Skip directly to content

Defense Industry Daily

Subscribe to Defense Industry Daily feed
Military Purchasing News for Defense Procurement Managers and Contractors
Updated: 20 min 15 sec ago

India’s Light Helicopter Contract Hits Turbulence, Stalls. Again.

3 hours 29 min ago
Austrian Alouette-III
(click to view full)

How safe are the Indian Army’s aging fleets of Chetaks (Aerospatiale SA316 Alouette III) and Cheetahs (SA315B Alouette II/III mix)? These old designs have consistently proven themselves in high altitude operations, and remain useful as long as their airframes remain safe. The problem is that at their age, the safety margin is pretty slim. Or worse.

In 2003, India issued an RFP for 197 light helicopters estimating a deal worth between $500-$600 million to buy 60 helicopters outright, with the remaining 137 being built under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Eurocopter’s AS550 C3 Fennec and Bell Textron’s 407 competed in the second and final round of summer trials, and as 2007 ticked toward a close, it looked like we had a winner. As often happens in India, however, the process ended up completely derailed. A new RFP out for a successor “Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter program” (RSH) went out in 2008, and testing was done in 2010. Has the RSH competition gone the way of the 1st aborted contract, even as India’s high altitude border posts struggle for adequate support?

The Contenders IAF Chetak
(click to view larger)

Reports in 2013 placed India’s fleet of Army Aviation Corps Chetak/Cheetah helicopters at about 120 machines that remain in flyable consition. These are 1970s vintage helicopters, and all have long surpassed their official safe limit of 4,500 flying hours. Nevertheless, they are routinely sent to supply and support India’s high altitude border garrisons, including places like the Siachen Glacier (19,000 feet above sea level) and Satoro Ridge (20,000 feet). Operation at these altitudes has traditionally been very challenging for helicopters, owing to reduced rotor lift in the thinning air. Aged machines lower the odds further. From 2006 to the end of 2012, 11 Cheetah/ Chetak helicopters have crashed, killing 9 pilots.

The AAC needs replacements, and wants new helicopters with better performance and support characteristics. These new machines will perform a variety of armed light utility tasks, including ferrying loads of up to 75 kg, medical evacuations, aerial photography, unarmed and armed scout roles, and even limited electronic surveillance.

Under the v2.0 Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) competition, India upped its planned buy from HAL to 187 locally-designed LUH single-engine helicopters, accompanied by 197 LUH helicopters of a foreign design.

The Finalists AS550 Fennec
(click to view full)

The first finalist is Eurocopter. HAL and Eurocopter predecessor Aerospatiale have a long-standing relationship, and past Indian Army helicopters have generally been modified Aerospatiale designs. The Eurocopter AS550 C3 Fennec won the Army’s v1.0 competition, and price negotiations were underway when a questionable technicality led India to cancel the deal.

The AS550 reportedly needed several modifications for India’s requirements, including ‘bulge doors’ so soldiers on stretchers wouldn’t have to fold their legs at 70 degrees in order to fit inside. A Technical Oversight Committee cleared the modified machine, despite a tender clause ruling out modifications. Reports from India also speak of failure in some high-altitude trials, which is surprising for a helicopter type that has landed atop Mount Everest. Unfortunately, the reports aren’t specific concerning which exact tasks were the problem.

On the industrial side, EADS subsidiary Eurocopter have entered into a Global Industrial Cooperation Partnership Agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the joint production of the civilian/military Ecureuil and Fennec family of helicopters. That agreement, signed at the ongoing “Aero-India 2005″ international air show, would make HAL a global supplier of composite and metallic structural assemblies for the Ecureuil and Fennec family, including airframes for the 2 helicopters.

Kamov Ka-226 w. pod

Russia’s Kamov had responded to the AAC’s v1.0 Request For Proposal back in late 2003, alongside Bell and Eurocopter. Its Ka-226 Sergei uses the same counter-rotating design as Kamov’s other helicopters, which serve in roles with the Indian Navy. The Ka-226 also has a somewhat unusual feature – it can become a skycrane by detaching its body pod. Other mission pods can also be fitted for specialty roles, which gives the helicopter considerable versatility.

In the 1st competition, the Ka-226 was eliminated early during the paper evaluation, because it had been unable to obtain acceptable flight certification in time. Kamov unsuccesfully asked to be re-inserted in 2005, and the formal re-tender led Kamov to bid again, but the up-engined Ka-226T soon ran into certification issues of its own. Ka-226Ts replace Rolls Royce 250C engines with French Turbomeca Arrius 2G2s. That delivers better performance at altitude, but certification generally takes at least 2 years, and the new design had rolled out just 9 months before the 2010 trials.

The Ka-226 is reported to be significantly cheaper than its rivals. On the flip side, it has few customers at this point, even as problems with other Russian equipment and policies are creating pressure to diversify India’s supplier base away from Russia. Nevertheless, it was a finalist alongside the A550 Fennec.

Outside, Looking In AW119 Koala
(click to view full)

AgustaWestland had been a bidder in previous rounds, bid in the v2.0 RFP as well. The AW119 Koala Enhanced has good high-altitude capabilities, and turned out to be their platform. The uprated AW109 Power is more popular, but it has a listed ceiling of just over 19,000 feet. That’ss more than enough for most customers, but may not have been enough for India.

The firm’s civil sales have been rising in India, but it was not a finalist in the 1st round of competition. They were hoping for better luck in round 2, but found themselves bounced from the competition on a somewhat mystifying technicality.

There are allegations that the firm was solicited for a bribe during the competition, and that the firm was dismissed on a dubious technicality shortly after refusing to pay bribes. Ironically, they’ve now been barred from bidding on new Indian contracts over allegations of bribery with respect to a different competition, despite the fact that the CBI has been unable to build a case against them re: India’s VVIP helicopter procurement.

MD-600N
(click to view full)

Some reports also claimed that MD Helicopters’ MD500/900 series were entered in the v2.0 Indian competition, but subsequent reports indicate that they chose not to bid in round 2.

MDHI’s patented NOTAR (NO TAil Rotor) system might have offered India a very tempting technology transfer option, even as a joint arrangement with India could help complete the resurgence of this American helicopter firm. NOTAR offers quietness and survivability benefits, both of which are very important in combat situations. On the flip side, it reportedly exacts a slight performance penalty, and MD Helicopters’ ability to meet India’s hot weather, high altitude performance criteria was already the key question. The MD600N offers a single-engine, NOTAR option with a stated ceiling of 20,000 feet at full load, and their conventional MD530F is specifically designed for those “hot and high” situations. Though neither were bid for India, the MD-530F was eventually ordered by Afghanistan.

The Wild Card: Hindustan Aeronautics HAL’s Dhruv
(click to view full)

The competition’s wild card is India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. If the foreign competition stalls for long enough, while their own helicopters enter service, the odds of an all-HAL solution increase. Substitution doesn’t require equivalent replacement, either, just the ability to perform the envisioned RSH missions with a different mix of assets. The longer the foreign competition stalls, the less India loses from even late development and delivery of local alternatives.

HAL certainly wasn’t shy about using its state-owned status and political clout to take 115 helicopters out of the joint Air Force/ Army light helicopter program, in return for promises of a single-engine “Light Observation Helicopter” design within 5-6 years. That eventually escalated to 187 machines, now called “Light Utility Helicopter,” for delivery within about 12 years. The LUH will reportedly be a smaller 3-ton machine with a single engine, instead of the 6-ton Dhruv’s twin engines. Expected speed is up to 120 knots, with a service ceiling of 21,300 feet, and the ability carry a 900-pound payload about 190 nautical miles. Mockups of HAL’s LUH were unveiled at Aero India 2011 in February, and it’s expected that the first 3 will fly in 2013. Mass production is scheduled to begin in 2015 at 10 per year, building to 36 per year until deliveries end in 2022.

HAL has had a problem with late deliveries on other projects, but India can choose to reduce its HAL LUH order total and buy abroad if they’re late. Provided that foreign bought options exist to buy, of course.

HAL Cheetal
(click to view full)

In the mean time, HAL is offering the Army its up-engined “Cheetal” variant, which replaces the SA516 Cheetah’s derated TM Artouste IIIB turboshaft with a FADEC-driven TM 333-2M2, raising its payload to 90 kg at 19,600 feet. Some improvements have also been made to the helicopter’s avionics, including an electrically driven artificial horizon, directional gyro, Flight monitoring system, Cockpit Voice Recorder and Master Flasher Warning System. If that sounds bare-bones compares to the advanced “glass cockpits” and GPS navigation in the various RSH competitors, it is, but it’s an improvement on the existing Cheetahs.

With the foreign-bought competition stalled by a poorly-run procurement process and a raft of anonymous allegations, the Army has reluctantly begun buying Cheetals an an immediate stopgap. A INR 1.89 billion (about $43 million) IAF buy of 10 Chetals in 2007 was followed by a 2013 Army order for 20 more at INR 4.18 billion (about $78 million).

The Dhruv twin-engine light helicopter, has reportedly performed well in high altitude tests, but it has also received consistent complaints about its performance in the field. The current Mk.III version uses the Ardiden 1H1 Shakti engine that was co-developed with Turbomeca, instead of the less powerful TM333-2B2 on earlier models. Orders for 166 helicopters are already underway, and the light helicopter competition’s delays have given the design a period of time to mature and prove itself. At about 5.5 tonnes, the Dhruv Mk.III is almost twice as heavy as the LUH contenders, but that wouldn’t necessarily stop it from acting as a substitute for foreign-bought LUH helicopters in a budget or timing crunch. The “Rudra Mk IV” variant adds a surveillance & targeting turret and a GIAT 20mm cannon and in the nose, while integrating missiles and rockets on the wings.

Then there’s the “Light Combat Helicopter” Dhruv derivative, a purpose-built light attack and scout helicopter that’s said to have good high-altitude performance.

Milestones & Developments

This section covers the competition for imported RSH/LUH helicopters, but the salience of HAL’s local LUH, Dhruv, and LCH attack helicopter programs means that we will occasionally cover key milestones and developments from those programs. HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter will be referred to as “LOH” in highlighting, using its original name in order to clearly distinguish it from the foreign competition.

2013 – 2014

Still waiting on LUH, but new government cancels it; HAL moves ahead with Dhruv, LCH. You fall, I rise?
(click to view full)

Aug 29/14: Canceled. Someone in government finally made a decision. The new BJP government’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) canceled the IAF’s tender for 197 light utility helicopters (LUH), and moved it to the “Buy and Make Indian” category for local manufacture of foreign designs. The move is expected to add at least 5 years before India gets any new helicopters, and delivery of tested and qualified helicopters could well take longer than that.

Private sector involvement is possible under this deal; for instance, the Union Home Ministry is understood to have cleared a proposal from the Tata Group to produce helicopters in India. Sources: Defense News, “India Cancels $1 Billion Light Helicopter Tender” | Financial Express, “Make in India kicks off with defence deals” | Indian Express, “Centre scraps light utility helicopter tender, opens it to Indian players” | NDTV, “Modi Government Drops Rs 6000-Crore Foreign Chopper Plan, Wants ‘Made in India’”.

Canceled

Jan 21/14: HAL. HAL issues a press release titled, simply, “India Needs More Helicopters”:

“India needs more helicopters compared to West and China as these wonder machines have proved their mettle in variety of uses by Armed Forces in general, during natural calamities and internal security threats, said Dr. R.K. Tyagi, Chairman, HAL. Pointing out that these machines ensure better governance but the country has far less copters compared to over 35,000 that are operational across the world, he said what is needed is a national helicopter policy. Dr. Tyagi was addressing the delegates of National Workshop on “Use of helicopters for Airborne Law Enforcement (ALE)”

Presumably, HAL’s Chairman doesn’t mean the helicopters that his firm has been lobbying against, even as he concedes the importance of those missing helicopters to India’s military posture and humanitarian response. Pay no attention, just implement a state-run national helicopter policy that will steer demand to the state-run firm. It’s certainly easier than competing. Public Choice Theory of Economics [PDF], anyone?

Dec 6/13: More delays. An oversight committee is now looking into the RSH final flight trials’ propriety, as it tested the Ka-226T vs. the AS550C3. Even as the bids expire this month, and unidentified MoD source tells AIN not to expect any action any time soon. AIN also quotes a HAL official who says that the HAL LUH contract is being delayed, and the machine won’t obtain initial operational clearance until 2017.

So, no decisions are being taken, and very little is forthcoming, even as the Indian Army’s Chief of Staff Western Command, Lt. Gen Amarjeet Singh Chabbewal, tells AIN that spares for existing machines are now expensive and increasingly difficult to obtain. Worse, “We have neglected fleet sustainment… the wear and tear on these helicopters is extremely high.”

India’s Border Security Force (BSF) is beginning to reach for other platforms, including a recent order for 8 Mi-17V5s, but it won’t be enough. Sources: AIN, “Big Indian Light Helicopter Buys Are Delayed Again”.

April 3/13: RSH delayed. The Indian Army has asked for a delay in the competition, and the MoD’s Director General (Acquisition) has asked Eurocopter and Kamov for an 8-month extension of their bids to the end of 2013.

The Army’s problem is Brigadier V S Saini, who is currently posted at the Officers’ Training Academy at Chennai (!). He was also in charge of the LUH field trials, and his name is on a document seized by Italian investigators into Finmeccanica’s AW101 VVIP helicopter deal. The document says that “Brig Saini” had demanded over $5 million to favour the company in the LUH deal as well, and mentions a January 2010 offer to “help to eliminate the competition.” The current conclusion is that no money changed hands, but just a few months later, Finmeccanica itself was eliminated on an inconsistent technicality.

Army chief General Bikram Singh reportedly told defence minister A K Antony that the RSH project needs to be formally put on hold until the inquiry against the brigadier is complete. Brig. Sani has denied the allegations, and reports indicate that Indian investigators haven’t been able to secure hard evidence. That means they’ll be depending on the Italians, who haven’t fully shared their VVIP deal evidence yet. India’s Economic Times | Rediff | Times of India.

Feb 22/13: Cheetal. HAL announces an INR 4.18 billion ($77.2 million, or $3.86 million per helicopter) contract to supply 20 stopgap Cheetal helicopters to the Indian Army. HAL will also provide “associated equipments,” and training to the pilots and technical crew.

This is the Army’s 1st Cheetal contract; previous buys have been for the IAF. The longer the RSH competition is held in limbo by the MoD, the more stopgap orders will be placed.

Army Chetal buy

Feb 8/13: Mrit? Sandeep Unnithan writes that the RSH tender is dead. The problem is a common one in India: poor (and often late) framing of unusual requirements, with little reference to the marketplace, followed by rigid insistence that vendors provide off-the-shelf, unmodified solutions. The RSH isn’t the only competition that has been destroyed by this combination.

Both finalists reportedly had issues with some of the requirements, as detailed in the article and explained above. Unnithan adds that a “barrage of anonymous complaints to the MOD” concerning deviations from requirements have led the Ministry to conclude that the deal would be declared improper if they were to sign it. Nobody wishes to say so publicly, because it wold make the Army and Ministry look inept.

Instead, the competition remains in an unexplained limbo, even as 11 aged Indian Cheetah helicopters have crashed since 2006 and killed 9 pilots. In order to ensure that their extreme-altitude patrols and bases can maintain their supply lines, the Army is buying up-engined Cheetah (“Cheetal”) helicopters from HAL. The RSH competitors would offer the Army advantages, but the Cheetals are available amidst a stalled process. A 2007 buy of 19 for INR 1.89 billion (about $43 million) will soon be followed by an order for 20 more, at a reported figure of INR 3.35 billion (about $76 million).

As a final note, observant readers may wonder about the Oct 13/08 date, but the article routinely refers to events after 2010. The India Today article is clearly a pre-press proof.

Feb 5/13: Stop Making Sense. Defense News talks to IAF sources that include Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, but their explanations regarding the LUH program still don’t make sense.

Air Marshal Browne told them that LUH was “presently delayed due to some technical reasons,” without giving details. Defense News adds that “Indian Air Force sources said there are issues with thrust of the engines of both the competitors.” There’s really no such thing as an issue with engine thrust, only issues with overall helicopter performance, and the AS550 at least has demonstrated an impressive level of high-altitude performance.

Meanwhile, competitors are openly asking why the process seems to be in limbo.

Feb 3/13: IOC for Dhruv/Rudra. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd announces initial operational clearance (IOC) for their Advanced Light Helicopter Mk-IV armed variant of the Dhruv. It’s larger than the planned LUH, but can perform cargo, surveillance and light attack roles to the required altitudes.

Likewise, HAL’s Dhruv-derived LCH light attack helicopter offers a very high service ceiling, and can perform surveillance and light attack roles, though it isn’t much good for cargo. Flight testing is wrapping up, and 179 are planned.

As DID noted back on Nov 30/09: “If the foreign competition stalls for long enough, while their own helicopters enter service, the odds of an all-HAL solution increase.” Substitution doesn’t require equivalent replacement, just the ability to perform the envisioned missions with a different mix of assets. If that means fewer helicopters overall, the Army will be unhappy, but the coming budgets are likely to force India’s military and politicians to make choices. Removing foreign-designed helicopters from the equation may not be the best choice operationally, but it’s a political path of least resistance. Time will tell.

2009 – 2012

Bids and trials, then 2 years of aimless waiting; HAL’s LOH/LUH alternative moves ahead to initial fabrication. “What’s up, doc?”
(click to view larger)

Dec 5/12: Short answer: No, India’s Ministry of Defense doesn’t have its act together yet. Actual quote:

“The Ministry has not deferred its decision of purchasing of 197 Light Utility Helicopters (LUHs) and the procurement case is under examination. The Defence Procurement Procedure lays down stringent guidelines to effect utmost probity and transparency in procurement transactions. It is not a fact that these helicopters were to be purchased from Government of Italy. In the context of an allegation against one service officer, as appearing in the media, information has been sought from the Government of Italy.”

Nov 3/12: HAL’s LOH. HAL says that they are beginning to assemble actual LUH helicopters now, not just mock-ups. The first bottom structure assembly is complete, and was been taken down from the jig in October. Modern CAD diagrams and CAMS ultra-precise measurement systems are being used in production. No word on an engine choice at this point. SP’s Land Forces.

Feb 20/12: Does Sanskrit have a word for “speed”? Eurocopter has written to Indian Army chief V K Singh, to ask about the light helicopter competition. While minister Antony talks about “approved timelines,” Eurocopter writes:

“We take this opportunity to express our concern regarding the time frame for the very important programme, for which the RFP was issued in July 2008… The technical evaluation process has now taken over 38 months and has not yet been concluded due to reasons which are unknown to us… We hope that this program after so many years will soon be successfully concluded and we would be proud to contribute to the self-reliance of Indian armed forces,”

There are actually quite a few Sanskrit words for speed, and Hindi words too. Unfortunately, India’s bureaucracy may need a lexicon to find them. It isn’t clear when Army Aviation Corps (AAC) submitted their trial reports to India’s Defence Ministry, after trials wrapped up in December 2010. India’s Economic Times writes that the trial report was accepted by the ministry in October 2011, and only approved by the Technical Oversight Committee in January 2012. Which appears to make the delays another self-inflicted wound from India’s defense bureaucracy.

Eurocopter’s letter

Aug 28/11: HAL LOH. Shiv Aroor offers a progress report on Livefist:

“After freezing configuration in June 2009 and design in August last year, HAL is now in the process of identifying systems and equipment for its Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The transmission and rotor system design has been completed, and is fully indigenous. Raising of assembly jigs and fixtures is currently in progress. One ground test vehicle (GTV) and three prototypes of the LUH are planned, with a first prototype flight in 2012 and initial operational clearance by 2014.

May 27/11: HAL LOH. HAL confirms to the Economic Times that they’re looking at other engines besides the Dhruv’s Turbomeca Ardiden 1H1/Shakti, in order to power their LUH. The problem with Turbomeca reportedly revolved around fees. If another engine is picked, it lowers the benefits of fleet commonality for India, and could create a commonality advantage for a foreign LUH competitor.

A subsequent Livefist reports says that the Rolls Royce/ Honeywell LHTEC T800, which is used in advanced variants of the Lynx helicopter family, is Shakti’s main competition. Economic Times | Livefist.

May 1-23/11: Dhruv droops. HAL’s Dhruv continues to exert a gravitational pull on this RSH competition, but results are mixed at best.

One the one hand, the helicopter will be getting the HELINA derivative of India’s Nag anti-armor missile, which has been over 20 years in development. HELINA is inferior to off-the-shelf options elsewhere, but does fit India’s self-sufficiency model, and could be seen as bolstering HAL’s bid to fill the armed light helicopter role.

On the other hand, India’s Border Security Force wants to send its 8 Dhruvs back. Representatives went on record to call them “useless,” and criticized them for altitude limitations and frequent breakdowns. These performance issues are not new, so the RSH light helicopter competition may be rising in importance to India. DNA India re: HELINA | Indian Express re: BSF.

Feb 20/11: Trials. Indian Defence reports that finalist trials of the Russian Ka-226 vs. Eurocopter’s AS550 C3 Fennec have ended.

197 foreign helicopters and 187 LUHs will be procured in order to fulfill RSH requirements. Meanwhile, a HAL LUH mock-up, draft performance specifications, and HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter design, were all unveiled at the Aero India 2011 show.

Jan 17/11: LUH mission. HAL submits an invitation for Indian companies to provide the helicopter’s cockpit, which is a break from its approach with the Dhruv, and from its expected approach to LOH. At the same time, the firm describes the Indian LUH mission, as they see it. A similar or identical mission set is likely to apply to foreign helicopters, and includes:

“…primarily utility roles with future variants for armed roles. The utility roles include Armed Reconnaissance, Aerial photography, Scout Role in conjunction with attack helicopter, Platform for Electronic Support Measure (ESM), Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) and Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM). LUH will be initially integrated with systems and equipment required for basic and military utility roles. Subsequently integration and certification of the helicopter for armed roles as well as civil/commercial variant would be taken up.”

The PDF link no longer works, but Livefist has some key excerpts.

Sept 25/10: AW’s puzzling elimination. Reports surface that AugustaWestand has not been invited for the LUH Phase II final trials, which are currently going on with Eurocopter and Kamov. AgustaWestland and their engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and has written the MoD to question its elimination. Defenseworld.net:

“AgustaWestand had received a communication from the Indian MoD in April this year to the effect that there was a variance in the equipment offered (engine) in the technical proposal to that fielded in the trails and to the equipment which would be in the final production standard, AgustaWestland sources [said that]… the issue focused on the fact that the offered engine had not finished the certification process and not deemed current production standard. However, all vendors… are in the same position… The sources further asserted that the AgustaWestland AW119SP helicopter offered in the Indian competition meets all the RFP technical and mission requirements.”

Why was AW eliminated?

Feb 18/10: AW-Tata JV. At DefExpo 2010 in New Delhi, AgustaWestland announces a joint venture with India’s Tata Sons to build a final AW119 assembly line in India for the worldwide market, with an expected production rate of 30 a year and the first locally-built aircraft potentially rolling out in 2011. AgustaWestland | Defense News.

Feb 17/10: Ka-226 trials. At DefExpo 2010 in New Delhi, Rosoboronexport’s deputy director general Victor Komardin confirms that they have brought 3 Ka-226 helicopters to India for high altitude trials. DNA India.

Feb 12/10: Fennec trials. Eurocopter confirms that its AS550 C3 is undergoing trials for the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopters program, and brings the machine to DefExpo 2010 in New Delhi. The firm will also be showcasing mock-up models of the EC 725 Cougar offered for India’s Multi-role Helicopter requirement, and the AS565 MB Panther offered for India’s Indian Coast Guard.

Dec 7/09: RFP v2 Bidders. Responding to Parliamentary questions, defense minister Antony confirms the bidders for India’s v2.0 contract:

“The Request for Proposal for replacing the Cheetah helicopters was issued in July 2008 to six vendors. Three vendors, namely, (i) M/s Agusta Westland, Italy (ii) M/s Eurocopter, France and (iii) M/s Rosoboronexport, Russia, have responded. Further action as per the existing procedures including Defence Procurement Procedure, 2008 is underway.”

Nov 30/09: Heli snapshots. As the light helicopter competition stalls, HAL is the biggest beneficiary. If the foreign competition stalls for long enough, while their own helicopters enter service, the odds of an all-HAL solution increase. Minister of State for Defence Shri MM Pallam Raju offers a snapshot in a response to India’s Parliament:

“Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has designed & developed the Advance Light Helicopter (ALH Dhruv) in 5.5 ton category to suit the requirement of our Armed Forces. The Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) are both at the development stage. HAL has so far delivered 22 ALHs to Indian Air Force (IAF) and 40 to Army. Contracts for supply of 159 ALHs to Army and IAF were signed in December 2007. These Helicopters are planned to be delivered during 2009-2016.

Around Rs. 6273 crores (INR 62.73 billion, or about $1.35 billion) have been collected by HAL from Army and IAF against delivery of Helicopters, milestone payments for the Helicopters contracted and Design & Development of LCH, LUH & weaponization of ALH.”

Nov 2/09: Delays. India’s Times Now reports that delays in planned trials of the 3 submitted helicopters is likely to push the contract award toward the end of 2010 or early 2011, with induction in 2013-2014 only if everything goes smoothly.

The cancellation of the v1.0 RFP has already pushed the deal back by about 4 years. Times Now reports that 3 (Eurocopter, Agusta Westland, and Mil) manufacturers responded to the v2.0 RFP in December 2008. The Indian Defence Ministry’s Technical Evaluation Committee completed its evaluations by April-May 2009, and summer trials were planned by June or July 2009. They have not been held, and Army sources added that the lack of any decision regarding the schedule makes winter trials unlikely by Feb 15/10. That’s likely to force summer trials back to April-May 2010, and winter trials would still be required.

2005 – 2008

Eurocopter wins, but competition voided on a minor technicality; RFP v2.0 released, with a carve-out for HAL; Bell bows out. Bell 407/ YRH-70
(click to view full)

Nov 26/08: HAL LOH partnering? Flight International reports that Hindustan Aeronautics is likely seek a Western partner for its indigenous LUH design, with industry sources saying Eurocopter is the favorite to be invited to come on board in 2009.

HAL’s had originally wanted to go it alone for its LOH order, which was placed in addition to the 197 LUHs that India plans to buy on the international market. Given the performance requirements, set timelines, and penalties for delay, however (see Sept 8/08 entry), HAL has evidently decided to explore partnership as a less risky and less costly way to fill in needed skills and technologies.

That could have helped the foreign bidders, by fulfilling offset requirements and lowering relationship risk. In the end, however, HAL appears to be sticking to its original plan to go it alone.

Nov 13/08: Bell bows out. Indian media report that Bell Helicopter has now withdrawn from India’s LUH helicopter competition, as well as its attack helicopter competition. Flight International quotes a Bell Helicopters India Incorporated official:

“We have a very good product in the 407, but it was simply not feasible to take part given the high offset requirements. We will continue to look for opportunities in the Indian military market. The focus for now, however, is on the civil helicopter sector.”

The RFP required the winner to invest 50% of the deal’s value as industrial offsets to India, an amount that is higher than India’s usual 30% requirement for large foreign military purchases. Bell already has an agreement with HAL to manufacture tail rotor blades and other flight critical components for the popular Bell 206 Jet Ranger model, and there were some reports that Bell Textron was offering to make India the Bell 407′s global production hub. Bell Helicopter was contacted for comment, but declined. India Defence | DNA India | Flight International | India’s Economic times re: 407′s civil success in India.

No Bell prize

Sept 8/08: HAL LOH. In “The great helicopter challenge,” India’s Business Standard confirms that HAL is designing a new helicopter for the Light Observation Helicopter (LOH) contract: a 3-ton helicopter powered by a single Shakti engine, as opposed to the dual-Shakti Dhruv. The catch is that HAL must have 187 helicopters built, tested, accepted and delivered by 2017:

“Business Standard has learned that the MoD has imposed a strict timeline on HAL, including – for the first time ever – a penalty for delay. Top HAL sources say that if HAL overshoots the 2017 deadline, the MoD will procure more helicopters from the global manufacturer selected to supply LOHs; HAL’s order will correspondingly reduce.”

In order to meet that deadline, the report also indicates that HAL will not be bound to India’s traditional, problem-plagued approach of insisting that every single component is indigenous. Instead, HAL will buy some sub-systems like cockpit design, fuel pump systems, etc. on the international market, and act as the overall integrator.

July 24/08: RFP v2.0. India invites v2.0 bids for 197 utility helicopters: 133 for the army and 64 for the air force. The foreign helicopters are expected to be inducted by 2010, in a deal that has been valued at INR 30 billion (about $750 million). The usual technology transfer requirements would only require enough transfer for state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to perform full maintenance.

Between them, the 2 services require 312 helicopters. The size of the tender was reportedly reduced after inside lobbying from state-owned HAL, however, which assured the Indian MoD that it would be in a position to supply the remaining 115 machines over the next 5-6 years. Some statements hint that this would be a new platform, but some variant of this indigenous helicopter seems more likely. Indo-Asian News Service | ANI | Howrah News Service | domain-B | Aviation Week.

RFP v2.0

April 9/08: Bigger Tender. Press reports indicate that India plans to float a larger tender for 312 high altitude light utility helicopters, after it is cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council meeting on April 10/08. The planned tender involves 197 helicopters for army aviation, per the previous tender, but adds another 115 for the air force.

Estimates place the tender’s value at “over $2 billion dollars.” America’s ARH-70 and UH-145/LUH buys of light off-the-shelf helicopters both had program totals of over $3 billion, for similar helicopter numbers.

Bidders for this round are expected to include the same set of firms as the last tender: Bell Helicopter (Bell 407, selected for ARH-70), EADS Eurocopter (AS550 Fennec, won the canceled competition round), Russia’s Kamov (Ka-226) and Italy’s Agusta Westland (likely AW119 Ke).

Reports add that India’s army and IAF have also concluded a major deal with Hindustan Aeronautics for Dhruv 166 Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), to be inducted in phases by 2011. Could HAL look to grow that number with a bid of its own? Hindustan Times | Punjab News | Times of India.

Dec 17/07: India Defence reports that Indian defence ministry officials, who asked not to be identified, said EADS was “challenging the very grounds of the cancellation of the deal.” They said a visiting delegation of French military officials would be discussing the issue with Indian counterparts.

These sorts of protests are much like disputes over a referee/umpire’s call in professional sports. They may offer some satisfaction, and they definitely indicate one’s displeasure, but even when they’re right, they almost never change the ruling.

December 2007: Canceled. The competition goes back to square one as India cancels the RFP, and plans to issue a new tender.

The key issue is that special consideration was apparently shown to Eurocopter, who was allowed to field the AS350 B3 Ecureil civilian variant for the trials instead of the AS550 C3 Fennec military version. Meanwhile, there are reports that a probe is underway regarding an army general on the evaluation committee, whose brother reportedly heads up Eurocopter’s sole distributor in India.

This has triggered denials of wrongdoing from EADS Eurocopter: “EADS and Eurocopter are keen on insisting that both companies fully comply with the very strict French and European regulations on these issues…” A company statement also insisted it was in full compliance with European regulations re: bribery, and had “duly abided by and signed the pre-integrity pact that was requested by the Indian ministry of defence” before making its bid. At a subsequent press conference later in the month, Norbert Ducrot, Eurocopter’s SVP for sales and customer relations in the Asia-Pacific region said there was no difference between the Fennec’s military and civilian versions:

“As far as performance is concerned and technically the two helicopters are the same. It is just a question of the nomenclatures… The request for proposal did not ask for the military version to be fielded for trials in India.”

Even a re-compete of the RFP may not help Bell Helicopter much, however, unless it can meet India’s requirements. India Defence reports that the Bell 407 was eliminated after the machine it sent for evaluation could not perform a 3-axis vector, which enables the helicopter perform a ‘U’ like maneuver that can be very helpful in mountainous areas like the Siachen Glacier. Bell offered to show a video of the helicopter performing a similar maneuver, or fly Indian officials to Canada to witness it, but this was rejected for lack of compliance with India’s testing requirements.

Thanks to all of our readers who have offered us heads-ups and links to various sources: India Defence | India Times | BBC | Breitbart | Forbes.

RFP canceled

Oct 7/07: Winner? The Press Trust of India reports (via Outlook India) that India has decided to buy 197 EADS’ AS550 Fennec helicopters. The Indian Navy, who also operates the Chetak helicopter, has reportedly expressed interest as well. EADS Senior Vice President for South Asia, Allain Letanoux, said that:

“We are in final phase of having a deal to supply 197 (Fennec) light helicopters for the Indian Army. The contract is expected to be signed by the end of the year… [and will involve transfer of technology].”

PTI adds that 67 helicopters manufactured in France will be purchased outright, while the rest will be built jointly with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) under their partnership.

Eurocopter AS550 picked

Aug 29/07: India’s MoD, in a typically cryptic reply that appears to say no decision has been reached yet:

“The purchase of light helicopter for the army is being processed under the Defence Procurement Procedure and an appropriate decision would be taken after following all the stages of procurement process. As such, no definite time limit could be given at this stage. The exact value of the procurement would be known only thereafter.”

Meanwhile, India’s indigenous Dhruv “advanced light helicopter” debuts an armed version, adds uprated “Shakti” engines developed with Turbomeca of France, and is deployed to the Siachen Glacier high in the mountains of Kashmir, following successful tests.

Feb 27/06: Eurocopter. EADS release:

“Eurocopter is displaying its record-breaking AS350 B3 Ecureuil/AStar at this year’s HeliExpo. On February 14th, 2006, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) validated and confirmed the high-altitude world record achieved with a civilian AS350 B3 on May 14 and 15, 2005, with two landings and take-offs on top of Mount Everest at 8,850 meters (29,035 ft.) altitude. Piloted by Eurocopter Experimental Test Pilot Didier Delsalle, the two flights included peak-over landings on the mountain’s peak both exceeding two minutes as stipulated by the FAI regulations.”

Everest News has a page covering the landing, including pictures and video. Note that the AS550 is a military derivative of the AS350, and originally used the same designation.

Onto Everest

July 29/05: Bell 407. The Bell 407 wins the US ARH competition, and some predict a follow-=on effect in India. The prediction turns out to be premature, and the ARH-70 is eventually canceled by the USA, though Iraq will field an armed IA-407 variant.

Additional Readings & Sources Background: Competing Helicopters

News & Views

  • India Strategic (January 2014) – Army Helicopters: Operational implications of delays in fleet modernisation

  • Aviation Week (May 27/13) – Officials Pessimistic About LUH Prospects. Gee, you don’t say.

  • Aviation Week (May 21/10) – New Delhi Rotary Ambitions Continue To Climb [dead link]. Cover RSH, plus Navy, Coast Guard, and attack competitions underway. Notable: “Defense ministry sources say the current re-tender has had certain hiccups during technical and flight evaluations?flaws that could delay the process or, in a worst-case scenario, translate into yet another re-tender.”

  • Agence France-Presse (June 15/05) – EADS Faces Rising Opposition To Entry of U.S. Market [dead link]. So India becomes more important – though in the end, they did win the UH-72 contract.

  • Bell Helicopter News Release (June 13/05) – Bell Flies ARH Demonstrator

  • Deccan Herald (May 10/05) – Eurocopter, Bell vie for Indian Army contract

  • The Hindu (Feb 14/05) – HAL inks deal with Eurocopter

  • Indian Journal of Aerospace Medicine (1999 Winter; 43(2): 59-67) – The elusive oxygen mask helmet system for cheetah helicopter: a cause for erosion of accepted norms in the field. “ABSTRACT: Recently IAM was tasked to evaluate two Oxygen Mask-Helmet systems, one locally modified and one imported, for Cheetah helicopter which has been operationally flying in service for the past 20 years for IAF and Indian Army. An ideal system has remained elusive till date. This paper brings out the continuing erosion of the accepted norms and the compromise with dangers of hypoxia, in terms of high altitude operations of this helicopter. The flight safety issues of this compromise have been brought out and findings of the two system evaluations are presented as a solution, requiring immediate attention.”

Categories: News

New Nukes: Britain’s Next-Gen Nuclear Missile Submarines

4 hours 19 min ago
Successor Class
(click to view full)

“We are committed to working towards a safer world in which there is no requirement for nuclear weapons… However, the continuing risk from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the certainty that a number of other countries will retain substantial nuclear arsenals, mean that our minimum nuclear deterrent capability, currently represented by Trident, is likely to remain a necessary element of our security.”     – UK SDSR, 1998

Britain has a big decision to make: do they remain a nuclear weapons power, or not? In an age of collapsing public finances and an uncertain long-term economic future, the money needed to design new nuclear missile submarines is a huge cost commitment that could crowd out other needs. Then again, in an age of collapsing non-proliferation frameworks, clear hostility from ideologies that want nuclear weapons, and allies who are less capable and dependable, the downside of renouncing nuclear weapons is a huge risk commitment. Pick one, or the other. There is no free lunch.

This article covers that momentous decision for Britain, and the contracts and debates associated with it.

Contracts & Key Events HMS Vanguard
(click to view full)

Britain’s government took the first big steps in 2006-2007, a joint US-UK “Common Missile Compatment” (CMC) project was launched in 2008, and initial gate approval for Britain’s “Successor” project followed in 2011. Other contracts have followed, covering design, infrastructure, and even the new kind of nuclear reactor the submarines are expected to use. What hasn’t quite followed yet, is full approval to launch the build program.

Note that the CMC sub-program, which is financed by the USA and UK, is covered in its own article.

FY 2014

RUSI

Aug 21/14: Industrial. BAE is starting to demolish certain disused buildings at their Barrow-in-Furness site, as the 1st major stage in a large-scale 8-year industrial program. An old foundry and boiler shop are the first to go, and construction will eventually include:

  • Refurbishment of the site’s main fabrication facility, together with its existing plant and machinery;
  • An extension to the Devonshire Dock Hall construction facility to include a new state-of-the-art manufacturing and installation facility;
  • An intent to build a 28,000 m2 off-site facility to store submarine parts and materials within the local area, for easier and faster access.

Sources: BAE Systems, “Demolition Begins To Transform Submarine Building”.

Feb 2/14: Politics. The buzz in Westminister is that Labour Party MPs are beginning to back away from their leader Ed Miliband’s support for the Successor Class. The erosion is serious enough that Conservative Party Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has told his junior ministers to lobby the shipbuilding unions and have them firm up Labour Party support.

The Liberal Democrats are openly against the project, but the Labour Party doesn’t want to head into the next election on a pledge to abandon Britain’s deterrent. Neither does the Conservative Party, despite reservations in some of its own quarters. Labour’s Miliband voiced his public displeasure over the perceived interference in his party’s affairs, but he has no way to block discussions with the shipbuilding unions. Sources: The Guardian, “Lobby ship unions over Trident, Philip Hammond tells ministers”.

Jan 31/14: RUSI Report. RUSI releases a report that looks at how a smaller or less active SSBN force would affect Britain’s deterrent, compared to the current arrangement of Continuous At-Sea Deterrence (CASD) that ensures at least 1 submarine ready at all times. A number of proposals are in play politically:

“At lower readiness, the ‘preserved deterrence’ posture presented in the TAR and the ‘contingency’ posture proposed elsewhere by the Liberal Democrat Party would have no nuclear platforms deployed on a day-to-day basis, and would only have the ability to reconstitute a force over a limited period of time (in the case of ‘preserved deterrence’, a matter of years).19 At medium levels of readiness, the ‘sustained’ or ‘responsive’ postures presented in the TAR would have nuclear-armed submarines patrolling on a day-to-day basis, interrupted by voluntary periods of inactivity of varying length (the former permitting fewer and shorter interruptions than the latter). At higher levels of readiness, the ‘focused’ posture would maintain back-to-back patrols, interrupted only for periods of technical or personnel recuperation.”

RUSI’s conclusion is that the lowest-readiness option, and proposals that would cut the submarine force to just 2 boats, are problematic because of the breadth of gaps and/or lag time they create. Medium levels of readiness, or a fleet of 3 boats, might work, but it means the UK has to change from deterrence as an undefined concept and invisible non-factor in crisis escalation. Instead, the need to activate the deterrent would require a very clear doctrine of deterrence and escalation that would play a significant role in future crises. This state of affairs also adds opportunities for British politicians to bungle things beforehand by ignoring vital signals, or create big problems during a crisis by managing their suddenly-public moves badly. Based on the historical record, RUSI is more complacent about future governments’ handling of such things than they ought to be.

Britain will also have to worry about rushed moves causing a submarine-related accident, and about the morale and readiness rot that afflicts personnel who see themselves as a sideline. RUSI uses the USA’s ICBM missile force as a negative example. Sources: RUSI, “A Disturbance in the Force: Debating Continuous At-Sea Deterrence” (see Additional Readings).

Key report

2013

Long-term nuclear infrastructure deal; Political turbulence in Scotland, Labour Party, and even the Conservative Party; Small long-lead buys begin. Vanguard Class SSBN
(click to view full)

Dec 16/13: Procurement begins. GBP 79 million is a drop in the ocean for this program, but the UK MoD has begun the process of ordering known early-build items items like structural fittings, electrical equipment, castings and forgings, etc. The GBP 79 million in contracts are actually a set of 2, both awarded to BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines.

The Ministry of Defence also releases the 1st conceptual graphics of the Successor Class design, based on work done to date. At this stage, they don’t show much and shouldn’t be expected to. Sources: UK MoD, “News story: New investment in Successor submarines” | Royal Navy, “£79m investment in next generation nuclear submarines” | BAE, “First Successor procurement contracts awarded”.

Dec 15/13: Doubts. Former defense minister James Arbuthnot [Cons. - North East Hampshire], who chairs Parliament’s Defence Select Committee, tells the Guardian that he’s concerned about the UK armed forces, and is less sure that maintaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent is a good idea. He isn’t suddenly becoming a pacifist. Rather:

“Nuclear deterrence is essentially aimed at states, because it doesn’t work against terrorists. And you can only aim a nuclear weapon at a rational regime, and at rational states that are not already deterred by the US nuclear deterrent. So there is actually only a small set of targets.

“With the defence budget shrinking, you have to wonder whether [replacing Trident] is an appropriate use of very scarce defence sources. You have to wonder whether nuclear deterrence is still as effective a concept as it used to be in the cold war…. [If Russia wanted to attack, they] would organise for a terrorist group to put a nuclear weapon on a container ship and sail it into Tilbury docks, with the signature of Pakistan on the nuclear device. And what would the UK do? Launch a missile at Islamabad? We could not be sure against what we are retaliating. Nuclear deterrence does not provide the certainty that it seemed to in the past. It’s not an insurance policy, it is a potential booby trap.”

On the other hand, can Britain assume that the US nuclear deterrent will remain reliable over the next 50 years? The last half decade has greatly frayed their relationship, and the USA faces significant financial challenges of its own. Arbuthnot says he would still vote in favor of renewing Trident, but the extent and content of his reservations suggest that a “Syria moment” over nuclear weapons remains a possibility in Parliament. Sources: The Guardian, “Tory ex-defence minister voices doubts over need for Trident replacement”.

Oct 6/13: Not good. The Independent newspaper reports that a 90-minute breakdown of all reactor coolant supply at Devonport dockyard’s Tidal X-Berths in Plymouth, UK nearly led to a major nuclear incident. Based on a heavily redacted report from the Ministry of Defence’s Site Event Report Committee (SERC), both the electrical power for coolant supply to docked nuclear submarines, and the diesel back-up generators, failed at the dockyard on July 29/12. That failure followed a similar failure involving HMS Talent in 2009, and a partial failure involving HMS Trafalgar in 2011.

The newspaper adds that an internal Babcock investigation blamed the incident on the central nuclear switchboard, but added a note of concern about “inability to learn from previous incidents and to implement the recommendations from previous event reports.” This will not help existing uneasiness over the next generation of nuclear submarines, and “Nuclear scare at Navy submarine base after ‘unbelievable’ failures” adds that:

“Its own “stress test” on Devonport safety, launched after the Fukushima disaster, said that in the event of the failure of both power supplies, heat levels in reactors could be controlled by emergency portable water pumps, and added that such a failure had occurred a “number of times” previously.”

Dockyard failure

Oct 3/13: SSE. Babcock announces an unspecified contract from BAE Systems for the System Design phase of a new model of Submerged Signal Ejector (SSE Mk.12). It follows Babcock’s October 2012 system definition contract for the Successor Class’ WHLS (tactical weapons handling and launch) and SSE, thanks to a recent and successful concept review.

An SSE’s self-contained launch tubes sit in the submarine’s external under-casing, and are used for more than just communications beacons. Decoy devices, bathythermograph sensors, flares, and escape signals are all options for the SSE, hence Babcock’s description of it as a “first level system.” Babcock has extensive experience in SSE design and has been heavily involved in designing and making all UK SSE systems. Sources: Babcock International release, Oct 3/13.

March 19/13: Politics. With an SNP-sponsored debate on Trident set to take place in the Scottish Parliament this week, a Labour Party that depends on its advantage in Scotland needs to be clear on its policy. British media are reporting that the Labour Party is looking to backtrack slightly, and propose replacing the 4 Vanguard Class submarines with just 3 successors. Labour Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy continues to support the idea of a Trident replacement, saying that:

“North Korea is trying to develop nuclear weapons, as is Iran. If they do, then Saudi Arabia and Turkey may do the same. The UK shouldn’t just give up our nuclear deterrent by ourselves…. The precise shape of the future deterrent will be based on capability and cost.”

See: UK BBC | Daily Record | The Guardian | The Telegraph | left-wing New Statesman magazine.

March 7/13: Scotland. With a 2014 referendum looming that could deprive the UK of its nuclear submarine base in Scotland, Britain’s House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee weighs in. Bottom line? The SNP seems to have taken a leaf from their counterparts in Quebec, Canada, and decided to be extremely vague regarding their plans in a potentially controversial area. After all, 6,700 work at Falsane and Coulport now, which is expected to rise to 8,100 after they house all of Britain’s Astute and Trafalgar Class boats and other facilities. Parliament will be pressing the issue hard and publicly:

“Unfortunately, the Scottish Government has gone on evasive manoeuvres over the issue of what they will really do in the event of Separation. Their response dodges the central question, which is what they really mean by their stated policy of the ‘speediest safe transition’ of Trident from Scotland. As we said in our report, in reality, Trident can be deactivated within a matter of days and the warheads removed from Scotland within twenty four months. In the process, the UK would lose the ability to operate its nuclear deterrent. Alternatively, it would take approximately 25 years for new facilities to be created elsewhere in the UK. We believe the Scottish Government must be honest and open about their intentions. Tomorrow we will be taking evidence from the Convener and Shop Stewards at the Coulport and Faslane. They represent the workers who will bear the brunt of job loss…”

Really? 25 years? If so, the whole issue of the Successor Class could become moot very quickly. Which would be fine with the SNP, who want to eliminate the Trident program if Scotland does vote to stay in the UK. Expect to hear more of this sort of to-and-fro, what with another 5,000 jobs on the line in shipbuilding, 15,000 in the UK government 4 Army infantry battalions, 2 Royal Marine Commando units and 5 squadrons of Tornado and Typhoon fighter aircraft in Scotland. UK HoC | SNP | Aviation Week | The Scotsman.

Feb 13/13: Reactors. The UK MoD signs a 10-year, GBP 800 million (then about $1.2 billion) contract with Rolls Royce, financing the Submarines Enterprise Performance Programme (SEPP) envisioned in the 2010 SDSR. The goal is to consolidate costs under one contract with consistent incentives, and improve operational efficiency in the infrastructure that delivers and supports the UK’s naval nuclear propulsion systems. They’re hoping for a GBP 200 million saving over this 10 years. Time will tell.

SEPP isn’t technically part of any one program. Contracts for products and services to deliver and support the submarine programs themselves will continue in parallel. Royal Navy | Rolls Royce.

Jan 25/13: Electrical. HMS Vengeance’s GBP 350 million Long Overhaul Period and Refuel (LOP(R)) will feature a switch that’s likely to be a precursor for Britain’s next-generation SSBNs. Vengeance is replacing the maintenance-heavy rotating machinery of motor generators (MGs) with fixed solid-state Main Static Converters (MSCs), as a key component of the boat’s electrical system.

The new MSCs are derived from the system developed for Britain’s Astute Class SSNs, but adapted for the higher power requirements of an SSBN. They also had to be smaller, due to space limitations in the Vanguards. Finally, they had to successfully integrate into the Vanguard submarines’ existing electrical, control, and coolant systems. Installations have now begun, and a modified version is almost certain to to be part of Britain’s Successor Class. Its designers are likely to be watching the MSCs’ performance in the Vanguards closely. Babcock, via ASD.

2012

Design contracts; Reactors. click for video

Dec 18/12: The British Ministry of Defense submits its 2012 report to Parliament [PDF] on the future nuclear deterrent, noting the ramp up in public and private resources via an Integrated Programme Management Team (IPMT). A whole boat System Definition Review is scheduled to take place in 2013. With respect to the big items:

“Of the [GBP] 3Bn we plan to spend in the Assessment Phase, the expenditure to the end of Financial Year 2011/2012 has totalled [GBP] 315M. This is some [GBP] 30M lower than expected at the time of the Initial Gate approval, principally as a result of slower than expected manpower build-up in our Industrial partners… still expects to deliver the Assessment Phase within the approved cost of [GBP] 3Bn… Current forecast costs, including planned SEPP efficiency measures, indicate that we remain within the 2006 White Paper estimates of [GBP] 11-14Bn (at 2006/7 prices) for the Successor platform costs (assuming a four boat fleet).

The 2006 White Paper also recognised that investment of [GBP] 4-6Bn (at 2006/7 prices) would be required for supporting infrastructure and a replacement warhead ([GBP] 2-3 Bn for each element). As set out in the 2011 report, the MOD plans to spend some [GBP] 8M between 2011 and 2013 assessing the requirement for additional infrastructure investment. The 2011 report also noted that a decision on whether to refurbish or replace the existing warhead design could be deferred until the next Parliament, as the current warhead design is now planned to continue in service until the 2030s.”

Oct 29/12: Design contracts. The UK commits GBP 350 million to design their next-generation SSBN submarine, which will incorporate CMC. The work will be divided GPB 315 million to BAE Systems, who already has over 1,000 people working on this program, and a further GBP 38 million to Babcock. This award is part of the GBP 3 billion design phase (vid. May 18/11 entry).

The current Vanguard Class submarines are scheduled for replacement from 2028, and Britain is busy moving its entire submarine force to Falsane in Scotland, which will grow to 8,000 jobs by 2017.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who leads Britain’s Liberal Democrat party, angrily denounced the way the move was presented by the government. The government presented it as another step toward renewing the submarine deterrent, but Clegg sees that as ‘jumping the gun.’ His party has set up a review that’s looking at options like shorter-range cruise missiles launched from the torpedo tubes of existing Astute Class fast attack submarines, or to air-launched nuclear missiles. UK MoD | BAE Systems | UK’s Daily Mail.

June 18/12: Reactors. Britain’s Ministry of Defense signs a GBP 1.1 billion contract with Rolls Royce for submarine nuclear reactor cores, (GBP 600 million) and industrial investment in the Raynesway plant that manufactures them (GBP 500 million). The contracts will secure 300 jobs at Rolls-Royce.

The nuclear reactor cores will be used to power the 7th and final SSN Astute Class fast attack submarine, and the 1st of the Royal Navy’s next generation of SSBN nuclear deterrent submarines, currently known as the Successor Class.

Rolls Royce is the sole Technical Authority for the UK Nuclear Steam Raising Plant, whose reactors have powered British nuclear-powered submarines for the past 50 years. The GBP 500 million infrastructure contract aims extend the operating life of the Rayneway plant in Derby, UK, by more than 40 years. Rolls-Royce will continue to maintain and operate its existing reactor core manufacturing facility, while undertaking a parallel phased rebuild and modernization of buildings on site. UK MoD | Rolls Royce | The Telegraph.

May 22/12: Design contracts. The UK MoD issues a series of design phase (vid. May 18/11 entry) contracts for its next-generation “Successor” Class SSBNs, while re-iterating that a decision on the final design and build contracts won’t be made until 2016. The design work has to be done, or it would be impossible to make an informed decision about costs.

BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines receives the main design contract, worth GBP 328 million.

Babcock receives a GBP 15 million contract to focus on designing parts of the in-service support program.

Rolls Royce receives over GBP 4 million to integrate a new reactor design into the submarine. The reactors themselves will be separate design/ build contracts.

May 15/12: 5 bn for AWE. The UK MoD announces a multi-billion pound agreement with the AWE Management Limited (AWEML) joint venture, which manages Britain’s Atomic Weapons Establishment. The AWEML joint venture includes Jacobs Engineering, Serco and Lockheed Martin, and they signed the current 25-year management contract in 2000.

