabriel anti-ship missiles, and the contents of the ship’s 16 strike-length vertical launch cells. Those cells would offer Israel the flexibility to include anti-air missiles like the new Israeli Barak-8, the entire range of Raytheon’s Standard family air and missile defense interceptors, compatible anti-ship and precision strike missiles like Lockheed Martin’s LRASM, or even current anti-submarine missiles like VL-ASROC. Local options like IAI’s ANAM/ Gabriel 5 and IMI’s Delilah-SL will also be of interest to the Israelis.

In Israel’s case, a strike-length MK41 VLS system could take on strategic significance. Raytheon’s SM-3 (area defense), SM-2 Block IV, and SM-6 missiles (point defense) can be used to defend against ballistic missile attacks, if paired with a suitable radar. The AN/SPY-1F has never received the signal processor upgrades given to larger and more powerful SPY-1D radars for ballistic missile defense, nor has it ever been tested in that role. Alternatively, the ship could be networked with long-range ground radars like Israel’s “Green Pine.” In either scenario, the SM-3’s range and Israel’s tiny size would allow just 1 ship on station to cover most of Israel. A situation where 2 ships out of 4 are on station at any given time is very plausible, and could provide overlapping point defense ABM coverage. Either option would supplement Israel’s medium range Arrow and short range Patriot PAC-2 GEM systems on land. At present, this is an option rather than a focus, but even the potential for such a vital national mission is a first for the Israeli Navy.

Onboard vehicles add to an Israeli frigates’ punch in a different way. New ships will be expected to embark a flexible USV/UUV mix, with the ability to store and launch Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIB), mine or sub-hunting hunting UUVs, or surface USVs. Israel’s leading-edge capabilities in USVs would make that capability an immediate and long-term force multiplier.

Israel’s core problem is that a high-end, full featured frigate is going to cost them $600+ million. They want the capabilities, but don’t have the money to buy 3-4 ships at that price. In response, they can choose to scale back their desires, or they can find some way to make a deal.

What Are You Shipping: Vessels & Systems Current State: Israel’s Sa’ar 5 Corvettes Sa’ar 5 corvettes
click for video

Some have called the 1,227 tonne Eilat Class a better base model for the USA to adopt, as it seeks an affordable Littoral Combat Ship or flotilla asset. The ships were built by Litton-Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation of Pascagoula, MS (now HII), based on Israeli designs. All 3 ships of class were launched from 1993 – 1994.

Air Defense. Sa’ar 5 corvettes have moderate anti-air capabilities, thanks to IAI Elta ELM-2218S and ELM-2221 GM STGR radars. Twin 32-cell launchers hold short-range Barak-1 surface-air missiles, and the ship has a Mk15 Phalanx 20mm CIWS gun for last-ditch defense. As of 2013, the ships are preparing to swap their Barak-1 systems for the larger Barak-8 missile, whose 70+ km reach will give the Israeli Navy its first area air defense capability.

ASW. Bow-mounted and towed sonars, plus 6x 324mm torpedo tubes for Mark 46 torpedoes, give these corvettes moderate anti-submarine capability. This was quite adequate until the early 2010s. As Turkey has become progressively more hostile, and unstable neighbors like Egypt buy modern submarines, there is some concern that the Eilat Class’ anti-submarine capabilities may not be enough.

Surface Warfare. Surface warfare is addressed well. Harpoon or Gabriel anti-ship missiles can be used against larger ships or land targets, while the Mk15 Phalanx 20mm gun and Typhoon remotely-operated 7.62-30mm gun/missile systems deal with guerrilla craft. The corvette is also capable of launching small special forces boats, or robotic USVs like RAFAEL’s Protector series.

A 76mm Oto Melara naval gun option could be installed in place of the Phalanx. It would offer slightly less air defense capability, in exchange for a longer reach and more punch against fast boats. That upgrade would be compatible with long-range Vulcano ammunition for naval fire support, but Israel has chosen the Phalanx for now.

The Eilat Class’ helicopter hangar can accommodate AS565 Dauphin/Panther, Kaman SH-2F or Sikorsky S-76N helicopters. Israel’s navy flies the AS565, but they haven’t armed them with substantial naval weapons.

Future Option: Lockheed Martin’s LCS-I LCS-I missions
(click to view full)

The Israelis have a long-standing relationship with Lockheed Martin, and a 2,500-3,000t LCS design with the USA’s swappable mission modules could significantly improve Israel’s ability to conduct anti-submarine warfare and mine neutralization missions.

Unfortunately, the pitifully weak armament of the USA’s LCS ships is inadequate for the Israelis, who need their ships to be able to engage other naval vessels, and to provide their own air defense. Worse, the American design lacks the flexibility to add meaningful weapons in future. As a result, the Israelis took a different approach, eliminating the ship’s swappable mission modules in favor of a much more heavily-armed vessel.

Initial studies were conducted in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, leading to an RFP and even an official $1.9 billion DSCA request for Lockheed Martin’s LCS-I design. That would have made Israel the first LCS export customer. Construction of the LCS-I ships would have occurred at Marinette Marine and Bollinger Shipyards in the United States and American construction allows Israel to buy the ships with American military aid dollars, rather than using its hard-currency budget. Gary Feldman, Lockheed’s business development director international LCS sales, said that detail design could have begun in 2009, with construction starting in 2010.

In the end, however, expected per-ship costs of $700 million or so led the Israelis to back away and look for another solution.

Future Option: HII’s Sa’ar 5B

Northrop Grumman has proposed an enlarged “Sa’ar 5B” corvette with more advanced systems, and Israel has made that task easier by developing their own advanced ship radars and improved missiles. Indeed, the Israelis are implementing a de facto Sa’ar 5B by upgrading existing Eilat Class ships with fixed-plate MF-STAR “Adir” AESA radars, new medium range Barak-8 missiles, and better anti-ship/ land strike missiles.

Northrop Grumman (now HII) has hinted that Sa’ar 5B ships could be built for less than $450 million, using American aid dollars, but Israel initially rejected that option as well. Discussions are rumored to have resumed, but nailing down a firm price will require money up front for extensive design studies. That left Israel looking beyond the USA for their base ship, even as the equipment they wanted in those ships remained fairly constant.

Future Option: Germany, Overall? MEKO CSL
(click to view larger)

In February 2009, Israel switched its interest to ThyssenKrupp Marine Systsems’ MEKO family, which comes in sizes ranging from A100 corvettes to full-size A200 frigates. MEKOs are customized to their destination country, so a German K130 Braunschweig Class is very different than Malaysia’s Kedah Class, even though both begin with the A100 base. As part of that customization, the radar would have been IAI’s Elta’s EL/M-2248 MF-STAR, and many of the other technologies requested for the LCS-I would have applied as well.

Reports are split between a buy of 4 A100 base corvettes to put more ships on station, vs. a purchase of 2 high-end frigates that would be able to focus on advanced anti-submarine and wide-area anti-air warfare.

There was even some talk of making Israel the launch customer for the MEKO CSL, which would have given Israel some of the modularity found in the USA’s LCS class. The Meko CSL is only slightly smaller than the American LCS Freedom Class, at 108m/ 354 ft. long, with a beam of 21 meters and full-load displacement of 2,750 tonnes. Propulsion is by a combined diesel-and-gas (CODAG) water-jet system that cruises at 15 knots and reaches 40. Cruising speed range at would be about is 3,500 nautical miles, with 21 days endurance. The MEKO CSL variant adds improved stealth shapes and measures refined on Sweden’s Visby Class corvettes, and has several modular sections for faster swap-outs. An Israeli MEKO CSL would contain a lot of local content, including IAI Elta’s MF-STAR, the new Barak-8 medium range air defense missile, and Israeli electronic countermeasures systems, among others. The CSL also has a rear mission bay, and could serve as a hub for Israel’s advanced UAVs and robotic naval USV/UUVs.

German negotiations stalled after Germany agreed to provide subsidies for more Dolphin Class submarines, but not for frigates. 2013 Reports indicate that negotiations have resumed.

Asian Quality: The South Korean Option FFX launch
(click to view larger)

South Korea (ROK) is a global leader in shipbuilding, and their successful naval shipbuilding programs include cruiser-size KDX-III AEGIS destroyers as well as smaller ships like their FFX and FFX II light frigates. The FFX Block II in particular appears to be an advanced small combatant that meets Israel’s size and capability requirements. The 2,500t+ ships will offer electrical power to spare, high-end long range radar capabilities, a 127mm/ 5″ gun with guided shell options and future long-range fire capabilities, a 16-cell vertical launch system, and the ability to embark full-size anti-submarine helicopters.

The South Koreans might be able to produce new frigates at the price and quality level Israel needs, and they’ve become significant buyers of Israeli defense technologies in recent years. Israel wants to keep that relationship going, but KAI’s recent loss of a $1 billion deal for new IAF jet trainers has put a dent in things. South Korea remains interested in other Israeli technologies, including its Iron Dome rocket defense system.

A deal that offset ROK defense purchases with Israeli buys of South Korean FFX Block II ships might make everyone happy, and get the Israeli political support required to move the project ahead. Negotiations are reportedly underway.

Final Option: Don’t Go Big – Go Home Saar 5 Eilat Class
(click to view larger)

Israel’s final option is less ambitious in terms of performance, but more ambitious industrially. It involves a deal with the privatized Israel Shipyards. In exchange for government investment to modernize and expand the shipyard, they would design and build an larger, improved version of existing corvettes. The Sa’ar 5.5 option would be designed to give Israel a locally-built offering that was both exportable and upgradeable, without requiring outside help or approval.

Recent MF-STAR/ Barak-8 upgrades are laying the groundwork for a tested option. The question is whether all of the money required for shipyard modernization, ship design, fabrication in a shipyard stretching its capabilities, and platform testing would make the final product as expensive as higher-end options, while offering comparatively less capability. That could also make the vessels unexportable on price grounds, creating a lose-lose-lose scenario.

Contracts & Key Events 2014

Israel’s offshore strategic situation; Significant Sa’ar 5 improvements underway; Negotiations with Germany. Barak-8
(click to view full)

Oct 19/14: Germany. Ha’aretz reports that Germany has agreed to a discount, and seems set to secure the Israeli contract for its next-generation ships:

“A crisis between Israel and Germany over missile boats required to protect Israel’s offshore gas fields has ended after Berlin agreed to slash [EUR] 300 million (about $382 million) off the cost, officials on both sides said. They are expected to initial an agreement for the boats within weeks.”

Time will tell which boats Israel orders. If they still want 4 ships, a sum of just over $900 million with subsidies included could get them MEKO derivatives along the lines of Germany’s own 1,840t K130 Braunschweig Class corvettes, but with Israeli technology. If they’re only ordering 2 ships, possibilities expand to include base options like the 2,750t MEKO CSL, or a MEKO A200 derivative that compares to Turkey’s own 3,350t Barbaros Class. Sources: Ha’aretz, “Missile boat crisis ends as Germany gives Israel $382 million discount”.

Sept 28/14: RFP & timelines. State Comptroller Judge (ret.) Joseph Shapira published an audit report in March 2014 that said Israel’s gas facilities in the Mediterranean were only partially protected, but constituted a prime target for attacks by terrorist organizations. That has ratcheted urgency a bit higher, but Israel may have to wait for some time before its ships sail out:

“The Ministry has been preparing for a number of years an international tender for the procurement of ship to operate in Israel’s marine economic area, and has done in-depth staff work in the matter. The government decided to procure the ships only in November 2013, and provided a special budget for them. Procurement was suspended in order to provide enough time for negotiations for a deal with a foreign country. Last July, following the prolonging of these processes, the Defense Ministry decided to issue an international tender for procurement of the ships. The tender is currently taking place; the envelopes will be opened next December, and a preliminary answer will be given. The tender will be completed by the end of 2015.”

Add time for integration of Israeli components, construction, outfitting, testing, and training, and operational acceptance before 2018 would be quite a feat. Globes reports that the contract’s scope involves NIS 2 billion (about $550 million) for 4 ships. That won’t get them very much. Sources: Globes, “Israel Navy to wait years for gas rig defense ships”.

May 15/14: Germany. Ha’aretz reports that the proposed deal discussed in December 2013 (q.v. Dec 8/13) appears to have fallen through for now:

“The German government has decided not to give Israel a massive subsidy for the purchase of German missile boats, due to the breakdown in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, both Israeli and German officials said on Thursday.”

Sources: Ha’aretz, “Germany nixes gunboat subsidy to Israel, citing breakdown of peace talks”.

May 13/14: Sa’ar 5+. Israeli improvements to their existing ships are underway. This matters, because deploying the systems within the Israeli Navy makes Israel much more likely to demand them as part of any future frigate. Fielding a tested upgrade to the Eilat Class also provides added weight to options like the Sa’ar 5B or Sa’ar 5.5, by creating a proven starting point.

A “senior naval source” tells The Jerusalem Post that Israel is upgrading the anti-ship and strike missiles on board its ships, in order to give their Navy medium-range precision strike capability against land targets. They weren’t specific, but IAI has developed an “Advanced Naval Attack Missile” as a successor to existing naval Gabriel missiles. The other likely option is IMI’s “Delilah-SL”; it’s a ship-launched version of the Air Force’s go-to missile for strikes against targets that are heavily defended, or require a high level of human judgement via its “man in the loop” feature.

The article adds that a Sa’ar 5 Eilat Class corvette has already been outfitted with IAI Elta’s MF-STAR S-Band AESA radar and Barak-8 air defense missiles. Adding better strike weapons to that array changes effectively creates a proven “Sa’ar 5B/ 5.5″ option. Sources: The Jerusalem Post, “The Israel Navy is quietly enhancing its capabilities for precision, long-range missiles”.

Jan 18/14: Israel Defence reports that Israel is scaling down its naval platform ambitions. They’re reportedly back to a platform around 1,300t, which is about the same size as their Sa’ar 5s, rather than a 2,000t+ platform. They’ll still insist on its ability to carry MF-STAR and the Barak-8, but success won’t entirely solve their problems:

“Originally, the IDF Navy should have initiated the procurement of the new missile frigates in the context of the previous multi-year plan, and funds had been allocated for this purpose as part of that plan, but owing to the cancellation of the LCS option, the process never materialized…. intention of the IDF is to finance the procurement of the new vessels by a dedicated budget allocated by the government outside the framework of the normal defense budget, in order to secure the offshore gas drilling rigs. The procurement plan notwithstanding, the total number of missile frigates in the IDF Navy is expected to decrease during the next five-year period, owing to the obsolescence of the present vessels, some of which are to be decommissioned.”

Sources: Israel Defence, “The Next Missile Frigate of the IDF Navy”.

Jan 8/14: Strategic. Paul Alster & David Andrew Weinberg discuss the difficulties Israel faces in defending its offshore gas resources, and take a critical look at the exploitable reserves and revenue projections. They say flatly that:

“IDF officials concede that they do not have the resources as of now to properly secure the infrastructure at sea.”

They list threats that include UAVs, which have already overflown existing rigs on their way into Israeli airspace; suicide operations with divers, boats or depth charges; and surface-to-surface missiles like the C-802s that have already been used by Hezbollah. Rig owners are working with the IDF to counter the irregular threat, via armed teams on each platform and radars networked to Israel’s coastal defenses. They may need to take further steps with RWS emplacements and missiles, given rules that require enemies to close within 1/2 mile before defenders can open fire. Higher end threats are even more problematic, and aren’t much discussed here, but they exist. It’s a complex, multi-dimensional problem, and the solution will have to be multi-layered.

One apparent error: the authors refer to “two state-of-the-art German-built MEKO class F221 frigates” as Israel’s choice. The F221 is FGS Hessen, a Sachsen Class advanced air warfare destroyer. First off, it isn’t part of the MEKO family, but a separate and more advanced class built in the context of trilateral cooperation between the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. They are top-end multi-role “frigates,” whose size and growth capacity for ballistic missile defense would make them destroyers if Europeans weren’t so averse to the term. It’s a very capable ship, but an unlikely choice. One ship of that class, with modifications, would eat most of Israel’s reported EUR 1 billion budget for 2. Sources: Forbes, “The Daunting Challenge Of Defending Israel’s Multi-Billion Dollar Gas Fields”.

2012 – 2013

Sa’ar 5 & Panther
(click to view full)

Dec 16/13: Strategic. Information Dissemination runs an analysis of Israel’s apparent interest in 2 high-end ships, which is a departure from their traditional focus on larger numbers of smaller vessels. The best that can be said for Jacob Stoil’s analysis is that it’s incomplete. He’s correct to say that this is a departure, and that presence matters, but he never looks at the regional changes underway, and the strategic imperatives created by new enemy capabilities and new Israeli needs. Then there are quotes like this one, which assume premises that turn out not to be true:

“Israel clearly does not intend to use naval power to support land operations or develop independent strategic operations from the sea in a serious way. All of their naval procurement and training decisions over the last more than twenty years have made that impossible.”

Sources: Information Dissemination, “Of Destroyers and Doctrine: An Evaluation of Israel’s Decision to Invest in Larger Hulls”.

Dec 8/13: Germany. The newspaper Ha’aretz reports that Israel’s Defense Ministry is expected to ask the Finance Ministry for a ILS 3 billion budget increase (about $855 million/ EUR 624 million) to purchase 4 “missile boats” as a special buy outside the defense budget, for protection of Israel’s huge offshore natural gas fields. At the same time, the German Bild newspaper is reporting a different deal: 2 ships for EUR 1 billion. The Ha’aretz report does add that Israel continues to negotiate with American and South Korean suppliers, leaving the Navy’s plans characteristically unclear.

What is clear is that there’s a big difference between the implications in the Israeli and German reports. EUR 156 million per ship will struggle to buy a ship like the K130 corvette, a surface warfare patrol ship with limited anti-aircraft capabilities, and no anti-submarine capabilities. They could form interesting flotilla dyads with the proposed Multi-role Super-Dvora, but submarine threats are rising in the Mediterranean. At EUR 500 million per ship, on the other hand, Israel would be looking at high-end MEKO Class frigates will a full range of capabilities, which would become the most advanced ships in their navy. The price would be more limited coverage, with just half the number of ships bought for slightly more money. Sources: Die Presse, “Israel konnte deutsche Kriegsschiffe kaufen” | Ha’aretz, “Defense Ministry seeking $853m to buy German missile boats” | AFP, “”Bild”: Deutschland verkauft Israel zwei raketenbestuckte Zerstorer” | N24, “Israel will Raketenschiffe aus Deutschland” (repeats Ha’aretz figures).

Aug 10/12: South Korea. Israel Defense reports that South Korea is interested in Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system, and is negotiating for possible offsetting deals involving frigates for Israel.

April 1/12: South Korea? Israel Defense reports that South Korea is offering to build new surface vessels for the Israeli Navy via Hyundai shipyards. South Korean representatives have reportedly visited Israel and met with the Ministry of Defense, and are said to be continuing discussions. The magazine reports that the offered ships had a displacement of just 1,300 tons, the same size as current Sa’ar 5 Eilat Class corvettes, and significantly smaller than South Korea’s new 2,300t FFX Incheon Class frigates. It didn’t say whether that displacement was measured at full load, after Israel radars, weapons, etc. had all been installed.

Israel hasn’t set aside a budget for such vessels in its current plans, but ongoing discoveries of huge offshore oil and gas are changing its assessment of its security needs.

Meanwhile, Israel Shipyards has reportedly proposed an alternative in which government re-investment would help them add hundreds of employees, invest in a new manufacturing layout, and build 2,100 ton “Saar 5.5″ light frigates. They would then become an exporter, with the ability to field upgraded versions for Israel later on. The MoD has approached the Treasury about this plan, but it’s reportedly stuck, even as negotiations have stalled with the USA for a Freedom Class LCS derivative, and with Germany for a MEKO frigate derivative.

2009 – 2011

LCS too expensive; Talks center around German MEKO designs, incl. MEKO CSL; Israel may not have the budget to buy the ships it wants – but huge resource finds mean they may have to. MEKO 200TN
(click to view full)

November 2010: Leviathan. Israel’s giant “Leviathan” offshore natural gas field is discovered. The gas field is located roughly 130 km/ 81 miles west of Haifa, in 1,500 m/ 4,900 ft. of water. Estimated reserves are a stunning 500+ billion cubic meters, or more than 18 trillion cubic feet.

Israel’s navy just became much more important.

Giant offshore gas find

July 25/10: MEKO. Hopes of German government subsidies to finance Israel’s MEKO buy appear to be fading, amidst the country’s tightening climate of austerity. From The Jerusalem Post:

“The [Israeli] Defense Ministry statement came amid reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had decided to turn down an Israeli request for financial assistance in purchasing the Dolphin-class submarine and new [MEKO frigates]. In another rare statement, the German government, which rarely talks about defense sales, also denied it was holding talks with Israel on subsidizing new naval vessels… Israel had hoped to receive additional subsidies for two Meko-class ships it was interested in purchasing.”

May 18/10: MEKO CSL? Aviation Week reports that Israel may become the launch customer for ThyssenKrupp’s new MEKO CSL. If true, the American Littoral Combat Ship’s price may end up spawning an international export competitor.

The Meko CSL is only slightly smaller than the American LCS Freedom Class, at 108m/ 354 ft. long, with a beam of 21 meters and full-load displacement of 2,750 tonnes. Propulsion is by a combined diesel-and-gas (CODAG) water-jet system that cruises at 15 knots and reaches 40. Cruising speed range at would be about is 3,500 nautical miles, with 21 days endurance. The MEKO CSL variant adds improved stealth shapes and measures refined on Sweden’s Visby Class corvettes, and has several modular sections for faster swap-outs. An Israeli MEKO CSL would also contain a lot of local content, including IAI Elta’s MF-STAR active-array radar, the new Barak-8 medium range air defense missile, and Israeli electronic countermeasures systems, among others. The CSL does have a rear mission bay, and one of its roles would likely be as a hub for Israel’s advanced set of robotic UAVs and naval USV/UUVs.

Jan 18/10: MEKO. Defense News reports that Germany and Israel are in talks concerning a $1.45 billion naval deal that would add 1 Dolphin Class submarine, and 2 MEKO-derived frigates as the beginning of Israel’s next-generation frigate program. Current reports do not see a January 2010 agreement as likely, and Defense News claims that Israel is asking Germany to pay for 33% of the cost as a German industrial stimulus program, just as it did with Israel’s previous 2-sub order.

The MEKO ships would be Israel’s alternative to a very modified version of Lockheed Martin’s Littoral Combat Ship design, which Israel rejected due to its expected $700+ million cost. Even so, American components in the total naval package could reach up to $200 million. This is important because Israel can use US military aid dollars to buy them, instead of hard currency.

Nov 25/09: German MEKOs? Reuters reports on negotiations between TKMS and Israel to buy up to 8 next-generation MEKO ships.

“Built at ThyssenKrupp’s (TKAG.DE) Blohm+Voss shipyards in Hamburg, the Meko costs around $300 million but Israel wants the German government to underwrite the sale. An official involved in the talks said Israel sought a discount of 20 to 30 percent. That would help the Meko outprice the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS)… An Israeli official said despite the fact that U.S. defence grants would significantly defray the estimated $460 to $600 million cost of the LCS, the Meko topped the wish list. “We want to close a deal by the end of the year. Now it comes down to financing issues with the Germans,” he said.”

Previous reports placed the LCS-I cost closer to $650-700 million. As was the case with the LCS-I, Israel is looking to incorporate a range of Israeli technologies and weapons into the frigates.

Oct 15/09: TKMS + UAE. Blohm + Voss parent firm, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, sells an 80% share of all Blohm + Voss groups to the United Arab Emirates’ firm Abu Dhabi MAR, and makes future naval construction a 50/50 joint venture. It remains to be seen whether this will affect Israeli negotiations to use Blohm + Voss’ MEKO designs as the base for its future frigate.

June 29-July 6/09: USA Out. Multiple sources report that Israel is abandoning the LCS-I design, owing to its high costs. Israeli estimates reportedly put the price of an LCS-I at over $600 million, a reasonable figure given the $650-700 million cost of the first 2 American ships, and LCS-I’s extensive Israeli equipment upgrades. Arutz Sheva:

“As much as we sought commonality with the U.S. Navy, it became much, much more expensive than planned,” a naval source said. “At the end of the day, we had no choice but to face that fact that, for us, it was unaffordable.”

Surprisingly, Israel also turned down a 2,300 ton Sa’ar 5.5/5B option from original Eilat class builder Northrop Grumman, owing to expected costs of about $450 million. Instead, Israel is reportedly looking at expanding cooperation with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), whose HDW subsidiary builds Israel’s Dolphin subs. The idea is to build an advanced, stretched version of Blohm + Voss’ 2,200 ton MEKO A-100 corvette. The ship would add Mk 41 VLS cells, IAI’s Elta’s EL/M-2248 MF-STAR “Adir” active array radar, and other Israeli equipment. The Israelis reportedly believe they would be able to field such a capable ship for around $300 million, and that they can build it locally as a joint military/economic stimulus project. One source told Arutz Sheva (INN) that “We believe a strong case can be made for making this into a national project that fosters self sufficiency and provides all the economic benefits that come with creating a military shipbuilding industry.”

TKMS would be the main design partner, IAI looks set to step into the role of overall systems integrator, and the likely shipbuilder would be Israel Shipyards in Haifa. Israel Shipyards have mostly focused on much smaller fast attack boats, but were also responsible for local integration of the Sa’ar 5 corvettes.

This version of Israel’s next-generation ship project will face 2 main challenges. One is a technical/ engineering challenge. The other is financial.

As one source told the Jerusalem Post: “The challenge will be to make a relatively small ship large enough to carry everything we need, including the radar system.” Given that the systems Israel wants usually equip 4,000+ ton ships, that challenge should not be minimized. TKMS’ Meko 200, in service with the Turkish and South African navies, does offer a 3,850 ton option, and the Israeli Navy is reportedly preparing to issue a design contract to IAI and TKMS subsidiary Blohm+Voss, in order to sort out their technical options.

The financial challenge will be equally formidable. Both LCS-I and a Sa’ar 5.5 design could be purchased with American military aid dollars, which must be spent in America. Those agreements have provisions that allow up to 26% of that aid to be spent in Israel, but those funds are already committed to projects like an extended-range Barak anti-aircraft missile, IAI Elta’s MF-STAR active array radar, and other priority projects. There are 2 possible workarounds for this, and they are not mutually exclusive. One involves financing from other ministries beyond defense, as an industrial project that would provide employment, expand Israeli shipbuilding capabilities, and might even create an exportable platform if the right agreement is struck with TKMS. The second workaround involves using American aid dollars to cover some elements, like steel, American production of the Meko’s MTU1168 diesel engine by General Dynamics, etc., in order to reduce the hard currency price. That would help the project get approved, but it comes with a cost of its own – it would force the Israelis to labor under America’s cumbersome ITAR export approval laws whenever they or TKMS wished to sell the design abroad.

If those conundrums cannot be resolved at an acceptable cost, a 3rd option may exist. Defense News adds that Israel might have driven down the Sa’ar 5.5’s price by $100 million if it had paid for a contract design/detail design process, and that option may return depending on how efforts with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems progress:

“When Northrop Grumman makes a fixed-price offer, it’s the result of an organized and serious process that allows the company to honor all of its commitments,” a company representative said. “Without conducting a contract design – which eliminates most of the uncertainties that drive up price – NG couldn’t offer the unit costs we all believed we could have delivered to the Israel Navy.”

Sources: Arutz Sheva | Jerusalem Post | Defense News | Jane’s.

LCS-I out; No NGC Sa’ar 5B either

Feb 12/09: Industrial. The director of naval procurement at the Israeli Ministry of Defence’s purchasing mission in New York informs U.S. parties that a change in plans toward a different class of locally-built ships may be in the cards:

“In the event this option turns out to be more suitable both in terms of our operational and budgetary requirements, the [multimission ships] will be built in Israel.”

Source: Defense News June 2009 report.

Feb 1/09: LCS-I. The Jerusalem Post reports that OC Navy Adm. Elazar Marom has dispatched a number of officers to the United States to sail on Lockheed Martin’s Freedom [LCS 1] and test its capabilities. The report adds:

“In addition to reviewing the LCS – whose price has soared over the past year and now reportedly reaches $500 million – the navy is also considering downgrading its procurement plans and purchasing more Sa’ar 5-class missile ships… “There are a number of possibilities and they are under review,” one source said. “There are other possibilities such as more Sa’ar 5s, an upgraded Sa’ar 5 that would be called Sa’ar 5.5, or to wait for the LCS’s price to go down.”

January 2009: Tamar. Noble Energy announces that exploratory drilling has found an offshore gas field about 80 km west of Haifa, in 1,700m / 5,600 ft. of water. The field is called Tamar.

Eventual estimates for the area are a bit of a shock to the traditionally resource-poor Israelis: 200 billion cubic meters / 7.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Giant offshore gas find

2006 – 2008

From studies to a formal LCS-I request. (click to view full)

July 15/08: LCS-I. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Israel’s official request for up to 4 Littoral Combat Ships (LCS-I variant), including the hull, and all mechanical and electrical functions. The ships will also include design and integration services, hardware and software, spare and repair parts, test and tool sets, personnel training and equipment, publications, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics personnel services, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $1.9 billion.

Each ship will be equipped with:

  • 2 MK-41 Vertical Launch Systems, with 8 launch cells for each system. This would allow the ship to hold and fire up to 16 SM-2/3 air defense missiles, or up to 64 RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles.
  • 1 Enhanced Harpoon Launching System with missile launchers. Harpoon is an anti-ship missile, but the latest versions can also be used to hit land targets.
  • 1 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System, Block 1A. This is surprising, as Block 1B adds important capabilities against the small boats that remain a concern for Israel. Israel is likely to bolt on other gun systems like RAFAEL’s Typhoon in order to cover that threat, but Israeli systems do not need to be specified in the DSCA announcement.
  • 2 MK-32 triple-launcher Surface Vessel Torpedo Tubes, which handle lightweight torpedoes and launch them from on deck using pressurized air.
  • Communications and Sensors, including Link 16.
  • The same COMBATSS-21 Combat system used in American LCS designs.
  • The smaller AN/SPY-1F (V) AEGIS radar, which is also used on Norway’s Nansen Class frigates. SPY-1F radars lack ballistic missile defense capabilities, but could be networked with other radars like Israel’s “Green Pine.”
  • A MK-99 Fire Control System; or the Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS) now being installed on American Carriers, LHA/LHD ships, San Antonio Class LPDs, etc.

The principal contractors will be:

  • Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ and Eagan, MN (LCS-I, SPY-1F radar, COMBATSS-21, Mk-41)
  • General Dynamics Armament Systems in Burlington, VT (AEGIS illuminator, 20mm gun for Phalanx)
  • Raytheon Company, Equipment Division in Andover, MA and Integrated Defense Systems in Waltham, MA (Phalanx, SSDS)

The DSCA announcement says that the Israeli Navy will have no difficulty integrating these ships into its Naval forces, adding that this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the Israel.

LCS-I DSCA request

Feb 6/08: LCS-I. The Jerusalem Post:

“Looking to upgrade its sea-based capabilities, the Israel Navy has submitted a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the United States Navy for a new missile ship currently under development by Lockheed Martin Corp. The Defense Ministry said that the navy expects to receive a reply by April.”

The report added a final caveat, but it doesn’t mean as much as it seems when set against a detailed ship design study, and accompanying industrial arrangements for an extensive array of Israeli equipment on board. That prior work and set of partnerships creates a strong pull toward the Team Lockheed design – one that will not be lightly broken:

“While the navy has filed the RFP, defense officials said it was still not certain whether Israel would purchase the LCS from Lockheed Martin. As part of its multi-year plan finalized in September, the IDF decided to purchase two new ships, but did not state from which company.”

September 2007: LCS-I. NAVSEA asks Lockheed Martin to conduct a 9-month, $2.5 million study of combat system integration for an Israeli LCS-I configuration.

Systems that must be compatible with the combat system reportedly include Lockheed’s AEGIS SPY-1F radar and the Israeli Elta EL/M-2248 Adir radar, RAFAEL’s Typhoon remotely-operated gun/missile systems, Raytheon’s Standard SM-2 surface-to-air missile, and Israel Aerospace Industries’ Barak 1 and 8 anti-air missile systems. A Nov 12/07 Lockheed Martin release adds that:

“During the nine-month combat system configuration phase, Lockheed Martin will examine the combat system performance of LCS-I using two different radar options: the advanced radar under development by Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Lockheed Martin’s SPY-1F radar. The team will examine the performance of these two radar options using the COMBATSS-21 combat management system integrated with the Israeli Navy Command and Control (IC2) system and develop the technical architecture, high level specifications and estimated costs to integrate COMBATSS-21 with IC2 and multiple Israeli and U.S. sensor and weapon systems including the MK 41 Vertical Launch System (VLS)… Lockheed Martin is currently partnered with Rafael Armament Systems, Elbit Systems and Ness on LCS-I.”

Combat system study

April 10/06: LCS-I. Lockheed Martin announces a $5.2 million NAVSEA study studied Team Lockheed’s LCS hull, mechanical, and engineering systems’ ability to accommodate the systems and weapons the Israelis want, while avoiding the need for major redesign of the USA’s basic configuration.

The final answer was that it could, with some obvious modifications to accommodate better radars and vertical launch systems for missiles.

Freedom Class LCS study

Additional Readings & Sources Background: Israeli Sa’ar Vessels

Background: Other Ships

Background: Ship Systems

News and Views

Categories: News

South Korea Launches KF-16 Fighter Fleet Upgrades

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 18:16
ROKAF KF-16
(click to view full)

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

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

Korea’s KF-16 Radar The Benefits of AESA Technology NGC’s SABR
click for video

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raytheon’s Speed RACR RACR
click for video

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

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

APG-79 LRM removal
(click to view full)

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

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

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

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

AESA After-Effects T-50, 3-view
(click to view full)

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

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

Contracts and Key Events 2013 – 2014

Korea picks Raytheon’s RACR as their KF-16 AESA radar, Taurus’ KEPD 350 as their long-range cruise missile; Is the BAE deal in trouble? RACR retrofit
(click to view full)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Phase 1 contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSCA: Phase 1 upgrade planning

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

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

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

BAE picked, RACR AESA for KF-16s

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

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

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

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

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

Cruise missile picked: Taurus’ KEPD 350

2011 – 2012

BAE picked for overall KF-16 upgrade; JDAM capability added; South Korea looking for long-range cruise missiles; AESA radar competition. KF-16D, armed
(click to view larger)

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

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

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

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

BAE picked for deep upgrade

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

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

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

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

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

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

AESA upgrade RFP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2009 – 2010

Peace Bridge I F-16C/D Block 32s to be upgraded; KF-X delays make F-16C/D Block 52 upgrades more attractive. ROKAF F-16C, CBU-97s
(click to view full)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

F-16: AMRAAM launch
(click to view full)

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

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

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

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

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

Weapon upgrade request

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

Appendix A: The Long Road to AESA EL/M-2032
(click to view full)

In 2013, South Korea picked their AESA radar. The challenge has been getting to this point.

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Readings

Other

Categories: News

India Ordering, Modernizing SU-30MKIs

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 16:39
Indra Dhanush 2007
(click to view full)

India’s SU-30MKI fighter-bombers are the pride of its fleet. Below them, India’s local Tejas LCA lightweight fighter program aims to fill its low-end fighter needs, and the $10+ billion M-MRCA competition is negotiating to buy France’s Rafale as an intermediate tier.

India isn’t neglecting its high end SU-30s, though. Initial SU-30MK and MKI aircraft have all been upgraded to the full SU-30MKI Phase 3 standard, and the upgraded “Super 30″ standard aims to keep Sukhoi’s planes on top. Meanwhile, production continues, and India is becoming a regional resource for SU-27/30 Flanker family support.

India’s Flanker Fleet SU-30MKs & Mirage 2000s
(click to view full)

India originally received standard SU-30MKs, while its government and industry worked with the Russians to develop the more advanced SU-30MKI, complete with innovations like thrust-vectoring engines and canard foreplanes. The Su-30MKI ended up using electronic systems from a variety of countries: a Russian NIIP N-011 radar and long-range IRST sensor, French navigation and heads-up display systems from Thales, Israeli electronic warfare systems and LITENING advanced targeting pods, and Indian computers and ancillary avionics systems.

Earlier-model SU-30MK aircraft and crews performed very well at an American Red Flag exercise in 2008, and the RAF’s evident respect for the SU-30 MKIs in the 2007 Indra Dhanush exercise is equally instructive. The Russians were intrigued enough to turn a version with different electronics into their new export standard (SU-30MKA/MKM), and even the Russian VVS has begin buying “SU-30SM” fighters.

So far, India has ordered 272 SU-30s in 4 stages:

1. 50 SU-30MK and MKIs ordered directly from Russia in 1996. The SU-30MKs were reportedly modernized to a basic SU-30MKI standard.
2. Another 40 SU-30MKIs, ordered direct in 2007. These machines have reportedly been upgraded to the “Phase 3″ standard.
3. A license-build deal with India’s HAL that aims to produce up to 140 more SU-30MKI Phase 3 planes from 2013-2017
4. An improved set of 42 HAL-built SU-30MKI “Super 30s”. A preliminary order was reportedly signed in 2011, but the final deal waited until December 2012.

The Super 30 represents the next evolution for the SU-30MKI. Upgrades are reported to include a new radar (probably AESA, and likely Phazotron’s Zhuk-AE), improved onboard computers, upgraded electronic warfare systems, and the ability to fire the air-launched version of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

India may eventually upgrade its earlier models to this standard. For now, they represent the tail end of HAL’s assembly schedule, as the assembly of standard SU-30MKIs continues. The big challenge for HAL is to keep that expansion going, by meeting India’s production targets.

The overall goal is 13-14 squadrons by 2017. Based on 3rd party sources, IAF SU-30MKI squadrons currently comprise:

  • 2 Wing’s 20 Sqn. “Lightnings” & 30 Sqn. “Rhinos”, at Lohegaon AFS in Pune (W)
  • 11 Wing’s 2 Sqn. “Winged Arrows”, at Tezpur AFS in Assam (NE, near Tibet)
  • 15 Wing’s 8 Sqn. “Eight Pursuits” & 24 Sqn. “Hawks”, at Bareilly AFS in Uttar Pradesh (NC, near W Nepal)
  • 14 Wing’s 102 Sqn. “Trisonics”, at Guwahati/Chabua AFS in Assam (NE, near Tibet)
  • 27 Wing’s 15 Sqn. “Flying Lancers”, at Bhuj AFS in Gurajat (NW)
  • 34 Wing’s 31 Sqn. “Lions” & 220 Sqn. “Desert Tigers”, at Halwara AFS in Punjab (NW)
  • 45 Wing’s 21 Sqn. “Ankush”, at Sirsa AFS in Haryana (NW)

Initial SU-30 MKI squadron deployments had been focused near the Chinese border, but the new deployments are evening things out. There have also been reports of basings in other locations, though the number of active squadrons suggest that these are yet to come:

  • Bhatinda AFS in Punjab (NW, currently 34 Wing’s 17 Sqn. “Golden Arrows” MiG-21s)
  • Jodhpur AFS in Rajasthan (NW, currently 32 Wing’s MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons)
  • Thanjavur AFS in Tamil Nadu (SE) needs to finish building out, but is expected to permanently house SU-30MKIs by 2018. Its SU-30MKIs will offer India comfortable strike coverage of Sri Lanka, including the major southern port of Hambantota that’s being built with a great deal of Chinese help.