Scientists at the AWE’s Berkshire sites are involved from the initial concept and design of British nuclear warheads, through manufacture and support, to their decommissioning and disposal. Under the agreement, the ministry will invest GBP 1 billion a year over the next 5 years in skills and facilities at the company’s Aldermaston and Burghfield sites in Berkshire, where more than 4,500 staff are based. Around 40% cent of this money will be invested in essential capital projects, including production and research facilities. The remainder will be spent on operating and maintaining the AWE.

2010 – 2011

Initial Gate. SDSR. UK Trident launch
(click to view full)

May 19/11: Initial Gate. The British government approves the initial Successor Class assessment phase, known as Initial Gate. This allows a design phase to begin that could be worth up to GBP 3 billion.

The new submarine class will retain the current Trident II D5 missiles, and introduce a PWR3-based passive cooling nuclear reactor design for the Royal Navy. The cost for 4 boats is estimated to be GBP 15-20 billion at 2006/7 prices, but the final decision to build 3 or 4 submarines will be taken in 2016. UK House of Commons, “Statement on the Nuclear Deterrent.” | UK MoD.

Design Phase approved

March 23/11: New reactor? Britain is reportedly shifting toward the passive-cooling PWR3 nuclear reactor design for its future SSBN nuclear missile submarines. The PWR2 design used in its SSBN Vanguard Class, as well as the SSN Trafalgar, and new SSN Astute Class fast attack boats, reportedly shares unwelcome features with the Fukushima reactors, in that they entirely on back-up power supplies to provide emergency cooling in the event of an accident.

In contrast the PWR3, which is widely used in modern US nuclear submarines, uses “passive” cooling. That makes it less reliant on back-up power, and offers additional methods of injecting coolant into a reactor.
www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/23/navy-submarines-nuclear-reactors

Oct 18/10: SDSR Britain’s new government releases its 2010 Strategic Defense and Strategy Review [PDF]. With respect to its future SSBNs, the government intends to move forward, but:

“Under the 1958 UK-US Agreement for Cooperation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence Purposes (the ‘Mutual Defence Agreement’) we have agreed on the future of the Trident D5 delivery system and determined that a replacement warhead is not required until at least the late 2030s. Decisions on replacing the warhead will not therefore be required in this Parliament. This will defer £500 million of spending from the next 10 years. We have also reached agreement with the US over the size of the missile tubes in the new submarines; this has enabled us to reduce the cost of the submarine missile compartment by up to [GBP] 250 million.

As a result of our value for money review, we will reduce the number of operational launch tubes on the submarines from 12 to [8], and the number of warheads from 48 to 40, in line with our commitment vigorously to pursue multilateral global disarmament. This will help reduce costs by [GBP] 750 million over the period of the spending review, and by [GBP] 3.2 billion over the next ten years. ‘Initial Gate’ – a decision to move ahead with early stages of the work involved – will be approved and the next phase of the project will start by the end of this year. ‘Main Gate’ – the decision to start building the submarines – is required around 2016.”

There is tension in the governing coalition between Conservative party members, who want to maintain the deterrent, and the Liberal-Democrat party members, who do not.

SDSR

2006 -2009

Concept designs. Integrated project team. Vanguard cutaway
(click to view larger)

March 19/09: Report. Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, makes a statement as the committee publishesThe United Kingdom’s future nuclear deterrent capability” :

“The Department’s timetable for completing the design and build process for the replacement submarines is extremely tight. It has 17 years to do it, even though the Department itself accepts that such a process usually cannot be completed in under 18. The MOD’s track record in delivering major defence projects on time is not exemplary.

The MOD must make absolutely fundamental decisions about the design of the new submarines by September of this year. These include the main design features; whether to develop a new type of nuclear reactor requiring substantial research and development; and, crucially, the design and size of the missile compartment.”

Oct 26/07: Concepts. BAE presents 2 SSBN concept designs at DSEi 2007, labelled Concept 35 and Advanced Hull Form (AHF). Concept 35 is an evolution of the SSBN Vanguard Class and SSN Astute Class. The Advanced Hull Form uses a broad y-shaped stern with twin propulsor shrouds, which reportedly houses much of the boat’s machinery outside of the pressure hull. See Beedall for pictures.

Oct 18/07: IPT opened. BAE Systems announces that Rear Admiral Paul Thomas CB, FREng chairman of the defence nuclear safety committee, has officially opened the Future Submarines (FSM) Integrated Project Team office at Barrow-in-Furness.

“This element of the Future Submarines IPT will be based on the BAE Systems Submarine Solutions site and will be manned by a collaboration of up to 128 personnel made up from the Ministry of Defence, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Babcock Marine. Working with the FSM IPT office in the MoD’s Abbey Wood offices, the team will, over the next two years, develop a concept design for the submarine component of the future deterrent programme.”

March 4/07: Vote. Britain’s Labour government wins a 409 – 161 vote to build a new SSBN successor the Vanguard Class. 95 Labour Party MPs vote “no,” but the motion passes with the support of most Labour Party MPs and Britain’s Conservative Party. Britain’s Liberal Democratic Party, Green Party, and Scottish National Party are all opposed as matters of party policy. BBC | The Guardian | The Telegraph.

Commons vote

Dec 4/06: Britain’s government releases “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” [PDF] white paper, and decides to maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent. That will mean building a class of 3 or 4 SSBNs, to replace the current fleet of 4 Vanguards.

White Paper

Additional Readings UK SSBNs

Official Reports

News & Views

Categories: News

The New Chinooks: Boeing’s Modern H-47 Heavy-Lift Helicopters

4 hours 56 min ago
CH-47Fs take off
(click to view full)

DII FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record; this FOCUS Article covers the CH-47F/MH-47G Chinook helicopter programs, in the USA and abroad. These helicopters’ distinctive “flying banana” twin-rotor design stems from the brilliant work of aviation pioneer Frank Piasecki. It gives Chinooks the ability to adjust their positioning very precisely, while carrying a large airframe whose load capacity has made it the world’s most popular heavy-lift helicopter. The USA expects to be operating Chinooks in their heavy-lift role past 2030.

The CH-47F looks similar to earlier models, but offers a wide range of improvements in almost every aspect of design and performance. While the related HH-47′s $10-15 billion CSAR-X program win was terminated, delivery orders continue for CH-47Fs and for MH-47G Special Forces configuration helicopters. International orders or formal requests have also come in from Australia, Britain, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the UAE, with India and other countries expected to follow.

The New Chinooks: CH-47F, MH-47G, HH-47 CH-47F Family: Initial Improvements CH-47D Chinooks
(click to view full)

These new aircraft are part of the U.S. Army Cargo Helicopter Modernization Program, but they are based on a long-serving basic design. The CH-47F Chinook and MH-47G Special Ops version are the latest variants in a family of helicopters that first saw service in 1962 during the Vietnam War. New “F/G” models feature numerous upgrades over CH-47Ds (produced 1982-1994), from more powerful engines, to reduced vibration, upgraded avionics and self-defense systems, and manufacturing advances designed to improve both mission performance and long term costs.

Engines & Fuel: The new CH-47F has 4,868 shaft horsepower (SHP) from each of its twin T55-GA-714A engines, improving fuel efficiency and enhancing lift performance by approximately 3,900 pounds. The new engines will enable the CH-47F to reach speeds in excess of 175 mph and transport up to 21,016 pounds. As a point of comparison, the original CH-47A’s T55-L7 engines generated 2,650 SHP each, and the CH-47D’s T55-L-712 turboshaft engines produced 3,750 SHP. This improved power will also pay dividends in high-altitude or hot environments, as all aircraft suffer performance penalties in such “hot and high” conditions.

The new Robertson Aviation Extended Range Fuel System of internal auxiliary fuel tanks gives the CH-47F a mission radius greater than 400 miles. Other airframe modifications improve the helicopter’s strategic deployability, reducing the time required for aircraft tear down and build-up by about 60% when deploying them via a C-5 Galaxy or C-17 Globemaster III heavy transport aircraft.

CAAS in MH-47: edited
(click to view full)

Cockpit & Avionics: The new digital cockpit design improves interoperability via the US Army’s Common Aviation Architecture System cockpit, simplifying pilot training and workload. CAAS creates a package that offers Digital Advanced Flight Control System (DAFCS) , displays and avionics. That’s enhanced with moving maps, forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and multimode radar pictures for nap-of-earth and low-level flight operations in any visibility or weather, and an advanced data transfer system to store preflight and mission data. Because this is built on the CAAS foundation, expansion, modernization, and even cross-upgrades developed for other helicopters are all thinkable.

Survivability: New survivability features include a Common Missile Warning installation, and Improved Countermeasure Dispenser Systems. The US Army’s ATIRCM contract was intended to round that out with a next-generation defensive system for active laser decoying of enemy guided missiles, and is employed on CH-47s, but turned out to be too heavy to install on the Army’s smaller helicopters. It was limited to CH-47 installations, and terminated.

If the Army’s new CIRCM program to field lighter devices reaches fruition, it will eventually become a common system for all Army machines, and replace ATIRCM via retrofits.

Manufacturing Advances CH-47F: mid-conversion
(click to view full)

The remanufacture process has become more extensive than the original plans, and now involves wholesale replacement of key sections. The incoming helicopter has its propulsion systems removed and sent for overhaul/replacement, and the cockpit is cut off. What’s left is the aft fuselage and cabin, which is blast stripped to bare metal, inspected, and then has appropriate sections repaired or replaced. True manufacturing splices allow full modularity with large airframe sections, which can be mixed and matched if inspection reveals a need to replace other elements.

Throughout this process, Boeing has pushed to reduce manufacturing costs and improve production efficiency by outsourcing significant sub-sections to firms like L-3 Crestview (new cabins), using lean manufacturing processes on the factory floor, and using related techniques like employee involvement teams.

The new airframe itself is built utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques where large single-piece components replace built-up sheet metal structures and aluminum honeycomb formers. Boeing spokespeople have cited 35% reductions in parts and fastener totals. Doing it this way is expected to reduce operating and support costs while improving the structural integrity of the aircraft, extending the overall useful life of each Chinook. Further structural enhancements in key locations, and advanced corrosion protection via special paints, should also improve durability and lead to longer service life.

2011 British orders have taken another step beyond, and suggest the availability of future CH-47F models with “machined monolithic” frames.

Variants MH-47G, Jackal Stone 2010
(click to view full)

MH-47G Chinooks, of course, include a number of additional modifications that optimize them for Special Forces operations. The most obvious is the big aerial refueling tube at the front. Other modifications include the CAAS avionics that will be featured on the CH-47F, extra fuel in enlarged side fuel tanks, additional sensors for surveillance, “aircraft survivability equipment,” dual embedded Global Positioning Systems, a redundant navigator for improved accuracy and reliability, and various advanced datalinks that allow the display of Near Real Time Intelligence Data (NRTID).

Now the family has a third entry. Boeing’s HH-47 CASR, a modified MH-47G, successfully lifted off as the $4-10 billion CSAR-X combat search and rescue competition’s winning entry in November 2006. That model still exists, and some of its features have been transferred at the request of other CH-47F customers like Canada and the Netherlands, but the CSAR-X program was canceled in 2009 after a series of successful GAO protests by the losing contractors.

Planned MYP-II improvements CH-47F maintenance
(click to view full)

Cargo & Lift: Initial CH-47Fs don’t offer much beyond the new engines and improved construction, but Phase II/ MYP-II helicopters will have some additions that will be retrofitted back into the rest of the fleet.

The first cargo advance is called COOLS (Cargo On/Off Loading System), and consists of floor panels that flip over, to reveal loading rollers. COOLS panels are expected to begin deploying in February 2013, and their presence will have the side effect of improving floor protection against small arms fire. Chinook modernization manager Lt. Col. Joe Hoecherl explained its importance:

“Right now we have a system that is not on the aircraft. We have to bring it on. What happens now when you are flying is you take off and, if you have a change of mission, you have to go pick up pallets. You can’t push pallets on this floor as it is now. With COOLS, the rolls are going to be built into the floor, so if you have a change of mission you just flip the floor up [and roll the pallets onboard].”

The other advances in this area won’t begin with MYP-II buys, but will be introduced into the production line later, and then added as a retrofit. A new set of composite Advanced Chinook Rotor Blades (ACRB) are projected to able to add another 1,800-pounds of lift capability, thanks to their design. The blades have already gone through some wind-tunnel testing, and are slated for fielding in 2016.

Boeing is also working on an update to the CH-47F’s Improved Vibration Control system, which will be lighter and will have obsolete electronic components replaced.

Maintenance: A number of Boeing’s manufacturing advances are aimed at reducing maintenance, but more can be done. The CHPE (Cargo Platform Health Environment) program of embedded diagnostic and prognostic sensors began installation validation in May 2012, and is slated for MYP-II/ Phase II CH-47Fs. These kinds of HUMS (Health and Usage Monitoring Systems) offer make basic maintenance like rotor track and balance easier, and make diagnosing wider helicopter problems and fleet trends much easier. That saves a lot of money on maintenance, and improves availability in service.

The USA’s Acquisition Plan CH-47 Assembly Line
(click to view full)

The US Army’s original plan was revised upward a few times from the original 452, and went as high as 533 helicopters in 2012, before coming back to the same place it began in April 2013.

The FY 2014 budget would leave the US military with 451 machines, made up of 382 CH-47Fs and 69 MH-47Gs.

Under the current plan, the Army is modernizing 206 CH-47D Chinooks to the new F-model configuration, while also buying 176 new-build CH-47F Chinooks. New build and refurbished CH-47s are being bought side by side, in order to keep more operational helicopters out of the factory lines and on the front lines.

In the wake of operational success in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (SOCOM) moved to increase its MH-47G Chinook inventory to 69 machines, adding 8 new helicopters to its 61 remanufactured machines.

The CH-47F was expected to enter service in July 2007, and did receive a US Army go-ahead for full-rate production and fielding that month; it was certified as combat ready with the 101st Airborne in August 2007.

Under a multi-year contract awarded in August 2008, Boeing received 28 orders in 2009, and then began a graduated delivery rate ramp-up through successive years. Boeing submitted a proposal for a CH-47F MYP-II buy to begin in 2013, and that contract was finally signed in May 2013. Note that Foreign Military Sales are available as options under these contracts, if the countries involved want to take advantage of that.

The USAF’s CSAR-X program could have added another 141 HH-47 helicopters, but it was canceled following competitive protests. That saga is detailed in its own article set. CSAR-X was eventually canceled, though the USAF is still looking for a combat search and rescue option via its “CRH” solicitation.

Global Contracts and Key Events CH-47F & CH-47D
(click to view full)

Customer Orders: US Army (532 planned), US SOCOM (61 planned), Australia (7), Britain (14), Canada (15), Italy (16), the Netherlands (6/9), Turkey (6+/14), United Arab Emirates (6+/16).

Unless otherwise noted, key program events and related awards noted below are assumed to be US orders from Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL; issued to The Boeing Co. in Ridley Park, PA.

Note that contracts to Boeing are not all-inclusive, by any means. As an example, they include installation of Honeywell’s engines, but not the engines themselves, which are “Government Furnished Equipment” (GFE) bought under a separate contract. In a related vein, the purchase contract is usually accompanied by advance materials and “long lead items” contracts earlier. The actual price of a combat-ready CH-47F will be very different.

FY 2014

CH-47Fs
(click to view full)

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

July 31/14: Engines. Honeywell Aerospace International, Phoenix, Arizona, was awarded a $121.9 million initial foreign military sales contract order, on behalf of Turkey, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Note that Morocco isn’t a CH-47F customer, but their request for 3 CH-47Ds included the uprated 714A engines.

It’s the 1st order under a new contract covering up to 440 total T55-GA-714A engines and 365 T55-GA-714A engine fielding kits. All funds for this order are committed immediately, but the wider contract will have a total potential value well north of $121 million.

Work will be performed until Dec 31/18 in Phoenix, AZ. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-14-C-0021, PO 0001).

July 29/14: 1st Block II. Boeing delivers the first CH-47F Block II to the U.S. Army, 1 month ahead of schedule, in a ceremony at the production facility in Ridley Township, PA. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing Delivers First U.S. Army Multiyear II Configured Chinook”.

July 22/14: A $65.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for 204 Cargo On/Off Loading System (COOLS) A-Kits; 204 COOLS B-Kits; and 22 COOLS Ballistic Protection System (BPS) Kits. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 US Army budgets. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Nov 29/19.

COOLS (Cargo On/Off Loading System) consists of floor panels that flip over to reveal loading rollers. Before the CH-47F Phase II was introduced, the loading rollers had to be installed independently. That made loading and unloading supply pallets much more difficult and tedious. In contrast, metal COOLS floors can be flipped in place in minutes, while providing extra ballistic protection as a bonus (W58RGZ-14-C-0063).

May 22/14: +1. Boeing in Ridley Park, PA receives a $25.9 million contract modification under the multi-year contract, exercising an option for 1 CH-47F Chinook helicopter. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 US Army budgets.

Note that this isn’t the full purchase price of a CH-47F, which also has Government Furnished Equipment aboard that is bought under other contracts. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/20 (W58RGZ-13-C-0002, PO 0009).

+1 CH-47

April 17/14: Support. A $43.3 million contract modification for new equipment and equipment training to Army units receiving the CH-47F. All funds are committed immediately, using Army FY 2014 budgets. Work will run until Feb 29/16, at continental United States and overseas locations (W58RGZ-13-C-0114, PO 0003).

April 9/14: An $8.9 million modification to the MYP-II contract, covering overruns for Production Lot 12 and advance buys for Lot 13. All funds are committed from FY 2011, 2012 and 2014 budgets. Estimated completion date is Dec 31/20. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA (W58RGZ-13-C-0002, PO 0008).

April 3/14: Block II. A $19 million contract modification to integrate improved drive train development, as part of the CH-47F Block II Aircraft Component Improvement Program. All funds are committed immediately, from FY 2014 RDT&E budgets. Estimated completion date is May 29/15 (W58RGZ-04-G-0023, 0307).

March 18/14: Block II. Boeing in Ridley Park, PA receives a $15.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee to develop and test a CH-47F Block II Lightweight Fuel System as part of the Airframe Component Improvement Program. Work will be performed at Ridley Park, PA until March 15/17. Bids were solicited via the Web, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Dec 26/13: FY 2014. Boeing in Ridley, Park, PPA receives a $617.7 million order for FY 2014 production, under the current multi-year contract (q.v. June 11-17/13): 22 remanufactured CH-47Fs, 6 new CH-47Fs, and long lead funding for remanufacturing 13 CH-47F helicopters in FY 2015. Note that the FY 2015 budget projections called for 30 remanufactured helicopters.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 other procurement funds. Work will be performed at Ridley Park, PA, and the estimated completion date for the contract is listed as Dec 31/20 (W58RGZ-14-C-0003, PO 004).

28 CH-47Fs

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 MH-47 gets some good news, thanks to a better armoring system:

“The Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD), contracting with The Protective Group, completed work on this project during FY13. They developed a non?permanent armor to fit under the floor of the MH-47 helicopter cabin. The goal was to maintain the same minimum level of ballistic protection as the fielded armor, with better durability and less installed weight. Locating the armor under the cabin floor panels greatly reduces the wear and increases its lifespan. The designers also developed an installation and removal system that is lightweight, requires minimal aircraft modification and manpower, and does not interfere with maintenance requirements, mission equipment, or cargo loading systems. The project demonstrated armor panel installation and removal in minutes and achieved a 34 percent reduction in weight over the currently fielded ballistic protection system.”

FY 2013

FY 2013-2017 multi-year deal; +1 MH-47G; Late Dutch deliveries finally begin; Preferred bidder in India; Prospects in Libya?; DVE system for MH-47Gs to help see in tough conditions. CH-47F got moves
(click to view full)

Sept 27/13: Libya order? The Libya Herald reports that the country is looking to buy transport helicopters, in order to reach remote communities and vastly improve border control. IHS Jane’s and Boeing both report that the Chinook is a serious contender. Despite Libya’s past as an anti-American state and Soviet client, they have a long history with the CH-47 thanks to license-built sales from Italy’s AgustaWestland. Most of their 20 Chinooks were destroyed in the civil war, with just 1 reportedly flying.

The Chinook can expect competition from options like Eurocopter’s EC725, and the most interesting question might be whether the CH-47F deal with AgustaWestland includes Libya within the June 2008 agreement’s export zone, and under what terms. The other big question is the size of Libya’s desired order. Senior Boeing manager Steve Barlage said in August that the desired order was more of a full replacement: 6 CH-47Ds and 16 CH-47Fs. Recent accounts, however, involve just 6 CH-47Ds, which could be taken from American or Canadian stocks and sold through Boeing.

Libya has vast potential oil riches, but the country is in somewhat poor shape, and oil production has plunged sharply to under 100,000 barrels per day in the wake of strikes and disorder at key terminals. At the same time, US government financing to backstop arms deals is limited. There are ways to square that circle, including an export order from AgustaWestland that leverages Italian export credits, but it’s all up to Libya. Sources: Libya Herald, “Military considers $700 million Chinook helicopter deal” | Defense News, “US Firms Eye Late Entry Into Libyan Defense Market” | SKy News Australia, “Libya oil production slumps over strike”.

Sept 27/13: MH-47. A $78.2 million firm-fixed-price contract finalizes an order for 7 new-build MH-47G helicopters, which is the total for that type under the recent multi-year contract (q.v. June 11-17/13).

Even as bare airframes, this amount seems a bit low (q.v. Dec 11/12). The final cost of each ready-to operate MH-47G is, of course, considerably higher. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA. One bid was solicited and 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023, 0275503).

7 MH-47Gs

Sept 27/13: MH-47 DVE. The Technical Applications Contracting Office in Fort Eustis, VA issues 3 contracts to develop and field “the degraded visual environments (DVE) system.” DVE will “integrate information from [MH-47E/G and MH-60K/L/M helicopter] sensors,” in order to help aircrews perm their missions through rain, fog, sand brownouts, etc. Dust-driven brownouts are an especially prevalent killer in many operating theaters, and the advanced sensors already on board US SOCOM’s helicopters offer an interesting option for cutting through the clutter. See also: US Army, “Army acquiring ‘brown-out’ assistance for helos” for additional context regarding this area in general. This area is being pursued by a number of US military programs, and by a number of private companies.

The 60-month SOCOM DVE contracts were awarded from 5 offers received in response to the FBO.gov solicitation, and they will run until Aug 31/17. Winners include:

Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA wins a maximum $22.4 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost reimbursement contract, with $1.3 million in FY 2013 research, development, test and evaluation funds committed immediately for task order 0001 (H92241-13-D-0008).

Sierra Nevada Corp. in Sparks, NV receives a maximum $22.6 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee DVE contract, with $624,013 in FY 2013 research, development, test and evaluation funds committed immediately for task order 0001 (H92241-13-D-0010).

Boeing in Philadelphia, PA wins a maximum $23 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee DVE contract, with $2.1 million in FY 2013 research, development, test and evaluation funds committed immediately for task order 0001 (H92241-13-D-0011).

July 18/13: Support. A maximum $39.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for helicopter support and personnel training services, aimed at units receiving the CH-47F. FY 2013 procurement funds are being used, and 1 bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-13-C-0114).

June 24/13: Italy. The Italian Army’s 1st ICH-47F Chinook performs its 15-minute maiden flight at AgustaWestland’s Vergiate plant in Italy. Under the joint agreement, AW makes the drive systems, handles system integration for Italy’s unique requirements, and performs final assembly. They also have the same kind of wider export permission in their region that they enjoyed with the CH-47C.

Italy ordered up to 20 ICH-47Fs (16 + 4 options – q.v. May 13/09), to replace the 1st Regiment’s 40 CH-47Cs that entered service in 1973. Delivery of this 1st helicopter is scheduled for early 2014, with final deliveries in 2017. AgustaWestland | Read “Italy Buying CH-47F Helicopters” for more.

June 11-17/13: MYP. A $3.414 billion firm-fixed-price, multi-year contract for remanufactured and new-build CH-47F cargo helicopters, with $1.317 billion of FY 2011-2013 funds committed immediately. Boeing announces it as a contract for 177 helicopters from FY 2013 – 2017, which could rise to 215. If it does rise that high, the Pentagon announces the contract maximum as $4.984 billion. Boeing is touting up to $800 million of savings vs. single-year buys, plus a $130 million investment they’ve already made to modernize the Chinook factory in Pennsylvania.

The Pentagon adds that a portion of the initial contract involves foreign military sales for Turkey and the UAE. The USA’s FY 2013 budget submission involved just 155 helicopters and $373 million in savings, for a total of $3.363 billion. That indicates another 22 helicopters in this base order, but Turkey and the UAE together have just 16 helicopters left in their DSCA requests (8 each), so the numbers don’t add immediately.

As of this date, there were 241 CH-47Fs in the Army and National Guard, with 15 units operating them and a 16th being equipped. CH-47F units have logged more than 86,000 combat hours in Afghanistan, maintaining an operational readiness rate of over 80%, compared to equally new technology like the V-22 tilt-rotor whose readiness rate is 70% or less. Boeing cites a final Army target of 464 CH-47Fs, including 24 to replace helicopters that have been lost, but that’s at variance with FY 2014 Pentagon budget documents (W58RGZ-13-C-0002). Boeing.

Multi-Year Contract:
177 – 215 helicopters

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

The FY 2013 program plan was 533 helicopters: 237 New Build + 226 remanufactured. The FY 2014 program plan cuts that by 20 remanufactured helicopters (to 207) and 61 new-build helicopters (to 176), but the interesting thing about the cuts is that they mostly take place after 2017. The reason is the multi-year buy proposal, which runs from FY 2013 – 2017. There is a cut of $527 million in the FY 2017 budget projection, and if you look closely, it’s mostly from the total removal of new-build funding that year. The exact impact of these cuts on the entire program’s cost isn’t clear yet, and will have to await a Pentagon Selected Acquisitions Report (SAR).

March 21/13: Improved rotor. A $17.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for Advanced Chinook Rotor Blade (ACRB) design and engineering services. This blade is slated to be added part-way through CH-47F Block II production, with fielding in 2016. If it performs to spec, it will add another 1,800-pounds of lift capability, and could be retrofitted to the rest of the fleet. See also Aug 4/12 entry.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of March 18/17 (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Dec 11/12: MH-47G. A $34.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to buy 1 MH-47G special operations variant Chinook helicopter. There’s a fair bit of separate equipment that also goes into these, so our standard warning about prices is magnified in this case.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

1 MH-47G

Dec 5/12: India. The Indian government officially announces that Boeing’s CH-47F is its preferred bidder. In India, an “L1″ bidder is the one that offers the lowest cost, after all adjustments have been made to the proposal. Depending on the competition, price adjustments could be made as a result of industrial benefits plans, maintenance figures, etc.:

“In the proposal initiated by Indian Air Force (IAF) for procurement of 15 Heavy Lift Helicopters, M/s Boeing with Chinook Helicopter has emerged as the L1 Vendor. The cost of the Contract would depend upon outcome of the Contract negotiation with the L1 Vendor, which has not yet concluded.

The Field Evaluation Trials for these Helicopters conducted by the Indian Air Force have found them to be compliant with all the stated Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQRs). Divulging further details in this regard may not be in the interest of National security.”

Nov 28/12: Canada. Canada’s DND provides an update re: its 15-helicopter “CH-147″ project. They say that the project is currently on-budget for its C$ 2.3 billion procurement phase, and on schedule. The add that Boeing is also on track to meet its target of $1.25 billion in industrial offset commitments. The RCAF currently has 2 CH-47Fs flying, and will continue to fly test missions in 2013.

The first CH-147 is scheduled to arrive on schedule at a new CFB Petawawa, ON facility in June 2013. Helicopters will be delivered at a rate of approximately one aircraft per month, with all aircraft being delivered over a 12-month period, reaching Initial Operational Capability in 2014, as planned. Canada DND.

Nov 19/12: Sub-contractors. Canadian landing gear specialist Heroux-Devtek Inc. in Longeuil, PQ receives a multi-year contract from Boeing to manufacture the landing gear for all US Army CH-47F helicopters bought under MYP-II. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the first half of 2014 and run into 2019. Current MYP-II contract expectations will involve 155 helicopters, but this sub-contract also includes options for up to 150 additional landing gear sets to 2019. America isn’t likely to order another 150 CH-47Fs, but foreign buyers might, and MYP-II lets them benefit from the same bulk-order prices negotiated by the US government.

Heroux-Devtek is already an incumbent landing gear supplier for the CH-47F, thanks to the Sept 24/09 MoU that let them bid to supply all H-47F aircraft delivered to customers outside the United States. In September 2012, they received a license to fabricate replacement parts, and to carry out repair and overhaul services, for the landing gear of all Chinook variants. This agreement completes the trifecta. Heroux-Devtek release [PDF].

Oct 28/12: India. The Ministry of Defence has reportedly designated Boeing’s bid to supply 15 CH-47Fs as the “L-1″ (lowest adjusted bid) in Russia’s heavy-lift helicopter competition. If a contract is finalized, the CH-47F will have beaten Russia’s larger and more powerful Mi-26T2, which already serves in India’s armed forces. Both types have proven themselves in Afghanistan, and commercial Mi-26 helicopters have been hired to airlift crashed CH-47Ds back to base.

One key difference? The CH-47F may have just half of the Mi-26′s takeoff weight, but it can be transported in India’s new fleet of C-17A Globemaster heavy-lift jets. That will give an Indian CH-47F fleet a much greater deployment reach. Times of India.

Oct 8/12: Netherlands. The Dutch Armed Forces receives their first 2 CH-47F-NLs, growing their CH-47 fleet to 13 (11 Ds, 2 Fs). The delivery is significantly later than the original date of 2009.

For training purposes, the Luchtmachthanden has stationed 3 training CH-47Ds in Fort Hood, TX. They’ve also set up local training at the School of the Air-Ground Cooperation in Schaarsbergen, including a 10m fixed drop to practice ropedowns. Dutch MvD [in Dutch].

Oct 5/12: Support. Boeing announces a 5-year, $185 million Performance-Based Logistics (PBL) contract to manage production, overhaul and distribution of the Army’s supply of Chinook helicopter rotor blades. This includes older CH-47D models, as well as the CH-47F. Boeing now has performance-based support contracts within the AH-64 Apache, V-22 Osprey, and international CH-47 programs. They add that:

“Boeing has been collaborating with U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command for several years on ways to improve the tooling used to produce and repair Chinook rotor blades. The company also has increased the efficiency and capacity of its Chinook supply chain through the use of improved asset management and forecasting tools, an enhanced supplier network and a public-private partnership with the Corpus Christi Army Depot.”

Oct 5/12: HUMS. An $8.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for CH-47F cargo-platform health environment (CPHE) field demonstration kits. Boeing confirms that these embedded HUMS (Health and Usage Monitoring Systems) will track wear and performance for specific mechanical components and areas. The contract supports initial CPHE fielding, and this aircraft monitoring system is part of the Multi Year II suite of improvements to the CH-47F.

The initial fielding contract, however, is issued under an older agreement. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA, with an estimated completion date of Sept 28/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Oct 4/12: IVCS. A $17.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to qualify Improved Vibration Control Systems for use on the CH-47. Boeing says that IVCS replaces the existing system, reducing weight and issues with part obsolescence. It is not part of the Multi Year II suite of improvements to the CH-47F.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of Sept 28/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Oct 2/12: COOLS. A $13 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for “cargo on/off loading systems.” Boeing confirms that this contract is for the new Cargo On/Off Loading System (COOLS), which provides a convertible roller/ flat floor surface for the CH-47F, and incidentally improves bullet protection in the floor. COOLS will be installed in all MYP-II Chinooks, and will be retrofitted into all existing F-model Chinooks.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of Jan 31/14. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

FY 2012

FY 2012 buys; FY 2013-17 plans; 2nd multi-year US deal for improved CH-47Fs?; Australian & UAE contracts; Survivability. CH-47F, FOB Bastion
(click to view full)

Sept 25/12: Support. A $12.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for CH-47F maintenance. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of Sept 11/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Aug 16/12: 50th Anniversary. Boeing marks the 50th anniversary of delivering the first H-47 Chinook military helicopter, making it Boeing’s longest continuously running production program. The company has delivered more than 1,200 Chinooks to 18 operators around the world, and more than 800 still in operation today.

The production line near Philadelphia is about to see the end of a $130 million renovation that will help Boeing increase Chinook production rates without breaking the bank. Boeing says that they are scheduled to deliver nearly 60 Chinooks this year. They have a proposal for a multi-year American buy, and a backlog of foreign orders.

Aug 14/12: An $81.1 million firm-fixed-price contract modification of an existing contract for “CH-47F aircraft in support of foreign military sales.” Boeing explains to DID that this converts the existing Bridge Contract for CH-47F Foreign Military Sales (vid. Jan 5/12), formally converting the (now 14) helicopters from a Multi Year I to a Multi Year II configuration with the added floor loading systems, etc. It also establishes firm delivery dates for Australia and the United Arab Emirates. The total contract value is now $451.1 million.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of June 15/15. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-12-C-0010).

Australia & UAE

Aug 14/12: Improved Rotor. A $37.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for engineering services in support of the Advanced Chinook’s rotor blade tooling. Advanced Chinook incorporates a number of modifications to the base CH-47F, and the new rotor blade design is one of the most important ones.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Nov 30/15. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Aug 7/12: AVMS. Boeing announces that it will embark on Phase II of its Adaptive Vehicle Management System (AVMS), an advanced flight control system that’s designed to improve maneuverability and performance. It achieves these goals by adapting the flight controls to the aircraft’s flight condition, environment and even computed pilot intent.

The $18 million U.S. Army contract is a joint development project between Boeing and the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) and will encompass more than 100 hours of flight test time. In Phase II, the team will fly the AVMS system on the modified Boeing H-6 helicopter used in Phase I, as well as on the larger Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter.

May 16/12: MH-47G. Rolls Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, IN receives a $17 million firm-fixed-price and cost-no-fee contract for MH-47G helicopter infrared exhaust suppressors, including systems components, initial fielding spares and spare parts.

Work location will be determined with each task order, until May 10/17. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Fort Eustis, VA (W91215-12-D-0001).

April 9/12: A $26.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for “services in support of the Chinook cargo helicopter advance procurement, long lead items.” Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/13. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

April 4/12: US Army Plans. US Army CH-47 F-model project manager Lt. Col. Brad Killen states that the Army plans to have a “pure” fleet of 440 F-model Chinooks by 2018, thanks to a combination of CH-47F buys and upgrades. So far, the Army has accepted 169 CH-47Fs, and its long history of upgrades still includes the first CH-47A ever delivered. About 50 years later, it’s serving in Afghanistan, as a CH-47D.

Lt. Col. Killen has a colleague, thanks to the Army’s recent move to install a Lt. Col. Joe Hoecherl as the special program manager for CH-47F modernization. Key initiatives includes the new composite rotor blade, slated for flight testing in summer 2015; the COOLS Cargo On/Off Loading System of flippable rotors, which will begin fielding in February 2013; and the CHPE Cargo Platform Health Environment of embedded diagnostic and prognostic sensors, which begins installation validation in May 2012. US Army.

Feb 13/12: FY 2013 budget request. The US Army request is $1,462.3 million for 44 CH-47Fs. $1,159.4 million will fund 19 new-build and 19 remanufactured/Service Life Extension Program helicopters, while another $231.3 million buys 6 Overseas Contingency CH-47Fs to replace combat losses. The accompanying document says that:

“Protection of the CH-47 is a major part of the Army’s continued focus on aviation and maintaining an effective Aviation Modernization program, specifically modernization of the Army Rotary Wing fleet. The Department requests funding for procurement of 25 new F-model aircraft while remanufacturing 19 more. Also, funding will be used for further improvements and upgrades, including a loading system to enable rapid reconfiguration from cargo to passenger missions. Funding in FY 2013 is $1.2 billion and totals $5.7 billion from FY 2013 – FY 2017.”

Feb 13/12: FY 2012 new CH-47F. A $676 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to buy 32 CH-47F new build helicopter airframes, plus installation of GFE equipment like engines, etc. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Feb 13/12: A $21.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, covering initial production fielding support for each new equipment training site equipped with the CH-47 cargo helicopter.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of April 30/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-11-C-0093).

Feb 13/12: Cargo upgrade. A $13.3 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to manufacture and test 5 Cargo On-and-Off Loading System prototypes. As noted above, this is a proposed modification to the existing CH-47F.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Feb 28/14. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Jan 17/12: DOT&E on Survivability. The Pentagon releases the FY2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The CH-47 is cited as a system performing well on all measures, but there were some interesting notes about survivability:

“Rotorcraft Sponson RPG Vulnerability. This project is demonstrating methods of suppressing fires resulting from RPG impacts to sponson fuel tanks [DID: those bulges on the lower sides] – with emphasis on occupant survivability. For several U.S. rotorcraft, fuel tanks are contained in sponsons that are adjacent to the main cabin. Current data indicates that the U.S. aircraft are being shot with RPGs and sponsons should be protected.

…Combat Incident Emerging Threat Investigation. This project is addressing a recent combat incident in Afghanistan that raised concerns about a potential new threat to helicopters. In this incident, a CH-47 helicopter was damaged in a manner uncharacteristic of any previous incident. JCAT requested JLF Air support by providing threat-target characterization data for their incident investigation. Results from two shots completed against a surrogate airframe were provided to JCAT. The initial results from these tests allowed JCAT to understand the engagement conditions and subsequent damage with confidence, increasing the value of information provided to operational commanders.”

Jan 5/12: Australia & UAE. A $370 million firm-fixed-price contract to “provide for the services in support of the bridge requirement for new CH-47 F model aircraft to support foreign military sales.” The English translation, based on responses to our inquiries, is that Australia and the UAE are buying 13 CH-47Fs (7 of 7 Australia, 6 of 16 UAE) under the US Army’s contract, in order to benefit from its volume pricing. The 14th helicopter will be bought by the US Army.

As always, this is buying base airframes, plus integration of GFE. Even so, CH-47F customers like Britain and Canada, who ordered heavily customized versions, can’t take advantage of this approach. Neither can Italy, who will produce the machines in-country under an agreement between Boeing and AgustaWestland.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of June 30/16. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by the US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL, on behalf of its Foreign Military Sale clients (W58RGZ-12-C-0010). See also Dec 3/09 entry, “Australia Ordering CH-47F Chinooks“, and Boeing’s release.

Australia, UAE & USA

Jan 5/12: A $218.7 million firm-fixed-price contract. Clarifications revealed that the FY 2012 order will produce the last 12 refurbished CH-47F (converted from CH-47D) airframes under the current multi-year contract, as well as installation of equipment like engines etc. that are bought by the government under separate contracts. Boeing submitted an offer for a follow-on multi-year CH-47F contract in November 2011 (vid. Nov 4/11, Oct 12/11), and expects that if their offer is accepted, it would happen around January 2013.

Note that final contract dates are not the same as final delivery dates, so the 1st multi-year program will still be building machines during any follow-on contract’s initial couple of years. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Nov 4/11: MYP-II offer. Boeing has tabled its 2nd multi-year buy offer to the US government, for another 155 CH-47F family helicopters, as the end comes into view for its first $4.3 billion, multi-year contract for 191 helicopters.

Boeing CH-47Fs currently equip 8 U.S. Army units, and 6 of those units have completed deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army is in the process of training and equipping the 9th unit. Boeing.

Oct 12/11: MYP-II = CH-47F+. Boeing is preparing its next multi-year buy offer to the US government for 155 more CH-47 family helicopters, which would end the program of record.

Procurement wouldn’t start until 2013, and the new machines would include a number of changes including flip-over cargo rollers on the floor. They’re also developing a new rotor blade to give the helicopter about 2,000 more pounds of lift, without hurting forward flight performance. The new rotor is headed for a Critical Design Review in January 2012, but probably won’t deliver in time to begin the next buy. Defense News.

FY 2011

FY 2011 buys; British & Turkish buys; Dutch 1st flight; New sensor turrets; Canada’s Auditor-General is very critical. CH-47F, Ft. Campbell
(click to view full)

Sept 14/11: A $6.75 million firm-fixed-price contract modification “to support the CH-47F Chinook helicopter renew aircraft.” Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/15. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Aug 22/11: UK contract. The UK MoD signs a GBP 1 billion ($1.64 billion) contract with Boeing for 14 new “CH-47 Mk6″ Chinook helicopters, plus associated support for the first 5 years.

Boeing confirmed that these are new-build helicopters, which use the same T55-GA-714A engines that are installed on the F model, and being retrofitted to existing RAF Chinooks. The CH-47F is also known for its use of large, single-piece components, and the UK advisory touts a “new, machined monolithic airframe.” That appears to be a CH-47F base, but extensive changes and additions include UK-specific avionics, communication and navigation equipment; forward-looking infrared surveillance turrets; a rescue hoist; and defensive systems against guided missiles. Canada made similar changes to the “CH-147s” it bought.

The RAF will receive the 1st Mk6 aircraft for initial trials and testing in 2013, to enter service in May 2014. By early 2015, 3 CH-47 Mk6 helicopters are slated to be ready for operational deployment, and delivery of all 14 helicopters is expected to finish by the end of 2015. The RAF intends to have all 14 operational by early 2017, bringing their total Chinook fleet to 60 (barring further losses). UK MoD | Boeing.

Britain: 14 “CH-47 Mk6″

Aug 14/11: Turkish contract. As expected, Turkey’s DSCA request (vid. Dec 8/09, June 6/11) shrunk by 66% and turned into an initial order for 6 CH-47Fs, with 5 going to the Army, and 1 to their Special Forces Command. An unnamed procurement official was reported as saying the contract was signed last month for about $400 million. Delivery is scheduled to take place between 2013 – 2014. The country didn’t have heavy-lift helicopters yet, so this is a notable step forward for them. Hürriyet Daily News.

Turkey: 6 CH-47F

Aug 11/11: MH-47G. An $8.4 million firm-fixed-price contract to buy Digital Automatic Flight Control Systems for the Special Operations MH-47G. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 1/13. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by the US Army Aviation and Missile Command, Contracting Center in Fort Eustis, VA (W91215-11-D-0001).

Aug 4/11: MH-47G. Raytheon in McKinney, TX receives a $21 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for 8-15 AN/ZSQ-2v1 Assault and 0-5 AN/ZSQ-2v2 Attack Electro-Optical Sensor Systems. The FBO solicitation specified only MH-47Gs, but the DefenseLINK release referred to US SOCOM’s MH-47G Chinook and MH-60M Black Hawk helicopters at Fort Campbell, KY.

Work will be performed primarily in McKinney, TX and is expected to be completed by Aug 2/13. A $15.6 million Delivery order 0001 was issued on Aug 2/11. This is a sole-source contract under the authority of FAR 6.302-1 (H92241-11-D-0006). See also FBO.gov.

The ZSQ-2 electro-optical turrets share a number of sub-systems in common with similar Raytheon products that equip aircraft like the MQ-9 Reaper, MH-60R Seahawk, etc., as Raytheon seeks to take things one step further with a Common Sensor Payload design for the US Army. The ZSQ-2s have begun receiving upgrades with 3rd generation FLIR night vision systems.

June 29/11: FY 2011 option. A $174.1 million firm-fixed-price contract, covering the 4th year of the current CH-47F multiyear contract, and exercising the Production Lot IX option for 8 new-build CH-47Fs.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

June 6/11: Turkey. Turkey’s DSCA request (vid. Dec 3/09) may be close to a contract, but for fewer helicopters. Hurriyet Daily News quotes an unnamed “senior procurement official,” who says that a $300 million deal for 6 of the 14 notified CH-47Fs is close to finalization, with deliveries to begin in 2013. The official added that “After the helicopters begin to arrive, we plan to make some modifications on them according to suit our specific needs.”

Contract negotiations among the SSM, the U.S. government and Boeing were launched in 2010. The deal is reportedly for 6 Army helicopters because of financial constraints, leaving the remaining 8 as a future option.

May 10/11: Training. A $23.7 million firm-fixed-price contract covers initial production fielding support for each new equipment training site equipped with the CH-47F.

Boeing describes it a bit differently, as Initial Production Fielding Support modifications on 49 CH-47F Chinook helicopters at Boeing’s Millville, NJ Modification Center, which opened in 2010. After the Chinooks are delivered from the production line in Philadelphia to the Army, they are flown to Millville, where Boeing structural and electrical employees make specialized avionics and airframe modifications to support new Army requirements. The contract will also support 2 New Equipment Training teams, who help train US Army Chinook units in the USA and abroad on the upgrades.

The US Army lists the estimated completion date as April 30/13, while Boeing says that the current contract period extends the current work of modifying Chinook aircraft at the Boeing Millville facility from May 2011 through April 2012. Both could be right; DoD announcements may not include option periods, and may cover only part of the contract’s total possible funds (W58RGZ-11-C-0093). See also Boeing release.

March 30/11: FY 2011 new. A $528.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for 25 new-build CH-47F Chinooks. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

March 3/11: Boeing receives a $13.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for CH-47F infrared suppressor systems modification B-kits. The idea is make the helicopter’s hot engine exhaust gasses less of a clear target for heat-seeking missiles. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of May 31/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Feb 16/11: Honeywell Aerospace in Phoenix, AZ received a $43.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for 50 T55-GA-714A engines and 30 T55-GA-714A engine fielding kits. Work will be performed in Phoenix, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-04-C-0061).

Dec 28/10: FY 2011 rebuilt. A $242 million firm-fixed-price contract for 11 remanufactured CH-47F Chinook helicopters. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Dec 28/10: Support. A $10 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for training, equipping, sustaining, and other support and services for the CH-47F Chinook program. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of April 30/11. One bid was solicited with one bid was received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Dec 8/10: Dutch 1st flight. 1st flight of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) CH-47F (NL) Chinook heavy-lift helicopter. The new version is scheduled to complete its flight test program in August 2011, after approximately 100 flight hours. There are 2 aircraft in flight test as of January 2011, of the order for 6. The CH-47F-NLs will join an existing fleet of 11 CH-47Ds, as the Dutch become the 1st international customer to field an F model variant.

The new Dutch Chinooks are equipped with self-protection systems, engine air particle separators, a forward-looking infrared system, and fast rope positions, which will be used to support Special Forces operations. Boeing | DID’s full CH-47F (NL) coverage.

Dec 3/10: A $50.7 million firm-fixed-price contract commits funding for CH-47F production Lot 10 long lead time items. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Nov 3/10: Improvements. Boeing continues to work on CH-47F/MH-47G improvements. They include a redesigned rotor blade, improved engine controls for the “fat tank” MH-47Gs, and an integrated cargo roller system for the CH-47Fs. These features could be part of a new configuration set that will be finalized in June 2011. Deliveries would start in 2014, under what Boeing hopes will be a new multi-year contract.

The new blade was derived from the canceled RAH-66 Comanche scout/attack helicopter, and has a swept dihedral-anhedral blade tip, using 3 airfoil sections instead of 2. It’s designed to add 2,000 pounds of lift, without hindering forward-flight performance. Wind tunnel testing is done, and the next step is making full-size blades for dynamic and fatigue testing, followed by 2014 flight tests. Aviation Week.

Oct 28/10: Canadian criticism. Canada’s Office of the Auditor General (OAG) releases their 2010 Fall report. Canada’s CH-147 program rates a very negative verdict. Most important, they contend that the procurement process itself was unfair, and that DND kept senior decision makers in the dark about major changes to the project and its costs.

Read “On The Verge: Canada’s $4B+ Program for Medium-Heavy Transport Helicopters” for the full details, including links to background materials.

Oct 13/10: 2 more. A $43.5 million firm-fixed-price contract, exercising the option for 2 CH-47F new Chinook cargo helicopters. The order is technically placed on Sept 30/10, the last day of FY 2010. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Oct 13/10: Support. A $12 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, covering 57,700 hours of CH-47F engineering services support, to include integration of engineering change proposals, product improvement, and other modifications to the CH-47F cargo helicopter. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/12. U.S. Army Contracting Command, CCAM-CH-A in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

FY 2010

FY 2010 buys; Requests & plans from Australia, Britain, Turkey, UAE; 100th CH-47F delivered. MH-47G, 2010 exercise
(click to view full)

Aug 6/10: Support. A $5.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order modification for 27,310 hours of engineering services support of “CH-47F unique items identification candidates, non-recurring engineering.” Work is to be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Jan 31/12. One bid was solicited with one bid relieved (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

DID asked about this, and the Army eventually explained that Boeing will be evaluating parts to determine where and how to permanently mark items over $5,000, or serially tracked items, with machine readable code per the Pentagon’s Item Unique Identification (IUID) mandate.

July 30/10: The 10th Mountain Division becomes the 6th US Army unit to field the CH-47F. It’s 10th Combat Aviation Brigade’s 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion has equipped its B Company at Fort Drum, NY, which will begin advanced mission training including simulated assault, troop-transport and cargo-movement exercises, and high mountain operations. Boeing.

July 22/10: #100. The 100th CH-47F rolls out of the Boeing facility near Philadelphia, PA, during a ceremony commemorating the milestone and the Army’s acceptance of the helicopter. More than 2,500 Boeing employees gathered inside the flight deck hangar to join in the commemoration. US Army | Boeing.

100th CH-47F

April 16/10: Support. A pair of cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts for engineering services, worth a combined $38.2 million for 183,993 hours. Work is to be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/11. In both cases, just 1 bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

The first contract exercises a $30.2 million option for 145,480 hours, while the second exercises an $8 million option for 38,513 hours.

Feb 25/10: Australia. The Australian Government gives second pass approval to “Project AIR 9000 Phase 5C” for 7 CH-47Fs, at a budget of AUD $755 million. This approves the plan’s details, but is not itself a contract. Australia expects to field the first 2 helicopters in 2014, with all 7 expected by 2017. The ministerial statement makes it clear that the 7 CH-47Fs would replace 5th Aviation Regiment, C squadron’s existing 6 CH-47Ds, would also be based in Townsville, and would be expected to serve until 2040.

Per the recommendations of past commissions like Australia’s famous Kinnaird Review, Senator Faulkner said the new aircraft will be procured and maintained in the same broad configuration as the United States Army CH-47Fs. Australia also promised to consider joining the USA’s Chinook Product Improvement Program as a way to keep those configurations aligned, “when information on this program is of second pass quality.” Having said all that, however, “The new Australian Chinooks will also receive some additional ADF-specific equipment to meet certain operational and safety requirements.”

CH-47F taking off
click to play video

Dec 16/09: FY 2009. A $704.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for 21 new build aircraft and 14 remanufactured CH-47s. This is the 3rd year of a multi-year contract for CH-47Fs, and work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Dec 15/09: UK plans. Gordon Brown’s Labour Party government and the British Ministry of Defence announce plans to buy 10 new CH-47 Chinook helicopters for delivery in 2012-2013, with the intent to buy another 12 Chinooks later. The Chinooks will replace the planned Future Medium Helicopter competition to field a successor for Britain’s 34 AS330 Puma HC1s, and 46 H-3 Sea Kings. This is not a formal contract yet, and it is likely but not certain that the new helicopters will be CH-47Fs with British adaptations.

Dec 8/09: Turkey request. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Turkey’s official request for up to 14 CH-47F Chinook Helicopters, as well as 32 T55-GA-714A Turbine engines (28 fitted + 4 spares), 28 AN/ARC-201E Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS), 14 AN/APR-39A(V)1 Radar Signal Detecting Sets, and the required special tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, site survey, personnel training and training equipment, ferry services, and U.S. Government and contractor support services.

A DSCA request is not a sale; if the sale is not blocked in Congress by Dec 22/09, and a contract is concluded later, the estimated cost of the complete package could be up to $1.2 billion.

The prime contractor will be the Boeing Company in Ridley Park, PA. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale, and even though these will be Turkey’s first heavy-lift helicopters, this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Turkey. DSCA announcement [PDF] | Defense News with Turkish reaction.