Contracts & Key Events 2013 – 2014

IAF SU-30MKI

Oct 14/14: Crash. An IAF SU-30MKI crashes about 20 km from Pune airbase. Wing Commander Sidharth Vishwas Munje survived the type’s first crash in Indian service as a co-pilot, which was also a dangerous low-altitude ejection. The pilots apparently did quite a job, as Shiv Aroor reports:

“They grappled to control a doomed fighter and eject only after ensuring it would glide into a sugarcane field, away from a built-up area that may have been the site of impact had the pilots chosen to eject earlier…. The IAF is still piecing together the full sequence of events, though it appears clear at this time that Munje and his junior had mere seconds to take a decision after lift-off.”

Both escaped safely. So far, the flight data recorder isn’t indicating engine problems, or pilot error, which is fixing suspicion on the fly-by-wire system. The Court of Inquiry has just begun its investigation, but this wouldn’t be the 1st time FBW has been an issue (q.v. Aug 5/12). At this point, however, it’s all conjecture. Sources: India PIB, “IAF SU30 Crashed” | Livefist, “Twice Lucky: Pilot In Yesterday’s Su-30 Crash Also Survived 1st MKI Crash In 2009″ and “Flanker Trouble: Did Fly-By-Wire Glitch Crash IAF Su-30?” | Bangalore Mirror, “No engine failure, pilot error in Sukhoi crash” | Deccan Chronicle, “Cause of Sukhoi-30 crash unclear”.

Aug 4/14: Engine issues. NPO Saturn has proposed a set of modifications designed to reduce mid-flight AL-31FP engine failures (q.v. July 20/14), and the IAF has accepted it. The modified engines will be tested first, then the refit of India’s 200 plane fleet will be carried out in batches over the next 18-24 months at HAL’s Sukhoi engine plant in Orissa. The Russians will reportedly include modified engines in India’s remaining 72 kits. Sources: Tribune News Service, “Engine rejig to cut Su-30 burnouts”.

July 20/14: Engine issues. Reports indicate that the IAF fleet’s problems aren’t limited to mission computers and displays (q.v. March 15/14). It also has a problem with engine failures in flight. Fortunately, as a 2-engine fighter, it can generally land on 1 engine, and the accident rate is low. The flip side is that this isn’t something you want to happen in a dogfight. Worse, every time this happens, the engine has to be taken out, tested, fixed, and put back. That takes a minimum of 4-5 days, which cuts readiness rates.

“The IAF has so far not arrived at a conclusion of its findings, but as a precautionary step, it has started servicing the engine after 700 hours instead of the mandated 1,000 hours of flying, adding to the non-availability of the aircraft…. The IAF had told Russians after studying each failure in detail that Sukhoi’s engines – AL-31FP produced by NPO Saturn of Russia – had been functioning inconsistently for the past two years (2012 and 2013). The number of single-engine landings by planes in two years is high and not healthy. It lowers the operational ability of the fleet, besides raising questions about war readiness, said sources.”

sources: Tribune News Service, “Su-30MKI engine failures worry IAF; Russia told to fix snag”.

June 16/14: Display fix. HAL chairman R K Tyagi discusses the issue of SU-30MKI display blanking and mission computer failure (q.v. March 15/14):

“The issue has been addressed by upgrading the software by the Russian side and replacing the mission computer and HUD wherever it was found unservicable during service checks [in India].” He further said that following the software upgrade and other service action taken, no problems concerning the Su-30 fighters has been reported from any IAF base.”

Sources: Defense World, “Software Upgrade Solves IAF Su-30MKI’s Display Problem”.

May 5/14: Astra AAM. An SU-30MKI successfully test-fires an Indian Astra BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile), marking the next stage beyond the avionics integration and seeker tests that went on from November 2013 – February 2014. The firing marks a significant milestone for India.

The SU-30MKI will be the 1st fighter integrated with India’s new missile, giving its pilots an indigenous option alongside Russia’s R77 / AA-12 missiles. It will also be integrated with India’s LCA Tejas light fighter, alongside RAFAEL’s Derby. Sources: The Hindu, “Astra successfully test-fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI”.

April 22/14: Waste. India’s Business Standard discusses HAL’s planned schedule, and explains some of the difficult aspects of their contract with Russia. Deliveries currently sit at 15 per year, but completion of the program will be late. Final delivery is now scheduled for 2019, instead of 2016-17.

The second issue is price, which began at $30 million but rose to $75 million each, even though most work is being done in a lower-cost country now. The key is the contract, which mandates that all raw materials must be sourced from Russia. Of the SU-30MKI’s roughly 43,000 components, there are 5,800 large metal plates, castings and forgings that must come from Russia. Another 7,146 bolts, screws, rivets, etc. have similar stipulations, and Russia also produces major assemblies like the radar and engines. Those plates, castings, and forgings are a source of considerable waste:

“For example, a 486 kg titanium bar supplied by Russia is whittled down to a 15.9 kg tail component. The titanium shaved off is wasted. Similarly a wing bracket that weighs just 3.1 kg has to be fashioned from a titanium forging that weighs 27 kg…. manufacturing sophisticated raw materials like titanium extrusions in India is not economically viable for the tiny quantities needed for Su-30MKI fighters.”

An assembly line that wasn’t state-owned wouldn’t be wasting all that left-over titanium. Sources: India’s Business Standard, “Air Force likely to get entire Sukhoi-30MKI fleet by 2019″.

March 29/14: MAFI. India’s Business Standard discusses India’s INR 25 billion “Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure” (MAFI) project, which is being led by Tata Power’s strategic electronics division. It uses Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-directional Radio Range (DVOR), and Category II Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), allowing direction from 300 km and operations in visibility as low as 300 meters.

Bhatinda is MAFI’s pilot project, and a SU-30MKI was used to test the system on March 25/14. The challenge is that they can only upgrade 5-6 bases at any given time. The eventual goal is 30 IAF and navy bases set up by 2016, including 8 along the Chinese border. By the end of 2019, the goal is to expand MAFI to 67 air bases, including 2 owned by the ministry of home affairs. The larger goal is greater tactical flexibility for all fleets, and the SU-30s will be a major beneficiary. Sources: India’s Business Standard, “First upgraded IAF base commissioned”.

March 15/14: Readiness. India’s Sunday Guardian obtains letters and other documents sent by HAL to its Russian counterparts, pointing to serious maintenance problems with India’s SU-30MKI fleet. Compared with India’s older Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 fleets, whose readiness rates hover near 75%, fully 50% of the SU-30MKIs are considered unfit for operational flying. That’s a strategic-class issue for a country like India, and could provide the missing explanation for reports that India may abandon the joint FGFA/SU-50 5th generation fighter program in order to pay for French Rafale jets.

This isn’t the first time such issues have arisen (q.v. Dec 16/11), and the Russians have general reputation for these kinds of problems. One February 2014 letter from HAL’s Nasik plant reminds the Russians that they’ve been pursuing a critical issue since March 2013, with no reply:

“…multiple cases of repeated failure of Mission Computer-1 and blanking out of Head Up Displays (HUD) and all Multi-Function Displays (MFD) in flight… As the displays blanking off is a serious and critical issue affecting the exploitation of aircraft (it) needs corrective action/remedial measures on priority…”

From a Dec 24/13 letter:

“Due to non-availability of facilities for overhaul of aggregates [aircraft parts], the serviceability of Su-30MKI is slowly decreasing and demand for Aircraft on Ground (AOG) items on the rise…. Huge quantities of unserviceable aggregates [parts] are lying due for overhaul at various bases of IAF…. It appears that Rosboronexport and Irkut Corporation have limited control over other Russian companies [which provide vital parts like engines].”

One reason the MiG-29 fleet is doing better is that India has worked to build infrastructure like local RD-33 engine plants, bypassing the Russians entirely. Russian firms were supposed to set up a SU-30MKI repair-overhaul facility at HAL by December 2013, but that has fallen into a black hole, and so has the posting of aircraft specialists. India itself is often at fault in these scenarios, and indeed they’re reportedly haggling over price – but the specialist support contract reportedly states that they’re to be posted even if price negotiations aren’t finalized. India’s core defense posture demands that they resolve these issues, one way or another. Sources: India’s Sunday Guardian, “Russians go slow, Sukhoi fleet in trouble”.

Serious maintenance & readiness issues

BrahMos brefing

Jan 4/14: Russia and India Report looks at the way the SU-30MKI is changing the IAF’s strategy, citing the huge April 2013 IAF exercise based on “swing forces” in a 2-front war against China and Pakistan. The SU-30MKIs range made them the natural swing force, flying 1,800 km bombing missions with mid-air refuelling. The report also makes an interesting observation:

“There is another ominous angle. India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has asked for 40 nuclear capable strike aircraft to be used conjointly with land-based and submarine launched ballistic missiles. Although it’s not clear whether the IAF or the SFC will operate this mini air force, what is clear is that exactly 40 Su-30 MKIs have been converted to carry the BrahMos. That’s some coincidence.”

Sources: Russia & India Report, “How the Su-30 MKI is changing the IAF’s combat strategy”.

July 11/13: Weapons. Russian BrahMos Aerospace Executive Director Alexander Maksichev promises that 1st test-launch of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from an Indian Su-30MKI will be scheduled in 2014. Integration is underway, and 2 SU-30MKIs are being adapted for the missile. Sources: Russia & India Report, “First test-launch of BrahMos missile from Indian Su-30MKI in 2014″.

May 27/13: Infrastructure. The IAF has finished modernizing the old WWI vintage airbase near Thanjavur in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, across the strait from Sri Lanka. A pair of SU-30MKIs took off from the runway as part of the ceremonies, and the base is eventually slated to house a full squadron of the type. The airfield last served as a civil airport in the 1990s, and renovations began in 2006.

Thanjavur was used as an emergency airstrip during flood relief in 2008, but the dedication marks its inauguration as a base for high-performance fighters, which will reportedly include a squadron of SU-30MKIs. They will offer India comfortable strike coverage of Sri Lanka, including the major southern port of Hambantota that’s being built with a great deal of Chinese help. While the runway and other facilities are in place for “lily pad” deployments, Thanjavur AFS still needs flight hangers, avionic bays, labs, fuel dumps and other infrastructure before it will be ready to host SU-30MKI fighters on a permanent basis.
Sources: India MoD, “Antony Dedicates to Nation New Air Force Station at Thanjavur” | Defence News India, “Sukhoi-30MKI’s to dominate South India and Indian Ocean” | The Hindu, “Full-fledged IAF airbase at Thanjavur from May 27″.

2011 – 2012

SU-30MKI
(click to view full)

Dec 24/12: Super-30s contract. Russia signs over $4 billion worth of defense contracts with India, including the deal for 42 “Super 30″ upgraded SU-30MKIs. Key Super 30 upgrades are reported to include a new radar (probably AESA, and likely Phazotron’s Zhuk-AE), improved onboard computers, upgraded electronic warfare systems, and the ability to fire the air-launched version of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

Russian sources place the Super 30 deal at $1.6 billion, which is significantly below previous figures. The Hindustan Times places its value at Rs 16,666 crore instead, which is about $3.023 billion at current conversions. The Times’ figure is in line with previous estimates, and is the one DID will use. The planes will arrive at HAL as assembly kits, and will be added to HAL’s production backlog. So far, the company says that they have assembled and delivered 119 SU-30MKIs to the IAF.

Other major agreements signed at the 2012 summit include a buy of 59 more Mi-17 helicopters, and a memorandum of cooperation regarding Russia’s GPS-like GLONASS system. India has indicated that it isn’t looking to add to its Flanker fleet after this deal, but they may choose to modernize older aircraft to this standard. That would keep Russian firms busy for quite some time. Indian Ministry of External Affairs | Hindustan Times | Times of India | RIA Novosti || Pakistan’s DAWN | Turkey’s Hurriyet |
Wall St. Journal.

“Super 30″ contract?

Nov 23/12: More upgrades? Indian media report that India and Russia may be set to sign a $1 billion deal to upgrade the basic avionics of its existing SU-30MKIs, alongside the $3.8 billion “Super 30″ deal. The big deadline date is just before Christmas, when Russia’s Vladimir Putin arrives in India for high-level talks.

The report mentions a SU-30MKI squadron in Jodhpur, near Pakistan, but all other sources offer the same total of 8 current and near-term squadrons without listing this as a Flanker base. 32 Wing’s 32 Sqn. “Thunderbirds”, who are currently listed as a MiG-21bis unit, would be the most likely conversion candidates in Jodhpur. Russia & India Report.

Oct 17/12: Indonesia. During his visit to Jakarta, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony agrees to train and support the Indonesian Air Force’s Flanker fleet. India flies a large fleet of SU-30MKIs, and is conducting manufacturing and final assembly work in India at HAL. They’ve already leveraged that base to provide similar support to Malaysia’s fleet of SU-30MKM fighters, though there are some items like engines that still need to be handled by Russia.

Note that this isn’t a contract just yet. Indonesia needs to firm up its requirements, and a India high-level Indian Air Force team will be sent to finalize the training and spares support package. The move will have an importance that goes far beyond its dollar value, as it’s part of a wider set of enhanced defense cooperation agreements the 2 countries are reportedly pursuing. Indonesia isn’t looking to antagonize China, but China’s aggressive claims in the South China Sea are comparing poorly with India’s support for freedom of navigation, and for multilateral resolution of these disputes under international law. The result is an important Indonesian tilt toward more cooperation with India, which fits very well with India’s own strategic priorities. India MoD | Indian Express | The Jakarta Globe.

Oct 5/12: Infrastructure. Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne offers a window into planned Su-30 deployments:

Code-named Flying Lancers, the process to set up a new 15 Squadron in Punjab would be started in December and become operational by the middle of next year, he said.

“By the end of this year, in December and early next year, we will be inducting a new Su-30 squadron, based in Punjab. That will be the 10th squadron of Su-30s… Two extra squadrons are being raised in the eastern sector…. One more squadron will be based in Punjab and one will be in Thanjavur. Therefore, we will eventually have 13 to 14 squadrons of Sukhois,”

Sources: Hindustan Times, “IAF to modernise, raise four more Su-30MKI squadrons”.

Aug 8/12: Infrastructure. An Indian government response to a Parliamentary question shows that the Thanjavur base is behind schedule:

“Audit Para 2.7 (Inordinate delay in development of Air Bases) of Comptroller and Auditor General Report No. 16 of 2010-11 (Air Force and Navy) had made observations regarding delay in the establishment and activation of air bases at Phalodi and Thanjavur. The delay was due to various factors including change in plans necessitated due to operational requirements of the Indian Air Force, paucity of resources as well as changes in the geopolitical situation.”

Aug 5/12: Air chief NAK Browne confirms that the IAF has identified a “design flaw” with the SU-30 MKI’s Fly-By-Wire system. He says that the planes are still fit to fly, but more checks are being implemented within the fleet, and India has taken the issue up “with the designing agency.”

The implicit but unstated corollary is that the IAF’s fighters will have corresponding flight restrictions and/or changed procedures until the problem is fixed, in order to avoid another crash. Hindustan Times.

March 23/12: Russian order. Russia’s own VVS moves to buy 30 SU-30SM fighters, for delivery by 2015. These planes are a version of the canard-winged, thrust-vectoring SU-30MKI/M variant that was developed for India, and has since been exported to Algeria and Malaysia. Which raises the question: why didn’t Russia buy 30 more SU-35S fighters? A RIA Novosti article offers one explanation:

“Irkut has been churning out these planes for 10 years thanks to its completely streamlined production method. This means that its products are of high quality, relatively cheap… and will be supplied on time.

It is one thing if, in order to make 30 aircraft, you have to breathe life into an idling plant, to fine-tune (or develop anew) your technological method, buy additional equipment, and – still worse – hire personnel. But it’s quite another if you have been manufacturing standardized aircraft for years and years and can easily divert your workforce to produce an “improved” modification for your own country’s Air Force… This approach (buying quickly and on the cheap what can be produced immediately) has been growing in popularity in the Russian military.”

The systems inside will differ, but overall, this is very good news for India. Similar designs have been exported to Malaysia and Algeria, but Russia’s order locks in loyalty within the equipment manufacturer’s home country. Other Russian orders follow, but we won’t be covering them here.

Russia buys

Dec 20/11: Super-30s. Russia has reportedly signed a preliminary deal with India to sell 42 upgraded Su-30MKI “Super 30″ fighters, to be added to HAL’s license production backlog. That brings total Indian SU-30 orders to 272. Price was not reported, but Parliamentary transcripts place the budget for this buy at around $2.4 billion.

The Super 30 deal is 1 of 5 trade & defense deals signed in Moscow during the summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. A proposed nuclear plant deal was not among them. Assam Tribune | Deccan Herald | AP.

Dec 20/11: Cleared for flight. India’s fleet of SU-30MKIs resumes flying, after being informally grounded in the wake of the Pune crash. As for that crash, Daily Pioneer reports that:

“There was a problem in the fly-by-wire system… This is a new thing. Pilot did not get any warning. There were no indications in the cockpit and the aircraft was out of control,” the IAF chief told PTI here. He said the pilot “tried his best to control the aircraft for 15-20 minutes” before ejecting out along with the Weapon Systems Operator (WSO)…”

Dec 16/11: Readiness. The Hindustan Times reports that perennial problems with Russian spares & reliability have become an urgent issue for the SU-30MKI fleet now:

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to red-flag [SU-30] serviceability, product support and pending upgrade… at the annual [Russian] summit meeting… Top government sources said that Air Headquarters has urgently requested the Prime Minister to raise the issue of engine serviceability with his Russian counterpart after few incidents of engine failures… the top brass has conveyed to government that “shaft bearing failures” have occurred in some [AL-31FP] engines. “In peacetime, the fighter can land on the other engine but this can be a life and death situation in adverse conditions, said a senior official.”

Dec 13-15/11: An SU-30MKI crashes 25 minutes after takeoff, in the flying area of the Lohegaon IAF base, in Pune. Both pilots ejected safely. This is the IAF’s 3rd SU-30MKI crash; the 1st crash in 2009 was due to a fly-by-wire fault, and the 2nd also happened in 2009 when foreign matter was sucked into the plane’s engine.

In response, A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered to look into the reasons behind the crash. India also grounds its SU-30MKI fleet, pending maintenance inspections and some idea of what caused this crash. Rediff | Economic Times of India | IBN Live | Indian Express | Hindustan Times

Crash & grounding

Nov 23/11: Industrial. Minister of State for Defence Shri MM PallamRaju is grilled about SU-30 deliveries by Parliamentarians in Rajya Sabha, and explains both the project history, and HAL’s manufacturing responses. So far, he says that “Out of the total 180 aircraft”, India has received 99 SU-30MKIs “till 2010-11″.

That delivery total and date is very ambiguous. It implies orders with HAL for 180 planes, which would entail a 2nd contract for another 40-42 fighters (vid. Aug 9/10 entry). Earlier reports re: HAL deliveries (vid. June 26/10 entry) pegged them at 74 planes from HAL, and the Russian deliveries are expected to wrap up in 2012; 99 total planes from both sources would fit that model, if the answer is read as “99 by the beginning of the 2010-11 fiscal period.” With expected 2010 production of 28 HAL SU-30MKIs, however, a read of “99 of 180 SU-30MKIs delivered as of November 2011″ only makes sense if all the planes he’s referring to are from HAL. HAL’s responses to production delays are said to include:

  • Commissioning of additional tooling jigs & fixtures in manufacturing and assembly Shops.
  • Increased Outsourcing.
  • Development of alternate vendors.
  • Improvements in manufacturing processes & Operations in order to reduce cycle time.
  • Effective monitoring and timely actions through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
  • Recruitment/Redeployment of manpower in critical work Centers.

Oct 11/11: AESA. India is reportedly looking at fitting its Su-30MKIs with Phazotron’s Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, instead of their present Tikhomrov N011M Bars passive mechanically scanned array radars. The switch would improve reliability, radar power, and performance, but the new radars would have to be tied into the combat system, tested for aerodynamic balance and other changes they might create, etc.

The X-band Zhuk-AE can reportedly track 30 aerial targets in the track-while-scan mode, and engage 6 targets simultaneously in attack mode. Aviation Week.

Aug 29/11: Super 30. Russia and India have reached agreement on the technical specification of the Super 30 upgrade, including BrahMos missile integration and an AESA radar. The exact nature of that radar is still in question. Reports to date have discussed an enlarged version of the MiG-35’s Phazotron Zhuk-AE, but Tikhomirov’s NIIP could also be chosen, and the firm demonstrated an improved version at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011). AIN.

2009 – 2010

SU-30MKIs
(click to view full)

Aug 18/10: Defence Minister Antony replies to Parliamentary questions about the “Super 30″ upgrade:

“There is proposal to upgrade the SU-30 MKI aircraft of the Indian Air Force by M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with the support of the Russian Original Equipment Manufacturer. The current estimated cost is Rs. 10920 crores and the aircraft are likely to be upgraded in a phased manner from year 2012 onwards.”

Note the word “proposal.” At this point, the estimate in rupees is equivalent to about $2.41 billion.

Aug 9/10: Super 30. Defense minister Antony offers an update re: additional SU-30MKI purchases, in a written Parliamentary reply to Shri Asaduddin Owaisi:

“The Defence Acquisition Council has accepted a proposal for the procurement of 42 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft from M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, India. The proposal is being further progressed for submitting to the Cabinet Committee on Security. The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 20,107.40 crores [DID: about $4.36 billion, or about $104 million per plane] and the aircraft is planned to be delivered during 2014-2018. The proposal is being progressed as a repeat order from M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, India under the Defence Procurement Procedure-2008.”

That’s even higher than the estimates in June 2010, when the story broke (vid. June 26/10 entry). The cost of this deal soon attracts controversy, especially given that a 2007 deal for 40 SU-30MKIs cost only $1.6 billion/ Rs 7,490 crore. That prompts speculation that these will be upgraded “Super 30″ aircraft. DNA India.

July 4/10: Upgrades. India’s Economic times quotes unnamed sources within India’s MoD:

“As part of IAF’s modernisation programme, we are going to upgrade 50 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft with help of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from Russia… The ones to be upgraded are from the first phase [from Russia, before the HAL order, of mixed SU-30MKs and MKIs] and the project is likely to be completed in the next three to four years…”

Details are consistent with earlier “Super 30″ reports. Is there, in fact, a contract to do this work? Not yet.

June 26/10: Super 30. The Times of India reports that India’s Cabinet Committee for Security has cleared a nearly Rs 15,000 crore (about $3.3 billion) order for another 42 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters, for delivery by around 2018:

“The present order for 42 fighters was originally supposed to be 40, but two more were added to the order book to make up for the two crashed fighters. A senior official said that HAL is expected to complete all the SU-30 MKI orders by 2016-17 period… last year it delivered 23 of these fighters, this year it is expected to produce 28. HAL has already supplied 74 of these fighters.”

May 30/10: Super 30. India Today magazine reports that India has placed orders with the Russian defense industry to modernize 40 Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters to “Super 30″ status, with new radars, onboard computers, and electronic warfare systems, and the ability to fire the air-launched version of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. RIA Novosti.

Dec 7/09: Industrial. Defense minister Antony offers an update on the existing program to assemble SU-30MKIs in India:

“In addition to licensed manufacture of 140 SU-30 aircraft by M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a contact for procurement of additional 40 SU-30 MKI was signed with M/s HAL in 2007. Out of these three aircraft have been delivered to the Indian Air Force and delivery of the remaining aircraft is expected to be completed by 2011-12″

Nov 30/09: A SU-30MKI crashes near the firing range at Pokharan, triggering a fleet-wide grounding and investigation. Both pilots eject safely, and initial suspicion focuses on the plane’s engine. MoD announcement | Indian Express re: Grounding | Indian Express.

An SU-30 had also crashed on April 30/09, reportedly due to the failure of its fly-by-wire system. These 2 accidents are the only SU-30 losses India has experienced.

Crash & grounding

Nov 12/09: Sub-contractors. India’s Business Standard reports that the SU-30MKI program is about to include Samtel Display Systems’ multi-function displays; their first delivery will equip 6 Su-30MKIs in lieu of Thales systems manufactured under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in Nashik. Samtel has a joint venture with Thales, and went forward on its own through the 5-year road to “airworthy” certification from DRDO’s CEMILAC. A public-private partnership with HAL has created Samtel HAL Display Systems (SHDS), which may create wider opportunities for Samtel’s lower-priced displays – if both delivery and quality are up to par on the initial SU-30MKI orders.

The article notes that Samtel has succeeded, in part, by embracing obsolete technology that others were abandoning (CRT displays), even as it prepares to leapfrog LCD displays with Organic Light Emitting Diodes. The road to military certification isn’t an easy one, though:

“Starting with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, commercially procured from Japan and Korea, Samtel has ruggedised them for use in military avionics. The display must be easily readable even in bright sunlight; it must be dim enough for the pilot to read at night without losing night vision; it must work at minus 40 degrees Centigrade when conventional LCD screens get frozen solid; and it must absorb the repeated violent impacts of landing on aircraft carriers.”

Oct 9/09: Super 30. The Indian Ministry of Defence issues a release regarding the 9th meeting of the Russia-India Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation on Oct 14-15/09:

“The modernisation of the SU 30 MKI aircraft is also expected to come up for discussion in the Commission’s meeting. The aircraft, contracted in 1996, are due for overhaul shortly and the Russia side have offered an upgrade of the aircraft with incorporation of the latest technologies during the major overhaul.”

Obvious areas for modernization would include the aircraft’s N011M Bars radar, now that Russian AESA designs are beginning to appear. Engine improvements underway for Russia’s SU-35 program would also be a logical candidate for any SU-30MKI upgrades. The most important modification, however, might be an upgraded datalink that could reduce the level of coalition fratricide observed in exercises like Red Flag 2008. Indian MoD | RIA Novosti.

Oct 2/09: +50 more? Jane’s reports that India is looking to buy another 50 SU-30MKIs, quoting Air Chief Marshal P V Naik who said that the IAF was “interested.” This comes hard on the heels of comments that the IAF’s fleet strength was 1/3 the size of China’s, coupled with comments that the IAF would eliminate its fighter squadron deficit by 2022.

Interest is not a purchase, but reported prices of $50-60 million for an aircraft that can can equal or best $110-120 million F-15 variants do make the SU-30 an attractive buy, even relative to options like the foreign designs competing for the MMRCA contract. Forecast International offers an additional possibility, citing the context within which that interest was expressed, and wondering if the new SU-30KIs might be tasked with a nuclear delivery role. Their range and payload would certainly make them uniquely suited to such a role within the IAF.

If a purchase does ensue, it would be good news for a number of players, including Indian firms that have contributed technologies to the SU-30MKI design. Samtel Display Systems (SDS), who makes avionics for the SU-30MKI’s cockpit, would be one example of a growing slate of private Indian defense firms with niche capabilities. Construction firms may also benefit; The Deccan Herald reports that:

“The IAF is keeping one squadron of its most advanced Su-30 MKI fighters in Bareilly whose primary responsibility is the western and middle sector of the LAC. Similarly a Su-30 base is being created in Tezpur, Assam, for the eastern sector [near China].”

See: Jane’s | Russia’s RIA Novosti | Times of India | Associated Press of Pakistan | Pakistan’s Daily Times | Avio News | Forecast International | IAF size comments: Daily Pioneer and Sify News | Frontline Magazine on Indian-Chinese relations.

2000 – 2008

IL-78 refuels SU-30MKIs

March 31/06: Speed-up +40. India’s Cabinet Committee on Security approves the speeded-up delivery plan. The IAF signs revised contracts for 140 previously-ordered SU-30MKIs, to be delivered by 2014-15. A 2007 contract adds another 40 SU-30MKIs, by the same deadline, but those are ordered direct from Russia. Source.

180 SU-30MKIs

June 2005: Speed it up. IAF Headquarters looks at its fleet strength and planned aircraft retirements, and asks HAL if it could deliver all of the SU-30MKIs by 2015 instead. HAL responds with a proposal that they believe will get them to a full-rate assembly flow of 16 planes per year. Source.

Dec 12/04: Irkut Corp. announces that they have begun delivery of final “3rd phase” configuration Su-30MKIs to the Indian Air Force.

Initial deliveries involved aircraft optimized for aerial combat, while Phase 2 added more radar modes for their NIIP N-011 radars, TV-guided Kh-59M missiles, the supersonic Kh-31A/ AS-17 Krypton multi-role missile, and simultaneous attack of 4 aerial targets by guided air-to-air missiles. Phase 3 Su-30MKIs fully implement all navigation and combat modes in the contract, including laser-guided bombs, weapon launch in thrust-vectoring “supermaneuverability” mode, and engagement of up to 4 aerial targets in front or rear. Ramenskoye Design Bureau (RPKB) is responsible for the avionics and software, and also provide the Sapfir maintenance and mission planning ground suite.

SU-30MKI Phase 3 deliveries begin

Oct 6/04: The SU-30MKI’s Saturn AL-31FP engines have their “Certificate of the AL-31FP life-time” signed by the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defence, the Central Aviation Engines Institute (CIAM), NPO Saturn, UMPO, SUKHOI Corporation, and IRKUT Corporation.

The statistics are: MTBO (Mean Time Between Overhauls) 1,000 hours, and 2,000 hours assigned life. The thrust-vectoring nozzles take a beating, though, with only 500 hours MTBO. Irkut Corp.

Engines certified

January 2001: Indian government formally approves the SU-30MKI project, with an expected full-rate assembly flow of 12 planes per year, beginning in 2004-05 and continuing until 2017-18. Source.

Dec 18/2000: India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approves the project to assemble the SU-30MKIs in India. Source.

Oct 4/2000: Russia and India sign an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for transfer of License and Technical Documentation to India, for “production of 140 SU-30 MKI Aircraft, its Engines and Aggregates.” Source.

SU-30MKIs: initial local assembly order

Additional Readings The SU-30 MKI

Related IAF Programs

  • DID – India’s M-MRCA Fighter Competition. Intends to buy 126 aircraft that will be very competitive with SU-30MKI performance, but will cost much more – $18 billion has been mentioned. Dassault’s Rafale is the preferred bidder. Essentially pays more up front to have a SU-30MKI analogue with better electronics, and much better support and readiness.

  • DID – PAK-FA/FGFA/T50: India, Russia Cooperate on 5th-Gen Fighter. Will probably become the SU-50. Early read is F-35 class stealth and F-22 class aerial performance, probably slightly less than its cited peers in both areas. SU-30MKI troubles may be affecting India’s willingness to spend the billions of development and acquisition dollars required.

News & Views

Categories: News

Iraq/Syria: Is ISIS Flying Jets? UK to Deploy Reapers

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 14:58

  • Is ISIL operating jets, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims? There’s a Youtube video purportedly showing a jet landing at an ISIS-controlled base, but USCENTOM says they haven’t seen any evidence.

  • This is a head-scratcher. Iraq floundered against a purged and weakened Iranian military for years, then their generals join ISIS which quickly becomes really competent? From which we may infer the “Saddam performance penalty” levied on Iraq’s Ba’athist military. Meanwhile, the Maliki performance penalty still applies to the Shi’ite region’s regime, and will take some time to undo.

  • The UK is deploying its Reapers to fight ISIL. They can’t bring them home to Britain because of certification issues in civil airspace, so they might as well send them back to Iraq. The Royal Air Force doesn’t say where, but note the mention of an assistance program involving the Kurds.

UK Business

Britain’s Ministry of Defence updated its business plan for small and medium-sized enterprises. At least 7,000 SMEs were direct suppliers to MOD in 2013/14 according to that memo.

US Business

  • The US Air Force Materiel Command is is seeking information from sources that may have the ability to rapidly develop air delivered weapons systems requirements, studies and demonstrations. Here’s their “agile acquisition” presolicitation for large businesses. Agile, up to a point: foreign participation is not authorized.

  • Boeing BDS boss Chris Chadwick was at the CNAS think tank to discuss the DoD’s industry innovation agenda, alongside Michèle Flournoy, Christine Fox and Gen. Charles Wald. Video below:

Categories: News

APKWS II: Laser-Guided Hydra Rockets in Production At Last

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 16:33
Hydras & Hellfires
(click to view full)

The versatile Hydra 70mm rocket family is primed for a new lease on life, thanks to widespread programs aimed at converting these ubiquitous rockets into cheap laser-guided precision weapons. Conversion benefits include cost, use on both helicopters and fighters, more precision weapons per platform, low collateral damage, and the activation of large weapon stockpiles that couldn’t be used under strict rules of engagement.

Firms all over the world have grasped this opportunity, which explains why strong competition has emerged from all points of the compass. America’s “Advanced Precision-Kill Weapon System (APKWS)” is one of those efforts, but the road from obvious premise to working weapon has been slow. After numerous delays and false starts since its inception in 1996, an “APKWS-II” program finally entered System Design and Development (SDD) in 2006. In 2010, it entered low-rate production, and it was fielded to the front lines in 2012. That date will still put APKWS on the cutting edge of battlefield technology, as a leading player in a larger trend toward guided air-to-ground rockets.

The USA’s APKWS Programs BAE/GD APKWS
(click to view full)

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and BAE Systems were all battling for the APKWS program, which could pick up large US and international orders, and remain in production for a long time. BAE Systems’ team won in April 2006, but Lockheed Martin and Raytheon both proceeded with independent efforts to develop their own products. Meanwhile, the Army’s APKWS budget request was “zeroed” out in FY 2008.

Fortunately for BAE and General Dynamics, the US Navy kept them in the game. In November 2008, they formally picked up the APKWS-II System Design & Development (SDD) contract, and kept it going. SDD finished in November 2009, and evaluations wrapped up in January 2010. APKWS-II was approved through Milestone C in April 2010, and initial production orders followed in July 2010. A February 2011 JCTD contract will add APKWS to fixed-wing fighters: the USMC’s AV-8B Harriers, and the USAF’s A-10C Thunderbolt close air support planes. By January 2012, the 1st fixed-wing test firing had added the AT-6C turboprop light attack plane to this list, and showed clear potential for broader fielding. The US military fielded APKWS in March 2012, beginning with US Marine Corps UH-1 utility and AH-1 attack helicopters. The 1st Full Rate Production order was placed at the end of July 2012.

APKWS: Concept and Weapon APKWS
(click to view full)

The BAE and General Dynamics team offered an unusual approach to APKWS-II, in order to solve the problems inherent in launching several guided rockets at once. Instead of adding a guidance unit to the rocket’s nose, where it could be damaged or confused by the flames, corrosive soot, overpressure etc. created by nearby rocket firings, they opted for a mid-body guidance approach. BAE’s Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) uses fiber-optic connections to a set of optical sensors, distributed within the rocket’s pop-out fins.

Since the fins are folded and sealed during firing, their seekers are protected. The technical challenge after that, is making sure that the pop-out fins don’t flex or vibrate a lot in flight. The use of distributed sensors can compensate for some movement, but too much movement would create accuracy problems for the DASALS optical bench.

The entire guidance section screws in between the warhead section and the rocket motor section, and can be added in the field.

Since the seeker is a semi-active laser, rather than a beam-rider, APKWS can be directed by laser sources beyond its launcher, so long as they have the correct laser modulation code. This is a standard approach for laser guided missiles, but some competitors still use beam-riding guidance. Thales low-end LMM missile, for instance, will begin as a beam rider.

APKWS Fixed-Wing is actually a different rocket, because it has to survive and perform through the freezing temperatures of high-altitude flight, as well as the high turbulence produced by high speed aircraft. That means a different guidance control system for the rocket, and a redesigned deployment mechanism for the 7-rocket pod.

APKWS has been qualified for use aboard USMC UH-1Y utility and AH-1 Cobra/Viper attack helicopters, and from Bell’s militarized 407GT scout helicopter. The next targets are the US Navy’s MH-60S utility helicopter (2014) and MH-60R anti-submarine & strike helicopter (2015), using a digital LAU-61G/A 19-rocket pod.

Successful tests have been conducted from an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter, and Australia has tested APKWS from its EC665 Tiger ARH scout/attack helicopter, while using a different 70mm rocket: Forges de Zeebrugge’s FZ90. No modifications were required, and that combination could be in service by 2015.

On the fixed-wing front, successful APKWS-FW tests have been conducted from AT-6 turboprops, and from A-10C Thunderbolt II, AV-8B Harrier II, and F-16 jets.

Why APKWS? Combat Advantages Click for video

A 70mm rocket’s size and warhead are good enough for most military targets, offering both reduced collateral damage compared to larger missiles, and greater warhead flexibility. Precision rockets can carry infantry-killing flechettes, dispersed bomblets, small unitary warheads, and more. Adding thermobaric warheads creates a system that can kill personnel, destroy most armored personnel carriers and lighter vehicles; and even collapse buildings, if the Marines’ SMAW experiences in Fallujah are any indication. All without incurring the high-end price of full anti-armor missiles like the TOW RF, Hellfire, etc.

Using 70mm rockets also benefits the platforms carrying them to the battlefield. Laser-guided rockets would expand the range of aircraft, helicopters, and UAVs carrying precision weapons, as well as increasing the number of precision weapons each platform carries. The future of warfare may even see small rocket pods mounted on some ground vehicles, if recent experiments with Boeing’s Humvee-mounted Avenger system are any indication. That would conserve valuable missile rounds by eliminating easy targets like UAVs, provide a second type of guidance threat against incoming helicopters and aircraft, and create the option of using the system in ground combat against infantry positions or vehicles.

Each of those changes, individually, is a significant increase in combat power. All of those changes together would make US Army precision fires nearly ubiquitous on the battlefield, alongside weapons fired from UAVs, and guided ground-launched rockets, mortars, and artillery shells. When coupled with persistent surveillance concepts like Task Force ODIN, it nudges the Army and USAF toward a more equal footing of “federated airpower” in counterinsurgency fights. In full-scale battles like the 1991 Desert Storm, it can turn NATO’s long-standing “assault breaker” doctrine of tactical decapitation into routine procedure, as enemies showing leadership behaviors are quickly targeted from the air or ground, and eliminated.

Beyond the USA, laser guided 70mm rockets open up a large market for counterinsurgency weapons. Many countries operate older fixed wing planes as their primary strike force, but haven’t been able to afford the expensive conversions and weapons that precision attack requires. With guided rockets, that goal is suddenly within reach. Rocket pods are a universal weapon option, almost all countries have existing stocks of unguided rockets, and targeting can even be done by troops on the ground. This setup can work with very basic aircraft integration, so the technical and cost requirements aren’t difficult. What’s difficult, is the training and coordination required to make close air support effective. Which may not stop eager customers.

Contracts and Key Developments

APKWS is designed as a screw-in insert to existing 70mm rockets, so it’s bought as mid-body “guidance sections.” BAE Systems Information and Electronics in Nashua, NH is the official prime contractor, though they’re partnered with General Dynamics. US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Patuxent River, MD manages the contracts.

2014

Orders: USA, Jordan; Testing on AH-64D; US Navy begins program for MH-60R/S; Australia wants APKWS for EC665 Tiger and MH-60RS. APKWS numbers

Oct 13/14: Australia. APKWS is about to get its 2nd export customer, as Australia finishes testing APKWS-II aboard its EC665 Tiger ARH scout/attack helicopters. August 2014 trials at Woomera were conducted by Airbus subsidiary Australian Aerospace’s Operational Support Group, and saw APKWS go 7-for-7 in tests while mounted on a new 70mm rocket: Forges de Zeebrugge’s FZ90.