Turkey request

Dec 3/09: UAE request. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces the United Arab Emirates official request to buy CH-47Fs and associated systems. The estimated cost is $2 billion, the prime contractor will be Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in St. Louis, MO, and the DSCA release [PDF] adds an interesting note:

“The proposed sale will provide the United Arab Emirates the capability to transport equipment and troops in the region, as well as to support U.S. and NATO airlift requirements in Afghanistan.”[emphasis DID's]

Though it is not discussed much, the UAE does have troops in Afghanistan, serving as part of ISAF. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 4 contractor representatives in the UAE for a period of 1 year, with an option for 2 additional years. During helicopter delivery, 1 additional U.S. government and 4 contractor representatives will be required for 1 week for quality assurance. Specific items requested include:

  • 16 CH-47F Chinook helicopters
  • 38 T55-GA-714A Turbine engines (32 quipped, 6 spares)
  • 20 AN/APX-118 Identification Friend or Foe Transponders
  • 20 AN/ARC-220 (RT-1749) Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS) with Electronic counter-countermeasures
  • 40 AN/ARC-231 (RT-1808A) Receiver / Transmitters
  • 18 AN/APR-39A(V)1 Radar Signal Detecting Sets with Mission Data Sets
  • Plus flight and radar signal simulators, support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, site survey, construction and facilities, and U.S. Government and contractor support.

Note that a DSCA request is not a contract, which must be signed after the 30-day Congressional blocking period has expired. The UAE also has some additional challenges these days, owing to $60 billion dollar debt default issues in Dubai. The UAE’s central government in Abu Dhabi is limiting its willingness to guarantee that debt, however.

UAE request

Dec 3/09: Support. Boeing in Ridley Park, PA receives a $21 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for interim contract support Phase II. Work is to be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10. One bid was solicited with one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command’s Aviation & Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Nov 9/09: UK. Defense News reports that Britain is planning to cancel its Future Medium Helicopter competition, and order Boeing Chinooks instead. The proposed move is part of a Ministry of Defence helicopter strategy called “Vision 2020,” which still requires approval by government ministers.

Oct 28/09: Dutch. Luchtvaartnieuws reports [in Dutch] that the 6 initial Dutch CH-47Fs will be delayed to the end of 2010, due in part to software issues. They were originally scheduled to arrive by early 2010.

The practical consequence? If the Dutch decide not to stay in Afghanistan past 2011, their CH-47Fs may not be deployed there.

Oct 19/09: Sub-contractors. VT Group US, a unit of UK-based VT Group, announces a 5-year, $29.1 million contract to provide logistics analyses and support for the Army’s fleet of CH-47D/F Chinook cargo helicopters.

Under the terms of the contract, VT Group’s Technical Services Division will provide CH-47D/F logistics fleet management, sustainment, CH-47F product manager, foreign military sales, and sustainment support related to all CH-47 cargo helicopters in the Army’s fleet. This includes logistic support to be performed for the CH-47D/F programs, subsystems, product improvements, and the Army’s modernization plan for the CH-47s.

FY 2009

FY 2009 orders; Italian buy; Australian request.

Sept 24/09: Sub-contractors. Canadian landing gear specialist Heroux-Devtek Inc. in Longeuil, PQ signs a 4-year Memorandum of Understanding with Boeing. It makes them eligible to provide landing gear for all H-47F aircraft scheduled to be delivered to export customers over the firm’s FY 2012-2016 period. Héroux-Devtek may also be considered for an intellectual property license to service variants in the worldwide fleet of over 1,000 Chinook helicopters, and the firm is especially interested in that aftermarket services opportunity.

This MOU follows the Canadian government’s Aug 10/09 announcement to order 15 new “CH-147″ Medium to Heavy Lift Helicopters, and supports Boeing’s Industrial & Regional Benefits commitment for the MHLH program. Heroux-Devtek release [PDF].

Sept 17/09: Turkey. Turkey is moving closer to a CH-47F contract, and its SSM procurement agency has reportedly added 4 Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR)/ Special Operations versions to its desired buy, raising the total to 14. Flight International reports that a letter of request has now been issued, and a contract signature is expected by mid-2010 via the USA’s Foreign Military Sales mechanism.

Sept 14/09: MH-47G. A $17.8 million firm-fixed-price contract involving 6 MH-47G Recap, Lot 7 Recap Aircraft. Work is to be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of May 30/10 (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

As the price might suggest, this is not the full remanufacturing cost. Boeing representatives confirmed that it will be used to refurbish rotor blades, transmissions, and other re-used parts as part of the overall remanufacturing process.

Aug 3/09: FY 2009 option. A $108.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for CH-47F multiyear contract option for 5 new-build CH-47s, as part of Year 2/ Production lot 7. Work is to be performed in Ridley Park, PA, with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid solicited with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

July 1/09: Australia. Shephard Group reports that Australia may not place a contract order for new CH-47Fs until 2012, and doesn’t expect to field them before 2016-2018. In the interim, Australia hopes to issue maintenance support tenders for its 6 existing CH-47Ds.

The original acquisition plan, approved by the Liberal Party government, would have bought 3 new-build CH-47Fs, and remanufactured existing CH-47Ds to CH-47F configuration. The new Defence Capability Plan, issued this day, revises the timeline.

May 13/09: Italian order. Italy’s ARMAEREO procurement agency signs a EUR 900 million ($1.23 billion equivalent) contract to buy 16 CH-47F heavy-lift helicopters for the Italian Army, with an option for 4 more. Read “Italy Buying CH-47F Helicopters” for more details, and updates.

Italy: 16 CH-47Fs

April 23/09: Australia request. The USA’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Australia’s official request to buy 7 CH-47F Chinook helicopters with 14 T55-GA-714A Turbine engines, 7 Dillon Aero M134D 7.62mm Miniguns, 16 AN/ARC-201D Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radios (SINCGARS), 7 Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below Blue Force Trackers (FBCB2/BFT), 2 spare T-55-GA-714A Turbine engines, plus mission equipment, communication and navigation equipment, ground support equipment, spare and repair parts, special tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, and support.

The estimated cost is $560 million, but a DSCA request is not a contract. See “Australia Ordering CH-47F Chinooks” for further details and updates.

Australia request

April 23/09: FY 2009 new-build. A $142 million firm-fixed-price contract for 7 new-build CH-47Fs, adding helicopters to the existing multi-year contract (see Aug 27/08) under production Lot 7 (see Dec 24/08). Work is to be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited and one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Note that the 5-year contract includes options for up to 24 additional helicopters over its lifetime, in addition to agreed yearly production figures. This order brings Lot 7 production to 38 helicopters: 23 new-build CH-47Fs, and 15 remanufactured CH-47Fs.

April 13/09: Boeing announces that a 4th U.S. Army unit has fielded the CH-47F Chinook: Company B of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Feb 26/09: Boeing announces delivery of the first CH-47F Chinook manufactured under the 5-year U.S. Army contract awarded in August 2008. The helicopter will be assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, the 4th unit scheduled to be equipped under the Army’s ongoing Chinook modernization program.

1st MYP CH-47F

Dec 24/08: FY 2008. A $620.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for 31 Lot 7 production CH-47Fs, built under the 2nd year of the multi-year contract announced on Aug 27/08. This Year 2 order includes 16 new-build CH-47Fs, 15 remanufactured CH-47Fs, plus Lot 8 long lead time items.

These contracts also include integration of “government furnished equipment” like engines, electronics, and defensive systems, but the equipment itself is bought under separate contracts. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of Sept 30/13. One bid was solicited and one bid received by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0098).

Dec 19/08: MH-47G. A $114 million firm-fixed price contract for a modification that finalizes both long lead items for, and the procurement or remanufacture of, 6 Special Forces MH-47E aircraft to the MH-47G configuration.

Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA and Middletown, DE and is expected to be complete by May 30/11. One bid was solicited on May 8/08 by the Aviation Integration Directorate at Aviation and Missile Command, Fort Eustis, VA (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Dec 15/08: Support. A $12.7 million cost plus fixed price contract for CH-47F Interim Contractor Support. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/09. One bid was solicited and one bid was received (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Nov 18/08: Boeing announces that its CH-47F Chinook helicopter has been fielded by Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, TX. This is the 3rd U.S. Army unit to field the CH-47F since the aircraft was certified combat-ready in July 2007.

Nov 14/08: Sub-contractors. Eaton Corp. announces that it will receive new work from Boeing Company, as part of the CH-47F multi-year contract. Specific terms were not disclosed, but Eaton will supply a hydraulic system engine pump, motor pump and control box and the hydraulic control valves; fluid conveyance system hoses, tubes and fittings; lubrication system components and the helicopter’s engines health debris monitoring components.

FY 2008

USA’s Multi-Year Buy; Canadian buy; Italian partnership; CAAS cockpit ready; Sabotage. CH-47F, Ft. Hood
(click to view full)

Aug 27/08: Boeing announces a 5-year, $4.3 billion U.S. Army contract for 181 CH-47F Chinooks, and 10 additional Chinooks under FY 2008 supplemental funding. There are also options in the award for an additional 24 helicopters over the course of the contract, which would bring the total to 215.

The DefenseLINK release describes an initial $722.7 million payment on the firm-fixed-price multiyear contract (W58RGZ-08-C-0098), which runs until Sept 30/13. It comprises 109 CH-47F new-build aircraft, 72 CH-47F remanufactured aircraft, and priced options for 34 CH-47F new build aircraft (10 FY08 + 24 options).

Boeing claims the multi-year award creates production security for the Boeing Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Township, PA, and for its sub-contractors in over 45 states. They also claim a cost savings of more than $449 million for the U.S. Army. To date, Boeing has delivered 48 CH-47F helicopters to the U.S. Army, training and equipping two units, with a 3rd unit scheduled to stand up in August 2008. The helicopters are currently undergoing its first deployment to Iraq. Boeing release.

MYP Contract

July 16/08: Italian partnership. Boeing and Finmeccanica SpA subsidiary AgustaWestland sign an agreement that defines the terms for the joint manufacture of new CH-47F Chinook helicopters to replace earlier models used by the Italian Army. Orders are expected to follow, and not just from Italy. The agreement also includes a licensing arrangement that lets AgustaWestland to market, sell and produce the Boeing CH-47F Chinook to the United Kingdom, other European countries, and “several countries in the Mediterranean region.”

AgustaWestland has been Boeing’s European partner for other versions of the CH-47, and this new agreement continues and extends that relationship. As prime contractor for the Italian CH-47F, AgustaWestland will be responsible for design and systems integration, and for aircraft delivery to the Italian Army. Boeing Rotorcraft Systems will build the fuselage in Ridley Park, PA. Boeing release | AgustaWestland release.

Italian partnership

May 13/08: Sabotage. During QA inspections, a pair of newly assembled Chinook helicopters at the Boeing plant south of Philadelphia are found to have severed wires in them, and a propeller part (washer) where one didn’t belong. The incident was subsequently determined to be deliberate sabotage, and the production line was closed for 2 days. Digital Journal May 16 | Boeing release May 15 | Philly.com May 15 | Business Week May 14.

Sabotage

May 6/08: Engines. Honeywell International of Phoenix, AZ received a maximum $48.9 million, Firm-Fixed price Indefinite Delivery/ Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract for Engine and Maintenance Support for the T55-GA-714A Engines and Components used on the MH-47G Helicopters. Work will primarily be performed at Greer, SC and is expected to be completed by Dec 31/12. This contract was awarded as a sole source, to the firm that makes the engines (H92241-08-D-0006).

April 7/08: Canada contract. Canada’s Ministry of Public Works and Government Services announces a March 2008 sole-source RFP to Boeing for 16 CH-47F Chinook helicopters, plus 20 years of associated in-service support (ISS), with an extension option for the life expectancy of the aircraft.

These helicopters use CH-47Fs as their base, but include so many modifications that they’re almost a different helicopter. That ends up costing the Canadians. See the June 28/06 entry for details, and read “On The Verge: Canada’s $4.7B Program for Medium-Heavy Transport Helicopters” for full coverage. Canada is also looking to buy 6 CH-47D helicopters for delivery before February 2009. They end up being used in Afghanistan in order to meet Parliament’s requirements for continuing the mission, and could be upgraded after the CH-47Fs arrive.

Canada: 16 “CH-147″

Feb 1/08: FY 2008. A “large firm-fixed price contract [for 10] CH-47F new build production helicopters” is announced on DefenseLINK. DID is later able to confirm the figure: $280.5 million. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited on Dec 31/03, and 1 bid was received by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-04-C-0012).

A Feb 27/08 Boeing release corrects the number 11 helicopters, and adds that this award brings the number of new CH-47F Chinooks on contract to 59. Aircraft deliveries under this award will begin in 2011.

Oct 8/07: CAAS. Rockwell Collins announces that its Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) in the Boeing CH-47F cockpit has been declared operationally ready for deployment by the U.S. Army. The CAAS upgrades/suites were delivered on time, and on budget.

Initially developed for US Special Operations Forces’ MH-47 and MH-60 helicopter fleets, Rockwell Collins’ CAAS solution was subsequently incorporated into the UH-60M, MH-60T, VH-60N Presidential helicopter, ARH-70A, and the CH-53E and CH-53K.

CH-47F CAAS ready

FY 2006 – 2007

US orders; 1st production rollout; CH-47F declared combat-ready; HH-47′s CSAR-X crash begins; Europe’s notional HLR; Requests & plans in Canada, Italy, Netherlands. CH-47F, Ft. Irwin
(click to view full)

Sept 14/07: +1. A $25.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract (W58RGZ-04-C-0012) for a CH-47F New Build Production Helicopter. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/12. This was a sole source contract initiated on Dec 31/03 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL.

Sept 4/07: Europe. Defense Aerospace reports that the Franco-Germany Heavy Lift Helicopter (HTL/FTH) program may not involve full development of a new design, and says that 3 helicopters are being evaluated in the initial phase: the Boeing CH-47F Chinook, the Sikorsky CH-53K project, and Mil’s Mi-26T. See DID’s in-depth coverage of this program, its emerging requirements, and the contenders. That “growth version” of the CH-47F would appear to be necessary if Boeing wants to be a serious competitor.

Aug 17/07: Jane’s International Defence Review reports that: “Boeing is looking to enhance the workhorse helicopter to improve range and payload. Director of Boeing H-47 programmes Jack Dougherty said in a presentation to reporters at Fort Campbell that the company continues to fund research into the possibility of a “growth Chinook” beyond the CH-47F.”

Aug 14/07: Combat-ready. The CH-47F Chinook helicopter has been certified combat-ready by the U.S. Army and 13 have been fielded to the first operational unit: the 101st Airborne Division’s Bravo Company (“Varsity”), 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Ft. Campbell, KY. Boeing release.

Combat ready

July 16/07: Boeing announces U.S. Army authorization for full-rate production and fielding of the new CH-47F Chinook helicopter, following operational testing at Fort Campbell, KY, in April 2007. Boeing will now move forward with First Unit Fielding in July 2007. Boeing release.

FRP

July 8/07: CH-47F new. A $76.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for CH-47F new build production helicopters. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2012. This was a sole source contract initiated on Dec. 31, 2003 (W58RGZ-04-C-0012).

July 5/07: MH-47G. Boeing Co. in Ridley Park, PA receives a delivery order amount of $52.7 million as part of a $147.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for remanufacture of H-47 aircraft to the MH-47G configuration. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA (98.3%), and Middletown, DE (1.7%), and is expected to be complete by Aug. 30, 2008. This was a sole source contract initiated on June 28, 2006 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, Fort Eustis, VA (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

July 5/07: MH-47G. Boeing Co. in Ridley Park, PA receives a delivery order amount of $6.5 million as part of a $112.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for remanufacture of H-47 Aircraft to the MH-47G configuration, and an option for additional aircraft. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA (98.3%), and Middletown, DE (1.7%), and is expected to be complete by May 31, 2010. This was a sole source contract initiated on April 11, 2007 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Fort Eustis, VA (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

June 18/07: Testing. Boeing announces that the CH-47F Chinook helicopter has successfully completed U.S. Army operational testing at Ft. Campbell, KY. Testing was completed ahead of schedule by Bravo Company (Varsity), 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); the tests simulated numerous mission scenarios, including air assault, combat re-supply and transport operations, over more than 60 flight test hours. Boeing release.

CH-47F testing done

April 5/07: Italy. Boeing Corp. says it expects that Italy will buy 16-20 CH-47Fs, through a joint production agreement with Italian conglomerate Finmecccanica SpA. The deal has reportedly been in the works for a while, and Boeing said it expects the orders around 2008-2009.

Boeing spokesman Joseph LaMarca says that the expected Italian purchase will be a direct commercial sale, with AgustaWestland as the prime contractor and Boeing as the lead subcontractor. In 2006, the 2 companies signed a new memorandum of understanding that lays out an industrial agreement for further Italian Chinook production. World Aeronautical Press Agency.

March 3/07: MH-47G. A delivery order amount of $48.2 million as part of a $69.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for long lead items used to remanufacture Chinooks to the MH-47G US Special Forces configuration. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA (98.3%), and Middletown, DE (1.7%), and is expected to be complete by Aug. 30, 2008. This was a sole source contract initiated on Jun. 28, 2006 by the U.S. Army Aviation Integration Directorate in Fort Eustis, VA (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Feb 27/06: CSAR-X hits turbulence, eventually crashes. The US Government Accountability Office upholds protests by Sikorsky & Lockheed Martin. It orders the USAF to re-bid the CSAR-X contract, and cancel Boeing’s HH-47 contract if another firm is deemed to have the better bid. This kicks off an acrimonious process featuring revisions to the RFP, public criticism by the contractors involved, and a second round of protests. It eventually leads to Air Force cancellation of the entire CSAR-X program.

Feb 19/07: Testing. The first production CH-47F has moved into Operational Testing at Ft. Campbell, KY after completing acceptance and developmental flight testing in December 2006. This phase, which ends in April 2007, includes more than 60 flight test hours that simulate a wide range of mission scenarios. Flight tests will be conducted by Bravo Company, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Boeing release.

Dec 22/06: CH-47F rebuilds. The full delivery order amount of $650.3 million is received as part of a firm-fixed-price contract for CH-47F remanufacture. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2009. This was a sole source contract initiated on July 28, 2005 (W58RGZ-04-G-0023).

Dec 22/06: New CH-47Fs. A $406.4 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for the CH-47F new build helicopters. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 31, 2012. This was a sole source contract initiated on July 28, 2005 (W58RGZ-04-C-0012).

Dec 22/06 – Boeing addendum: A January 3, 2006 press release from Boeing puts the total value of these contracts at $1.5 billion, and describes the order as production contracts for 16 new-build CH-47Fs and 9 remanufactured CH-47Fs valued at $624 million, plus options for 22 additional new-build CH-47Fs and 19 remanufactured CH-47Fs valued at more than $920 million. Presumably, the $406.4 million announcement represents the 19 remanufactured aircraft, with an $515 million option still outstanding for the 22 new-build CH-47Fs. Aircraft deliveries will begin in early 2008.

Nov 9/06: CSAR-X. Boeing announces that it has won the $10 billion CSAR-X combat search-and-rescue competition with its HH-47 variant. The contract calls for 145 aircraft: 4 test platforms, and 141 production helicopters. It’s eventually canceled. See DID’s FOCUS Article.

CSAR-X “win”

Nov 7/06: New CH-47Fs. A $163.3 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for CH-47F New Build Production Helicopters. Based on past order totals and contract values, this will buy the US Army about 8 CH-47Fs; DID is seeking clarification. Work will be performed in Philadelphia, PA, and is expected to be complete by Dec. 29, 2009. This was a sole source contract initiated on Dec. 31, 2003 (W58RGZ-04-C-0012).

First flight
(click to view full)

Oct 23/06: The first production CH-47F Chinook helicopter successfully completes its first flight from the Boeing Rotorcraft Systems facility in Ridley Park, PA.

1st CH-47F flight

Sept 27/06: Dutch request. US DSCA notifies Congress of the Netherlands’ request for up to 9 new CH-47F helicopters along with 18 of Honeywell’s T55-L-714A turbine engines and 18 Common Architecture Avionics System (CAAS) cockpits. The latter set will be used as spares, and will also help upgrade 11 of its existing CH-47D Chinook Cargo Helicopters to CH-47F configuration. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $652 million, and principal contractors in this sale will also include Honeywell, Incorporated of Phoenix, AZ.

In February 2007, a contract is issued for only 6 new-build CH-47F (NL) helicopters, without the CAAS cockpits. DID details the new helicopters, and explains what’s going on.

Dutch request 9, buy 6

June 28/06: Canada. Canada announces an estimated $4.7 billion project to acquire a fleet of 16 medium-to heavy-lift helicopters. The announcement is made as an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN), which permits the Government to identify an intended contract award winner (in this case, the Boeing CH-47F Chinook) and then buy that choice unless an offer deemed to be better is received from industry within 30 days. See complete DID coverage in “On The Verge: Canada’s $4.7B Program for Medium-Heavy Transport Helicopters“, including the links to the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, and some potential timing issues for the CH-47F.

June 15/06: The first production CH-47F Chinook helicopter is unveiled to the U.S. Army during a rollout ceremony in Ridley Park, PA. See Boeing release.

CH-47F rollout

April 18/06: A $7.5 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for long lead parts for the CH-47 Helicopter. Work will be performed in Ridley Park, PA and is expected to be complete by Nov. 30, 2008. This was a sole source contract initiated on April 1, 2005 (W58RGZ-04-C-0012).

Awards under contract # W58RGZ-04-C-0012 also include:

  • Feb 16/06: $24.4M for undefined new-build CH-47F
  • Aug 30/05: $53.4M for 2 new-build CH-47F
  • May 10/05: 186.2M for undefined new-build CH-47F
  • Dec 23/04: $243.0M for 10 new-build CH-47F
  • Dec 05/03: $151.5M for 7 new-build CH-47F

Appendix A: Reconciling Previous Contracts and Numbers Helping hand
(click to view full)

The problem DID ran into was difficulty reconciling announced contracts with corporate releases and also getting a firmer set of numbers, in order to get a more complete picture. A January 12, 2005 Boeing press release, for instance, noted that Boeing had signed a $549 million contract on Dec. 21, 2004 with the U.S. Army for 17 new-build CH-47F Chinook helicopters. This included seven aircraft authorized in December 2003 as part of the FY ’03 supplemental defense appropriation bill, and 10 aircraft approved in the current fiscal year defense budget (which ended Oct 2005, by which point the contract announcements had risen to $634.1M).

Fortunately, Boeing CH-47 Program Manager Ken Eland bails us out with an excellent explanation. Photos and links added…

“Chinook contract history is complex, because it involves both undefinitized contract actions (UCAs), which you may consider initial contract agreements, that lay out approximate monetary values for statements of work, and the full contract awards, subject to a large number of terms and conditions that specify in very minute detail costs for each step we undertake in the production process, starting with procurement of components and systems.

On December 5, 2003, Boeing and the Army agreed on an undefinitized contract action for $151.5 million to cover initial costs for development and production of seven new-build CH-47Fs. The funding for this action came from a supplemental appropriation. The purpose of the UCA was to energize the program quickly, given the availability of funds. The appropriation was not the final contract value, but an authorization value for the contract we would sign the following year.

CH-47F
(click to view full)

We signed the full contract in December of 2004, with a definitized value of $306.4 million.

We also signed a contract in December of 2004 for $243 million for ten new-build CH-47Fs. We had, in other words, booked 17 brand new CH-47Fs to add to the Army’s existing Chinook fleet, all of which we are modernizing under the Cargo Helicopter Modernization Program that we initiated in 2003, with first deliveries for Production Lot 1 in 2004. That program is slated to continue until about 2019 under the current production and delivery schedule. The 17 new CH-47Fs are the first installment of 55 currently authorized to increase the Army’s Chinook fleet.

To effectuate this change, we modified the previous definitized contract, increasing its value to $549 million ($243 million + $306.4 million).

On May 10, 2005, we agreed to a contract action for $186.2 million for “Renew” CH-47Fs. These aircraft are inducted CH-47Ds that are remanufactured into CH-47Fs. We have termed these aircraft with new fuselages “Renew” rather than remanufactured, to distinguish from those with modernized rather than new fuselages. Production Lot 3 involves 8 CH-47Fs, all of which will utilize new structures. All aircraft in Production Lots 1 and 2 used reconditioned fuselages, and were MH-47G Special Operation Chinooks, except the first one, a CH-47F.

In August 2005, we also added $53.4 million in another undefinitized contract agreement for two more CH-47Fs. This amount was a not-to-exceed (NTE) value, and we later definitized the actual value at $48.6 million for two new CH-47Fs. A modification was also included for additional configuration items to the CH-47F baseline valued at $19M. This increased the value of the New Build contract to $616.6M ($549M + $48.6M + $19M)

We also were awarded a $298.1 million contract for the Cargo Helicopter Modernization Program for Production Lot 4, consisting of 15 renewed CH-47Fs. This amount will cover recapitalization of aircraft systems and any over and above costs we incur for unplanned modernization work that may occur due to the condition of the inducted aircraft.

This month, February 2006, we added another $24.4 million contract for one additional new-build CH-47F.

So, our current contract status is as follows:

  • We have a contract in place for 20 new build CH-47Fs with a total value of $640 million that also includes nonrecurring costs associated with development. ($549 million + $48.6 million + $19M + $24.4 million, rounded to take into account other minor contract modifications).

  • Our Cargo Helicopter Modernization Program involves renewed CH-47Fs for Production Lots #3 (8 aircraft) and #4 (15 aircraft) totaling 23 aircraft with a contract value of $484 million.

  • Lots 1 and 2 already have been delivered. As noted, all except one CH-47F, the initial delivery in Lot 1, have been MH-47G Special Operations Chinooks. FYI, we delivered 22 G models in those two lots.

  • Deliveries of the 17 new-build [DID: CH-47F] Chinooks will begin in September 2006 and continue through the end of 2008.”

N.B. The contracts for Lot 1 and Lot 2 related to CH-47F model are not included in this article. The values discussed here only reflected models starting with Lot 3, and the initial New Build contract.

Additional Readings Background: Helicopters

National CH-47F Family Variants

News & Views

Categories: News

UAV Invasion, From ISIL Reconnaissance to Google Logistics

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 16:00

  • The Islamic State has been using a small UAV to conduct reconnaissance in Syria [National Defense], joining Hamas and Hezbollah among nonstate UAV users. This seems to be a clear break from the image of “guys in pajamas” equipped with AK-47s and pickup trucks.

  • President Obama on Syria [WaPo]: “we don’t have a strategy yet.” Or Ukraine for that matter. But this gets points for being candid, and reflects a lack of consensus [Daily Beast] within the US Administration. And it’s not like any other country is offering much either.

Ukraine

  • NATO released satellite imagery of Russian combat troops inside Ukraine, if videos from several Western media sources over the last several days had not been enough proof. And here’s a map from the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine.

  • Russia’s NATO mission plays tit for tat with Canada on Twitter with their own map. Duffel Blog has it best: Ukrainian border inexplicably jumped over Russian paratroopers. But that President Putin again used the word “Novorossiya“, in an address to pro-Russian rebels, is no laughing matter.

  • Interestingly the Chinese state-owned CCTV America ran a segment with a guest openly calling for China to help Russia step back from its attack of Ukraine. But China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is mum on the matter.

US Doctrine

  • New threats change the US Navy’s amphibious assault strategy [DoD Buzz]. The problem is that trying so hard to stay far away, and depending on long-range connectors with necessarily lower capacity, creates cost and capability problems.

Asia

  • Japan’s defense ministry submitted a $47B 2015 budget, which though it is growing by roughly 3%, is not doing so at a rate nearly as high as China’s. AP | Defense News.

  • China’s Liaoning aircraft carrier can carry 4 Z-18J airborne early warning (AEW) helicopters, 6 Z-18F anti-submarine helicopters, 2 Z-9C rescue helicopters, and 24 J-15 shipborne fighter jets, according to the Shanghai Morning Post via Want China Times.

  • IBN interviewed Avinash Chander, the chief of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to discuss a broad range of present and future programs: Part IPart II.

K-Min

  • Amazon.com showed a well-publicized demonstration of UAV deliveries in December last year, but it turns out Google has been running their own lightweight autonomous delivery experiment [The Atlantic] in Australia for 2 years. Video below:

Categories: News

RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile) Systems: Contracts & Events

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 18:39
Mk-44 firing RAM
(click to view full)

The Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) MK-31 guided missile weapon system is co-developed and co-produced under a NATO cooperative program between the United States and German governments to provide a small, all-weather, low-cost self-defense system against aircraft and cruise missiles. The RIM-116 was later called RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), because it spins during flight. To save costs, Designation Systems notes that the RAM was designed to use several existing components, including the rocket motor of the MIM-72 Chaparral, the warhead of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and the Infrared seeker of the FIM-92 Stinger. Cueing is provided by the ship’s radar, or by its ESM signal tracing suite.

RAM is currently installed, or planned for installation, on 78 U.S. Navy and 30 German Navy ships, including American LSD, LHD, LPD and CVN ship types. This number will grow as vessels of the LPD-17 San Antonio Class and Littoral Combat Ships enter the US Navy, and the LCS will sport an upgraded SeaRAM system that will include its own integrated radar and IR sensors. Abroad, the South Korean Navy has adopted RAM for its KDX-II and KDX-III destroyers, and its LPX Dokdo Class amphibious assault ships; other navies using or buying RAM include Egypt, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and the UAE/Dubai.

RAM Systems: Fast, Flat & Flexible From USS Kitty Hawk
(click to view full)

GlobalSecurity.orrg notes that The MK-31 RAM Guided Missile Weapon System (GMWS) is defined as the MK-49 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) and the MK-44 Guided Missile Round Pack (GMRP). The launching system and missiles comprise the weapon system. The RAM weapon system consists of a 21-round missile launcher, below-deck electronics, and a guided missile round pack. The round pack consists of a 5-inch supersonic missile and a launching canister, which slides into the launcher and provides the interface with the carried missile. The term “All-Up-Round (AUR)” is often used, as the canister is also used for storage/transport.

Raytheon’s partner is the German firm RAMSYS, a joint company of Diehl/BGT and EADS GmbH. These firms extended their agreement for another 10 years in June 2004.

System improvements continue. New MK-44 Guided Missile Round Packs and ORDALT kits are designed to upgrade current systems to RAM Block 1 missile configuration (RIM-116B) or above. Block 1 systems feature an image scanning infrared seeker that allows the missile to more easily counter helicopters and advanced anti-ship threats that do not employ active radar guidance. Another new feature is called IRDM (IR Dual Mode Enable). In that mode, the RAM missile is launched with IR guidance enabled, but can switch to passive radar homing when the target’s radiation becomes adequate to guide on. It also incorporates HAS (Helicopter, Aircraft, Surface) software that lets it prosecute a wider array of targets out to about 9 km/ 4.9 nm, including targets like speedboats that move at slower speeds in radar/IR clutter.

RAM Block 1. This system is installed or planned for installation on many U.S. Navy surface ships, including CV/CVN aircraft carriers, DD-963 Spruance Class destroyers, Oliver Hazard Perry Class FFG guided missile frigates, Littoral Combat Ships, the LHA Tarawa Class and LHD Wasp Class amphibious assault ships, the future LHA-R amphibious assault ships, and LSD and LPD-17 amphibious assault ships. The US Navy expects to buy around 2,000 Block 1 missiles in total.

SeaRAM
(click to view full)

Follow-on modifications include an upgraded missile, and the SeaRAM system.

RAM Block 2. A new version that is beginning production, with deliveries beginning in August 2014. The RIM-116 missile’s effective range gets a boost via a larger dual-thrust rocket motor, while an independent 4-canard control actuator system improves maneuverability. Other enhancements include an upgraded passive radio frequency seeker, a digital autopilot, and engineering changes in selected infrared seeker components. The Block 2 system demonstration and development (SDD) program was scheduled to reach initial operating capability in 2011, but it’s 2013 and the missile is still in testing. IOC will wait until 2014.

While most of the RAM Block 2 work is Raytheon’s, the effort is a partnership. Operating under a cooperative Memorandum of Understanding for the Block 2 SDD program, German industry partner RAM-System GmbH also received funds. They’re working to develop an evolved missile radio frequency sensor with better sensitivity and discrimination, in order to kill targets that are using more advanced guidance radars.

SeaRAM. RIM-116 Block 2 missiles, and Block 1 upgrades to the MK31 system, will both be incorporated into the new SeaRAM variant, also known as the “MK 15 MOD 31 PHALANX SeaRAM Close-In Weapon System.” Once it’s bolted on and installed, SeaRAM becomes a complete, self-cueing system that can work with existing systems, or operate on its own. It packages the RAM Block 1 upgrade’s infrared sensors and IR dual-mode with the radar dome mounted on top of the Mk15 Phalanx 20mm CIWS. The penalty for its bolt-on versatility is that it cuts the 21-round missile launcher down to an 11-missile load, in order to remain within the same space “footprint” as the Phalanx 1B. It will equip the USA’s new Littoral Combat Ships, among others.

Program and Budgets

While the number of RAM missiles procured by the USA has been relatively stable each year, Pentagon budget documents show US program spending fluctuating. That’s because some annual budgets also include funds for system upgrades (generally from Block 0 to Block 1) and things like Block 2 development work:

These budgets do not include international orders.

Contracts & Key Events

Unless otherwise stated, all contracts are awarded by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC to Raytheon Company in Tucson, AZ. It should be noted, however, that the RAM Guided Missile Weapon System is co-developed and co-produced under a NATO Cooperative Program between the United States’ and Federal Republic of Germany’s governments.

FY 2014

Orders: USA, Japan; 1st production Block 2 delivered. RAM reload
(click to view full)

Aug 27/14: Block 2. Raytheon delivers the 1st RAM Block 2 missile to the US Navy, as part of the company’s 2012 Low Rate Initial Production contract. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon delivers first Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles to US Navy”.

1st Block 2 delivery

July 30/14: GAO Report. The US GAO releases Report #GAO-14-749, “Littoral Combat Ship: Additional Testing and Improved Weight Management Needed Prior to Further Investments.” It looks at weight issues within the 2 Littoral Combat Ship classes. Though Freedom Class LCS 5 and beyond will make enough changes to meet their required design margin:

“Another proposed change would increase commonality and combat capability by replacing the Freedom variant’s rolling airframe missile system with the heavier [SeaRAM] missile system found on the Independence variant. While the specifics of this potential change have not yet been determined or approved, Navy technical experts told us that such a modification would subsequently increase the Freedom variant’s weight and could also result in center of gravity changes.”

June 24/14: FY 2014. A $73.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for FY 2014 rolling airframe missile (RAM) guided-missile round pack requirements for the U.S. and allied navies, including 23% of the contract’s value for Japan, spares for the Federal Republic of Germany, and testing equipment upgrade and replacement requirements. All funds are committed immediately.

This contract involves foreign military sales to Japan (23%). Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (49.7%); Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%); Rocket Center, West Virginia (4.5%), and Andover, Massachusetts (3.1%); it is expected to be complete by November 2016. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-14-C-5417).

FY 2014: USA, Japan

Jan 3/14: Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $52.1 million Design Agent Engineering and Technical Support Services modification for maintainence of, and improvements to, the Mk15 Phalanx, Land-based Phalanx, and SeaRAM weapon systems.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by January 2015. $12.5 million is committed immediately from a wide array of USN FY 2014 and FY 2013 R&D, weapons, and shipbuilding budget lines, plus a US Army budget. Of that, $4 million will expire on Sept 30/13 (N00024-12-C-5405).

Dec 9/13: Support. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $35 million contract modification, exercising an option for MK-31 RAM’s FY 2014 design agent engineering services. This will include improvement program support, guided-missile round pack support, and guided-missile launching system support.

$8.2 million in USN FY 2014 R&D, operations, and Deutsche Marine funding is committed immediately. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2014 (N00024-10-C-5432).

FY 2013

German multi-year order; Block 2 goes from tests to fleet firing; SeaRAM may now equip both LCS types. USN LPD 23 & 24
(click to view full)

Sept 10/13: SeaRAM. A $136.2 million contract to overhaul and upgrade 19 MK 15 Phalanx systems, and produce 4 new SeaRAM systems. This contract provides purchases for the U.S. Navy (80%), Japan (15%), the US Army (4%) and Pakistan (1%) under the foreign military sales (FMS) program; and all funds are committed immediately. $55 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13.

Another $94.8 million in options exist for a FY 2014 buy of 12 more Phalanx upgrades, and another 4 SeaRAM systems, to bring the total contract to $231 million.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (26%); Anaheim, CA (16%); Melbourne, FL (11%); Dayton, OH (11%); Syracuse, NY (10%); McKinney, TX (5%); Andover, MA (5%); Bloomington, MN (5%); Radford, VA (5%); Salt Lake City, UT (3%); and Tucson, AZ (3%), and is expected to be complete by September 2017. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with FAR 6.302-1(a)(2)(iii) “one responsible supplier” provisions (N00024-13-C-5406). Sources: Pentagon | Raytheon Sept 11/13 release.

Aug 6/13: Block 2. The US Navy has completed the first RAM Block 2 fleet firing with a pair of tests from USS Arlington [LPD 24] and the Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship. The missiles went 4/4 against sub-sonic and supersonic maneuvering targets. The USN intends to achieve Initial Operational Capability in 2014. Raytheon, Aug 6/13 release.

July 25/13: LCS standardization? During House Armed Service Committee hearings on the Littoral Combat Ship, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean J. Stackley says that the Navy is strongly considering standardizing both ship classes on the SeaRAM configuration. The Freedom Class currently uses the full RAM installation, while the Independence Class trimaran uses the SeaRAM system with an integrated radar but fewer missiles. HASC video.

F219 w. RAM
(click to view full)

March 28/13: Germany. The German government places a $343.6 million contract with Raytheon’s partner RAMSYS GmbH in Ottobrunn, Germany for 445 RIM-116 Block 2 All-Up-Round missiles between now and January 2019, to insert into their MK-44 Mod 4 RAM Guided Missile Round Packs. As one might expect, the Germans use RAM missiles on several of their ship classes. $1.3 million is committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (49.7%); Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%); Rocket Center, WVA (4.5%); and Andover, MA (3.1%). This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-13-C-5459). See also Raytheon.

German multi-year order

Dec 20/12: USA FY 2013. A $45.6 million firm-fixed-price FY 2013 option for 61 Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2 (MK-44 Mod 4) guided-missile round pack all-up-round missiles. All contract funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Tucson, ArZ (49.7%), Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%), Rocket Center, WVA (4.5%), and Andover, MA (3.1%), and is expected to be complete by February 2015 (N00024-12-C-5450).

Dec 14/12: Ship sets. 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 the San Antonio Class 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).

Nov 27/12: Support. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $12 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to exercise an option for FY 2013 Design Agent Engineering Services for MK-31 RAM support services, providing maintenance and resolving issues through design, software maintenance, and engineering.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and will run until September 2013. $44,800 will be obligated at the time of award (N00024-10-C-5432).

Nov 9/12: Support. An $11.3 million contract modification exercises the FY 2013 option for MK-31 design agent engineering services. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by September 2013 (N00024-10-C-5432).

Oct 22/12: Test. Raytheon announces that its RAM Block 2 has successfully completed its 3rd guided test vehicle flight, using production-representative hardware, in a 2 missile salvo. The engagement resulted in a direct hit on the target.

“Raytheon was awarded a low-rate production contract this year calling for 51 RAM Block 2 missiles. The company is scheduled to deliver 25 [RIM-116] Block 2 missiles during the integrated testing phase of this program.”

FY 2012

Business as usual. RIM-116 Block 2
(click to view full)

July 30/12: FY 2012. A $51.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for 51 MK-44 Mod 4 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 2 guided missile round pack all-up-rounds. In other words, the missiles and storage/interface tubes that fit into the launchers.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (49.7%); Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%); Rocket City, WVA (4.5%); and Andover, MA (3.1%), and is expected to be complete by September 2014. This contract includes options which could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $105.8 million, and presumably about 105 missiles.

This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-12-C-5450).

May 17/12: Ship sets. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $57.9 million contract modification, covering FY 2012 requirements for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). It includes MK 15 Mod 31 CIWS SeaRAM missile upgrade kits and conversions in support of Austal’s forthcoming LCS 10 and 12; as well as Phalanx Block 1B BL2 upgrade kits and conversions, 2 Phalanx Block 1Bs for the forthcoming DDG 116 destroyer, MK 15 CIWS hardware product improvements and ancillary equipment, Block 1B Ordalt (Ordnance Alternation) kits; and MK 15 CIWS Block 1B Class A overhauls.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (39%); Germany (12%); Palm Bay, FL (12%); Tucson, AZ (9%); Pittsburgh, PA (8%); Burlington, VT (6%); Andover, MA (4%); Syracuse, NY (4%); Long Beach, CA (1%); Radford, VA (1%); Bloomington, MN (1%); Salt Lake City, UT (1%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%); and is expected to be complete by September 2015. $24.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-10-C-5427).

Jan 19/12: Support. A $30 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for the MK-31 RAM system’s FY 2012 design agent engineering services. they’ll work to maintain current system capability, as well as resolve issues through design, systems, software maintenance, reliability, maintainability, quality assurance and logistics engineering.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2012. $342,272 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00024-10-C-5432).

Dec 6/11: FY 2012. A $22.2 million contract modification for the production of 50 Block 1 MK-44 Mod 2 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) guided missile round pack all-up-rounds.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (49.7%); Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%); Rocket City, WVA (4.5%); and Andover, MA (3.1%), and is expected to be complete by February 2014 (N00024-08-C-5401).

FY 2010 – 2011

US orders; Major UAE order; Block 2 initial integration & tests. UAE’s Baynunah Class
(click to view full)

Sept 15/11: Block 2 tests. Raytheon and Germany’s RAMSYS announce that they have finished RAM Block 2 missile upgrade and integration testing in the 5 control test vehicle flights, meeting all upgrade requirements. They’re not done yet, however. The program will begin guided flight tests at the end of 2011, and is expected to enter low rate production in late 2012.

Aug 25/11: Ship sets. A not-to-exceed $161 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for MK15 Mod 31 SeaRAM systems in support of Independence Class ships LCS 6 Jackson and LCS 8 Montgomery, and Japan’s “DDH 2405 helicopter destroyer.” It will also buy Phalanx CIWS Block 1B class “A” overhauls, and land-based Phalanx Weapon System class “A” overhauls.

Japan’s “DDH-2405″ may be the first ship of Japan’s new “22DH” project to field 800 foot, 30,000t vessels that are larger than its existing 18,000t Hyuga Class. The Hyuga Class are properly characterized as LPH helicopter carriers, and 22DHs could be classed as escort carriers, but Japan’s constitution forbids them from owning aircraft carriers. The SH-60 Seahawk helicopters on board JMSDF Hyuga and JMSDF Ise certainly proved themselves in the wake of the 2011 tsunami, which should mute any domestic criticism.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (9%); Germany (7%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburgh, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2015, but $90.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-5427).

Aug 1/11: Ship sets. A $7.4 million contract modification for 3 refurbished and upgraded RAM MK 49 Mod 3 Guided Missile Launch Systems with associated hardware, for use on LHA 7 (unnamed, America Class escort carrier, 2) and LCS 5 (Detroit, Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship, 1).

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by March 2013. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00024-11-C-5448).

June 30/11: FY 2011. A $57.9 million contract modification for 90 Block 1 MK-44 Mod 2 RAM guided-missile round pack all-up-rounds, and 40 ordnance alteration kits. This contract modification includes options, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this modification to $113 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (49.7%); Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%); Rocket City, WVA (4.5%); and Andover, MA (3.1%); and is expected to be complete by December 2013 (N00024-08-C-5401).

Feb 23/11: UAE. At IDEX 2011, the UAE announces an AED 800.5 million ($218 million) order for Raytheon’s RAM missile systems. The missiles equip the UAE’s new Baynunah-class corvettes, built in country by Abu Dhabi Ship Building (ADSB).

The initial ship of class UAENS Al Hesen was a significant exhibit at the show. Jane’s.

UAE order

Nov 23/10: Block 2 test. Raytheon announces that its RAM Block 2 missile has completed the 4th and final controlled test vehicle flight. This test measured kinematic performance and stability, with attention to the missile’s rocket motor, airframe, control section, and autopilot software. Raytheon will build 25 Block 2 missiles during the design and development test period, and expects a low rate initial production contract to follow.

Oct 29/10: Ship sets. A $17.7 million fixed-price contract for 2 refurbished and upgraded rolling airframe missile (RAM) MK 49 Mod 3 guided missile launch systems (GMLS) with associated hardware. They’ll be mounted on the USA’s LPD 26, a San Antonio Class large amphibious ship. The contract also involves 1 new MK 49 Mod 3 system, which will be mounted on Egypt’s new Ambassador III Class fast missile craft. Note that the MK 49 needs to add the MK 44 guided missile round pack to become a fully effective MK 31 RAM missile system.

This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (37.1%) and the government of Egypt (62.9%) under the Foreign Military Sales program. It includes options which could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $32.8 million. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by January 2013. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-11-C-2404).

July 8/10: Sub-contractors. LaBarge, Inc. announces a $1.2 million contract from Raytheon to provide printed circuit card assemblies for the RAM missile system.

LaBarge already produces a variety of complex wiring harnesses for the system, and will perform this new work at its Tulsa, OK facility. Production is expected to begin in July 2010 and continue through June 2011.

July 2/10: Support. A $44.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the MK-31 rolling airframe missile (RAM) guided missile weapon system’s FY 2010 design agent engineering services. The support covers maintenance, and adds design, systems, software maintenance, reliability, maintainability, quality assurance, and logistics engineering services as necessary. The contract includes options which would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $167.3 million, if exercised.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2010. $2.25 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-10-C-5432).

May 24/10: LCS. Raytheon announces that its SeaRAM system successfully completed 2 blast test missile launches aboard the USS Independence [LCS 2], designed to test the structural integrity of both the weapon system and the ship. The launches clear the way for SeaRAM’s live-fire testing on that Littoral Combat Ship class later in 2010.

SeaRAM cuts the number of available missile pack rounds from 21 to 11, but marries the RAM launcher to the 20mm Mk15 Phalanx’s base structure and engagement radar, in order to create a truly bolt-on air defense option for ships. In the Independence Class, the system is also integrated into the ship’s wider combat system.

May 21/10: Block 2. A $10.8 million contract modification to increase the ceiling amount to previously awarded contract, for the “rebaselining of the system design and development” of the RAM Block 2 upgrade. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by December 2011.

According to Raytheon representatives, what’s really happening is an extension of the program’s schedule, as well as about a year’s worth of added work from Navy requests. The net effect is to more or less restore the requirements that the program began with 4 years ago, with some changes in light of subsequent tests. Raytheon has now run 3 control test vehicle launches, with 1 to go. Guided test launches will be next, with Navy testing expected to begin with about 25 Design-Test/ Operational-Test missiles in Q1 2012 (N00024-07-C-5454).

RAM Block 2 rebaselined

March 23/10: Testing. A Germany Navy video shows an exercise held off the Cape of Good Hope, whose stormy seas keep the area clear enough to allow live missile tests. The video shows AS.34 Kormoran anti-ship missiles being intercepted by older RIM-7 SeaSparrow missiles… but the RAM system on F215 Brandenburg misses the target drone.

Missed

Oct 16/09: Block 2. A $7.7 million modification to previously awarded contract to increase the ceiling amount for System Design and Development of the RAM Block 2 upgrade. The funds will cover additional guidance section design verification testing, to ensure that the software interfaces properly with the missile’s hardware guidance section. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by August 2011 (N00024-07-C-5454).

FY 2008 – 2009

Orders: USA, Egypt. SeaRAM firing
(click to view full)

July 20/09: SeaRAM. A $16.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract for 2 more MK 15 Mod 31 CIWS SeaRAM weapon systems, ancillary equipment, spares, and support. Unlike the Mk 44 launchers, SeaRAM systems have only 11 missiles in the launcher, in order to fit within the self-contained Mk 15 Phalanx mounting.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (33%); Tucson, AZ (8%); Andover, MA (6%); Pittsburgh, PA (4%); Mechanicsville, MD (3%); Fort Defiance, AZ (3%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Santa Clara, CA (2%); Munich, Germany (37%); and Athens, Greece (2%), and is expected to be complete by September 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $9.2 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00024-07-C-5444).

June 8/09: FY 2009. A $56.4 million modification to previously awarded contract for the production of 90 Block 1 MK-44 Mod 2 rolling airframe missile (RAM) guided missile round pack (GMRP) all-up-rounds (AURs), and 40 ordnance alteration kits. This contract modification includes options which would bring the cumulative value of this modification to $118 million, if exercised.

GMRPs are the 21-round missile launchers used by the RAM system, and 90 GMRP AURs is the standard annual American order. The total FY 2009 RAM missile budget is $70.8 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (49.7%); Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%); Rocket City, WVA (4.5%); and Andover, MA (3.1%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011 (N00024-08-C-5401).

Jan 16/09: Ship sets. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives an $18.8 million contract modification buy 4 of their Mk 49 MOD 3 Guided Missile Launcher Systems (GMLS), which hold the full 21-missile Mk 44 packs. The Mk 49 systems will be installed on the amphibious assault ship LPD 25 Arlington, and the first-of-class CVN 78 Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. Another 10 ORDALT (ORDnance ALTeration) Mod 1 to Mod 3 GMLS Ordalt Kits will also be provided as part of this order, and will be used to upgrade a number of Mk49 systems around the fleet.

Work will be performed in Ottobrunn, Germany (50%), Louisville, KY (45%) and Tucson, AZ (5%) and is expected to be complete by February 2012 (N00024-06-C-5402).

Oct 15/08: Sub-contractors. BAE Systems spinoff Atlantic Inertial Systems (AIS) announces a production order from Diehl BGT Defence GmbH worth about $3 million for the second batch of its SiARS Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). The order follows AIS’ successful completion of design, qualification and initial production deliveries.

IMU systems offer a way to precisely measure distance and vector from a known launch point, without requiring GPS or external aids that may not be available. MEMS technology helps this IMU perform that job reliably in a violently spinning missile like RAM.

AIS has been involved in the RAM program for a number of years, and their release says they anticipate receiving annual production orders into the next decade. The firm has facilities in Cheshire CT, USA, and in Plymouth, UK, employing over 800 personnel worldwide.

June 11/08: FY 2008. A $59.5 million contract for the production of 90 Block 1 MK-44 Mod 2 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Guided Missile Round Pack All-Up-Rounds, and 60 ORDALT(ORDnance ALTeration, usually means upgrades) Kits.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (49.7%), Ottobrunn, Germany (42.7%), Rocket City, WVA (4.5%), and Andover, MA (3.1%) and is expected to be complete by May 2011. (N00024-08-C-5401).

Dec 31/07: Egypt. Egypt’s order comes in – see Sept 28/07, as Raytheon receives $72.5 million modification to previously awarded contract for 139 Block 1 MK-44, Mod 2 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Guided Missile Round Pack (GMRP) All-Up-Rounds.

Work will be performed in Ottobrunn, Germany (49%), Tucson, AZ (44%), Rocket City, WVA (6%), and Andover, MA (1%), and is expected to be complete by January 2011. This modification supports the Republic of Egypt (100%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program (N00024-04-C-5456).

Egypt

FY 2006 – 2007

Orders: USA, UAE, South Korea; Export requests: Egypt; RIM-116 Block 2 development contract; Shingo Prize for the factory; SeaRAM picked for LCS-2 trimarans. RIM-116 RAM Launch

Sept 28/07: The US DSCA announces [PDF format] Egypt’s formal request for up to 139 RIM-116B Block 1A Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) with MK-44 Guided Missile Round Packs, containers, support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical data, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government, contractor engineering and logistics technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The systems will be installed on Egypt’s new Ambassador MK III Fast Missile Craft [PDF format] boats for air defense, along with the 20mm Mk 15 Phalanx CIWS. See also Feb 10/06 entry.

The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $125 million. The prime contractor will be Raytheon Systems Corporation in Tucson, AZ. There are no offset agreements associated with this potential sale, and implementation will not require the assignment of any additional U. S. Government or contractor personnel in country.

DSCA request: Egypt (139)

Aug 15/07: LCS. A $5.8 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract for the fabrication, test, and delivery of one (1) MK 15 MOD 31 PHALANX SeaRAM Close-In weapon System (CIWS). As noted above, the SeaRAM uses the Phalanx system’s integrated radar, and will equip the USA’s Littoral Combat Ships. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY, and is expected to be complete by September 2009 (N00024-04-C-5460).

June 5/07: Raytheon announces a contract for 7 RAM Block 1A systems with Abu Dhabi Ship Building of the United Arab Emirates. The direct commercial sale, valued at $76.5 million, calls for the systems to be delivered starting in December 2007, and installed on 6
of the UAE’s new 70m Baynunah Class corvettes. The agreement also provides for an on-shore Rolling Airframe Missile test and training system, spares support and other services. Raytheon release.

The RAM system was not originally slated to equip the UAE’s new corvettes, but in 2006 the UAE decided that escalating regional tensions and anti-ship missile proliferation required improved inner layer defenses. The system will be mounted near the ship’s rear, atop the helicopter hangar. Outer defense will be handled by Raytheon’s RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles fired from Mk56 vertical launchers, while last-ditch defense will rely on the corvette’s Oto Melara 76mm naval gun and 30mm secondary guns.