BAE director of precision guidance solutions David Harrold touts the no-modifications use of APKWS on the FZ90 as a testament to the mid-body design’s versatility, but Australia has a 2nd reason to prefer APKWS. BAE’s system will be integrated on American MH-60R Seahawk naval helicopters, and Australia bought that type off the shelf as their future naval helicopter. Once the US Navy is done developing and testing its MH-60R upgrade, Australia can adopt it at very low cost. The tests pave the way for Australia to place an order, then field the laser-guided rockets on its Tiger and Seahawk helicopters beginning in 2015. Sources: BAE Systems, “Laser-Guided Rocket Successfully Demonstrates Precision Strike Capability for Australian Defence Forces”.

AC-235 concept
(click to view full)

May 7/14: Jordan. Jordan has formally signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance via the US Navy for BAE’s APKWS-II laser-guided 70mm rocket, which will be deployed on the kingdom’s CN-235 light gunships. This marks the guided rocket’s 1st export sale.

APKWS rockets give the gunships an intermediate option between the 30mm gun, and heavier AGM-114 Hellfire laser-guided missiles. A 70mm rocket is perfectly adequate for most counter-insurgency situations, is less expensive than a Hellfire, and can be carried in a pod that holds 7 guided rockets on the hardpoint instead of 2 Hellfires. Sources: BAE, “Kingdom of Jordan to Purchase BAE Systems’ Precision Rockets to Strengthen Military”.

Jordan is 1st export sale

March 28/14: FRP-3. A $37.4 million firm-fixed-price contract buys 1,372 APKWS-II WGU-59/B Guidance Sections, the Navy shipping and storage container; and supporting technical and program documentation. That makes 4,758 kits ordered so far.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY14 USN & USMC ammunition budgets. Work will be performed in Nashua, NH (70%); and Austin, TX (30%), and is expected to be complete in September 2015. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-14-C-0044).

FRP-3 order

Dec 18/13: MH-60R/S: H-60 Program Manager Capt. James Glass discusses programs to arm the MH-60S naval utility and MH-60R strike and ASW helicopters with APKWS rockets.

The MH-60S is slated to integrate APKWS by March 2014, using a new 19-rocket LAU-61G/A launcher. and is about to begin test-firing the same M197 3-barrel 20mm gatling gun used on Cobra attack helicopters.

The MH-60R is slated to integrate APKWS by March 2015, by which time the LAU-61G/A launcher should have full mixed-rocket capabilities. Sources, Military.com, “Navy Arms MH-60S Helicopter with Gatling Gun” | US Navy, “NSWC IHEODTD Supports Digital Rocket Launcher Early Operational Capability”.

Oct 22/13: Testing. BAE announces that the US Army has finished 8 successful tests from an AH-64D Apache. Shots were fired at up to 150 knots, from as far as 5 kilometers from the target, at altitudes between 300 and 1,500 feets. This earns it an an Airworthiness Qualification, which allows existing AH-64D customers to order APKWS.

BAE director of precision guidance solutions David Harrold had an interesting addendu,m, when he noted that “…the final shot from the Apache hit within inches of the laser spot – despite the rocket and warhead being visibly scorched from two adjacent firings”. No doubt that was part of BAE’s motivation for using mid-body guidance sensors, which are inherently protected from such effects. Sources: BAE, “Laser-Guided Rocket Successfully Qualified to Support Apache Crews”.

FY 2011 – 2013

Fixed-wing, Apache tests. IOC; combat deployment. FRP-2. APKWS loading, AT-6C
(click to view full)

Sept 27/13: Testing. CENTCOM releases a Military Utility Assessment (MUA) confirming that the APKWS FW fixed-wing variant has met its performance targets in test shots from the USAF’s A-10C Thunderbolt IIs and F-16s, and the USMC’s AV-8B Harrier II V/STOL fighters. The rocket has also been tested from AT-6 turboprops, but that work took place under the Light Air Support program.

APKWS FW is actually a different rocket, because it has to survive and perform through the freezing temperatures of high-altitude flight, as well as the high turbulence of high speed aircraft. That means a different guidance control system for the rocket, and a redesigned deployment mechanism for the 7-rocket pod. Sources: US NAVAIR, “Rocket safe for fixed wing aircraft, ends demonstration phase”.

April 2/13: Testing. Eglin AFB announces successful tests of the APKWS laser-guided 70mm rocket from an A-10C, marking the 2nd test from a fixed-wing aircraft (a Beechcraft AT-6B was the 1st). For the final A-10C test sortie, 2 APKWS rockets were fired at a surface target at altitudes of 10,000 and 15,000 feet. The first rocket hit within inches, and the 15,000 foot shot hit within 2 meters despite a 70-knot headwind.

The USAF used a US Navy rocket launcher, because the guidance section adds 18″ to the Hydra rocket. If the USAF continues to move forward with APKWS on the A-10C and F-16, they’ll buy the Navy’s modified launchers to replace their 7-rocket LAU-131s. The US Navy is preparing to qualify APKWS on the MQ-8C VTUAV, USMC AV-8B Harrier II V/STOL jets, and F/A-18 family fighters. Pentagon DVIDS.

March 4/13: Bell 407 qualified. BAE Systems announces that APKWS is now qualified on Bell Helicopters 407GT, after a 7-shot test at Yuma, AZ. The Bell 407 joins that firm’s AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters, and Beechcraft’s AT-6B light attack turboprop, as qualified APKWS platforms. Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter UAV is expected to follow shortly.

BAE Precision Guidance Solutions director David Harrold says that the qualification “is significant because [the 407GT] is Bell Helicopter’s first commercially qualified, armed helicopter…” It’s also significant because the US Navy is about to introduce its MQ-8C UAV based on the 407, and Iraq has already fielded armed Bell 407s. The MQ-8C combines a Bell 407 airframe with Fire Scout electronics.

Nov 27/12: FRP-2. A $41.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 1,476 APKWS-II WGU-59/B Guidance Sections, shipping and storage containers, and support technical data. That makes 3,386 production kits ordered so far.

Work will be performed in Nashua, NH (70%), and Austin, TX (30%), and is expected to be complete in September 2014. All contract funds are committed (N00019-12-C-0006).

FRP-2 order

July 31/12: FRP begins with FY 2012 order. A $28.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for 985 APKWS-II WGU-59/B guidance sections, Navy shipping and storage containers; and support technical data. That makes 1,910 production APKWS kits ordered so far.

Work will be performed in Nashua, NH (70%), and Austin, TX (30%), and is expected to be complete in December 2013. 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-0006). A subsequent BAE release confirms that this is the beginning of Full Rate Production, and confirms that APKWS is available for foreign military sales.”

Full-rate production &
Export ready

April 17/12: APKWS to Afghanistan. BAE announces that APKWS was cleared for fielding by Marine Corps HQ, and shipped to Afghanistan in March 2012. The cite over 100 firings since 2007, with a 94% success rate, and an average distance from the center of laser spot to the impact point of less than one meter.

The rockets will initially be deployed on USMC AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, and UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters.

The Program’s Manager Navy Captain Brian Corey said that Initial Operating Capability (IOC) had been declared on March 27. The Navy is working to integrate the weapon on MQ-8 Fire Scouts by 2013. US NAVAIR | BAE Systems.

IOC & combat deployment

January 2012: 1st Fixed-Wing Shots. APKWS is fired from a HawkerBeechcraft AT-6C turboprop light attack plane at Eglin AFB, its 1st fixed-wing shots. BAE says they’re still working to upgrade APKWS so it can handle high-speed, high-g firings from fighter jets, per the Feb 10/11 JCTD contract.

The AT-6C shots were step 1, and involved 2 rockets: an unguided round as a demonstration of safety and basic operation, followed by a guided shot from 3 miles that “successfully hit within inches of the center.” As an added demonstration, BAE Systems personnel added the APKWS mid-bodies and assembled the rockets on site. Time from beginning of assembly to flight and the successful shot was 3 hours.

The shots will help both BAE and HawkerBeechcraft, whose setback in the 20-plane American LAS competition was mitigated by an initial sale of 6 “weapons capable” T-6C+ to Mexico. Mexico has used existing Pilatus trainers against domestic insurgencies before. The T-6C family’s proven ability to fire laser-guided rockets makes the new planes more valuable to Mexico, and to other potential customers. BAE | HawkerBeechcraft | Aviation Week.

1st fixed-wing shot

Sept 9-13/11: New warhead. USMC UH-1Y helicopters successfully fire 6 APKWS-II rockets at targets 1.5km – 5 km away (3 miles maximum) on the range at China Lake, CA. The tests are part of APKWS’ low-rate initial production phase, and mark the 1st time that the new, safer Mk152 warhead has been fired from any air vehicle.

New warhead

APWKS-II fielding is still set for 2012. BAE Systems.

Feb 10/11: Fighter JCTD. BAE Systems in Nashua, NH receives a $19.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for development of the fixed wing APKWS-II for deployment on USMC AV-8B Harriers and USAF/ANG A-10C aircraft, as a joint capability technology demonstration.

American fast jets must currently rely on aging AGM-65 Maverick missiles for laser-guided strikes. An update and production relaunch is underway, but a full-size Maverick missile can be overkill. Using laser-guided 70mm rockets instead would sharply increase the number of laser precision strike weapons on board, using cheaper weapons. It’s not a perfect substitute, but it would be an excellent complement.

Work will be performed in Nashua, NH, and is expected to be complete in May 2013. $7.5 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, by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-11-C-0033).

APKWS for fighters, too

Jan 3/11: LRIP-2 order. BAE Systems Information and Electronics in Nashua, NH receives a $17.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for the 2nd Low Rate Initial Production Lot (LRIP-II) of 600 APKWS II guidance sections for the US Navy, including shipping and storage containers.

Work will be performed in Nashua, N.H., and is expected to be completed in November 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract, which is presumably issued under N00019-10-C-0019.

FY 2008 – 2010

SDD. Milestone C. APKWS concept
(click to view full)

July 30/10: LRIP-1 order. BAE Systems Information and Electronics in Nashua, NH receives a $15.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for the first Low Rate Initial Production Lot (LRIP-I) of 325 APKWS II guidance sections for the US Navy, including shipping and storage containers. The contract will also fund integration with the Marines’ new UH-1Y utility helicopter, technical and training manual updates, and support equipment and support test equipment.

Work will be performed in Nashua, NH, and is expected to be complete in October 2012. This contract was not competitively procured by US NAVAIR, pursuant to FAR 6.302-1 (N00019-10-C-0019). BAE Systems.

April 9/10: Milestone C, LRIP OKed. The US Navy has approved low-rate production of the APKWS after the weapons system passed its Milestone C. The USMC plans to initially deploy APKWS on its AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters. The Navy decision follows successful testing of the weapons system from the AH-1W helicopter in January (see Jan 11-18/10 entry). BAE Systems release

Milestone C

Jan 11-18/10 The USMC completes APKWS’ operational assessment, scoring 8 direct hits from AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters in live-warhead trials over 2 weeks. The final step in the APKWS development program is system qualification for the environments in which it might be employed, transported, and stored. That testing is expected to be finalized in time to allow the Navy to complete a production decision within the next 60 days, leading to low-rate initial production if the decision is positive. BAE Systems release.

Jan 4/10: Fixed-Wing JCTD. US FedBizOpps announces, in solicitation #N00019-10-C-0028:

“Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) intends to award a sole source contract to BAE Systems, Nashua, NH for the FY10-12 development of the Fixed Wing (FW) Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) II for AV-8B and A-10 platforms to support a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD). It is anticipated that the resultant contract shall be Cost-Plus Incentive Fee type for the development of FW APKWS II weapons that show operational utility upon integration with AV-8B and A-10 platforms. Fifty (50) FW APKWS II plus FW APKWS II tests units (quantities TBD) including Navy Shipping and Storage Containers (NSSC) are to be delivered for technical demonstrations and operational assessments.”

The AV-8B is a USMC aircraft, while A-10s are operated by US Air National Guard and some USAF units.

Jan 4/10: In the combined synopsis/solicitation #N00421-10-T-0042, US FedBizOpps announces an RFQ on a firm fixed-price, sole-source basis with Summit Instruments, Inc., for APKWS-related electronics. Summit makes accelerometers and inertial measurement systems, which can be used to help precision weapons establish their position, just as a simpler set of accelerometer + software in an iPod Nano can tell you how far you’ve jogged today.

CLIN 0001 – Quantity 5 each, Repackage 65210E to fit in 2.75″ diameter rocket body and add 2GB memory… Award is expected 04 Jan 2010.

Nov 23-27/09: SDD done. During the final phase of SDD testing, 4 APKWS rockets fired from a U.S. Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter hit laser-designated moving and stationary targets under a variety of operational scenarios while the rockets were fired at varying altitudes and airspeeds. Each shot strikes well within the required distance from the laser spot.

Navy and BAE Systems representatives confirm that APKWS has undertaken 28 guided flights over the last 7 years. The weapons are known to have hit their targets 22 times since September 2002, and most of those firings (12) have been from USMC AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters. In the latest test series, there have been no APKWS issues.

The rockets are approaching Milestone C decision that approves a system’s performance, durability, safety, and successful integration with specified systems, and allows Low Rate Initial Production to begin. The US Navy will begin Operational Assessment of APKWS in January 2010, with 8 live fire events. In the next 12 to 14 months, the Navy expects to shoot approximately 90 weapons in combined developmental and operational testing, on the road to the program goal of Initial Operational Capability in 2011. BAE Systems.

Nov 13/09: BAE Systems announces that APKWS has entered its final phase of testing, intended to confirm both production readiness and reliable accuracy. According to BAE, APKWS has hit its targets 18 times since September 2002 in ground and air-launched shots, including a recent firing from a USMC AH-1 attack helicopter against a stationary target. That test firing initiated a sequence of more than 20 firings that will comprise the program’s final test phase, to be completed by the end of 2009.

BAE Systems and the Navy are preparing for Navy demonstration test flights and full government qualification testing, with a goal of production in 2010.

APKWS from Cobra
(click to view larger)

Nov 4/08: BAE Systems announces that the APKWS contract has been transferred from the U.S. Army to the Department of the Navy.

Development funding will also be used for testing and qualification of APKWS for use on the Marine Corps’ AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter, and BAE Systems’ Nashua facility plans to begin producing the rockets at the end of 2009.

July 15/08: BAE Systems announces that the Department of the Navy will assume the $45.7 million APKWS development contract with BAE Systems to complete demonstrations of the system. The Navy is expected to assume that contract by end of August 2008, and the contractor team plans to begin APKWS production in 2009.

April 9/08: Saved by the Navy. Congress approves the APKWS-II Reprogramming Request. In combination with the President’s Budget Request for FY09 (submitted to Congress the first week of February), the Reprogramming approval makes APKWS-II’s development phase a fully-funded program. This development represents a major breakthrough for the BAE/GD offering, which now looks as if it will survive long enough to reach the competitive market.

Whether their APKWS-II can continue its success, and win volume orders against a growing set of rival systems from Lockheed Martin, ATK, Raytheon, et. al., remains to be seen at this point. As noted below, the US Navy is also funding a LOGIR program with Korean cooperation. It’s also a guided 70mm rocket, but it uses Imaging Infrared instead of laser seekers. That makes it especially effective against swarm attacks by enemies like small boats, as there’s no need for ongoing guidance.

Saved by the Navy

FY 2005 – 2007

BAE win. Emerging competitors. APKWS on target
(click to view full)

Sept 19/07: Testing. BAE Systems shoots 2 guided APKWS rockets from a U.S. Marine Corps Cobra helicopter at NAS China Lake, marking the weapon’s first flights from an aircraft. Following the launches, both APKWS rockets were guided by a laser designator to a ground target. The first rocket was guided to the target by a ground-based laser designator. The pilot guided the second rocket to the target using laser designation equipment onboard the helicopter. Both rockets struck the target board well within accuracy requirements established by the Army and Marine Corps.

The flights, held in partnership with the U.S. Navy program office, were designed to confirm the APKWS rocket’s compatibility with the Cobra’s carriage and launch systems, and to demonstrate that APKWS can be launched from the platform without requiring aircraft integration or modifications. The tests also proved again the weapon’s ability to acquire, track, and hit a laser-designated target. BAE Systems North America release.

BAE informs DID that the US Navy and USMC continue to pursue funding of APKWS-II within the FY 2008 appropriations process, with the goal of completing SDD and entering Milestone C in the second quarter of CY 2009. Meanwhile, development continues using FY 2007 funds.

April 11/07: BAE Systems’ APKWS II successfully completes environmental tests. They verified protection from sand, dust, vibration, ice, and other environmental hazards likely to be found in combat situations. Locating the weapon’s Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS) within the rocket’s mid-body, with wings and optics sealed within the guidance section, certainly helps. In addition, a fully assembled 35-pound rocket dropped directly on its nose from a height of 3 feet sustained no damage to the guidance section. BAE Systems release.

March 19/07: Zeroed? BAE Systems informs DID that APKWS II funding has been zeroed out in the FY 2008 budget request, and they are putting the program on hold. Congressional reinstatement is always possible – but if it fails BAE may face an uphill battle getting its product to market, given the advance of competitors like Lockheed Martin’s DAGR and the US-Korean LOGIR.

DAGR launch test
(click to view full)

March 7/07: Competitor – DAGR. Lockheed Martin may have lost, but it didn’t give up. While “Hellfire Jr.” is an apt description of the class as a whole, it’s especially apt in this case. The DAGR (70mm Direct Attack Guided Rocket, not to be confused with DAGR hand-held GPS locators) completed development with private company funding, leveraging existing Hellfire and Joint Common Missile technology to create semi-active guided rockets that offer a wider aiming cone and full Hellfire functionality. Indeed, they can be launched from any platform that currently supports the Hellfire missile, removing any requirements for additional training or infrastructure.

The DAGR rocket was formally unveiled as complete and for sale on Sept 11/07, at Britain’s DESi defense exhibition, and remains a strong competitor in the USA and beyond. See “Guided Hydra Rockets: Program Halts & New Entries” for more information and updates re: competitive programs from Lockheed Martin, Korea, Raytheon, ATK, et. al.

March 2/07: USN Competitor – LOGIR. Korea and the United States have agreed to cooperate in developing guided air-launched rockets, signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for “LOGIR” (Low-Cost Guided Imaging Rocket) development. The budget for this project is reportedly more than $60 million. See “Guided Hydra Rockets: Program Halts & New Entries” for more information and updates.

BAE/GD APKWS
(click to view larger)

April 27/06: The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command (AMCOM) awards a 3-year, $45.7 million contract to BAE Systems in Nashua, NH for the system development and demonstration of the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) II. The contract includes priced options for qualification of the system and 2 years of Low Rate Initial Production that could begin as early as 2007. The total program, if all options are exercised, will be $96.1 million.

Interestingly, BAE Systems uses a mid-body guidance approach. The guidance component is its Distributed Aperture Semi-Active Laser Seeker (DASALS), which is also used in the Army’s Precision Guided Mortar Munitions Program. BAE Systems is partnered with General Dynamics (who makes the Hydra rockets) and Northrop Grumman, and is reported to be on track to provide the first production baseline units for evaluation prior to the Critical Design Review in July 2006. See also BAE North America release.

DID’s focus article for the Hydra-70 rocket family goes into more detail re: the past history of the APKWS effort, including its cancellation and replacement by the APKWS II competition.

BAE wins SDD

Sept 29/05: BAE Systems announces [BAE North America release | different BAE Systems release] 2 successful flight tests at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. Their 70mm rockets scored direct hits on laser-designated stationary and moving targets.

BAE also announced that it will bid on APKWS II as a prime contractor, along with Northrop Grumman Corp. and General Dynamics. They join other consortia already in the APKWS II competition, led by Lockheed Martin and Raytheon.

Additional Readings

Categories: News

AW159 Wildcat: The Future Lynx Helicopter Program

Sat, 10/18/2014 - 15:00
Future Lynx naval
(click to view full)

In 2006, Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland received a GBP 1 billion (about $1.9 billion at 02/07 rates) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for 70 Future Lynx helicopters, and began a new chapter in a long-running success story. The Lynx is an extremely fast helicopter that entered service in the 1970s, and quickly carved out a niche for itself in the global land and naval markets. The base design has evolved into a number of upgrades and versions, which have been been widely exported around the world.

In Britain, Lynx helicopters are used in a number of British Army (AH7 & AH9) and Fleet Air Arm (Mk 8) roles: reconnaissance, attack, casualty evacuation & troop transport, ferrying supplies, anti-submarine operations, and even command post functions. The Future Lynx program reflects that, and British government and industry are both hoping that its versatility will help it keep or improve the Lynx family’s global market share. This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the AW159 Lynx Wildcat Program, describing its technical and industrial features, schedules, related contracts, and exports.

The AW159 Wildcats Mk8: everyone retires…
(click to view full)

Britain originally referred to the 2 variants as Future Lynx Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopters (BRH, now AW159 Wildcat Mk.1) for the British Army, and Future Lynx Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft (SCMR, now AW159 Wildcat HMA Mk.2) for the Navy.

Both AW159 versions will share a common fully-marinized airframe, with provisions for a range of mission and role-based equipment but an estimated 90% commonality. The new helicopter features a range of improvements, including human factors design improvements to the airframe, a new British Experimental Rotor Programme (BERP) main rotor for improved performance, a new 4-blade tail rotor to give improved yaw control at high weights, plus crashworthiness improvements, armoring improvements, and built-in infrared signature suppression to maximize survivability.

Communications equipment will be compatible with the new BOWMAN systems used by British ground forces, but can be changed for export orders.

The cockpit includes a fully integrated display system of 4 primary 10″x8″ inch displays. Sensors include a nose mounted Wescam MX-15Di surveillance turret with IR/TV imaging and laser ranging/targeting, and the naval variant will also carry the 360-degree Selex Galileo 7400E active array radar. Britain decided to confine dipping sonars to its larger AW101 Merlin naval helicopters, but Wildcat export models have the option of using the long-range detection capabilities of Thales’ Compact FLASH.

Defensive protection is provided by a comprehensive integrated defensive aids suite from Selex Galileo that includes missile warning, radar warning, and countermeasures dispensing systems.

Spike-NLOS

AW159 helicopters will be able to carry rockets and gun pods, and the naval version adds BAE’s Sting Ray light torpedoes. Beyond that, integration of Thales’ beam-riding LMM missile (FASGW-L program) is underway, and Wildcat is the initial platform for Sea Skua’s small anti-ship missile successor (FASGW-H/ ANL).

Given Britain’s cramped defense budgets, expansion beyond that weapon set depend on the stated requirements and desires of export customers. If local reports are correct, South Korea is adding the Spike-NLOS missile and its 25km range. That missile would out-range short-range air defense systems, and give the helicopters a very long reach against enemy hovercraft, speedboats, or coastal artillery.

The AW159’s projected Maximum All-Up Mass (MAUM) is 5,790 kg, but can grow to 6,250 kg if necessary during its service life. New nose and tail structures, and an up-rated undercarriage ensure that the helicopter can handle these weights. A pair of LHTEC CTS800-4N engines rated at 1015 kW (1,361 shp) add extra power, and their 36% power increase over previous GEM engines will help maintain the Lynx’s reputation as a speedster. Despite the added mass, therefore, these changes translate into greatly improved hot and high performance, load-carrying ability, and single engine performance overall. All without significantly increasing fuel consumption.

Other enhancements to Future Lynx include a new 12,000-hour fatigue life airframe. The original goal was a 30% parts reduction, but a successful design-to-cost process managed to reduce the number of airframe parts by 80%, using improved design techniques and machined monolithic components.

Future Lynx: The Program Lynx BRH & Longbows
(click to view full)

The Future Lynx program aims to replace both British Army’s 100 or so AH7s & AH9s, and Fleet Air Arm’s set of about 60 Lynx Mk 8 helicopters.

The original goal was 40 Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopters (BRH) for the British Army, and 30 Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft (SCMR) for the Royal Navy, with an option for another 10 helicopters that could be split in any way desired. At present, contracts have been issued for 34 AW159 BRH/ Mk.1 Army helicopters, and 28 naval AW159 SCMR/ HMA Mk.2s. Barring future expansion, that will constitute the entire program.

By 2013, there was some question regarding whether the AW159 Mk.1 helicopters would be armed. The Royal Navy’s AW159 HMA Mk.2s will be armed, carrying Sting Ray torpedos, FASGW-L LMM direct fire missiles, and FASGW-H anti-ship missiles. What they won’t carry is sonar capabilities, though a full ASW version with a SONICS/FLASH Compact dipping sonar system is being delivered for export.

Program & Industrial Structure

In April 2005, the UK Government announced the selection of Future Lynx for the British Army’s and Royal Navy’s requirements, with detailed technical and commercial discussions subsequently taking place that led to a contract award in June 2006. Both EADS’ Eurocopter Unit and Boeing had wanted to compete for the helicopter contract, but the MoD declined to put the contract out for competition.

Instead, Future Lynx was the launch program for a new Strategic Partnering Arrangement between the MoD and AgustaWestland. The UK MoD hailed it as “a major milestone in the implementation of the new Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS),” helping them to meet the objective of sustaining critical helicopter design and engineering skills in the UK by supporting over 800 high technology jobs across the UK.

The public-private partnering arrangements are enshrined within a formal Business Transformation Incentivisation Agreement, and a formal Strategic Partnering Arrangement. The MoD adds that partnering is already delivering significant improvements in spares delivery and technical support for Sea King and EH101 Merlin helicopters operated by the MoD.

An integral requirement of the SPA has been the back to back signature by AgustaWestland of the Future Lynx Contract and Partnering Charters with the 6 major suppliers to the Future Lynx Program. Major industrial partners include:

  • GKN Aerospace (helicopter airframes)
  • LHTEC partnership between Rolls-Royce and Honeywell (engines)
  • Finmeccanica’s Selex Galileo (defensive suite, SCMR Seaspray 7400E radar)
  • GE Aviation
  • General Dynamics UK
  • Thales UK (avionics, COMPACT FLASH dipping sonar and SONICS processing system for SCMR exports)

Other suppliers of note include:

  • L-3 Wescam (MX-15Di surveillance & targeting turret)

So far, the timeline looks like this:

Future Lynx: Contracts & Key Events 2013 – 2014

South Korea buys; From 1st HMA Mark 2 flight to standup of 825 NAS training squadron. Bringing her in
(click to view full)

Oct 10/14: Re-commissioning. 825 Naval Air “Channel Dash” Squadron is formally re-commissioned into the Royal Navy with its AW159s, and receives the “Falkland Islands 1982″ battle honors that were denied it when the squadron was disbanded after that conflict.

The squadron gets its name from Operation Fuller, which attempted to halt the breakout of 66 German ships from Best, France through the English Channel, and back to their German home ports. A sortie of 6 825 Sqn. Swordfish biplanes from RAF Manston near Kent attacked with torpedoes in broad daylight, with only 10 Spitfires for air cover against a vastly larger Luftwaffe force, plus the guns of the German ships. All of the planes were shot down, with only 5 of 18 survivors, and a posthumous Victoria Cross was awarded to Lt. Cdr. Esmonde. All 66 German ships made it. Operation Fuller failed dismally – but 825 Squadron did not. Sources: Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum, “The Channel Dash – Operation Fuller” | Royal Navy, “New Navy Wildcat Helicopter Squadron commissions at RNAS Yeovilton”.

July 30/14: De-commissioning. 700W Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Yeovilton is decommissioned, after 4 years of work bringing the AW159 into the fleet and a flyby ceremony with all 7-helicopters. The Wildcat HMA2s will stand up again on Aug 1/14 as 825 NAS, which will train both aircrew and maintenance engineers, and get the first deployable Wildcat flights ready to go. Sources: UK Royal Navy, “Wildcat pride as they take to the sky”.

700W NAS disbands, 825 NAS begins

July 17/14: Weapons. AgustaWestland signs a EUR 113 million (about GBP 89.3M / $153.1M) contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to integrate, test, and install ANL anti-ship missile and LMM light strike missile system compatibility onto 28 Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat HMA2 helicopters.

Note that the UK MoD has also signed a EUR 60.2 million contract with LMM missile maker Thales regarding broader integration of their missile onto the Wildcat fleet. Sources: Finmeccanica, “Finmeccanica – AgustaWestland signed a contract worth EUR 113 million with the UK Ministry of Defence”.

June 17/14: Exercises. The AW159’s 700W Naval Air Squadron dropped in on the former aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious during the big Deep Blue Anti-Submarine exercise off of the Cornish coast. It didn’t perform any anti-submarine work, however, just dropped off some supplies while the ship’s 9 Merlin Mk.2 naval helicopters hunted a Dutch Walrus Class SSK and a British SSN.

The Wildcat will continue training and trials with 700W until the end of July 2014, before disbanding. It will be replaced by the operational 825 Naval Air Sqn, which will be the parent unit for training all air and ground crew working on the AW159 HMA Mk.2. Sources: Royal Navy, “New Wildcat debuts aboard Illustrious”.

June 16/14: Weapons. The Ministry of Defence awards Thales a GBP 48 million (EUR 60.2 M / $81.5 M) contract, covering the Light Modular Missile’s final development, qualification and integration on AW159 Wildcat helicopters, plus deployable test equipment.

The chosen configuration involves a 5-missile launcher on each hardpoint, rather than the 7-missile sets shown in previous mock-ups. Read “Direct Sting: Thales’ Small LMM / FASGW-L Missiles” for full coverage.

Jan 6/14: Weapons. South Korea will be adding RAFAEL’s Spike-NLOS missile to its AW159s, giving them a 25+ km reach:

“…the new lot will be mounted on Wildcat maritime choppers to be purchased over the next two years, an official with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said Friday. “We’ve recently struck a deal with the Israeli manufacturer of the missile…. The missiles cost about W300 million (US$1=W1,056) each, approximately 100 times the price of a shell for the K-9 self-propelled howitzer.”

Well, yes, but K9 armored vehicles can’t fly, K9 shells aren’t guided, and they can’t hit moving targets. Other than that, it’s a great comparison. South Korea already operates land-based versions of the Spike-NLOS light strike missile, whose primary mission from land-based platforms is to kill North Korean artillery. A naval helicopter that became the first aircraft to mount it would add speedboats and hovercraft to the target list, and gain a much longer reach than the 15 km Hellfire missiles aboard AH-64E attack helicopters and US Navy MH-60Rs. In fact, it would be long enough to out-range short-range air defense systems. The Hellfire-range Spike-LR is more commonly mounted on helicopters, but subsequent reports indicate that this isn’t a reporting mistake – they’ve really picked the NLOS variant. Sources: Chosun Ilbo, “Korean Choppers to Be Armed with Israeli Missiles” | Defense Update, “Seoul to Equip its New Maritime Helicopters with Israeli SPIKE Missiles”.

Feb 6/13: Sonar. AgustaWestland picks the compact version of Thales FLASH dipping sonar as their standard offering for naval Lynx exports. The FLASH Compact sonar features an optimized, lightweight architecture, as well as a fully electric reeling machine so that smaller helicopters can deploy it. Thales’ SONICS system will act as an on-board real-time data processing system, with a VHF receiver to pick up sonobuoy data.

This equipment has been offered with their Super Lynx 300s before, so the announcement seems to be directly targeted at the AW159. Note that Britain’s AW159 Wildcat HMA Mark 2 helicopters don’t have a dipping sonar on board, but South Korea has said that their AW159s will. This appears to nail down the type.

They’ll be in good company. FLASH platforms include America and Australia’s MH-60R Seahawks; Britain’s AW101 Merlins; NH90 helicopters ordered by France, Norway & Sweden; and the UAE’s EC525 Cougars. All of these other machines are medium helicopters or larger. Thales.

Jan 28/13: HMA Mk.2. The Royal Navy refers to its “Wildcat HMA Mark 2″, as they discuss their 1st delivered helicopter’s inaugural flight at Yeovil in Somerset. HMA stands for Helicopter Maritime Attack, and is part of the operational designation. SCMR is the Future Lynx program’s reference, which is a separate thing.

British Army helicopters will be Wildcat Mark 1s, and the first 2 were officially handed over on July 11/12. MoD | Royal Navy | Defense Update.

1st Naval AW159 delivered

Jan 16/13: ROK on. South Korea’s DAPA spokesperson Baek Yun-hyung announces that the naval AW159 is South Korea’s preferred choice for its MH-X competition, with a planned initial buy of 8 helicopters. Finkeccanica’s Jan 17/12 release places the overall contract value at EUR 560 million (about $744 million), with AgustaWestland’s share at EUR 270 million. It’s the new helicopter type’s 1st export order, with deliveries planned from 2015-2016. DAPA’s Baek:

“The Wildcat was deemed superior in three of four fields: cost, operational suitability, and contractual arrangements…. The overall consensus is that the Wildcat is the better option…. In joint operations the US model is superior but both models meet our performance requirements.”

The ROKN’s AW159s will have the full complement of dipping sonar, radar, surveillance & targeting turret, rescue hoist, provision for anti-ship missiles and torpedoes, door gun, etc. Media descriptions involve using the helicopters with the ROKN’s 2,200t Ulsan Class light frigates, which are designed to serve as high-end coastal patrol vessels with a mix of anti-ship and anti-submarine capabilities, plus low-end air defense. A smaller helicopter will serve them better (“operational suitability”), but the class doesn’t have much service time left. The ROKN’s new 2,300t FFX Incheon Class light frigates will also need helicopters, and the ROK’s 24 Super Lynx 300s and 8 AW159s should give them good options. AgustaWestland | Finmeccanica | Hankoryeh.

South Korea orders AW159

Jan 13/13: NAO Report. Britain’s NAO releases its 2012 Major Projects Report. The overall Future Lynx program remains GBP 140 million under its original GBP 1.803 billion approval estimate, in part because it has reduced to number of helicopters from 80 (at GBP 23.1 million each) to the current order set of 62 (at GBP 26.8 million each).

The program is 7 months behind schedule, which will push the Army’s AW159 BRH in-service date from January to July 2014, but won’t affect the naval SCMR’s January 215 schedule. Meanwhile, bureaucracy is getting in the way. “Significant unanticipated activity has been undertaken to satisfy the emerging Regulatory Instructions issued by the recently formed Military Aviation Authority (MAA).”

2012

1st delivery. Support contract. Denmark loss. AW159 BRH
(click to view full)

Nov 21/12: Denmark. Denmark’s Forsvarsministeriet announces that it has picked the MH-60R for a 9-helicopter buy, to replace their existing fleet of 7 AgustaWestland Lynx 90B machines. Danish MH-60Rs will be missing their sonobuoy launchers and ALFS FLASH dipping sonar, which will increase their available internal cabin space for transport missions.

The DKR 4 billion (about $686 million) choice must next be approved by the Finance Ministry, and then passed in a budget by Parliament. That’s expected to happen, and it would be followed by deliveries from 2016 – 2018. Danish Forsvarsministeriet [in Danish] | Sikorsky | Flight International | Jane’s .

Denmark loss to MH-60R Lite

July 11/12: Support. At Farnborough, the MoD takes the opportunity to announce that their GBP 250 million Wildcat in-service support and training contract is up and running with AgustaWestland, who will outfit a specialist training centre at RNAS Yeovilton. This deal builds on the earlier GBP 76 million March 8/11 contract, and will include flight simulators and a wide range of other equipment to train pilots, ground crew and engineers.

The initial period of the availability-based Wildcat Integrated Support and Training (WIST) contract will run to March 2017, but the framework as a whole stretches to the Wildcat’s planned out of service date in 2044. It builds on the contracting-for-availability approach pioneered with the firm’s Sea King (SKIOS), Apache, and AW101 Merlin helicopter fleets, where money is paid for levels of fleet availability rather than parts and hours worked. Regular price and value for money reviews are designed to ensure performance targets are being met, and help to price successive WIST phases.

WIST includes aircrew, maintainer and ground crew training as well, and it actually started in early 2012 so the April delivery could go smoothly. AgustaWestland and its suppliers are now delivering a complete spares provisioning service, enhanced technical support services including aircraft safety management and full systems integration rig support, and simulator and ground based training for both aircrew and maintainers. The contract will sustain over 300 industry jobs, mainly in the South West of England at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton. Its Wildcat Training Centre will include 2 Full Mission Simulators, a Flight Training Device, and a Cockpit Procedures Trainer. AgustaWestland will be responsible for delivering over 60 different training courses for ab-initio Army aircrew, ground crew and maintainers starting in July 2013, as well as for Royal Navy ab-initio aircrew and maintainers starting in January 2014. Once the helicopters are in service, operational currency and continuation training will also be supported at RNAS Yeovilton. UK MoD | AgustaWestland.

1st SCMR delivered, WIST through-life support contract

July 11/12: Official delivery. The first 2 of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters are officially unveiled and delivered by AgustaWestland at the Farnborough International Airshow. Both are Army BRH variants, which will come into service in 2014. Royal Navy AW159 SCMR Wildcats are due to be delivered for training later in 2012.

Technically, AgustaWestland says the 1st AW159 was accepted in April 2012, ensuring on-schedule and on-budget delivery. To date, a total of 5 production Wildcat helicopters have been finished. UK MoD | AgustaWestland.

BRH Delivery

Feb 17/12: Testing. The UK MoD announces that an AW159 SCMR prototype has completed 2 sets of 10-day sea trials aboard the Type 23 frigate HMS Iron Duke. The helicopter landed on the ship’s deck nearly 400 times by day and night, in “various weather conditions” off the coasts of southern England and northern Scotland, and in the Irish Sea. It sounds miserable this time of year, and probably was, but that’s what it takes in order to write the new machine’s “ship-helicopter operating limits” manual.

Prototype ZZ402 also tested its mission systems, night-vision cockpit and navigation systems. The Navy will continue toward the type’s 2015 fielding goal by performing future tests of its radar, electro-optics, navigational kit, and compatible missiles. UK MoD.

Jan 23/12: Denmark. AgustaWestland signs a Heads of Agreement (HoA) with Denmark’s Systematic A/S to jointly explore business opportunities worldwide, including integration of the SitaWare range of systems with AgustaWestland’s helicopters

They’ll also cooperate on the Danish Maritime Helicopter Programme. AgustaWestland is proposing the AW159 helicopter to replace Denmark’s earlier-generation Lynxes, but they will face competition from Sikorsky’s MH-60R, and probably from the European NH90-NFH. Both competitors are larger helicopters. AgustaWestland.

2011

Testing; training. LMMs/FASGW-L on
AW159 SCMR, Apache
(click to view full)

Nov 7/11: Testing. The AW159’s first at-sea landing on a ship begins 4 weeks of ‘operating limit trials.’that will include ground scenarios, as well as RFA Argus. UK MoD.

June 21/11: Denmark. AgustaWestland signs a cooperation agreement with Denmark’s Terma A/S to jointly explore business opportunities in the fields of aircraft survivability equipment, 3D-Audio, advanced aero structures and other equipment.

The two companies already have cooperated successfully on the AW101 helicopter, which Denmark has bought. They’re hoping that the Danish Maritime Helicopter Programme will also buy the AW159 Wildcat, to replace earlier generation Lynx maritime helicopters. AgustaWestland.

June 20/11: The AW159 Lynx Wildcat flies at the Paris Air Show, and the firm offers a progress report.

The 3 test helicopters have completed over 250 of 600 flying hours. Wildcat #1 will start hot and high trials in the USA in June 2011, and Wildcat #3 will undertake Shipborne Helicopter Operating Limit (SHOL) trials in October 2011. Wildcat #2 recently completed chaff and flare firing trials, and is focused on integration of the avionics and mission sensors. A production helicopter has begun flying, and 6 more are undergoing final assembly.