RAM backfit for UAE

May 24/07: Support. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received an $11.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for 70,590 engineering man-hour design agent engineering services for the MK-31 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) guided missile weapon system, and associated efforts. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by September 2007.

Support procured under this contract is required to maintain current weapon system capability, as well as resolve issues through design, systems, software maintenance, reliability, maintainability, quality assurance and logistics engineering services. The contract was not competitively procured by The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-07-C-5443).

May 8/07: Block 2. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received a $105.5 million cost-plus scheduled event-based incentive-fee contract for system design and development of the Block 2 upgrade to the RAM MK31 Guided Missile Weapon System, in support of the Program Executive Office-Integrated Weapon Systems. “The Block 2 upgrade will enable the RAM missile to more effectively counter the emerging threat of more maneuverable anti-ship missiles.” Details regarding the Block 2 upgrade are given in the RAM System section.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by December 2010. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-07-C-5454).

See also Raytheon’s June 27/07 release, which announces the contract as “$145.4 million… for production and enhancement of its Rolling Airframe Missile program. Nearly $105.5 million will go to the development of Rolling Airframe Missile Block 2…”

RAM Block 2 development

March 6/07: FY 2007. Raytheon Company in Tucson, AZ received a $39.9 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5456) for production of 90 Block 1 MK 44 Mod 2 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Guided Missile Round Packs, and 90 MK 20 Mod 2 RAM Active Optical Target Detectors. This represents the full FY 2007 request.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (50%) and Ottobrunn, Germany (50%), and is expected to be complete by March 2009. The Naval Sea System Command in Washington, DC issued the contract.

Feb 8/07: Shingo Prize. Raytheon Missile Systems’ (RMS) Louisville, KY facility has captured a prestigious Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing, marking the 4th consecutive year that various Raytheon facilities have won. The Louisville facility manufactures the Phalanx CIWS and RAM/SeaRAM systems. See full DID coverage.

April 11/06: South Korea. Raytheon announces a $17.4 million contract for production 30 RAM Block 1/HAS (helicopter, aircraft, surface) tactical guided missile round packs and test equipment design maintenance for the South Korean RAM program.

RAM Block 1/HAS is the ship self-defense weapon of choice for the country’s KDX II, or Chungmugong Yi Sunshin Class destroyers. Note that the KDX-IIs will also use longer range Standard SM-2 Block IIA missiles as part of their surface-air missile armament.

Raytheon reports that they also have contracts to supply launchers for South Korea’s future KDX III AEGIS destroyers and LPX Dodoko Class amphibious assault ships.

South Korea

April 4/06: RAM on LCS. Raytheon Company has announces that it will install the SeaRAM anti-ship missile defense weapon system on General Dynamics’ trimaran design for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). SeaRAM combines upgraded MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B close in weapon system’s radar & infrared sensors and Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 1A Helicopter, Aircraft, and Surface (HAS) guided missiles. Raytheon will work with General Dynamics to integrate SeaRAM with the LCS combat management system.

RAM for LCS-2 Class

April 3/06: FY 2006. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $77 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract for production of 90 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Block 1/HAS MK-44, Mod 3 all-up-round tactical guided missile round packs (GMRP). This is the USA’s full procurement amount for FY 2006, similar to the 86 GMRP requested in FY 2005 and the 90 missiles in the FY 2007 budget request. This contract also covers 120 RAM Block 1/HAS MK-44, Mod 3 ordnance alteration (ORDALT) kits.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (50%) and Ottobrunn, Germany (50%), and is expected to be complete by March 2009 (N00024-04-C-5456).

Feb 10/06: Egypt. Raytheon announces that the Egyptian navy will outfit its new Ambassador III Class Fast Missile Craft with Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launching systems. Raytheon’s Mk49 RAM launchers and associated RAM Block 1A missiles will provide the primary ship self-defense capability for the Fast Missile Craft, built by VT Halter Marine in Gulfport, MS.

Approximately 50% of the production work will be performed at Raytheon Missile System facilities in Louisville, KY and Tucson, AZ with the remaining half to be completed by RAM-System GmbH of Ottobrunn, Germany.

Egypt picks RAM for FACs

Additional Readings

Categories: News

Vietnam’s Russian Restocking: Subs, Ships, Sukhois, and More

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 17:50
Kilo Class cutaway
(click to view full)

In April 2009, reports surfaced that Vietnam had agreed in principle to a deal with Russia for 6 of its diesel-electric Kilo/ Project 636 Class fast attack submarines. By December 2009, it was an inflection-point deal for a capability that Vietnam has never had before. By November 2013, the new submarines had begun to arrive.

Nor is that the only change in Vietnam’s military capabilities these days, courtesy of their long-standing relationship with Russia. There have been some outside deals for items like maritime surveillance floatplanes, and a Dutch deal will provide high-end frigates. For the most part, however, Vietnam’s new combat power in the air, at sea, and on land is coming from Russia. China’s April 2009 display of naval might is only part of the mosaic influencing Vietnam’s decisions in these matters….

Vietnam’s New Military Buys: Considerations & Conclusions Southeast Asia
(click to view full)

China’s 2009 display of naval might certainly marks an increased shift toward “forward defense” farther from its borders, a policy that must eventually include China’s trade lifeline to Vietnam’s south, through the Straits of Malacca. It also underlined a growing gap between China’s increasingly advanced ships and high capacity hovercraft, and Vietnam’s fleet of older Soviet and even American ships.

Ownership of the Spratly Islands remains very much in dispute, and Vietnam and China share a centuries-long history of mutual distrust and occupation. Recent punctuations of that animosity include the 1979 3rd Indochina War; this was followed by a significant skirmish in 1981, and a naval skirmish over the Spratly Islands in 1988. Today, Vietnamese protests over a Chinese bauxite mine in Vietnam, and media disobedience over the Spratly Islands issue, serve as a reminder that the 1989 treaty has not changed the relationship’s underlying fundamentals.

Key Platforms Submarines Kilo Class for China
(click to view full)

China itself has adopted a strategy of building up a submarine force to counter a superior surface opponent (the US Navy). It’s entirely logical for Vietnam to adopt a similar approach vis-a-vis China, especially given that China’s lifeline of raw materials and exported goods from and to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and parts of Asia passes right by Vietnam’s doorstep.

Aside from Thyssen Krupp Marine’s U209 family of submarines, the Russian Kilo Class are the world’s most widely exported subs. They’re known for a level of quietness that’s significantly better than other Russian designs, and have been produced in the Project 877EKM, and the Project 636M “Improved Kilo” / Varshavyanka Class variant that Vietnam is receiving. Countries operating or ordering these submarines include Russia, Algeria, China, India, Iran, Poland, and Romania.

There had been some speculation that Vietnam’s emphasis on shallow water operations, and proximity to the Straits of Malacca, might have made DCNS’ novel 885t, $200 million Andrasta Class of “pocket submarines” attractive. Instead, Vietnam appears to have opted for a longer-range, higher capacity 3,000t submarine from its tried and true Russia partner. They can be armed with 533mm heavy torpedoes, mines, and/or the 3M54 Klub-S family of missiles. The Improved Kilo Class boats will be named:

  • HQ-182 Hanoi (delivered)
  • HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City (testing complete 2014-01)
  • HQ-184 Hai Phong (launched 2013-08, arrival 2014)
  • HQ-185 Khanh Hoa (arrival 2015)
  • HQ-186 Da Nang (arrival 2015)
  • HQ-187 Ba Ria-Vung Tau (arrival 2016)

Other Naval Dinh Tien Hoang
(click to view full)

The new submarines are the most important new Russian addition to Vietnam’s capabilities, but they are not alone. A mixed set of 6 stealthy Gepard 3.9/Dinh Tien Hoang Class light frigates will add surface warfare and patrol punch. The first pair optimized for surface attack are already delivered, plus orders for 2 model emphasizing anti-submarine warfare, and 2 upgraded ships with undetermined capabilities as yet.

Gepard 3.9 frigates. These ships are a combined diesel-turbine export version of Russia’s Project 11611 (Tartarstan) frigates, which serve in the Caspian fleet. The 102m/ 2,100t design sits in the grey area between small frigates and large corvettes, and despite their 5,000nm endurance, they’re best suited to local maritime patrol and interdiction. Their stealth-enhanced ship design and 8 sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles make them potentially dangerous adversaries in littoral regions; other armament includes 1 AK-176 76mm main gun, 2x AK-630 family multi-barrel 30mm automated guns, and 12-20 mines. There’s space at the back of the ship for a Ka-27 helicopter, but no hangar.

Air defense is handled by a Palma turret derived from the land-based SA-19 Tunguska, carrying twin AO-18KD multi-barrel 30mm cannons and 8 SOSNA-R 9M337 hyper-velocity laser beam rider missiles. An optical turret in the Palma’s center handles fire control, and a command module includes the 3Ts-99/Positiv ME1 target detection 3D radar. It’s mounted in place of the 9K33M “OSA-M”/SS-N-4 Gecko twin-launcher missile system installed on Russia’s frigates, and provides a maximum air defense reach of 10 km and 19,500 feet altitude, with a 2nd kill zone out to 4 km for the 30mm guns.

The ASW ships can be expected to carry 533 mm torpedo tubes, depth charges, and an RBU-6000 12-barreled Anti-Submarine rocket launcher.

This size and weapons array may not be much to get excited about, relative to other international frigate designs, but it will make them Vietnam’s most capable combat ships until the Dutch Sigma Class frigates arrive. There has been talk about including Shtil-1 air defense missiles with a 50 km range on the last 2 ships, in place of the Palma turret. Adding those would quadruple the ships’ air defense radius, but the ship’s overall changes would need to extend beyond that mounting.

Molniya/ Project 12418 FAC. These missile-armed Fast Attack Craft will help modernize a fleet that’s mostly made up of aging Soviet FACs, and captured American ships from the Vietnam War. The new ships are small, at just 550t full load, but they pack a very dangerous set of 8 sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles, or 4 Moskit/ SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missiles. Up to 10 may be built under the 2010 contract.

An agreement to license-build the Russian Kh-35 anti-ship missile adds extra impetus to Vietnam’s maritime modernization.

Air Force: SU-30MKs, and…? SU-30MK2 weapons
(click to view full)

Vietnam’s air force is still reliant on the same core platform that formed their high end during the Vietnam war: the MiG-21. Swing-wing SU-22M4 strike and close air support fighters are only slightly newer. After that, there’s a sharp technological break to SU-27 air superiority fighters. Vietnam is slowly extending that modernized base with newer multi-role SU-30 planes from the same fighter family, strengthening air defenses and adding a long-range strike capability. They need that kind of firepower, given China’s own set of SU-30/J-11s, and the existence of flash-points like the Spratleys far from the mainland. The question is how they manage to balance that qualitative improvement with the need for fighter numbers, as the MiGs and SU-22s age out.

Note that even the most modern fighters will be limited without AWACS/ AEW support for wider awareness and coordination, and patrol ranges around key disputed territories like the Spratlys will be limited without mid-air refueling platforms. The bad news is that Vietnam doesn’t have a lot of budget to spare, and its ground forces are also in need of significant upgrades. The good news is that options like the Airbus/IAI C295 AEW, BAe 146 tanker conversions, and IAI Bedek’s K-767 tanker conversion of used commercial aircraft are creating new lower-cost options.

Contracts and Key Events

This section covers only Vietnamese contracts with Russia. As the “Additional Readings” section notes, Russia is not Vietnam’s exclusive arms provider – but it is the country’s most important defense relationship.

2014

T-90
(click to view full)

Aug 27/14: SU-30s. Russia & India Report says that negotiations are underway to deepen Vietnam’s training relationship with India, progressing beyond subs to include its 36 SU-30MK2 jets by 2015. Malaysia already trains with India, as their SU-30MKM jets have a lot in common with the IAF’s SU-30MKIs. Vietnam’s SU-30MKs lack canards and thrust vectoring, but India is a logical pairing:

“India and Vietnam are likely to sign a defence agreement, under which Vietnamese pilots will be trained to operate Russian-built Sukhoi fighters, sources in the Indian Defence Ministry told RIR. The agreement is likely to be signed when Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visits the Southeast Asian country in September. The details are being finalised during the on-going visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Vietnam, the sources said…. India will also consider the sale of the Indo-Russian BrahMos missiles to Vietnam [DID: q.v. Dec 3/13 entry], although a deal is not imminent, the sources added.”

Adding the air-launched, supersonic BrahMos to Vietnam’s arsenal would make Indian training the only sensible solution, while greatly increasing Vietnam’s strike reach and capabilities. Sources: Russia & India Report, “India to train Vietnamese pilots to fly Sukhoi fighters”.

April 23/14: Frigates. Russia’s Nudelman Precision Engineering Design Bureau confirms that the “People’s Army of Vietnam Navy” (Maoist heritage, much?) will equip its Project 11661 Gepard anti-submarine light frigates with the same Palma air defense and CIWS system that sits on the first 2 surface warfare frigates. The ships are scheduled for delivery in 2017, and given the space constraints involved in a 2,100t platform, it’s always interesting to see what can and can’t stay when they’re equipped for a new role. Sources: IHS Jane’s Navy International, “Vietnam to arm new Gepard-class frigates with Palma CIWS”.

April 1/14: Frigates. Vietnam’s 2nd batch of Gepard frigates are scheduled for delivery in 2017, according to Zelenodolsk Shipyard’s annual financial statements. That set is supposed to be optimized for anti-submarine duties. Sources: IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “Vietnam to receive two more Gepard frigates in 2017″.

Feb 27/14: Frigates. Vietnam has reportedly ordered 2 more Gepard Class/ Project 11661K frigates from Russia’s Gorky Shipyard, which will bring their fleet to 6.

None of the announcements discuss terms, or mention which variant Vietnam is buying this time. The small 2,100t frigates have space limitations, which forces some role-based equipment tradeoffs. Current orders involve 2 Gepards ordered in 2006 and optimized for surface strike with anti-ship missiles (q.v. March 5/11), plus 2 frigates ordered in 2011 and equipped as anti-submarine specialists (q.v. Dec 7/11). There have been unconfirmed reports that subsequent ships would add Russia’s SA-17 derived 3S90E Shtil-1 naval anti-aircraft missile system, providing much wider air defense out to 50 km. Sources: Vietnam.NET, “First of a New Class Patrol Ships Laid Down at Zelenodolsky Shipyard in Russia” | Defense Update, “First of a New Class Patrol Ships Laid Down at Zelenodolsky Shipyard in Russia” | Defense Studies, “Second Batch of Gepard Equipped with Sthil-1 Missile”.

2 more frigates

Jan 16/14: Submarines. Vietnam’s 2nd submarine, HQ-183 Ho Chi Minh City, completes operational tests in Russia and receives its checkout certificate. It will be loaded onto a barge, and is expected to arrive in Vietnam around May 3/14.

HQ-184 Hai Phong was launched on Aug 28/13, and is also expected to be delivered to Vietnam in 2014. HQ-186 Khanh Hoa is due in 2015, and HQ-185 Da Nang can be inferred as also arriving that year. HQ-187 Ba Ria Vung Tau is due in 2016. Sources: Bao Dat Viet, “Tau ngam HQ-185 Da Nang ha thuy ngay 28/3″ | Thanh Nien News, “Vietnam’s second Russian submarine completes testing” | Vietnamnet, “Russia hands over the second submarine to Vietnam”.

Jan 10/14: Tanks. Vietnam is reportedly investigating the possibility of upgrading at least some of their existing fleet of about 480 T-72 main battle tanks, and buying T-90s to begin replacing their force of almost 1,000 elderly T-55s. Due diligence has reportedly been done with India’s T-90s, which also face the ravages of hot climates.

The problem is cost. T-72 upgrades can be sourced from a number of countries besides Russia, but top of the line new tanks are costly. If new armored personnel carriers also have to be bought for Vietnam’s armored formations, the entire project gets very expensive very quickly. On the other hand, defeats on land are very, very expensive when you have a large and aggressive neighbor on your border, and a long history of animosity. Tanks may not be the whole answer, but Vietnam will have to spend money to upgrade its land forces in some way.

Vietnam’s armored forces include various models of Russian and Chinese equipment, which means their fleets are fragmented as well as old. Consolidation of any sort would be helpful, though their terrain means that light vehicles can be as important as heavy armor. Israel has been talking to Vietnam about military deals, and one wonders if they’ve discussed conversion of the T-55s into refurbished Achzarit heavy APCs. Sources: Tinnong, “Viet Nam xem xet mua xe tang T-90 cua Nga”.

Jan 3/13: Submarines. HQ-183 Hanoi is unloaded from the Dutch Rolldock Sea carrying vessel into Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. Sources: Vietnam.NET, “In pictures: Hanoi submarine arrives at Cam Ranh port” | Thanh Nien, “First Russian-made submarine arrives in Vietnam” (also several pictures) | Vietnam.NET, “Vietnam’s most modern submarine launched” | Taiwan’s Want China Times, “Vietnam receives its first Russian Kilo-class submarine”.

1st sub arrives

2012 – 2013

12 more SU-30MK2s; Kh-35 anti-ship missile partnership; Singapore partnership for submarine rescue; Vietnam will need help with training and maintenance. Kh-35E/ SS-N-25
(click to view full)

Dec 3/13: Weapons. Vietnam has reportedly placed an official request for a derivative of the Russian SS-N-26 Oniks missiles that already equip a couple of its shore batteries:

“Vietnam formally requested India to supply the Indo-Russian BrahMos cruise missiles at a meeting in New Delhi, informed sources told RIR. The request was made when Vietnam Communist party general secretary Nguyen Phu Trong visited the Indian capital, the sources said, adding that the Southeast Asian country was looking at enhancing security cooperation with India… During Phu Trong’s visits, requests were also made to India for submarine training and for conversion training for Vietnamese pilots to fly Sukhoi-30 aircrafts.”

The PJ-10 Brahmos is also a supersonic, radar-guided, medium-range anti-ship and strike missile. Vietnam’s current and planned ships aren’t good platforms for BrahMos, and Vietnam already has similar SS-N-26 shore batteries in place. A buy from India could deploy mobile shore batteries, but the most likely interest involves the developmental air-launched BrahMos, designed to be carried by SU-30 fighters. That would add about 300 km of strike range to Vietnam’s fighters, using a lethal threat to both enemy ships and shore installations. Deploying that combination would be almost as significant as Vietnam’s new submarines in shifting the South China Sea’s overall balance of power. Sources: Russia & India Report, “Vietnam looking to purchase BrahMos cruise missiles”.

Nov 7/13: Submarines. The Improved Kilo Class boat HQ-183 Hanoi is handed over to the Vietnam Navy in Russia, where its crew has been undergoing training. It will be loaded onto a barge on November 11/13, and prepared for shipment to Vietnam.

At the same time, representatives from Russia and Vietnam sign a document that will transfer a new submarine sailor training center in Cam Ranh Bay to the Vietnam Navy in January 2014, when the Hanoi and its cadre arrive at Cam Ranh Bay. By the end of 2014, Vietnam is expected to have 3 of its 6 ordered submarines. Sources: Vietnam Bridge, “Russia hands over Cam Ranh submarine sailor training center to Vietnam” | RIA Novosti, “Russia to Deliver 2 More ‘Black Hole’ Subs to Vietnam in ’14″.

Oct 25/13: Infrastructure. Vietnam officially inaugurates a maintenance line in Da Nang’s “Factory A32″ for Su-27 and Su-30 fighters. Other countries have had real problems waiting for Russian support, so moving more of that support in-country will boost the fighter fleet’s availability. Sources: People’s Army Newspaper Online, “Maintenance line for Su-27 and Su-30 fighters unveiled”.

Sept 26/13: Infrastructure. Vietnam is committing to a ship repair facility in Cam Ranh Bay that can handle Russian ships by 2015. It’s a win for their ally, but Vietnam is also trying to turn Cam Ranh Bay into a broader maritime service center. US Military Sealift Command ships have received repairs and basic maintenance there over the last couple of years.

Strong naval maintenance capabilities for Russian designs is also a big asset to a force that operates Russian ships almost exclusively. Sources: RIA Novosti, “Vietnam Sets 2015 Deadline for Soviet, Russian Ship Repair Facility”.

Sept 24/13: Frigates. Russia’s Zelenodolsk shipyard has begun construction on Vietnam’s next Gepard Class 2,100t light frigates, which will be optimized for anti-submarine warfare instead of surface attack (q.v. Dec 7/11). Sources: RIA Novosti, “Russia Starts Building 2 Frigates for Vietnamese Navy”.

Sept 6/13: Submarines. Singapore and Vietnam sign a Memorandum of Agreement regarding submarine rescue. If there’s an accident involving a Vietnamese submarine, Singapore’s 85m, 4,300t submarine rescue and support ship MV Swift Rescue will steam over with its submersible rescue vessel, Deep Search and Rescue Six (DSAR 6).

Singapore operates its own set of ex-Swedish diesel-electric submarines: 4 old but modernized and “tropicalized” Challenger/ Sjoormen Class boats, and 2 modern Archer/ Vastergotland Class Air Independent Propulsion boats that received similar treatment. Sources: RSN – Assets – Ships | RSN – Assets – Submarines | Singapore MINDEF, “Republic of Singapore Navy and Vietnam People’s Navy Sign Submarine Rescue Memorandum of Agreement”.

Submarine rescue agreement

August 21/13: SU-30s. Interfax and RIA Novosti report, and Vietnam confirms, that a new contract signed earlier this month will lead to the delivery of another batch of 12 SU-30MK2s by 2015. When added to 2 earlier contracts, Vietnam’s SU-30MK2 fleet will rise to 32 fighters.

Sources differ in their reporting of this contract’s value, worth $450 million or $600 million depending on whom you ask. The higher value is similar to the previous batch of 12 planes, and is probably the fully-loaded cost with support and parts, but excluding weapons. This is about the level of detail you can publicly expect from such countries. Communist Party of Vietnam.

12 SU-30MK2s

July 5/13: Submarines. Russia’s Interfax says that Vietnam’s 2nd submarine, Ho Chi Minh City, has returned to Admiralty Shipyards of St. Petersburg after series of sea trials. The 1st sub, Hanoi, was launched in August 2012 (vid. Aug 28/12 entry), and both are scheduled for handover to the Vietnamese Navy later in 2013. Earlier reports had targeted the end of 2012 for Haoi’s handover.

Note that the photograph in the linked article is not a Kilo Class sub. Thanh Nien News.

May 21/13: SU-30s. A Tuoi Tre News article offers some revealing information, alongside the classic Stakhanovite paeans.

“Living in rented houses, many of the [SU-30 maintenance] staff have to work as part time teachers in local schools to earn extra income for their families. They even use their own money to buy devices to test tools of their own invention before submitting ideas to leaders.”

Needless to say, economic conflicts of interest among the maintenance staff for your nation’s premiere air asset offers all kinds of potential vulnerabilities.

May 17/13: SU-30s. A Tuoi Tre News article discussed the propensity of Vietnamese pilots to stay in the aircraft and try to land, even if the failure is very serious. Materiel worth more than people? That does seem to be part of the attitude, but if so, it’s a long-standing predisposition:

“For example, three-star colonel and pilot Dao Quoc Khang managed to save his Su-27 when its engines broke down just seconds after taking off…. in April last year, captain and chief of Air Strike Regiment 935 Nguyen Xuan Tuyen and flight head Nguyen Gia Nhan saved a Su-30MK2 while they were on a regular patrol over East Sea and its engines suddenly stopped working when it was 600km from the coast. “….We told ourselves in our minds that we are responsible for keeping the US$50 million asset of the State in one piece. It is made from the labor of citizens. And we must protect it at any price, even if that means our lives,” pilot Tuyen said.”

In fairness, ejecting 600 km from the coast is near-certain death, given Vietnam’s limited search and rescue resources. So the brave and selfless-sounding justification doesn’t actually change their decision, and is the sort of thing you’d expect in an article that quotes political commissars with a straight face. Or is the mentality in the pilot’s justification real? That’s the interesting question.

March 29/13: Submarines. Rubin design bureau general director Igor Vilnit pledges to deliver the 1st Project 636M Improved Kilo Class submarine to Vietnam “in 2013 as scheduled.” Odd. Earlier reports from RIA Novosti (vid. Aug 28/12) had the handover taking place at the end of 2012.

The first boat has been built by Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is undergoing sea trials. All 6 boats are due for delivery by 2016. What isn’t addressed in these reports is Vietnam’s recruiting, training, infrastructure, and maintenance preparations. As Vietnam’s Australian neighbors have discovered the hard way, neglect of any of these 4 “invisible” elements leads to an undeployable submarine force. Vietnam has the advantage of beginning with a proven, tested submarine design, but in all other areas, they’re building from a very low foundation. RIA Novosti.

Oct 26/12: SU-34s? Phun.vn cites a report from the mysterious site “Periscope 2,” wherein it’s suggested that Vietnam plans to replace its fleet of 50 or so aged SU-22 strike aircraft with SU-34s, and that export approval will be given immediately, once it’s requested. The report also suggests that Saab JAS-39 Gripens will replace the VPAF’s even older fleet of 150 or so MiG-21s, that L-159s may replace existing L-39 trainers alongside Vietnam’s reported Yak-130 options, and that Vietnam may be interested in C295-AEW planes.

All of the above are possible, and militarily reasonable choices. Even the L-159 could be reasonable, if bought second-hand as a dual role trainer and MiG-21 fill in, to give the VPAF a dual Russian & Western fleet with appropriate weapon options. The thing is, “reasonable” doesn’t mean “likely”, and DID could find no other reports along these lines. Any of the non-trainer deals would be quite expensive, and Vietnam’s economy is a bit shaky these days. In addition, all of the non-Russian equipment would require export approval for American military items.

We throw this item in for reader interest, with a strong caution concerning its reliability. Phun.vn [in Vietnamese].

Aug 28/12: Submarines. Russia’s RIA Novosti reports that the Admiralteiskie Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg has launched Vietnam’s 1st Project 636 diesel-electric submarine. The boat is due for handover to Vietnam by the end of 2012.

July 27/12: Political. Vietnam says that Russia can set up a base in Cam Ranh Bay, but it would be a maintenance base, not a military base. Vietnam is trying to promote Cam Ranh as a ship maintenance center, and has even worked on ships from US Military Sealift Command. Sources: RIA Novosti, “Vietnam Ready to Host Russian Maritime Base”.

June 21/12: Fighters. Vietnam is conducting air patrols over the disputed Spratly Islands, using its long-range Su-27 fighters.

“Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, protested against the patrols by Vietnamese Su-27 fighters over the disputed Spratly islands in the South China Sea at a press conference in Beijing…. The flights by fighters from the Vietnam People’s Air Force over the Spratlys are routine and will continue, according to the Vietnamese military officials.”

State-owned China Radio International makes some valid points when it cites reasons not to be too concerned about Vietnam’s Su-27s: payload limitations, the lack of AWACS support for wider awareness and coordination, and the lack of mid-air refueling platforms. On the other hand, there’s no denying that the Su-27s and Su-30s offer Vietnam a leap forward in both air superiority and strike roles. With that foundation in place, it’s possible for Vietnam to begin closing some of the other gaps in coming years. Sources: Taiwan’s Want China Times, “Beijing downplays threat of Vietnam’s air force”.

March 29/12: Sub training from India? Singapore’s Asia Times:

“For full-scale underwater warfare training, it appears Vietnam will turn to India. The two countries have been engaged in high-level military talks with special emphasis on maritime cooperation. Since the Indian navy also employs Kilo-class submarines, New Delhi would be well suited to train Vietnamese crews. China responded warily to this bilateral warming trend in both words and deeds when a Chinese warship reportedly confronted an Indian navy vessel leaving a Vietnamese port in August… Moscow will reportedly build a submarine base for Vietnam at strategic Cam Ranh Bay, a one-time American and later Soviet naval base…”

Feb 15/12: Kh-35. RIA Novosti reports that Vietnam will begin joint production of a modified SS-N-25 Switchblade/ Kh-35 Uran subsonic anti-ship missile, whose base characteristics are similar to the American xGM-84 Harpoon. The project is described as similar to joint Russian-Indian production of the PJ-10 BrahMos missile, which was derived from the supersonic SS-N-26 Yakhont.

The Kh-35 can be launched from Ka-27 naval helicopters, ships, or shore batteries, but haven’t been integrated with Vietnam’s new SU-30MK model fighters, or its forthcoming Kilo Class submarines. Even so, this joint venture will give Vietnam assured low-cost production and support for an important element of naval deterrence in the South China Sea.

The Kh-35 looks set to become Vietnam’s mainstay anti-ship missile for its navy, and a joint project also gives them a base to make changes. India undertook to integrate Brahmos with its Su-30MKI fighters, for example, and Vietnam’s air force may have similar plans for their modified Kh-35 project. The urge to use locally-built weapons in new ships also seems to be deep-seated. Kilo Class submarines are already configured for 3M54 Klub family (SS-N-27) missiles, and only time will tell what the Vietnamese plan to do with this shared technology.

KH-35 missile partnership

2009 – 2011

Vietnam orders 6 Improved Kilo Class subs, 12 SU-30MK2 fighters, 2 Gepard Class ASW frigates; 2 Gepard/ Dinh Tien Hoang Class surface warfare frigates delivered; Vietnam begins building Molniya FACs locally; China’s underwater neighborhood getting crowded. Gepard 3.9, 2-view
(click to view full)

Dec 7/11: ASW Frigates. Rosoboronexport and the Zelenodolsk Gorky Plant have finished shipping Vietnam’s 1st 2 Gepard Class frigates, and have just signed a contract for 2 more. That isn’t a surprise, as reports from March 2010 were already discussing a set set. Unlike the first set, however, this next 2 will concentrate on anti-submarine warfare, rather than surface attack missions.

Vietnam’s example may also be creating ripples in the region. Gorky Plant Deputy Director Sergei Rudenko adds that Vietnam’s neighbor Cambodia has expressed its own interest in the Gepard Class. Interfax-AVN.

2 more Gepard Class frigates

Oct 25/11: FACs. Vietnam is beginning to get assembly kits and components for its Molniya/ Project 12418 missile-armed fast attack craft. They’re working under the technical supervision of the “Almaz” Central Maritime Design Bureau in St. Petersburg, and the OJSC Vympel shipbuilding plant. Russia has built 2 for Vietnam, and Vietnam is building its first 4 boats of class, with an option for 4 more. The ships are small, at just 550t full load, but they pack a very dangerous set of 4 Moskit/ SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missiles, or 8 of the sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles.

Deliveries of parts to Vietnam, which began in 2010 under a $30 million contract, will continue through 2016. ITAR-TASS (Google Translate).

Vietnam begins assembling FAC boats

Oct 20/11: Patrol boats. Vietnam signs acceptance certificates for the last 2 of 4 Project 10412/ Svetlyak Export Class patrol boats at Almaz Shipbuilding Firm. The 390t class was originally developed for the KGB’s border guards, mounting an AK-176M 76.2mm cannon, an AK-630 30mm gatling gun, and a mount for very short range SA-16/SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles.

The first 2 ships were delivered to Vietnam in 2002, and the 2 follow-on order ships were laid down in June 2009. Unfortunately, repeated issues with key components, including the Arsenal AK-176M gun mounts, delayed construction. The ships will be moved to St. Petersburg, and embarked on a transport ship for shipping to Vietnam. RusNavy.

Aug 22/11: Frigates. The Gepard Class frigate Ly Thai To [HQ-012] arrives at Cam Ranh Bay. Sources: Defense News, “Vietnam Receives Second Russian-Made Frigate”.

March 5/11: Frigates. The Vietnamese Navy officially accepts the 1st Gepard class frigate from Russia, naming it the Dinh Tien Hoang, after the first Vietnamese emperor. Vietnam became the class’ 1st export order with a contract for 2 ships in December 2006, and the HQ-011 Dinh Tien Hoang was launched in August 2009. HQ-012 Ly Thai To, the 2nd frigate in the order, was launched in March 2010, and has been in sea trials since August 2010.

The Gepard 3.9 ships are a combined diesel-turbine export version of Russia’s Project 11611 (Tartarstan) frigates, which serve in the Caspian fleet. The 102m/ 2,100t design sits in the grey area between small frigates and large corvettes, and despite their 5,000nm endurance, they’re best suited to local maritime patrol and interdiction. Their stealth-enhanced ship design and sub-sonic Kh-35E anti-ship missiles make them potentially dangerous adversaries in littoral regions, and other armament includes 76mm and 30mm guns, 533mm torpedoes, depth charges, and a 9K33M “OSA-M”/SS-N-4 missile system for air defense. This size and weapons array may not be much to get excited about, relative to other international frigate designs, but it will make them Vietnam’s most capable combat ships. DatViet report [Google translate] | AvWeek Ares.

Gepard Class frigate accepted

March 27/10: RIA Novosti reports that Chinese admirals are beginning to grasp the implications of advanced diesel-electric attack submarines in the hands of several regional neighbors, located right near China’s shipping lifelines.

Vietnam’s Kilo Class, Malaysia’s Scorpene Class, and Singapore’s Vastergotland Class submarines are all on China’s Southeast Asian radar. In the background, Indonesia continues to express its intent to buy Kilo Class submarines of its own.

Postscript: Indonesia eventually ended up buying a modern South Korean variant of the German U209.

March 25/10: Submarines. It’s good to be a good customer. Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov says that Russia will help Vietnam build the submarine base it needs to house its new Kilos, provide a loan to help buy rescue and auxiliary vessels and planes for Vietnam’s navy, and build a ship repair yard. That yard would benefit the Russians, too, as it could service visiting Russian navy ships.

Vietnam’s geographic position could make its service yard attractive to other navies as well, giving other countries even more reason to focus on relations with the Southeast Asian nation. A good service yard could wind up being as important to Vietnam’s geo-political position as the submarines themselves. Associated Press | China’s Xinhua.

March 23/10: Russia’s Voice covers growing ties between Russia and Vietnam, which is becoming one of Russia’s biggest arms customers:

“Vietnam backs multilateral cooperation with Russia especially in military defense, stated Vietnam’s president Nguyen Minh Triet during talks with Russia’s Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov in Hanoi. “Each of Russia’s victories is like our own, the president said, and we support Russia in the Georgian conflict.” The president said that the US decision not to deploy its ABMs in Eastern Europe is also a victory for Russia… Anatoly Serdyukov noted that Vietnam is Russia’s strategic partner and Russia is ready to train Vietnamese personnel at the Russian Defense Ministry’s academies.”

March 16/10: Frigates. Russia’s Zelenodolsk PKB shipyard launches Vietnam’s 2nd Project Gepard 3.9 light frigate into the River Volga. In May 2010, the warship will sail to St. Peterburg and then travel by sea to Vietnam for sea trials. The 1st ship in the order was launched in August 2009.

A separate report indicates that Vietnam could be preparing to order 2 more light frigates of this type. ITAR-TASS [in Russian] | ITAR-TASS Arms [in Russian].

Feb 10/10: SU-30s. Interfax reports the signing of a formal contract between Russia and Vietnam for 12 SU-30MKK fighters, for delivery in 2011-2012, plus associated weapons, service, and support. The deal is reportedly worth $1 billion, and is signed the day after a Russian contract to build Vietnam’s first nuclear plant.

The exact state of the contract is less than clear, so we’re sticking with Dec 15/09 as the date. Agence France Presse | AP | RT | Straits Times.

SU-30MK & SU-27SK
(click to view full)

Dec 15/09: Shortly after Vietnam makes its defense white paper public, reports indicate that it has ordered 6 Improved Kilo Class submarines and 12 SU-30MKK fighter jets from Russia, during a visit to Moscow by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Defense Ministry official on Dec 15/09, who said the submarines were improved “Project 636″ types, and gave the deal’s value at of $2 billion, with delivery taking place at a rate of 1 submarine per year. The Sukhoi Su-30MK2 fighter jet deal was valued at $600 million, and would raise Vietnam’s SU-27/SU-30 family fleet to 20 fighters.

Vietnam also invited Russia to help build its 1st nuclear power plant, and hopes to begin construction in 2014 and put it on line by 2020. The country has been growing its manufacturing capacity in recent years, partly at China’s expense, and needs to improve its electric grid in tandem. Vietnam’s Thanh Nien News | RIA Novosti | Agence France Presse | Associated Press | BBC News | China’s Xinhua | Agence France Presse analysis.

12 SU-30s & 6 Improved Kilo submarines

Dec 4/09: Russia’s RIA Novosti reports:

“According to the Vedomosti business daily, Moscow and Hanoi are close to sign deals on the purchase of six Kilo class diesel-electric submarines and 12 Su-30MK2 Flanker-C multirole fighters. The submarine contract, worth an estimated $1.8 billion, includes the construction of on-shore infrastructure and training of submarine crews and will be the second largest submarine contract concluded by Russia since the Soviet era after the 2002 deal on the delivery of eight subs to China.”

April 27/09: Initial media reports. The submarine deal’s value is reported to be around $1.8 billion, and the SSKs would be built at Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg. In addition to submarines, the Vietnamese Navy order is said to include new heavyweight torpedoes and missiles (most likely Klub family) to arm them.

This is a big step forward. There have been rumors that Vietnam owns 2 ex-Yugoslav mini-submarines for use in commando operations, but the Vietnamese People’s Navy doesn’t own any full size submarines that can take on enemy subs and ships.

Some of the Russian reports note that these 6 submarines were once planned for Venezuela, adding that Russia’s Rosoboronexport canceled the deal following Hugo Chavez’ meeting with US President Barack Obama. That must be judged an extraordinarily thin public rationale for canceling a $1.5+ billion purchase. A sinking global oil market, and Venezuela’s growing economic dependence on its declining oil production for revenue, are far more likely reasons for any delay and/or shift. See: RIA Novosti | MosNews | St. Petersburg Times | Singapore Straits Times | Defpro.

Additional Readings

News and Views

Categories: News

LCS & MH-60S Mine Counter-Measures Continue Development

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 16:52
Old school:
MH-53E & Mk-105 sled
(click to view full)

The US Navy currently uses large CH-53/MH-53 helicopters and towed sleds to help with mine clearance work, but they hope to replace those old systems with something smaller and newer. The MH-60S helicopter’s Airborne Mine Counter-Measures (AMCM) system adds an operator’s station to the helicopter cabin, additional internal fuel stores, and towing capability, accompanied by a suite of carried systems that can be mixed and matched. AMCM is actually 5 different air, surface and sub-surface mine countermeasures systems, all deployed and integrated together in the helicopter.

While the US Navy develops AMCM, and complementary ship-launched systems for use on the new Littoral Combat Ships, new minehunter ship classes like the Ospreys are being retired by the US Navy and sold. All in an era where the threat of mines is arguably rising, along with tensions around key chokepoints like the Suez Canal and Strait of Hormuz.

This article explains the components involved (AQS-20, ALMDS, AMNS, OASIS, RAMICS; COBRA, RMS, SMCM), chronicles their progress through reports and contracts, and provides additional links for research.

Airborne Mine Counter-Measures (AMCM): The Set Original AMCM
(click to view full)

The surviving AMCM set includes:

AN/AQS-20 mine hunting sonar (not MH-60S capable, Inc 1#). The AN/AQS-20A uses sonar and electro-optical sensors to provide high-resolution images of mine-like objects and high-precision location information, and can operate in shallow or deep waters. The system is towed under water to scan the water in front and to the sides of the sonar, as well as the sea bottom. This task is especially important in littoral and shallow-water zones, including critical global trade chokepoints like the Straits of Malacca, the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and Panama Canal regions, etc. The AQS-20 have been in service since the 1990s, and the Navy program goal is 94 units, up from the 30 it possessed at the end of 2012.

MCM 2013
(click to view full)

The AN/AQS-20′s modular design is being produced under spiral development, which means a continuous series of improvements are being applied and tested. The use of commercial off the shelf (COTS) components alongside proprietary technologies makes this process easier, and will improve the future upgrade process as electronics continue to advance. They’ll need to improve, because false positives in 2 of 3 search modes and estimating mine depth have been an issue for the system, and ALMDS’ depth limitations mean that they need more coverage from the AQS-20. Until they do improve, the tactical response of re-querying contacts means that searches will take about 2x as long.

The sonar’s biggest problem is simple, and was eminently testable and foreseeable: the MH-60S AMCM helicopter doesn’t have enough power to tow it. Almost 8 years after development began, therefore, the AQS-20 is left dependent on the much slower WLD-1 RMMV snorkeling USV. Unfortunately, the RMMV isn’t scheduled to iron out its issues until 2015, and full-rate RMMV production won’t happen until 2017.

Laser mine finder
(click to view full)

Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (AES-1 ALMDS, Inc 1). In his position as U.S. Navy Program Executive Officer for littoral and mine warfare, Rear Admiral William E. Landay said in 2005 that ALMDS “represents the first new technology to be applied to mine [hunting] since the advent of sonar.”

ALMDS is a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) Airborne Mine Countermeasures high area coverage system that detects, classifieds, and localizes floating and near-surface moored sea mines, using a fan-shaped pulsed wide 538-nanometer blue-green laser pattern that samples at rates over 100 per second. As the helicopter’s motion “pushes” the LIDAR fan forward, 4 cameras are arranged to cover the same illuminated swath. An automatic target recognition algorithm picks out potential mine-like objects, and stores their images for classification by shipboard Fleet operators, using computer-aided post-mission analysis tools.

This LIDAR approach gets around the inherent flight and drag limitations of towing bulky gear in the water, which allows faster area search. It also lets a helicopter image an entire ocean area and move on, without stopping to recover equipment. ALMDS’ laser light and streak tube receivers are housed in an external equipment pod, which is mechanically attached to the MH-60S with a standard BRU-14 bomb rack mount. Electrical connections use a primary and auxiliary umbilical cable to the MH-60S AMCM’s common operator console. Data is stored on a mass memory unit for post mission analysis.

The ALMDS program is managed by the US Navy’s PMS-495: the Program Executive Office, Littoral and Mine Warfare, Mine Warfare Program Office. The ALMDS industrial team includes Northrop Grumman Corporation at its Melbourne, FL site, and key suppliers:

  • NGC subsidiary Cutting Edge Optronics (CEO) in St. Charles, MO (high-powered laser transmitter)
  • Arete Associates in Tucson, AZ (Receiver Sensor Assembly)
  • CPI Aero in Edgewood, NY (pod housing)
  • Curtiss Wright/DY4 in San Diego, CA (central electronics chassis)
  • Meggitt Defense Systems, Inc. in Irvine, CA (environmental control system).

As recently as 2013, ALMDS was cited by the US GAO as not yet meeting system performance requirements, with problems that have included misinterpreting light flashes on the water’s surface for mines, and depth limitations that are shallower than specifications required. The whole issue of light refraction through a variably-shaped surface isn’t exactly easy, but the system has to work. Northrop Grumman cites improvements, which has prompted the US Navy to resume buys, and prompted Japan to place a 2012 export order, but GAO continues to cite performance that’s below specifications. Both sides are right; meanwhile, the US Navy is adopting a multi-pass search method that will take more time to cover a given area.

Airborne Mine Neutralization System (ASQ-235 AMNS, Inc 1). Based on BAE Systems’ Archerfish. It’s a small towed vehicle that acquires mines via sonar, then fires a shaped charge into them. Each AMNS system has 4 of them. It’s especially useful for bottom, close-tethered and in-volume sea mines, and the towed vehicle is designed to be expendable. It’s good for disposing of found mines at a safe distance, but it’s one by one targeting rather than area minesweeping.

AMNS biggest challenge is the handling system, which doesn’t have enough clearance under the launch and retrieval system. They need to fix that, soon. Its other challenge involves successfully targeting mines in currents, which is an admittedly difficult computation but a very big operational problem. If it can overcome these challenges, an unfunded future update will need to give AMNS near-surface capabilities, in order to replace the canceled RAMICS 30mm supercavitating gun.

AMCM Companions LCS trimaran & MH-60S
(click to view full)

These combined AMCM systems will offer more speed and agility in addressing a mine threat, and will be carried by US vessels including the new Littoral Combat Ships. In addition, fitting all 5 AMCM systems into a roll-on/roll-off mission kit for the MH-60S requires a couple of other elements:

The MH-60S Common Console The Common Console is common to all five AMCM systems as well as the other MH-60S missions and provides for control, monitor and display of the AMCM system. It has a single large display that shows multiple views for each sensor, and a smaller navigation display that matches the cockpit’s.

The MH-60S Carriage, Stream, Tow and Recovery System (CSTRS). Does what the title says. Has to be robust, in order to support a number of different systems. Goals included reducing crew size from 5 to 2, and allowing hands-off operation. Needs changes, because there isn’t enough clearance for the AQS-20.

Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). TCDL will provide a high-bandwidth, near-real time sensor data link with the ability to relay data to the mine warfare commander.

These combined systems are critical components of the new Littoral Combat Ship’s mine warfare mission module. The new ships will operate MH-60S helicopters, and can take on an MH-60S AMCM helicopter as part of the MIW mine warfare mission module. The AQS-20 sonar can also be attached to the AN/WLD-1 semi-submersible autonomous vehicle, which comes as part of the LCS ship’s swappable mission packages and has been installed in some DDG-51 destroyers as well.

Note that even though these mission packages are designed to work with Freedom or Independence class Littoral Combat Ships, AMCM’s components could be freely deployed on other ships, along with their carrying helicopter.

Some of the Littoral Combat Ship’s MCM systems will be paired with other platforms beyond the MH-60S. Adding a USV/UUV option helps provide more comprehensive shallow water coverage alongside AMCM, and puts deep water coverage within reach, without requiring purpose-built minesweeper ships, or placing large and expensive ships at risk.

Ship-Based Systems RMMV
(click to view full)

Remote Minehunting System: (RMS, Inc 1) Lockheed Martin’s AN/WLD-1 (RMMV) snorkeling USV was set to tow the AN/AQS-20 behind, while also using its own maneuvering power and sensors, in order to scan in front and to the sides for anti-shipping mines and submarines. It could also carry “kill vehicles” for found mines. A launch and retrieval system on the ship, and C2 software, completes the RMS.

Unfortunately, a March 31/10 GAO report cited the RMMV snorkeling USV’s failure to meet performance requirements, and the RMS had its planned buy cut in December 2009. It would deploy only aboard Littoral Combat Ship classes, and only within the mine counter-measures module. Reliability and performance issues were the next problem to surface. By December 2011, the 1st of 3 reliability improvement phases had ended, and funding was in place to continue the RMMV RGP into 2013. They were only at 60% of their goal by the end of 2012, and DOT&E has been scathing in their criticism of a lenient testing methodology, but the Navy plans to field it with Increment 1 anyway in 2014.

MQ-8B with COBRA
(click to view full)

Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis System (COBRA AN/DVS-1, Inc 2 & 4): This system scans beaches for buried mines. Its goal is actually broader than mine detection, and involves “accurate battlefield intelligence depicting tactical objectives, minefields, obstacles and fortifications on the beach and inland areas.” The prototype system uses a fast-scanning LIDAR laser, 3D imaging camera, and target recognition algorithms.

COBRA Block I introduces the system with daytime detection of surface laid minefields and obstacles in the beach zone, including partial capability in the surf zone. It’s slated for deployment as part of MIW Increment 2 in 2015.

COBRA Block II adds full surf zone detection, plus night detection of mines and obstacle detection. It’s slated for deployment as part of MIW Increment 4 in 2019 or so.

A COBRA Block III has been mentioned with buried mine detection capability, and on-board Near-Real-Time processing of Multi Spectral Imagery data, but it has no scheduled deployment date.

As of 2012, COBRA is still slated for deployment on board MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters, but production stopped at barely over 20, and it remains to be seen whether that small platform will be adequate. A larger MQ-8C has been ordered based on the full-size Bell 407 helicopter, and the COBRA system could also be added to manned helicopters in the Navy’s fleet.

Bluefin 21 UUV

Unmanned Surface Vehicle with Unmanned Surface Sweep System (USV/UISS, Inc 3). This will be a micro-turbine-powered magnetic towed cable and acoustical signal generator, towed from an unmanned surface craft. It will be the MCM module’s 1st area minesweeping capability, detonating magnetic and acoustic mines in its area. Contact mines will need to be destroyed one by one using AMNS, or by older systems like the MH-53 Sea Dragon heavy helicopters and their towed sleds. USV-UISS replaces the canceled heli-towed OASIS system, and is scheduled for fielding in 2017.

Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (SMCM UUV, Inc 4): The SMCM UUV system is designed to reliably detect and identify undersea volume and bottom mines in shallow, high-clutter environments, especially areas with the potential for mine case burial. It will also gather environmental data for use by other MIW systems. This is similar to the idea behind the RMS, but the Knifefish is expected to enter service later, in 2019.

The SMCM system will use Bluefin-21 “Knifefish” UUVs, which were developed with US Navy funding and envisioned from the outset as having a role on LCS. The 16.5 foot, 21″ diameter, 1,650 pound (5.02m/ 53.4cm/ 748.5kg) Bluefin-21 has a maximum depth of 4500m, with 25-hour endurance, and inertial navigation systems for precision positioning. It features MIT-spinoff Bluefin Robotics’ modular and flexible vehicle architecture, pressure-tolerant field-swappable subsea batteries, and low-noise propulsion technology. For this role, it will carry an advanced sonar payload developed by SMCM lead contractor General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. Each SMCM system will include 2 Bluefin-21s with payloads, launch and recovery equipment, a support container, spare parts, and support equipment.

General Dynamics AIS leads the SMCM team, which includes UUV maker Bluefin Robotics in Quincy, MA; Ultra Electronic Ocean Systems in Braintree, MA; Oceaneering International, Inc. in Houston, TX; Metron in Reston, VA; Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University, PA; 3 Phoenix in Hanover, MD and ASRC Research Technology Solutions in Greenbelt, MD.

Other These would help, too…
(click to view full)

As of 2014, the Pentagon’s Department of Operational Testing and Evaluation concluded that:

“Even if this MCM package meets all of its final increment requirements, legacy systems will be needed to perform the full range of mine clearance operations.”

Exactly what this means remains unclear, as it will be up to the Navy to determine. The Mk.105 sleds towed by H-53 helicopters would certainly help address the MCM module’s inability to kill shallow-water mines. MK18 MOD 0 Swordfish (REMUS 100) and Mk18 MOD 2 Kingfish (REMUS 600) systems are already in use in roles similar to the SMCM, and Seafox UUVs have been purchased to act in role that’s similar to AMNS, with add-ons that can provide the shallow-water capability AMNS lacks.

The problems is that LCS has limited internal space in comparison to ships like the Navy’s new JHSVs. That forces mission package sizes which can only accommodate limited numbers of system sets, spares, repair parts, etc.; within those structures, adding more partially-effective systems isn’t a viable solution unless the Navy changes the rules for the MCM package, and restricts it to the much larger mission bays of the LCS 2 Independence Class. Whose seaframe is probably best used in other roles.

The US Navy could also have kept its legacy MHC-51 Osprey Class minehunting ships in service, instead of selling them all before effective successor systems were developed, at a time when mining global chokepoints like the Straits of Hormuz remains a top-3 strategic threat.

AMCM: Eliminated OASIS concept
(click to view full)

Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (ALQ-220 OASIS, eliminated). Long, thin, 10 foot long towed “fish” that can mimic the acoustic or magnetic signatures of a variety of US ships. If there are mines in the area programmed to detonate on that basis, it should set them off. Good for doing fast minesweeping – if the helicopter can actually tow it.

OASIS is subdivided into 6 major components: the Towed Body, the Magnetic Influence Subsystem, the Acoustic Influence Subsystem, the Control/ Monitoring and Power Subsystem, the OASIS Software, and the Tow Cable/ Helicopter Interface. The towed body houses the magnetic and acoustic subsystems and mechanical assemblies. This in-water component is less than 930 pounds in weight, approximately 16 inches in diameter and 10 feet in length. Tension on the tow point is less than 6,000 pounds.

The system failed demonstration trials in 2008 due to excessive corrosion of its tow cable, linked to a nearby forward electrode that set up an unfortunate reaction in salt water. The electrode was repositioned on the towed body instead, but by then, the Navy “discovered” that the MH-60S helicopter didn’t have enough tow capacity to employ it. It was eliminated from AMCM in 2012, and will be replaced by a USV/UISS combination.

ALMDS & RAMICS
click for video

Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS, eliminated). This weapon coupled a gated electro-optic Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) sensor, and a 30mm MK44 Bushmaster II gun firing a MK 258 Mod 1 armor-piercing, fin-stabilized tracer round. When penetrating the water, the round “supercavitates” as the tip of the high velocity RAMICS projectile vaporizes the water to steam. Instead of the complete disintegration that usually happens to high-velocity rounds when they hit the water at mid-to-shallow angles, supercavitation lets the shell ride inside a bubble of gas, zipping through the water in a straight line at very high velocity.

The combination of sensors like ALMDS and a fast neutralizer like RAMICS would make shallow water mine clearing a pretty fast process, which is very useful when trying to perform tasks like re-opening a key port. Unfortunately, RAMICS didn’t test well. The Navy is cutting RAMICS entirely, and expanding AMNS’ role to destroy shallow mines as well.

Northrop Grumman’s RAMICS team included ATK (gun and ammunition), plus Kaman Aerospace Electro-Optics Development Center in Tucson, AZ; DRS Sensors and Targeting Systems in Cypress, CA; CPI Aerostructures in Edgewood, NY; and Meggitt Western Design in Irvine, CA.

Contracts & Key Events FY 2014

Major AQS-20A contract; Multi-year ALMDS solicitation; ALMDS has depth limitations that will force some shifts; Ongoing RMS testing approach gets serious criticism from DOT&E; AMNS uncertainty is worrying. RMS concept
(click to view full)

Aug 28/14: COBRA. Arete Associates in Tucson, AZ receive a $10.3 million contract modification for engineering services in support of the AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Block 1 program. $3.4 million is committed immediately from FY 2014 US Navy RDT&E budgets.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by March 2017. The Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Panama City Division in Panama City, FL manages the contract (N61331-11-C-0007).

May 8/14: MH-60S AMCM. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT, receives a $7.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for MH-60S Aircraft Mine Counter Measure Removable Mission Equipment B Kits. AMCM kits convert the helicopters into mine-countermeasures specialists that can accept specialized equipment.

All funds are committed, using US Navy FY 2012 & 2013 aircraft budgets; $4.3 million will expire on Sept 30/14. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, and is expected to be complete in April 2016. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD, manages the contract (N00019-14-G-0004, DO 4007).

March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. With respect to the mission modules, The Navy isn’t happy with the GAO’s comparison of the program against the FY 2008 baseline, as it doesn’t reflect the total acquisition. GAO responds that:

“In comparing the 2007 estimate with the acquisition program baseline, we used the Navy’s 2007 data, which included full procurement costs but only five years of development cost. The Navy has acquired eight packages [4 MCM, 4 SUW, will add 2 MCMs in FY 2014] without proving capability through operational testing…”

Which GAO sees as a bad idea. GAO program totals are reflected in this article’s charts, and their comments regarding the readiness level and timing of the “LCS Packages Program” have been discussed in detail by DOT&E and by other GAO reports.

March 25/14: AMNS. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives a $17.7 million contract modification for 3 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) low-rate initial production systems, engineering services, and support.

All funds are committed immediately using FY 2012 & 2013 Navy budgets, and $5.2 million will expire on Sept 30/14. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete by May 2016. US NAVSEA in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-10-C-6307).

3 AMNS

Feb 25/14: CRS Report. The US Congressional Research Service revises their Background and Issues for Congress report. While the report includes useful information about the program’s history, and details some of the current problems with both seaframes, the report’s pricing for mission packages is very useful.

According to an Aug 26/13 Navy document, base equipment for all sets is $14.9 million, and the MCM Package itself is $97.7 million, for a total of $112.6 million. At present, it’s at least twice as expensive as any other mission package, and compares to the price of a full minesweeping ship. Unfortunately, it’s hard to see the basis for saying:

“When assessed in terms of ability to perform the LCS program’s three primary missions [Mines, Small boats, and Submarines in shallow waters], the LCS fares well in terms of weaponry and other ship features in comparisons with frigate and corvette designs operated by other navies.”

The MCM package has been cut down sharply, continues to report problems, and hasn’t been trusted enough for fielding despite a clear need. It is better than ships not designed to do minesweeping at all, but is it better than a minesweeping ship with similar costs? The SUW package is a joke, outclassed by many frigates and corvettes. ASW hasn’t even been fielded yet, and some LCS aspects like waterjet propulsion are ill-suited to that mission. How, exactly, do we go from there to the conclusion above? It might become true one day, but it isn’t true yet. Sources: US CRS, “Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program: Background and Issues for Congress”.

MCM costs

Feb 24/14: LCS cut. The Pentagon’s FY 2015 pre-budget briefing on the LCS seems to say that the number of ships will drop to 32, which would have implications for the number of mission modules:

“Regarding the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, I am concerned that the Navy is relying too heavily on the LCS to achieve its long-term goals for ship numbers. Therefore, no new contract negotiations beyond 32 ships will go forward. With this decision, the LCS line will continue beyond our five-year budget plan with no interruptions.

The LCS was designed to perform certain missions – such as mine sweeping and anti-submarine warfare – in a relatively permissive environment. But we need to closely examine whether the LCS has the protection and firepower to survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific. If we were to build out the LCS program to 52 ships, as previously planned, it would represent one-sixth of our future 300-ship Navy. Given continued fiscal constraints, we must direct shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict.”

They haven’t actually terminated the program at 32, and they can negotiate for up to 8 ships beyond the current block buy that ends in FY 2015. Even so, the Mission Module program is likely due for an adjustment. Sources: US DoD, “Remarks By Secretary Of Defense Chuck Hagel FY 2015 Budget Preview Pentagon Press Briefing Room Monday, February 24, 2014″ | Bloomberg, “Hagel Expands on Reservations’ About Littoral Combat Ship”.

LCS cut to 32

Feb 19/14: AQS-20. Raytheon IDS in Portsmouth, RI receives a $35.5 million fixed-price-incentive contract for 3 AN/AQS-20A sonar sets with ancillary equipment. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $199.7 million.

All funds for the initial buy are committed immediately, using FY 2013 & 2014 budgets. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (56%); Tucson, AZ (21%); Pawcatuck, CT (6%); Middletown, RI (5%); Glen Rock, NJ (2%); Windber, PA (2%); Cincinnati, OH (1%); Big Lake, MN (1%); Woodland Hills, CA (1%); Lewisburg, TN (1%); Huntsville, AL (1%); Poway, CA (1%); North Springfield, VT (1%), and Hampton, VA (1%), and is expected to be complete by February 2015. This contract was competitively procured, with 2 offers received by US NAVSEA in Washington, DC (N00024-14-C-6302).

3 AQS-20A

Feb 5/14: MCMs. The US Navy will transport USS Avenger [MCM 1] and USS Defender [MCM 2] back from Japan aboard a heavy-lift ship, for decommissioning back in the USA. They’ll send 2 ships of the same class back to Sasebo, Japan aboard heavy-lift ships: USS Pioneer [MCM 9] and USS Chief [MCM 14]. That will leave the USN with 11/14 aged Avenger Class minehunters, and no ships at all of the newer MHC-51 Osprey Class. Sources: USN Pacific Fleet, “Navy to Replace Forward Deployed Mine Countermeasure Ships in Japan”.

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). AMCM’s components are included, and the overall verdict is: not much has changed since the Jan 17/13 DO&E report, or the July 22/13 GAO report.

AMNS UUV: Faced live-on-live testing in a number of locations. Still has issues accurately locating mines, especially in currents, plus reported problems with compass corrections and fiber-optic communications losses. No word on the progress re: a handling device that addresses inadequate clearance under the launch and retrieval system, which could doom AMNS if not fixed and destroy all that’s left of AMCM’s mine neutralization options.

The planned FY 2013 operational assessment slipped, so FY 2014′s shore and LCS-based testing will tell. If it works, IOC is expected in 2016, but it will take additional AMNS development to give the MCM module any near-surface neutralization capability.

ALMDS laser: The prediction that the Navy would feel obliged to keep it from lack of alternatives has proven true. Same issues with false positives and detection failures, to which DOT&E adds detection depth that’s short of requirements. Operational Assessment Phase B is scheduled to occur from USS Independence in Q4 2014 – Q1 2015.

To compensate for ALMDS’ depth issue, the USN will have to extend the detection zone for the AQS-20A, possibly by towing it behind a USV (RMS = RMMV + AQS-20), but they haven’t tested that yet.

AQS-20A sonar: Problems with determining mine depth and false positives, and longer area scan times, are mentioned but not dwelt on. The Navy’s upgrade effort (q.v. July 1/13) expects to begin developmental testing in FY 2014.

RMMV snorkeling USV: Despite 438 hours of in-water contractor testing, and reports of improved reliability, DOT&E takes serious issue with the way the improved system was tested:

“DOT&E’s review showed that the Navy’s assessment excluded some critical failures and was based on failure definitions and scoring criteria that were inconsistent with those used during the program’s Nunn?McCurdy review; the estimates also do not reflect the expected reliability in more operationally realistic mission scenarios where vehicle usage is more stressed…. reliability may not have improved sufficiently to enable an LCS with two RMMVs onboard to complete the desired area search without having to return to port more often than currently planned and desired to obtain replacements.”

Dec 9/13: RMS/WLD-1 testing. The RMS (remote minehunting system: WLD-1 USV + AQS-20A sonar) completes developmental testing, to see if it can finally meet reliability, suitability and effectiveness requirements. The tests ran from Oct 22/13 – Dec 9/13, and the US Navy says that the system achieved its test objectives. We’ll know more when DOT&E publishes their early 2014 report.

RMS operational assessment is scheduled for January 2014, off the coast of Palm Beach, FL. The complete LCS mine countermeasures mission package will undergo developmental testing in summer 2014, but initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) is scheduled for 2015. Sources: USN, “LCS Remote Minehunting System Completes Developmental Testing”.

Oct 24/13: ALMDS RFP. FBO.gov posts solicitation #N00024-13-R-6318:

“The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), on behalf of the Program Executive Office Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS), intends to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP), under full and open competition, to procure AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection Systems (ALMDS) with options to procure additional systems FY14 through FY17. This requirement also includes options for engineering support services (ESS) each year, support equipment, depot services and software support.”

The Navy could buy up to 4 per year. One of the full solicitation’s puzzling lines said that “PMS495 is the program manager for ALMDS and NSWC PCD is the Technical Design Agent (TDA).” The military does hand over TDA roles to private industry under some arrangements, but it’s also normal for the military to retain design authority and responsibility for military technology that is proprietary to a private company. Discussions with Northrop Grumman have confirmed that ALMDS remains their product, which means that any competitor would need to present their own finished alternative.

FY 2013

MH-60S “discovered” to lack the power to operate some AMCM systems, over 7 years later; IOC delays, as GAO and testing reports don’t inspire much optimism; Contracts & event updates for various sub-systems; non-AMCM Kingfish systems deployed to the Gulf, as AMCM isn’t ready. MH-60S w. AQS-20 – out
(click to view full)

Sept 3/13: Program shifts. With over $50 billion in cuts coming, the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s ALT POM reportedly proposed to end LCS buys with the current contract, at just 24 ships. The Navy is pushing to buy at least 32. On the other hand, OSD is reportedly insisting that the Navy place a top priority on fielding the mine countermeasures (MCM) module, in light of challenges around the Strait of Hormuz and elsewhere. One would think this would have been obvious years ago. Sources: Defenseworld, “U.S. To Limit Littoral Combat Ship Purchase”.

Aug 6/13: SMCM testing. The Knifefish UUV successfully completes comprehensive risk reduction testing. Tests included key payload components (high-fidelity SONAR, ultra-high-density data storage/ recording), key propulsion components (quieter, more powerful propulsion) and key software interface elements. Given the problems encountered in other elements, early verification the hardware architecture and critical areas of hardware and software integration is a good idea.

Will it make a difference? SMCM is an Increment 4 system, and 2017 is still a few years away. We won’t really know until operational testing of the full system takes place against realistic challenges, in a realistic environment. General Dynamics.

LCS & Mission modules
2012-2019
(click to view full)

July 22/13: GAO Report. The US GAO releases “Significant Investments in the Littoral Combat Ship Continue Amid Substantial Unknowns about Capabilities, Use, and Cost”. With respect to MCM, GAO describes its performance as “poor”, which is why the Pentagon has been buying interim systems like the Atlas SeaFox and Hydroid’s MK18 MOD 2 Kingfish, and relying on the existing CH-53s with their towed sleds. The Navy is touting LCS MCM Increment 1 as a big improvement, but performance is shaky, and they may need to keep those ‘interim’ options for a while. The first true area mine-clearing capability only arrives in 2017, with Increment 3′s USV/UISS combination, and its influence sweep system won’t detonate contact mines. LCS’ need to do post-mission analysis also means that it will lack existing ships’ ability to find and neutralize mines at the same time. Those are 2 separate phases for LCS, which is likely to mean longer sweeps, and hence less coverage.

AMNS UUV: Accurately locating mines is a challenge, because the water and the AMNS sensor are both moving, which can make mines look like they’re moving. They’re working on software fixes, along with an alternative load and handling device that addresses inadequate clearance under the launch and retrieval system. If they can’t fix the load and handling device before FY 2014 operational tests, the whole MCM module is in trouble.

ALMDS laser: Failures to detect and false positives are still big problems, and the multiple-pass tactics used to compensate will take much more time to conduct searches. Our conclusion that despite its problems, the Navy’s lack of alternatives would push them to keep the AES-1 (q.v. Jan 17/13)? Still looking pretty good. The USN still wants to issue an RFP for 15 more right away, while funding more R&D for improvements that would require retrofits later.

AQS-20A sonar: This 20-year old program is still having trouble with the challenging task of determining how deep a found mine is – it’s much harder than it sounds in shallow water. False positives in 2/3 search modes are also a problem, and the tactical response of re-querying contacts means that searches will take about 2x as long. The Navy has launched an upgrade effort (q.v. July 1/13), which would be the 1st since 1994, and some of the 30 towed sonars in stock will get retrofits. The goal is 94 units.

RMMV snorkeling USV: Has improved from 7.9 hours to 45 hours MTBF (goal: 75), but the November 2011 testing was in a very calm environment, and December 2012 testing with LCS showed much higher than predicted failure rates. The 10 existing WLD-1 RMMV systems will need retrofits, with more buys to begin in 2017 – but if the Navy has to speed up MCM fielding, they may not have that much time to fix the WLD-1s.

Other: “…the concept of employment for the MCM mission package currently does not include embarked explosive ordinance disposal teams that are used on the existing mine countermeasures fleet… they are investigating how to integrate this capability…. to not only [eliminate] mines, but… exploit found mines for intelligence value, and OPNAV has identified their absence as a capability gap.”

Sources: GAO-13-530 Report | Congress HASC hearing Part 1 and Part 2 .

Major GAO report recommends program slowdown

July 1/13: AQS-20 upgrade. Raytheon IDS in Portsmouth, RI receives a $14.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order. They’ll upgrade the AN/AQS-20A mine hunting sonar’s 3493-AS-780-9 configuration with a high frequency wide band forward look sonar, multi-function side looking sonar, and associated components. $2.5 million in FY 2013 RDT&E funding is committed immediately.

The work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete by by September 2014. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with the “1 responsible source” provisions in 10 U.S.C. 2304(c). The US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL manages the contract (N61331-12-G-0001, #0004).

June 27/13: Kingfish? The US Navy announces that it has deployed MK18 MOD 2 Kingfish mine-detecting UUVs to the “5th Fleet Area of Responsibility” (read: Persian Gulf). The contractor-operated Kingfish isn’t part of AMCM, it’s an independent program based on the commercial REMUS 600, and it’s replacing the in-theater MK18 MOD 1 Swordfish that’s based on Kongsberg Marine’s smaller REMUS 100. The Kingfish’s Small Synthetic Aperture Sonar Module (SSAM) configuration provides wider sonar swath scan, higher resolution imagery, and buried target detection.

While it’s currently contractor-operated, the US Navy does intend to begin operating them in 2015. It probably could be loaded onto a Littoral Combat ship as an interim measure, ahead of the planned 2017 in-service date for Bluefin Robotics’ Knifefish SMCM UUV. US Navy.

Emergency alternatives

June 20/13: RMS testing. The Navy announces that the 2nd and final phase of RMS reliability testing have gone well, after over 47 missions and 850 testing hours at Lockheed Martin’s Riviera Beach, FL facility.

Initial analysis of the tests reportedly shows that RMS reliability is ahead of where it was expected to be at this point, and that it “demonstrated the required reliability necessary to meet program requirements.” If that’s true, emergency deployments become thinkable, but the statement can be weaseled. We await DOT&E reports to supply precise figures, and compare them to original program goals. RMS program manager Steve Lose says that the next phase of developmental testing will begin in summer 2013. US Navy.

May 21/13: RMS support. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Palm Beach, FL receives a maximum $52.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to perform maintenance, testing and integration of the WLD-1 Remote Minehunting System with Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mission modules and ships. Improvements to the USV’s below-target reliability and effectiveness are scheduled to continue until 2015.

Work will be performed in Palm Beach, FL (80%), and Syracuse, NY (20%), and is expected to be complete by May 2016. $8.5 million in FY 2013 Research, Development, Test & Evaluation funding is committed immediately, with the rest allocated as needed. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to 10 U.S.C 2304(c)(1) “one responsible supplier,” by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-13-C-6300).

April 18/13: AMNS support. BAE Systems Electronics’ Maritime Services Division in Portsmouth, UK receives an $8.3 million contract modification related to their Archerfish system. The initial announcement included program management and support, calibration and maintenance services, a cost-plus-fixed-fee CLIN for engineering services support, and a system upgrade providing “a significant reliability and performance improvement to the current MK-105″. This April 10/13 announcement was a mistake – the Mk.105 is a sled towed by a large MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter.

An April 18/13 correction says that the contract will only “complete production and delivery of Archerfish neutralizers (destructor, mine neutralization, Airborne EX64 Mod 0 Archerfish).” We suspect that this is also imprecise, given plans to order more MIW packages. Completion of Archerfish production within existing orders is a more likely meaning.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, UK, and is expected to be complete by September 2014. $7.8 million in FY 2012 and 2013 Navy Weapons Procurement funding is committed immediately. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, FL manages the contracts (N61331-08-C-0012).

April 8/13: SMCM. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems announces a successful Critical Design Review for the Knifefish UUV. The SMCM team will now begin building 3 engineering development modules. An operational version is expected to attain initial operational capability in 2017. GD-AIS.

Knifefish CDR

April 8/13: COBRA development. BAE Systems announces a $20 million contract to develop the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA Block I) system for detecting and plotting land-based mines and shore obstacles in daylight, with some near-shore shallow water capability. The prototype system uses a fast-scanning LIDAR laser, 3D imaging camera, and target recognition algorithms.

BAE has been working with the Office of Naval Research to mature the associated LIDAR technologies, under Section 819 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is aimed at the development of advanced components or prototypes. Work will be performed at the company’s facilities in Honolulu, HI; Greenlawn, NY; Acton, MA; and Hudson, NH.

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 Navy owns 3 MCM (mine, 1st delivery Sept. 2007) and 4 SUW (“surface warfare”, 1st delivery July 2008) mission modules, and has completely re-started the ASW anti-submarine module. Several of the sub-systems in these modules are still experiencing performance problems, many components are still in development, and the Navy has yet to fully integrate these technologies and test them on board an LCS in a realistic environment. In October 2012, DOD delegated future decision authority to the Navy and requested an acquisition program baseline within 60 days – which was not delivered on schedule.

For MCM, The Navy plans to accept 1 more in 2013, but it doesn’t meet requirements. The MH-60S helicopter can’t tow the AQS-20A sonar as planned, the WLD-1 USV has performance issues, the ALMDS laser system gets too many false positives from surface reflections, and the RAMICS gun and OASIS decoy are out. Nonetheless, the Navy describes recent MCM tests as “very successful”. The Navy plans to conduct developmental testing in FY 2014 and establish initial operational capability with 7 MCM modules in September 2014. Full operational capability isn’t expected until 2018, when the Navy is expected to have 21 LCS ships, of 30 ordered.

March 18/13: IOC delays. Jane’s quotes director of navy staff Vice-Admiral Richard Hunt says that the Continuing Resolutions have “delayed us probably a year for IOC [initial operational capability] for a couple of those different modules…”

Jan 17/13: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The LCS mission modules still have a lot of issues. There isn’t anything left to test any more in the ASW anti-submarine module, for instance, so DOT&E didn’t report on it while the Navy considers a re-start.

Mine Warfare: Begin with the MH-60S helicopter, which isn’t powerful enough to safely tow the AQS-20A sonar or OASIS decoy under all of the required conditions. Both are being removed from AMCM, and OASIS is removed from the MIW module. This would seem to be the epitome of a foreseeable/ easily testable problem, but it’s being “discovered” 7 years after development began. Why?

The AQS-20A will now depend on the WLD-1 RMMV snorkeling USV, which is trying to correct its reliability and performance issues by 2015. RMMV v4.1 is showing some improvements in limited testing, but the ships themselves need to make changes to launch and recover it while underway. The AQS-20A sonar has its own problems with contact depth calculations in all modes, and with false contacts in 2 of 3 search modes. The Navy hopes to find AQS-20 engineering fixes. Meanwhile, in order to reduce those errors, the Navy will have to slow its scan methods and reduce the area covered.

The AES-1 ALMDS laser mine-detection system doesn’t meet Navy requirements for False Classification Density or reliability, and the DOT&E expects to issue a formal test report in Q2 FY2013. The Navy hopes to find engineering fixes. Meanwhile, in order to reduce those errors, the Navy will have to slow its scan methods and reduce the area covered. Some reports suggest that ALMDS will be cut entirely, but the raft of other MCM system casualties may force the Navy to keep it.

MH-60S can’t perform the mission for several AMCM components

Dec 28/12: RMS support. Lockheed Martin in Riviera Beach, FL receives a $12.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order to perform Remote Minehunting System / WLD-1 RMMV USV maintenance, testing and integration with the with Littoral Combat Ship. The WLD-1 is currently working on improving its reliability and performance, after falling short in these areas.

Work will be performed in Palm Beach, FL (87%), and Syracuse, NY (13%), and is expected to be complete by May 2013. $5.3 million is committed immediately, and $295,000 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-G-6306).

Dec 20/12: AMNS support. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives a $7.9 million contract modification, covering AMNS’ Critical Design Review.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete by July 2013. All contract funds are committed immediately, and $4.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13. US NAVSEA in Washington DC in is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-6307).

FY 2011 – 2012

AMCM not ready, Seafox deployed to Gulf instead; Development contract for SMCM UUV; RAMICS on the chopping block; Testing & orders for other sub-systems. Knifefish
(click to view full)

April 5/12: ALMDS. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems in Melbourne, FL receives a $27.1 million contract modification for AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) low rate initial production.

This appears to be ALMDS LRIP Lot 4. LRIP-3, issued Oct 19/10, was a $45 million US Navy contract for 4 pods, plus spares, product development and support.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL (36.2%); Tucson, AZ (34%); St. Charles, MO (12.5%); Irvine, CA (8%); San Clarita, CA (5%); and Edgewood, NY (4.3%), and is expected to be complete by April 2014. The US Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, FL manages the contract (N61331-10-C-0023). Military & Aerospace.

ALMDS Lot 4

Feb 17/12: Seafox instead. With Iran threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, and tensions running high, the US Navy makes urgent purchases of mine-hunting equipment. Unfortunately, AMCM systems are not featured, even though this is precisely the kind of situation they were designed for. With AMCM unready, the Navy turns to Atlas Elektronik’s ship and helicopter-launched Seafox UUVs. Read “Gulf Chokepoint: Seafox Saves the Day?” for full coverage.

Emergency alternative

Feb 2/12: ALMDS for Japan. Japan becomes ALMDS’ first export customer, buying 4 of the laser mine detection systems to equip its MCH-101 (AW101) medium-heavy naval helicopters. The Japanese will be using them around their ports and shipping lanes. Read more in “Japan’s MCH-101: All Your Mine Are Belong to Us.”

ALMDS export

Dec 19/11: RMS testing. Lockheed Martin announces the end of the 1st of 3 planned development and testing cycles, involving 500 hours of reliability testing on the U.S. Navy’s WLD-1 RMMV. These efforts are aimed at improving the RMS’ system reliability and operational availability. See also March 31/10 entry.

Dec 16/11: RMS fix. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Riviera Beach, FL receives a not-to-exceed $52.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee letter contract for the RMMV Reliability Growth Program. The contract will fund a comprehensive development and test program to improve the mean time between operational mission failures, and prepare the system for LCS developmental tests and operational assessment. The RMMV RGP will use critical systems reviews and subsequent design reviews, predictive reliability tools, spiral development with in-water testing, and installation of RMMV reliability upgrades.

Work will be performed in Palm Beach, FL (91.4%); Syracuse, NY (8.4%); and Manassas, VA (0.2%), and is expected to be complete by December 2013. This contract was not competitively procured, and is being awarded as a sole source contract pursuant to 10 U.S.C 2304c1 by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-12-C-6316).

Nov 16/11: AMNS testing. Navy VX-21 successfully conducts the first complete Airborne Mine Neutralization System detect-to-engage sequence near Panama city, FL, demonstrating the system’s ability to fire an Archerfish destructor against an inert target. So far, 5 low-rate initial production systems have been delivered to the Navy, with the 6th system scheduled to be delivered in January 2012. US Navy | Raytheon.

Sept 30/11: SMCM UUV development. General Dynamics Advanced Informational Systems Inc. in McLeansville, NC wins a $48.6 million contract with cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, and firm-fixed-price line items for the engineering, manufacturing and development of the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (SMCM UUV). This will be part of the Littoral Combat Ship’s MCM mission package, and this contract contains an option for up to 5 low rate initial production systems, which could bring its cumulative value to $86.7 million. The contract will be initially funded with $10.1 million, as FY 2011 expires.

On Nov 21/11, Bluefin Robotics announces the subcontract from General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems for the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (SMCM UUV), and details the system: 2 of its large Bluefin-21 UUVs, launch and recovery equipment, a support container, spare parts and support equipment, and an advanced sonar payload developed by GD-AIS.

Work will be performed in McLeansville, NC (38%), Quincy, MA (27%), Braintree, MA (16%), Houston, TX (10%), Reston, VA (5%), State College, PA (3%), and Fairfax, VA (1%), and is expected to be complete by March 2016. The addition of Quincy, MA suggests that Bluefin Robotics was already part of the solution in September 2011. $237,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitive procured via the FBO.gov website, with 4 offers received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City Beach, FL (N61331-11-C-0017).

Sept 2/11: AMNS. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives an $8.8 million contract modification to fabricate, assemble, test and deliver 5 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) low rate initial production systems.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete in August 2013. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington DC manages this contract (N00024-10-C-6307).

5 AMNS

June 16/11: RMS testing. The US Navy Program Executive Office for Littoral and Mine Warfare (PEO LMW) announces the successful first time launch and recovery of the WLD-1 Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) semi-submerged USV from USS Independence [LCS 2], while underway near Panama, FL. The vehicle went through 5 successful cycles of deployment, towed operations and recovery, while also testing things like vehicle stability in the wake zone and remote operation.

In active use, the RMMV will tow the AN/AQS-20A sonar, and the entire Remote Minehunting System is scheduled for further testing in summer 2011 as part of the LCS MIW mine warfare module’s core AMCM system. The effectiveness of LCS rear launch and recovery systems has been a concern for both class designs, so the test was useful from that perspective as well. US NAVSEA.

March 4/11: COBRA. Small business qualifier Arete Associates in Tucson, AZ receives a $26.4 million firm-fixed-price letter contract for 3 AN/DVS-1 Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) low rate initial production Block 1 systems, which will become part of the Mine Warfare Mission Package on board the littoral combat ship. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be completed by March 2013.

This contract was not competitively procured by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City Beach, FL. It’s actually a continuation of earlier Small Business Innovative Research awards. As a result of SBIR Phase III, the delivered COBRA systems are expected to have the software that satisfies the performance requirements, with mine counter measure, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and tactical littoral sensor modes installed (N61331-11-C-0007).

3 COBRA I

Jan 24/11: RAMICS gone? Gannett’s Navy Times reports that the RAMICS supercavitating 30mm cannon for killing shallow mines may be on the Navy’s chopping block, after performing poorly in testing. It would be replaced by the AMNS system, which would do double duty against both shallow and deep water mines using its Archerfish kill vehicle.

The tradeoff would be one of greater performance certainty, cost certainty, timely delivery, and commonalty on one side; vs. the ability to engage far more shallow water mines in less time by using a RAMICS system that worked.

Dec 10/10: RMS fix. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Riviera Beach, FL receives a $20 million cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order for engineering services to support reliability improvements to the Remote Minehunting System. Work will include engineering services, testing, program management and configuration management. See Aug 31/10 entry to understand why this work is necessary.

Work will be performed in Riviera Beach, FL (90%), and Syracuse, NY (10%), and is expected to be complete by September 2011. $3.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages this contract (N00024-10-G-6306, #­­0003).

Dec 2/10: RAMICS support. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Melbourne, FL receives a $9.5 million modification to a previously awarded contract for continued RAMICS post-delivery technical support. This contract will be used to maintain, modify and/or repair delivered hardware and software; modify or build new RAMICS system components to resolve producibility, obsolescence, and end-of-life issues, and update the technical data package with the changes; and provide a range of engineering services ad studies (N00024-02-C-6324).

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL and is expected to be complete by September 2011. The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL manages this contract.

Nov 3/10: AMCM development. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Sensors in Owego, NY a $14.7 million delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for airborne mine countermeasures (AMCM) testing and systems development. That means it covers the AMCM system set as a whole.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in December 2011. $1.6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-09-G-0005).

Oct 19/10: ALMDS. Northrop Grumman announces a $45 million US Navy contract for ALMDS Low-Rate Initial Production Phase 3: 4 AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System pods, plus spares, product development and support. Northrop Grumman touts the AES-1′s lower cost-per-pod than in previous lots.

4 ALMDS – Lot 3

Oct 13/10: COBRA testing. The Navy successfully conducts the 1st flight test of the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) Block I system at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, on board the MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical take-off unmanned aerial vehicle. The tests were successful.

The AN/DVS-1 COBRA system is designed to detect minefields and obstacles to prepare for amphibious assaults in the beach zone and inland areas. The COBRA Block I system will enter low-rate initial production under a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase III contract, with the first production unit scheduled for delivery to the fleet in FY 2012. US Navy.

FY 2009 – 2010

GAO report on AMCM systems shows a bunch of problems. AMNS Archerfish
(click to view full)

Sept 23/10: AMNS. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives a $14.7 million firm-fixed-price contract (N00024-10-C-6302) for 7 low rate initial production Airborne Mine Neutralization Systems, and associated engineering services. This contract includes an option which would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $24.4 million if it’s exercised.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete by September 2014. AMNS provider has already been picked, so this contract was not competitively awarded by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC. Raytheon release

7 AMNS

Aug 31/10: GAO Report. The US GAO report #GAO-10-523 on the LCS program sees problems with the mission modules, AMCM among them. “Defense Acquisitions: Navy’s Ability to Overcome Challenges Facing the Littoral Combat Ship Will Determine Eventual Capabilities.” Key excerpts and conclusions, by system:

AN/AQS-20A Sonar – est, fielding 2011: “Operational testing has been delayed, however, due to decertification of the system following integration problems with the common tow cable that connects it to the MH-60S helicopter”.

Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) – est, fielding 2011: “The mount that connects the system to the MH-60S carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system is being redesigned following loss of a test unit”.

Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis System (COBRA) – est, fielding 2012: “System has demonstrated capability to detect buried mines on the beach when flown from the MH-53 helicopter, but has yet to be integrated with its host platform, the MQ-8B Vertical Take-off and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle”.

OASIS – est. fielding 2012: “Engineering development model experienced excessive corrosion at its interface point with the common tow cable during testing from an MH-53E helicopter. The Navy has implemented a design solution, and new models are in production”.

Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) with Unmanned Surface Sweep System – est. fielding 2012. “Micro-turbine-powered magnetic towed cable and acoustical signal generator towed from an unmanned surface craft; Development status: Prototypes of the unmanned surface vehicle have experienced connectivity and communication issues at distance, reliability issues with their electrical generators, and software malfunctions. Additionally, the Navy is redesigning the cable planned to tow the unmanned surface sweep system due to durability concerns… remains in early development”.

ALMDS laser mine detection – est. fielding 2011: “Testing of this system has revealed problems detecting mines at the required maximum depth and classifying mines at surface depths. According to Navy officials, the system’s required maximum detection depth could be reduced because the system can currently detect mine-like objects at depths that extend below the keels of all ships in the fleet. According to Director, Operational Test and Evaluation officials, however, the system is currently incapable of providing this capability with the required accuracy. Further, Navy officials report that the Remote Minehunting System could provide coverage in near-surface areas of the water that the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System currently cannot reach.”

RMS/WLD-1 est. fielding 2015:

“The Navy abandoned initial operational test and evaluation of this system in June 2007 following reliability issues – both software and hardware related – affecting the underwater vehicle. Subsequent plans for resuming this testing in September 2008 were deferred because of continuing concerns about the reliability of the underwater vehicle, and the scheduled test was downgraded to an operational assessment. Spurred by cost growth facing the system, the Office of the Secretary of Defense recently completed a review of the program, subsequently deciding to allow the system to continue development. The Navy is currently executing a reliability growth plan for the system”.

“…Most notably, the system was only able to function for 7.9 hours before failing [in 2008 tests] – far short of its minimum requirement… since the 2008 event, the Navy’s estimated mean time between failures for the system has increased to 45 hours. According to Navy officials, testing and design changes are expected to last into 2011. While the Navy is actively exploring ways to improve Remote Minehunting System reliability, it is also considering reducing the reliability requirement by half.

“…For [RMS and ALMDS] the Navy has delayed further production pending successful resolution of developmental challenges… According to Navy officials, relaxing the performance requirements for the Remote Minehunting System and the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System is one option under consideration.”

RAMICS gun – est. fielding 2017: “Separate engineering development models of the gun and targeting pod have been tested with mixed results. Gun testing demonstrated the need to redesign the bushing (shock absorber). Targeting pod testing revealed problems reacquiring minelike objects and maintaining a gun lock on them. The Navy is rewriting software to address the targeting pod issues”.

June 30/10: ALMDS testing. Northrop Grumman announces that they have begun the next phase of ALMDS’ US Navy flight testing. The Navy is conducting the Developmental Flight Test-IIE (DT-IIE) program from its Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division, FL, and the 1st flight of about 40 or so occurred on June 8/10. A technical evaluation will follow and will lead to the full-scale Operational Evaluation in late 2011. Good performance could lead to full-rate production; meanwhile, an LRIP Lot 3 contract is expected later in 2010. Northrop Grumman Maritime and Tactical Systems VP Dan Chang:

“We’ve had four flights to date [under DT-IIE] and, though I can’t go into details, the feedback we’ve gotten is that the system is performing well and reliably… The flight test data have allowed us to make a few minor software adjustments that have sharpened the capabilities of the system.”

June 24/10: ALMDS support. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ Battle Management and Engagement Systems Division in Melbourne, FL received a $9.5 million contract modification for continued ALMDS post-delivery technical support (PDTS) and provisioned item order support. This modification raises the contract ceiling, and extends the PDTS period of performance for ALMDS low-rate initial production units. Work will be performed in Melbourne, Fla., and is expected to be complete by December 2010.

Northrop Grumman’s work may include: systems engineering; tracking performance metrics; modifying/ repairing delivered hardware; modifying or building ALMDS components to fix producibility, obsolescence, and end-of-life issues; keeping ALMDS’ technical data package up to date; maintaining delivered hardware and software; quality assurance; manufacturing; test and evaluation; and the paperwork of presentations, white papers, and trade studies. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division in Panama City, FL issued the contract (N61331-05-C-0049).

April 1/10: The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. One of the changes is to the Remote Minehunting System (WLD-1) in the AMCM suite:

“The PAUC (Program Acquisition Unit Cost, includes R&D) increased 79.5% and the APUC (Average Procurement Unit Cost, no R&D) increased 54.6% to the current and original [baselines] as a result of a reduction in production quantities, the use of an incorrect average unit cost as a basis of estimate in the 2006 program baseline calculation, and an increase in development costs needed to address reliability issues. The Navy re-evaluated the capabilities of the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Mission Package for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and decided to eliminate the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) from the ASW Mission Package. This decision reduced the total number of RMMV production units from the program baseline quantity of 108 to the current quantity of 54. The increase in development costs was needed to address reliability problems, which arose during an operational assessment in 2008.”

This level of overage is a critical breach, a.k.a. a Nunn-McCurdy breach. The legislation forces the Pentagon to certify the program’s fitness to continue, and provides for potential Congressional involvement.

SAR – RMS cuts & problems

March 31/10: GAO Report. The US GAO releases its 2010 Assessment of Selected Weapon Programs, including the Littoral Combat Ships mission modules. With respect to the AMCM systems, it says:

“Overall, operation of the MCM, SUW, and ASW packages requires a total of 22 critical technologies, including 11 sensors, 6 vehicles, and 5 weapons… The Navy has accepted delivery of two partially capable MCM mission packages; however, the program has delayed the procurement of the fiscal year 2009-funded package due to technical issues and the resulting operational test delays. Four MCM systems – the Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), Unmanned Sweep System (USS), Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (OASIS), and Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) – have not yet been demonstrated in a realistic environment, and two others – the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) and Remote Minehunting System (RMS) – cannot meet system requirements. ALMDS has been unable to meet its mine detection requirements at its maximum depth or its mine detection and classification requirements at surface depths. RMS demonstrated poor system reliability, availability, and maintainability in a September 2008 operational assessment, and program officials report the system is currently undergoing a series of tests to try to improve its reliability. Program officials also reported that the cable used to tow certain airborne MCM systems had to be redesigned following test failures with two systems.”

March 11/10: ALMDS delivery. The 3rd and final low-rate initial production Lot 2 ALMDS pod is delivered to and accepted the US Navy. The company delivered the LRIP Lot 2 pods approximately 3 weeks ahead of schedule, on average. The company and the Navy are in the final stages of preparing the LRIP Lot 3 production contract. NGC release.

Feb 22/10: MH-60S Training. US Naval Air Warfare Center, Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) in Orlando, FL announces that it intends to negotiate, on a sole-source basis under FAR 6.302-1, a contract with CAE USA, Inc. for 3 MH-60R Tactical Operational Flight Trainers (TOFT), and 1 MH-60R/S Tactical Operational Flight Trainer (TOFT). The MH-60R/S TOFT consists of 3 trainers: the MH-60R/S Operational Flight Trainer (OFT), the MH-60R Weapons Tactics Trainer (WTT) and the MH-60S Weapons Tactics Trainer (WTT).

The MH-60S WTT as delivered will have the capability to train, from basics to tactical missions, the AN/AQS-20A Mine Hunting Sonar, the AN/AQS-235 Airborne Mine Neutralizer System (AMNS), the AN/ALQ-220 Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (OASIS), and the AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) – but not the RAMICS gun system, yet. FBO Presolicitation N61339-10-R-0016.

Jan 11/10: ALMDS delivery. Northrop Grumman announces delivery of the 1st LRIP Lot 2 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) to the US Navy, more than 6 weeks ahead of schedule.

Dec 18/09: RMS costs. Gannett’s Navy Times reports that Remote Mine-hunting System WLD-1/ AN/AQS-20 sonar combination would rise 85.3% from its original estimate and cost about $22.4 million per copy, while the RMMV/WLD-1 by itself could rise by 52% to $12.7 million per copy.

The main instigator for the cost spikes is the Navy’s decision to halve production from 108 to 54 units, by deleting the RMS from the Littoral Combat Ship’s anti-submarine package, and confining it to the mine warfare module. The Navy has also decided not to deploy the RMS combination from DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class destroyers, and confine the set to its Littoral Combat Ships.

The second issue with cost increases involves reported reliability issues with the WLD-1. The USV reportedly met 8 of 9 major goals, and the Navy is currently looking into the data to review resolution options and progress.

RMS costs

FY 2008 – 2009

AQS-20 towing sonar has a problem; AMCM doesn’t fit in LCS; Contracts for other AMCM sub-systems. Loading…
(click to view full)

Sept 23/09: COBRA support. Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Eastern Region in Melbourne, FL receives a $6.1 million contract modification to provide post delivery technical support of the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis system’s Engineering & Manufacturing Development units. Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL, and is expected to be complete by September 2010. The Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL manages this contract (N61331-01-C-0037). FBO solicitation.

Sept 2/09: AQS-20 & AMNS delivery. Raytheon announces that it has delivered the AN/AQS-20A Minehunting Sonar and AN/ASQ-235 Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) to the U.S. Navy. Both of the low rate initial production models of the AN/AQS-20A and AN/ASQ-235 AMNS will be extensively tested. Under the current contracts, Raytheon will deliver a total of 20 AN/AQS-20A systems by January 2011, and 5 AMNS by December 2009.

AMNS re-acquires and neutralizes mines found by AN/AQS-20A, using a launch and handling sled equipped with 4 unmanned Archerfish kill vehicles. Both systems have been integrated into the MH-60S and the MH-53E airborne mine countermeasures helicopters. The AN/AQS-20A has also been operated from the AN/WLD-1 Remote Minehunting System USV.

April 23/09: MH-60S. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Oswego in Oswego, NY received a $5.6 million cost plus fixed fee, firm fixed price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for engineering and technical support in the integration of Organic Airborne Mine Countermeasures (OAMCM) Systems into a MH-60S helicopter. The 5 OAMCM systems to be incorporated in the MH-60S are the AN/AQS-20A Advanced Sonar System; Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS); Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS); Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS); and Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (OASIS). This acquisition supports the fundamental effort of integrating this entire suite of Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) systems with the helicopter structurally and with the helicopter Command, Control, Communication, Computer and Intelligence (C4I) systems.

Work will be performed in Oswego, NY (50%) and Panama City, FL (50%), and is expected to be complete by April 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL (N61331-09-D-0009).

April 15/09: AMNS, OASIS support. ITT Corp. announces a maximum $49.5 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract that makes the company the US Navy’s designated depot and engineering agent for airborne mine countermeasure systems, including AMCM’s ITT-produced Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep System (OASIS), and Airborne Mine Neutralizer System (AMNS). ITT’s work will include developing interactive technical manuals and training.

This contract also covers the in-service MK-105 Magnetic Minesweeping System hydrofoil, which is towed by the MH-53E. It won’t be used by the LCS ships, or the MH-60S.

The IDIQ award is a “follow on” contract to a previous $25.2 million maintenance and support deal ITT had with NSWC. The MK-105 systems are currently operational in Corpus Christi, TX; 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain; and Norfolk, VA; other contract work will be performed at ITT Electronic Systems’ Under Sea Systems division’s Mine Defense Systems business area in Panama City, FL. Panama city News Herald.

March 11/09: RAMICS testing. Northrop Grumman touts the results of a recent RAMICS test, which featured a gun suspended from a 50-story tower. The goal was to locate and fire 8 rounds at a submerged target, and they expected just 1 hit. Instead, it got 7 hits within a tightly grouped pattern. The test took place at the Lake Glendora test range within the Navy Surface Warfare Center in Crane, IN.

Feb 2/09: CSTRS development. Concurrent Technology Corp. in Johnstown, PA received an $11.5 million indefinite delivery/ indefinite quantity contract with a cost plus fixed fee pricing arrangement to provide technical and engineering services for continued Carriage, Stream, Tow, and Recovery System (CSTRS) development, test, and analysis. This procurement is in support of the ongoing development and test of the CSTRS to incorporate Airborne Mine Countermeasures capabilities and will be utilized on the MH-60S helicopter.

Work will be performed in Johnstown, PA (88%) and Panama City, FL (12%), and is expected to complete by February 2012. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL (N61331-09-D-0004).

Oct 24/08: CSTRS. Atlas Elektronik UK Ltd. in Newport Great Britain received a $12.9 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for services and materials for the development and fabrication of tow cables to support organic airborne mine countermeasures systems.

Work will be performed at Atlas’ facility in Great Britain, and is expected to be completed by October 2013. This contract was not competitively procured by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, FL (N61331-08-D-0037).

April 28/08: AQS-20. Inside Defense reports that the US has halted its OpEval (operational evaluation, realistic tests) of the MH-60S AMCM mine-countermeasures helicopter. A discussion with NAVAIR reveals that the problem is with one specific system, and OpEval is continuing with the rest of the AMCM package in its current state.

The problem is related to the AQS-20 towing sonar. The sonar works fine, but the mechanisms that deploy it out the side of the helicopter are encountering reliability issues. A team of engineers has been formed to look into the problem. Once they report back, the US Navy will have a better idea of the time and effort required to deliver a fix. AQS-20 OpEval will be rescheduled at a later date, once the Navy is confident that a fix is well underway.

AMCM OpEval halted

March 20/08: RAMICS. Northrop Grumman Integrated System Sector in Melbourne, FL received a $13.5 million modification to previously awarded contract for cost growth and new requirements related to development of the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS).

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL, and is expected to be complete by September 2009. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, FL manages the contract (N00024-02-C-6324).

March 19/08: Raytheon announces a $7.7 million U.S. Navy contract for the low rate initial production of 3 AMNS AN/ASQ-235 systems, following a successful “Milestone C” review in which the system’s design was validated by the Navy and approved to advance to low rate initial production.

3 AMNS

March 6/08: ALMDS. Northrop Grumman Integrated System Sector in Melbourne, FL receives a $24.9 million modification to previously awarded contract (N61331-05-C-0049) for a second Low Rate Initial Production lot of 3 ALMDS units. Northrop Grumman says that 2 of LRIP Lot 1′s units have already been delivered, and are in operational testing but available to the fleet. The software has been finalized, with a depth performance 50% beyond specified Key Performance Parameters, and a 60% reduction in post-mission-analysis time.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL, and is expected to be complete by January 2010. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, FL manages the contract, and NGC expects to produce 25 units over 5 years, once the program enters full rate production for the US Navy in 2010. See also Northrop Grumman release.

3 ALMDS – Lot 2

March 5/08: AMNS support. BAE Systems Electronics’ Underwater Systems Division in Hampshire, UK receives a $9.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract for common neutralizers (their Archerfish system), related support equipment, and engineering services to support the AMNS and the Expendable Mine Neutralization System.

Work will be performed in Hampshire, Great Britain, (77%); Rocket Center, WVA (2%); Littleton, MA (7%); France (3%); Chelmsford, Essex, England (3%); Thurso, Caithness, England (2%); and Carlton Gardes, England (6%), and is expected to be complete by December 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $353,255 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division in Panama City, FL manages this contract (N61331-08-C-0012).

Feb 15/08: AMNS. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI received a $7.7 million modification to a previously awarded contract for 3 Low Rate Initial Production units of the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS).

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (56%); Waterlooville, United Kingdom (23%); Claremont, NH (11%); Windber, PA (5%); West Wareham, MA (3%); Biddford, ME (1%), and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (1%) and is expected to be complete by November 2010. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC manages the contract (N00024-03-C-6310).

3 AMNS

Oct 12/07: GAO Report. The US GAO audit office has some news re: the mine warfare module, the LCS’ first mission module. It seems some changes will be required:

“…For example, operation of mine countermeasures systems is currently expected to exceed the personnel allowances of the [Littoral Combat] ship, which could affect the ship’s ability to execute this mission. In addition, the Littoral Combat Ship will have only limited capability to conduct corrective maintenance aboard. However, because the Navy recently reduced the numbers of certain mission systems from two to one per ship, operational availability for these systems may decrease below current projections. Moreover, the mine countermeasures mission package currently exceeds its weight limitation, which may require the Navy to accept a reduction in speed and endurance capabilities planned for the Littoral Combat Ship. It is important that the Navy assess these uncertainties and determine whether it can produce the needed mine countermeasures capabilities from the assets it is likely to have and the concepts of operation it can likely execute.”

FY 2006 – 2007

Contracts for AMCM development & subsystems. WLD-1 RMS

Sept 7/07: AQS-20. A $51.3 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-6324) to exercise an option for 9 Low Rate Initial Production AN/AQS-20A Sonar Mine Detecting Systems, 7 Installation Kit Electronic Equipment Kits, and 2 Remote Minehunting System (RMS) Towed Body Modification Kits. The order brings the total contract value to $191 million, and increases the total number of systems ordered to 20.

Work will be performed by Raytheon IDS’ Maritime Mission Center in Portsmouth, RI (88%), and by Arete Associates in Tucson, AZ (12%), and is expected to be complete by March 2010. As of Raytheon’s Nov 28/07 release, The AQS-20 system is undergoing technical evaluation as part of the Navy’s mine countermeasure operational testing – the final stage before official fleet deployment.

9 AQS-20A, RMS mods

July 23/07: AQS-20 support. The Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) a $23.2 million contract to provide AN/AQS-20A mine hunting sonar engineering services and support. AN/AQS-20A engineering and support services will be performed at Raytheon IDS’ Maritime Mission Center, Portsmouth, RI. This award exercises an option on an existing 2005 contract, bringing the total contract value to $139 million.

IDS’ engineering services and support will advance the design, development and production of the system’s acoustic and optical sensors through the implementation of pre-planned product improvements and whole life services and support. To date, the company has delivered 10 AN/AQS-20A systems to the Navy, with 4 systems currently undergoing technical evaluation as part of the Navy’s mine countermeasure operational testing – the final stage before official deployment to the fleet. IDS is under contract to deliver an additional 11 systems within the next 24 months. Raytheon release.

Jan 29/07: ALMDS. Northrop Grumman issues a release highlighting their delivery of the first ALMDS pod to the US Navy.

ALMDS delivered

May 16/06: Old & New, includes OASIS. EDO Corp. Mine and Undersea Vehicles Department in Panama City, FL received a $25.2 million cost plus fixed fee/ firm-fixed-price, indefinite delivery /indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract for depot-level repair and maintenance of airborne mine countermeasures systems. These include AMCM’s new Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep system, as well as existing systems like the MH-53E’s precision navigation system, SEAFOX mine neutralization system and MK-105 magnetic minesweeping sled.

Work will be performed in Panama City, FL, and is expected to be complete by May 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $1 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL (N61331-06-D-0019)

April 3/06: AQS-20. Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI received a not-to-exceed $38.7 million firm-fixed-price/ cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-6324) for Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) of 5 AN/AQS-20A sonar mine detecting systems and associated engineering services around test and delivery.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (88%) and Tucson, AZ (12%), and is expected to be completed by March 2010. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C issued the contract. See Raytheon’s press release as well.

5 AQS-20A

Jan 4/06: Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in Stratford, CT received a ceiling $25 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-quantity/ indefinite-delivery contract for highly specialized engineering and design efforts associated with continued integration of organic airborne mine countermeasures systems with full-production level MH-60S helicopters.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT (60%) and Panama City, FL (40%), and is expected to be complete by January 2011. The contract was not competitively procured by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL (N61331-06-D-0012).

Dec 27/05: Lockheed Martin Systems Integration – Owego in Owego, NY received a $16.4 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-incentive-fee contract (N00019-05-C-0048) for non-recurring engineering services in support of the MH-60S Airborne Mine Countermeasures Common Console Technology Insertion Effort.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be complete in June 2008. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract.

Dec 8/05: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $33.6 million not-to-exceed modification to definitize a previously issued delivery order against basic ordering agreement N00019-03-G-0003, and to provide additional funding for the MH-60S Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) Block 2B Phase II Test Support and System Development effort.

The overall delivery order from the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD now has a not-to-exceed value of $60.6 million. Work will be performed in Stratford, CT and is expected to be complete in December 2009.

Oct 26/05: Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Oswego in Oswego, NY receives a $76.6 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract in support of Phase II of the MH-60S’ Airborne Mine Countermeasures System’s (AMCM) Development and Demonstration process.

Work will be performed in Oswego, NY, 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 (N00019-05-C-0048).

FY 2000 – 2005

Northrop Grumman wins COBRA contract; Contracts for other sub-systems. ALMDS on MH-60S
(click to view full)

Sept 28/05: COBRA development. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. Integrated Systems Sector in Melbourne, FL received a $25.3 million cost-plus-incentive-fee modification under previously awarded contract, exercising an option to develop Block 1, Spiral B of the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) system.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL and is expected to be completed by June 2007. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City (NSWC PC) in Panama City, FL issued the contract (N61331-01-C-0037).

Sept 15/05: AQS-20. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, RI received an undefinitized firm-fixed-price/ cost-plus fixed-fee letter contract at a not-to-exceed price of $55 million for the Low Rate Initial Production of the AN/AQS-20A Sonar, Mine Detecting Set. Work on the contract will be performed at Raytheon IDS’s Naval Integration Center in Portsmouth, RI (88%) and Arete Associates in Tucson, AZ (12%); and is expected to be complete by March 2010. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract (N00024-05-C-6324).