AgustaWestland is currently negotiating with the UK MoD on a comprehensive IOS through-life support contract. AgustaWestland.

April 20/11: Testing. The 1st production AW159 performs its maiden flight at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility. Source.

April 5/11: FASGW-L. Thales receives a contract for 1,000 Lightweight Multi-role Missiles (LMM), to equip the UK’s AW159 helicopters as their “Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon – Light” (FASGW-L). The parties offer no details regarding contract costs, as they’re re-routing funding from an existing project, in order to finalize LMM development and produce the initial set of weapons. The casualty is believed to be Thales’ laser beam-riding, Mach 3.5 Starstreak portable anti-aircraft missile, which reportedly had some of its technology re-used in the less costly LMM.

March 8/11: Training. AgustaWestland announces a GBP 76 million ($122.2 million) contract with the UK Ministry of Defence to design and develop an integrated Lynx Wildcat training solution, including building and equipping a new modern training center at RNAS Yeovilton in South West England, where both Royal Navy and British Army AW159 squadrons will train. The facility will provide training courses for Army aircrew and maintainers starting in January 2013, with training for Royal Navy aircrew and maintainers starting January 2014.

The Wildcat Training Centre will be equipped with a suite of briefing rooms, integrated electronic classrooms and a learning management system, a Full Mission Simulator (FMS), Flight Training Device (FTD) and Cockpit Procedures Trainer (CPT) simulators, any of which will be capable of delivering Army or Royal Navy conversion and mission training. Each of the Full Mission Simulators has 6 degrees of freedom to provide acceleration sensations, and a visual system that complies with JAR-FSTD-H Level D standard. Other synthetic training devices will cover mechanical, avionic and weapon systems. Key suppliers include Indra (Full Motion Simulators and other aircrew training equipment), and Pennant Training Systems (suite of maintenance training aids). The contract for construction of the facility will be awarded later in 2011, but all other work will start immediately.

2009 – 2010

Maiden flight. Export promotion. Maiden flight
(click to play video)

Nov 19/10: Testing. TI3, the 3rd and final AW159 test helicopter, successfully completes its maiden flight at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility in the UK. TI3’s main tasks include load survey trials and naval development, including ship helicopter operating limit trials. AgustaWestland.

Nov 19/10: Exports. Shephard’s Rotorhub reports that Britain is already promoting the AW159 Wildcat on the international market:

“Sheehan said the main targets for the aircraft were existing operators of earlier Lynx variants, identifying six in Europe and seven across the rest of the world. In addition, the DSO has been in discussion with the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) about the capabilities of the Wildcat naval variant and Sheehan is meeting with RNZN representatives in early 2011. New Zealand is considering whether to proceed with an upgrade of its SH-2G Super Seasprite helicopters when they are due for one in 2015 or replace the aircraft outright.

…Any export aircraft could mirror the Royal Navy’s equipment package and be fitted with the Selex Galileo Seaspray 7000E active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, L3 Wescam MX-15D EO/IR imaging system MBDA Sea Skua missiles and Thales LMM missiles. The aircraft could also be fitted with the Thales FLASH (Folding Light Acoustic System for Helicopters) dipping sonar if required. Sheehan was also bullish about the Wildcat having seemingly emerged unscathed from the [SDSR], suggesting the requirement may even increase from the current order of 62 once the wider effects of the SDSR are digested by the MoD.”

Oct 14/10: Testing. TI2, the 2nd AW159 test helicopter successfully completed its maiden flight at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil, UK facility. TI1 continues to perform air vehicle and flight envelope testing, while TI2 will undertake the flight testing of the aircraft’s core avionics and mission systems, following testing on AgustaWestland’s Full Systems Integration Rig (FSIR).

AgustaWestland has now also established a new AW159 production facility at its Yeovil plant that introduces a pulse line production system. They hope to make big efficiency improvements in the final assembly process. AgustaWestland.

Nov 11/09: Testing. The 1st AW159 successfully completes its maiden flight at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility, with AgustaWestland Chief Test Pilot Donald Maclaine at the controls. Another 2 test aircraft will join this machine in 2010, in order to complete the AW159 and mission equipment flight testing.

To date, AgustaWestland says the program has remained on time and on budget for all of its major milestones. The first operational aircraft is still scheduled for delivery in 2011, and the Lynx Wildcat is still slated to reach full operational capability with the Army in 2014 and the Royal Navy in 2015. AgustaWestland release.

Maiden flight

April 24/09: Renamed – and Reduced. During a ceremony at AgustaWestland’s Yeovil facility, the Future Lynx is officially renamed the AW159 Lynx Wildcat. UK MoD | The AgustaWestland release states that:

“62 AW159s will be initially procured by the UK MoD, 34 for the British Army and 28 for the Royal Navy… continues to be on time and on budget and was the first major project to be awarded under the Strategic Partnering Arrangement signed by the UK Ministry of Defence and AgustaWestland in June 2006. AgustaWestland has also signed partnering agreements with a number of key supplier on the Future Lynx programme including Selex Galileo, a Finmeccanica company; GKN Aerospace, LHTEC – a partnership between Rolls-Royce and Honeywell, General Dynamics UK, Thales UK and GE Aviation. The first flight of the aircraft is on schedule to take place in November 2009 with the first airframe having entered final assembly in November 2008, ahead of schedule. AW159 deliveries will commence in 2011 and it will enter operational service with the British Army in 2014 and the Royal Navy in 2015.”

“AW159 Wildcat”

2007 – 2008

Subcontractors. BRH concept
(click to view full)

Dec 14/08: The unofficial British Navy Matters site offers its year in review for 2008. It highlights a number of negative trends, and has this to say about the Future Lynx program:

“The Future Lynx helicopter project finally seems to secure, but the order announced in 2006 of 30 helicopters plus 5 options for the Royal Navy has been reduced to 28 aircraft. Back in 2001 the RN was hoping for 60 new helicopters.”

Nov 13/08: Sub-contractors. GKN Aerospace delivers the first complete Future Lynx Airframe to AgustaWestland on schedule. The firm reports that it has achieved challenging an 80% reduction in parts count when compared with the existing Super Lynx airframe. GKN release.

July 14/08: Sub-contractors. GE Aviation announces a contract from AgustaWestland to provide the Integrated Cockpit Display System on 70 Future Lynx and 30 Merlin Capability Sustainment Plus (MCSP) helicopters for the UK Ministry of Defence. The contact is valued at more than $55 million over the next 10 years, with production deliveries commencing in early 2009.

The integrated cockpit display system includes a smart 10″ x 8″ Integrated Display Unit (IDU), flexible & adaptable Remote Interface Unit (RIU) and 2nd Generation Integrated Standby Instrument System (ISIS).

May 21/08: Sub-contractors. GKN Aerospace announces that they have commenced Super Lynx airframe assembly on schedule at the Company’s Yeovil, UK facility, following a design-to-cost program. In order to meet these goals, the new design makes extensive use of monolithic machined components instead of a traditional fabricated detail structure; overall, the airframe’s parts count has been reduced by 80%, instead of the originally forecast 30%.

During production, digital assembly instructions developed by GKN Aerospace directly from CATIA v5 will be presented to each individual on a stand alone wireless IT workstation, while state-of-the-art assembly tooling improves production mechanics.

Nov 1/07: Sub-contractors. BAE Mobility & Protection Systems announces a contract from AgustaWestland to design, develop, and provide 140 S5000 crew seats, plus 340 S3000 troop seats and interface frames, for use on the UK’s Future Lynx helicopters. Deliveries are slated tp run from 2011-2016.

The crashworthy Armor Holdings S5000 crew seat has mission adaptive armor for the seat pan and backrest, and incorporates a state-of-the-art 5-point harness with a dual action rotary buckle, armrest, headrest, adjustable thigh and lumbar support, and a folding armored wing panel to increase the lateral protective area. The S5000 crew seat features field installation of less than one hour and provides maximum ballistic protection.

The S3000 rear cabin troop seats include state-of-the-art 4-point lightweight restraints with a rotary buckle. The modular seat frame system features quick installation and removal of interface fittings from frames through the use of 4 quick release pins. The cabin seat can be installed in aft, forward, and side facing locations, allowing flexibility for different cabin layouts. BAE Systems release.

Oct 30/07: Sub-contractors. AgustaWestland announces that the first monolithic machined panel for the first Future Lynx (a BRH Army variant) was manufactured last week at Oldland CNC’s facility in Bristol, United Kingdom. The manufacture of the first component, a lower fuselage bulkhead, was witnessed by representatives from the UK Ministry of Defence Integrated Project Team and AgustaWestland.

Oldland CNC is manufacturing 83 of the 147 Future Lynx primary structure monolithic machined components and supplying them to GKN Aerospace for incorporation into the airframe prior to delivery to AgustaWestland. The first Army variant remains on target to fly late 2009.

Feb 19/07: SCMR radar. Finmeccanica subsidiary Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems (Selex S&AS) received a contract from AgustaWestland to provide the multi-mode e-scan surveillance radar for the Royal Navy’s variant of the Future Lynx helicopter.

The GBP 20 million (currently about $39 million) contract will see the Selex S&AS Seaspray 7000E AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar installed as the scan and targeting radar for the Navy’s Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft (SCMR) as it monitors the sea lanes, launches missiles, et. al. The Seaspray 7000E combines a state of the art active electronically scanned array with a commercial off the shelf processor, and covers both air-to-air and air-to-surface scanning. AESA radars feature improved range and capabilities, while requiring less maintenance. See SELEX release | Seaspray 7000E datasheet [PDF].

2005 – 2006

Future Lynx contract. Subcontractors. SCMR concept
(click to view full)

July 27/06: Sub-contractors. GKN Aerospace will supply the complete, assembled airframe for all 70 Future Lynx helicopters. They will be responsible for managing the entire supply chain for this work and will assemble the airframe at Yeovil, prior to delivery to AgustaWestland. This contract is valued at approximately GBP 50 million (roughly $80 million) through to 2016.

GKN Aerospace has been supplying assemblies for the Lynx airframe for over 20 years, and for the last 5 years it has supplied all Lynx airframes to AgustaWestland. The new Super Lynx airframe will continue to be manufactured in aluminum, but will incorporate monolithic machined components to reduce the component count by some 30%. See release.

July 17/06: Sub-contractors. AgustaWestland awards Thales a 10-year, GBP 60 million contract for Future Lynx avionics. Thales UK will provide core elements of the avionics management, communications, and navigation systems, as well as taking responsibility for the integration of some of the Commercial Off The Shelf equipment within the Navigation and Communications sub-systems. The Thales Secure Communications Control System (SCCS), which is at the heart of the communications system, is from the family of TopSIS products. It is already selected and fitted on a number of aircraft including the UK’s Chinook Mk2/2A helicopters and ASTOR Sentinel R1 reconnaissance aircraft, as well as the Australian MRH-90 transport and Tiger reconnaissance/ attack helicopters, and its Airbus 330-derivative Multi-Role Transport and Tanker aircraft. See release.

July 17/06: Sub-contractors. AgustaWestland has awarded Smiths Aerospace a contract to supply the new SDS-5000 large area cockpit display system for the new Future Lynx helicopter. The Smiths Aerospace 10″ x 8″/ 25 cm x 20 cm liquid crystal displays provide more than 70% additional display area compared to the existing Smiths’ SDS-4000 display system which it replaces. Design and development has commenced, manufacture will take place in Cheltenham, UK, and deliveries to AgustaWestland will begin in 2008. The contract value was not announced in the release.

July 5/06: Sub-contractors. Smiths Aerospace has been awarded a $21 million contract for the development and supply of its comprehensive HUMS technology for the Future Lynx. The contract involves the implementation of the Smiths combined Health & Usage Monitoring System and Cockpit Voice & Flight Data Recorder (HUMS/CVFDR) capability on all 70 of Britain’s Future Lynx aircraft. Development is due to commence this year at Smiths’ facilities in Southampton, UK and in Michigan, USA, with deliveries scheduled to commence in 2011.

The Future Lynx HUMS will continuously monitor the fleet wide health and performance of safety-critical components, providing advance warning of potential equipment failures and collecting valuable data for routine maintenance of each aircraft. HUMS sensors monitor the health and usage of the engines, transmission, drive-train system, rotor system and airframe by detecting and diagnosing potential failures, recording usage, automating test procedures and providing alerts for potential maintenance actions. The HUMS also provides continuous Rotor Track and Balance (RTB) capability, negating the requirement for the installation of carry aboard equipment and the overhead for dedicated RTB check flights. This feature will be operational in advance of the UK’s operational use of the aircraft, in time for the Super Lynx flight trials phase.

June 22/06: Sub-contractors. General Dynamics UK Limited announces a GBP 24 million (about $44 million) contract from AgustaWestland for the design, development and manufacture of an Advanced Tactical Processor for the UK’s Future Lynx Programme.

The Tactical Processor will be based on GDUK’s combat proven family of open systems computers, and will host software applications that interface to the hardware using an Allied Standard Avionics Architecture Council (ASAAC) standard based 3-layer software stack. It will also provide a sophisticated video processing and distribution function, embedded mission recording and playback and a digital map capability that is common to the UK’s Merlin Mk3 support helicopter. The new helicopters ATP will also feature 2-way data communication with the GD designed BOWMAN network.

June 22/06: Strategic Partnering Arrangement for Future Lynx Program signed between the UK MoD and AgustaWestland. This solidifies the GBP 1 billion order for 70 helicopters, which is worth $1.9 billion at the time.

June 13/06: Business Transformation Incentivisation Agreement signed between the UK MoD and AgustaWestland. AgustaWestland release.

Future Lynx contract

March 24/05: Future Lynx selected as the preferred option for UK land and sea helicopter requirements. See DID coverage.

Additional Readings Background: Helicopter

Background: Ancillaries

Official Reports

News & Views

Categories: News

US Army Modernization: Not In a Good Place

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 12:00

  • US Army Acquisition Undersecretary Heidi Shyu described her service’s modernization efforts as approaching a “death spiral.” That it not just the type of anti-sequestration rethoric we’ve grown used to, as Shyu sounds genuinely frustrated with the amount of paperwork that program managers have to file for each program milestone.

  • Case in point, the US Army’s follow up to the ill-fated GCV has been dubbed the Future Fighting Vehicle (FFV) and will remain [Army Times] just a notional program until at least 2016.

  • The CSIS think tank released its analysis of US defense contract spending over 2000-13, which is the topic of today’s video further below. There are plenty of good charts in this report, including one illustrating the dramatic shrinkage in land vehicle procurement.

  • It’s our understanding that readers who have not answered our annual survey yet are overwhelmed with guilt. It’s OK, here’s the link.

DoD Regulations

Asia

  • The Us Navy announced that 2 BMD destroyers currently homeported in California will be based in Japan by 2017, in order to firm the Administration’s bellyflop to the Pacific.

Europe

  • Russia is to start operating [Xinhua] a new radar station in Kaliningrad in December.

Human Factors

  • The French Air Force has been measuring human factors [in French, with video] such as vigilance and tiredness to maximize crew use on A400Ms without compromising safety.

US DoD Spending Trends
Categories: News

WON By Default: Korea’s E-737 AWACS

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 16:47
ROKAF E-737
(click to view full)

Other countries have criticized the USA’s ITAR policy for being as much about unfair trade competition as it is about genuine security. August 2006 events in Korea would certainly appear to strengthen their case… and a Nov 8/06 KOIS report put the final nail in by announcing a $1.6 billion contract “win” for 4 Boeing E-737 early-warning aircraft. Yet Boeing was always the ROK’s second choice, and its “win” came about by default.

A pair of December 2005 articles covered the $1.8 billion competition for South Korea’s E-X airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft, designed to detect incursions into ROK airspace and act as a sort of air traffic control for the air war. At the time, South Korea had no AWACS assets, relying solely on its allies; by 2012, it wanted at least 4 aircraft. In response, there were 2 main competitors…

The (Rail) Road to a Deal G550 CAEW
(click to view full)

Boeing’s E-737 “Wedgetail” AEW&C was matched up against an American-Israeli consortium of General Dynamics Gulfstream, L-3, & IAI Elta, offering a G550 CAEW platform based on the Gulfstream 550 long range business jet. It sold for about $400-500 million less overall, and was reportedly favored, but the need for US permission under ITAR to incorporate certain technologies was holding up the sale.

The items on the interference list hardly constitute unusual technologies, and are exported all the time:

  • Data Links (Link 11 and Link 16/MIDS capabilities) for automatic data exchange with other aircraft, ground stations, air defense units, etc.;
  • IFF (Identification Friend or Foe);
  • The Satellite communications module;
  • The UHF/VHF Have Quick Radio;
  • GPS P(Y) code technology.

Eight months after the December 2005 articles, Boeing’s E-737 was selected. By default. After an announced competition delay in December 2005, an August 2006 news report noted that:

“Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aircraft Industries, was dropped off as it failed to guarantee obtaining required export licenses from the U.S. government regarding key items to be installed on its product for the sealing of the contract, a DAPA [South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration] spokesman said.”

Industrial Team E-737 Cutaway
(click to view full)

Price negotiations followed, with a formal announcement taking place in November 2006. The ROKAF’s E-737s are based on the 737-700, and carry a flight crew of 2 and a mission crew of 6-10 people. Maximum range is listed as 3,800 nautical miles, with 9 hours time on station at an altitude of 30,000 – 41,000 feet.

Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems provides the Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) L-band radar. It’s able to track around 1,000 airborne and maritime targets simultaneously, and can help the mission crew direct fighter aircraft while continuously scanning the operational area. It’s more advanced than the radars that equip current American AWACS planes, and the electronically steered beams mean that it doesn’t need the iconic rotating dome up top. Instead, the radar is fixed in a more aerodynamic housing that looks like a top hat.

Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) will perform aircraft modification and mission equipment modification and checkout. Modification of the 1st aircraft took place at a Boeing facility, but KAI modified the remaining 3 aircraft in Saechon, Korea, and provides ongoing technical services, spares supply, and related parts-handling. Other Korean companies that made key contributions to the AEW&C program include:

  • LIG Nex1: networking and training
  • Samsung Thales: mission crew training.
  • Boeing Training Services Korea: flight crew training
  • Huneed Technologies: ground-based datalinks communications system.

Contracts & Key Events ROKAF “Peace Eye”
(click to view full)

Oct 15/14: 2 more? China’s unilateral November 2013 declaration of an Air Defense Identification Zone, which includes some Korean territory, is pushing the ROK to upgrade its high end armed forces. At sea, they’re contemplating 3 more cruiser-sized AEGIS BMD ships. In the air, South Korea will buy aerial tankers to extend patrol and strike ranges, and…

“For surveillance over the KADIZ, we are seeking to secure two more such [Peace Eye] planes over the long term,” said an official at the Air Force, asking not to be named.”

Sources: Korean Herald, “Air Force mulls buying additional early warning aircraft”.

March 27/14: Support. Boeing has reportedly asked for WON 290 billion / $270 million to support the ROKAF’s E737 “Peace Eye” fleet from 2015 – 2018, which about double what the government had budgeted:

“We have requested that Boeing submit details of the technology support programs,” a ministry official said. “The ministry plans to sign a deal in August after cutting the price through negotiations.”

They may. On the other hand, the ROKAF has bought the planes, and they fulfill a very strategic role. It isn’t like they can afford not to come to an agreement. Sources: Yonhap, “U.S. demands sharp rise in price of F-15K’s sensor parts”.

Oct 24/12: Final Delivery. Boeing and KAI deliver the ROKAF’s 4th and final E-737 “Peace Eye” AEW&C, 5 weeks ahead of schedule. Boeing.

Final delivery

May 16/12: #3 delivered. Boeing delivers South Korea’s 3rd Peace Eye 737 AEW&C aircraft to ROKAF Base Gimhae, the main operating base for the Peace Eye fleet. This is the 2nd aircraft in the fleet to be modified into an AEW&C configuration by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) at its facility in Sacheon. Boeing.

Dec 13/11: #2 delivered. South Korea’s 2nd E-737, and the 1st modified by KAI, is delivered ahead of schedule to ROKAF Base Gimhae. Boeing Peace Eye program manager had high praise for KAI’s quality and technical expertise. KAI will modify 2 more planes in Sacheon, for delivery to the ROKAF in 2012. Boeing.

Peace Eye arrives
(click for video)

Aug 1/11: E-737 #1. South Korea’s 1st “Peace Eye” 737 AEW&C aircraft lands at Gimhae AB, about 450 km southeast of Seoul, with all modifications installed. The ROK DAPA says that:

“The first E-737 completed tests by our Air Force at Boeing’s factory in Seattle… It will go through test flights and acceptance tests before it’s handed over to our Air Force in early September.”

KAI’s Saechon facility is modifying the other 3, which will be delivered throughout 2012. Yonhap | JoongAng Daily | Korea Herald | Flight International.

1st “Peace Eye” delivery

Feb 4/10: Boeing delivers the first 737 AEW&C aircraft to South Korea for modification. The 737 lands at the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) facility in Sacheon, some 430 km southeast of Seoul, where it will be fitted with the electronics and equipment its role requires. Final ROKAF handover is expected in 2011. Defense News.

Dec 17/07: Sub-contractors. BAE Systems announces a $37 million contract from Boeing to provide mission computer system suites for the E-X program’s 4 E-737s, along with 3 software development labs to support development, integration, and training of the new mission computer system.

The mission computer suite consists of a computer processor with embedded map server and flight-deck tactical display. The suite’s architecture is derived from the telecommunications industry, and provides all central mission computing, mass data storage, and high-speed local-area network capability. It also features a communications control processor that provides interfaces to all aircraft sensor and communication subsystems. BAE believes that using a telecom architecture offers lower weight and cost, while offering increased processing capability and a path for future technology insertion.

In its release, BAE Systems also claims that this development of telecom computer architecture for military use is among the first military applications of this technology.

Nov 8/06: Boeing announces the $1.59 billion contract for four 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems. The contract also includes ground support segments for flight and mission crew training, mission support, and aircraft and system modification support. Delivery of the 1st 737 AEW&C aircraft under the Foreign Military Sale “Peace Eye” program is scheduled for 2011. The remaining 3 aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2012.

Nov 8/06: That announcement took until November, but it has come. The ROK’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announces that DAPA’s supreme committee chaired by Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung had formalized the decision, and signed a $1.6 billion contract with Boeing for its E-737 aircraft under the “Peace Eye” Foreign Military Sale program.

Peace Eye contract

Op Ed/ Analysis (August 2006)

Security restrictions on military technology transfers, and even political restrictions, are not uncommon for Western countries. The breadth of US global interests, and the importance of interoperability with allies, place the USA in a unique position. The demands of that position require careful balancing and the appearance of scrupulous fairness, however, or the result will be a series of “wins” that actually erode both the USA’s allied interoperability and its global clout over the long term.

Two other items in our Aug 4/06 coverage offer excellent illustrations of these imperatives in action.

We’ll begin with the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, one of the largest military programs in the world with estimates as high as $279 billion. A recent deal between the USA and Britain forestalled an impasse that could have led to the unraveling of much of the international consortium, increased costs per aircraft, and left a serious cloud over the export potential that’s essential to the F-35’s long term business case. Note that one of the key issues was the ability to create third-party add-ons. Integration of foreign equipment without requiring US say-so was another. The fact that those were 2 of the 3 major issues is telling in and of itself.

Fortunately, high-level diplomacy conducted in a spirit of fairness appears to have headed a major dispute off at the pass.

Next, note our coverage of the (canceled) Venezuela deal for 12 EADS-CASA transport aircraft from Spain. Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the restriction or its rationale, there can be no question that the lost sales will be keenly felt on a political level due to lost jobs in Spain, even though EADS’ corporate parent may see it as an acceptable trade for access to the US market. A major and separate deal from Brazil for its Super Tucano aircraft was also blocked – this time, with no offsetting consolation either economically or politically.

The result must inevitably be resentment, in both locations. The fact that the USA has a consistently expressed security concern with the country in question will be a mitigating factor, because at least the decision is not seen as utterly capricious. To some extent, the USA must simply pay this price as part of the policy cost of working to make Venezuela’s arms build-up more difficult – though our Feb 14/06 “Love on the Rocks” article did note that the US had options that would have both furthered its own global objectives and cushioned the blow in Brazil.

It may eventually wish that it had pursued those options. While EADS is now tied to the US market by golden handcuffs, Embraer and many European companies who lack such ties may well be thinking hard about minimizing future US technology inputs in their products. This may be an acceptable cost if the USA considers its Venezuelan policy goal important enough, but it will chip away at the edges of future US influence in such sales by providing it with fewer opportunities to invoke ITAR export restrictions. As a mitigating factor, crossing the USA on issues it considers highly important is always understood to have costs. Unless one plans in advance to sell to rogue regimes, therefore, the Venezuelan example is unlikely to fuel a big “buy any except American” dynamic because of the effort, expense, and possible cost to buyer appeal of going with substitutes.

Which brings us to the Korean E-X competition. Whether or not ITAR was in fact deliberately used to hinder a competitor that included non-US firms, that is certainly the appearance. This, we submit, is the most damaging possible message – especially because it confirms a widespread but quiet suspicion within the international defense industry.

If the issue is simply that one should hesitate before crossing the USA on major foreign policy issues (Venezuela), or that pressure is required to make the USA do the right thing (F-35), that is one thing. If the issue is that using American technologies will cut one’s export potential across the board because it will be used against you in competitions, that’s a very different kettle of fish. That perception would be material enough to affect the calculus for major items like engines and electronics when developing new platforms. If it does, the result is fewer ITAR levers for the USA, less compatibility with foreign designs, and a long-term loss of work in its defense sector to offset the more visible short-term wins.

Note also the technologies that became sticking points in the E-X sale: GPS. Link 11 and Link 16/MIDS. IFF. Minor technologies all, which became broad and important allied standards under US/NATO leadership.

As the EU prepares its own rapid deployment forces as a clear parallel force to NATO, and pursues global projects like the Galileo GPS satellite constellation, they are already likely to push for more “made in Europe” interoperability standards, as opposed to US/NATO specifications. They will be built for interoperability with American equipment, of course, or at least trumpeted as such – but they will also be built to allow solo operation.

It will be much easier to get countries and firms to go along with independent standards, if they see them as a hedge against unfair American export competition. In addition, the creation of a market for such technologies is likely to create a production base of minor players who can step in as substitutes for other components down the chain, without worrying about the potential effect on their own (nonexistent) US exports.

Countries, and companies, understand security concerns. They also understand the requirements of geopolitics. So long as their opinion of one’s geopolitics is that it lives within the realm of reason, geopolitical effects on production decisions will be minimal. The appearance of undue advantage or exploitation of those security concerns as a front, however, will not be understood or accepted. If that view becomes prevalent, the result will be a long-term set of changes in the market that make any short term wins a pyrrhic victory indeed.

In our opinion, the USA needs to take a hard look at its ITAR processes, and the way they are being handled. Other countries and firms around the world are already doing so – and their gaze is not friendly.

Additional Readings

Export Control Issues

“The only way to resolve technology access and U.S. government export restrictions imposed by ITAR is by “not including any U.S.-sourced technology into our products,” [Dassault CEO Charles Edelstenne] the President of the Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe (ASD) said yesterday… In the context of space programs, steps are already being made towards completely excluding U.S. input in order to stay clear of the ITAR restrictions, adds Francois Gayet, the permanent Secretary-General of the ASD…”

Categories: News

The USA’s DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class Program: Dead Aim, Or Dead End?

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 16:30
67% of the fleet
(click to view full)

DID’s FOCUS Article for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyer” program covers the new ships’ capabilities and technologies, key controversies, associated contracts and costs, and related background resources.

The ship’s prime missions are to provide naval gunfire support, and next-generation air defense, in near-shore areas where other large ships hesitate to tread. There has even been talk of using it as an anchor for action groups of stealthy Littoral Combat Ships and submarines, owing to its design for very low radar, infrared, and acoustic signatures. The estimated 14,500t (battlecruiser size) Zumwalt Class will be fully multi-role, however, with undersea warfare, anti-ship, and long-range attack roles. That makes the DDG-1000 suitable for another role – as a “hidden ace card,” using its overall stealth to create uncertainty for enemy forces.

True, or False?
(click to view full)

At over $3 billion per ship for construction alone, however, the program faced significant obstacles if it wanted to avoid fulfilling former Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter’s fears for the fleet. From the outset, DID has noted that the Zumwalt Class might face the same fate as the ultra-sophisticated, ultra-expensive SSN-21 Seawolf Class submarines. That appears to have come true, with news of the program’s truncation to just 3 ships. Meanwhile, production continues.

Zumwalt Class: Program and Participants

As of December 2012, DDG 1000 Zumwalt was about 80% complete and scheduled to deliver in July 2014, with an Initial Operating Capability in July 2016. DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor was about 48% complete, and DDG 1002 (now Lyndon B. Johnson) was just beginning construction preparations.

The most striking thing about the Zumwalt Class program as a whole is the seismic jump in R&D costs. This is hardly surprising given the number of very new technologies involved, and the 2 program restarts along the way. Overall procurement costs have dropped as ship numbers dropped from 32 to 3, but on a per-ship basis they soared from $1.02 billion to $3.71 billion.

The Navy’s build-cost figure has been disputed by past Congressional Budget Office reports, which placed the total even higher at $5.1 billion. The Navy claims that the CBO’s estimate doesn’t consider shipyard improvements that change the build process, a more mature detailed design that has been built several thousand times by computer (a capability developed as a “lesson learned” from the Arleigh Burke program); and the roughly $500 million per ship that is being contracted for on a firm-fixed-price basis. On the other hand, the CBO has been right, and the Navy wrong, when estimating other recent shipbuilding programs.

With DDG 1000 Zumwalt rounding toward completion, we should know who’s right pretty soon. Key members of the DDG-1000’s industrial team include:

Program History: The Long and Winding Road 2006 Schedule
(click to view full)

The Zumwalt Class’ path to fielding has taken a long time, and seen several twists and turns. Given the sheer number of new technologies involved, that may have been a good thing, but the long gestation period has also hurt the program in other ways.

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ Ingalls shipyard led the “DD 21 Gold Team” through Phase I (System Concept Design) and Phase II (Initial Systems Design) from 1995-2001, until the program was suspended on May 7/01 pending that Quadrennial Defense Review and other key studies.

In November 2001, the DD 21 Program was restructured as the DD (X) Program. The Navy was directed to conduct a Spiral Development Review (SDR), to revalidate some requirements; and to assess the merits of achieving various levels of capability across a family of ships, including a Littoral Combatant Ship (LCS) and the next-generation CG (X) cruiser. The Request For Proposal for Phase III was issued Nov 30/01.

The Gold Team won on April 29/02, but the contract was delayed until the US Government Accountability Office denied General Dynamics’ protest On Aug 19/02. At that point, a firm winner could be declared. The winning “National Team” was led by Northrop Grumman, and included Raytheon IDS as the prime mission systems equipment integrator for all electronic and combat systems. Other major subcontractors included Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and Boeing. It even incorporated “Blue team” leader General Dynamics Bath Iron Works as a subcontractor for design and test activities.

By mid-spring 2005, however, a new DDI (design, development & integration) contract was signed. The Navy designated 4 Prime Contractors, to be coordinated through a Navy-Industry DDG-1000 Collaboration Center run by Raytheon. The current Prime Contractors are:

  • General Dynamics Bath Iron works (ship design & build)
  • Raytheon (mission systems integration which includes sensors, combat systems, electronics, and the PVLS)
  • BAE Systems (AGS gun system)
  • Northrop Grumman Ingalls (ship design & build, relinquished build role)

On Nov 23/05, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition signed the “destroyer acquisition memorandum,” approving the DDG 1000 program to proceed with Milestone B, and commencing detail design and construction of the first ships. On April 7/06, the program got its second name change from DD-21 and then DD (X), to its official and formal designation as the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class.

As construction begins, Congressional resolutions have dissolved the US Navy’s original “winner take all” shipbuilding approach; the first 2 DDG-1000 destroyers will now be built at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls yard in Pascagoula, MS; and at General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine. This was expected to add up to $300 million to the cost of each ship, but was expected to help to keep the USA’s industrial base options open for future efforts like CG (X) etc.

Strong arguments can be made for both the Navy’s original option and Congress’ mandated approach… and have been. Under the Navy’s proposed new “Dual Lead Ships Strategy,” the USN planned to benchmark these lead ships from each shipyard against each other, and revisit its options around FY 2009.

That became a moot point when the DDG 1000 program was truncated at 3 ships, a development that ironically led the program back to its original single-builder strategy. Zumwalt Class ships will be built at Bath Iron Works, with Northrop Grumman (now Huntington Ingalls) supplying the composite deckhouse superstructure for all 3 ships.

CG (X) was slated for termination in the FY 2011 budget, and will be replaced by DDG-51 “Flight III” destroyers as of about 2016. Those ships will be built in alternating yards by General Dynamics Bath Iron Works and by Northrop Grumman. The question now is whether cost growth and engineering challenges for the Flight IIIs will begin to push them to a level that re-starts debate over building more Zumwalts.

DDG-1000 Key Technologies and Features DDG-1000: key features
(click to view full)

The Zumwalt Class is currently in the middle of the production phase. When finished, the class is projected at 14,500t, almost 3 times the displacement of some frigates. In other eras, it would have been called a cruiser or even a battlecruiser. A follow-on CG (X) cruiser was also contemplated, and the issues faced by the DDG-1000 Program had a significant influence on its ultimate cancellation. In practice, the 3 DDG-1000s are America’s future cruisers.

Several of the Zumwalt Class’ sub-systems represent entirely new technologies, as seen in the graphics above and below. Some of the key innovations include:

All-aspect Stealth. To achieve survivability in littoral regions close to shore, DDG-1000 ships will be reliant on their ability to see their surroundings and counter threats, while being difficult to detect. The goal is a 50-fold radar cross section reduction as compared to current DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers.

To achieve that stealth, the destroyer’s “tumblehome” inward-sloping hull, shaping, composite superstructure, and other stealth measures are meant to reduce radar, infrared, and other signatures. The ship’s shape reduces its visible wake in the water, and its all-electric power system is quieter. Even the ship’s internal lighting system represents advances in this area.

Sensors Tech features

Dual-Band Sonar. A dual-band hull sonar is a first for American naval ships, and so is its packaging. The Zumwalt Class’ AN/SQQ-90 sonar system includes the AN/SQS-60 hull-mounted mid-frequency sonar; the AN/SQS-61 hull-mounted high-frequency sonar; and the AN/SQR-20 multi-function towed array sonar and handling system. The sonar system can reportedly be operated by 1/3 the number of crew members required for the AN/SQQ-89 systems on current Arleigh Burke Class destroyers and Ticonderoga cruisers, and the range of frequencies should help find submarines in a wider variety of conditions. Correlation between the ship’s 3 sonars may even produce improved resolution, but the Navy isn’t talking.

Like the ship’s computing environment, the sonar system is packaged in Electronic Module Enclosures (EMEs), which roll in as units and combine the commercial off-the-shelf electronics that power the hull-mounted sonars with shock mitigation, electromagnetic interference protection, thermal conditioning, security and vibration isolation. The electronics to power and control the ship’s hull-mounted sonar arrive in a single, smaller package that’s fully integrated and tested, including the transmit/receive amplifiers, and associated processors that distribute signals and data to the ship’s command center.

Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE). Rather than doing this piecemeal on a per system basis, the idea is to have an integrated but open architecture approach from the very beginning. This creates a single IT framework, and makes it easier to integrate commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software like IBM blade servers and Cisco routers. That allows the Navy and the prime contractors to use more conventional commercial acquisition approaches/ partnerships to support and upgrade the technology, and also improves wider interoperability. A total of 16 factory configured and tested Electronic Modular Enclosures (EMEs) are distributed throughout the ship. EMEs protect the equipment inside, and the client/server architecture ensures that any workstation can run any task, unlike past ships that have depended on task-focused consoles. The entire assembly is controlled by the TCSE software.

TSCE will be about 8 million lines of code, but it actually connects with about 20 million lines of code reused from other programs (AEGIS, SPQ-89, NAVSSI), plus the secured commercial operating systems, databases, and middleware that underpin the entire infrastructure. TSCE’s functionality is being developed as services, with set interfaces to the underlying commercial software and proprietary code. This allows changes to take place on both ends with minimal disruption of each service. The advances made by TSCE will in turn be reused in the new CVN-78 carriers and CV-X cruisers because of its services framework, design for reuse, and open architecture. That’s good, because $117 million per Zumwalt Class ship is a sizeable investment[1].

TSCE is currently at Release 5/6, and coding for Release 6 is underway. IBM is partnered with prime contractor Raytheon for this component; other key subcontractors include Lockheed Martin.

Dual-Band Radar (now just SPY-3 X-band). For detection and self-defense, the DDG-1000 was going to rely on a new approach called the Dual-Band Radar, but will now use only the SPY-3. Raytheon’s X-Band SPY-3 radar provides air and surface detection/tracking, and supports fire control. Its use of active array radar technology makes it far more survivable against saturation missile attacks, since it can track and guide against tens of incoming missiles simultaneously. In comparison, the passive S-band phased array SPY-1D radars that equip American AEGIS destroyers and cruisers are limited to terminal guidance against just 3-4 targets at any one time. Active array radars also feature superior reliability, and recent experiments suggest that they could also be used for very high-power electronic jamming, and high-bandwidth secure communications.

The SPY-3 was to be integrated with Lockheed Martin’s active array S-Band volume search radar, and collectively the SPY-3 fore control radar and SPY-4 search array would comprise the Dual Band Radar (DBR) system. The idea was to have the destroyer benefit from the best capabilities of both X-band’s outstanding medium to high altitude performance, and the S-band VSR’s performance in clutter, in order to create a single combat picture. The goal was a 3x improvement over existing AEGIS ships like the DDG-51 destroyers and CG-47 cruisers. In 2010, however, the S-band SPY-4 was cut from the DDG-1000 program. SPY-4 VSR testing will finish, but Raytheon’s X-band SPY-3 fire control radar would be given volume search upgrades, and become the destroyer’s sole radar. DBR will be retained, in smaller form, on the USA’s new CVN-78 Gerald Ford Class aircraft carriers.

Weapons BAE’s AGS
(click for video)

Advanced Gun System. The supposed rationale for the DDG-1000 centers around naval gunfire support for troops ashore. While US battleships with 9 massive 16-inch guns have performed extremely well in this role to date, the DDG-1000 intends to rely on 2 of BAE Systems’ rapid fire 155mm Advanced Gun Systems (AGS), each firing up to 304 advanced Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) GPS-guided shells that give the AGS a greatly-extended range of 70-100 nautical miles. The gun will use the AGS Intra-Ship Rearmament System (AIRS) for reloading, providing a safe way of moving AGS pallets between the flight deck and the gun magazine’s pallet hoist, with full performance in conditions up to Sea State 3. Read “Next-Gen Naval Gunfire Support: the USA’s AGS & LRLAP” for fuller coverage of those systems.

BAE is reportedly working on a lighter 155mm AGS assembly that might be suitable for new DDG-51 Flight III destroyers, but it would still weigh twice as much as existing MK45 127/62 caliber naval gun systems. Their joint work with Lockheed Martin on a 5″ LRLAP shell seems likely to pay better dividends,

Beyond the USA, AGS doesn’t have any direct counterparts in other navies yet, but Italy’s OtoMelara has created a rocket boosted, 127/64 caliber GPS-guided shell system called Vulcano, whose shorter range is offset by lower cost compatibility with many existing ships. TBAE and Lockheed Martin are responding with the LRLAP round that fits BAE’s 5″ naval guns, and other firms like Raytheon (Excalibur naval) are offering guided long-range projectiles of their own.