AQS-20A LRIP-1 order

Sept 7/05: ALMDS. Northrop Grumman Airborne Ground Surveillance and Battle Management Systems in Melbourne, FL receives a $124.5 million firm-fixed-price/ incentives letter contract for 3 Low-Rate Initial Production units of the AN/AES-1 Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS), which
has been designated as a fast track Navy SBIR/STTR R&D program.

The initial contract awarded a total of $45.5 million for a low-rate initial production (LRIP) of 3 AN/AES-1 ALMDS pods. The contract calls for options totaling $79 million for an additional 6 LRIP pods, one full-rate production lot of 6 pods, plus 2 training systems and integrated logistics support.

Work will be performed in at Northrop Grumman’s Airborne Ground Surveillance & Battle Management Systems facility in Melbourne, FL (75%), and in Tucson, AZ (25%), and is expected to be complete by February 2010. Melbourne is the home of two additional Navy mine-countermeasures programs and a U.S. Army counter-mine/reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition program. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL (N61331-05-C-0049).

3 ALMDS now – up to 15 TL

Jan 12/05: MH-60S. Lockheed Martin Systems Integration-Owego in Owego, NY received a not-to-exceed $26.3 million cost-plus-incentive-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement for engineering services in support of Airborne Mine Countermeasures Block 2B system development for the MH-60S helicopter. This is the electronics and mission systems on the MH-60S AMCM.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY, and is expected to be completed in December 2006. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity (N00019-03-G-0014).

Jan 30/03: AMNS development. Raytheon Co. in Portsmouth, RI receives an estimated $18.1 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract for the demonstration and development of the MH-60S AMCM Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS). Its system is the AN/ASQ-235 based on BAE’s Archerfish, while Lockheed Martin’s Atlas Seafox-derived system is used by the CH-53E.

Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI (63%), and Waterlooville Hampshire, United Kingdom (37%), and is expected to be complete by September 2006. The contract was competitively procured and advertised via Commerce Business Daily, with 4 offers received by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-03-C-6310). See also Raytheon release.

Aug 23/02: RAMICS development. Northrop Grumman Integrated System Sector in Melbourne, FL received an estimated $36.9 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the demonstration and development of the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS).

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL, and is expected to be complete by August 2005. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured and posted on Navy Electronic Commerce Online, with 2 offers received by US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington, DC (N00024-02-C-6324).

June 25/02: CSTRS development. Concurrent Technologies Corp. in Johnstown, PA receives a $7.3 million modification to a previously awarded cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00019-01-C-0045) for the development, design, engineering, manufacturing and testing of the Navy’s airborne mine countermeasures carriage, stream, tow, and recovery system for the MH-60S.

Work will be performed in Johnstown (75%) and Panama City, FL (25%), and is to be complete by July 2003. Contract funds in the amount of $5.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD.

April 26/02: OASIS development. EDO Marine and Aircraft Systems in North Amityville, NY receives a $25 million cost-plus-incentive-fee, fixed-fee contract for system development and demonstration of the Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (OASIS). This effort encompasses all analysis, systems engineering, design, development, fabrication, assembly, testing, qualification, operator and maintenance training documentation, planning and management required to support this effort, as well as all materials, software and services necessary to ensure successful demonstration for production.

Work will be performed in North Amityville, NY (71%); Chesapeake, VA (18%); California, MD (4%); Cogent-Wales, United Kingdom (4%); Bohemia, NY (2%) and Carderock, MD (1%), and is to be complete by October 2005. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Internet, but had just 1 offer received by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-02-C-6316).

2002: AQS-20A, AMNS testing. Developmental and operational testing of the AN/AQS-20A and AMNS begins.

Aug 16/01: COBRA development. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Integrated Systems Sector (ISS) receives the Coastal Battlefield Reconnaissance and Analysis (COBRA) contract from the U.S. Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center-Dahlgren Division, to develop an airborne mine detection system for the U.S. Marine Corps, building on the 1990s-era COBRA Advanced Technology Demonstration program. The total contract award could be valued at more than $44.7 million, if all options are exercised.

This COBRA system will involve a multispectral payload flown on a tactical UAV, and the firm says that its design will use complementary technology to Northrop Grumman’s Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS). Its goal is slightly broader than mines, and involves “accurate battlefield intelligence depicting tactical objectives, minefields, obstacles and fortifications on the beach and inland areas.”

Northrop Grumman’s release says that its COBRA team also includes:

  • Arete Associates in Niceville, Fla.
  • Science & Engineering Associates in San Diego, CA
  • Wescam in Healdsburg, CA
  • General Dynamics-Advanced Technology Systems in Greensboro, NC.
  • PAR Government Systems, San Diego, CA
  • L3 Communications in Salt Lake City, UT

Aug 31/2000: AQS-20. Raytheon Electron Systems Naval & Maritime Systems in Portsmouth, RI receives an $11.8 million firm-fixed-price letter contract for 2 AN/AQS-20 towed bodies, “which is a high speed acoustic mine hunting system towed from the MH-53E helicopter. It is designed to detect, localize, and classify bottom, close-tethered, and volume mines.”

This contract contains 2 options, which if exercised, would bring the total cumulative value of this contract to a ceiling of $48.2 million. Work will be performed in Portsmouth, RI, and is expected to be complete by February 2003. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center-Coastal Systems Station, Dahlgren Division in Panama City, FL (N61331-00-D-0044).

2 AQS-20

July 12/2000: AMNS. Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems (NE&SS) in Syracuse, NY anounces that its Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS) has passed several program milestones. The program succeeded in 20 out of 20 at-sea shallow water test runs near Panama City, FL; passed a significant weapons-safety milestone; and transferred the first AMNS system to the Navy. All remaining AMNS equipment is scheduled for delivery by mid-July to support the Navy’s technical evaluation, which starts later this summer at Panama City.

NE&SS-Undersea Systems is delivering two complete AMNS systems and multiple neutralization vehicles under a $10 million fixed-price agreement with the Navy’s Airborne Mine Defense Program Office (PMS210). STN ATLAS Electronik of Bremen, Germany provides the neutralization vehicles and the operator control consoles, which are based on its very successful one-shot mine neutralization system, the SEAFOX. Lockheed Martin’s NE&SS-Undersea Systems business in Riviera Beach, FL, and Technical Systems Integration of Chesapeake, VA, also have key program roles.

The system initially will be deployed on the Navy’s MH-53E SeaDragon helicopter with production starting in 2001. The current program also includes a technology transition study for the adaptation of AMNS to the CH-60S helicopter (which later became the MH-60S)… but it is not selected.

Additional Readings

Background: AMCM Overview

Background: AMCM Components

Background: Related Technologies

Official Reports

News & Views

Categories: News

US Navy Issues RMMV Request for Proposal for LCS Modules

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 15:56

  • USNAVSEA released the RFP [FBO] for the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) which integrates with the LCS MCM Mission Module. Responses are due by October 27. They seek up to 18 vehicles with deliveries starting 30 months after the initial award.

Middle East

  • ISIL insurgents have shown a video [WaPo] featuring an American M198 howitzer and allegedly shot in Syria. They combine military know-how [NYT] with strong funding from illicit sources [WSJ].

  • It seems President Obama may get [The Hill] congressional support for strikes against ISIL in Syria were he to seek it, though some lawmakers doubt [Defense News] that the group poses a direct threat to the US. Still, this visualization by Periscopic shows how ISIL has reached lethal activity at a scale comparable to that of the Taliban.

  • Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet is in revolt [The Telegraph] over Gaza ceasefire.

Ukraine’s Twitter War

Asia

Agile and Groomed

  • In today’s video [transcript] Andy Berner from QSM, a consultancy, talks about the necessity of grooming the backlog of feature requirements in agile software projects (and that includes many defense projects these days):

Categories: News

The Croatian Helicopter Swap Triangle: Mi-8s for UH-60s

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 18:22
UH-60
(click to view full)

Croatia’s Jutarnji list reports that a proposed helicopter swap deal was discussed during an Aug 14/14 meeting between high-ranking Croatian defense personnel and a delegation from the US House of Representatives.

The goal is to offer the Ukraine near-term assistance, while bringing Croatian forces closer to NATO standards. Under the deal…

CAF Mi-8 MTV-1

Croatia’s 14 upgraded Mi-8 MTV-1 helicopters would be given to the Ukraine, in exchange for 20 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from US Army stocks. Those helicopters would likely be UH-60Ls, rather than the newest UH-60Ms. If the deal goes through, the UH-60 Black Hawks would serve beside a smaller force of 10 new Mi-17-1Sh helicopters that entered Croatian service in 2008, and 8 Bell 206B-3 Jet Ranger helicopters used for training and light utility duties.

Croatia’s Mi-8s should be somewhat familiar to the Ukraine, as Sevastopol Aircraft Plant helped the Croatian firm ZTC repair and modernize 6 of them under a July 2013 contract. Most of Croatia’s Mi-8 fleet arrived in the early 1990s, and they have received 2 major overhauls during their lifetimes.

Croatia has also been getting a close look at the Black Hawk’s capabilities lately, thanks to a multinational July 2014 exercise over Kosovo that involved Croatian Mi-17s and American UH-60s. In August, 4 Croatian representatives strapped into UH-60s with Minnesota’s National Guard, as part of the Vigilant Vortex disaster relief exercise in that state.

Categories: News

Raytheon’s Standard Missile Naval Defense Family (SM-1 to SM-6)

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 17:15
SM-2 Launch, DDG-77
(click to view larger)

Variants of the SM-2 Standard missile are the USA’s primary fleet defense anti-air weapon, and serve with 13 navies worldwide. The most common variant is the RIM-66K-L/ SM-2 Standard Block IIIB, which entered service in 1998. The Standard family extends far beyond the SM-2 missile, however; several nations still use the SM-1, the SM-3 is rising to international prominence as a missile defense weapon, and the SM-6 program is on track to supplement the SM-2. These missiles are designed to be paired with the AEGIS radar and combat system, but can be employed independently by ships with older or newer radar systems.

This article covers each variant in the Standard missile family, plus several years worth of American and Foreign Military Sales requests and contracts and key events; and offers the budgetary, technical, and geopolitical background that can help put all that in context.

The Standard Missile Naval Defense Family: Missiles and Plans 60 years of SM-x
click for video

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is the technical direction agent for Standard missile. They work with the US navy, other naval customers, and Raytheon to manage ongoing technical improvements.

Within Raytheon, a long-term effort is underway toward capability-based development, and common components. As each SM-x missile advances, the expectation is that it will use components from other members of the missile family, while contributing new component and software advances that can be re-used elsewhere.

SM-1: Allied Legacy SM-1 on launcher
(click to view full)

The SM-1 was phased out of US service in 2003, but still serves with some allied navies; most US and international orders are currently SM-2s, but many countries operating FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates and similar vintage ships still use them. The “growth space” inherent in its basic design is a big reason that the Standard missile family remains relevant to this day.

Support for foreign SM-1 missiles has transitioned from the US government to Raytheon, who leads a team of companies that provides customers with continued access to spares and repair services. The SM-1 FSS Program consists of core support (program management, asset storage, test equipment support, logistics support and tasking to demilitarize hardware no longer needed for long-term support of the SM-1 Program), intermediate level maintenance (re-certification of SM-1 Block VI, VIA, VIB missiles), depot level maintenance (repair and maintenance of, or preparation, upgrade and installation of SM-1 Block V, VI, VIA and VIB sections, assemblies, sub-assemblies, and components), MK56 Rocket Motor Regrain Program (qualification and production), test equipment support, All-Up-Round (AUR), and technical engineering services. Countries listed in SM-1 support contracts over the past few years have included: Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey.

SM-2: The Mainstay SM-2 (top), SM-3
 

The RIM-66K-L/ SM-2 Standard. This is the most commonly encountered variant, and a long series of upgrades have kept it current over the years. SM-2 Block IIIA missiles have greater capability at even lower altitudes than previous SM-2 versions, a more powerful fragmentation warhead, and can use Interrupted Continuous Wave Illumination (ICWI) to improve performance against supersonic maneuvering anti-ship missiles. SM-2 Block IIIB is the most popular version at present, swapping ICWI capability for an infrared (IR) guidance mode capability developed by the Missile Homing Improvement Program (MHIP). IR guidance offers a form of backup guidance in saturation missile attacks, where the limited number of illuminators on a ship without active array radars may have to switch back and forth during the targeting process. It also helps against enemy missiles with stealth features, which can be tracked by the infrared plume created by their engines or by air friction.

These SM-2 versions are provided as medium range (50 mile) rounds that can be fired from AEGIS rail launchers, AEGIS vertical launch systems, and Tartar rail launchers. SM-2 has recently completed an upgrade that gives it improved maneuverability via improved steering, thrust-vectoring, and software. This is especially important against supersonic wave-skimming cruise missiles, which offer less than 1 minute to impact from the moment they break the horizon to become visible on a ship’s radar. Tests have also demonstrated a secondary SM-2 capability against small, fast-moving naval targets.

SM-2 Block IVA

An extended range SM-2 Block IV missile added a booster rocket; it had been developed and tested, but few Block IV missiles were bought. They were to be replaced by the SM-2 Block IVA that would add theater ballistic-missile defense capability, but SM-2 Block IVA was canceled in December 2001, with the project over 2 years behind schedule, and average unit costs more than 50% beyond original goals. It has now been revived as the Near Term Sea-Based Terminal weapon (NT-SBT) for last-phase intercepts, following a number of modifications. The May 2006 Pacific Phoenix sea trial, in which an NT-SBT successfully intercepted a Lance missile target, paved the way for production approval, and modifications for the 100 Block IV missiles in stock began in July 2007. NT-SBT is described as an interim solution aimed at the very last phase of a ballistic missile’s flight, just before impact. It will offer extended-range air defense, but its main function is to acting as a second line of defense against incoming ballistic missiles, similar to the Patriot PAC-3 on land.

Raytheon believes that updated SM-2 variants will remain in service for 20-30 years, which means they’ll need to be kept current. Replacing the US Navy’s entire SM-2 stock would be a huge undertaking, and would perpetuate another problem since the Navy already has low stockpiles of missiles for its vertical launch cells. An MoU with Canada, Germany, and The Netherlands reflects long-term foreign interest in upgrades, and these countries have contributed technical development and funding of their own to SM-2 development. Key improvements on the drawing board include combining ICWI and IR guidance capabilities, 3rd party cueing capabilities that allow it to be used “over the horizon” against low-level targets, further aerodynamic and maneuverability improvements, and the insertion of key SM-6 capabilities including reprogrammability and built in test. An SM-2 Block IIIC proposal with some of these capabilities is on the table, but is not funded yet.

SM-3: Ballistic Missile Killer SM-3 Block IA
(click to view full)

SM-3 ABM variants, aka. RIM-161. This larger missile will be the mainstay of naval Anti Ballistic Missile defense, and can also fulfill an “outer air” role via long-range kills of bombers carrying cruise missiles. The SM-3 uses the RIM-156 (SM-2 Extended Range Block IV) test program’s airframe and propulsion/booster, then adds a third-stage rocket motor (a.k.a. Advanced Solid Axial Stage, ASAS, made by ATK), a GPS/INS guidance section (a.k.a. GAINS, GPS-Aided Inertial Navigation System), and a LEAP (Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile) kinetic warhead (i.e. a non-explosive hit-to-kill maneuvering warhead). At present, SM-3 is in naval service with the USA and Japan, may be ordered by the Netherlands for its air defense destroyers, and is set to play a key role in Europe’s land-based missile defenses from bases in Romania and Poland.

Launching ships, usually CG-47 Ticonderoga Class cruisers or Japanese Kongo Class destroyers, are updated with AEGIS LEAP Intercept (ALI) computer software and hardware (the current version under development is AEGIS BMD Block 2006/2008, Baseline 4.0.1), as well as the Long Range Surveillance and Track (LRS&T) AEGIS enhancements that will be implemented across all AEGIS ships that take the upgrade. When used in conjunction with the USA’s Co-operative Engagement Capability components, the result is a single integrated “picture” available to all CEC-equipped ships in the area – a picture that can even be used to help guide long-range anti-air missiles launched from other ships.

This SM-3/AEGIS LEAP combination plays a prominent role in near-term US and Japanese missile defense plans. These interceptors have a better record in ABM tests than their land-based counterparts to date, and their naval mobility makes them well suited for forward defense. They will also be deployed on land, under current American plans to protect Europe.

The SM-3 Block IA version provides an incremental upgrade that improves reliability and maintainability at a reduced cost. It’s finishing its build run alongside production SM-2s, in Raytheon Missile Systems’ factories in Tucson, AZ, and Camden, AR. The SM-3 kinetic warhead (KW) is built and tested at a state-of-the-art kill vehicle manufacturing facility in Tucson, AZ, and the entire upper stage including KW and third stage also is integrated in Tucson before going to Camden, AR for all up round integration. Work on SM-3 also is done in Anaheim, CA; Sacramento, CA; and Elkton, MD. Raytheon leads an integrated team that includes The Boeing Company, Aerojet, and Alliant Techsystems.

The missile was supposed to end production with FY 2009 orders, but testing problems with its successor kept orders coming until 2012. According to a June 2011 CRS report, its estimated cost per missile is about $9 million.

SM-3 Block IB has become the main variant for orders, as of Q2 FY 2011, but the subsequent FTM-16 test failure put a big dent in orders and deliveries. With Block IB and associated ship-based upgrades, the Navy gains the ability to defend against medium range missiles (MRBM, 1,000 – 3,000 km range) fielded by countries like North Korea and Iran, and some Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM, 3,000 – 5,500 km range) under development by those rogue regimes. Upgrades include an advanced 2-color infrared seeker, and a 10-thruster solid throttling divert and attitude control system (TDACS/SDACS) on the kill vehicle to give it improved capability against maneuvering ballistic missiles or warheads. Solid TDACS is a joint Raytheon/Aerojet project, but Boeing supplies some components of the kinetic warhead.

The MDA wanted to buy 472 SM-3 Block IBs by 2020, but flight test issues cut initial orders, and there were still issues to resolve as as of 2014. The FY15 budget seems to indicate a new target of just 332, at an estimated cost per missile of $12 – 15 million.

SM-3 Block II: Next-Generation SM-3 Evolution
(click to view full)

SM-3 Block II will widen the missile body above the booster from 13.5″ to 21″, while shrinking the maneuvering fins. The resulting missile will be faster, and have longer range. That changes the kinds of targets it can take on, and changes its deployment, too. Instead of being able to defend just Israel’s tiny land mass and parts of nearby countries from a ship sailing near Crete, for instance, it becomes possible to defend most of Europe with that same ship. Instead of requiring 3 AEGIS ships to cover Japan, it becomes possible to cover most of Japan with just 1 ship. That’s a strong attraction for the Japanese, who have signed on as development partners.

The SM-3 Block IIA is the co-operative US-Japanese program. It adds the larger diameter, a more maneuverable “high-divert” kill vehicle, plus another sensor/ discrimination upgrade to help deal with harder targets, countermeasures, and decoys. It’s a joint development effort with Japan, which has exceeded both its expected 9-year development time frame, and $2.1 – 2.7 billion price tag. At the end of FY 2011, there were still technical difficulties with the 2nd and 3rd stage rocket motors, and the alternate propellant picked for the DACS thruster system may leave kill vehicle performance below program targets.

The program was rescheduled by joint agreement in September 2011, with flight tests pushed back to FY 2016. It’s currently scheduled to debut around 2018, and Japan has given the go-ahead for exports under certain conditions. Once it’s deployed, the US Navy, Japanese JMSDF, and other customers will have a weapon that can handle the near-strategic IRBM threat, and even engage some Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). Its estimated cost per missile is $20 – 24 million.

The SM-3 Block IIB NGAM: The “Next Generation Aegis Missile,” was to be an open competition, with the potential to field a new design missile that could destroy IRBMs and even ICBMs. April 2011 contracts for phase 1 concept development included Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon. The new missile was originally meant to be land-based, and set to integrate with AEGIS BMD 5.1 for debut in 2020.

The FY 2014 budget relegated it to a component R&D program, and killed the missile. Technical analysis had concluded that its launch sites in Europe couldn’t protect the USA from Iranian missiles (vid. Feb 11/13 entry). One solution would have involved expanding it from a 21″ diameter missile to a 27″ missile, and switching from solid fuel to liquid fuel, in order to boost speed for earlier intercepts. The bad news is that liquid-fueled missiles aren’t safe on board ship, and 27″ wouldn’t fit in standard strike-length Mk.41 Vertical Launch Systems, even though the North Sea was the best European location from which to defend the USA. So the program wanted land and sea deployment, but didn’t know what propellant it would use, or whether it would fit current BMD ships. On-time development was doubtful, and the development schedule for other SM-3 variants is also backlogged. The final capability will be missed, but the outcome isn’t really a surprise.

SM-6 ERAM: Next-Generation Air Defense SM-6 test
(click to view full)

The SM-6 Block IA ERAM is in full-rate production following a March 2013 approval, despite a rocky test history that hasn’t fully sorted itself out yet. Present plans call for 1,800 SM-6s to supplement the SM-2 missiles in the air/surface defense role against cruise missiles and aircraft. It was approved for Full Rate Production in May 2013. The SM-6 is expected to become useful for ballistic missile defense in 2015, as the Sea based Terminal (SBT) Increment 1 combines SM-6 + Aegis BMD 5.0. Fall 2015 is the expected date for Full Operational Capability, and in 2018, SBT Increment 2 will deploy the SM-6 in conjunction with Aegis BMD 5.1. Production is currently expected to end in FY 2024.

Initial versions of the SM-6 will rely heavily on existing technology, including the airframe of the SM-2 Block IV, and advanced seeker technology derived from the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). Radar improvements over the AMRAAM include a much larger and more sensitive seeker (13.5″ vs. 7″ diameter), along with redesigned antennas that boost radar power even further. Active guidance in the missile’s own radar improves anti-jam resistance, and is especially helpful during saturation attacks against ships without active array radars, because it removes some of the combat load from the ships’ limited number of targeting illuminators. Semi-active guidance using large, powerful ship radars remains very useful, however, so the missile retains that option.

CEC Concept
(click to enlarge)

The SM-6 extends and combines those advantages by allowing an “over-the-horizon” targeting mode, where it’s cued by other ships or even aircraft, then uses its own seeker for the final approach. Some of its launch platforms aren’t ready for that yet, so SM-6 ERAM missiles will be launchable in “legacy” mode like an SM-2, or in SM-6 Enhanced Mode that will add 3rd party over-the-horizon targeting and other new capabilities.

Other SM-6 improvements translate into cost performance rather than targeting performance. At present, 25-30% of SM-family missiles must be re-certified each year, a process that involves unloading and moving the missiles. Instead, customers will be able to bring portable testing equipment to a ship and press a button on the SM-6′s “All Up Round” container, whereupon it will test itself. The other big “under the hood” improvement is a design that stresses software programming rather than hardware swap-outs when conducting upgrades. This makes improving the existing missile stock via “spiral development” inserts much easier, much faster, and much cheaper.

The SM-6 program has led the way for Raytheon’s adoption of Earned Value Management as a program management approach; see Sept 5/08 entry, below. It is now in Low-Rate Initial Production. The missile received its first LRIP order in September 2009, and 1st delivery was in April 2011, even as testing continues. Testing has been rocky, as the SM-6 experienced failures in 5 of 12 intercept attempts. Even so, the USA switched all SM-2 missile orders to the SM-6 in FY 2012. Australia has formally declared their intent to order the SM-6, and they are likely to be its 1st export customer. South Korea has also expressed interest.

The Standard Missile Naval Defense Family: Programs Budgets

American budgets for the Standard family of naval air defense missiles are split. One line continues production of the SM-2, and continues development of its follow-on the SM-6 Standard Extended Range Active Missile (ERAM). The usual American annual production order for SM-2 Standard missiles is 75, but that has been dropping lately, even as production budgets rise.

The long-range SM-3, which can be used in a ballistic missile defense role, is part of a separate budget line for “AEGIS BMD,” which also includes radar improvements, ship updates, and other changes required in order to use the SM-3 to its full potential.

American budgets for SM-2/SM-6 work include:

Naval Ballistic Missile Defense is a separate program, run by the US Missile defense Agency (MDA). It involves DDG-51 destroyers and CG-47 cruisers with AEGIS BMD systems, using a combination of AEGIS BMD radar improvements, and SM-3 missiles. For full coverage of those US Navy efforts, read “Serious Dollars for AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense Modifications (BMD)“.

Across the Pacific, Japan will deploy 4 Kongo Class and 2 Atago Class AEGIS BMD destroyers of its own. Japan has purchased SM-3 Block IA missiles, but are scheduled to eventually receive the jointly-developed SM-3 Block IIA. The USA’s forthcoming DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers may have potential ABM capability of their own via the SPY-3 radar/ SM-3 combination, if additional software is added.

SM-3 Programs: 2006-2020 Timeline Raytheon factory
click for video

With so many versions in play, it can be challenging to keep track of the SM-3 family of missiles. This timeline covers the period from 2006 to the present, and also includes planned events out to 2020.

The Standard Missile Naval Defense Family: US Contracts & Events SM-3, USS Hopper
(click to view larger)

Unless otherwise specified, all contracts are issued to Raytheon in Tucson, AZ, at the request of US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA). Note that All Up Rounds (AURs) are missiles in storage containers that contain appropriate electronics, and can be moved from storage to loading as is. ORDALT stands for “ordnance alternation,” i.e. modifications to existing weapons.

Procurement contracts are predominantly American buys, but some foreign customers will also be found in this section due to grouped purchases.

Note that all missile tests have been moved to be part of our in-depth AEGIS BMD coverage. We will cover tests that have a direct impact on missile production, which unfortunately means greater attention to failures. The AEGIS BMD article includes a full chart of naval BMD tests, for a better sense of perspective.

FY 2014

SM-6 buy; MDA considers SM-3 IB MYP; SM-6 reached IOC. SM-6 firing
(click to view full)

Aug 24/14: SM-2/6 Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives an $8.5 million contract modification for SM-2 and SM-6 engineering and technical services. This contract combines purchases for the US Navy (84.5% / $7.2M) and Japan (15.5% / $1.3M), using a combination of FY 2014 US Navy weapons and RDT&E budgets, and Japanese funds.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (86%); Maizura, Japan (11%); Huntsville, AL (2%); and Camden, AR (1%), and is expected to be complete by July 2015. US NAVSEA in Washington, DC manages the contract, and acts as Japan’s agent (N00024 13 C-5403).

Aug 14/14: SM-6 Testing. The US Navy conducts flight test “Juliet,” in which an SM-6 successfully intercepts a subsonic, low altitude target over land. That’s a tough shot, due to the radar clutter created when looking for a small object against the ground’s own moving signature. Juliet is one of 10 follow on operational test and evaluation (FOT&E) events planned for SM-6′s missile performance and demonstration. Sources: US Navy, “Standard Missile Shows Versatility With “Juliet” Flight Test”.

Aug 1/14: SM-6. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $7.5 million contract modification for a lifetime buy of obsolete SM-6 components. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 – 2014 US Navy weapons budgets; $6 million will expire on Sept 30/14.

It may be hard to believe this is needed with a new missile, but then, how many of you use 8 year old electronics? Long development times make this a common military problem, and stocking up on items that are ending or have ended production is one way to deal with it.

Work will be performed in Malaga, Spain (67%); Melville, Y (19%); Camden, AR (5%); Dallas, TX (4%); Sandy Hook, CT (2%); Los Alamitos, CA (2%); Wilmington, MA (less than 1%); and Austin, TX (less than 1%); and is expected to be complete by December 2014. US NAVSEA in Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024 13 C-5407).

June 19/14: SM-6 Testing. Raytheon touts a June 2014 series of tests, in which the Arleigh Burke Flight I destroyer USS John Paul Jones [DDG 53] successfully used SM-6 missiles against 2 tough threats. The 1st involved destroying low-flying cruise missile targets flying ‘over the horizon’ – which is to say, beyond the ship’s own radar. That’s similar to a Aug 23/13 test, and represents an important part of US Navy Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) plans, which involve the ability to cue SM-6 targets using aircraft like the E-2D AWACS or F-35C fighters, or other ships.

Separately, the destroyer used another Raytheon SM-6 to intercept a supersonic target, which simulates modern Russian and Chinese missiles. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon Missiles Make History in Long-Range, Supersonic Tests”.

June 27/14: SM-6 FRP-2. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ, is being awarded a $275.4 million contract modification for FY 2014 SM-6 all-up rounds, and SM-6 and SM-2 spares and containers. All funds are committed immediately, using a mix of FY 2012 and 2014 USN weapons budgets, and FY 2014 USN O&M budgets. $14.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/14.

Numbers aren’t given, but the FY 2014 budget projected 81 missiles, a cut from the original 115. Note that the missile still has some technical issues (q.v. Jan 28/14).

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, (33.7%); Camden, AR (28%); Wolverhampton, United Kingdom (11.6%); Andover, MA (8.6%); Middletown, OH (2.7%); San Jose, CA (2.6%); Huntsville, AL (2.3%); Dallas, TX (2.1%); Anniston, AL (1.4%); Clarkston, GA (1%); San Diego, CA (1%); Warrington, PA (1%); Wichita, KS (1%); Middletown, CT (1%); Thousand Oaks, CA (1%); and Anaheim, CA (1%); work is expected to be completed by March 2017. US NAVSEA manages the contract (N00024-13-C-5407).

FY14: SM-6s

March 14/14: GAO report. The GAO releases GAO-14-248R, regarding the USA’s EPAA plans for defending Europe from ballistic missiles. They’re characterizing SM-3 Block IIA development as “on track” for EPAA Phase 3 in 2018, but SM-3 Block IB still has some issues.

MDA plans to buy 48 Block IBs as part of Phase 2′s Romania deployment from 2015, which will create a bit of an order spike. GAO doesn’t say so, but if Block IIA is late, there will be another Block IB order spike to equip the Polish site in 2018. They do reference the Block IB’s TRSM cold gas regulator issue (q.v. Jan 28/14), and say only that the failure review is still underway, with unclear effects on production.

March 5/14: +36 SM-3 IB. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a not-to-exceed $350.2 million sole-source contract modification bringing FY14 SM-3 Block IB orders to $506.2 million for 44 missiles.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, with an estimated completion date of September 2016. The US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-13-C-0001).

FY14: 36 SM-3-IBs

March 4/14: MDA Budget. The MDA finally releases its FY15 budget request, with information spanning from FY 2014 – 2019. The FY15 request buys AEGIS BMD 4.x upgrades for 3 ships, and installation of received BMD 4.x systems on board 5 ships, while continuing the development of versions 5.0 and 5.1. Beyond that:

“The MDA is requesting $435 million to procure 30 Aegis SM-3 Block IB missiles in FY 2015, for a total [DID: program objective, presumably] of 332 SM-3 Block IB missiles. MDA requests $68.9 million for advance procurement for four long lead items associated with the FY 2016 SM-3 Block IB missile buy to ensure timely delivery to the Combatant Commander. These items include: 1) MK 104 Dual Thrust Rocket Motor, 2) MK 72 Boosters,3) Integrated Dewar Assemblies and 4) Circuit Card assemblies.”

That’s a sharp drop from original plans for 472 missiles, but the Block IB has lost a few years of production. The number will rise again if the SM-3 Block 2A is late.

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

The SM-3 Block IA went 4/5 this fiscal year, thanks to a faulty IMU chip in the FTI-01 test’s missile. That chip is only present in a few Block IAs, and isn’t in Block IB. The Navy is taking corrective action.

The SM-3 Block IB went 3/3, but after a string of 5 successful flights, the TSRM cold gas regulator that was redesigned after the FTM-15 fail glitched out during FTM-21′s 2nd pulse rocket motor firing. It didn’t affect the score, because the missile in question was a pre-planned 2nd salvo shot, and the 1st missile had already destroyed the target. The Navy wants to know if there’s a common underlying root cause they haven’t quite fixed.

The SM-6 still has some issues, even though all FY13 flight tests were successful and it has reached Initial Operational Capability (q.v. Nov 28/13). Improved uplink/downlink shrouds have interior delamination issues, but they still worked and didn’t fail externally in test firings. The Navy will treat this as progress and keep monitoring it. On the other hand, a classified missile deficiency discovered during IOT&E remains a problem. The Navy is looking at several possible solutions with varying degrees of complexity, and they’re trying not to hurt the missile’s performance with the fix. A final decision is expected in Q3 FY14, but they don’t know where the funding will come from.

Full SM-6 performance won’t be achieved until The Navy can launch using other sensors (Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air From the Sea/ NIFC-CA FTS) in FY15. They had good initial results from an initial LF-04 test in FY13, using the same Aegis Baseline 9 system that will be present for the 16 planned SM-6 tests en route to NIFC-CA FTS.

Jan 9/13: +8 SM-3-IB. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a not-to-exceed $156 million sole-source, unfinalized contract for 8 SM-3 Block IB missiles and AUR containers ($19.5 million per missile), under a hybrid contract structure with firm-fixed-price and cost reimbursable contract line item numbers. FY14 funds are being used. Raytheon says:

“This contract award is limited due to the continuing resolution; we anticipate the remainder of the FY14 contract to be awarded once the appropriations bill is passed.”

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through September 2016. The US Missile Defense Agency in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-13-C-0001).

FY14: 8 SM-3-IBs

Nov 28/13: SM-6. The US Navy declares that the SM-6 has reached Initial Operational Capability, as it begins loading the new missiles into USS Kidd [DDG 100] in San Diego, CA.

SM-6 Full Rate Production was approved on May 22/13, but the Pentagon DOT&E’s Jan 28/14 report confirms that some of the deficiencies outlined in their Jan 17/13 publication still haven’t been fixed. All NAVSEA would say is that 50 SM-6 missiles have been delivered to date, and that “…test and evaluation will continue in 2013 and 2014 to validate the integrated fire control capability in an operationally realistic environment.” Sources: US NAVSEA, “Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) Achieves Initial Operational Capability”.

SM-6 IOC

Nov 25/13: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ receives a $15.9 million contract modification for Standard Missile family engineering and technical support services. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 weapon budgets.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (82.8%); Andover, MA (12.4%); Huntsville, AL (3.8%), and Camden, AR (1%), and is expected to be complete by November 2014 (N00024-13-C-5403).

Oct 31/13: SM-3-IIA. Raytheon and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have completed the SM-3 Block IIA’s Critical Design Review (CDR), and the USA and Japan have agreed on workshare arrangements that allocate development responsibility between each country. SM-3-IIA is the key new piece in EPAA Phase 3, and the successful CDR keeps it on track for flight test in 2015.

Raytheon made the announcement at the 2013 AIAA Multinational Ballistic Missile Defense Conference in Warsaw, Poland. Sources: Raytheon, “New, Larger Standard Missile-3 Moves From Design to Testing” | Raytheon, Oct 31/13 release.

SM-3 Block IIA CDR

Oct 15/13: SM-3 IB. The MDA announces its intent to award a sole source contract worth up to $3 billion to Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) for the production and integration of up to 216 SM-3 Block IB missiles, as a follow on to HQ0276-13-C-0001. This would amount to $13.88 million per missile, presumably including suitable spares and support costs. The agency would like to structure that as a 3-year multiyear procurement (MYP) over FY15-17, for up to 72 missiles per year. If that doesn’t receive congressional approval, they will fall back to an annual contract for FY15 with up to 2 pre-priced annual contract options.

The 72/year procurement rate is in line with the MDA’s April 2014 budget submission [PDF], though that document assumes a gross/weapon system unit cost of around $10.35 million for Block IB missiles (a dozen block IIAs raise the projected average cost/missile in FY2017). Even after adding ancillary costs like canisters and production engineering, it is not immediately clear why the MDA seems to seek a contract at costs higher than what it had budgeted so far, right when volumes would ramp up to full rate production rates, and as the missile is maturing as the main production weapon. It also appears the multi-year commitment is more a tool for the MDA to protect itself from budgeting vagaries, rather than to gain pricing leverage with its sole supplier. The fate of the 72 missiles planned for FY18 in the FYDP is not covered by the MDA’s contract intent.

Note that contrarily to some mistaken news reports, this is not yet an award, but rather a declaration of intent pending the availability of matching appropriations. HQ0276-14-R-0099 presolicitation.

FY 2013

SM-2 multinational buy; SM-6 Full Rate Production; SM-3-IA failure in FIT-01; SM-3-IB’s success in FTM-19 clears it for orders; GAO Report. FTM-19: SM-3-IB
(click to view full)

Sept 27/13: SM-6. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ, was awarded a $243.5 million contract modification for 89 Standard Missile-6 Block I All Up Rounds, spares, containers, and engineering services. This order launches full-rate production of the missile. $236.7 million is committed immediately, and will expire on Sept 30/13.

This contract is added to the Jan 31/13 long-lead items contract for $33.3 million for a FY 2013 total of $276.8 million, or about $3.1 million per missile. That sum compares very closely to Lockheed Martin’s PATRIOT PAC-3, which plays a similar role on land.

Work will be performed in Camden, AK (34.4%); Tucson, AZ (25.5%); Wolverhampton, U.K. (14.6%); Andover, MA (7.3%); Middletown, CA (5.3%); San Jose, CA (3.1%); Dallas, TX, (2.7%); Anniston, AL (1.5%); Clarkston, GA (1.3%); Huntsville, AL (1.1%); Andover, MA (1.1%); San Diego, CA (1.1%); and Warrington, PA (1.0%) and is expected to be complete by March 2016. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC manages the contract (N00024-13-C-5407). See also: Raytheon release, Sept 30/13.

FY 2013: 89 SM-6s launches Full-Rate Production

Sept 24/13: Industrial. DRS RSTA, Inc., Infrared Technologies, Huntsville, AL receives a maximum of $17.7 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to design, develop, and fabricate a 2-Color Focal Plane Array (FPA) for the MDA’s Advanced Technology Risk Reduction. The objective is to develop and implement a controlled dual-band, large-format, long wavelength infrared FPA manufacturing process to improve the yield for multiple lots of FPAs. If they can succeed, it would benefit a number of missile defense programs, including a very strong payoff for SM-3 Block IB and higher missiles. It would also benefit Finmeccanica’s DRS, as a premium supplier of this specialized technology.

$125,000 is committed immediately, with the rest awarded over time. Options work includes a digital FPA design, development, and fabrication effort.

All work will be performed in Dallas, TX, and Santa Barbara, CA from Sept 30/13 through Nov 30/17. This contract was competitively procured via FBO.gov, with 112 proposals received by the MDA in Redstone Arsenal, AL (HQ0147-13-C-0021).

Aug 6/13: +29 SM-3 IB. A $218.5 million sole-source, cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification exercises an option for 29 SM-3 Block IB all-up-round missiles and containers, using FY 2013 defense-wide acquisition funds. This raises the total value of the contract from $179.4 – $398 million, which represents the FY 2013 order.

These 2 orders are good news for the SM-3 Block IB, which faces an imminent full-rate production decision.

The Pentagon says that work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, but that’s just the guidance sections. Final assembly will take place in Raytheon’s new, state-of-the-art Redstone Missile Integration Facility in Huntsville, AL, with an expected completion date of Sept 30/16. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-13-C-0001, CLIN 0002). Raytheon.

Aug 6/13: +4 SM-3 IB. A $48.9 million sole-source cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification exercises an option for 4 SM-3 Block IB all-up round missiles and containers, using FY 2013 defense-wide acquisition funds. This is the add-back discussed in the July 9/13 entry, and raises the total value of its contract from $1.91 billion – to $1.958 billion.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ with an expected completion date of Sept 30/15. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (N00024-07-C-6119, CLIN 0026).

FY 2013: 33 SM-3-IBs

July 11/13: SM-3 IIA. A $57.2 million sole-source, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for SM-3 Block IIA upgrades and engineering support, using FY 2013 RDT&E finds. The total contract value rises from $1.537 billion to $1.594 billion.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through Sept 30/16. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0005, PO 0046).

July 9/13: SM-3 IB. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a somewhat confusing modification contract, so we’ll summarize in point form:

  • $48.9 million cut, along with 4 SM-3 Block IB missiles. CLIN 0016 (q.v. March 29/11 entry) will now buy 20 SM-3-IB missiles.

  • The 4 missiles could be added back later as an option, under new Contract Line Item Nimber 0026, for the same $48.9 million. If the option is exercised, it’s expected to happen in Q4 (Summer) 2013.

  • $24 million added for “resolving technical and production transition issues,” but CLIN 0016 doesn’t change its March 2011 – December 2013 timeline.

So, the overall cut is $25 million, and the contract’s total value drops from $1.933 billion to $1.908 billion, but the new option could change that to a $24 million boost. The US MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (N00024-07-C-6119, PO 0117).

May 31/13: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, AZ, is being awarded a $75.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Standard Missile engineering and technical services. These services include research and development efforts; design, systems, and production engineering; technical services; evaluation services; component improvement services; and production proofing services for missile producibility, missile production, and shipboard integration. This contract includes options that could bring its cumulative value to $316.5 million.

$33.1 million is committed immediately, using a combination of FY 2011-2013 budget lines. Of this, $1.6 million will expire at the end of FY 2013, on Sept 30/13. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (86.8%); Andover, MA (9.4%); Huntsville, AL (1.7%); Arlington, VA (1.1%); Camden, AK (0.7%); and White Sands, NM (0.3%), and is expected to be completed by December 2017. Since the Standard Missile family is Raytheon’s, this contract was sole sourced under 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1) – only one responsible source. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-13-C-5403).

May 22/13: SM-6. A Pentagon Defense Acquisition Board approves full-rate production of Raytheon’s Standard Missile-6. The current configuration is the SM-6 Block I, and the team is on track to deliver the first Full-Rate Production missile in April 2015, 3 months ahead of contract. Raytheon.

SM-6 into FRP

SM-3-IB Schedule slips
(click to view full)

April 26/13: GAO Report. The GAO looks at the MDA’s full array of programs in report #GAO-13-342, “Missile Defense: Opportunity To Refocus On Strengthening Acquisition Management.” They have a lot to say about various SM-3 programs:

SM-3 Block IB: After the Sept 1/11 failure, 2012 has been a year of fixes, while Block IB production was cut and production of the previous SM-3 Block IA was extended by 55 missiles. The May and June 2012 tests went well, but MDA experienced further difficulties completing testing of a new maneuvering component, delaying the FTM-19 flight. To keep the production line going, the FY 2013 buy of Block IB missiles was split in 2, with an initial components purchase in early 2013, and the rest to be placed after the FTM-19 test.

During 2012, the SM-3 Block IB program experienced multiple issues completing TDACS qualification tests, including a test failure in October 2012 whose root cause analysis will cost $27.5 million. Completion of qualification testing ended up slipping from late 2011 to February 2013.

SM-3 Block IIA: After the SM-3 Block IIA had its Preliminary Design Review delayed by problems with 4 components (incl. the nosecone, TDACS, and 2nd & 3rd stage rocket motors), the GAO thinks MDA did the right thing by delaying the PDR by a year and adding about $296 million to extend development. The program completed the PDR successfully in March 2012, but the TDACS thrusters that aim the kill vehicle remain an issue. Program management officials say they’re applying SM-3 Block IB program lessons learned, as DACS systems are tough problems that have often challenged SM-3 variants.

SM-3 Block IIB: The missile was effectively canceled shortly after the report, and the report explains why. See SM-3 background section, above, for more.

April 10/13: FY 2014 Budget. The President releases a proposed budget at last, the latest in modern memory. The Senate and House were already working on budgets in his absence, but the Pentagon’s submission is actually important to proceedings going forward. See ongoing DID coverage. The biggest news is the SM-3 Block IIB Next-Generation Aegis Missile’s effective termination into a technology demonstration program. Its ability to defend the USA from European bases became questionable, and its timelines were never realistic. The USA will buy the originally-planned number of land-based GBI missiles instead.

Budget totals are graphed above, and it’s also worth noting that the SM-6 missile saw multi-year production cuts. The Navy’s justification documents explain, though we suspect SM-6 production will end up stretched long beyond 2024 due to future cuts:

“SM-6 was rephased to better align with the combat systems upgrades to Destroyers and Cruisers via [Aegis] ACB-12…. Per OPNAV Direction of 11 July 2012, the Program of Record total procurement quantity for SM-6 is increased from 1200 to 1800. The estimated scheduled completion date is extended from FY19 to FY24.”

March 15/13: SM-3 IIB. Following North Korea’s 3rd nuclear test attempt, the new US Secretary of Defense announces that the USA will add 14 more ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, AK and Vandenberg AFB, CA, boosting the total number from 30 back to the 44 planned by the previous administration. At the same time, they’re re conducting Environmental Impact Studies for a potential additional GBI site in the United States.

They’re paying for this by “restructuring” the SM-3 Block 2B Next Generation Aegis Missile program, whose 2020 deployment date was never realistic (vid. April 20/12 GAO report).

Japan will continue to collaborate with the USA on the SM-3 Block 2A program, and will get a 2nd AN/TPY-2 radar on its territory. Pentagon AFPS | Full Speech Transcript | Boeing.

SM-3-IIB/ NGAM cancelled

March 11/13: Datalink. Raytheon announces that they’ve begun advanced testing of their company-funded dual-band (S/X) datalink, linking SM-3 missiles to an X-band Thales Nederland Advanced Phased Array Radar (APAR) at a shore-based Dutch facility. Dutch LCF ships have already participated in American missile defense tests as trackers, but they’d need this datalink if they wanted the full radar communication that’s needed to launch their own interceptors.

APAR active array radars are used as fire control radars by Dutch LCF and German F124 frigates, and by the new Danish Ivar Huitfeldt Class. The datalink would also help the US Navy. Their 3 new Zumwalt Class “destroyers” will use Raytheon’s SPY-3 X-band radar, but their SM-2 and SM-3 missile inventories are designed to work with SPY-1 S-band radars.

March 5/13: SM-3 support. Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IB in-service engineering support contract jumps from $594.4 million to $656.7 million, a raise of $62.3 million. Based on subsequent documents, this appears to be an early order for components etc., with the rest to follow if the next test succeeds.

They’ll work on this sole-source, cost-plus-award-fee contract through Sept 30/15, with initial funds coming from FY 2013 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation accounts. The US MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages this contract (HQ0276-11-C-0002, PO 0032).

Feb 28/13: Industrial. Raytheon announces that their new SM-6 production facility, with modern tools that include mobile robots and ultra-precise laser positioning, has delivered its 1st SM-6 all-up-round to the US Navy. See Nov 16/12 entry for more.

Feb 11/13: Block 2B – GAO Report. GAO-13-382R: “Standard Missile-3 Block IIB Analysis of Alternatives” throws cold water on the idea that the SM-3 Block 2B can defend the USA from bases in Poland or Romania. The geometry isn’t very good, and success may require a boost-phase intercept. Those are very tricky, and have limited range, because you have to hit the enemy missile within a very short time/ distance.

Some members of the military think it’s possible, at an initial estimated budget of $130 million extra. The missile may also need to grow from 21″ diameter to 27″, which will change which launchers it can fit into. Then there are other tradeoffs. Liquid propellants can boost speed, but are unsafe on Navy ships due to the fire risks. On the other hand, the middle of the North Sea offers much better missile intercept geometries, which can work after the boost phase. Maybe Block 2B shouldn’t be land-based at all, but then how big an improvement is it over Block 2A? MDA still needs to set the future Block 2B’s missile’s performance requirements and limits. Where should the tradeoffs be made?

This brings us to the GAO’s point about the MDA developing the SM-3 Block IIB under a framework that dispenses with a good chunk of the usual paperwork, including an Analysis of Alternatives. On reflection, this is more than just a bureaucratic point driven by “records show that programs doing the paperwork usually fare better.” One of the EPAA’s key underlying assumptions is now in question, and the proposed solution must now be in question as well. Is the best solution for land-based European missile defense still SM-3 Block IIB? What are the tradeoffs vs. using a system like the enhanced US-based GMD system recommended by the September 2012 NRC report (q.v.), and making Block 2B a ship-deployed missile? Without good answers regarding capability, options, and maintainability, how does the MDA pick the right winning combination among the Block 2B competitors? A full AoA could improve those answers – and hence the odds of a smart pick.

Feb 4/13: Support. A $14.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to repair, provide depot and intermediate level maintenance for, and recertify “Standard Missiles” or associated items. The contract covers the US Navy and Foreign Military Sales from FY 2013 – 2017.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (89%); Camden, AR (8%); Huntsville, AL (2%); and Andover, MA (1%), and is expected to be complete by September 2013. $5.6 million in funding from the FY 2013 “Operations & Maintenance, Navy” is committed immediately, and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year on Sept 30/13. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with the “one responsible supplier” provision of 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c) (1), as implemented in FAR 6.302-1 (N00024-13-C-5402).

Jan 31/13: SM-6. A $33.3 million cost-only contract for FY 2013 long-lead items, to support SM-6 Block I production.

Work will be performed in Camden, AR (72.6%), Andover, MA (11.5%), Wolverhampton, United Kingdom (9.8%), Tucson, AZ (2%), San Carlos, CA (1.1%), San Diego, CA (0.9%), Anniston, AL (0.7%), Middletown, CT (0.6%), Joplin, MO (0.5%), and Milwaukie, OR (0.3%), and is expected to be complete by February 2015. All funding is committed immediately, via the FY 2012 “Operations and Maintenance, Navy” budget line. This contract was not competitively procured in accordance with the “one responsible source” exemption in 10 U.S.C. 2304 (c) (1), as implemented in FAR 6.302-1 (N00024-13-C-5407).

Jan 17/13: SM-6 DOT&E. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The SM-6 is included, and the overall recommendation is blunt:

“SM-6 does not meet the flight reliability criteria established by USD(AT&L) for full-rate production…. Until reliability deficiencies are resolved, the Navy should consider issuing tactics that employ multiple missiles for certain targets [DID: because you can't depend on just 1].”

The good news is that the SM-6 has demonstrated longer downrange engagement than any SM-2. Unfortunately, current Aegis SPY-1 B/D radar and combat system can’t fully test the SM-6′s capabilities, and won’t until Aegis Baseline 9 (aka. Navy Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air) From the Sea combat system enhancements in FY 2014 – 2015. Once that back-end element is delivered, however, initial trials using multiple sensors suggest that “SM-6 battlespace will be significantly expanded.”

The bad news is that the classified deficiency noted in the 2011 report is still there, and the Navy doesn’t have a fix yet. There’s also a problem with debris and the uplink/downlink antenna, which can interfere with initial guidance. The fix hasn’t been fully flight tested, and wind tunnel testing revealed new problems with the antenna sealant material and insulation bonding. Finally, there’s an anomaly with the fuse’s Mk54 Safe-Arm Device.

Jan 17/13: SM-3 DOT&E. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E).

With respect to the SM-3′s anomaly in test FTM-15, the 3rd stage rocket motor has been redesigned, and flew successfully in test FTM-18. That stage is common to SM-3 Block IA and Block IB. The program is still trying to fully understand what went wrong in FTM-16, though, and that issue also deals with the 3rd stage motor. DOT&E wants a flight test to verify the correction for FTM-16 Event 2, which didn’t end as well as FTM-15 did.

Beyond that, they recommend that the US Navy engage a medium-range target before the SM-3 Block IB’s Full-Rate Production Decision.

Dec 14/12: Support. A $12.3 million contract modification exercises options for Standard Missile engineering and technical services, including evaluations of advanced missile configurations and advanced technology efforts.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by March 2013. All funds are committed immediately, and $2.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington DC (N00024-12-C-5400).

Nov 30/12: SM-2. A $108.8 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for SM-2 production, section level components and spares, shipping containers and associated data. It lists itself as a FY 2011 award, and Raytheon confirms that it brings the total FY 2011 contract value to more than $200 million. They also confirm that the award includes 60 SM-2 missiles, while emphasizing that well over half of the contract value is for design agent services, spare sections, and test equipment.

This contract will support foreign military sales to Australia (39.8%), Korea (19.8%), Japan (17.5%), Canada (3.2%), Germany (0.4%), Taiwan (0.2%) and the Netherlands (0.1%). That only totals 81%, so about $20.7 million/ 19.0% must be for the US military, which has committed to supporting SM-2 past 2035.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (43.5%); Camden, AR (22%); Andover, MA (16.7%); Netherlands (5.3%); Anniston, AL (2.6%); San Diego, CA (2.4%); Lebanon, NH (2.1%); San Jose, CA (1.9%); Joplin, MO (1.8%); and El Segundo, CA (1.6%); and is expected to be complete by March 2014. $8.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12 (N00024-11-C-5300). See also Raytheon.

Nov 29/12: SM-3 SDACS R&D. Aerojet-General Corp. in Sacramento, CA wins a $34.9 million contract, Aerojet to develop and test Solid Divert and Attitude Control Systems (SDACS) technologies for exoatmospheric BMD kill vehicles, which are carried by systems like the SM-3, THAAD, etc. Improved SDACS is part of the SM-3′s planned evolution, and Aerojet is just one firm receiving these awards – vid. Sept 27/12 entry.

This contract was competitively procured and the work will be performed at Rancho Cordova, CA, from December 2012 through November 2014. $3.7 million in FY 2013 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used to incrementally fund this effort. The MDA in Huntsville, AL manages the contract (HQO147-13-C-0005).

Nov 26/12: Industrial. Raytheon opens the doors of its new $75 million, 70,000 square-foot, SM-3/ SM-6 all-up-round production facility at Redstone Arsenal, AL in November 2012. Its advanced features include a fleet of 5-ton capacity laser-guided vehicles that silently move missiles around the factory, and use lasers and software to position missiles within 1/10,000 of an inch. Raytheon.

FY 2012

SM-6 production begins in earnest; SM-3 block IIA work gets big funding injection and continues with Japan; SM-6 test problems; Report examines SM-3 development. SM-2 maintenance
(click to view full)

Sept 27/12: SM-3-IIB MDACS R&D. Alliant Techsystems (ATK) Inc. of Minneapolis, MI receives a $52.8 million award to develop and test solid divert and attitude control systems (SDACS) technologies of interest to the MDA, “for use in final-stage kill vehicles.”

ATK has produced more than 165 earlier-generation solid DACS (SDACS) for the SM-3 program, but a Dec 3/12 release confirms that the work is aimed at the new SM-3 Block IIB (NGAM). The new Modular Divert and Attitude Control System (MDACS) is designed to improve the warhead-killer’s performance.

This contract was a competitively awarded procurement, and the work will be performed at Elkton, MD from October 2012 through September 2014. The contract begins with $200,000 in FY 2012 research, development, test and evaluation funds. The US MDA in Huntsville, AL manages the contract (HQO147-12-C-0016). See also ATK.

Sept 27/12: SM-2. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $14.2 million firm-fixed-price modification for SM-2 spares.

Work will be performed in Joplin, Mo. (31.6%); Tucson, Ariz. (23.5%); Minneapolis, Minn. (18.7%); Andover, Mass. (13.8%); Stafford Springs, Conn. (6.8%); and other sites below one% (5.6%), and is expected to be completed by March 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $11,738,119 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea System Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-11-C-5300).

Sept 21/12: SM-6 test. The high-altitude JLENS radar aerostat is part of a test involving the new SM-6 naval defense missile. During the test, JLENS’ fire-control radar acquired and tracked a target that mimicked an anti-ship cruise missile, then Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) was used to pass the data on to the firing ship. The missile was fired, and used JLENS’ targeting data to move into range of its own radar, before picking up the target and destroying it. Raytheon.

Aug 30/12: +19 SM-3s. A $230.3 million sole-source cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification buys 14 SM-3 Block IA and 5 SM-3 Block IB missiles. This raises the overall contract value from $1.7 billion to $1.93 billion, and raises FY 2012 orders so far to 14 Block IA and 14 Block IB missiles.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through Sept 30/14, using FY 2012 Defense-Wide Procurement funds. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages this contract (N00024-07-C-6119, PO 0102).

FY 2012: 14 SM-3-IAs, 5 SM-3-IBs

July 31/12: +9 SM-3-IB. A $77.1 million sole-source cost-plus-incentive-fee action exercises an option for 9 SM-3 Block IB AURs. This order increases the total contract value from $1.618 billion to $1.695 billion, and is funded by FY 2012 Defense Wide Procurement funds.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ from July 31/12 through July 31/13, and the MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (N00024-07-C-6119, PO 0099).

FY 2012: 9 SM-3-IBs

July 25/12: SM-3 IIA SDD Extended. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a a sole-source $925 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification, which raises the total for this FY 2010 contract from $583.4 million to $1,508.4 million. It extends and increases SM-3 Block IIA development through the Critical Design Review stage, and covers flight test support, from July 27/12 – Feb 28/17.

The SM-3 Block IIA began in 2006 as a cooperative development program with Japan, but shifts like the cancellation of the Multiple Kill Vehicle, and technical issues, have delayed the program. A restructuring plan was agreed on in September 2011, and initial flight tests won’t begin until FY 2016.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and FY 2012 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds will be used to begin funding. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0005, PO 0030). Raytheon’s release adds that the missile is “on track for a 2018 deployment date,” and says that they’ve delivered “more than 130 SM-3 variants to the U.S. and Japanese navies…”

SM-3-IIA development extended

May 10/12: SM-6 LRIP-4. A $313.8 million combination fixed-price-incentive, cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price letter contract, for Low-Rate Initial Production of FY 2012 SM-6 Block I all-up rounds, plus special tooling and test equipment, spares, and containers. $63.4 million are committed at time of award, and the rest will be used to place orders over time.

This order is a milestone for the program. FY 2012 was intended to be the shift into SM-6 Full-Rate Production, after 3 LRIP lots. This may be LRIP Lot 4, but as the order’s size indicates, this is where the transition to SM-6 production really begins for the US Navy. Numbers aren’t given, but the figure is close enough to the FY 2012 procurement budget of $356.9 million that one can assume it orders all 89 of those missiles. To date, Australia has also committed to the missile for its Hobart Class destroyers.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (46%); Camden, AR (24%); Andover, MA (6%); Wolverhampton, United Kingdom (6%); Huntsville, AL (4%); Dallas, TX (4%); Hanahan, SC (3%); Anniston, AL (3%); San Jose, CA (2%); and Middletown, OH (2%), and is expected to complete by March 2015. This contract was not competitively procured, as Raytheon is the sole qualified producer for Standard Missile (N00024-12-C-5401). The Raytheon release doesn’t add anything.

FY 2012: 89 SM-6s

May 9/12: FTM-16E2a – Block IB success. For “FTM-16, Event 2a”, the missile was fired from the guided missile cruiser Lake Erie [CG 70] using the new AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 hardware and software, and the missile used its new 2-color infrared seeker to track and intercept the target. Overall, this is the 20th successful SM-3 intercept, but the Block IB had failed the previous FTM-16 firing test (vid. Sept 1/11). Wes Kremer, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems’ Air and Missile Defense Systems product line, offers a quick update:

“Raytheon has delivered more than 130 SM-3 Block IAs ahead of schedule and under cos… We are on track to deliver the SM-3 Block IB to the nation by 2015 for deployment at sea and ashore.”

It’s a big moment for the missile. See: US MDA | Lockheed Martin | Raytheon.

FTM-16E2a: SM-3-IB test successful

SM-3 programs
in FY 2011
(click to view full)

April 20/12: GAO report The US GAO releases “Opportunity Exists to Strengthen Acquisitions by Reducing Concurrency.” That bland-sounding title has a lot to say about the Pentagon’s SM-3 missiles, as it reviews the events of FY 2011 and looks at each variant.

SM-3 Block IA: Production was supposed to end in 2009, but Block IB failures led to 41 FY 2010-2011 orders, and may lead to more in FY 2012. The problem with further Block IA orders is an anomaly in test FTM-15. The test still succeeded, but it was serious enough that deliveries were frozen until the problem is fixed. At the time of the GAO’s report, 12 missiles were awaiting delivery (GAO says about 10% of the operational fleet), and at least 7 missiles will need modifications.

SM-3 Block IB: The 2015 political schedule for deploying a European Missile defense is forcing a lot of the program’s overlap between development, testing & production. For instance, the program began production of SM-3 IB interceptors before resolving development issues with the kill vehicle’s TDACS propulsion. TDACS failed qualification testing in early 2010 and required a redesigned propellant moisture protection system, but the version used in the failed FTM-16E2 flight test in 2011 wasn’t the same as approved production design. TDACS is expected to complete qualification testing in 2012, barring further problems, and various issues continue to delay production. After the FTM-16 E2 test failure, FY 2011 orders were cut, and most of those missiles (18/25) are now slated for testing. Those issues aren’t fully resolved, and the Block IA’s FTM-15 test anomaly is also a problem, since the affected system is shared with the Block IB. A decision must be made on the planned FY 2012 order for 46 missiles, even though testing may need until 2013. The MDA wants to buy 472 SM-3 Block IBs by 2020.

SM-3 Block IIA USA/Japan: While this is still technically an “SM-3,” the GAO correctly points out that this 21″ diameter missile will have very little in common with the Block IB. A September 2011 program rescheduling has helped, and an issue with nosecone weight seems to be settled. At the end of FY 2011, however, there were still technical difficulties with the 2nd and 3rd stage rocket motors, and the alternate propellant picked for the new “high-divert” DACS system may offer less kill vehicle performance than hoped.

SM-3 Block IIB NGAM: Being pursued as a competitive program, with 3 design vendors and multiple technology development contracts for key technologies. The GAO is also concerned about concurrency here, as the summer 2013 product development decision will occur before the March 2015 Preliminary Design Review. They add:

“Based on the experience of other SM-3 interceptors, the program must commit to produce flight test interceptors 2 years before the March 2016 first flight. However, this timeline means the commitment to a flight test vehicle would occur a year before the SM-3 Block IIB PDR [in March 2015] has confirmed that the design is feasible and more than a year and a half before CDR has confirmed that the design is stable.”

Key progress report

March 21/12: SM-3. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $120 million contract ceiling increase for SM-3 design and engineering, in service engineering support, production engineering and obsolescence, surveillance and flight test support, and transition to production. The change increases the contract’s maximum value from $689 million to $809 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through Sept 30/15. FY 2012 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used to incrementally fund this initial effort. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-11-C-0002, PO 0017, contract line item number 0003).

Jan 19/12: SDACS. Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Inc. in Minneapolis, MN receives a $13.5 million contract modification to “develop and test Solid Divert and Attitude Control Systems (SDACS) technologies of interest to the Missile Defense Agency.”

This contract represents part of the MDA’s technology development strategy to improve performance and reduce risk for BMD interceptor divert and attitude control systems, which maneuver missile kill vehicles to hit their target in space. ATK’s SDACS is associated with the SM-3 program’s LEAP(Lightweight Exo-Atomspheric Projectile) Kinetic Kill Vehicle, but similar kil vehicles are also used in the land-based THAAD (Boeing liquid DACS) and GBI/GMD (Raytheon/Aerojet EKV) programs. Depending on the technologies tested, there may be spinoff benefits.

The original contract was a competitively awarded procurement. Work will be performed at Elkton, MD, from February 2012 through December 2012, with $800,000 in FY 2012 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds as opening funding. The MDA, Huntsville, AL manages the contract (HQOI47-11-C-0003).

Jan 17/12: DOT&E & SM-6. The Pentagon releases the FY2011 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The SM-3 and SM-6 are included.

For the SM-3, the DOT&E report has little to say. The SM-3 Block IA system is stable, and continues to show progress. There was an anomaly in the SM-3 Block IA interceptor’s flyout during test FTM-15, but it achieved intercept. FTM-16 Event 2 saw a failure by the new SM-3 Block IB. Both incidents are still under investigation.

The SM-6 completed IOT&E flight testing in July 2011, but was assessed as not operationally effective or suitable yet. On the plus side, it showed strong range, and performed well against low-level, maneuvering, and ECM(electronic countermeasure) protected targets. On the other hand, it succeeded in only 7 of 12 intercepts, and those weren’t in an “objective operational environment.” Two missions failed due to fuze-related anomalies, 2 missions were in-flight hardware failures, and 1 was a failure of the missile navigation system.

There were 2 classified performance anomalies that DOT&E believes should have been uncovered in developmental testing, and 2 more anomalies (antenna debris, MK54 safe-arm device) that were found but not fixed, with effects on the test results. The DOT&E wants corrective action on the problems, more flight tests, and an IOT&E test plan for SM-6′s full over-the-horizon capability when Aegis Capability Baseline 12 and the NIFC-CA sensors are fielded after FY 2014.

Dec 8/11: SM-3 IB. A $35 million sole-source modification to Raytheon’s cost-plus-incentive-fee SM-3 Block IB contract, to buy materials and assemblies used in those missiles from December 2011 – May 2012. This raises the contract’s total value to $1.604 billion. The period of performance for this contract action is from December 2011 through May 2012.

FY 2011 RDT&E funds will be used to fully fund this effort. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (N00027-07-C-6119).

Nov 15/11: SM-3 IIA. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a sole-source, $241 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification, including options, which brings the total contract to $575.6 million. In exchange, they’ll offer engineering services and material for systems engineering, design and development support, and initial hardware fabrication for the SM-3 Block IIA missile, including redesign of the divert and attitude control system (DACS, vid. Sept 17/11 entry).

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through March 31/12, using FY 2012 research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds. The SM-3 block IIA is a collaboration with Japan, but the Pentagon notes that this is not a Foreign Military Sales acquisition. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0006-10-C-0005). See also Sept 8/11 entry, Raytheon release.

FY 2011

SM-3 block IIB/NGAM, phase 1 R&D contracts; Datalink could expand SM-3 to new ship classes; SM-3 block IIA work continues with Japan; SM-3 block IA production continues after all, following FTM-16′s SM-3 block IB test failure; SM-3 IA demonstrates launch on remote track in FTM-15; Multinational SM-2 contract; SM-6 LRIP-3 contract; 1st SM-6 delivery. SM-3 seeker: target!
(click to view full)

Sept 23/11: FY11 SM-2s. A not-to-exceed $142.6 million cost-only contract for FY 2011′s SM-2 all-up-rounds (number not mentioned), section level components and spares, shipping containers, and associated data. This contract will provide 60 SM-2 Block IIIB all-up-rounds, along with components and spares. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (17.8%); and, under the Foreign Military Sales Program, the governments of Korea (32.4%), Japan (26.5%), Australia (21.9%), Germany (0.7%), Taiwan (0.5%), and Canada (0.2%). It includes options which could bring the total to $146.2 million.

Work will be performed in Andover, MA (37%); Camden, Ark. (36%); The Netherlands (7%); Anniston, AL (5%); Joplin, Mo. (4%); San Diego, CA (3%); Middleton, CT (3%); El Segundo, CA (3%); and Reisterstown, MD (2%). Work is expected to be complete by June 2013. This contract was not competitively procured by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC (N00024-11-C-5300).

FY 2011: 60 SM-2s

Sept 17/11: SM-3-IIA delays. Mianichi Daily News reports US notification to Japan that the SM-3 Block IIA will be delayed 2 years, because the kill vehicle needs additional testing. The USA will cover the additional costs.

The original development plan involved a 9-year effort ending in 2014, with Japan paying $1.0 – 1.2 billion, and the USA $1.1 – 1.5 billion. That will now extend to 2016, with the USA looking to deploy the new missile in 2018.

SM-3-IIA program delayed

Sept 16/11: SM-3 IA order. A maximum $285.8 million unfinalized sole-source, cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification to build another 23 SM-3 Block IA missiles. The award increases the total contract value from $1.269 billion to $1.555 billion, and appears to cancel the procurement shift indicated by the March 29/11 contract, which cut and seemingly ended SM-3 Block IA production. See also the Sept 1/11 entry, in which the replacement SM-3 Block IB missile failed its 1st intercept test.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through April 30/14. $60 million in FY 2011 defense-wide procurement funds will be used to incrementally fund this effort. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (N00024-07-C-6119, PO 0068).

FY 2011: 23 SM-3-IAs

Sept 16/11: SM-6. Another $9.1 million fixed-price incentive-fee and firm-fixed-price contract modification for low rate initial production of FY 2011 SM-6 Block I AURs. See also the $182.3 million June 21/11 entry.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (50%); Camden, AR (23%); Boston, MA (5%); Dallas, TX (4%); Hanahan, SC (3%); Anniston, AL (2%); San Jose, CA (2%); and other areas (11%), each having less than 1%; and is expected to be complete by March 2014 (N00024-09-C-5305).

Sept 13/11: DB Datalink. Raytheon announces successful testing for their prototype dual-band datalink, allowing ships that use either Lockheed Martin SPY-1/ AEGIS or Thales Nederland’s SMART-L and/or APAR radars to employ the full range of Standard Missiles, including the SM-3.

The firm cites up to 20 eligible ships, including SPY-1/ AEGIS/ MK41 VLS operators in Norway (Fridtjof Nansen) and Spain (F100); as well as APAR/ SMART-L/ MK41 radar operators in Denmark (Iver Huitfeldt), Germany (F124 Sachsen), the Netherlands (De Zeven Provincien); and closely derived S1850 operators in France (Horizon), Italy (Horizon) and the United Kingdom (Type 45).

For discussion of the issues, the opportunity, and the ships Raytheon left out, read “Raytheon’s Datalink: A New Naval Standard for the Standard?” See also June 20-21/11 entry.

Sept 8/11: SM-3-IIA. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a sole-source $48 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification, to perform SM-3 Block IIA engineering services, design and development support, and initial hardware fabrication, including continued DACS(divert and attitude control system) development work. The award raises the total contract value from $286.5 million to $334.5 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ is through Oct 31/11. FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used to incrementally fund this effort, and even though the Block IIA is a joint effort with Japan, his is not a Foreign Military Sales acquisition. The MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0006-10-C-0005, PO 0017).

Sept 1/11: FTM-16E2 = SM-3-IB fail. The first ABM test of the new SM-3 Block 1B missile does not go well, as the launch from the AEGIS BMD 4.0.1-equipped USS Lake Erie [CG-70] fails to intercept the target missile during “FTM-16, Event 2″. The US MDA is now 21/26 for SM-3 missile intercept attempts, plus one successful satellite kill.

The root cause of failure turns out to be abnormal performance in the 3rd stage, during thrust pulses for final rocket maneuver. That stage is common to Block IA and Block IB missiles, so the program decides that the least disruptive approach is to change the ship’s Aegis BMD 4 software to control the timing between pulses. There are no further problems in the next 3 SM-3 Block IB tests. US MDA | Aviation Week pre-test | GAO report explains cause.

SM-3-IB test failure

Aug 31/11: TDACS. GenCorp subsidiary Aerojet announces successful SM-3 Block 1B Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System (TDACS) ground static testing, which is short of full qualification. Aerojet is the Standard Missile’s TDACS supplier, developing the SM-3 Block IB and Block IIA systems, and doing technology research for NGAM Block IIB. Vice President of Missile Defense, Michael Bright:

“These tests confirm the readiness of the TDACS for the upcoming [Block IB] critical flight test… We look forward to a successful flight test.”

Aug 23/11: Raytheon Missile Systems Co. in Tucson, AZ receives a $9.8 million sole-source, cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. The CLIN 0008 option, “Future Upgrades and Engineering Support,” will help the MDA execute technical analysis for the Aegis BMD 5.1/SM-3 Block IIA combination, and increases the total contract value from $276.7 – $286.5 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through Sept 30/16, and will be incrementally funded by FY 2011 research, development, test, and evaluation funds. Though the SM-3 Block IIA is a cooperative program with Japan, this is not a foreign military sales acquisition. The US MDA in Dahlgren, VA manages the contract (HQ0276-10-C-0005, PO 0015).

July 6/11: DSB controversy. In an open letter, the US Defense Science Board aims to dispel impressions that they recommended against the SM-3, which by its nature is a mid-course or terminal phase interceptor:

“The DSB concluded that the Missile Defense Agency is on the right track in developing European Phased Adapted Approach (EPAA) options, including continued evolution of the SM-3 family of missiles… The DSB also examined the potential in the EPAA context for EI [Early Intercept] in regional defense against short-range missiles before threat payloads could be deployed, and concluded that this was not a viable option because of technical constraints… The fact that this form of EI is not viable in shorter-range regional applications does not imply that either SM-3 family interceptors or the EPAA concept are flawed… MDA is on the right track in pursuing this capability for national missile defense, and examining the potential application in regional defense as a function of the range of threat missiles.”

June 23/11: CRS report. The US Congressional Research Service releases the latest update of “Navy Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) Program: Background and Issues for Congress” [PDF]. Key excerpts:

“Some observers are concerned… that demands from U.S. regional military commanders for BMD-capable Aegis ships are growing faster than the number of BMD-capable Aegis ships. They are also concerned that demands from U.S. regional military commanders for… BMD operations could strain the Navy’s ability to provide regional military commanders with Aegis ships for performing non-BMD missions… Options for Congress include, among other things, the following: accelerating the modification of Aegis ships to BMD-capable configurations, increasing procurement of new Aegis destroyers, increasing procurement of SM-3 missiles, and providing funding for integrating the SM-2 Block IV BMD interceptor missile into the 4.0.1 version of the Aegis BMD system… MDA states that SM-3 Block IAs have a unit procurement cost of about $9 million to $10 million, that SM-3 Block IBs have an estimated unit procurement cost of about $12 million to $15 million, and that SM-3 Block IIAs have an estimated unit procurement cost of about $20 million to $24 million.”

June 21/11: SM-6 LRIP-3. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $182.3 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for FY 2011 low-rate initial production (LRIP Lot 3) of SM-6 Block I all up rounds (AUR), complete with storage and self-test container. The USA is buying 59 SM-6 Block I AURs, 35 instrumentation kits, spares and containers, and engineering/ design agent services.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (61%); Camden, AR (23%); Boston, MA (5%); Dallas, TX (4%); Hanahan, SC (3%); Anniston, AL (2%); and San Jose, CA (2%). Work is expected to be completed by June 2013 (N00024-09-C-5305). See also July 1/10 entry.

June 3/11: SM-3 IB. A $219.5 million cost-plus-award-fee, cost-plus-incentive-fee, and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification, finalizing work for the FTM-16 ballistic missile defense test. This finalizes the total contract at $294.5 million, which includes the engineering, development, testing, support and material necessary to deliver an SM-3 Block 1B missile; and to provide engineering support, production engineering and obsolescence, surveillance and flight test support, and travel during the 55-month (about 4.5 year) performance period.

FTM-16 is scheduled for late summer 2011. It will demonstrate the new AEGIS BMD 4.0.1 fire control standard mounted in USS Lake Erie [CG 70], in conjunction with the 1st flight test of the SM-3 Block IB interceptor. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ through Sept 30/15, and about $32 million in FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds will be used. The MDA at Dahlgren Naval Base, VA manages this contract (HQ0276-11-C-0002). See also US MDA testimony to HASC [PDF].

May 27/11: SM-3 IIB R&D. GenCorp subsidiary & rocket propulsion specialist Aerojet announces 2 contracts to develop key technologies required for the SM-3 Block IIB Next-Generation Aegis Missile.

That’s still in competition, and will be for a while, but Aerojet will work to develop improved high-performance, lightweight propulsion components for the missile’s upper stage, and also for the final Kill Vehicle’s maneuvering Divert and Attitude Controls. At this stage, however, it’s extremely preliminary stuff. They’ll identify key propulsion technologies, define and conceptualize propulsion components, and conduct limited testing to provide characterization data. Even prototyping won’t take place until the next stage.

May 26/11: SM-3 IA R&D. A $110.7 million cost-plus-award-fee modification, resulting in a new cumulative contract value of $276 million for SM-3 Block IIA engineering and development. The modification will extend contract line item number (CLIN) 0001 period of performance to from May 1/11 through Sept 30/11, the end of fiscal 2011.

FY 2011 RDT&E (research, development, test and evaluation) funds will be used for this effort with $20 million provided at time of award (HQ0276-10-C-0005, PO 0011). This announcement repeats a May 11/11 Pentagon notice.

April 26/11: SM-6 1st delivery. Raytheon announces that they’ve delivered the 1st SM-6 missile to the US Navy. Raytheon’s Air and Missile Defense Systems product line VP Frank Wyatt implies that the delivery actually took place in March, when he says that:

“Five years ago, Raytheon promised the U.S. Navy that SM-6 would be delivered in March 2011, and we delivered on that promise… and met cost expectations for system development and demonstration.”

SM-6 delivery

April 15/11: FTM-15. Flight Test Standard Missile-15 (FTM-15) fires an SM-3 Block 1A missile against an intermediate-range (officially, 1,864 – 3,418 miles) target, based on AN/TPY-2 ground-based radar data, before the USS O’Kane (DDG 77, equipped with AEGIS BMD 3.6.1) could pick the target up using its own radar. Initial indications are that all components performed as designed, and the missile recorded the 21st successful AEGIS BMD intercept in 25 tries.

The target missile was launched from the Reagan Test Site, located on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, approximately 2,300 miles SW of Hawaii. The AN/TPY-2 radar, which is also used as part of the THAAD missile system, was located on Wake Island, and crewed by Soldiers from the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command. It detected and tracked the missile, then sent trajectory information to the 613th Air and Space Operations Center’s C2BMC (Command, Control, Battle Management, and Communications) system at Hickam Air Force Base, HI. That was relayed to USS O’Kane, sailing to the west of Hawaii, which launched the SM-3-1A missile about 11 minutes after target take-off. O’Kane’s own AN/SPY-1 radar eventually picked up the incoming missile itself, and controlled the missile until impact.

FTM-15 was less dramatic than the SM-3′s 2008 satellite kill, but it’s equally significant. Launch on remote track was supposed to wait for AEGIS BMD 5.1, and SM-3 Block IB was supposed to begin addressing IRBMs, with full capability only in SM-3 block II. Instead, the test also combined to extend the current system’s proven capabilities, while validating the difficult connections that make a missile defense system more than the sum of its parts, and proving out an important early warning element (STSS satellites) in the system. US MDA | Lockheed Martin | Raytheon | Lexington Institute.

April 12/11: SM-6. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $17.7 million fixed-price incentive-fee contract modification to get ready for SM-6 production. It includes incorporation of pre-production materials and support required for FY 2011 production of “all up rounds,” i.e. missiles and smart canisters.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by June 2013. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC manages the contract (N00024-09-C-5305).

April 7/11: SM-3 IIB/ NGAM Phase 1. The MDA announces a trio of Phase 1 cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts to work with MDA on the Next Generation AEGIS Missile/ SM-3 Block IIB. The firms will perform concept definition and program planning, offer their competing visions for viable and affordable missile configurations, conduct trade studies, and define an executable development plan. This contract was competitively procured via publication on the Federal Business Opportunities website, and received 4 proposals. Based on previous releases, it would appear that Northrop Grumman is the odd firm out (vid. Nov 10/10 entry). Winners included:

Boeing in Chicago, IL wins a $41.2 million contract. Work will be performed in Huntsville, AL, through December 2013, and $1.4 million in FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used as incremental funding (HQ0147-11-C-0007). Boeing’s core theater missile defense offering is the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense program, run with key team members Orbital Sciences and Northrop Grumman.

Lockheed Martin Corp. in Bethesda, MD wins a $43.3 million contract. Work will be performed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA, through December 2013, and $1.4 million in FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used as incremental funding (HQ0147-11-C-0008). Lockheed Martin’s core theater missile defense offering is the THAAD interceptor, and there has been talk of expanding it to a longer-range 21″ diameter weapon. Lockheed Martin’s release touts their lead roles in the AEGIS BMD 5.1 combat system and Mk.41 launcher, which will be used with the land and sea-based SM-3 Block IIBs. This contract was also announced on May 6/11; that announcement was a duplicate.

Current SM-3 incumbent Raytheon Co. in Waltham, MA wins a $42.7 million contract. Work will be performed by Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, through December 2013, and $1.4 million in FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used as incremental funding (HQ0147-11-C-0009). See also Raytheon’s release notes that “Raytheon has delivered more than 130 SM-3s ahead of schedule and under cost as part of its contract with the Missile Defense Agency.”

SM-3 Block IIB/ NGAM, Phase 1

March 29/11: Shift to the SM-3 Block IB. The MDA takes with one hand, and gives with the other.

Contract #N00024-07-C-6119, CLIN 0004 cuts $72.3 million in funding from the SM-3 Block IA, ordering 18 missiles for $157.6 million instead of 24 missiles for $229.9 million. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and will take place from March 2011 through April 2012. This identical change was announced on March 22/11 as well. The MDA tells DID that the original plan was to go to 12 missiles, but Congress added funding for another 6 in the FY 2010 budget/supplemental rounds.

On the other hand, CLIN 0016 for the same contract pays $312.7 million to finish SM-3 Block IB development, and order 24 missiles. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and will take place from March 2011 through June 2013. FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) funds will be used to incrementally fund $47.8 million of this order – but the Block IB’s days as a development project are numbered. It’s about to become the main production weapon. See also Raytheon release. The GAO-12-486 report notes that this purchase of 24 Block IB missiles was later canceled.

March 3/11: SM-3 IB. The MDA announces a $75 million sole-source cost-plus-award-fee contract to Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ to support flight test mission 15 involving an SM-3 Block 1B missile, and deliver the SM-3 Block 1B missile for FTM-16. This undefinitized contract action will award contract lines items for in service engineering support and travel, and will also cover engineering development, testing, support and necessary materials.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ from February 2011 through May 2011, and $20 million in FY 2011 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) funds will be used to incrementally fund this effort (HQ0276-11-C-002).

Dec 29/10: SM-3. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $24.4 million cost-plus-award-fee modification, exercising an option to provide continued systems engineering and development of the Standard Missile-3.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ from Jan 1/11 through Jan 31/11. FY 2011 research, development, test and evaluation funds will be used to obligate $5 million to provide the initial funding for this effort. The MDA manages this contract (HQ0276-08-C-0001).

Nov 29/10: The US Navy’s PEO-Integrated Warfare Systems issues a readiness and sustainment contract to BAE Systems, to establish and maintain the ship interfaces for the Standard Missile family. That includes, but is not exclusive to, the Mk41 vertical launch systems carrying the missiles. These services include systems and software engineering, systems integration, testing, and computer-aided design. The contract has a 1-year base period, with up to 4 one-year options. If all options are exercised, it will be worth $60 million. Work will be conducted at a BAE Systems Support Solutions facility in Rockville, MD, and at customer sites in Tucson, AZ and around the world.

Under the same contract, the company also works with the Navy to support Standard Missile family interfaces for Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and Taiwan. BAE Systems.

Nov 22/10: Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $70 million contract modification for FY 2011 Standard Missile program engineering and technical services. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and the option will expire in January 2012 (N00024-09-C-5303).

Nov 10/10: NGAM/ SM-3 IIB. SM-3 Block IIB won’t be sole-sourced to Raytheon. Several firms have submitted proposals to the MDA under its “Next-Generation Aegis Missile” program, a.k.a. SM-3 Block IIB, which aims to provide early intercept capability against intermediate- and long-range (IRBM/ICBM) ballistic missile threats. The new missile will integrated with AEGIS BMD 5.1 equipped ships (4.0.1 is the most advanced version in current ships), and the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, both ashore and at sea.

Competitors beyond Raytheon include Boeing (GMD background), Lockheed Martin (THAAD), and Northrop Grumman (KEI). A 32-month concept definition and program planning phase will begin in 2011 to define design objectives, conduct trade studies, establish a technical baseline, and develop an executable program plan. A competitive product development phase will follow, but the SM-3 Block IIB missiles aren’t expected to be available before 2020. FedBizOpps Pre-Solicitation | Boeing | Lockheed Martin | Northrop Grumman | Brahmand.

Nov 5/10: A $34 million contract modification, exercising an option for R&D engineering and technical services to support the standard missile program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by December 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00024-07-C-5361).

FY 2010

SM-3 block IIA work continues with Japan; Pointed debate – is SM-3 a flawed concept?; R&D for early intercept investigation re: SM-3; New Mk.125 warhead for SM-2 and SM-6 missiles; SM-6 LRIP-2 contract; SM-6 risks, cost increases; Upgraded Australian FFG-7 frigate fires SM-2; New missile production facility at Redstone Arsenal, AL. SM-3 Block IA
from USS Decatur
(click to view full)

Sept 23/10: SM-2 spares. A $5.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for FY 2010 SM-2 common production spares. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by December 2012. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10 (N00024-09-C-5303).

Sept 10/10: SM-1 support. A $60.5 million contract modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5341) for Standard Missile-1 (SM-1) core support, missiles, spare components and parts to Taiwan (98%) and Italy (2%). This contract modification will provide for the procurement of 1 SM-1 Block VI-B inert operational missile, 407 MK 56 regrained dual thrust rocket motors (DTRMs), and 1 option to procure an additional 3 DTRMs.

Work will be performed in Camden, AR (45%); Sacramento, CA (45%); and Tucson, AZ (10%). Work is expected to be complete by August 2013.

Sept 8/10: SM-3-IIA R&D. A $165.2 million cost-plus-award-fee with technical/schedule performance incentive contract, covering SM-3 Block IIA Preliminary Design Review efforts. This may include engineering services and material for systems engineering, design and development support, and initial hardware fabrication for the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA missile.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by March 31/11. FY 2010 RDTE(Research, development, test and evaluation) funds will be used to for this effort, with initial incremental funding of $40 million (HQ0276-10-C-0005). Raytheon release.

July 19/10: Industrial. Raytheon announces plans to build an all-up-round Standard missile production facility at the US Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL. The 70,000-square-foot facility will be for final assembly and testing of SM-3 and SM-6 missiles. Construction will begin in 2010.

July 1/10: SM-6 LRIP-2. A $65.3 million contract modification for low-rate initial production of FY 2010 SM-6 ERAM Block I all-up-rounds, instrumentation kits, design agent services, spares and containers.

Raytheon informs DID that there are actually several contracts involved, worth up to $368 million. They finalize FY 2009 (Low Rate initial Production Lot 1) work for 19 missiles under an existing letter contract, award FY 2010 (LRIP-2) production of 11 missiles plus spares pending Congressional clearance, and add an option for 59 LRIP Lot 3 missiles in FY 2010, as the firm moves to ramp up to full production in 2012. System and design engineering efforts are also part of these awards. See also May 20/10 contract for long-lead items.

Raytheon will deliver the first missiles in early 2011, with initial operational capability set for March 2011. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (50%); Camden, AR (23%); Boston, MA (5%); Dallas, TX (4%); Hanahan, SC (3%); Anniston, AL (2%); San Jose, CA (2%); and other locations (11%). Work is expected to be complete by December 2012 (N00024-09-C-5305). See also Raytheon.

FY 2010: 11-70 SM-6s

May 24/10: SM-3 R&D. A $182.6 million cost-plus-award-fee modification for Raytheon to continue systems engineering and development for new SM-3 variants.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, from May 2010 through December 2010. FY 2010 Research, development, test and evaluation funding will be used to incrementally fund this effort in the amount of $56.2 million. The MDA manages this contract (HQ0276-08-C-0001).

May 20/10: SM-6 lead-in. A $7.2 million fixed-price incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded contract, buying long-lead materials for FY 2010 production of SM-6 Block I all up rounds.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by June 30/12 (N00024-09-C-5305).

May 17/10: SM-3 dispute. The New York Times runs an article critical of the Navy’s SM-3 program. “Review Cites Flaws in U.S. Antimissile Program” alleges that the MDA’s definition of “successful intercept” is essentially fraudulent, because it does not require a direct hit on the warhead, and cites instances in 1991 where a hit on the missile still resulted in a warhead landing and detonating. They also claim that the technologies used cannot reliably pick the warhead out from simple countermeasures, from “chuffing” rockets to debris fields. Instead of 84% test intercept success, the paper argues that the figure should be 10-20%. Dr. Postol, a former Pentagon science adviser who forcefully (and correctly) criticized the performance of the Patriot system in the 1991 Persian Gulf war, is categorical:

“The system is highly fragile and brittle and will intercept warheads only by accident, if ever.”

The military does not often refer to Wile E. Coyote in public responses, but it does here. The MDA adds that the NY Times chose not to publish extremely relevant information they had been given, in order to push the paper’s version of the story. Excerpts:

“…whether it’s a unitary target or a separating target – [the impact] completely obliterates the warhead and the missile and spreads a debris field along the path of the original trajectory… pieces that… we’ve seen after and intercept, some of them have only been maybe two or three inches across. Even in the case of the satellite that we had to shoot down, there was nothing larger than a football… contrary to what Doctors Postol and Lewis said, after being hit, the – well, the interceptor does not pass through the body of the – of the target missile. That’s akin to, you know, Wile E. Coyote running through a glass or plate glass and leaving the exact outline of his body after he goes through.”

The MDA adds that Postol & Lewis made their assessment without any access to the base data that showed “the complete destruction” of the target missiles, adding that even the public photos they cite cast doubt on their claims. Tests against unitary targets where the warhead does not separate did hit what they were aimed at. MDA also contends that the tests without warheads for the first 3 tests (FM-2/3/4) using prototype interceptors were a sensible move, reducing costs for tests that aimed only to prove that missiles could be intercepted – and did. They also point out that the NY Times was told all of these things, and chose not to publish them. In terms of the overall record, and lethality tests:

“Since 2002, a total of 19 SM-3 missiles have been fired in 16 different test events resulting in 16 intercepts against threat-representative full-size and more challenging subscale unitary and full-size targets with separating warheads. In addition, a modified Aegis BMD/SM-3 system successfully destroyed a malfunctioning U.S. satellite by hitting the satellite in the right spot to negate the hazardous fuel tank… From 1991 through 2010 the MDA has conducted 66 full scale hit-to-kill lethality sled tests and 138 sub-scale hit-to-kill light gas gun tests covering all MDA interceptor types against nuclear, unitary chemical, chemical submunitions, biological bomblets and high-explosive submunition threats. Eighteen of these tests were specifically devoted to the current SM-3 kinetic warhead system.”

See: Lewis & Postol’s May 2010 Arms Control today article and PDF on MIT’s site | NY Times article | DoD roundtable audio | MDA written response | DoD Buzz | WIRED Danger Room #1 | WIRED Danger Room #2.

May 10/10: A $54.3 million cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to deliver SM-3 Block IA spares common and unique material for U.S. and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) manufacturing. The purchase will use $15 million of FY 2010 Research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) funding, and $7.9 million of FY 2010 Foreign Military Sales monies, to incrementally fund this effort in the amount of $22.9 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ from May 2010 through March 2011. The MDA manages this contract (N00024-07-C-6119).

May 3/10: Raytheon announces that its SM-6 ERAM missile will begin sea-launched flight testing this month. This would represent an acceleration of the program, based on the GAO’s March 30/10 report. According to Raytheon, the SM-6 is on-time and on-budget, despite the April 1/10 SAR report’s noted increases. Asked by DID about this divergence, Raytheon replied that:

“The report referenced projects costs (including government costs) to manage the program through 2019. We stand by our statement that Raytheon Missile Systems SM-6 is on schedule and on budget through five years of System Development and Demonstration.”

The firm believes that they are on track to achieve the SM-6′s Initial Operational Capability milestone in 2011, with 5 successful land-based flight tests and manufacturing now in low rate initial production.

April 9/10: A $6.5 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-5374) for 6 more SM-2 all-up-round (AUR) missiles; AN/DKT-71A telemetric data transmitting sets; 10 guidance section spares, 9 SCU spares, 36 shipping containers, 30 battery spares, 1638 Innovasic chips; and associated data.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (74%); Andover, MA (18%); Camden, AR (5%); and Farmington, NM (3%); and is expected to be complete by December 2010.

April 1/10: The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. The SM-6 program is listed, due to cost increases:

“Program costs increased $645.6 million (+10.8%) from $5,954.4 million to $6,600.0 million, due to an increase in known missile component costs and refinement of the production cost estimate (+$563.8 million), an increase to fully fund initial spares (+$225.3 million), and a stretch-out of the procurement buy profile from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2019 (+$30.6 million). These increases were partially offset by the application of revised escalation indices (-$174.4 million).”

SAR: SM-6 cost increases

March 30/10: GAO report. The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. The SM-3 and SM-6 missile programs both come in for comment:

“The Aegis BMD program is putting the SM-3 Block IB at risk for cost growth and schedule delays by planning to begin manufacturing in 2010 before its critical technologies have been demonstrated in a realistic environment. This risk has been deemed acceptable by the MDA… Prototypes of these four critical technologies – the throttleable divert and attitude control system [TDACS], all reflective optics, two-color seeker, and kinetic warhead advanced signal processor – have not completed developmental testing in a relevant environment. Aegis program officials told us that the integrated ground test would not be completed until late 2010. In addition, the first target intercept flight test will not occur until the second quarter of fiscal year 2011… Aegis BMD program officials… stated that the SM-3 Block IB full rate production decision is scheduled for 2012 – after several flight tests. The procurement that is mentioned in this report is for test rounds to conduct developmental and operational flight testing… may also be deployed if a security situation demands…

“The Aegis program completed the system design review for the Block IIA in fiscal year 2009 after a delay of over 5 months. The first operational test of the Block IIA is planned for the third quarter of fiscal year 2014.”

“Land-based [SM-6 ERAM] developmental flight tests against targets representing anti-ship cruise missiles were successful. However, during a developmental test in January 2009, the SM-6 missile failed to launch. Post-test failure investigation identified an issue with the tactical seeker batteries which caused mission computer failure. The contractor implemented corrective actions… in August 2009 it was retested successfully. The SM-6 has not yet been flight tested at sea. As of January 2010, the first operational flight test at sea is scheduled for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010, following a series of… tests (DT / OT) scheduled to begin in the second quarter of fiscal year 2010… The SM-6 program is pursuing a concurrent testing and production strategy that could result in costly retrofits and schedule delays if unexpected design changes are required as a result of testing… the program has not yet flight tested the SM-6 at sea or tested one key capability – receiving in-flight updates from another Aegis ship (engage-on-remote).”

Feb 16/10: A $143.9 million modification covering FY 2010 production of SM-2 all-up-round missiles, missiles serviced under the service life extension program, section-level spares, post production spares, shipping containers, and associated data.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (74%); Andover, MA (18%); Camden, AR (5%); and Farmington, NM (3%). Work is expected to be complete by December 2012 (N00024-09-C-5301).

FY 2010: SM-2s

Feb 2/10: BAE Systems Technology Solutions and Services, Inc. in Rockville, MD receives a $9.1 million cost-plus-fixed fee contract for continued design agent and technical engineering support to the Standard Missile Program’s Weapons Direction Systems. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $12.2 million.

This contract combines purchases for the US Navy (24.7%), the government of Australia (73.6%) as a Foreign Military Sales Program and the governments of Germany (0.8%) and the Netherlands (0.9%) under Memoranda of Understanding (MOU). Work will be performed in Rockville, MD (85%) and Sydney, Australia (15%), and is expected to be complete by May 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $147,157 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-10-C-5345).

Jan 14/10: Raytheon announces success in the SM-6′s 4th guided test vehicle launch, clearing the way for at-sea testing in 2010.

Jan 4/10: Warheads. GenCorp subsidiary Aerojet announces that it has been selected to provide the MK 125 warhead for SM-2 and SM-6 missiles, with deliveries beginning in 2010. Program management and manufacturing will take place at Aerojet’s modern load assembly and pack facility in Camden, AR. Aerojet VP of Tactical Programs John Myers said that:

“The competitive selection of Aerojet to provide this critical warhead is a clear indication that our efforts to cut costs have been effective, while continuing to provide high-quality and on-schedule deliveries. The MK 125 consolidates our position as Raytheon and the U. S. Navy’s major energetic systems provider for the SM-2 and SM-6 missiles, complementing our MK 104 and MK 72 propulsion programs.”

Dec 18/09: A $71.2 million modification, exercising options for engineering and technical services to support SM-2 production. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by June 2012 (N00024-09-C-5303).

Dec 8/09: SM-3-IIA extension. A $159.5 million modification under cost-plus-award-fee contract HQ0276-08-C-0001, contract line item number (CLIN) 0003, extending its performance period for an additional 10 months to Aug 31/10. Under this contract modification, Raytheon will continue the SM-3 Block IIA cooperative program’s technology development. Their work will be performed in Tucson, AZ.

At the time of award, $4.2 million is committed using the Missile Development Agency’s FY 2010 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds. The rest will be allocated over the contract period, as needed.

Nov 17/09: Early BMD intercept? Northrop Grumman announces a 3-month $4.7 million task order from the MDA, under an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity Joint National Integration Center Research and Development Contract. Under the Sept 29/09 task order, the firm will help the MDA integrate and demonstrate an early-intercept capability using existing SM-3 and GBI missiles.

The Early Intercept effort aims to address renewed focus by the U.S. Department of Defense on dealing with large raids and countermeasures. Early Intercept will demonstrate an integrated architecture of early warning sensors, including space, airborne, land and sea; regional fire control and battle manager systems; and secure communications. This integrated architecture will enable current systems to engage threats earlier in the battle space to improve protection against large raids and facilitate “shoot-look-shoot” opportunities.

Northrop Grumman will begin by assessing existing sensor and battle management systems’ ability to support missile interception in the difficult boost phase, including technology developed for programs like the now-canceled Kinetic Energy Interceptor and battle management projects. The firm will plan demonstration experiments, leading toward the design and development of an experimental, plug-and-play architecture for battle management, command and control.

Nov 5/09: Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $47.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5361) for engineering and technical services to support the Standard Missile program. This contract is for Round Design Agent engineering and technical services for the design integrity, and total systems integration of the missile round and its components. Work will be performed in Tucson and is expected to be complete by October 2010.

According to the DefenseLINK release, work under this modification includes “flowdown of top level requirements, predicting and monitoring missile performance and reliability, internal/external interfaces, interfaces with ship combat systems, test and packaging, handling, storage and transportation equipment, improving missile design, and maintaining the technical data package.”

FY 2009

SM-3s will be deployed on land, too; Multiple-Kill Vehicle contract cancellation hurts SM-3 block IIA program with Japan; Multi-national SM-2 contract for FY 2009-2010; SM-6 completes final development fight test, begins initial LRIP manufacturing; SM-2 block IV and IIA successfully beat a “Midway high-low” attack. SM-2 Launch w. AEGIS
(click to view larger)

Sept 30/09: FY09/10 SM-2s. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $206.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5301). It covers SM-2 related American and Foreign Military Sales buys, in FY 2009 and FY 2010 (options). The order is for 402 SM-2 all-up rounds, 40 AN/DKT-71A telemetric data transmitting sets (TDTS), section level spares, post production spares, shipping containers, and associated data.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (74%); Andover, MA (18%); Camden, AR (5%); and Farmington, NM (3%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011.

FY 2009: 402 SM-2s

Sept 29/09: Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $7 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5361) for R&D Level of effort engineering and technical services to support the standard missile program. This ceiling increase is to permit the continuation of several ongoing efforts which include prototype design, development integration and testing. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by December 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

While the announcement doesn’t specify, that kind of RDT&E is underway for the SM-3 Block 1B, SM-3 Block II, and SM-6 missiles.

Sept 29/09: Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $6.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5303) for the delivery of common spares material in support of FY 2009 SM-2 program. Common spares are those items purchased or manufactured during the production of SM-2 all up rounds. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (72%) and Camden, AR (28%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011. All contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Sept 17/09: EPAA = Land-based SM-3s. The Obama administration announces revised plans for its European missile defense architecture. Instead of positioning Boeing’s Ground-Based Interceptors, which could intercept even the longest-range ballistic missiles, they choose an architecture based around the SM-3. Read “BMD, in from the Sea: SM-3 Missiles Going Ashore” for full, ongoing coverage.

EPAA – land-based SM-3s

Sept 04/09: SM-6 LRIP-1. A $93.9 million fixed price incentive fee, firm fixed price contract to begin low-rate initial production of the FY 09 Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) Block I All Up Rounds (AURs). This contract provides for the procurement of 19 SM-6 Block I AURs, 20 SM-6 Block I AUR instrumentation kits, and SM-6 Block I spares and containers.

Raytheon will perform the work in Tucson, AZ (50%); Camden, AR (23%); Boston, MA (5%); Dallas, TX (4%); Hanahan, SC (3%); Anniston, AL (2%); San Jose, CA (2%); and other locations (11%), and expects to complete it by March 2012. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-09-C-5305). See also Raytheon release.

LRIP for SM-6

Aug 28/09: SM-6 test. Raytheon completes the SM-6′s final System Design & Development (SDD) phase flight test. By performing a series of pre-programmed maneuvers, the SM-6 missile was pushed to the limits of its performance, allowing the US Navy to gather simulation validation data. Technically, this is the 3rd SDD test. A “4th” test, which was not in the contract, was completed in May 2009: the Advanced Area Defense Interceptor (AADI) test, where an SM-6 was launched using a targeting cue from outside the “ship.”

Aug 18/09: SM-3 to land. In a presentation at the 2009 Space and Missile Defense Conference & Exhibition in Huntsville, AL, Raytheon announces that it is developing a land-based system SM-3 system that would work with THAAD’s Raytheon-made AN/TPY-2 long range radar, and could be ready as early as 2013.

The presentation states that this solution could provide Israel a near-term solution to counter ballistic missiles from Iran, given the deployment of TPY-2 radars in Israel by the US government. It is also reportedly under consideration for use in Europe as the missile component of planned deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic.

It’s no accident that this comes just as Boeing announces a “mobile GBI” proposal for Europe by 2015, and Lockheed Martin has gone farther by submitting a modified THAAD proposal to the MDA for consideration in the 2011 budget. Lockheed Martin has already invested privately funded R&D into a 21″ wide THAAD variant that would nearly double the Army interceptor missile’s range. Current SM-3s are 13.5″ in diameter, current THAADs are 14.5″, and the proposed SM-3 Block II being developed in partnership with Japan will also be 21″ in diameter. It would appear that a competition for the forward-deployed theater defense role may be brewing. Arutz Sheva | Reuters | Aviation Week re: shifts in doctrine | Aviation Week re: THAAD | Jerusalem Post re: Boeing’s “mobile GBI”.

Aug 4/09: MKV ripples. The Pentagon’s decision to cancel Lockheed Martin’s Multiple Kill Vehicle program has contributed to a big jump in the cost of Raytheon’s SM-3 IIA interceptor system now under development with Japan. The system is now expected to cost $3.1 billion by the time it is deployed in 2014, an increase of $700 million over earlier $2.4 billion estimates. Since the change lies entirely on the American side, the USA is expected to shoulder the extra costs. AIA SmartBrief | Aviation Week | NTI Global Security Newswire.

MKV program kill hits SM-3-IIA

Aug 4/09: Colin Clark of DOD Buzz publishes a short video interview with Raytheon VP of advanced missile defense and directed energy Mike Booen. The interview took place at the 2009 Paris Air Show, and the topic is the $50 million FY 2010 US military budget request to study land-based SM-3 deployment.

July 16/09: SDACS. Aerojet General Corporation of Rancho Cordova, CA received a modification for $5.6 million under cost-plus-fixed-fee contract #HQ0006-08-C-0006. They will design and test prototype solid propellant divert thruster components, a composite solid propellant gas generator, and case structure as part of the SM-3 Block IIA development program. Block IIA is the next generation “high divert” variant, which will combine a wider, longer-range missile with a larger diameter kill vehicle that’s more maneuverable and carries a better seeker.

Work will be performed in Rancho Cordova, CA from Ju1y 1/09 – March 29/10. So far, $3.9 million is committed using FY 2009 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds. The MDA manages this contract (HQ0006-08-C-0006).

July 13/09: SM-3 Block IB CDR. Raytheon announces that the Standard Missile-3 Block IB program has completed its critical design review, clearing the way for a 2010 flight test and deployment.

The release also includes dates for the SM-3′s 12 successful hit to kill interceptions so far.

SM-3 IB CDR

May 28/08: FY09 SM-2s. An $87.2 million cost-reimbursable-letter contract to buy long lead material in support of the FY 2009 production of SM-2 Block IIIB all up rounds (AURs). These long delivery lead-time materials will support buys of 50 American SM-2 Block IIIB AURs, 104 Block IIIB ORDALT missile rounds, and 69 SM-2 Block IIIA/B AURs for international customers.

Raytheon will perform the work in Andover, MA (37%); Camden, AR (36%); The Netherlands (14%); St Petersburg, FL (5%); Middleton, CN (3%); El Segundo, CA (3%); and Reisterstown, MD (2%), and expects to complete it by December 2011. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-09-C-5301).

April 27/09: SM-3 – Land, ho? Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reports that the MDA has started studying a new missile defense system capable of launching the Standard Missile-3 from the ground. See also Land-Based SM-3s for Israel?

March 24-26/09: SM-2 high/low test. During the Stellar Daggers 2009 exercise, the USS Benfold [DDG-65] fires a pair of SM-2 surface-to-air missiles against 2 very different targets. A ballistic missile target was launched from San Nicolas Island, CA, while a sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile target was launched from Point Mugu, CA.

An SM-2 Block IV NT-SBT missile intercepted and destroyed the ballistic missile warhead during the last phase of its descent, while an SM-2 Block IIIA intercepted and destroyed the anti-ship missile. This was the 3rd test of the modified SM-2 Block IV’s terminal defense capability against short range ballistic missiles. US Navy | Raytheon.