Finally, the Zumwalts have a growth path that other top American ships do not: electro-magnetic weapons. The Zumwalts produce enough power to add lasers for last ditch missile defense and small boat/ anti-helicopter work, once laser technology takes its final operational steps. If enough power can be stored within the ship, future upgrades might even include an electro-magnetic rail gun for ultra-long-range, high capacity guided fire.

Anyone else firing?
(click to view full)

PVLS Missile Launchers. Some additional survivability will come from automated firefighting systems, and even the ship’s missile launchers are designed to contribute. Zumwalt Class destroyers will distribute their 80 missile cells among 20 reinforced launcher sets along the edges of the ship, rather than concentrating them in one central cluster that can be directly targeted by modern missiles. The PVLS system is designed to release and direct the energy from a magazine explosion away from the ship, in order to avoid situations in which the detonation of a round in one cell spreads into catastrophe.

Mk 57 Peripheral Vertical Launching System (PVLS) cells will be larger than the current Mk 41 VLS, allowing them to carry larger missiles, or multi-pack smaller missiles. Raytheon is the prime contractor, with BAE Systems as a subcontractor.

Propulsion Critical tech & status
(click to view full)

All-Electric Power. Another challenge the Zumwalt Class will face is power. Ship electronics continue to require more and more power, and this class is also envisioned as an all-electric ship wherein even gun turrets and other mechanical systems will be electrical, and having separate systems for propulsion and power will no longer be necessary. The use of electric drive also eliminates the need for drive shaft and reduction gears, which brings benefits in ship space, acoustic signature reduction to enemy submarines, and less interference with the ship’s listening devices. Not to mention better fuel efficiency, and the potential to accommodate new electronics, more powerful radars, or even energy weapons and rail guns. The DDG-1000’s expected electrical output is 78 MW, compared to 7.5 MW for the current DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class – a capacity limitation that’s endangering plans to refit the Burkes with more advanced radars.

The exact choice of engine systems was somewhat controversial. The concept was originally for an integrated power system (IPS) based on in-hull permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMMs), with Advanced Induction Motors (AIM) as a possible backup solution. The design was shifted to the AIM system in February 2005 in order to meet scheduled milestones; PMM technical issues were subsequently fixed, but the program has moved on. The downside is that AIM technology has a heavier motor, requires more space, requires a separate controller to meet noise requirements, and produces one-third the amount of voltage. Once adopted, however, there was little prospect of going back. These very differences would create time-consuming and expensive design and construction changes if the program wished to “design AIM out”.

The AIM system is made by Alstom, who also makes electric-drive motors for cruise ships. CAE will supply the integrated platform management system. A Rolls-Royce MT30 36MW gas turbine has powered the IPS Engineering Development Model in Philadelphia, and has now been ordered for production ships. The MT30 has 80% commonality with the Rolls-Royce Trent 800 aero engine used on the Boeing 777, and Rolls-Royce states that it is the most powerful marine gas turbine in the world.

DRS Technologies Power Technology unit had received development contracts for the PMM motors, electric drive, and control system for the IPS, but lost that role when the program switched to AIM technology. The firm does retain involvement in the ship’s “Integrated Fight-through Power” modules and load centers that take converted electrical power, condition it to get it to the right voltages, and distribute it to 8 redundant zones. If you lose power on the port side of the ship, for instance, you can cross-connect it to the starboard side.

DDG-1000 Issues and Controversies Plan B?
(cick for alternative view)

The Zumwalt Class will incorporate a number of new technologies and capabilities that will make it a very formidable combatant – but it has also had its share of controversies that have included questions concerning its stealth, weapon choices, at-sea stability, cost growth, and the Navy’s future force mix.

Stealth. While the DDG 1000 is designed as a low-emissions ship across a number of wavelengths, it is 50% larger than the already large Arleigh Burke Class destroyers – very nearly the same displacement as the WW2 German ‘pocket battleship’ Graf Spee. On the high seas, it’s a very big ocean; but the Navy wants to take them into the shallow-water littoral zone, where a number of alternative technologies (including swarms of small-medium UAVs with electro-optical equipment, or dhows will cell phones) can be used to find a ship. Once the ship fires its weapons, methods for detecting the ship expand further via options like acoustic sensors. Stealth will still make the ship harder to target and engage, but unlike the Iowa Class battleships, a DDG-1000 will not be able to ignore an Exocet missile strike to its hull.

The Navy believes it can still produce a stealthy enough ship, with enough stand-off range to avoid some threats, and to buy reaction time against others. Naval personnel add that they’re testing the platform to ensure that these goals are met. Some observers are less certain. They also wonder whether a serious, realistic ‘hunt the Graf Spee’ test, using a properly equipped opposing force cleared to use innovative approaches, is even thinkable for a Navy that has invested its prestige and several billion dollars. Without such tests, of course, the only way to find out for sure is the hard way, in battle.

Weapons. One of the issues that did a lot of damage to the DDG-1000 program in its late stages was the revelation that its radar system would not be suited to ballistic missile defense roles, and that modifications to make the radar powerful enough would be problematic. This lack of flexibility proved costly, since cheaper DDG-51 destroyers can be made fully ABM capable using known technologies, while the DDG-1000’s SPY-3 radar and combat system would require the same sort of research program the AEGIS ships went through in order to add BMD capability. The Navy also began to contend that the DDG-1000 wouldn’t be able to use Standard family missiles (SM-2, SM-3, SM-6) , a charge that has been vehemently and persuasively disputed by Raytheon and others. Raytheon also disputes the charge that its SPY-3 radar would be less suited to the BMD role once software additions were made, contending that its performance would be superior to current ships.

The other weapons-related issue was the 155mm Advanced Gun System. It will be capable of rapid, long range, accurate fire that far out-ranges even a battleship gun. War is also about intimidation, however; otherwise, the inaccurate, slow, but loud and intimidating musket would never have replaced the faster, longer-range, more accurate, but less intimidating crossbow. A 155mm shell doesn’t have quite the psychological impact of a 16-inch, volkswagen-size battleship round, and rapid fire to create that effect risks exhausting the DDG 1000’s limited ammunition supply very quickly. Reactivating the battleships was considered, and had some supporters in Congress, but never became a serious option.

Meanwhile, other navies are developing rocket-boosted guided ammunition for existing 127mm guns, to give them 60+ mile ranges. Are the expensive and specialized AGS guns simply unnecessary? Can the killing effect of GPS-guided shells from any gun of 5″/127mm or less provide enough suppression and decapitation to make up for lower intimidation value? Even if they could, can the small number of Zumwalts adequately fulfill that role? Or is the AGS/Zumwalt combination simply the wrong concept for naval fire support?

The 3rd issue is that the Zumwalts falter after the AGS gun and PVLS missiles. These huge and expensive ships lack an interior missile defense using systems like RAM missiles, or last-ditch defenses like the radar-guided Phalanx 20mm gatling gun. That’s a troubling weakness for a ship that has to come in close to shore for naval gunfire support. The original design included 2 BAE Mk.110 57mm guns for that purpose, mounted in stealth cupolas near the helicopter hangar. They serve as main guns for the USA’s Littoral Combat Ship and Legend Class Coast Guard Cutters, combining rapid fire fused-fragmentation air defense, and medium-range targeting of inshore enemies like explosives-laden fast boats. The DDG-1000 program said that the Mk.110s didn’t perform as advertised in tests, removed them, and replaced them with 2 less expensive Mk.46 30mm turrets that can’t engage missiles, helicopters, or other aerial opponents. Until and unless the ships add effective laser weapons, this is going to be an important weakness.

Tumblehome hull
(click to view full)

Ship shape. Tumblehome hull designs that slope outward to the waterline have had a less-than-stellar naval history. The design offers important stealth benefits, but some experts believe that the ship could capsize in a following sea at the wrong speed, if a wave at an appropriate wavelength hits it at an appropriate angle. That would be… expensive, on many levels. Then again, so is a missile in your hull. Experiments have been run in simulated conditions up to hurricane-level and with scale models up to 1/4 scale, in order to determine safety. The Navy believes the design to be safe across an array of conditions whose breadth matches current ships.

As a new design type, however, the Zumwalt Class can never have the certainty of designs that are known and proven over the immense array of conditions encountered by thousands of ships sailing over many decades. New capability comes with risk, but if it proves out, the USA will have expertise in stealthy ship design and construction that puts it well ahead of other countries. Are the experts who believe the design to be unsafe rigid traditionalists, of the same species that dismissed the aircraft carrier when it was new? Or are they offering a prescient warning?

Cost Growth. In the end, this is the biggest issue faced by the DDG-1000 program. Originally slated to cost under $1 billion per ship, the program has grown to the point that 2005 GAO estimates placed likely average construction costs at $3.2 billion per ship, with ship life cycle costs at about double that of the DDG-51 Arleigh Burk Class ($4 Billion vs. $2.1 billion). Further cost increases are possible based on technical project risks, with some estimates climbing as high as $5 billion.

At that cost level, even the US Navy will find itself priced out of the water, unable to maintain enough ships to serve in the envisaged role. That cost profile also leads one to ask whether the Navy would really send something that expensive into harm’s way in dangerous shallow waters near an enemy coast, knowing that they’re gambling with a $3+ billion asset whose cost makes it an extremely attractive enemy target.

Force Structure. The original plan called for 32 DD (X) ships. That shrank to 8, and now just 3. Reagan’s 600-ship Navy is now projected to shrink to just 313 ships in official plans, and even this may not be achievable; a 2005 Pentagon study stated that the Navy was likely to be up to 40% short on expected funding toward their 375 ship goal, based on reasonably-expected funding profiles.

Even an 8-ship class certainly isn’t going to succeed in replacing 62 DDG-51 AEGIS destroyers – but something will have to do so beyond 2030, or the Navy’s planned force will start becoming ineffective at all levels, as the intended “high-low” mix fails on both ends. DID has already discussed the light armament profile being built into US Navy versions of the Littoral Combat Ship, and their corresponding and compounding lack of weapon flexibility. As Vice-Admiral Mustin (ret.) and Vice-Admiral Katz (ret.) put it in a 2003 USNI Proceedings article:

“Because the Navy has invested heavily in land-attack capabilities such as the Advanced Gun System and land-attack missiles in DD (X), there is no requirement for [the Littoral Combat Ship] to have this capability. Similarly, LCS does not require an antiair capability beyond self-defense because DD (X) and CG (X) will provide area air defense. Thus, if either DD (X) or CG (X) does not occur in the numbers required and on time, the Navy will face two options: leave LCS as is, and accept the risk inherent in employment of this ship in a threat environment beyond what it can handle (which is what it did with the FFG-7); or “grow” LCS to give it the necessary capabilities that originally were intended to reside off board in DD (X) and CG (X). Neither option is acceptable.”

And yet, here we are in 2012, facing their worst case scenario as our current and future reality.

SSN-21: shared fate?

The SSN-21 Seawolf Class remain the best fast attack submarines in the world, with capabilities – and costs – that no other sub can match. That cost eventually led to program cancellation after 3 boats, and replacement by an SSN-774 Virginia Class that integrated many of their key technologies and design approaches at only 60-70% of Seawolf’s cost. In effect, the Seawolf Class became a set of 3 technology demonstrators.

If the Zumwalt Class cannot overcome these controversies with cost-effective performance, DID warned that it could end up sharing Seawolf’s fate. With the 2008 suspension of construction at 2-3 ships, that appears to be exactly what has happened. Even so, spiraling cost growth for the planned DDG-51 Flight III may yet get the Zumwalt Class back into contention as part of the US Navy’s future. If, and only if, the DDG-1000 program can demonstrate promised build and operational costs.

Zumwalt Class: Contracts and Key Events DDG-1000 vs. DDG-51/2A
(click to view full)

Contracts for the Zumwalt’s AGS/LRLAP long-range naval gun system, and Dual-Band Radar, are each covered in separate in-depth articles. While both systems are integral to the Zumwalt Class, they’re also present, or have the potential to be retrofitted, in other ship types.

Note that frequent references to “Mission Systems Equipment” can cover a wide range of items: Dual Band Radar, external communications suite, Total Ship Computing Environment set, MK 57 Vertical Launching System, AN/SQQ-90 Integrated Undersea Warfare Combat System, Electro-Optical/Infrared suite, IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) integrated sensor suite; and the Zumwalt ship control hardware, including an integrated bridge, navigation, EO surveillance, and engineering control system components.

Unless otherwise noted, contracts are issued by the USA’s Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC.

FY 2014 – 2015

Zumwalt christened; Why the switch from 57mm to 30mm guns?; Final composite deckhouse delivered. Float-out
(click to view full)

Oct 12/14: Weapons. The US Navy has removed BAE’s Mk.110 57mm naval gun from their DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class ships, but it wasn’t clear why (q.v. Aug 5/14). Current revelations now say that the 30mm Mk.46 RWS did better against key target types like small boats than the Mk.110 or notional 76mm guns. That’s more than slightly surprising to some observers, who note that a 30mm cannon’s lethal range is about 1 mile rather than 4-6 miles – but the Navy is saying that they were equally surprised. Program Manager Capt. Jim Downey:

“They were significantly over-modeled on the lethality…. The results of the actual live test-fire data was that the round was not as effective as modeled…. it gets into the range of the threat – the approach of the threat, what the make-up of the threat is and how it would maneuver, how it would fire against our ship. There is a whole series of parameters that are very specific on what the threat is and how you take it out through a layer of defenses…. not what we expected to see.”

Downey categorically denies that the Mk.110’s 10+ ton weight difference was an issue, but doesn’t mention cost. Interestingly, his program’s test findings haven’t been shared with other NAVSEA entities like PEO LCS, let alone the Coast Guard who uses the gun on some cutters. The Navy is working on creating those mechanisms, but they don’t exist yet. Defense News, “Experts Question US Navy’s Decision To Swap Out DDG 1000’s Secondary Gun”.

Oct 2/14: Support. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $6.5 million contract modification for FY 2015 Zumwalt class services engineering efforts, supporting their Mission Systems Equipment (MSE). Raytheon is already the contractor lead for class MSE, and the support contract involves MSE design and analysis, engineering and life cycle supportability, architecture and design studies, concept of operations, crewing, mission and requirements analyses, interoperability, mission support services, and test & evaluation.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, Rhode Island (48%), Tewksbury, MA (26%), and Sudbury, MA (26%), and is expected to be complete by September 2015. US Navy Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-10-C-5126).

Aug 7/14: DDG 1001. HII announces that they’ve delivered DDG 1001’s composite deckhouse. Ingalls built and delivered the composite deckhouse and hangar for DDGs 1000 and 1001 at the company’s Composite Center of Excellence in Gulfport, MS, but this will be the last one (q.v. Sept 4/13, Aug 2/13).

The deckhouse will be placed on a barge and shipped to General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine, to be integrated onto the steel hull of DDG 1001. Sources: HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Delivers Composite Deckhouse for Michael Monsoor (DDG 1001)”.

Aug 5/14: Weapons. The US Navy discusses the switch away from Mk.110 57mm secondary guns and their tri-mode ammunition, to much smaller Mk.46 30mm guns.

“The results of the analysis for alternative systems to the Mk 110 CIGS [through 2010] were not conclusive enough to recommend a shift in plan.,” but a 2012 review “concluded that the MK46 was more effective than the MK110 CIGS…. In addition to the increased capability, the change from MK110 to Mk 46 resulted in reduction in weight and significant cost avoidance, while still meeting requirements…”

The Mk.110 has a maximum range of about 9 nautical miles, with fuzing modes and rates of fire that can deal with boats, helicopters, or even incoming missiles. Its 30mm replacement has a maximum range of around 2 miles, a lower rate of fire, and lacks the 57mm shell’s fuzing options. It seems to be a puzzling choice, unless it’s simply a weight shift or a sacrifice to shave a small amount off of ship costs. Sources: USNI, “Navy Swaps Out Anti-Swarm Boat Guns on DDG-1000s”.

Cost changes
(click to view full)

May 21/14: CRS Report. The Congressional Research Service talks about the Zumwalt and DDG-51 Flight III programs. This bit about the Zumwalts’ cost history is useful:

“Some of the cost growth in the earlier years in the table was caused by the truncation of the DDG- 1000 program from seven ships to three, which caused some class-wide procurement-rated costs…. a series of incremental, year-by-year movements away from an earlier Navy cost estimate for the program, and toward a higher estimate developed by Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). As one consequence of a [2010] Nunn-McCurdy cost breach… the Navy was directed to fund the DDG-1000 program to CAPE’s higher cost estimate for the period FY2011-FY2015, and to the Navy’s cost estimate for FY2016 and beyond. The Navy states that it has been implementing this directive in a year-by-year fashion with each budget submission since 2010, moving incrementally closer each year to CAPE’s higher estimate. The Navy states that even with the cost growth shown in the table, the DDG-1000 program as of the FY2015 budget submission is still about 3% below the program’s rebaselined starting point…”

Sources: CRS, “Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress” update (April 8 and June 25) | USNI, “Two Billion Dollar DDG-1000 Cost Growth Explained”.

Christening

April 12/14: DDG 1000. USS Zumwalt is christened, commander by… Captain James Kirk. Not a joke.

Formal delivery is expected in September 2014. Sources: Pentagon, “Navy to Christen future USS Zumwalt, New Class of Destroyer” | Inquisitr, “USS Zumwalt Destroyer To Have Captain James Kirk At The Helm [Video]”

Zumwalt christened

March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. A subsequent CRS report offers a full breakdown:

“The Navy estimates the combined procurement cost of the two DDG-51s requested for procurement in FY2015 at $2,969.4 million, or an average of $1,484.7 million each. The two ships have received a total of $297.9 million in prior-year advance procurement (AP) funding. The Navy’s proposed FY2015 budget requests the remaining $2,671.4 million to complete the two ships’ combined procurement cost.”

Sources: USN, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF] | CRS, “Navy DDG-51 and DDG-1000 Destroyer Programs: Background and Issues for Congress” update (April 8 and June 25).

Oct 28/13: Float-out. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works successfully launches the DDG 1000 Zumwalt from a floating dry dock, then moors it to a pier on the Kennebec River for final fitting-out.

Construction began in February 2009, and Bath Iron Works will deliver the completed ship in late 2014. Navy tests and trials will follow, and the current schedule would achieve Initial Operating Capability in 2016. Sources: USN, “First Zumwalt Class Destroyer Launched”.

Oct 22/13: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a $58 million fixed-price incentive, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for deferred mission systems equipment. The purpose of this modification is to complete the remaining MSE for DDG 1000 and DDG 1001, buy the remaining long-lead mission systems equipment for DDG 1002, and do one-time engineering related to mission system equipment design and development.

DDG 1002 will get”non-hatchable” Mission Systems Equipment. This involves items that are too large to be installed after the ship is built, as they can’t fit through the ship’s hatches. DDG 1002 Lyndon Johnson’s Mk57 VLS, AN/SQQ-90 sonar, etc. all fall into this category. Deferred MSE items for Zumwalt and Michael Monsoor include the MK57 VLS Launcher’s electronics and mechanical kits, below-deck radio terminals for external communications, and dry-end portions of the sonar suite.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (56%), Dallastown, PA (24%); Minneapolis, MN (16%), and Moorestown, NJ (4%), and is expected to be complete by April 2017.

Oct 11/13: Christening of USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000), originally scheduled for Oct 19/13, is postponed by the Navy because of the government shutdown.

FY 2013

DDG 1000 deckhouse delivered & fitted; Agile software development. Deckhouse erection
click for video

Sept 26/13: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, is being awarded a $13.3 million contract modification for material and labor to complete work on the DDG 1000 deckhouse, which was provided by Northrop Grumman. $6.7 million in FY 2012 USN Shipbuilding and Conversion funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Bath, Maine, and is expected to be complete by June 2014. The USN Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion, and Repair in Bath, Maine (N00024-06-C-2303).

Sept 25/13: Sub-contractors. Huntington Ingalls Industries announces that they’ve delivered DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor’s 220 ton composite hangar. This follows the peripheral vertical launch system (PVLS) delivery in July 2013, and the deckhouse delivery expected in 1st quarter of 2014 will complete the company’s work on the DDG 1000 program. Sources: HII release, Sept 25/13.

Sept 4/13: Industrial. HII will be closing its Composite Center of Excellence in Gulfport, MS, once they’ve completed work on DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor’s deckhouse and the mast of LPD 27 Portland. That work is expected to finish in early 2014, with closure expected by May.

Total costs of the shut-down are expected to be about $59 million, with over 400 employees affected. Sources: HII, Sept 4/13 release.

Aug 11/13: Industrial. HII’s Composite Center of Excellence in Gulfport, MS is unsure of its future. Fabrication of masts for the LPD-17 San Antonio Class is ending, and the DDG 1002 deckhouse decision shortens their transition period. NAVSEA spokesman Chris Johnson gives $767 million as HII’s estimate for the value of their DDG 1000 & 1001 contracts, and they’ll still be contracted for the aft PVLS cells on DDG 1002, but they’ll need more than that.

Tim Colton suggests selling the center to their next-door neighbor Gulf Coast Shipyard Group, who is “building and repairing all types and sizes of naval and commercial boats, in steel, aluminum and composites, for markets that Ingalls has never had a chance of penetrating.” Sources: Virginian-Pilot, “Navy switch could hurt Ingalls Miss. composite center” | Time Colton’s Maritime Memos, “Curious Developments in Bath”.

Aug 3/13: Industrial. GD Bath Iron Works requests a tax break from Bath, Maine. They want to improve areas like their blast and pain facilities, and create a new 110-foot-high, 51,315-square-foot outfitting hall by 2015. Their submission is blunt about why they want the funds, citing a recent DDG-51 program award that saw them get 4 ships to HII’s 5, calling that “a strong message about where BIW stands relative to its competition.”

Tim Colton is even blunter:

“BIW is not expanding. It already has way more capacity than it needs…. new shop is designed to improve its productivity and, potentially, increase its throughput with minimal increase in employment…. BIW needs a second program [beyond the DDG-51s] for long-term security…. Its best bet is the LSD program and they probably regret now that they traded one third of the LPD 17 program for extra DDGs, after designing their land-level facility specifically for LPD construction. And then there’s the polar icebreaker program, which may be just their thing.”

Sources: Kennebec Journal, “BIW asks Bath for tax break to expand shipyard” | Time Colton’s Maritime Memos, “Curious Developments in Bath.”

Aug 2/13: DDG 1002. GD Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $212 million firm target fixed-price incentive to build a steel (not composite this time, q.v. March 28/13) deckhouse and hangar superstructure for DDG 1002 Lyndon B. Johnson, and supply the ship’s aft PVLS launchers. That leaves only DDG 1002’s mission systems contract to finish the order. All funds are committed immediately, using a combination of FY 2010 and FY 2013 shipbuilding dollars.

That steel deckhouse will be considerably heavier than its composite counterparts. Subsequent reports involving NAVSEA spokesman Chris Johnson indicate that the Navy thinks they have enough weight margin in the ship to do it.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME (80.5%), Corona, CA (4.1%), Coatesville, PA (2.6%), South Portland, ME (1.4%) and other various locations with less than 1% each (11.4%), and is expected to be complete by December 2016. This contract was a limited competition solicited via FBO.gov by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-11-C-2306). Sources: Pentagon | BIW Aug 5/13 release | Virginian Pilot, “Navy switch could hurt Ingalls Miss. composite center”.

DDG 1002 will have a steel deckhouse

July 24/13: DDG 1001. HII announces that they’ve delivered DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor’s final aft PVLS assemblies to the US Navy a week early. They’ll go to GD Bath Iron Works, who is building the hull and performing final assembly.

HII manufactures the composite superstructure for DDG 1000 and 1001 at the company’s composite center of excellence in Gulfport, MS, and makes all of the ship’s 4-cell PVLS launchers in Pascagoula, MS. DDG 1001’s first 2 PVLS units were delivered in July 2012, and the rest of the work is expected to be complete in the Q1 2014. HII.

May 23/13: DDG 1001 Keel Laying. Formal keel-laying, which is actually the 4,400 ton, heavily outfitted mid-forebody section of the ship. The ship is named for Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL whose Medal of Honor information is an appropriate Memorial Day reminder. GD BIW [PDF].

March 28/13: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. As of December 2012, the first 2 ships were 80% and 48% complete, with all contracts awarded. TSCE Release 6 software has begun integration and testing, and the follow-on release that would activate the mission systems is under contract.

Even at this late stage, issues remain. Most critical technologies won’t be fully mature and demonstrated in a realistic environment until after they’re installed in DDG 1000. One such technology, the GPS-guided LRLAP long-range shell, recently had its rocket motor redesigned and tested.

DDG 1002 began fabrication in April 2012, with pending contracts for the deckhouse, hangar, aft peripheral vertical launching system, and mission systems equipment. The Navy is considering a downgrade of the deckhouse to save money. Composite materials are better for stealth, but steel is cheaper, and both shipyards report that it’s a feasible alternative.

March 19/13: Support. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine receives an $18 million contract modification, exercising an option for DDG 1000 class services. This modification provides technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detail design to construction of DDG 1000 class ships.

They seem to need quite a few contracts for this.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by September 2013. FY 2013 Shipbuilding and Conversion funding is being used, and all funds are committed (N00024-06-C-2303).

Dec 28/12: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a not-to-exceed $169 million fixed-price incentive, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for deferred mission systems equipment for DDG 1000 and DDG 1001, scheduled critical DDG 1002 non-hatchable mission systems equipment, and non-recurring engineering applicable to mission system equipment design and development.

Discussion with Raytheon clarified that “non-hatchable” Mission Systems Equipment is too large to be installed after the ship is built, as it can’t fit through the ship’s hatches. DDG 1002 Lyndon Johnson’s Mk57 VLS, AN/SQQ-90 sonar, etc. all fall into this category. Deferred MSE items for Zumwalt and Michael Monsoor include the MK57 VLS Launcher’s electronics and mechanical kits, below-deck radio terminals for external communications, and dry-end portions of the sonar suite.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (37%); Largo, FL (14%); Marlborough, MA (14%); Portsmouth, RI (13.2%); Cordova, AL (10%); Andover, MA (7%); Tewksbury, MA (2%); Sudbury, MA (1.5%); San Diego, CA (1%), and Aberdeen, MD (0.3%), and is expected to be complete by May 2018. $117 million is committed immediately (N00024-10-C-5126). See also Raytheon.

Dec 14/12: DDG 1000. The future USS Zumwalt has its deckhouse superstructure attached to the ship’s hull. “General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Completes Historic DDG 1000 Deckhouse Module Erection” describes the 900-ton static lift in detail: it involves 4 cranes, lifting a 900-ton, 155 x 60 x 60 foot deckhouse about 100 feet in the air, and moving the 610-foot hull beneath the suspended module using the shipyard’s electro-hydraulic ship transfer system. Total tonnage involved was over 13,000 tons.

With the successful lift and integration of the deckhouse, 9 of 9 ultrablock units are now on land level at Bath Iron Works. Construction is now 80% complete, with ship launch and christening planned for 2013. Construction on DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor continues, with delivery planned in 2016. DDG 1002 Lyndon B. Johnson is expected to reach the Navy in 2018. US Navy | GD Bath Iron Works | Erection on video.

Nov 9/12: Support. Raytheon IDS in Tewksbury, MA received an $19 million contract modification for Zumwalt class services engineering efforts, including participation in the joint test team. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (50%); Andover, MA (15%); Moorestown, NJ (10%); Sudbury, MA (10%); Tewksbury, MA (10%); and San Diego, CA (5%); and is expected to be complete by December 2014. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-05-C-5346).

Nov 6/12: Agile software. Aviation Week quotes Bill Marcley, Raytheon’s DDG-1000 program manager and VP of Total Ship Mission Systems, who cites the firm’s use of agile software development processes for the ship’s voluminous software. Agile development methods have become common in high-tech industries, and are spreading, but they’re a very uncommon approach in the defense industry. They focus on delivering small bits of working and tested software in a series of short timelines, generally under a month each. The most common status quo alternative involves a series of months-long sequential or slightly overlapping “waterfall” stages of specification, development, testing, and fixes that each encompass the entire project.

Air and missile defense are current foci for Raytheon’s agile ‘stories,’ and a major software review is scheduled for December 2012. Meanwhile, the Navy is sitting in on the scrum teams’ weekly software status reviews, and monthly combat system reviews. One of agile’s benefits is a greater level of assurance and visibility into project progress. It will be interesting to see if this approach spreads within the firm, and the industry. Aviation Week | See also DID: “Sharpen Yourself: The Agile Software Development Trend

Oct 9/11: Deckhouse. HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division has delivered DDG 1000 Zumwalt’s 900-ton composite deckhouse to the U.S. Navy. The deckhouse contains the ship’s bridge, radars, antennas and intake/exhaust systems, and will be welded to DDG 1000 at the steel base plates that are bolted to the core composite structure. Ingalls has also delivered DDG 1000’s composite hangar and aft PVLS units, and has begun work on the composite components for DDG 1001. HII.

DDG 1000 deckhouse

Oct 1/12: HII in Pascagoula, MS receives an $11.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, exercising an option for FY 2013 class services for the Zumwalt Class.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (95%), and Gulfport, MS (5%), and is expected to be complete by July 2013 (N00024-06-C-2304).

FY 2012

DDG 1000 Zumwalt keel-laying; Could DDG-51 Flight III cost spirals reignite the DDG-1000s? Deckhouse build
(click to view full)

Sept 19/12: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $38.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, exercising options for additional class and engineering services, involving “technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detail design.” The firm describes this work as “manufacturing support services such as engineering, design, production control, accuracy control and information technology… [plus] program management, contract and financial management, procurement and configuration/data management.”

Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by October 2013 (N00024-11-C-2306). See also GD release.

Sept 5/12: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $26 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, exercising options for additional class and engineering services involving “technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detail design.” Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by March 2013 (N00024-11-C-2306).

A piece in the Bangor Daily News may offer a more revealing and candid explanation for these continued contracts, so late into the construction process:

Rep. Chellie Pingree echoed the senators’ statements and said the contract will ensure steady design work at BIW through March. “The contract will help keep workers on the job designing and building the DDG 1000 this winter,” she said. “It’s critical to keep up the employment levels at the yard.”

Aug 16/12: Huntington Ingalls Industries in Pascagoula, MS receives a $7.2 million contract modification for research, development, test, and technical services in support of DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer. DDG 1000 technical services include technology development, analytical modeling, qualification of materials, potential design/process improvements, and design excursions.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (80%), and Gulfport, MS (20%), and is expected to complete by September 2013 (N00024-06-C-2304).

June 26/12: Move it on over. Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $9.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification. It will pay for the fabrication of cradles, fixtures, and other equipment that are necessary to safely and securely transport their Zumwalt Class assemblies from HII in Pascagoula, MS, to Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (95%), and Gulfport, MS (5%), and is expected to be complete by June 2014 (N00024-06-C-2304).

May 31/12: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $17 million contract modification, exercising an option for “technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detail design to support construction and the maintenance of the ship design.” Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by September 2012 (N00024-06-C-2303).

April 30/12: Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $11.5 million contract modification, exercising an option for FY 2012 class services in support of Zumwalt Class product fabrication, delivery, engineering, engineering support and integrated logistics support.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (95%), and Gulfport, MS (5%), and is expected to be complete by October 2012 (N00024-06-C-2304).

April 16/12: DDG 1002 named. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announces that the last planned ship of class, DDG 1002, will be named after President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson was a naval officer in the Pacific theater during World War 2, so all 3 ships have been named after Navy personnel, but American ships named after Presidents have been American carriers. The lone exception had been Jimmy Carter, a submariner who had the 3rd and last SSN-21 Seawolf Class fast attack submarine named after him.

We can’t wait until the new ship visits Cam Ranh Bay. US Navy | US DoD.

April 16/12: Sonar. Raytheon announces delivery of DDG 1000 Zumwalt’s dual-frequency AN/SQQ-90 tactical sonar suite, completely assembled and integrated into its Electronic Modular Enclosure (EME). Both the dual-band hull sonar and the EME represent firsts for American naval ships, and the system can reportedly be operated by 1/3 the number of crew members required for the AN/SQQ-89 systems on current Arleigh Burke Class destroyers and Ticonderoga cruisers.

The AN/SQQ-90 includes the AN/SQS-60 hull-mounted mid-frequency sonar; the AN/SQS-61 hull-mounted high-frequency sonar; and the AN/SQR-20 multi-function towed array sonar and handling system. The EME takes a page from the TSCE, in that it efficiently packages the commercial off-the-shelf electronics that power the hull-mounted sonars with shock mitigation, electromagnetic interference protection, thermal conditioning, security and vibration isolation. The electronics to power and control the ship’s hull-mounted sonar arrive in a single, smaller package that’s fully integrated and tested, including the transmit/receive amplifiers, and associated processors that distribute signals and data to the ship’s command center.

April 2/12: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $9.4 million contract modification, exercising an option for additional class services. Specifically, BIW will provide “technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detail design to support construction and the maintenance of the ship design.”

Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to complete by May 2012 (N00024-06-C-2303).

March 2012: The Pentagon’s Developmental Test and Evaluation and Systems Engineering’s FY 2011 annual report offers an update on the class’ IPS and radar testing:

“The preparations and [land based] testing at the [all-electric Integrated Power Systems'] LBTS were exemplary and undoubtedly resulted in avoiding cost and delay… DDG 1000 program is executing to the current approved TEMP [testing program]. The TEMP is inadequate in that it lacks details of the [SYPY-3 Multi-function Radar's added Volume Search] T&E. Revision E, on schedule for submission for approval in FY 2012, will contain details of the MFR VS test program.”

March 30/12: GAO report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” for 2012. Lead ship delivery is expected in July 2014, with the class expected to be ready to deploy by July 2016. Expected cost per ship remains around $3.5 billion, where it has been for some time now. A number of technologies remain delayed, however, even though the Zumwalt Class has spent more than 3.5x its original R&D projections:

“Three of DDG 1000’s 12 critical technologies are currently mature and the integrated deckhouse will be delivered to the first ship for installation in fiscal year 2012. However, the remaining eight technologies will not be demonstrated in a realistic environment until after ship installation…

“According to program officials, [TSCE] software release 5 has been completed and was used in land-based testing in fiscal year 2011. The program has made changes to release 6, and has prioritized the software needed to support shipyard delivery over… activating the mission systems. This functionality was moved out of the releases and will be developed as part of a spiral… the gun system’s long-range land-attack projectile [LRLAP] has encountered delays, primarily due to problems with its rocket motor. The Navy plans to finalize and test the rocket motor design by March 2012… guided flight tests using older rocket motor designs… demonstrated that the projectile can meet its accuracy and range requirements… Shipbuilders have experienced several challenges in constructing the first and second ships, including issues with the manufacture and installation of certain composite materials.”

Jan 31/12: AGS. BAE Systems in Minneapolis, MN receives a maximum $52 million contract modification, exercising the option for DDG 1002’s Advanced Gun System (AGS). This seems to finalize the Oct 26/11 contract at $125 million.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (37%); Cordova, AL (30%); Minneapolis, MN (28%); and Burlington, VT (5%), and is expected to be complete by January 2018 (N00024-12-C-5311).

December 2011: Hand-over. The Pentagon’s Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (AT&L) delegates authority for future DDG 1000 acquisition decisions to the Navy. Source: GAO.

Dec 22/11: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $17.6 million contract, exercising an option for DDG 1000 class services, esp. technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detail design to support construction, and the maintenance of the ship design profile.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by April 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-06-C-2303).

Dec 16/11: TSCE order. Raytheon IDS in Tewksbury, MA receives a multi-year, not-to-exceed $254 million letter contract modification. They’ll deliver a set of DDG 1000 Total Ship Computing Environment software for the US Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship, and support post-delivery and post-shakedown work involving the former Spruance Class destroyer Paul F. Foster [DD 964, now SDTS]. They’ll also perform SPY-3 volume search software and firmware development, as their active X-band radar takes over those functions from Lockheed Martin’s active S-band SPY-4. The final set of exercised options and changes here involve general software maintenance in support of the DDG-1000 program.

Work will run until January 2016; $11 million will be provided upon contract award, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/12. Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA (40%); Portsmouth, RI (24.8%); Marlborough, MA (12.7%); Fort Wayne, IN (10.3%); Sudbury, MA (5.8%); Dahlgren, VA (2.7%); Indianapolis, IN (2.3%); and San Diego, CA (1.4%). (N00024-10-C-5126). See also Raytheon’s release says that the DDG 1000 program employs more than 800 Raytheon employees, as well as by approximately 1,800 subcontractors and supplier partners in 43 states across the country.

Dec 2/11: 1002 lead-in. Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $46.1 million contract modification to procure long lead time material and related support for DDG 1002. A copy of their recent release quotes DDG 1000 program manager Karrie Trauth, who calls the contract strategic to the firm because of the advanced composite shipbuilding capabilities it supports.

Work will be performed at the company’s Composite Center of Excellence in Gulfport/ Pascagoula, MS (28%); as well as Benicia, CA (24%); Burns Harbor, IN (10%); Corona, CA (9%); Monroe, CT (4%); Deerpark, TX (3%); Patterson, NJ (3%); and other various locations with less than 1% of the total (19%). Work is expected to complete by March 2012 (N00024-06-C-2304). See also MarineLog.

Nov 18/11: 1000 keel-laying. The Zumwalt’s Keel is formally laid, in the form of a 4,000 ton ultrablock (vid. Oct 22/11 entry). The physical change is a corollary of using modern block construction techniques. GD-BIW.

Nov 16/11: DDG-51 or Zumwalt? Jane’s Navy International is reporting that DDG-51 flight III destroyers with the new AMDR radar and hybrid propulsion drives could cost $3-4 billion each.

If that’s true, it’s about the same cost as a DDG-1000 ship, in return for less performance, more vulnerability, and less future upgrade space. AMDR isn’t a final design yet, so it’s still worthwhile to ask what it could cost to give the Flight IIIs’ radar and combat systems ballistic missile defense capabilities – R&D for the function doesn’t go away when it’s rolled into a separate program. If the Flight III cost estimate is true, it raises the question of why that would be a worthwhile use of funds, and re-opens the issue of whether continuing DDG-1000 production and upgrades might make more sense. DoD Buzz.

Nov 10/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $20.7 million contract modification, exercising options for FY 2012’s DDG-1000 program engineering, production, and integration services. That doesn’t mean the whole ship, just Raytheon’s Mission Systems Integrator role. $5.4 million has already been committed, and the rest will follow if needed.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (25%); Tewksbury, MA (25%); Marlboro, MA (20%); Dulles, VA (20%); San Diego, CA (5%); and Alexandria, VA (5%), and is expected to be complete by November 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00024-10-C-5126).

Nov 7/11: Aviation Week:

“Enhanced ballistic missile defense (BMD) missions will stretch the future U.S. Navy destroyer force beyond its fleet limits as well as put even more pressure on the service’s already stressed funding accounts, according to an Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) analysis and a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.”

Nov 1/11: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $14.4 million contract modification, exercising options for DDG 1000 class services and class logistics services associated with detail design and construction. Logistics services include development of training curriculum, supply support documentation, maintenance analyses, and configuration status accounting. Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by November 2012 (N00024-06-C-2303).

Oct 31/11: Huntington Ingalls, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS received a $13 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, exercising FY 2012 Zumwalt destroyer class services. They’ll support fabrication, delivery, engineering, and engineering support. Ingalls is building the deckhouse, hangar and peripheral vertical launch systems for DDG 1000 and DDG 1001, with plans to build a third. The deckhouse for DDG 1000 is expected to be delivered in Q2 2012. As HII’s DDG 1000 program manager Karrie Trauth notes:

“This contract modification provides additional funding for the composite work we’re doing on the deckhouse for this shipbuilding program… This is a significant program for our composite shipbuilders in Gulfport, and this award ensures the valuable expertise and technological advancements in composites continue through the detail design and construction of these ships.”

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (95%), and Gulfport, MS (5%), and is expected to be complete by April 2012 (N00024-06-C-2304).

Oct 26/11: AGS. An unfinalized $73 million fixed-price incentive-fee firm target contract action for the Advanced Gun System (AGS) for DDG 1002, the last planned Zumwalt Class ship. This contract includes options, which could bring its cumulative value to $168 million.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (40%), Minneapolis, MN (30%), and Cordova, AL (30%), and is expected to be complete by January 2018. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-12-C-5311).

Oct 22/11: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works completes the largest and most complex ship module movement ever executed at the shipyard, as the move the mid-forebody section of Zumwalt 900 feet inside the Ultra Hall construction facility. The heavily outfitted module is about 180 feet long, over 60 feet high and weighs more than 4,000 tons. The next step will be to integrate it with 3 additional “ultra units” that comprise the ship’s unique wave-piercing hull form. GD-BIW [PDF]

FY 2011

DDG-1001 and 1002 contracts, at last; Program update, incl. TSCE delays. DDG 1000 Ultrablock
(click to view full)

Sept 30/11: Design. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $13 million contract modification for additional class services associated with detail design and construction. It’s mostly industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detail design, to support construction, and ship design updates based on feedback. Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by September 2012 (N00024-06-C-2303).

Sept 29/11: Design. Exactly the same as the Sept 30/11 contract, but $22.5 million, under another agreement that appears to be the go-forward contract for DDG 1000 class services (N00024-11-C-2306).

Sept 25/11: Progress report. Defense News offers a progress report from program manager Capt. James Downey. Negotiations are now under way with major suppliers HII (composite superstructure, some hull), Raytheon (Radar, electronics, combat system), and BAE (gun, launchers) for DDG 1001 and 1002, and the Navy hopes to come in slightly under DDG 1000’s $3 billion or so overall cost. The whole program is said to be within current time and budget, but that’s not the same as original plans because there have been many revisions over the years.

Tests of the AIM all-electric power system, new AGS guns & LRLAP precision shells, and EMEs (electronic modular enclosures) have gone well, EMEs are already shipping, and re-work on delivered components is under 1%. DDG 1000 Zumwalt is expected to be 60% complete at its keel-laying on Nov 17/11, because of the ship’s modular block construction approach. At 4,000 tons, the forward midbody block alone is heavier than some frigates. The 1,000+ ton composite superstructure is more than 75% complete, and is expected to be barged from Mississippi to Maine in late spring 2012. DDG 1000 Zumwalt is scheduled for launch in July 2013, with initial delivery set for 2014, and completion of the combat system to follow in 2015.

That’s an odd sequence, and managing it effectively will require the Navy to take delivery without releasing the contractors from financial responsibility for fixes – something the Navy has not always been able to do. Part of the issue involves delays in the Total Ship Computing Environment, whose 6th software release will start testing in January 2012, with a combat system release to follow. Both must then be tested on a ship equipped with all of the systems they control, which doesn’t exist yet, and that takes more time. TSCE 6 is scheduled for final delivery from Raytheon in January 2013, but until the combat system gets the final go-ahead in 2015, the ship won’t really be operational, regardless of its official status. The good news, such as it is, is that this qualification is only a problem once – unless issues are discovered later in the ship’s career. DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor is currently about 25% complete, and scheduled for delivery in 2015, so delays to the combat system could affect both ships. DDG 1002 construction won’t really start until spring 2012.

Sept 15/11: 1001 & 1002 contract. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $1.826 billion fixed-price-incentive contract to build DDG 1001 and DDG 1002, the 1st major Zumwalt Class contract since February 2008. This contract includes options which could raise its value to $2.002 billion. Work will be performed in Bath, ME (59.9%); Parsippany, NJ (3.5%); Coatesville, PA (3.2%); Falls Church, VA (2.6%); Pittsburgh, PA (1.3%); Augusta, ME (1.3%); and other various locations (28.2%), each having less than 1%. This contract was not competitively procured.

Discussions with GD BIW clarified this is the full shipbuilder’s contract for both ships, which includes remaining construction, integration of many expensive items like the radars, weapons, etc. which are bought separately by the government, and initial testing/ qualification work. The September 2001 contract builds on long-lead materials and initial fabrication that have been bought for both DDG 1001 and 1002, using funds from the February 2008 contract, and subsequent interim awards.

At present, DDG-1000 Zumwalt is over 50% complete, and is scheduled to be delivered in 2014. DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor is currently scheduled for delivery in December 2015, and DDG 1002 is scheduled for delivery in February 2018. (N00024-11-C-2306). See also GD BIW | Sen. Snowe [R-ME].

Aug 4/11: 1001 & 1002 lead-in. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a not-to-exceed $110.8 million contract modification for more long lead time construction on DDG 1001, long lead time material for DDG 1002, and engineering and production support services. It’s not the big production contract everyone is expecting, but it is the first large award in over 2 years, and a necessary precursor to the full production deal.

Work will be performed in Coatesville, PA (23.3%); Erie, PA (13%); Walpole, MA (12.9%); Parsippany, NJ (11.1%); Loanhead, Midlothian, United Kingdom (5.4%); Deer Park, TX (5.4%); Newton Square, PA (4.5%); Kingsford, MI (4.4%); Milwaukee, WI (2.8%); South Portland, ME (2.7%); and other various locations with less than 2% (14.5%). Work is expected to be complete by October 2011 (N00024-06-C-2303).

July 26/11: After a gap of more than 2 years since the last major contract for this ship class, the US Navy has reached an agreement with General Dynamics-Bath Iron Works for pricing, terms and conditions for DDGs 1001 and 1002. Final contract details are being worked out, and the multi-billion dollar award is expected before the end of FY 2011.

With agreement reached, a 2011 budget passed, and Northrop Grumman’s shipbuilding changes resolved, all elements are now in place for the next step. Once construction on the Zumwalts is finished, Bath Iron Works will continue building DDG-51 destroyers, but the deal that gave it all 3 Zumwalts means BIW is no longer the DDG-51’s lead yard. Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME] | Maine’s Morning Sentinel | Defense News | Portland Press Herald.

July 22/11: IPS. US Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead observes a live test of the DDG 1000 Integrated Power System (IPS) at Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division’s land-based Ship Systems Engineering Station (NSWCCD-SSES). The next IPS test, scheduled for early 2012, will integrate and test portions of the DDG 1000 Engineering Control System software with the IPS, to verify compatibility.

The US Navy’s July 28/11 release adds that DDG 1000 Zumwalt is more than 50% complete and scheduled to deliver in FY 2014, with an Initial Operating Capability in FY 2016. DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor is about 20% complete, as key contracts must be forthcoming before much more build work can proceed.

May 11/11: IPS. The U.S. Navy successfully tests DDG 1000’s Integrated Power System (IPS) at full power, at the Philadelphia Land Based Test Site. The test included 1 of 2 shipboard shaft lines, 1 main and 1 auxiliary gas turbine generator set, all 4 high voltage switchboards, 2 of 4 shipboard electrical zones of Integrated Fight Through Power (IFTP) conversion equipment, and 1 of 2 propulsion tandem advanced induction motors with their variable control drives.

The IPS for an all-electric ship like the Zumwalt generates all ship electric power, then distributes and converts it for all ship loads, including electric propulsion, combat systems and ship services. defpro.

May 17/11: 1001 lead-in. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a not-to-exceed $29.9 million contract modification for DDG 1001 long-lead-time materials, engineering and support services. Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by July 2011. (N00024-06-C-2303).

May 4/11: Design. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives an $18.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for “technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detailed design to support construction and the maintenance of a safe and operable ship design.”

Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by July 2011 (N00024-06-C-2303). Meanwhile, the pattern continues – a lot of minor, “keep ‘em working” contracts, without a major purchase contract (vid. Feb 15/11 entry).

March 30/11: TSCE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $7.6 million contract modification for class services engineering efforts involving their Total Ship Computing Environment.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (29%); Tewksbury, MA (26%); Sudbury, MA (26%); Moorestown, NJ (10%); Marlboro, MA (6%); Herndon, VA (1%); Houston, TX (1%); Leesburg, VA (0.5%); and Minneapolis, MN (0.5%). Work is expected to be complete by November 2011, but $5.1 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-5126).

March 21/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $10.9 million contract modification, exercising an option for DDG-1000 class services engineering. Efforts include non-recurring engineering in support of mission systems equipment (MSE) system/design verification testing; 1st article factory test site preparation and plans; maintenance of MSE packaging, transportation, assembly, activation, and preservation documentation; maintenance of shipboard MSE installation and check-out plans; as well as the measurement, tracking, and reporting of MSE weight and power usage documentation to support the shipbuilders in meeting lead ship integration and construction schedules.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (50%); Andover, MA (15%); Moorestown, NJ (10%); Sudbury, MA (10%); Tewksbury, MA (10%); and San Diego, CA (5%), and is expected to be complete by December 2014 (N00024-05-C-5346).

March 18/11: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a not-to-exceed $28 million contract modification for long lead time material and engineering and support services for DDG 1001, the Michael Monsoor.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME (77.49%); Middletown, NY (7.8%); Stamford, CT (2.28%); Willimantic, CT (2.01%); South Portland, ME (1.69%); Windsor, CT (1.65%); York, PA (1.64%); and various other locations of less than 1.64% each (totaling 5.44%), and is expected to be complete by June 2011 (N00024-06-C-2303). See Feb 15/11 entry, re: efforts to avoid layoffs at Bath Iron Works.

March 10/11: CSC announces a Seaport-e task order from the U.S. Navy to provide engineering and program support for PMS-500, the DDG 1000’s program office. The task order has a 1-year base period and 4 one-year options, bringing the estimated total 5-year value to $110 million.

Under the terms of the task order, CSC will provide engineering and program management support for development, design, building, outfitting and testing, including program, business, financial and risk management; software and mission systems integration; hull, mechanical and electrical systems engineering; and naval architecture.

Feb 15/11: Don’t empty the Bath. The Portland Press-Herald reports that:

“The long-term details aren’t all worked out yet, but the Navy will send enough money to Bath Iron Works to avoid lay-offs at least through April while contracts are finalized for two more DDG-1000 destroyers. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st, said she got that promise earlier today from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.”

Perusal of this article will bear out the issue at hand. The last significant DDG 1000 program contract was Feb 15/08. At this point, DDG 1000 is mostly funded, and long-lead items for DDG 1001 are funded, but contracts do not exist yet to finish DDG 1001, and build DDG 1002. Bath Iron Works and the US Navy are reportedly still negotiating, and the current budgetary uncertainty can’t be helping.

Feb 14/11: FY 2012 request. The Pentagon issues its FY 2012 budget request, even as the disaster of the 111th Congress leaves the Navy uncertain of its FY 2011 funding, and forces it to make emergency maintenance cuts and other related measures.

For FY 2012, the Zumwalt Class program would receive $453.7 million. US Navy FY 2012 Budget: Shipbuilding & Conversion [PDF].

Feb 14/11: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $7.9 million contract modification, exercising options for DDG-1000 program engineering, integration, and production services like test and evaluation, design solution, and integrated logistics support.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (65%), Dulles, VA (25%), Largo, FL (8%), Tewksbury, MA (1%) and Washington, DC (1%), and is expected to be complete by November 2011. $1,904,468 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-5126).

Feb 7/11: Design. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $6.7 million contract modification for detail design systems engineering services before the 1st ship’s Post Shakedown Availability. Work includes detail design excursions, shock qualification, production process prototype manufacturing, and life cycle support services. Work will be performed in Bath, ME and is expected to be complete by September 2011 (N00024-06-C-2303).

Jan 25/11: NAVDDX. Raytheon announces that the US Navy successfully tested their Next Generation Navigation System (NAVDDX). System development was a joint effort between Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) and the U.S. Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific in San Diego, CaA, through a private party sales agreement.

NAVDDX adheres to the TSCE standards of open architecture, and display of its product (navigation and high-precision time data) to any ship display on board. This makes it a potential add-on to other ships receiving TSCE-derived systems during overhauls, like the CVN-68 Nimitz Class carriers and LPD-17 San Antonio Class amphibious assault ships.

Jan 11/11: Control Systems. Northrop Grumman Corporation says that it has delivered Engineering Control System (ECS) Units for the first 2 Zumwalt ships to Raytheon IDS, nearly 6 months ahead of schedule and under budget. Each ship set involves 16 Distributed Control Units (DCUs) and 180 Remote Terminal Units (RTUs). The ECS takes in all of the destroyer’s hull, mechanical and electrical (HME) signals, which come from a wide variety of systems such as the fire detection systems and the integrated power plant. The RTU then distributes the signals to the DCU for analysis and control.

The company produced and assembled two shipsets of 16 DCUs and 180 RTUs each, for a total of 392 units. The July 2008 cost-plus-incentive-fee contract had a scheduled completion date of May 31/11. Production and assembly of the units were completed 23 weeks ahead of schedule, and inspection and sell-off tasks will be completed in the weeks to come. Northrop Grumman is also developing ensemble software for the DCUs, under a different contract.

Jan 7/10: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $15 million contract modification, exercising an option for DDG 1000 class services engineering efforts to help test mission systems equipment, produce test documentation, conduct component and design level verification tests, and maintain related design and test class documentation.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (40%); Moorestown, NJ (26%); Sudbury, MA (12%); Tewksbury, MA (8%); San Diego, CA (6%); Marlborough, MA (3%); Minneapolis, MN (3%); and Largo, FL (2%), and is expected to be complete by September 2012 (N00024-05-C-5346).

Dec 29/10: Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $12 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification to ship government-furnished equipment from Northrup Grumman Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS, to Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME. This includes material required for the fabrication of cradles, fixtures, and other necessary equipment that are necessary to safely and securely transport these products. Northrop Grumman is no longer a full shipbuilding partner to the program, but it still provides the ships’ composite-built superstructure.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (95%), and Gulfport, MS (5%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011 (N00024-06-C-2304).

Dec 22/10: 1002 IPS. Converteam, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA receives a $21.8 million contract modification for DDG 1002’s Integrated Power System high voltage subsystem, including the baseline tactical advanced induction motor and its associated motor drive, and the main turbine generator and auxiliary turbine generator harmonic filters. Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, PA, and is expected to be complete by August 2012 (N00024-09-C-4203).

Nov 29/10: Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $26.1 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification, exercising an option for FY 2011 class services in support of the DDG 1000 program. Services included product fabrication, delivery, engineering, and engineering support to integrated power system operations and the land-based test site; support for work to test and refine the ships’ radar cross section and other selected signatures; and integrated logistics support.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (95%), and Gulfport, MS (5%), and is expected to be complete by October 2011 (N00024-06-C-2304).

Nov 12/10: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives an $8.5 million contract modification to provide additional systems engineering services associated with Zumwalt Class detail design and construction. Systems engineering efforts include detail design excursions, shock qualification, production process prototype manufacturing, and life-cycle support services before the initial ship’s Post Shakedown Availability.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by September 2011 (N00024-06-C-2303).

Nov 5/10: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, in Tewksbury, MA receives an $8.5 million contract modification, exercising options for Zumwalt Class engineering services. Work includes performing test and evaluation, design solution, shock qualification testing, training, and life time support class services for the parts of the ship that are Raytheon’s responsibility: TSCE, ship control systems, radar and combat system, PVLS launchers, etc.

Work will be performed in Dulles, VA (31.0%); Portsmouth, RI (19.7%); Moorestown, NJ (13.7%); San Diego, CA (11%); Sudbury, MA (6.6%); Bath, ME (5.5%); Philadelphia, PA (5.5%); Arlington, VA (5.5%); Tewksbury, MA (1.1%); and Washington, DC (0.4%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2011, and $3.8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, On Sept 30/10.

Nov 1/10: TSCE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $10.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract, exercising “an option for the next phase of production design verification for the Zumwalt destroyer program.” A Raytheon representative helped translate this into English:

“Raytheon will be taking the first units of DDG 1000’s Total Ship Computing Environment, command and control systems, and ship control systems and performing extensive testing to ensure that they meet all of the ship’s design requirements. This includes integration testing of subsystems as they are combined into larger systems.”

Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA (42.3%); Moorestown, NJ (36.6%); Portsmouth, RI (14.2%); Leesburg, VA (2.7%); Sudbury, MA (2.4%); San Diego, CA (1.1%); and Minneapolis, MN (0.7%). Work is expected to be complete by March 2012 (N00024-05-C-5346).

Oct 6/10: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME received a $27.1 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract modification, exercising an option for additional class services. Specifically, they’re on contract for technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the Zumwalt Class’ detailed design.

Whether it’s done on computers or on blueprint paper, there’s always a place for engineering where design meets reality. Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by December 2010 (N00024-06-C-2303).

FY 2010

Still waiting for significant contracts; Cut to 3 ships; Numbers cut creates cost breach; Dual-Band Radar now just 1 band; GAO report; Long-lead for DDG 1001/1002; Pentagon Value Engineering Award. BIW builds a Section
(click to view full)

Sept 7/10: TSCE to TRL 6. A key Technology Readiness Assessment by the US Navy certifies that Raytheon’s Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE) is now at Technology Readiness Level 6. That means that a a representative model or prototype of the system’s hardware and software code has been tested in a “relevant” environment that is similar to the actual platform.

Asked about this certification, Raytheon representatives said that the certification applied to TSCE R5, and progress on the final TSCE R6 version.

See also March 30/10 entry for more background on TSCE progress. As noted above, TSCE encompasses all shipboard computing applications, including the combat management system, command and control, communications, ship machinery control systems, damage control, embedded training, and support systems. Raytheon says that the review “revealed a high pass rate for system requirements as well as low software defect counts… commended the robustness of Raytheon’s simulation environment and the company’s thorough approach to integration and testing.” Raytheon.

Aug 11/10: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $6 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346) for changes to the delivery requirements of Mission Systems Equipment (MSE) for the Zumwalt Class. These changes include additional storage space, and services and shipping fixtures that are required to support the revised DDG-1000 program ship production schedules and in-yard-need-dates at the production shipyards.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (88%); Tewksbury, MA (11%); Cordova, AL (0.5%); and North Kingstown, RI (0.5%). Work is expected to be complete by December 2013. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract.

Aug 11/10: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MaA 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, in addition to follow-on operation test and evaluation efforts for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (RIM-162 ESSM) and Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP).

Work will be performed in Andover, MA (58.7%); Portsmouth, RI (32%); Sudbury, MA (5.4%); Tewksbury, MA (2.7%); and San Diego, CA (1.2%). Work is expected to be completed by March 2013. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages this contract.

Aug 5/10: Award. The U.S. Navy and members of the DDG 1000 industry team have been honored with a 2010 US Department of Defense Value Engineering Award. Their Surface Ship Affordability Initiative was created by the Navy’s DDG 1000 program office, who partnered with the US Office of Naval Research and industry to improve the efficiency of development, production and shipbuilding processes.

Using program funds, and monies from the USA’s Manufacturing Technology Program, $49 million was invested in 35 manufacturing technology projects during the past several years, with estimated total savings of $138 million. Raytheon.

Aug 2/10: Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS receives a $17.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee option for FY 2010 class product fabrication, delivery, engineering and engineering support services for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (95%), and Gulfport, MS (5%), and is expected to be complete by December 2010 (N00024-06-C-2304).

July 6/10: 1001 & 1002 lead-in. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $105.3 million contract modification for long-lead time construction for DDG 1001; long-lead time materials for DDG 1002; and engineering and production support services.

Work is expected to be performed in Bath, Maine (52%); Parsippany, NJ (21%); Iron Mountain, MI (8%); York, PA (7%); Mississauga, Canada (6%); Vernon, CT (3%); and South Portland, Maine (3%). Work is expected to be complete by February 2011 (N00024-06-C-2303).

June 24/10: PVLS. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives an $8.3 million contract modification to support the outfitting of DDG 1000 Peripheral Vertical Launch System (PVLS) units. As noted above, each PVLS compartment holds a MK57 Vertical Launching System, which are spaced around the ship edges to make targeting the “missile farm” impossible, while providing a buffer at the ship edges that helps protect the interior crew and equipment spaces from battle damage.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME (92%); Glendale, CA (6%); and Montville, NJ (2%); and is expected to be complete by December 2010 (N00024-06-C-2303).

June 15/10: IPS. Converteam, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA receives a $9.9 million contract modification, covering long-lead materials for the DDG 1002’s Integrated Power System, including the baseline tactical Advanced Induction Motor and its associated VDM25000 motor drive, and the main turbine-generator and auxiliary turbine-generator harmonic filters.

Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, PA, and is expected to be complete by December 2011 (N00024-09-C-4203).

June 11/10: Rep. Barney Frank’s [D-MA-4] “Sustainable Defense Task Force” left wing/ libertarian coalition issues its report. They claim to identify $1 trillion in Pentagon budget cuts over the next decade, and the DDG-1000 is one of the programs recommended for complete cancellation, along with any new construction of DDG-51 destroyers. The move would effectively close Bath iron Works, and while the report identifies DDG-1000 cancellation as saving $1.6 billion in FY 2010, that budget is already committed. Procurement savings from FY 2011 onward would be minimal, with most of the savings coming from the difference (if any) between the cost to man and maintain the ships over the 10 years, plus any available refunds on contracts past 2011, minus contract cancellation penalties and ship disposal costs.

It should be noted that the participants do not represent a substantial faction within the American political system, but their recommendations could acquire more weight in the event of a US sovereign debt crisis. Full report [PDF].

June 2/10: DBR removed. As expected, the Pentagon this week certifies that the DDG-1000 destroyer program is vital to national security, and must not be terminated, despite R&D loaded per-ship cost increases that put it over Nunn-McCurdy’s legislated limit. There will be at least one important change, however: Lockheed Martin’s S-band SPY-4 Volume Search Radar will be deleted from the DDG-1000’s DBR.

Performance has met expectations, but cost increases reportedly forced the Navy into a cost/benefit decision. The Navy would not release numbers, but reports indicate possible savings of $100-200 million for each of the planned 3 ships. Raytheon’s X-band SPY-3 has reportedly exceeded technical expectations, and will receive upgrades to give it better volume search capability. The move will save weight and space by removing the SPY-4’s aperture, power, and cooling systems, and may create an opportunity for the SPY-3 to be upgraded for ballistic missile defense – or replaced by the winner of the BMD-capable AMDR dual-band radar competition.

The full DBR will be retained on the USS Gerald R. Ford [CVN 78] aircraft carrier, as Lockheed’s SPY-4 replaces 2 air search radars, and will be the primary air traffic control radar. No decision has been made for CVN 79 onward, however, and AMDR’s potential scalability may make it attractive there instead. Gannett’s Navy Times | US DoD | Maine’s Times Record | Associated Press | Reuters.

June 2/10: Sonar. Tods Defence Ltd. in Portland, UK announces that it has completed and shipped its 2nd composite bow sonar dome for the US Navy’s Zumwalt Class program to Bath Iron Works, in Maine. Tods’ composite domes have been used on other warships, but the firm says that this is the first time the US Navy has specified British designed bow sonar domes.

May 7/10: Design. A $26.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) to provide additional systems engineering services associated with the detail, design, and construction of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer. Systems engineering efforts include detail design excursions, shock qualification, production process prototype manufacturing, and life cycle support services prior to post shakedown availability.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME will perform the work and expects to complete it by December 2010.

April 19/10: 1001 lead-in. A $16 million contract modification for long lead time materials, construction, related support, and engineering and production support services associated with the construction of DDG 1001, the Michael Monsoor.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine will perform and/or contract work in Coatesville, PA (41%), Burns Harbor, IN (41%), and South Portland, ME (18%). This funded effort is expected to be complete by July 2010 (N00024-06-C-2303).

April 19/10: A $9.8 million contract modification to support 2010 transportation of DDG-100 Class products to Bath, Maine, in order to meet critical construction milestones. This contract modification procures the labor and material required to fabricate cradles, fixtures, pedestals, etc., as required.

Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Pascagoula, MS will perform and/or contract work in Pascagoula, MS, and Gulfport, MS, and this funded effort will be complete in December 2010 (N00024-06-C-2303). Northrop Grumman had been a partner in DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class construction, until a major reorganization gave Bath Iron Works all DDG-1000 Class work, while making Northrop Grumman the new lead yard for existing DDG-51 destroyers. Northrop Grumman will also continue to build the Zumwalt Class’ composite superstructures, under the new arrangements.

April 1/10: SAR & breach. The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. The DDG 1000 program features as a major Nunn-McCurdy breach, as a result of its reduction to 3 ships:

“The PAUC (Program Acquisition Unit Cost, incl. R&D) increased by 25.5% and APUC(Average Procurement Unit Cost, no R&D) increased 24.9% to the current and original Acquisition Program Baseline due to the truncation of the number of ships in the program. The original program baseline was for a ten-ship program. That quantity was reduced to seven ships in the fiscal 2009 President’s Budget. However, it did not impact unit costs enough to trigger a Nunn-McCurdy breach. The quantities were further reduced in the fiscal 2011 President’s Budget to the program’s current profile of three ships. Neither reduction was a result of poor program performance. However, the total quantity reduction from ten to three ships resulted in a Nunn-McCurdy breach.”

March 30/10: GAO. The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. With respect to the Zumwalt Class, the GAO reports that lead ship construction began in February 2009 and 68% of the units that make up DDG 1000 are now in fabrication. The Navy anticipates awarding construction contracts for DDG 1001 and DDG 1002 by June 2010. Beyond that, while the GAO acknowledges that “[p]ractical limitations prevent the Navy from fully demonstrating all technologies in a realistic environment prior to installation,” they are concerned that key systems will not be tested before ships are delivered. Those areas include:

Superstructure. GAO states that the Navy planned to fully demonstrate the integrated deckhouse prior to ship construction start in February 2009, but land-based testing was delayed. Testing is now scheduled to complete by March 2010 – over a year after deckhouse construction began. That means expensive rework, if problems are found.

Software. GAO reports that the Total Ship Computing Environment is behind, and will not be complete until after the lead ship’s systems are activated. While TSCE R5 resolved TSCE R4’s problems based on underway integration testing, the US DCMA(Defense Contract Management Agency) expects release 4 & 5’s problems to lead to “higher defect rates than planned” in the final TSCE R6, with additional cost and schedule delays. The Navy responds that The TSCE R5 includes “most” combat system features, and release 6 focuses on engineering control. They believe the software schedule has a margin available before it is needed for land-based and ship testing.

Power. GAO says that the integrated power system will not be tested with the control system until 2011 – nearly 3 years later than planned. In practical terms, that means after its installation on the first 2 of 3 ships. The Navy responds that the power system will be tested on land in 2011, using components of the final DDG 1002 ship, before DDG 1000 testing begins.

Radar. GAO acknowledges that the SPY-4 volume search radar has become more mature, and began testing with the main SPY-3 MFR in January 2009, but without the VSR’s radome and at a lower voltage. Under present schedules, the lead ship’s volume search radar “will be installed in April 2013 – after the Navy has taken custody of the ship.” The Navy does not dispute either of these notes, but says that prototype integration tests are not dependent on the voltage or radome. Full-voltage modules have been produced and tested, and the lead-ship radar will be tested in 2012 with a radome. The installation date is not contested.

Feb 19/10: TSCE. A $27.8 million not-to-exceed modification covers common display system (CDS) hardware and software integration with the DDG 1000’s Integrated Bridge Console and Distributed Control Workstation hardware, to ensure that these changes to the TSCE are incorporated by 2011.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (66.1%); Tewksbury, MA (22.9%); Moorestown, NJ (8.3%); the remaining 2.7% will be performed in San Diego, CA; Andover, MA; and Sudbury, MA. Work is expected to be complete by May 2012.

Feb 17/10: 1001 lead-in. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $7.9 million contract modification for long lead time material (LLTM) associated with the construction of DDG 1001 Michael Monsoor. Materials already bought or manufactured for DDG 1001 under a previously contract awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) are expected to be transferred with its associated costs to the as-yet-to-be-negotiated DDG 1001 ship construction contract. This modification adds plate, shapes, and pipe to support a construction start in FY 2010.

Work is expected to be performed in Bath, ME (38%); Coatesville, PA (31%); and Burns Harbor, IN (31%). Work is expected to be complete by August 2010.

Feb 17/10: TSCE. Raytheon announces a successful Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE) Release 6 software specifications review, which sets a final goal for its coders. Release 6 is meant to be the “Version 1.0″ release of mission-ready software for the Zumwalt Class, following years of iterative development. It will implement more than 25,000 software requirements over Release 5, and will raise the total number of delivered lines of software code for Zumwalt to more than 9 million. With this review, all of the Zumwalt software requirements are complete, and more than 80% of software coding is complete.

Raytheon performs software work for the Zumwalt program at a number of mission centers across the country, including IDS Headquarters in Tewksbury, MA; its Seapower Capability Center in Portsmouth, RI; the Surveillance and Sensors Center in Sudbury, MA; and the Expeditionary Warfare Center in San Diego, CA. TSCE infrastructure is also finding its way into upgrades for the USS Nimitz [CVN 68] and USS San Antonio [LPD 17].

Feb 4/10: Design. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine receives a $9 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) to provide additional systems engineering services associated with the detail design and construction of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer.

Systems engineering efforts include detail design excursions, shock qualification, production process prototype manufacturing, and life cycle support services prior to post shakedown availability. Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by April 2010.

Feb 1/10: Down to 3 ships. The FY 2011 budget request removes the CG (X) and Future Surface Combatant programs. That shrinks the DDG-1000 program’s ship total back to 3, removing the legerdemain that had kept the program’s total cost per ship delivered from breaching legislative limits.

While per-ship construction costs have risen less than 25%, spreading the same R&D dollars over fewer ships results in a technical increase of 86.5%. Under Nunn-McCurdy legislation, that forces cancellation, unless Congress accepts the Pentagon’s submitted justification for continuing the program. With most of the Zumwalt Class shipbuilding funds already spent, and the program already set at just 3 ships, cancellation is very unlikely. See also Jan 26/09 and Feb 4/09 entries for more background. Reuters.

Jan 25/10: TSCE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received an $11.2 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346) for changes to software development efforts due to revised missile interface control documents and related power density implementation for the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer program.

The purpose of this modification is to incorporate software changes that affect the combat system and Dual Band Radar, in light of MICDs Rev B+ and related power density implementation changes to the current TSCE requirements. Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA, and is expected to be complete by March 2012.

Jan 6/10: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $6.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303), exercising an option for additional systems engineering and class logistics services associated with DDG-1000 detail design and construction. Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by November 2010.

Systems engineering efforts include detail design excursions, shock qualification, production process prototype manufacturing, and life cycle support services prior to post shakedown availability. Class logistics efforts provide for the continued development of integrated logistics support for the DDG 1000 class, including development of training curriculum, supply support documentation, maintenance analyses, and configuration status accounting.

Dec 16/09: IPS. Converteam, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA received a $7 million modification to previously awarded contract for the DDG 1002 baseline tactical high voltage power distribution switchboard. They will be used at the US Navy’s land-based test site for the ship’s integrated power system. Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, PA, and is expected to be complete by July 2011 (N00024-09-C-4203).

Nov 25/09: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received an $84.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346), exercising an option for FY 2010 Zumwalt Class services engineering efforts. Raytheon will help test mission systems equipment, produce test documentation, conduct component and design level verification tests and maintain related design and test class documentation.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (38.5%); Moorestown, NJ (19.3%); Marlborough, MA (16.6%); Sudbury, MA (12.6%); Tewksbury, MA (5.5%); Minneapolis, MN (3.5%); San Diego, CA (2.2%); and Towson, MD (1.8%); and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/13.

Nov 25/09: Design. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a $46.6 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346), exercising an option for class services engineering to support design assurance, develop verification plans, and conduct tests for the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer program. Hard to tell if this is TSCE or MSE.

Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA (28.3%); Portsmouth, RI (27.1%); Falls Church, VA (12.8%); Sudbury, Mass. (11.9%); Minneapolis, MN (7.4%); Washington, DC (6.9%); Moorestown, NJ (3.7%); San Diego, CA (1.1%); and Marlborough, MA (0.8%); and is expected to be complete by December 2010. Hard to tell if this is TSCE or MSE.

Nov 13/09: Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $46.7 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346), exercising an option for “the next phase of verification of the production design for the DDG 1000…”

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (48.2%), Tewksbury, MA (38.3%), Portsmouth, RI (7.8%), Sudbury, MA (4.3%), Minneapolis, MN (1.2%), and Marlborough, MA (0.2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2010.

Nov 12/09: TSCE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA receives a $241.3 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346) to complete the Total Ship Computing Environment software for the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer Program, and meet lead ship integration and construction schedules. There are 2 major components of the scope for this effort: re-planning of TSCE Release 6 software to align with the re-phasing in detail design and integration Revision F; plus additional Release 6 efforts, implementation of engineering control/damage control human computer interface for distributed contract work stations, Release 4 and 5 software maintenance, and implementation of required changes to support both land-based test site testing and ship activation software deliveries needed to maintain shipyard schedules. See also the March 31/09 entry for the US GAO’s overall report, which includes TSCE concerns.

Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA (64.7%), Moorestown, NJ (27%), Indianapolis, IN (2.7%), Burlington, MA (1.5%). The remaining 4.1% will be performed at the following locations: Marlborough, MA; Falls Church, VA; King George, VA; Fort Wayne, IN; Aurora, CO; and Marlborough, MA. Work is expected to be complete by March 2012.

Oct 28/09: FY 2010 budget. President Obama signs the FY 2010 defense budget into law. That budget provides the full requested amount of $1,084.2 million to finish the 3rd ship, but the reconciled bill stripped out the $539.1 million in RDT&E funding the Pentagon had requested. White House | House-Senate Conference Report summary [PDF] & tables [PDF].

Oct 21/09: Design. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Corp in Bath, ME received a $79.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303). It exercises an option for additional class services associated with the detail design and construction of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer.

Bath Iron Works will provide technical and industrial engineering in the interpretation and application of the detailed design to support construction and the maintenance of a safe and operable ship design. Work will be performed in Bath, ME and is expected to be complete by November 2010.

FY 2009

GD-BIW handed the lead role; Fixing the books to avoid a breach; GAO points to tech-driven delays; Mission systems pass preliminary readiness review; Radar lightoff; SQQ-90 designated; DDG 1001 named Michael Monsoor; DDG-51 vs. Zumwalt; Still waiting for significant contracts; “I’d like to see how it goes…”. DDG-1000 concept
(click to view full)

Sept 10/09: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a $22.5 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346) for continuing Mission Systems Equipment (MSE) software development and additional design verification for the Zumwalt Class Destroyer Program. Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (64%), Tewksbury MA (20%), Baltimore, MD (10%) and Dahlgren, VA (6%), and is expected to be complete by March 2012.

Timely software development has been flagged as a potential issue by recent GAO reports (q.v. March 31/09 entry).

Aug 19/09: Small business qualifier Temeku Technologies, Inc. in Herndon, VA received a $7.95 million firm-fixed-price contract for DDG 1000’s Flight Deck Lights (FDL) System, mounted on and near the flight deck and hangar face as next-generation visual landing aids for helicopters.

Work will be performed in Herndon, VA (60%); Bologna, Italy (30%); and Point Mugu, CA (10%) and is expected to be complete in April 2011. This contract was competitively procured via electronic request for proposal, with 3 offers received by the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ (N68335-09-C-0425).

Aug 17/09: Progress report. Gannett’s Navy Times updates the current status of major DDG-1000 sub-systems in “DDG 1000 project quietly logs successes.”

In production: Ship hull, Northrop Grumman’s composite upper-level deckhouse; Raytheon’s Advanced Vertical Launch System; Integrated Power system including RR MT-30 engine; Automatic fire suppression system.

Finished development: Tumblehome hull form; BAE’s 155mm AGS gun, Lockheed Martin’s LRLAP GPS-guided long-range shell; Infrared suppression engine exhaust and heat suppression system, incl. 4 major at-sea tests; Crew multi-skill training plan.

Still in development: Dual-Band Radar (Raytheon’s X-band SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar, Lockheed Martin’s S-band SPY-4 Volume Search Radar), Raytheon’s Total Ship Computing Environment, 3-D CAD models.

The first 2 X-band SPY-3 arrays are being assembled, and “minor” manufacturing issues have been resolved, following completion of at-sea testing in Spring 2009. The DBR has also been installed at the Wallops Island test facility, where aircraft detection tests are ongoing and will continue into the fall. Below-deck components of the S-band SPY-4, are in full-rate production, and 6 arrays are under contract. Of the 3-D CAD models, 90 of 94 are completely released and locked down, and the remaining 4 are expected by September 2009.

July 23/09: AGS. LaBarge, Inc. announces a $6.1 million contract from BAE Systems to continue producing electronic assemblies for the Advanced Gun Systems that will be installed on both ordered Zumwalt Class destroyers. The Company expects this latest award will continue production on the AGS program at its Huntsville, Ark., facility through December 2009.

July 20/09: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a $60 million cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346), exercising an option for Mission System Equipment (MSE) Class Services for the Zumwalt Class Destroyer Program.

Work will be performed at Raytheon facilities (85%) in San Diego, CA; Marlboro, MA; Sudbury, MA; Tewksbury, MA; Towson, MD; and Portsmouth, RI; at Lockheed Martin facilities (12%) in Moorestown, NJ and Akron, OH; and at BAE’s facility in Minneapolis, MN (3%), and is expected to be complete by March 2013.

June 19/09: IPS. Converteam, Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA received a $23 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-4203). They will provide a DDG 1000 Baseline Tactical High Voltage Power Subsystem (HVPS) for use in the Navy’s integrated power system land based test site. These components will meet the same specification established by the DDG 1000 shipyards for lead ship installation. Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, PA, and is expected to be complete by March 2011.

The HVPS distributes electrical power from the ship’s turbine-generators to the ship’s propulsion and electronic equipment. It includes an advanced induction motor, motor drive, harmonic filters and resistors for dynamic braking and neutral grounding.

May 4/09: Gannett’s Navy Times interviewed US Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead 3 times during March and April 2009, and publishes excerpts. With respect to the DDG-1000, Roughhead sees the new design as something they can only learn from if it’s deployed and used, and he’s especially interested in the real-world, full-scale performance of its radically different hull form. Beyond that:

“I’d like to see how it goes. And if it really is a breakthrough technology, can it be scaled up and can it be scaled down? Because if you start getting into nuclear power and bigger radars [for CG (X)], can the DDG hull form take it? My sense is, it can. But if it can’t and you have to scale up, does it scale?

…There’s no question we will employ those ships once they’re delivered. Deploy them and employ. I see them in the deployment rotation because, quite frankly, it will be important to operate those ships in different environments, get them up in the high latitudes. What happens when that hull form starts to ice up? What’s the effect of that? If people are talking about having to be up in the Arctic areas, it’s a good thing to know. How well are they sustained logistically at great distances? We’ve got to get them out. Get them deployed.”

April 23/09: DBR. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a $217 million cost plus fixed fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346) for 2 Volume Search Radars (VSR). Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (95%) and Sudbury, MA (5%), and is to be complete by March 2013.

These S-band naval radars will be used as part of the Dual-Band Radar (DBR) systems mounted on one of the new Zumwalt Class destroyers, and on the inaugural CVN-21 carrier USS Gerald R. Ford [CVN 78]. See “The US Navy’s Dual-Band Radars” for full coverage.

April 13/09: Builder Shift. Defense News reports details of the agreement between the US Navy and its 2 shipyards for major surface combatants.

The deal reportedly includes a provision for Northrop Grumman’s shipyard in Avondale, LA to continue building LPD-17 San Antonio Class amphibious transport docks. Unfortunately, that shipyard has displayed severe and consistent quality problems building the first 2 ships of class.

Under the agreement, the FY 2010 budget would fund the second half of the 3rd Zumwalt Class ship [DDG 1002], and the Arleigh Burke Class DDG 113, with full ballistic missile defense capabilities installed at the outset. That a departure, because all previous BMD ships in the US Navy have been refits of existing vessels. DDG 113 will be built by Northrop Grumman at Ingalls in Mississippi. That would be the first DDG-51 destroyer ordered since 2002, and it would be followed by orders for similar ships in FY 2011: DDG 114 (Northrop) and DDG 115 (Bath Iron Works).

April 7/09: DBR. Raytheon announces a successful initial “lightoff” test of the Dual Band Radar, which includes the X-band AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar and S-band Volume Search Radar. Both radiated at high power during lightoff at the Navy’s Engineering Test Center in Wallops Island, VA. Following this successful lightoff test, the radar suite will begin an extended period of operational performance testing.

April 7/09: Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS, Seapower subcommittee chair] announces that the Pentagon has reached agreements with General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works in Maine, and with Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls Shipyard in Mississippi. Read “Bath, Ingalls Agree to Navy’s Surface Combatant Plans” for details of the arrangements.

April 6/09: US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announces his recommendations for the FY 2010 defense budget:

“…in this request, we will include funds to complete the buy of two navy destroyers in FY10. These plans depend on being able to work out contracts to allow the Navy to efficiently build all three DDG-1000 class ships at Bath Iron Works in Maine and to smoothly restart the DDG-51 Aegis Destroyer program at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi. Even if these arrangements work out, the DDG-1000 program would end with the third ship and the DDG-51 would continue to be built in both yards.

If our efforts with industry are unsuccessful, the department will likely build only a single prototype DDG-1000 at Bath and then review our options for restarting production of the DDG-51.”

April 1/09: The Mississippi Press reports that Raytheon Company is footing the bill for the recently created www.ZumwaltFacts.info:

“Spokeswoman Carolyn Beaudry initially denied Tuesday any corporate involvement in the Zumwalt campaign. She later called back to say that others within the company had since told her Raytheon is supporting “a lot of public efforts, including ZumwaltFacts.info,” to provide third-party advocacy.”

This is not unusual for corporations or other organizations when lobbying government; indeed, a recent Washington Times article by USN Adm. James Lyons (ret.) lamented the retreat of America’s shipbuilding industry from its previous public advocacy role. Non-disclosure of such involvement is less customary, though the Times report could also describe a simple mistake that was quickly corrected. When the funding is meant to be covert, the technical term is an “astroturf” (artificial grassroots) campaign.

March 31/09: GAO. The US GAO audit office delivers its 7th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. It rates 4/12 critical technologies in the DDG-1000 program as fully mature (demonstrated in a sea environment), and 6/12 as approaching maturity, but 5 of the 6 will not demonstrate full maturity until after they’re installed on the ship. Lockheed Martin’s S-band volume search radar, and the Total Ship Computing Environment, are rated as immature. The report adds:

“Land-based tests of the volume search radar prototype originally planned for before ship construction will not be completed until June 2009 – over 2 years later. Software development for the total ship computing environment has proved challenging; the Navy certified the most recent software release before it met about half of its requirements…”

“The integrated power system will not be tested with the control system until 2011 – nearly 3 years later than planned. The Navy will buy a power system intended for the third ship and use it in land- based tests… Land-based tests of the volume search radar prototype will not be completed until June 2009 – over 2 years later than planned… The Navy will not demonstrate a fully capable radar at its required power output until testing of the first production unit in 2011… installation [of the volume search radar) will occur in April 2013 – after the Navy has taken custody of the ship. The Navy initially planned to develop and demonstrate all software functionality of the total ship computing environment (phased over six releases and one spiral) over 1 year before ship light-off… However, the contractor delivered release 4 without incorporating all software system requirements and deferred work to release 5, primarily due to issues with the command and control component. Problems discovered in this release, coupled with the deferred work, may be a sign of larger issues…”

March 17/09: ZumwaltFacts.Info publishes an “admirals’ letter to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates from USN Adm. Henry H. Mauz (ret.); USN Rear Adm. Philip A. Dur (ret.); and Phil Depoy, Director of the US Naval Postgraduate School’s Systems Engineering Institute. Zumwalt Facts is 3rd party site chaired by USMC Col. James G. Zumwalt, Esq. (ret.). Full letter [PDF].

March 6/09: MSE. Raytheon IDS in Tewksbury, MA received a $57 million cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346). These funds will buy selected Zumwalt Class mission system equipment which will be checked out and integrated at Wallops Island, VA, for the program’s Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) aboard the US Navy Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS). The SDTS is a best described as a barge that can mount and use installed radars and weapons for tests. See also the related Dec 15/08 and Dec 5/08 awards.

Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA (40%); Andover, MA (40%), Wallops Island, VA (10%) and Portsmouth, RI (10%), and is to be completed by March 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $27.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Feb 12/09: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS received a $9 million modification to a previously awarded contract for systems engineering, design and technical services. The contract will support the detail design and construction of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyers.

Northrop Grumman is currently expected to design and build DDG-1001, the Michael Monsoor. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS, and is expected to be completed by December 2009 (N00024-06-C-2304).

Feb 4/09: DDG-51 vs. Zumwalt. Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS-4] chairs the US House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee. He is a vocal critic of the US Navy’s current shipbuilding strategy, while remaining one of Congress’ strongest advocates for a larger shipbuilding budget and a larger Navy. His statement on the future of US Navy shipbuilding reiterates his support for more DDG-51 type destroyers, and says:

“For far too many years I have watched as the size of the Navy fleet has decreased… In particular, the failure of the [Littoral Combat Ship] program to deliver on the promise of an affordable, capable, and reconfigurable warship only puts the exclamation point on a Bush administration’s strategy that was neither well envisioned nor properly executed. As for the DDG 1000, we will not know the true cost of that program for a number of years but significant cost growth on that vessel will require diverting funding from other new construction projects to pay the over-run…”

Feb 4/09:The Navy’s New Battleship Budget Plan” at the naval policy discussion site Information Dissemination addresses the proposed DDG-1000 program approach in an op-ed:

“Of all the different ships in the Navy’s FY10 shipbuilding budget, there are actually only 3 mature ship designs [out of 11 ship types]… This reflects the inability of naval leadership to set requirements. This reflects a long standing policy where accountability has not been a priority. This reflects an industry without enough oversight. This reflects weak political leadership willing to ignore deception and deceit. Let me explain that last point.

…John Young was absolutely right to force the Navy to go through a requirements study process, but the rest of the memo should be raising serious questions in Congress. The very intent of the memo, which comes from the top acquisition official in the Department of Defense, is a signed specific instruction to the Navy to intentionally ‘pad’ the budget of the DDG-1000 program with money from a completely new program… in its first year of construction the DDG-1000 could now potentially go over budget by several hundred million dollars and still not trigger a breach of Nunn-McCurdy… With the leak of this memo, all of our Congressmen and Senators must now intentionally look the other way, with both eyes shut and index fingers jammed into their ears, and ignore that the top DoD financial officer is intentionally padding the books to circumvent the law.”

Feb 2/09: Raytheon announces that the first production equipment has been delivered for the U.S. Navy’s DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer – a Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) planar array antenna assembly.

Jan 26/09: Fixing the books. Pentagon undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics John Young’s “DDG 1000 Program Way Ahead” memo sets out alternatives for the program, and touches off controversy.

The reduction from 7 ships to 3 will spread the same R&D funds over fewer ships, raising their accounting cost per ship but not their actual purchase cost. So far, actual program costs and timelines remain on track, but under America’s Nunn-McCurdy procurement laws, the accounting cost change forces the Pentagon to meet 4 tests or cancel the program: (1) the weapon is essential for national security; (2) the new unit costs are reasonable; (3) management structure can control future growth; and (4) that no substitutes exist that provide equal or greater military capability at less cost.

Meeting tests 1 and 4 will be difficult, and the fact that the Navy has never really done a direct comparison of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class vs. the existing DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class in key areas makes the problem worse (see Oct 12/08 “Heritage Foundation: Questions to Ask re: DDG-51 vs. DDG-1000” for more). Young’s memo offers the option of adding a “Future Surface Combatant” class to the DDG-1000 program, increasing the number of ships technically in the program without specifying what type they would be. It appears to be an effort to buy time for a year, while the Navy looks at the actual cost of fielding new-build DDG-51 ships with the radar modifications, software modifications, and power upgrades required to serve in a ballistic defense role. This, too, is something that is not currently known. Information Dissemination explains the accounting | Defense News re: FSC | Defense News: Young on DDG-1000 options and relative ship costs.

Jan 12/08: Defense News reports that a deal may be in the works to build both DDG-1000 Zumwalt and DDG-1001 Michael Monsoor, in exchange for having more of the Arleigh Burke Class destroyers that Congress is expected to ask for built at Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, MS. The Pascagoula shipyard was scheduled to begin fabrication of DDG 1001 in fall 2009.

The move would reportedly leverage Bath Iron Works’ investments toward DDG-1000 production, and keep Pascagoula more focused, given the diverse ship classes (DDG-51, LPD-17, LHD-8) it is already building in Mississippi.

Dec 22/08: Bloomberg News reports that an Oct 31/08 budget memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England approved shifting away as much as $940 million from the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft program, in order to complete payment for the 3rd DDG-1000 destroyer that Congress partially funded in FY 2009. The Navy proposed getting 2 P-8A aircraft instead of 6 during the initial production phases.

Meanwhile, the US Navy faces significant challenges keeping the existing fleet of P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft in the air. Almost 1/4 of this aging fleet has been grounded due to safety concerns, and the Navy is forced to retire some aircraft every year. Even though they are in greater demand over key sea lanes, and in overland surveillance roles on the front lines. Early introduction of the P-8A has been touted as critical to maintaining these capabilities, without creating both near-term and long-term shortfalls.

The proposed FY 2010 ship plan also reportedly includes the purchase of 2 more DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers.

Dec 15/08: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received $10.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract. They will furnish the test assets and infrastructure material required, in to support the integration, testing, and facilitation of DDG-1000 Mission Systems Equipment. See also Dec 5/08 entry for more background.

Work will be performed in Burlington, MA (75%) and Tewksbury, MA (25%), and is expected to be complete by September 2009 (N00024-05-C-5346).

Dec 9/08: SQQ-90 named. Raytheon announces that its integrated undersea warfare combat system for the Zumwalt Class has received its official U.S. Navy nomenclature: AN/SQQ-90.

The SQQ-90 includes the ship’s hull-mounted mid-frequency sonar (AN/SQS-60), the hull-mounted high-frequency sonar (AN/SQS-61), and the multi-function towed array sonar and handling system (AN/SQR-20). These systems are fully integrated with the MH-60R helicopter‘s combat system, and improved automation and information management allows the SQQ-90 to be operated by 1/3 the crew of current AN/SQQ-89v15 anti-submarine systems used on DDG-51 and CG-47 AEGIS destroyers and cruisers.

Dec 5/08: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a $9 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346) for one time engineering efforts. The purpose of this effort is to initiate the non-recurring engineering work required to make the selected Mission System Equipment (Dual Band Radar SPY-3 Array and REX; MK57 Vertical Launch System Electronics Module Controller Unit; Canister Electronic Units, and Total Ship Computing Environment) compatible with the Navy’s remote controlled Self Defense Test Ship (SDTS). The SDTS test will include the first missile firing with this advanced Mission System, against a difficult target set.

Raytheon will update selected Zumwalt Class Destroyer Mission Systems Equipment (MSE) for initial integration efforts at Wallops Island, VA, and follow-on installation on board the SDTS, in support of the Zumwalt TEMP (test and evaluation master plan). Work will be performed in Portsmouth RI (55%), Tewksbury, MA (25%), and Andover, MA (20%) and is expected to be complete by August 2009. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Dec 2/08: MSE. Raytheon announces a successful production readiness review of the mission systems equipment (MSE) for the DDG-1000 program. This comprehensive review was the culmination of more than 90 separate design and production reviews, and afterward the Zumwalt program completed a total ship system production readiness review – the final formal review before ship construction begins.

The Zumwalt Class MSE includes the following major subsystems: the Total Ship Computing Environment; Dual Band Radar; the external communications suite; MK 57 Vertical Launching System; AN/SQQ-90 Integrated Undersea Warfare Combat System; the Electro-Optical/Infrared suite; the Identification Friend or Foe integrated sensor suite; and the Zumwalt ship control hardware, including an integrated bridge, navigation, EO surveillance, and engineering control system components.

Dec 1/08: Design. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works Corp in Bath, Maine received a $45.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303). It exercises an option for services associated with the detail design and construction of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer, and modifies the contract issued on the Feb 15/08 for the first ship of class.

Work will include configuration management and maintenance of class design products; program management; configuration and data management; system and ship integration services; production engineering services; and ship system segment management. Work will be performed in Bath, ME, and is expected to be complete by November 2010. See also GD release.

Oct 29/08: 1001 named. At a Navy SEAL Warrior Fund Benefit Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter announced that DDG-1001 will be named USS Michael Monsoor after the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor was a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Ramadi, Iraq on Sept 29/06. Monsoor was asthmatic as a child, but his determination led him to conquer his condition and pass SEAL training. The 25 year-old machine gunner was providing security at a sniper lookout post with SEAL Team 3, when a fragmentation grenade hit his chest and bounced to the floor. Monsoor was near the only exit, and was the only one who could have escaped. Instead, he threw himself on the grenade before it exploded, and died half an hour later. Though some of his SEAL brethren and their Iraqi allies were wounded, all survived because of his sacrifice. USN release | USN coverage of award ceremony | Official USN Medal of Honor page for Michael Monsoor.

Oct 7/08: DDG-51 or Zumwalt? The right-wing Heritage Foundation publishes its in-depth paper concerning the DDG-1000 vs. DDG-51 debate: “Changing Course on Navy Shipbuilding: Questions Congress Should Ask Before Funding.”

The report can be characterized as leaning toward further DDG-1000 ships, but it offers key questions to ask rather than recommendations. This is more than just a rhetorical device. The answers to those questions could tip the debate either way, and the report points to discrepancies between recent and past Navy statements that need clarification. It also offers research evidence that disputes some recent statements, with an especial focus on the Zumwalt Class’ air defense and anti-submarine capabilities.

FY 2008

DDG 1000/1001 contract; Dead at 2? Asking to build a 3rd; Official SAR drops from 10 to 7 ships; EO/IR suite; Air & missile defense controversy; Deckhouse problems? TSCE release 5; MK 57 PVLS wins system engineering award; DDG-51 vs. Zumwalt. Zumwalt model

Sept 24/08: The House and Senate Armed Services Committees have reconciled their versions of the FY 2009 defense budget. The reconciled budget provides $2.5 billion for the 3rd Zumwalt Class ship, “without prejudice to any potential future Department of Defense decision to truncate the DDG-1000 class acquisition program in favor of a return to DDG-51 class destroyers.”

House Seapower subcommittee chair Gene Taylor [D-MS] continues to doubt the Navy’s ability to build DDG-1002 for $2.5 billion, a sum that is about half the amount predicted in some CBO reports. He cites the language noted above as a satisfactory compromise, because it allows the Secretary of the Navy to divert the $2.5 billion into more Arleigh Burke Class destroyers if problems continue. MarineLog | Gannett’s Navy Times.

Sept 22/08: Deckhouse problems? Defense News caries a story offering Northrop Grumman’s replies to its own Sept 15/08 publication, which quoted inside sources alleging concerns inside Northrop and the US Navy regarding construction problems involving the ship’s composite superstructure, or deckhouse. The Zumwalt Class uses composites rather than metal, because it improves radar stealth. All composite superstructures will be made by Northrop Grumman in its Gulfport, MS facility, even the structures that will fit on top of ships built by General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works.

While Defense News’ unnamed sources stand by their assertions, Northrop Grumman replied that the deckhouse design meets all technical and load requirements, that the Navy remains closely involved in all aspects of the process, that over 6,000 test articles fabricated from 2001 onward have surfaced and addressed the risks. Fabrication was supposed to begin in Q4 2008, but Northrop Grumman says they are on track to start fabrication in February 2009.

Sept 17/08: The US Senate passed its FY 2009 defense budget proposal by a vote of 88-8. The bill includes $2.6 billion for a 3rd DDG-1000 destroyer. In contrast, the House bill allocates no funding at all for a 3rd ship. Brunswick Times Record report.

That difference will have to be settled in “reconciliation” conferences, in order to produce a final FY 2009 defense bill. Will the House give up on some of its priorities, or will the Senate have to drop this item?

Aug 31/08: Capabilities controversy. The Los Angeles Times interviews CNO Adm. Gary Roughead, and includes the following quotes in its report:

“I started looking at the DDG-1000. It has a lot of technology, but it cannot perform broader, integrated air and missile defense… Submarines can get very close [due to design compromises], and it does not have the ability to take on that threat… And I look at the world and I see proliferation of missiles, I see proliferation of submarines. And that is what we have to deal with.”

With respect to a 3rd destroyer, the LA Times report writes:

“But he was less enthusiastic about building a third ship. The Navy agreed to the additional vessel because money was already in the current budget proposal, he said. “It will be another ship with which to demonstrate the technologies,” he said. “But it still will lack the capabilities that I think will be in increased demand in the future.” “

Aug 15/08: 3rd Zumwalt? Gannett’s Navy Times reports that the US Navy has changed course, and now plans to ask Congress for the funds to build a 3rd DDG-1000 destroyer.

The question is whether Congress is inclined to give them those funds. The Senate’s FY 2009 defense bill includes $2.6 billion for this purpose, but the House bill had $0, and Seapower subcommittee leaders Taylor [D-MS] and Bartlett [R-MD] appear to have other shipbuilding priorities. The Navy’s reported compromise apparently involves ordering parts for the DDG-51 class, in order to make a production restart feasible. In a letter to Collins, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England reportedly wrote that:

“This plan will provide stability of the industrial base and continue the development of advanced surface ship technologies such as radar systems, stealth, magnetic and acoustic quieting, and automated damage control…”

If these reports are true, the US Navy and Department of Defense appear to be betting that House Armed Services Committee Chair Ike Skelton [D-MO] and company will be inclined to give in during reconciliation negotiations, and forgo their proposed funding for projects that matter to key Democrats like Taylor, in order to boost key Zumwalt Class advocates like Sen. Susan Collins [R-ME].

July 31/08: DDG-51 or Zumwalt? The US House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee holds in-depth hearings regarding the DDG-1000 and DDG-51 programs. Ranking minority member, Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD]

“When the Ranking Member and I first called for this hearing, the purpose was to ensure that all of the facts associated with the capabilities and procurement costs of the DDG 1000 and the capabilities and procurement costs of the DDG 51 were discussed… Predictably, this [subsequent program termination] announcement from the Navy has generated a firestorm here on Capitol Hill… So, we still need a hearing to clear the air on mission capabilities and costs of the two destroyer programs…

This subcommittee was, and is, concerned with cost estimates for the DDG 1000. But let me be very clear – this subcommittee did not recommend canceling the DDG 1000 as we have been accused in the press. What this subcommittee recommended, and the full House adopted in May of this year, was a pause to the third DDG 1000 while the development of technologies and true costs of construction became known on the first two ships… We have two panels of experts today to walk us thorough all these issues…”

See: Rep. Bartlett opening statement | Video of Navy Panel 1 and Analysts Panel 2 [Windows Media] | P1: Allison Stiller – USN Deputy Assistant Secretary, Ship Programs | Vice Admiral Barry McCullough – USN || P2: Ron O’Rourke – Congressional Research Service re: shipbuilding options | Dr. Eric Labs, Congressional Budget Office | Paul Francis, US GAO. All testimonies are PDF format.

July 23/08: Dead in the Water. Widespread reports indicate that the Navy is canceling the DDG-1000 program, capping construction at the 2 ships already ordered.

Reports indicate that the service will keep the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class production line open instead, producing either more Flight IIA ships, or inaugurating a Flight III that incorporates some technologies from the DDG-1000 program and/or an active array radars like Lockheed Martin’s S4R. The most reasonable estimates suggest that the trade-off would amount to about 11 DDG-51 destroyers instead of 5 Zumwalt Class light cruisers. The key assumptions behind that figure are twofold. The first assumption involves full funding for the actual cost of the first 2 DDG-1000 ships as an extraneous item, rather than having additional DDG-51s used as bill payers if the CBO’s estimate turns out to be correct again and the Navy is wrong again. Absent that assumption, the trade-off becomes about 9 DG-51s and 2 DDG-1000s vs. 7 DDG-1000s. The second assumption is that any modifications made don’t change the costs for the future DDG-51 destroyers by more than $100 million per ship.

Raytheon’s SPY-3 active array radar, dual-band radar fusion technologies, and open-architecture combat system appear to be the biggest technology losers from this decision, unless elements are incorporated into other ships. General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works is the obvious contractor loser, unless an equivalent number of DDG-1000 destroyers replaces Zumwalt Class orders at a man-hours ratio of 2.0-2.2 DDG-51s for each DDG-1000 destroyer not purchased from Bath Iron Works. Lockheed Martin’s AEGIS naval combat system is the likely technology winner, via the removal of a key challenger. Sen. Collins [R-ME] confirms it | House Armed Services Committee applauds the decision | Virginia Pilot | Reuters | WIRED’s Danger Room | Navy Times | Maine’s Morning Journal | Wall St. Journal | Associated Press | National Journal’s Congress Daily | NY Times.

The excellent naval blog Information Dissemination includes a full analysis of the decision in “DDG-1000 review“, including this quotes from a May 2008 letter from Adm. Roughead to Sen. Kennedy [D-MA]:

“Since we are phasing out production of the DDG 51 class, there would be start-up costs associated with returning this line to production. As a result, the estimated end cost to competitively procure a lead DDG-51 (Flight IIa – essentially a repeat of the final ships currently undergoing construction) in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 assuming a truncation of the DDG 1000 class after the two lead ships would be either $2.2B for a single ship or $3.5B for two lead ships (built at competing production yards). This estimate is based on a Profit Related to Offer (PRO) acquisition strategy. The average cost of subsequent DDG 51 Flight IIa class ships would be about $1.8B (FY09) per ship…

While there are cost savings associated with the DDG 1000’s smaller crew, they are largely offset by higher estimated maintenance costs for this significantly more complex ship. Clearly the relative value of the DDG 1000 resides in the combat system (Dual-Band Radar, Volume Search Radar, ASW Suite, etc) that provide this ship with superior warfighting capability in the littoral. However, the DDG 51 can provide Ballistic Missile Defense capability against short and medium range ballistic missiles and area Anti-Air Warfare capability (required in an anti-access environment) where the DDG 1000 currently does not. Upgrading the DDG 1000 combat system with this capability would incur additional cost. The DDG 51 class also possesses better capability in active open ocean anti-Submarine Warfare than does the DDG 1000. On balance, the procurement cost of a single DDG 51 is significantly less than that of a DDG 1000, and the life-cycle costs of the two classes are similar. “

The Congressional Budget Office’s Eric Labs, who has been proven right on several cost estimates for modern shipbuilding programs, estimates construction costs of the first 2 DDG-1000 destroyers are $5.1 billion each, with costs expected to decline to an average of $4.14 billion over the next 5 ships.

July 15/08: Gannett’s Navy Times reports that the DDG-1000 program’s odds of surviving beyond the first 2 ships appear to be fading. The Senate Armed Services committee included funding for a 3rd ship in its FY 2009 budget, but the House Armed Services committee did not. See March 14/08 entry for an indication of the prevailing opinion among HASC leaders. The 3rd ship’s fate will be decided in “reconciliation”, as the House and Senate hammer out a single agreed-upon budget for submission.

Meanwhile, work continues on the US military’s 2010 Program Objective Memorandum that lists multi-year goals and numbers for key projects. Inputs from the services are due by the end of July 2008, and a strained shipbuilding budget could force choices between the DDG-1000 program and closing more than one active shipbuilding line. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Secretary of Defense Gordon England, and Defense Assistant Secretary John Young will meet at the end of July to discuss the DDG-1000 program directly. Meanwhile, the GAO is preparing a report on the program’s status, and the House Seapower subcommittee under powerhouse Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS] will hold July 31/08 hearings concerning the program. Any one of these events could end up determining the program’s future.

April 7/08: SAR – down to 7. The Zumwalt Class appears in the Pentagon’s Selected Acquisition Report to December 2007:

“Program costs decreased $7,135.4 million (-19.8%) from $36,022.1 million to $28,886.7 million, due primarily to a quantity decrease of 3 ships from 10 to 7 ships (-$8,495.0 million) and revised estimates for budget reductions and inflation impacts on future ships (-$275.8 million).

These decreases were partially offset by increases in fiscal 2009 to fully fund ships 5-7 (+$693.6 million), quantity allocations

  • for schedule, engineering, and estimating (+$603.7 million), additional funding for the Advanced Gun System Pallets and Sea Strike capabilities (+$308.3 million), and the application of revised escalation indices (+$291.0 million).

…Note: Quantity changes are estimated based on the original SAR baseline cost-quantity relationship. Cost changes since the original baseline are separately categorized as schedule, engineering, or estimating “allocations.” The total impact of a quantity change is the identified “quantity” change plus all associated “allocations.”

March 14/08: DDG-51 or Zumwalt? The US House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee meets to hear testimony on the FY 2009 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for Navy Shipbuilding. The DDG-1000 comes under fire from both sides of the political aisle. Chairman Taylor [D-MS] notes that a:

“…cost overrun of only 10% for the first two ships, which would be excellent for a first in ship class, is still close to $700 million dollars. With all the new technologies that must work for this ship to sail, a cost overrun of 20% or even 30% is not out of the question.”

He relays a scenario he has heard from Navy personnel, and it is amplified by ranking minority Rep. Bartlett [R-MD], who lays that scenario out as a choice:

“…is it wise to buy destroyers that at best will cost $3 billion a copy, and more likely $5 billion a piece if the Congressional Budget Office is right, while we shut down stable, more affordable production lines, such as the DDG-51 line? How much risk are you buying down with only 7 DDG 1000s, at a cost of $21 – $35 billion, when you could likely have at least 14, upgraded DDG-51s for that same amount?”

Read: “US Navy’s 313-Ship Plan Under Fire in Congress” for more excerpts, and additional materials from the day’s testimony.

March 12/08: TSCE. Raytheon announces the successful completion of key electronics system reviews, including the 6th major software review for the Zumwalt program, an applications preliminary design review for Release 5 of the TSCE (Total Ship Computing Environment) software, and a critical design review of the TSCE Release 5 infrastructure. The reviews reportedly verified that Raytheon and its teammates remain on schedule and on budget.

TSCE Release 5 adds 5 million delivered lines of code to the Zumwalt baseline, introducing surface warfare, integrated undersea warfare, information operations and general naval operations capabilities to the combat system. On the combat front, it also adds post-launch missile support for both RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and Standard family missiles, and can use the full capabilities of the Mk110 57mm Close-in-Gun System and 155mm Advanced Gun System. On the operational front, TSCE R5 provides the framework to support the ship’s engineering control system.

As a point of comparison, TSCE R5 adds almost as many lines of code as Windows NT v3.1 possessed in total. Release 6 will have about 8.1 million lines, and all this is on top of about 20 million reused modules from other programs of record (AEGIS, SPQ-89 towed array programs, NAVSSI), plus all the code that makes up the commercial operating systems, database systems, middleware, et. al. used in the TSCE system. As a modern and familiar set of comparisons, Windows XP possesses about 40 million lines of code in total, and MacOS 10.4 possesses about 86 million.

Feb 15/08: 1000 & 1001 contract. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS received a $1.402 billion modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2304). This contract will begin construction of the as-yet unnamed DDG-1001, as well as and construction of the DDG 1000 superstructure and hangar under a work share agreement with Bath Iron Works. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, a newly-formed company sector comprising the former Ship Systems and Newport News divisions, will build the composite deckhouse for all Zumwalt Class destroyers.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (34%); Gulfport, MS (12%); Pittsburgh, PA (7%); Burns Harbor, IN (4%); McLean, VA (4%); Walpole, MA (1%); Seattle, WA (1%) and various other locations (37%), and is expected to be completed by July 2014. Fabrication of the DDG 1000 Zumwalt’s deckhouse will start in Q4 2008, and construction of DDG 1001 is expected to begin in Q4 2009, with an expected delivery date of 2014. US Navy release | Northrop Grumman release.

Feb 15/08: 1000 & 1001 contract. General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, Inc. in Bath, ME received a $1.395 billion modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303). The effort includes construction of the DDG 1000 destroyer USS Zumwalt, and construction of DDG 1001’s mid-forebody under a work share agreement with Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS).

Work will be performed in Bath, ME (83%); Pittsburgh, PA (5%); Milwaukee, WI (4%); and various other locations (8%), and is expected to be complete by June 2013. The Zumwalt is currently scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy in 2014. US Navy release | GD release.

Dec 17/07: EO/IR. Raytheon announces a successful critical design review of the DDG-1000’s electro- optical/infrared (EO/IR) system, resulting in approval to advance the design into the production phase. The design review took place at Raytheon’s Maritime Mission Center in Portsmouth, RI, and participants included representatives from Raytheon, NAVSEA, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and Lockheed Martin MS2 in Akron, Ohio. All review objectives were successfully met.

The Zumwalt Class’ EO/IR suite combines 5 individual sets of hardware and embedded software from Lockheed Martin, with the Raytheon-developed Total Ship Computing Environment as resident core software. That core software allows the sensors to be used as one or, when necessary, as 5 individual sensors with 5 different missions – including guidance for the ship’s self-defense gunnery. The system can be operated manually, and also delivers 360-degree, 24-hour situational awareness for the ship via features like automated mine-like object detection, and detection and tracking algorithms that discern targets in day and night, as well as high and low contrast environments. During final integration, Raytheon will complete the entire EO/IR “sensor-to-glass” thread – from target detection to workstation display.

EO/IR systems are becoming popular on modern warships, for two reasons. One is that they improve the ship’s capabilities against unconventional threats like fast boats, and also improve its ability to work in surveillance mode when patrolling near ports, energy infrastructure, and key waterways. The other reason is that modern ships feature more and more stealthy designs, which can be ruined if the ship must emit large amounts of radiation at all times via radar scans.

Dec 13/07: Award. Raytheon announces that the DDG-1000’s MK 57 PVLS sub-program, which enhances ship survivability as well as holding current and future missiles within an open architecture firing system, has been recognized by the Department of Defense and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) as a 2006 Top 5 DoD program award winner for excellence in systems engineering. Members from Raytheon’s joint government-industry team were presented with the award during NDIA’s 10th Annual Systems Engineering Conference in San Diego, CA.

Nov 9/07: 1000 lead-in. Bath Iron Works, Inc. in Bath, ME received a $142 million cost-reimbursement modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) for DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer additional long lead material and pre-production planning to support detail design and construction.

Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (23%); Parsippany, NJ (18%); Pittsburgh, PA (12%); Sanford, ME (3%); Newtown Square, PA (3%); Brunswick, GA (2%); Paterson, NJ (2%); York, PA (2%); Baltimore, MD (2%); Erie, PA (2%); Iron Mountain, MI (2%) and various other locations of 1% or less each (total 29%), and is expected to be complete by January 2008.

Nov 9/07: 1000 lead-in. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) in Pascagoula, MS received a $90 million cost-reimbursement modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2304) for DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer additional long lead material and pre-production planning to support detail design and construction.

Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, PA (42%); Pascagoula, MS (11%); Parsippany, NJ (7%); Dallas, TX (7%); Walpole, MA (5%); Erie, PA (5%); York, PA (4%); Herndon, VA (4%), Hampton, NH (3%) and various other locations of 2% or less (total 12%), and is expected to be complete by January 2008.

Nov 5/07: PVLS. BAE Systems announces an $8 million contract from Raytheon Company for the first 2 shipsets of MK57 Vertical Launching System (VLS) for the U.S. Navy’s DDG 1000 Zumwalt destroyers, which begins the transition from design to production. Work will be performed at BAE Systems facilities in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Cordova, Alabama; and Aberdeen, South Dakota.

The MK57 VLS is being developed under a collaborative partnership between Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems and BAE Systems. The contract covers the continuation of design, integration, requirements verification, and the initial purchase of materials for the first 2 ship sets; it has the potential to increase up to $64 million, depending on future DDG-1000 production. Work on this contract award begins immediately and continues until January 2012.

Nov 5/07: CEDS. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Fairfax, VA received a maximum $83 million cost-plus-award-fee, fixed-price incentive/ firm-fixed-price hybrid, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contracts for the Phase II development, qualification, production, and support of the Common Enterprise Display System (CEDS) Display Consoles. The CEDS is a family of displays that will be implemented across platform systems on Navy surface ships, submarines, and aircraft, providing a common interface to the Platform Open Architecture Computing Environment. Remote displays will be used in conjunction with display consoles.

Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA (69.34%); Fremont, CA (8.52%); Washington, DC (7.64%); Tallman, NY (4.90%); Smithfield, PA (4.65%); Scottsdale, AZ (4.34%); Virginia Beach, VA (.41%); Huntsville, AL (.19%); Arlington, VA (.01%), and is expected to be complete by November 2008. The contract was competitively procured via full and open competition and was solicited through the Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 2 offers received (N00024-07-D-5222)

Nov 5/07: CEDS. DRS C3 Systems, LLC in Gaithersburg, MD received a maximum $62.6 million cost-plus-award-fee, fixed-price incentive/ firm-fixed-price hybrid, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contracts for the Phase II development, qualification, production, and support of the Common Enterprise Display System (CEDS) Display Consoles. The CEDS is a family of displays that will be implemented across platform systems on Navy surface ships, submarines, and aircraft, providing a common interface to the Platform Open Architecture Computing Environment. Remote displays will be used in conjunction with display consoles.

Work will be performed in Duluth, GA (45%); Gaithersburg, MD (20%); Dahlgren, VA (20%); Johnstown, PA (10%); and Chesapeake, VA (5%), and is expected to be complete by November 2008. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online and Federal Business Opportunities websites, with 2 offers received (N00024-07-D-5223).

Oct 30/07: TSCE. Raytheon announces a successful preliminary design review for the “Release 5″ of the Total Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure (TSCEI), which comprises six releases of software and more than 5 million lines of code. TSCEI provides computer support for Zumwalt ship control, maintenance, logistics, training and other deployment functions. This level of integration and automation is far ahead of other warships, and is a primary driver for the DDG 1000’s 60% personnel reduction.

Oct 1/07: DBR. Raytheon announces a milestone in advancing the final development of the company’s Dual Band Radar (DBR) for the Zumwalt Class destroyers. Raytheon IDS led the government-industry team in the successful installation of the Lockheed Martin Volume Search Radar (VSR) array at the Surface Warfare Engineering Facility at the Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, CA. After extensive testing, Raytheon will now integrate the VSR with the SPY-3 X-band Multi-Function Radar to form the DBR.

Another 5 months of extensive testing is set to begin, representing a critical step in testing the maturity of the technology prior to advancing to full system production. Raytheon’s X-band, SPY-3 has successfully completed extensive land- based and at-sea tests over the last 2 years. Raytheon release.

FY 2007

Shipyard shift: Bath Iron Works to build #1; DDG 1000 long-lead; 2 ships authorized; Tumblehome hull risky?; DDG-51 vs. Zumwalt; Naval Fire Support study. 1/4 scale model, testing

Sept 25/07: Jane’s Naval Intelligence reports being told by the US Navy that the first DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer will be produced by General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works (BIW) Maine shipyard instead of Northrop Grumman Ship Systems’ (NGSS) Ingalls shipyard. This announcement confirms rumors noted in the July 17/07 entry.

Sept 21/07: MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a $994.3 million cost-type modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346), covering key mission system equipment (MSE) production and engineering support services for the first 2 ships of class. The MSE includes the total ship computing environment infrastructure; acoustic sensor suite element – including the bow array sensor suite; dual band radar; electro-optic/infrared sensor; ship control system; identification of friend or foe; common array power and cooling systems; electronic module enclosures; and Mark 57 vertical launcher system. Raytheon is the mission systems integrator for the Zumwalt Class ships.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, N.J. (21%); Portsmouth, R.I. (20%); Andover, Mass. (18%); Tewksbury, Mass. (17%); Marlborough, Mass.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Ft. Wayne, Ind. (17%); and Sudbury, Mass. (7%), and is expected to be complete by December 2012. The MSE is being procured for the program executive office for ships [PMS-500].

Aug 23/07: IASS. Raytheon announces a successful design review of the Zumwalt Class’ integrated acoustic sensor suite. IASS is a modular, open architecture combat system designed to provide the ship with a complete undersea warfare picture. It integrates the ship’s acoustic undersea warfare systems and subsystems, including the dual frequency bow array sonar, towed array sonar, towed torpedo countermeasures, expendable bathythermograph, data sensor, acoustic decoy launcher, underwater communications, and associated software.

The design review – which also determined that predefined space and weight allocations on board a Zumwalt Class ship are adequate to house the components of the acoustic sensor suite – took place at the Raytheon IDS Maritime Mission Center, Portsmouth, R.I. Participants included representatives from Raytheon, Naval Sea Systems Command, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Naval Surface Warfare Center, as well as Lockheed Martin and other subcontractors. Raytheon’s OpenAIR business model also leveraged the help of small businesses including Argon ST, Applied Acoustic Concepts, and Adaptive Methods.

With this success, the U.S. Navy has given Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) approval to advance the acoustic sensor suite’s design into production. Raytheon release.

July 24/07: DDG-51 vs. Zumwalt. In a statement before the US House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces, Congressional Budget Office representatives testify that [PDF]:

“The service’s 2008 budget suggests that the Navy expects the first two ships to cost $3.0 billion each and the following five to cost an average of $2.0 billion apiece – meaning that the entire class would have an average cost of $2.3 billion per ship.18 CBO, by contrast, estimates that the first two DDG-1000s would cost $4.8 billion apiece and the next five would cost an average of $3.5 billion each. The average per-ship cost of the class would be $3.9 billion.”

They go on to explain the Navy’s objections to their estimate, as well as their reasons for setting those objections aside. Summary:

“The Navy has stated that if the Congress authorized and bought two additional DDG-51s in 2008 – which would be the 63rd and 64th ships of their class – those destroyers would cost a total of $3.0 billion to $3.1 billion, or $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion apiece (in 2008 dollars). At the same time, the Navy’s 2008 budget submission to the Congress estimates the cost of building the seventh DDG-1000 in 2013 at about $2.1 billion (in 2013 dollars). Deflated to 2008 dollars (using the inflation index for shipbuilding that the Navy provided to CBO), that estimate equals about $1.6 billion – or the same as for an additional DDG-51, which would have the benefit of substantial efficiencies and lessons learned from the 62 models built previously. The lightship displacement of the DDG-1000 is about 5,000 tons greater than that of the DDG-51s under construction today. In effect, the Navy’s estimates imply that those 5,000 extra tons, as well as the 10 new technologies to be incorporated into the DDG-1000 class, will be free.”

July 17/07: Shipyard switch? Defense News reports that U.S. Navy and industry officials are discussing a plan to shift construction of the first DDG 1000 destroyer from Northrop Grumman’s Ingalls shipyard to the General Dynamics yard at Bath, ME. Bath Iron works has begun construction of the last Arleigh Burke Class destroyer (DDG 112), and has no work after it is delivered in 2011. Northrop Grumman Ingalls, meanwhile, is building its own Arleigh Burke ships, an LPD 17 San Antonio class ship, and the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutters.

Navy officials reportedly insist that the proposed shift does not reflect dissatisfaction with Northrop Grumman, which has been stung by public criticism of its work on LPD 17 amphibious ships and the Coast Guard’s Deepwater program. Perhaps, and perhaps not. What is certain is that building the second Zumwalt Class destroyer allows Ingalls to gain lessons learned from the first ship, and may also provide a break from the criticism of problems with its own first-in Class ships (LPD 17 amphibious assault ship, LHA 6 LHA-R mini-carrier, National Security Cutter). As long as they are awarded one of the 2 ships to build, the timing will make little difference to them.

If the Navy and the two shipyards agree on a lead ship swap, Secretary of the Navy Winter will make the final decision, which is not expected before July 23/07.

June 11/07: 1000 lead-in Bath Iron Works Inc. in Bath, ME received a $197.1 million cost-reimbursement type modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) for DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer long lead material, and pre-production planning to support detail design and construction.

Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (44%), Parsippany, NJ (16%), Pittsburgh, PA (10%), Iron Mountain, MI (5%), Erie, PA (4%), Kingsford, MI (4%), Mississauga, Ontario, Canada (4%), York, PA (3%), Kent, WA (3%), Indianapolis, IN (3%), Hudson, ME (2%), and Newton Square, PA (2%).

June 11/07: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) in Pascagoula, MS received a $10 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2304) for procurement of DDG 1000 research, development, test and technical services.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (45.09%); Herndon, VA (26.66%); Annapolis, MD (6.53%); Aberdeen, MD (4%); West Bethesda, MD (3.75%); Linthicum, MD (2.68%); San Antonio, TX (3.76%); Washington, DC (2.32%); Reston, VA (2%); Arlington, VA (1.20%); Pt. Mugu, CA (1.01%); Newport News, VA (0.75%); and Tacoma, WA (0.25%), and is expected to be complete by December 2007.

June 5/07: 1000 lead-in. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS received a $191.1 million cost-reimbursement type modification to previously-awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2304). It covers DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer long lead material such as steel plates, pipe, cable and other major equipment. It also covers production planning labor, integrated logistics support, and systems integration engineering to support detail design and construction.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (47%), Pittsburgh, PA (30%), Parsippany, NJ (12%), Indianapolis, IN (5%), Erie, PA (4%), and Iron Mountain, MI (2%), and is expected to be completed by November 2007. Northrop Grumman release.

(click to view full)

May 15/07: Fire Support Study. US Joint Forces Staff College JAWS Masters Thesis by Col. Shawn Welch, USARNG, is published: Joint and Interdependent Requirements: A Case Study in Solving the Naval Surface Fire Support Capabilities Gap [PDF]. Wins National Defense University 2007 Award for best thesis. Persuasively argue that current capabilities are insufficient, casts doubt on the DDG-1000 Class as an adequate solution, and makes a case that faulty assumptions have helped to create this problem. Includes a number of interesting anecdotes, as well as analysis.

April 6/07: Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS received a $7.5 million cost-plus-award-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-06-C-2304, for DDG 1000 research, development, test and technical services.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS (75.53%); Herndon, VA (9.77%); Aberdeen, MD (3.33%) Annapolis, MD (2.93%); San Antonio, TX (2.00%); El Segundo, CA (1.99%) Pt. Mugu, CA (1.28%); Linthicum, MD (0.69%); West Bethesda, MD (0.67%); Washington, DC (0.57%); Reston, VA (0.51%); Arlington, VA (0.40%); and Newport News, VA (0.33%), and is expected to be completed by September 2007. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

April 2/07: Tumblehome tumble-over? Defense News runs an article that openly questions the DDG-1000 design’s stability at sea:

“At least eight current and former officers, naval engineers and architects and naval analysts interviewed for this article expressed concerns about the ship’s stability. Ken Brower, a civilian naval architect with decades of naval experience was even more blunt: “It will capsize in a following sea at the wrong speed if a wave at an appropriate wavelength hits it at an appropriate angle”…”

Rigid traditionalism of the same species that dismissed the aircraft carrier? Prescient early warning of a catastrophe? Or something else? Read DID’s report.

March 21/07: 1000 turbines. Rolls Royce Naval Marine, Inc. received a $76.6 million firm fixed price contract for DDG-1000 main turbine generator sets (N00024-07-C-4014). No specifics yet, but see DID’s coverage of the MT30 engine in the technology section, above. Work will be performed in Walpole, MA and is expected to be complete by September 2009. The contract was competitively procured and advertised on the Internet, with 2 offers received. GE Marine would have been the other offeror.

March 20/07: Bath Iron Works Inc. received a $12.6 million cost-plus-award-fee modification under previously awarded contract N00024-06-C-2303, for DDG 1000 research, development, test and technical services.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME (39.08%), Brunswick, GA (19.70%), West Bethesda, MD (12.22%) Groton, CT (9.55%), Arlington, VA (6.10%), Elk Grove, VA (4.33%), Herndon, VA (3.79%), Annapolis, MD (2.73%), Pt. Mugu, CA (1.72%), Montgomeryville, PA (0.50%), Washington D.C. (0.25%), and San Antonio, Texas (0.03%), and is expected to be complete by January 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $3.6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

March 7/07: PMM research. DRS Power Technology Inc in Fitchburg, MA received a $19.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Integrated Power Systems research, and development of a Permanent Magnet Motor (PMM) System Land Based Test Site and Next Generation Design.

DRS’ PMM was taken out of the DDG 1000 design to keep it on schedule, and a proven but heavier and less productive AIM system was installed instead. Continuing research could add new options to future Zumwalt Class destroyers – or more likely, to successor ships like the CG (X). See full DID coverage.

Feb 12/07: PVLS. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems and BAE Systems announce completion of a restrained test firing of a Standard Missile-2 Block IV MK72 rocket booster on the new MK57 PVLS missile launcher. The test at White Sands Missile Range, NM demonstrated the system’s ability to safely withstand a static burn of an MK72 rocket motor in the new launcher. See Raytheon release.

Feb 12/07: 1000 MSE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MA received a not-to-exceed $305.7 million cost-type modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5346) for DDG 1000 Mission System Equipment (MSE) and engineering support services. Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA (47%); Portsmouth, RI (28%); and Moorestown, NJ (25%), and is expected to be complete by September 2007.

This is part of the DDG 1000 Ship Systems Detailed Design and Integration effort, and the hardware involved includes: Total Ship’s Computing Environment Infrastructure; Acoustic Sensor Suite Element – including the Bow Array Sensor Suite; Dual Band Radar; Electro-Optic/ Infrared Sensor; Ship Control System; Identification of Friend or Foe; Common Array Power and Cooling Systems; Electronic Module Enclosures; and the Mark 57 PVLS Vertical Launcher System.

Feb 6/07: IPS R&D. General Atomics in San Diego, CA, who is also well known for designing power distribution systems used by the US Navy on its aircraft carriers, receives a $10.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to research and develop Integrated Power Systems (IPS).

A spokesman for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, SC said that the contract is not specifically geared to any platform already under construction like the DDG 1000. Instead, technologies developed and lessons learned under this R&D contract will be integrated into future IPS systems generally.

Jan 29/07: Design. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS received a $268.1 million cost-plus-award-fee/ cost-plus-fixed-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2304) to exercise an option to complete the detail design of the Zumwalt Class Destroyer. The total value of the detail design effort is $307.5 million (see Aug 31/06 entry).

The contract funds further DDG 1000 detail design and procurement of vendor-furnished information and long-lead materials, and runs through 2013. Work will be performed at Northrop Grumman Ship System’s Pascagoula, MS; Gulfport, MS; and Washington DC facilities. See also Northrop Grumman release.

Jan 29/07: Design. Bath Iron Works Inc. in Bath, ME received a $257.5 million cost-plus-award-fee/cost-plus-fixed-fee modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-2303) to exercise an option to complete Zumwalt Class Destroyer detail design. The total value of the detail design effort is $337.4 million – $79.9 million for advanced zone detail design was awarded as part of the basic contract (see Aug 8/06 entry).

DDG-1000: night moves…
(click to view full)

Jan 19/07: Lighting. Skyler Technologies Group subsidiary RSL Fiber Systems, LLC in Salem, New Jersey announces a contract from Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS to supply the Advanced Lighting System (ALS) for the U.S. Navy’s DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class. Their Advanced Lighting System offers significant benefits to stealth, durability, and maintainability, and has already been installed in several new US Navy ships.

In a conversation with DID, RSL Fiber systems estimated a total contract value is in excess of $12.5 Million for the six (6) DDG 1000 class ships planned. The estimated contract value for the two (2) DDG 1000 class ships already approved by Congress is in excess of $4.9 Million, and includes engineering support services and the supply of remote source lighting systems and related hardware. See our article “DDG-1000 ‘Destroyers’ to get ALS Lighting System” for more coverage of ALS details, advantages, and resources.

Nov 7/06: TSCE. Raytheon announces the delivery of a complete set of specifications, design documents, source code and user guides for the DDG-1000 Total Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure (TSCEI) Release 4.1, which will be made available to other US Navy open architecture programs via the PEO IWS SHARE (Software-Hardware Asset-Reuse Enterprise) repository. The TSCE is a robust, enterprise-network computing system on which all DDG-1000 application software programs run. IBM blade servers are the Zumwalt Class’ hardware medium.

Under the Navy’s DDG-1000 Detail Design and Integration contract awarded in 2005, Raytheon IDS serves as the prime mission systems equipment integrator for all electronic and combat systems. See Raytheon release.

Oct 24/06: DBR. Raytheon reports successful on-schedule integration of Lockheed Martin’s engineering development model S-Band array with receiver, exciter, and signal/data processing equipment for the Volume Search Radar (VSR) portion of the DDG-1000 destroyer’s Dual Band Radar (DBR). Raytheon had already developed and tested the X-band component of the DBR, known as the AN/SPY-3. Now the challenge is to integrate them together.

Oct 17/06: 2 ships authorized. President George W. Bush signs the FY 2007 defense appropriations bill into law as Public Law 109-364. The final bill authorizes the buildout of 2 DDG-1000 ships, to be incrementally funded. It is silent re: future years or future ships, imposing no limits.

FY 2006

Milestone B go-ahead; Design & reviews ongoing. Zumwalt concept: inshore

Aug 31/06: QTA, DDI IBR. Raytheon issues a release reporting the successful completion of two significant events for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer Program: the third Quarterly Technical Assessment (QTA) and the Detail Design and Integration (DDI) Integrated Baseline Review (IBR), both of which were conducted at the DDG 1000 Collaboration Center in Washington, DC.

The QTA reviewed and assessed the following major design and development categories: System Integration, Ship Detail Design, Mission System Equipment Development, Mission System Design and System Software Development. Participants included representatives from the U.S. Navy PEO Ships/PMS 500, PEO IWS, Naval Surface Warfare Dahlgren Division and the DDG-1000 industry teammates including Raytheon, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems and General Dynamics/Bath Iron Works.

The program’s DDI IBR involved the US Navy assessing the program scope, resources, Integrated Master Schedule and Earned Value Management processes. This key milestone was also successfully completed, and concluded with the Navy’s approval of the $2.7 billion Program Management Baseline. Firms involved in this stage included Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, General Dynamics/ Bath Iron Works, Northrop Grumman Defense Missions Systems, Boeing and L-3 Communications.

Aug 31/06: Design. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS), Pascagoula, MS is being awarded a $95.9 million cost-plus-award-fee/ cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer detail design, maintenance of the DDG-1000 integrated data environment for those designs (IDE), and procurement of vendor furnished information (VFI) and long lead material (LLM) to support detail design. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS and is expected to be complete by September 2007. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-06-C-2304).

The total value of this detail design effort is $307.5 million, with $39.4 million funded at contract award for advanced zone detail design. The remaining detail design efforts are included in a priced option valued at $268.1 million. The IDE maintenance effort will be fully funded at contract award in the amount of $11.5 million, and Northrop Grumman will be awarded a Not-to-Exceed (NTE) line item for vendor furnished information and long-lead materials valued at $45 million. The maximum amount for which the Government is liable under that NTE is $22.5 million, prior to further definitization.

Aug 8/06: Design. General Dynamics subsidiary Bath Iron Works Inc. (BIW) in Bath, Maine recently received a $115.8 million cost-plus-award-fee/ cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class Destroyer detailed design, and procurement of vendor furnished information (VFI) in support of the detailed design. Work will be performed in Bath, ME and is expected to be complete by December 2008. Per the previous contract announcement, this contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington DC (N00024-06-C-2303).

The total value of the detail design effort is actually $336.3 million. This initial award consists of $78.5 million funded at contract award, plus a not-to-exceed (NTE) line item for procurement of “vendor-furnished information” valued at $37.3 million, for a total of $115.8 million. Note that the maximum amount for which the government is liable under the NTE line item prior to definitization is $18.6 million, so the $115.8 million total may not be reached. The remaining detail design efforts are included in a priced option valued at $257.7 million.

May 25/06: DBR. Raytheon announces that the U.S. Navy’s first shipboard active phased array multifunction radar, Raytheon’s AN/SPY-3, has successfully participated in a series of at-sea tests, including the first time the radar has acquired and tracked a live controlled aircraft while at sea. Raytheon release.

May 1/06: Reader Justin Hughes notifies us that under a motion approved by the US House Force Projection Subcommittee, the DDG-1000 program would be capped at 2 ships as a technology demonstrator for the forthcoming CG (X) cruiser program. This is all part of the US FY 2007 defense budget process, and does not represent a final decision, but could be influential. Chairman Bartlett [R-MD] did acknowledge that the CG (X) cruiser are slated to incorporate a new type of radar that “might not be ready for use for a decade.” See Defense News article.

There’s also an interesting but completely unofficial discussion here re: what might be done with those funds – see esp. the information re: the DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class upgrades. This tip would prove prophetic.

April 13/06: Design. Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME receives a $42.8 million cost-plus-award-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2310) for the continuation of DD (X) transition design efforts and initial detail design and long lead material procurement for DD (X) ship construction.

This effort is for transitional and detail design for DD (X), such that work can be accomplished prior to the award of a detail design completion contract in order to minimize impact on the ship industrial base. Work will be performed in Bath, ME and is expected to be complete by June 2006.

April 12/06: DID’s “The Lion in Winter: Government, Industry, and US Naval Shipbuilding Challenges” reproduces a speech by Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter. In many ways, the DDG-1000 class is a poster-child example of the shipbuilding dynamics he discusses. This has implications for overall US naval policy, and also for the program’s future.

March 2/06: Design. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS received a $42.8 million cost-plus-award-fee, level of effort modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-2311) for continuation of DD (X) transition design efforts, initial detail design and long lead material procurement for DD (X) ship construction.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS and is expected to be complete by June 2006.

Nov 23/05: Milestone B Go-ahead. See DID coverage, and Navy Times article.

Nov 11/05: DAB Review. DD (X) Destroyer Program Has Its Defense Acquisition Board Review. Inside Defense goes over some of the issues and considerations.

FY 2005

$3 billion mission systems integration contract; Flag-level Critical Design Review passes; IBM picked for TSCE; PVLS passes factory acceptance testing; TSCE R2 software certified; SPY-3 radar passes Milestone B; Underwater eXplosion testing. DD (X) Destroyer

Sept 30/05: Design. Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME (N00024-05-C-2310) and Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, ME (N00024-05-C-2311) each receive a not-to-exceed ceiling price $53.4 million (with a limitation of $26.7 million) cost-plus-award-fee, level of effort letter contract for the Phase IV DD (X) program transition design effort. They will provide vendor furnished information for key equipment, completion of system diagrams and maintenance of the DD (X) integrated data environment for design.

Work will be performed in Bath, ME and Pascagoula, MS and is expected to be complete by January 2006 (BIW: N00024-05-C-2310, NGC: N00024-05-C-2311).

Sept 14/05: CDR. The DD (X) Program’s Flag-Level Critical Design Review (CDR) is completed for the overall system design, marking the end of Phase III and a process advertised as being “on schedule and within 1% of stated budget.” See the release for more details, which include important information about the program.

Note that this effort included an unusually thorough approach of CDRs for each of 10 Engineering Development Models, representing a judgment that they have achieved enough have achieved both technical maturity and cost insight. The 10 EDMs were:

  • Wave-Piercing Tumblehome Hull
  • Infrared Mockups
  • Composite Deckhouse and Apertures
  • Dual Band Radar (DBR)
  • Integrated Power System
  • Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE)
  • Integrated Undersea Warfare System (IUSW)
  • Peripheral Vertical Launching System (PVLS)
  • Advanced Gun System (AGS)
  • Autonomic Fire Suppression System (AFSS)

Aug 4/05: IBM for TSCE. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems has selected IBM to supply core computing and storage equipment for the DD (X) multi-mission destroyer. The equipment will form the backbone of the Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE), based on an Open Architecture approach that makes it easier to integrate commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software and makes wider interoperability easier.

The selection of IBM followed a competition in which Raytheon solicited proposals from leading computer suppliers, noting the complex requirements of the TSCE and the challenges of operating electronic equipment in the harsh environment aboard a surface combatant. IBM will work with Raytheon to complete detailed specifications and supply COTS equipment to Prime contractor Northrop Grumman for the first DD(X) ship delivery.

August 2/05: PVLS. The MK57 Vertical Launching System (VLS) Engineering Development Model (EDM) successfully passes Factory Acceptance Testing two weeks ahead of schedule. The testing was designed to prove that the MK 57 PVLS system has a sound open architecture, capable of receiving and processing missile select and launch commands within the mission timelines. See release. Back on June 23/05, another release noted a Maximum Credible Detonation Event (MCDE) test at the Aberdeen Test Center. That test was designed to confirm that that weapons stored in a PVLS module will not detonate during a worst case scenario in an module next to it.

July 26/05: DID’s “DD (X) Program Passes Review, But Opposition & Reports Cloud Future (Updated)” Notes political opposition from various circles. Also notes recent Congressional testimony from the CBO and GAO discussed cost estimates that have risen from $1 billion to $3.2 billion average per ship, ship life cycle costs likely to be about double that of the DDG 51 Arleigh Burk Class ($4 Billion vs. $2.1 billion), possible further cost increases, and technical project risks that still remain.

July 19/05: GAO. US GAO submits a briefing to Congress: “Progress and Challenges Facing the DD (X) Surface Combatant Program.” The Congressional Budget Office also submits a briefing: “The Navy’s DD (X) Destroyer Program” [PDF].

AGS fires LRLAP
(click to view full)

July 18/05: The National Team announces that they have successfully completed the Initial Critical Design Review for the DD (X) overall system design, allowing the program to pass on toward the Flag level review in September 2005 and enter detail design. This was a DD (X) Phase III program event that addressed the total system’s design maturity, and overall progress made to date on DD (X) engineering-development models of hardware and software components that have already been built, tested and reviewed by the National Team and the Navy. Examples include the integrated deckhouse and apertures, total ship computing environment, dual-band radar system, integrated under-sea warfare system, MK 57 advanced vertical launching system, automated gun system and wave-piercing tumblehome hull.

July 5/05: DID’s “DD (X) Program: Developments & Alternatives.” Notes ongoing Congressional discussions re: cost caps, despite Congressional action that had hiked the price per ship. Also notes the lobbying effort underway to reactivate Iowa Class battleships instead.

June 14/05:GAO Delivers DD (X) Program Interim Report.” Among other things, it says that technology development for the U.S. Navy’s advanced DD (X) destroyer is still lagging despite progress in a number of areas.

June 1/05: UX testing. The DD (X) National Team announces the successful completion of Underwater Explosion testing on the ship’s Quarter Scale Model. The tests were done to determine the unique destroyer hull form’s reaction to underwater explosions. Explosive charges were placed at predetermined distances from the model, and the intensity of the charges was stepped up as the test series progressed. The release reports that the new design’s wave-piercing bow, tumblehome cross section, step deck area and rising stern responded as envisioned. See release.

May 23/05: $3 billion contract for DD (X). A consortium led by Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) in Tewksbury, MA received a cost-plus award-fee letter contract with a not-to-exceed ceiling of $3 billion for DD (X) ship system integration and detail design. Raytheon and its partners will develop systems for the new destroyers that improve on existing technology, including radar, sonar, the ships’ computing network and external communications network and missile launchers. The consortium will also be integrating the systems to make sure they work together.

Work will be performed by Raytheon IDS in Tewksbury, MA; Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ; BAE acquisition United Defense LP in Minneapolis, MN; Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in King George, VA; and Ball Aerospace & Technology Corp. in Westminster, CO; and is expected to be complete by December 2009. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C. issued the contract (N00024-05-C-5346).

April 18/05:Senate Hearing On DD (X) Procurement Strategies.” The legislature doesn’t like the “winner take all” approach, and wants the funding spread around. The Navy disagrees, citing additional costs of up to $300 million per ship. DID covers the issue.

March 31/05: TSCE. Software Release 2 of DD (X) Total Ship Computing Environment (TSCE) receives formal certification from the Navy, after successfully meeting all entrance and exit criteria. Two successful demonstrations of Software Release 2 at the U.S. Navy’s Open Architecture Test Facility (OATF) in Dahlgren, VA demonstrated that the open-architected TSCE is easily portable between different computing platforms, can be reconfigured quickly without having to write new code, and delivers the functionality essential for DD(X) to perform its multiple missions.

The first large-scale implementation of the US Navy’s Open Architecture (OA) strategy, the TSCE integrates all shipboard warfighting and peacetime operations into a single, common enterprise computing environment. This approach gives the Navy increased ability to use standardized software and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware across a family of ships. See release.

March 9/05: Design. Northrop Grumman Ships Systems in Pascagoula, MiS received a $10 million cost-plus-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-02-C-2302) to refine the DD (X) Program Life Cycle Cost Estimate deliverable. This effort modifies Contract Data Requirements List A.20 with additional requirements in order to provide greater detail into the DD (X) Program Life Cycle Cost Estimate.

Work will be performed in Tewksbury, MA (35%); Pascagoula, MS (23%); Bath, Maine (18%); Minneapolis, MN (7%); Moorestown, NJ (4%); Farmington, UT (4%); King George, VA (4%); Chantilly, VA (3%); and Alexandria, VA (2%), and is expected to be complete by March 2005.

Jan 14/05: DBR. DD (X) AN/SPY-3 Multi-Function Radar Passes Milestone B Criteria Tests. The Engineering Development Model (EDM) for the AN/SPY-3 S-Band Multi Function Radar has successfully completed the Milestone B test event at the Navy’s Wallops Island, VA test range. The test served to assess radar performance with regard to environmental, detection, and tracking performance.

FY 1998 – 2004

DD-21 becomes DD (X); Northrop Grumman wins DD-X, 2.9 billion contract; DD-21 development contracts.

April 14/04: Design. $78 million to Northrop Grumman under DD (X).

April 29/02: Design. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (NGSS) division Ingalls Shipbuilding Inc. in Pascagoula, MS wins the down-select, and a $2.879 billion cost-plus-award-fee contract for DD (X) Design Agent activities. These include the design, build and test of engineering development models (EDMs) for major subsystems and components for the DD (X) destroyer.

Work will be performed in Pascagoula, MS and Bath, ME (38%); Portsmouth, RI (16%); Minneapolis, MN (13%); Tewksbury, MA (9%); Reading, MA (4%); Andover, MA (4%); Newport News, VA (3%); Fullerton, CA (2%); Fort Wayne, IN (2%); Bethesda, MD (2%); Anaheim, CA (2%); Cincinnati, OH (2%); Hudson, MA (2%); and Philadelphia, PA (1%) and is to be complete by September 2005.

This contract is incrementally funded; funding in the amount of $273.2 million has been committed with this award (N00024-02-C-2302). It was competitively procured via publication in the Commerce Business Daily and the solicitation was posted to the Navy Electronic Commerce Online (NECO) Internet web page, with 2 offers received.

See also US assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition John Young, Jr’s briefing regarding the downselect:

“The award will be made to Ingalls Shipbuilding, Incorporated, the Gold Team lead. Their proposal was selected due to its overall management and technical approach, coupled with superior engineering development models and exceptional specified performance features of the proposed design. The superior EDMs and features included an innovative peripheral vertical launch system, dual-band radar suite, two-helicopter spot flight deck, and stern boat-launching system.

The contract was competitively awarded based on best value… The source selection process was the first of a kind for a Navy shipbuilding program and will be the model for future Navy acquisitions… BIW will continue to be involved in the design of the ship and development of the EDMs, to ensure that both shipbuilders can product DD(X) and can compete for the detailed design and construction of the lead ship in fiscal year 2005.”

Dec 21/01: End of DD-21, Birth of DD (X). US under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics Pete Aldridge announces that the DD-21 program has been terminated, following the Quadrennial Defense Review. It will be replaced by a program called DD (X). Pentagon transcript.

Oct 25/01: $60.2 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

June 14/01: A not-to-exceed $124.3 million firm-fixed-price advance agreement modification for the extension of the DD 21 Phase II period of performance.

Work will be performed by the “Blue Team” (42%) led by Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine and Lockheed Martin Government Electronic Systems in Moorestown, N.J.; the “Gold Team” (42%) led by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS, with Raytheon Systems Co. in Falls Church, VA; and United Defense Limited Partnership (UDLP) in Minneapolis, MN (16%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2001 (N00024-98-9-2300, modification 0037)

May 31/01: $7.1 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

May 29/01: $6.7 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

May 17/01: $7.1 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

May 1/01: $5.4 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

April 2/01: $29 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

Jan 9/01: $12 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

Jan 9/01: 7 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

Nov 2/2000: $10.6 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

May 1/2000: $16 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

Nov 23/99: A $238 million contract modification to the DD-21 Alliance for the DD-21 Phase II effort, which includes the development of 2 competitive DD-21 initial systems designs with accompanying DD 21 virtual prototypes.

Work will be performed in Bath, Maine (21%); Moorestown, NJ (21%); Pascagoula, MS (21%); Falls Church, VA (21%); and Minneapolis, MN (16%), and is expected to be complete by January 2001 (N00024-98-9-2300).

Feb 17/99: $12 million to the DD-21 Alliance (N00024-98-9-2300).

Aug 18/98: The DD-21 Alliance, comprised of Bath Iron Works Corp. in Bath, Maine, and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS received is being awarded a $16.5 million agreement modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-98-9-2300) for the Phase I development of DD-21 design concepts. Bath Iron Works Corp. has been selected by the DD-21 Alliance to lead the alliance and execute the Phase I agreement, which provides for the establishment of 2 competing teams who will perform requirements analyses and trade studies, and develop 2 competitive DD-21 system concept designs. Each team will implement total ship systems engineering and cost as an independent variable principles in order to achieve significant reductions in ship procurement costs, operation and support costs, and manning levels over current Navy combatants. This agreement has a potential cumulative value of $68.5 million.

Work will be performed in Moorestown, NJ (30%), Pascagoula, MS (25%), Falls Church, VA (25%), and Bath, Maine (20%), and is expected to be complete in October 1999. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Arlington, VA is managing the contract.

Additional Readings & Sources

Official Reports

Defense Acquisitions: Progress and Challenges Facing the DD (X) Surface Combatant Program [PDF]. Paul L. Francis, GAO director of acquisition and sourcing management, in testimony before the House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Projection Forces.

  • US Government Accountability Office Briefing (GAO-05-924T, July 19/05) – Defense Acquisitions: Progress and Challenges Facing the DD (X) Surface Combatant Program. Paul L. Francis, GAO director of acquisition and sourcing management, in testimony before the House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Projection Forces. Includes GAO cost estimates.

  • US Congressional Budget Office (Doc #6561, July 19/05) – The Navy’s DD (X) Destroyer Program [PDF]. Statement of Assistant Director for National Security J. Michael Gilmore before the House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Projection Forces. It’s worth looking at their methodology for calculating program costs, and the conclusions they’ve come to.

  • US Congressional Research Service (June 24/05) – Navy DD (X) and CG (X) Programs: Background and Issues for Congress

  • US Government Accountability Office (GAO-05-752R, June 14/05) – Progress of the DD (X) Destroyer Program. Report to the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Seapower; and the House Committee on Armed Services, Subcommittee on Projection Forces. Discusses the state of various key technologies in the program.

News & Views

“The history of NSFS, current national strategy, joint and service specific doctrine, current and alternative capabilities associated with providing NSFS are evaluated against current attempts to bridge NSFS gaps with naval aviation and missiles alone. This study will demonstrate a credible case for re-examining major caliber guns and the ships that mount them as part of the NSFS solution set. This thesis identifies five [5] courses of action to meet the NSFS requirements to defeat a future near-peer competitor in the littorals in a timely and affordable manner.”

“The greater the capabilities, generally, the higher the costs – which means that the Navy can afford to buy fewer platforms. But that too drives up the cost per ship. Both factors – greater capability and lower numbers of ships – are pushing the cost of shipbuilding to prohibitive levels.”

Open Architecture

The idea is to have an integrated but open architecture approach from the very beginning, using systems that maximize present and future interoperability and minimize technical “lock in” to a single-vendor solution. This creates a single IT framework, makes it easier to integrate commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software, and makes wider interoperability easier. It also allows the Navy and the prime contractors to use more conventional commercial acquisition approaches/ partnerships to support and upgrade the technology. Open Architecture is a concept that has spread across the Navy’s existing and future fleet, via upgrade programs and new ship construction that insist on it. See these interviews and presentations for more.

The Derivative (?) CG-X Program

The CG-X program, which was originally envisioned as a larger and more capable version of the design that became the Zumwalt Class, has been shelved. It could be revived, but the plan going forward from FY 2011 is to field DDG-51 Flight III destroyers instead.

Footnotes

fn1. From the US Navy’s FY 2012 budget documents.

Categories: News

Germany’s Arms Exports Still Facing Political Pressure Under Strained Federal Coalition

Thu, 10/16/2014 - 10:30

  • Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel has been advising defense manufacturers to diversify as exports to unsavory regimes would be put under increased scrutiny. With a mid-year report he’s delivered on promises to increase transparency and timeliness in disclosing export licenses, but with sales to oppressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Gabriel is still facing criticism [Deutsche Welle] as the number dropped by “only” €700M to €2.2B (i.e. -24% to $2.8B, or about back to 2012 levels).

  • Gabriel’s critics from left-wing parties may be in the opposition today, but Gabriel’s center-left SPD will be their natural senior partner in future coalitions. The SPD is governing at the federal level alongside Angela Merkel’s CDU, but recently there’s been talk of a Red-Red-Green coalition in the Thuringia state, all while the new Eurosceptic AfD party made big gains in local elections. European coalition politics are fun! Reuters | The Local | Die Welt [in German].

US Biz Dev

  • USSOCOM is organizing an industry day [FBO] about its forthcoming RFP for Medium Endurance Unmanned Air System (MEUAS) III ISR on Dec. 3-4 in Tampa, FL, just after the release of a draft request. Back in early 2012 AAI displaced ScanEagle as the incumbent. Did we mention we’re paid by the acronym here at DID?

  • The US Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO STRI) will hold an industry day [FBO] on October 21 in Orlando, FL to discuss a potential new effort in the $50M-$100M range to acquire medical training equipment.

  • We’re running our annual survey, please help us know our audience better and tell us how we can improve.

  • Some comfort for defense contractors facing natural demographic workforce declines, and fiercer recruitment competition from firms in the technology and energy sectors: too much top talent can hurt [Scientific American] team performance in complex-cooperative endeavors.

  • One area where defense firms might have an edge? Recruiting veterans trained to teamwork, with skills other firms don’t understand as well. Just remember, modern veterans know what Glassdoor.com is. Read your pages and implement fixes, or fall behind within your cohort.

US Defense Regulations

  • The US Army updated its regulation 700-127 [PDF] on integrated product support, with a focus on performance-based logistics. This will be effective from November 7.

  • The Pentagon issued a final rule [PDF] to amend its acquisition regulation on specialty metals, among other things to clarify – that’s their actual operative word – that the “minimal content exception does not apply to specialty metals contained in high-performance magnets.” And DARPA still won’t admit to their classified breeding program to develop lawyers who can stand that stuff. They probably call it the Lethal Extended Training to Harness Abstruse Legalese (LETHAL).

You Want Help Or Not?

  • Special Forces sent by Australia to help Iraq are stuck in the UAE [News Ltd] waiting for legal clearance from Baghdad. German advisers were also recently delayed by several days before they could make it to Iraq.

Fusing Fusion Scientists

  • Lockheed Martin is talking up the Skunk Works’ Compact Fusion Reactor project, because they’re hitting a point where they’ll need partners for materials science and some technologies. They see a real possibility for “T4″ to become a container-sized prototype in 10 years, thanks largely to new approaches that substantially improve beta (safe pressure for the plasma per confining magnetic pressure). Beta x20 = power x10 = size 1/10, or so the theory goes. They’ll figure this out sooner than they’ll find a single kid who says he wants to be a defense acquisition lawyer when he grows up. Press Release | AvWeek.

Smoother Ride

  • Today’s video, shot by Stars & Stripes at the AUSA tradeshow, shows an independent suspension developed to make FTMVs more comfortable on rough roads:

Categories: News

Abuelo Hercules: Latin American Programs

Wed, 10/15/2014 - 16:36
Argentine C-130s
(click to view full)

Latin American air forces operate a wide variety of equipment, but American aircraft still play a prominent role. Some are new, but as one might expect in a region with constrained military budgets, many air forces are flying aging legacies of past purchases. They must be replaced at some point, and Brazil’s industry is making steady inroads on that basis, selling EMB-314 Super Tucanos to replace American OA-37 Dragonflys, and gearing up to replace American C-130 Hercules aircraft with Embraer’s KC-390.

Even with longer-term replacements afoot, however, the mathematics of force numbers and budget numbers continue to make upgrades, life extension programs, and second-hand transfers attractive. Recent announcements of C-130 projects in Argentina and Peru show that dynamic in action.

Contracts & Key Events Competition: KC-390
(click to view full)

Oct 14/14: Argentina. L-3 Communications Integrated Systems LP in Waco, TX receives a maximum $68.9 million unfinalized contract to modify 5 Argentinian C-130s. They will standardize all 5 planes to the same equipment, remove obsolete parts, and upgrade their CNS/ATM avionics per the Oct 19/11 DSCA request.

Note that Argentina has not abandoned their pursuit of the KC-390; indeed, they recently opened a production line for KC-390 parts. They do need their C-130Hs to last long enough for the KC-390s to arrive.

Work will be performed at Waco, TX, and Cordoba, Argentina, and is expected to be complete by May 31/19. USAF Life Cycle Management Center at Robins AFB, GA manages the contract on behalf of their Argentinian FMS client (FA8553-15-C-0003).

Argentina upgrades

Nov 8/11: Peru C-130Es. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Peru’s official request for 2 refurbished and upgraded C-130E Hercules medium tactical transport aircraft. The USAF is working to phase the C-130E out, and the 2 planes are being provided as Excess Defense Articles (grant EDA notification submitted separately), which means almost all of the cost involves refurbishment and services. Services include aircraft ferrying, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, and other U.S. Government and contractor support.

Peru currently flies 2 L-100-20 civilian stretched C-130E equivalents, with another 3 reportedly in storage. Adding these 2 refurbished C-130Es will keep their medium tactical transport options alive, as an option that fits in between the FAP’s 737 for more standard carriage, and its AN-32B light tactical transports. Deliveries of 12 more DHC-6 Twin Otter light utility transports are adding a very useful capability at the low end, but a heavier option is also needed. The DSCA’s official rationale for the C-130E sale includes this:

“This proposed sale will enable the Peruvian Air Force to modernize its aging aircraft and enhance its capacity to support humanitarian efforts in the region. Peru occupies a strategic location in South America, and the sale of refurbishment support for its EDA grant C-130 aircraft will improve Peru’s efforts in conducting maritime interdiction operations, improve its ability to execute counter-narcotics and counterterrorism capabilities, and ensure Peru’s overall ability to maintain the integrity of its borders. Additionally, this transfer will enhance the Peruvian Military’s ability to support to Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR) efforts.”

The estimated cost is $74 million, but there is no prime contractor yet. While the C-130s are a Lockheed Martin aircraft, a global cottage industry has sprung up to perform refurbishments and life extension work on them. Peru will have a number of choices, as they decide whom to work with.

DSCA request: Peru (2 C-130E)

US C-130 AMP
(click to view larger)

Oct 19/11: Argentine upgrades. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Argentina’s official request to buy commercial-off-the-shelf avionics upgrades for 1 C-130E and 4 C-130H aircraft, as part of Argentina’s goal of keeping them in service to 2040, and in compliance with CNS/ATM (Communications, Navigation and Surveillance; and global Air Traffic Management) requirements. Argentina has signed an MoU with Brazil for the KC-390, which is a direct competitor.

That means a new digital cockpit and avionics system with Head-Up Displays, which is compatible with night vision, aerial refueling, and mild Antarctic operations down to -45C. They’ll also want minor Class IV modifications, ground handling equipment, repair and return, spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, tools and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, programmed depot maintenance, and other U.S. Government and contractor support.

Argentina is also buying with an eye toward broader roles for its C-130H+ fleet, in a move that appears to be just one part of a larger project. They’re asking for open software and hardware interfaces “…to allow future avionics’ upgrades such as defensive systems, HUD and FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared)… [and] future integration of systems, weapons [emphasis DID's, vid. US Harvest Hawk kits], or specific requirements, without replacing the Line Replaceable Units (LRU’s [sic]) or Line Replaceable Modules (LRM’s [sic]).”

DSCA request: Argentina upgrades

The DSCA announcement and accompanying RFI show that at the very least, Argentina is considering a “Plan B” for its future fleet vs. Embraer’s KC-390, which wouldn’t arrive for several more years, even if a contract was signed tomorrow. That KC-390 delivery timing also makes the C-130s attractive as a bridge that keeps AAF medium airlift available past 2015, when global air traffic rules are set to change.

The estimated cost is up to $166 million, but the prime contractor isn’t established yet. The DSCA adds that Implementation of this proposed sale will require the temporary assignment of approximately 2 government contractors, and about 48 industry contractors, to Argentina. That last stipulation, the stated 2040 in-service goal, and the RFI’s stipulation that avionics installation will be conducted in Cordoba, strongly suggest that the seized and now state-owned FADEA SA (formerly Lockheed Martin Aircraft Argentina) will be conducting a parallel program of structural rebuilds on these planes, in order to give them enough safe flight hours to last until 2040. US DSCA [PDF] | FBO.gov RFI.

Additional Readings

C-130s currently fly in many Latin American air forces: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay. Venezuela has C-130s, but the spares situation with the USA, and fleet status, are not clear to DID.

Categories: News

Pages