March 9/09: A $30 million modification to previously awarded contract for FY 2009 engineering and technical services to support SM-2 export customers.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ., and is expected to be complete by March 2010 (N00024-09-C-5303).

Jan 12/09: A $44.3 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-07-C-5361 for engineering and technical services in support of Standard Missile research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) programs. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by December 2009.

According to the DefenseLINK release, work under this modification includes “flowdown of top level requirements; predicting and monitoring missile performance and reliability; internal external interfaces; interfaces with ship combat systems; interfaces with test and packaging, handling, storage and transportation equipment; improving missile design; and maintaining the technical data package.”

Nov 20/08: A $40 million cost-plus fixed-fee contract for engineering and technical services to support Standard Missile production programs. This contract includes options which would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $334.4 million if exercised.

This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (64%) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Program countries (36%). Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ; and is expected to be complete by November 2009 (N00024-09-C-5303).

FY 2008

SM-3 kills a satellite; SM-3 contracts & tests; Multi-national SM-2 contract; SM-6 processor replacement contract, 1st test firing; 100% Earned Value Management score for Raytheon. SM-2 Block IV:
stage separation
(click to view full)

Sept 30/08: FY08 SM-2s. A $422.6 million firm-fixed-price cost plus fixed fee contract for the 419 SM-2 All-Up-Round (AUR) missiles, 96 AN/DKT-71A Telemetric Data Transmitting Sets (TDTS), section level spares, post production spares, 265 shipping containers, and associated data. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $428.7 million. This is an international purchase that combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (22.34%) and the governments of Japan (5.75%), South Korea (37.99%), Taiwan (33.91%) and the Netherlands, (0.01%).

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (74%); Andover, MA (18%); Camden, AK (5%); and Farmington, NM (3%), and is expected to be complete by December 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $9.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-08-C-5347).

FY 2008: 419 SM-2s

Sept 5/08: EVM 100%. Raytheon Missile Systems announces a 100% score on an Earned Value Management (EVM) Systems compliance review by the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency. DCMA auditors found that the firm passed all 32 guidelines, which is currently a rare level of performance among major defense firms.

Earned Value Management is a key project management methodology used by America’s Department of Defense, and the SM-6 program was one of 2-3 programs that led the way for Raytheon. Firm sources tell DID that the US Navy encouraged Raytheon not to compromise of EVM, which helped by removing potential conflicts between customer demands and the need for training. Raytheon’s upper management also made a decision to make the financial and time investments required, in order to strengthen that capability within the firm for future projects. That commitment included monthly meetings that spend a full day conducting EVM reviews, in addition to other measures described in the release.

Raytheon EVM 100%

Sept 5/08: SM-6 test. The U.S. Navy conducted its 2nd firing test of the Standard Missile-6 extended range missile, which intercepted a BQM-74 aerial target drone. The active seeker, employing the U.S. Navy’s legacy command system, autonomously acquired and engaged the target.

Note that the SM-6 fills the short range SM-2′s role; its range is extended in comparison to the SM-2, not the longer-range SM-3. Raytheon release.

July 1/08: A $13.2 million modification to a cost plus fixed fee contract for the Processor Replacement Program, Phase I. This project will replace the data processor module that’s common to both the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-air missile and SM-6, which shares its independent radar homing technologies. The problem is that the AMRAAM Data Processor (ADP) and the Input-Output application specific integrated circuits (I/O ASIC) in the guidance section electronics aren’t manufactured any more. The electronics industry has much shorter life cycles than the military does, so the USAF is looking to replace these obsolete parts and do any redesign required.

This effort supports the US military, and foreign military sales to Greece and Taiwan. All funds have already been committed (FA8675-07-C-0055, P00012).

June 23/08: SM-6, 1st test. Raytheon announces the first test of its new SM-6 missile, launched from the Navy’s Desert Ship at the White Sands Missile Range, NM. The SM-6 successfully intercepted a BQM-74 aerial drone, using its active seeker to find and target the drone on its own.

FY 2008: 419 SM-2s

June 6/08: FTM-14: SM-2-IV NT-SBT. The USA’s AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie [CG 70] uses a modified SM-2 Block IV missile to hit a short-range ballistic missile target about 100 miles WNW of Kauai, Hawaii. FTM-14 test objectives included evaluation of: the BMDS ability to intercept and kill a short range ballistic missile target with the Aegis BMD, modified with the terminal mission capability; the modified SM-2 Blk IV missile using SPY-1 cue; and system-level integration of the BMDS. FTM-14 marks the 14th overall successful intercept in 16 attempts, for the Aegis BMD program, and the 2nd successful intercept by an SM-2 Blk IV.

The SM-2 Block IV adds a rocket booster and additional guidance technologies to the SM-2, giving it anti-ballistic missile capability at shorter ranges than the SM-3, during the last phase of a missile or warhead’s descent within the atmosphere. The program was canceled in 2001, but revived as the Near Term Sea-Based Terminal weapon (NT-SBT). This test looks to keep it going. US Navy.

SM-2 Block IV NT-SBT test success

Feb 20/08: Satellite Killer. The U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga Class AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Erie [CG 70] has participated in a number of successful ABM tests, but today was something new. A modified SM-3 Block 1A missile fired from the cruiser destroyed a National Reconnaissance Office satellite traveling at 17,000 mph, about 247 km/ 150 miles over the Pacific Ocean. The satellite was no longer working and falling out of orbit, and contained toxic hydrazine fuel that could pose a health hazard if it hit a populated area. President George W. Bush authorized the Navy to bring down the satellite, in order to avoid that scenario, and the missile appears to have hit the fuel tank itself in a very exacting shot. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen:

“What we’ve tried to do from the beginning was be as open as possible about the intention… We are taking the shot at what we hope will be an altitude that will minimize the amount of space debris that will occur. We’ve engaged governments throughout the world to tell them what our intentions are. We have been very transparent, very open in that regard.”

Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Michael Stuart noted that:

“The amazing thing about using it in this scenario is that it required alterations to not only the tracking assets involved, but also the flight characteristics of the missile itself. The orbit of the satellite was nothing like that of a missile shot from earth and designed to return to earth.”

Perhaps, but after spending $30-60 million, it worked just fine. The capability was always obvious as a potential spin-off, but the wider acknowledgment that comes with a successful test makes this an important inflection point. See also Navy photo essay | Navy satellite impact Video [MPG] | US SecDef Gates comment | Slate looks at the modification effort | The Christian Science Monitor examines the factors driving the decision | India Daily looks at the China/Russian angle | Lexington Institute analysis.

SM-3 Satellite Killer

Feb 15/08: FY08 SM-3s. A $1.016 billion cost-plus-incentive-fee sole source contract modification to manufacture 75 SM-3 block IA missile for the United States, and 27 SM-3 Block IA missiles for Foreign Military Sales “in support of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System” (N00024-07-C-6119). That almost certainly means sales to Japan, which has successfully tested the SM-3 from JS Kongo (see Dec 17/07 entry in exports section).

The principal place of performance is Tucson, AZ, but work will also be performed in Elkton, MD by major subcontractor Alliant Techsystems, and is expected to be complete by February 2012. FY 2007 research and development and Japanese Foreign Military Sales funds will be used for the initial funding, and will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The contract modification will be incrementally funded, committing $92.8 million at the outset – $85.9M FMS funds and $6.9M FY 2007 R&D funds.

FY 2008: 102 SM-3-IAs

Nov 16/07: Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, AZ received a $25.5 million cost-plus-award-fee sole source contract modification to revise the statement of work for the manufacture of 29 SM-3 Block IA missiles (20 US, 9 Foreign Military Sales) plus one set of spare sections for the AEGIS ballistic missile defense program. See the June 6/07 DSCA request in the “Foreign Military Sales” section; the 9 are destined for Japan.

The principal place of performance is Tucson, AZ. Work will also be performed in Elkton, MD by major subcontractor Alliant Techsystems and is expected to be complete by July 2008. FY 2007 research and development funds will be used, the contract will be incrementally funded, and at award it will obligate $8.5 million. Contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract (N00024-03-C-6111).

Nov 8/07: Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $37.3 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5361) for engineering and technical services in support of Standard Missile research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) programs. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $117,743 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

FY 2007

SM-3 orders from USA & Japan; Multi-national SM-2 contract; 1st SM-2 SBT/Block IV+ delivery; Co-operative defense
(click to view full)

Aug 27/07: SM-3 R&D. A $142 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for engineering and technical services for the continued missile design and development, fabrication, test, and flight test support for the SM-3 as part of the Navy’s AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System program. The contract modification will be incrementally funded, and at award will obligate $48.6 million of FY 2007 research and development funds. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by December 2007 (N00024-03-C-6111).

July 20/07: FY07 SM-2s. A $201 million firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract for FY 2007 SM-2 production requirements of 190 missiles, 121 shipping containers, spares and associated data for the US (73.12%) and the Governments of Japan (22.17%); Germany (3.28%); Spain (1.10%); and Canada (0.33%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (83%); Andover, Mass. (14%); Camden, Ark. (2%); and Farmington, N.M. (1%), and is expected to be complete by September 2009 (N00024-06-C-5350).

FY 2007: 190 SM-2s

July 19/07: SM-2 Block IV/ SBT. Raytheon announces delivery of the first Near Term Sea-Based Terminal weapon (a modified SM-2 Block IV) to the U.S. Navy for use in defending against short-range ballistic missile threats. Raytheon, the Navy and Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab partnered to update the Standard Missile 2 Block IV weapon. The idea is to use these missiles as a near term solution and supplement “until a more capable system can be fielded.

Unlike the SM-3, SM-2 SBT is aimed at the very last phase of a ballistic missile’s flight, just before impact. It will fulfill a naval role similar to the Patriot PAC-3 on land, therefore, acting as a second line of defense against incoming missiles. Raytheon release.

SM-2-IV NT-SBT delivered

May 14/07: SM-3 lead-in. A sole source $140.7 million cost contract for long-lead material required for the manufacture and delivery of 36 Standard Missile-3 Block IA missiles to meet U.S. and Foreign Military Sales requirements in support of the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System.

Fiscal Year 2007 research and development and Foreign Military Sales funds will be used. The contract will be incrementally funded, and at award will obligate $20 million FY-07 research and development and $5 million Japan Foreign Military Sales funds. Work will be performed at Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by May 2008 (N00024-07-C-6119).

April 19/07: SM-2 upgrade. Raytheon Company and the U.S. Navy announce that they have successfully completed a major update to Standard Missile-2 (SM-2). The improvement, called a “Maneuverability Upgrade,” provides SM-2 with substantially increased performance against new, anti-ship weapons. See also the April 5/06 entry below.

The team included representatives from the U.S. Navy Standard Missile program office and Naval Weapons Station/ Seal Beach and a cross-section of manufacturing and engineering employees from Raytheon Missile Systems. Raytheon release.

SM-2 finishes major upgrade

Jan 30/07: An estimated $30.6 million cost-plus award-fee contract for engineering and technical services in support of Standard Missile Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) programs. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete in January 2008. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-07-C-5361).

Dec 7/06: SM-3. A $20.6 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for the development and procurement of additional tooling and test equipment in support of the continued development and delivery of Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA missiles to meet U.S. and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) requirements in support of the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system. The work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by November 2007 (N00024-03-C-6111).

Nov 6/06: SM-2. An estimated $39.3 million cost-plus-award-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-03-C-5330, to provide additional engineering and technical services to support SM-2 production efforts for Fiscal Year 2007 U.S. requirements. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by February 2008.

FY 2006 and Earlier

SM-3 orders for USA, Japan; Boeing delivers 1st SM-3 block IA warhead; Multi-national SM-2 order; Upgraded SM-2 block IV tested. SM-3 Launch -
note rocket booster
(click to view full)

Aug 16/06: FY06 SM-3s. A $265.9 cost-plus-award/incentive fee contract modification for 29 SM-3 Block IA missiles to be produced for the United States and Japan and for flight test support, engineering activity, system upgrades and continued cooperative research and development work with the MDA and Japan. The initial delivery order is for $168 million.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by December 2009 (N00024-03-C-6111). The Japanese order may well be related to the June 5-6, 2006 item in the Foreign Sales section, below.

FY 2006: 29 SM-3-IA

Aug 4/06: Spares. An $8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-5350) for FY06 SM-2 Block IIIB, post-production spares, and FY04 SM-2 common production spares to support of maintenance and repair of shipboard missiles. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (83%); Andover, MA (14%); Camden, AZ (2%); and Farmington, NM (1%), and is expected to be complete by December 2008.

July 27/06: TDACS. Raytheon Company and Aerojet successfully demonstrate the capability of a solid Throttling Divert and Attitude Control System (TDACS) for the SM-3 in a ground test at Aerojet’s Sacramento, CA facility. Four of the 10 proportional TDACS pintle thrusters move the kinetic warhead sideways while the 6 other thrusters maintain the seeker’s angular alignment and view of the target. On-board electronic controls and software throttle the combustion pressure up and down to alternate between high thrust and coast periods. In addition to the improved intercept capability this gives the hit-to-kill payload, TDACS is also easier to produce, thus holding the potential for significant cost savings. Raytheon release.

June 22/06: As North Korea prepares to test-launch a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile reportedly capable of hitting the US mainland, the US & Japan successfully conducted a joint missile intercept test off of Hawaii using the USS Shiloh [CG 67] guided missile cruiser and its upgraded AEGIS radar & combat system, firing an SM-3 missile. The test was the 7th successful intercept in 8 tests during the current program.

The USS Lake Erie [CG 70], USS Paul Hamilton [DDG 60], & USS Milius [DDG 69] also participated, as did the Japanese Kongo Class destroyer JS Kirishima [DDG-174], which has installed AEGIS Long Range surveillance & Tracking 3.0 but no engagement capability. Testing also included receipt of target data on USS Shiloh from a land-based radar, as well as a second CG-47 Class cruiser that used the flight test to collect data and further the development of an upgraded SPY-1B radar with a new signal processor. See Navy News article | Lockheed Martin release.

June 8/06: Boeing has delivered the first Block 1A Standard Missile-3 Kinetic Warhead (SM-3 KW) to Raytheon. Boeing has been partnered with Raytheon on the SM-3 program since 1996, and is under subcontract to integrate and test the KW hardware. They are responsible for the KW avionics, guidance and control hardware and software, as well as the ejection subsystem. In addition to SM-3 round integration, Raytheon provides the KW infrared seeker, signal and image processor, and the integrated KW software. Boeing release.

May 26/06: SM-3 R&D. An estimated $424 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification (N00024-03-C-6111). It covers the continued systems engineering, design, development, fabrication, and testing of Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA and IB Missiles for the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense Program being conducted by the USA, with some cooperation from Japan. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by May 14, 2008. Initial funding of $96 million has been issued to support engineering services, engineering studies and technology development technical instruction efforts. See June 7, 2006 corporate release.

April 5/06: SM-2 SBT test. A Raytheon Company Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) Block IV with control systems upgrades was successfully flight tested against a subsonic target at White Sands Missile Range, NM on Feb. 16, 2006. The SM-2 Block IV upgrade includes a new steering control section, new thrust vector actuator assembly for the boost rocket motor and a new primary missile battery as well as upgrades to the guidance and control software. The upgrade was completed as part of a value engineering project at Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, and “will result in a significant cost reduction” by making the missiles more reliable and easier to produce. Raytheon also notes that these improvements will be applied across the Standard missile family to the SM-3 and SM-6 as well.

March 27/06: SM-6. A $9 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-04-C-5344 exercises an option for engineering and technical services to support the STANDARD missile-6 (SM-6) program. Engineering & technical services include initial performance studies, conceptual design studies, functional design, preliminary design, detailed design and development and round integration studies for potential future improvements. The Contractor shall also provide design assessments as necessary for current improvements. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (80%); Camden, AK (15%); and Andover, MA (5%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011.

AEGIS-BMD: CG-70
launches SM-3
(click to view full)

Feb 27/06: Spares. A $17.8 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-06-C-5350) exercises the United States option for the procurement of the FY06 STANDARD Missile-2 BLOCK IIIB Spares. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (83%); Andover, MZ (14%); Camden, AK (2%); and Navajo Agricultural Products Industries (NAPI) in Farmington, NM (1%), and is expected to be complete by December 2008.

Feb 15/06: FY06 SM-2s. A $122.2 million modification under a previously awarded contract exercising an option for FY 2006 production of 75 Standard Missile-2 Block IIIB All-Up-Rounds (AUR), 80 SM-2 Block IIIB Service-Life Extension Program (SLEP) Retrofits, and 125 AN/DKT-71A Telemetric Data Transmitting Sets (TDTS) with installation kits. The contract modification will also provide for royalties associated with AUR and SLEP equipment. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (83%); Andover, MZ (14%); Camden, AK (2%); and Farmington, NM (1%), and is expected to be complete by December 2008 (N00024-06-C-5350).

See also the May 4 Raytheon release. Note that “all-up-rounds” include the missile, its launch container, and related equipment that allows for rapid installation of the naval missiles in vertical launch systems.

FY 2006: 75 SM-2s

Feb 15/06: A $7.9 million option under another previously awarded Raytheon contract (N00024-01-C-5306) to provide FY 2006 Depot Level Maintenance Facility work in support of Standard Missile 2 (SM-2), Guided Missile Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (100%), and is expected to be complete by the end of September 2006 – which is also the end of the US Defense Department’s fiscal year.

Jan 18/06: Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received a cost-only contract modification that covers the procurement of long lead material and is estimated at $21.7 million. It will be used to build special tooling and test equipment for Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA Missiles for the AEGIS naval Ballistic Missile Defense program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and Camden, AR, and is expected to be complete by April 2006. This contract was not competitively awarded by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-03-C-6111).

July 20/05: FY05 SM-3s. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received a $124.1 million cost-plus-award/ incentive-fee contract modification for the continued development and delivery of 12 Standard Missile-3 Block IA Missiles in support of the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by April 2007. This contract was not competitively awarded. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C. issued the contract (N00024-03-C-6111). DID covered this along with a number of other contracts related to ballistic missile defense.

FY 2005: 12 SM-3-IA

Sept 3/04: SM-6 SDD. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $440.1 million cost-reimbursable contract with cost and technical/schedule performance incentives for the Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) of the STANDARD Missile-6 Block I/Extended Range Active Missile (SM-6 ERAM). This includes the design, development, fabrication, assembly, integration, test and delivery of flight and non-flight assets.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (80%); Camden, NJ (15%), and Andover, MA (5%), and is expected to be complete by December 2011. Initial funding in the amount of $5 million will be provided at contract award. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-04-C-5344).

SM-6 SDD

The Standard Missile Naval Defense Family: Exports & Related Key Events AEGIS Combat Control
(click to view full)

Unless otherwise specified, all contracts are issued to Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ, at the request of the US Naval Sea Systems Command. See also the above section.

With respect to Japan, the USA and Japan are working together on missile defense, continuing their efforts now that Japan has announced completion of the joint technology research stage. The plan is to have SM-3 missiles as Japan’s outer ABM layer and Patriot PAC-3s as the point defense component. Cooperating partnership contracts between the USA and Japan, and international orders with a strong American component, are listed in the American section, above.

2012 – 2014

RIMPAC 2010: USN & ROKN
(click to view full)

May 26/14: South Korea. South Korean official rule out any deployment of SM-3s for now. Defense Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok:

“We’ve never considered adopting the SM-3 missiles… Among issues under consideration is how to boost our maritime-based intercepting capabilities, but we’ve not yet reviewed any details…. Intercepting a missile in the ascending stage goes beyond what our military aims at. It is also beyond our capability…. The KAMD [land-based missile defense architecture] has been under development regardless of the U.S. system, and no changes have been made in our position.”

Planned SM-6 missiles (q.v. June 11-12/13) will give the ROKN terminal BMD intercept capabilities around 2015-2016, and that seems to be enough. The national KAMD system currently includes Israeli Green Pine long-range radars, ex-German PATRIOT PAC-2 missiles, and an AMD-Cell command and control backbone. South Korea is about to to upgrade its PATRIOT batteries to PAC-3/Config 3, and add SM-6 missiles to KDX-III destroyers. They may also field Cheolmae 4 BMD-capable missiles in future, designed in collaboration with Russia. Sources: Yonhap, “Acquiring SM-3 missiles not an option for S. Korea: defense ministry”.

July 17/13: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ, is being awarded a $19.1 million modification to previously awarded contract, covering exported Standard Missile 2/3/6 engineering and technical services. These services include research and development efforts; design, systems, and production engineering; technical services; evaluation services; component improvement services; and production proofing services for missile producibility, missile production, and shipboard integration for fiscal years 2013-2017.

$18.5 million is committed immediately. The total percentage of foreign orders is 100%: to Japan (28%), Australia (24%), Korea (21.5%), Germany (8.3%), Netherlands (8.3%), Taiwan (7%), Canada (1.7%), and Spain (1.2%). Japan already fields SM-3s, and Australia and South Korea have both expressed plans to adopt the SM-6 on their Aegis destroyers by 2017.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (86.8%); Andover, MA (9.4%); Huntsville, AL (1.7%); Arlington, VA (1.1%); Camden, AR (0.7%); and White Sands, NM (0.3%), and is expected to be complete by July 2014. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-13-C-5403).

June 11-12/13: South Korea. The Yonhap news agency quotes “a senior government official” who says that KDX-III destroyers will be armed with SM-6 missiles as of 2016, as part of an overarching Korea Air and Missile Defense System (KAMD) program. If true, that date implies a 2014 order. It also implies a future system upgrade for the ships, from a standard Aegis combat system to Aegis BMD 5.0.

The SM-6 will complement the ROK’s existing SM-2s. Unlike the SM-2s, the new missiles can be used for terminal point defense against ballistic missiles, while also providing long-range air defense against enemy fighters, cruise missiles, etc. KAMD would integrate the ROK’s Green Pine radar, PATRIOT missile batteries, naval missile defense assets, and other surveillance systems into a single “kill chain”, reducing Korea’s dependence on American help. They hope to have KAMD v1.0 ready by 2020. Yonhap | Global Post.

2011 SM-3 IA, JS Kirishima
(click to view full)

Sept 17/11: SM-3-IIA delay. Mianichi Daily News reports US notification to Japan that the SM-3 Block IIA will be delayed 2 years, because the kill vehicle needs additional testing. The USA will cover the additional costs.

The original development plan involved a 9-year effort ending in 2014, with Japan paying $1.0 – 1.2 billion, and the USA $1.1 – 1.5 billion. That will now extend to 2016, with the USA looking to deploy the new missile in 2018. Japan had planned to deploy the SM-3 Block IIA in 2020 on its Kongo Class BMD destroyers, and the question is whether that deployment will also be delayed.

SM-3-IIA delayed

Sept 7/11: Japan. Mianichi Daily News reports that Japan’s Defense Ministry has begun launching about 15 mock missiles and collecting data, in a YEN 8.2 billion (currently about $106 million) bid to boost the accuracy of detecting and tracking missiles under the missile defense plan. The operation is expected to run until the end of March 2013.

Aug 30/11: Australia. Australia’s government approves 4 new defense projects, including the A$ 100 million SEA 4000 Phase 3.2. Note that this is not a contract yet; that will take place later, under the US State Department’s Foreign Military Sales protocols.

Australia’s DoD explains that their upgraded FFG-7 Adelaide Class use SM-2 missiles configured for Rail Launch operations. Under Phase 3.2, many will be converted to the Vertical Launch configuration, for use in Australia’s Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers and their MK41 launch systems. They’ll also be upgraded to “the latest [SM-2] version”, and DID worked to clarify further; it only involves and upgrade to the latest SM-2 Block III, rather than the BMD-capable Block IV.

The Hobart Class will eventually carry the SM-6, with active guidance and final defense capabilities against ballistic missiles, but that’s slated for the early 2020s under project SEA 1360 Phase 1.

June 20-21/11: SM-3s for the Europeans? Raytheon Missile Systems VP Ed Miyashiro is telling journalists that a number of other platforms are being looked at for NATO/European ballistic missile defense and SM-3 carriage. They include ships that already carry compatible Mk.41 vertical launch systems (VLS), like the forthcoming Danish Iver Huitfeldt Class, German-Dutch F124s, and Spanish F100 frigates; and also ships with DCNS’ rival Sylver system, like the Franco-Italian Horizon Class, and Britain’s Type 45 destroyers.

The ship types with Sylver launchers are already slated to carry MBDA’s Aster-30, which has just begun land tests against ballistic missiles. In its favor, the SM-3 can cite 3 advantages: a much longer test record, the coming SM-3 Block II’s significant performance improvements, and much cheaper BMD development costs, thanks to American and Japanese advance work. Some reports even float the possibility of SM-3 Block IIB/NGAM becoming a joint American/European project, just as the IIA is an American/Japanese project.

The fleet issue would be integration. F100 frigates are the most straightforward, with the same AN/SPY-1D radars and Mk.41 VLS as American ships. The same BMD upgrade set used in American destroyers would suffice. Dutch, German, and Danish ships also carry the MK.41 VLS, but use higher-performance Thales APAR and SMART-L radars. That requires additional integration and modification work, but all 3 classes are using a shared core system that allows a common upgrade path. The British, French, and Italian ships would be the most work. While they share a similar core air defense system, they all use different radars, while sharing key electronics and DCNS’ Sylver VLS. That means both electronics work, and physical changes to the weapons array. In the latter area, Miyashiro mentions that they’re looking into the possibility of fielding SM-3 compatible inserts in DCNS’ Sylver A70 VLS, which is the required size for the 6.6 meter SM-3. Britain’s Type 45 Daring Class uses only A50 launchers, but there is space for adding the larger A70 launchers up front. Miyashiro has reportedly said that they’re also looking at the possibility of inserting the strike-length Mk.41 VLS in that location. Aviation Week | Defense News | Later coverage: “Raytheon’s Datalink: A New Naval Standard for the Standard?

May 25/11: Japan. Media reports indicate that Japan is preparing to approve U.S. export of their jointly developed SM-3 Block IIA missiles to 3rd countries, provided each export is discussed, no transfer can occur beyond the buyers, and North Korea, Iran, or any other country under UN sanctions is ruled out. The decision will reportedly be officially communicated to the United States at a June 2011 meeting. Japan plans to begin deploying the missiles itself, beginning in 2018.

It remains to be seen if the SM-3 Block IIB missile, whose design is being competed as the Next Generation AEGIS missile program, ends up avoiding the shared technologies that require this export approval. Japan Times | Defense News | UPI.

Jan 10/11: Japan. Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Japan’s government will compile criteria that would allow the United States to deploy and export SM-3 Block IIA missiles in Europe and other parts of the world, without violating the nation’s “3 principles” of not exporting weapons to communist bloc countries, countries subject to U.N. arms embargoes, or countries involved in or likely to become involved in international conflicts.

Officials from Japan’s Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Economy Trade and Industry Ministry and “other relevant government organizations” will soon start discussing how to draw up the criteria, which is expected to take about a year.

In 2004, the Koizumi government relaxed those 3 principles in order to allow joint development with the USA, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda issued a statement in December that required those exceptions to be “strictly managed.” The question is what that term will mean in practice, but one thing is clear: Japan will have the power to block SM-3 Bock II exports, and deployments, on the same technology transfer grounds that the USA has so often used with others.

2010 JS Kirishima
(click to view full)

Oct 29/10: Japan JFTM-4 test. The recently upgraded JS Kirishima [DDG-174] successfully hits a separating “1,000 km class” ballistic missile target using an SM-3 Block 1A missile, in test JFTM-4 off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii. It’s the 3rd of 4 successful SM-3 test firings for the JMSDF. America’s USS Lake Erie [GC-70] cruiser and USS Russell destroyer [DDG-59] also participated in this test, tracking the target and simulating their own intercepts.

The firing follows another test earlier this month, in which JS Kirishima acquired a separating target passed from a U.S. destroyer with her own sensors, and performed a simulated engagement. Jeff Bantle, Lockheed Martin’s vice president of Surface-Sea Based Missile Defense Systems, said that “This [live fire] test completes the planned upgrade of the Japanese navy’s destroyers with the Aegis ballistic missile defense capability.” US MDA | Lockheed Martin | Raytheon (incl. video).

Oct 26/10: Japan request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Japan’s formal request to buy 13 SM-2 Block IIIB missiles, 13 AN/DKT-71A Telemeters, conversion kits, containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, and support. The estimated cost is $33 million, and these appear to be slated for use as test missiles. The prime contractors are Raytheon Missiles Systems Company in Tucson, AZ; Raytheon Company in Camden, AR; and United Defense LP in Aberdeen, SD.

Japan has already integrated the SM-2 Block IIIB missiles into its ship combat systems, and maintains two Intermediate-Level Maintenance Depots capable of maintaining and supporting the SM-2. As such, implementation of this proposed sale will not require any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives in Japan.

DSCA: Japan SM-2-IIIB request

Oct 26/10: Australia request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Australia’s formal request to buy 17 Warhead Compatible Telemetry missiles used in missile tests, including AN/DKT-71 Telemeters and assembly kits, spare and repair parts, technical data and publications, personnel training and training equipment, and support. The estimated cost is $46 million. The prime contractors are Raytheon Missiles Systems Company in Tucson, AZ; and Raytheon Company in Camden, AR.

The proposed sale of SM-2 Block IIIB STANDARD missiles will be used for anti-air warfare test firings during Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials for the Royal Australian Navy’s 3 new Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers, currently under construction. Australia, which has already integrated the SM-2 Block IIIA, will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Australia.

DSCA: Australia SM-2-IIIA request

July 29/10: SM-3 IIA exports. Cooperative weapons programs like the SM-3 Block II come with a catch: export permissions. Japan banned exports of weapons it develops in 1967, with the USA’s 1983 blanket exemption as the only exception to date. The Japan Times reports that Washington recently notified the Japanese government that it plans to begin shipping SM-3 Block 2A missiles in 2018, and asked Tokyo to start preparing to strike export deals with third countries. The US wants a response by the end of 2010.

The SM-3 Block 2 is expected to play a significant role in European missile defense, and is also likely to attract interest from countries like Australia and South Korea. Brahmand.

Feb 26/10: South Korea. A $67.3 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5301), exercising the FY 2010 SM-2 production option of 46 SM-2 Block IIIA and 16 SM-2 Block IIIB missiles and associated data.

This contract combines purchases for the US Navy (2.07%), and the governments of Korea (96.15%), Taiwan (1.16%), Japan (0.19%) and Canada (0.43%) under the Foreign Military Sales program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (74%); Andover, MA (18%); Camden, AR (5%); and Farmington, NM (3%), and is expected to be complete by December 2012.

Korea: SM-2-IIIA/Bs

Dec 18/09: Australia SM-2 test. The frigate HMAS Melbourne fires the SM-2 Block IIIA, as an enhancement from its previous SM-1 armament. Australia’s upgraded Adelaide Class frigates are slated to add this capability, and the lessons learned may allow Raytheon to offer a more standardized upgrade package for other operators of the SM-1 missile and/or FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class Australian DoD | Raytheon.

2009 ROKS King Sejong
the Great
(click to view full)

May 27/09: South Korea request. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] South Korea’s official request for 46 SM-2 Block IIIA missiles, 35 SM-2 Block IIIB missiles, 3 SM-2 Block IIIB Telemetry Missiles for testing, 84 SM-2 missile containers, and associated test and support equipment, spare and repair parts, training, and other forms of support. The estimated cost is $170 million.

South Korea uses the SM-2 missiles on its KDX-II (SM-2 Block IIIA) and its KDX-III AEGIS (SM-2 Block IIIB) destroyers. Read “South Korea Beefs Up Anti-Air Defenses as North Blusters” for a look at this missile request in the context of South Korea’s overall defense modernization efforts, and increased tensions with North Korea.

DSCA: Korea SM-2-IIIA/B request

May 2/09: Australia. Australia’s new defense White Paper says that the forthcoming Hobart class Air Warfare Destroyers will be equipped with SM-6 missiles and Cooperative Engagement Capability, giving them some latent terminal-phase defense capabilities against ballistic missiles. The destroyers will not have the AEGIS BMD modifications to their electronics and radar, however – at least, not at the outset.

2008 Arrow launch
(click to view full)

July 16/08: SM-3 on land? Aviation Week reports that the MDA is considering a land-based variant of the SM-3, and Raytheon is examining options – largely due to specific requests from Israel.

Israel already has its own successful Arrow-2 system, and fields shorter-range Patriots. So why the sudden interest? As it happens, Israel decides later on to keep its Arrow system, but the USA thinks this is a great idea. Read “BMD, in from the Sea: SM-3 Missiles Going Ashore.”

Feb 15/08: Japan order. A $1.016 billion cost-plus-incentive-fee sole source contract modification to manufacture 75 SM-3 block IA missiles for the United States, and 27 SM-3 Block IA missiles for Foreign Military Sales “in support of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System” (N00024-07-C-6119). That almost certainly means sales to Japan, which has successfully tested the SM-3 from JS Kongo (see Dec 17/07 entry, below).

The principal place of performance is Tucson, AZ, but work will also be performed in Elkton, MD by major subcontractor Alliant Techsystems, and is expected to be complete by February 2012. FY 2007 research and development and Japanese Foreign Military Sales funds will be used for the initial funding, and will expire at the end of the fiscal year. The contract modification will be incrementally funded, committing $92.8 million at the outset – $85.9M FMS funds and $6.9M FY 2007 R&D funds.

US/Japan SM-3-IA order

2007 JS Kongo fires SM-3
(click to view full)

Dec 17/07: Japan test. The JS Kongo AEGIS destroyer [DDG-173] becomes the first Japanese ship to destroy a ballistic missile, launching an SM-3 Block 1A missile to successfully intercept a medium-range ballistic missile target fired from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii. The veteran ABM test participant USS Lake Erie [CG 70] sailed from its homeport of Pearl Harbor to participate as a secondary, using its radar to track the target.

This marks the 12th successful intercept overall for the SM-3, and the first successful ABM interception by anyone other than the US Navy. Read “Japanese Destroyer JS Kongo Intercepts Ballistic Missile” for more information, and links to news articles and reactions around the world.

Japan: 1st BMD intercept

Sept 12/07: Taiwan request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] “The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States” formal request for 144 SM-2 Block IIIA STANDARD missiles, 16 Telemetry missiles, canisters, containers, spare and repair parts, supply support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support.

The prime contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Corporation in Tucson, AZ, and although “the purchaser generally requires offsets, at this time, there are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.” The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $272 million.

DSCA: Taiwan SM-2-IIIA request

Aug 24/07: Spain request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Spain’s request for 36 SM-2 Block IIIB STANDARD missiles (36 tactical missiles with warheads), 36 MK 13 MOD 0 canisters, section-level shipping containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, training, technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $63 million. The weapons will be carried on the Spanish Navy F-100 Alvaro de Bazan Class Frigates.

DSCA: Spain SM-2-IIIB request

June 8/07: Japan request. The US DSCA announces Japan’s request for Ballistic Missile Defense upgrades to one AEGIS Weapon System (Lockheed-Martin Maritime System and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ), AEGIS BMD Vertical Launch System ORDALTs (BAE’s Mk41 modifications, Minneapolis, MN), 9 SM-3 Block IA STANDARD missiles (Raytheon in Tucson, AZ) with MK 21 Mod 2 canisters, containers, spare and repair parts, publications, documentation, supply support, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $475 million.

The intended ship is believed to be the JMSDF destroyer JS Chokai [DDG-176], which is the last of the current Kongo Class destroyers; the 5th and 6th Improved Kongo Class ships currently under construction will reportedly have AEGIS BMD capability pre-installed.

DSCA: Japan AEGIS BMD + SM-3-IA request

May 25/07: Japan request. The US DSCA notifies Congress [PDF] of Japan’s request for 24 SM-2 Block IIIB Tactical STANDARD missiles with MK 13 MOD 0 canisters; 24 AN/DKT-71A telemeters and conversion kits; containers; spare and repair parts; supply support; U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support. The SM-2 missiles will be used on ships of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force fleet and the total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $40 million.

Japan has already integrated the SM-2 Block IIIB into its ship combat systems and maintains two Intermediate-Level Maintenance Depots capable of maintaining and supporting the SM-2. The missiles’ prime contractor is Raytheon Company in Tucson, AZ and the MK 13 Mod 0 canister’s prime contractor is BAE Systems of Minneapolis, MN. There are no offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale, and implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Japan.

DSCA: Japan SM-2-IIIB request

April 20/07: South Korea request. The US DSCA announces South Korea’s request for 150 SM-2 Block IIIB Tactical STANDARD missiles, 60 SM-2 Block IIIA Tactical STANDARD missiles with MK 13 Mod 0 canisters, 1 inert Block IIIB Tactical STANDARD missile, spares, intermediate-level maintenance activity section-level shipping containers, test equipment, hardware/software upgrades, test and support equipment, supply support, training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related logistics support

South Korea already has these missiles in inventory, and the total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $372 million. Industrial offset agreements associated are expected as part of the contract, and will be negotiated between the South Koreans and Raytheon Systems in Tucson, AZ. See DSCA release [PDF]

DSCA: Korea SM-2-IIIA/B request

Jan 3/07: SM-1 support. A $24.9 million firm-fixed modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5341) to procure Full Service Support (FSS) requirements in support of the STANDARD Missile-1 (SM-1) Program of U.S. Allied Nations. This SM-1 FSS FY 2007 option exercise consists of MK56 Dual Thrust Rocket Motor (DTRM) Regrain production and SM-1 Block 6B Missile assembly, testing and delivery for the Governments of Spain (89.5%, see also Oct 20/06 below) and Egypt (10.5%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

Work will be performed in Tucson, Ariz. (49%), Sacramento, CA (47%) and Camden, AK (4%), and is expected to be complete by September 2009. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC issued the contract.

2006 Spain’s F100 Frigate
(click to view full)

Dec 6/06: Japan. “The U.S. and Japan plan to build a joint base in the Nagasaki Prefecture for the maintenance of Standard Missile-3 interceptors, reports the UPI. According to sources in the Japanese Defense Agency, the facility would be located on a filled-in area off the coast near the U.S. Navy’s Hariojima ammunition depot in Sasebo. The U.S. and Japan would each maintain their own missiles, although the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF) would be able to ask the U.S. military for technical assistance if it encountered problems, allowing it to minimize costs.” Link.

Nov 13/06: SM-1 support. A $31.9 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5341), exercising an option to procure Full Service Support (FSS) requirements in support of the STANDARD Missile-1 (SM-1) Program of U.S. Allied Nations. This SM-1 FSS FY 2007 option exercise consists of MK56 Dual Thrust Rocket Motor (DTRM) Regrain production and SM-1 Block VIA missile assembly, testing and delivery.

This effort combines requirements for the Governments of France (24%); Japan (16%); Turkey (16%); Bahrain (15%); Poland (12%); Italy (11%); and Chile (6%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Camden, AK (85%) and Tucson, AZ (15%), and is expected to be complete by June 2009.

Nov 6/06: SM-2 support. An estimated $25.5 million cost-plus-award-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-03-C-5330, to provide additional engineering and technical services in support of the SM-2 Guided Missile Program under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS). Initial funding of $311,095 will provide services for Germany (50.3%) and Canada (49.7%). The purchase of additional services by other countries – Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and Spain – has not been finalized. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by December 2007.

Oct 20/06: SM-1s for Spain. Defense Aerospace translates a release from the Spanish Council of Ministers, who have authorized the acquisition of 94 SM-1 Block 6B missiles from the US Navy for the amount of EUR 25.7 million (about $32.3 million now) to be paid from 2006-2010 inclusive. The missiles will equip Spain’s six F80 Santa Maria Class frigates, a modified variant of the USA’s Oliver Hazard Perry Class. They will be loaded into the forward section’s Mk. 13 Mod. 4 (aka. “one armed bandit”) missile launchers; each ship has a capacity of up to 32 SM-1MR Standard Missiles.

Spain: 94 SM-1-6B

June 26/06: South Korea request. The US DSCA announces South Korea’s formal request for 48 SM-2 Standard Block IIIB missiles, as well as Mk 13 Mod 0 canisters for vertical launcher systems, containers, Intermediate-Level Maintenance spares and repair parts, supply support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $111 million.

Korea already uses SM-2 missiles aboard some of its ships, and these SM-2 are slated for use as the primary defensive system aboard its new KDX-III AEGIS destroyers. Industrial offset agreements are expected but not yet defined. See DSCA release [PDF].

DSCA: Korea SM-2-IIIB request

DDG176 Chokai
(click to view full)

June 5-6/06: Japan requests. The US DSCA announces a pair of requests from Japan for Standard-family naval air and missile defense systems, as well as destroyer BMD upgrades. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $528 million. Raytheon, Lockheed, and BAE are the primary contractors.

The first sale for $458 million sale involves 9 longer-range SM-3 missiles plus ballistic missile defense upgrades to one AEGIS Weapon System, AEGIS BMD Vertical Launch System (VLS) alternations, and other support. The JMSDF destroyer JS Myoko [DDG-175] may be the target of the request.

The second sale is for $70 million if all options are exercised, and involves up to 44 shorter-range SM-2 Block IIIB Standard Missiles that serve as the mainstays of the Kongo Class AEGIS destroyers’ air defense, plus various forms of support. See full DID coverage.

DSCA: Japan AEGIS BMD + SM-3-IA + SM-2-IIIB request

April 6/06: SM-2 support. A $29.5 million cost-plus-award-fee modification to previously awarded contract N00024-03-C-5330. This provide for engineering and technical services in support of the Standard Missile 2 (SM-2) Guided Missile Program for foreign military sales for the countries of Taiwan (66.2%) and Korea (33.8%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by March 2007.

2005 JS Kongou
(click to view full)

Dec 30/05: SM-2 orders. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $235.7 million firm-fixed-price contract in for the production of the FY06 Standard Missile-2 Block IIIA and Block IIIB all up rounds (AURs) AN/DKT-71A telemetric data transmitting sets (TDTS), section level spares, and shipping containers for allied nations. Note that “all-up-rounds” include the missile, its launch container, and related equipment that allows for rapid installation of the naval missiles in vertical launch systems. This contract will provide for the procurement of Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and other international customers procurements of 221 SM-2 Standard Block IIIA AURs, 64 SM-2 Block IIIB AURs, 106 TDTS’ with installation kits, 69 various FMS spare sections and 393 various FMS shipping containers. Specific countries were not specified by the US DoD DefenseLINK release.

Work on this contract will be performed in Tucson, AZ (83%), Andover, MA (14%), Camden, AR (2%), and Farmington, N.M. (1%), and work is expected to be complete by December 2008. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC is the contracting activity (N00024-06-C-5350).

285 SM-2s for Export

Nov 22/05: SM-1 support. An $8 million firm-fixed-price modification to exercise an option under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5341) to procure Full Service Support (FSS) requirements in support of the STANDARD Missile-1 (SM-1) Program of U.S. Allied Nations. This modification supports the governments of Spain (77%); Poland (14%); Taiwan (4%); Italy (3%); Egypt (1%); and Japan (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Sacramento, CA (85%); Camden, AR (10%); and Tucson, AZ (5%); and is expected to be complete by June 2008.

June 29/05: Japan request. The US DSCA announces a Government of Japan request for 9 SM-3 Block IA Standard missiles with MK 21 Mod 2 canisters, Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) upgrades to one AEGIS Radar & weapon control system, AEGIS BMD Vertical Launch System ordnance alternations (ORDALTs), containers, spare and repair parts, publications, documentation, supply support, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and other related elements of logistics support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $387 million.

The target of these BMD upgrades may be the destroyer JS Kongo [DDG-173], as JS Kirishima’s modifications were limited to AEGIS Long Range Scan & Track 3.0, which lacks the weapon control aspect. It is expected that the JS Kirishima will be upgraded later to include engagement as well.

These BMD modifications will provide, in concert with Japan Self Defense Forces PAC-3 Patriot missiles, the initial ballistic missile defense for mainland Japan. The principal contractors will be Lockheed-Martin Maritime System and Sensors in Moorestown, NJ (AEGIS radar) Raytheon Company Equipment Division in Andover, MA (missiles), and BAE Systems in Minneapolis, MN (canisters). DID article | DSCA release [PDF format].

DSCA: Japan AEGIS BMD + SM-3-IA request

June 6/05: Japan request. The U.S. Defense Department notified Congress of a proposed sale to Japan of Raytheon’s SM-2 Block IIIB surface-to-air missiles. The sale includes 40 SM-2 Block IIIB missiles with MK 13 MOD 0 canisters; 24 SM-2 Block IIIB Telemetry Standard missiles with MK 13 MOD 0 canisters, and associated equipment. It would be worth up to $104 million if all options are exercised, with contracts going to Raytheon and United Defense LP.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security and Cooperation Agency said Japan requested the missiles for use on ships of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force fleet and said it would enhance Japan’s defense of critical sea-lanes. Reuters: U.S. Moves To Sell Japan SM-2 Missiles

DSCA: Japan SM-2-IIIB request

May 31/05: Australia request. The government of Australia has requested a possible sale of up to 175 SM-2 Block IIIA Standard anti-air missiles, up to 30 Telemetry missiles, up to 2 SM-2 Block IIIA inert operational missiles, canisters, containers, spare and repair parts; plus supply support, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical data, US government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $315 million, and the principal contractors will be Raytheon (Tucson, AZ) and General Dynamics (Scottsdale, AZ). There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

The Royal Australian Navy already has SM-1 Standard missiles in its inventory, and intends to use the improved SM-2 missiles on its FFG 7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates for self-defense against air and cruise-missile threats. DSCA release [PDF format].

DSCA: Australia SM-2-IIIA request

May 13/05: SM-1 support. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ is being awarded an $11.2 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide Full Service Support (FSS) for the Standard Missile-1 (SM-1) program of U.S. Allied Nations. This contract combines purchases for the countries of Egypt (43%), Taiwan (26%); Spain (10%); Japan (6%); Turkey (6%); France (3%); Italy (3%); Bahrain (1%); Netherlands (1%); and Poland (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

This contract was not competitively procured. Work will be performed in Sacramento, CA (67%) and Tucson, AZ (33%), and the contract will expire before the end of September 2006 (N00024-05-C-5341).

March 23/05: SM-2 orders. A $266 million firm-fixed-price modification for production of the FY 2005 SM-2 missile order to equip the U.S. Navy and the navies of Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, Canada, and Korea respectively. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (56%), Andover, MA (23%), Camden, AR (20%), and Farmington, NM (1%), and is expected to be completed by December 2007. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC, issued the contract (N00024-04-C-5342).

U.S. Navy orders include agreed quantities of Block IIIA All-Up-Rounds (AUR), Block IIIB AUR, Block IIIB ORDALT kits, AN/DKT-71A Telemetric Data Transmitting Sets (TDTS), and section level spares.

The contract also includes procurement for other navies under the Foreign Military Sales Program: 99 SM-2 Block IIIA AUR, 64 SM-2 Block IIIB AUR, 51 AN/DKT-71A TDTS with Installation Kits, 25 various foreign military sales spare sections and 161 shipping missile containers.

FY 2005 SM-2s

March 22/05: SM-2 support. A $29.6 cost-plus-award-fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-03-C-5330) to provide engineering and technical services in support of the Standard Missile-2 Guided Missile Program for Foreign Military Sales (FMS). This modification satisfies the requirements of the following FMS customers: Germany (16.5%); Japan (16.67%); Korea (16.67%); the Netherlands (16.67%); Spain (16.67%); and Canada (16.67%). Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be completed by December 2005.

Additional Readings

Associated Systems

News & Views

Categories: News

Ship to Shore Connector: the USN’s New Hovercraft

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 17:10
SSC concept
(click to view full)

The Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) hovercraft program aims to build on the USA’s LCAC hovercraft experience, and retain the US Navy’s unparalleled transport options from ship to shore and beyond. LCACs launch from inside the well deck of an amphibious warship, then travel the waves at high speed, run right through the surf zone near the beach, and stop at a suitable place on land. Their cargo walks or rolls off. The LCAC(Landing Craft, Air Cushion) returns to the surf to pick up more. Rinse. Agitate. Repeat.

These air-cushioned landing craft are much more capable than the conventional flat-bottomed landing boats used by other countries, but that capability comes at a price. LCACs were expensive to buy, suffered from corrosion and maintenance issues, and remain quite expensive to operate and maintain after many years in service. The other problem is that tanks and other vehicles have gotten heavier, so carrying equipment like the Marines’ latest M1 Abrams can push current LCACs to their capacity limits.

Countries like France are designing fast catamaran landing craft for over-the-horizon delivery at a lower price point, and modern hovercraft offer new options of their own. The US Navy looked at the possibilities, then decided to ask for an upgraded version of the current LCACs. SSC was born, and in 2012 it finally moved into system development.

The Ship to Shore Connector Changes: LCAC-SSC
(click for video)

Initial plans for the SSC involved 80 hovercraft, including 8 development & test models, and 72 operational production hovercraft delivered through FY 2029. A Milestone C decision on low-rate initial production (LRIP) is planned for Q1 2015, and the SSC Program will obtain incremental LRIP approval to exercise craft construction options through planned DAB reviews. The program is scheduled to reach Initial Operational Capability in FY 2020, with 5 deployable craft and 1 production configuration training craft.

The SSC aims to use a number of new hovercraft technologies, in order to deliver improved performance, with less maintenance, while looking a lot like the LCAC from outside. Length and beam will be the same, while depth increases from 50″ to 56″.

The SSC is the 1st ship design implementation of Set-Based Design (SBD), wherein the government design locks in major details, while contractors make “detail design” changes to improve manufacturing and reduce costs. Lessons from the LCAC were part of that process, which included identifying the top 25 cost drivers in the existing fleet.

In the new SSC, technology is used to eliminate the loadmaster, leaving a 2-person pilot & co-pilot crew. Base weight capacity grows from 60 – 74 tons by using newer and more powerful engines (4 x 3955 – 4 x 5300 hp). That’s coupled with base weight improvements, thanks to a combination of AA 5083 aluminum with an advanced internal coating system throughout the structure, along with light and non-rusting composite materials. Composites are used in the 69″ lift fan (up from 63″), bow thrusters, 6-bladed rear propellers (replacing 4-blade propellers), propeller duct, rudders, and 4 shaft segments (replacing 12 steel shaft segments) from the engines to the rear propellers.

Its AE1107-derived MT7 gas turbine engines are connected to a sophisticated gearbox system that drives both propulsion and lift. Rolls Royce says that the new engines will increase the hovercraft’s power by 25%, while dropping fuel consumption by 11%. That will help extend range as well. Instead of aiming to deliver forces from 15 miles offshore, the SSC aimed at 25 miles. This distance was picked to give US Navy ships 2 shots at incoming missiles, which helps because the cost of the US Navy’s LPD amphibious assault ships has skyrocketed to $1.7 billion each.

Beyond these high performance drivers, the SSC’s drive train is simplified compared to the LCAC, electrical-hydraulic actuators are used throughout, climate control is improved, communication antennas get a redesign, and fire-fighting complies with new requirements by avoiding Halon gas.

This may be enough for the SSC to succeed on its own terms. The question is whether the US Navy can do the same with its ship to shore transport needs. The SSC’s 25 mile carry distance was also the driving force behind many of the (canceled) USMC EFV armored personnel carrier’s disastrous design decisions, from the size and weight of its propulsion to its vulnerable flat-bottom hull. That transit distance is much more appropriate for a hovercraft than an APC.

The question is whether 80 hovercraft are enough to handle the Corps’ needs for amphibious landing in threatened zones. The EFV program effectively voted “no” with its specifications, but the hovercraft option seems to be what the Navy/ Marine Corps team is left with. Perhaps ancillary programs like the Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious Connector with unusual paddling foam tracks can fill in the gaps.

Contracts & Key Events FY 2014

SSC concept
(click to view full)

Aug 27/14: SSC #101. Textron Inc. in New Orleans, LA receives a $21.9 million contract modification to build hovercraft 101 of the ship-to-shore connector (SSC) program. This would appear to be the 1st production option under the development contract (July 6/12). $2 million in FY 2014 Navy RDT&E budgets are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (93.5%); Huntington Beach, CA (2%); Chanhassen, MN (2%); Coronado, CA (1.5%); and Minneapolis, MN (1%), and is expected to be complete by August 2017. US NAVSEA in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-12-C-2401).

FY 2011 – 2013

Preliminary Design Review. Development contract. LCAC to SSC
(click to view full)

Dec 20/12: Lead-in. Textron Inc. in New Orleans, LA receives a $23.3 million contract modification, exercising an option for SSC long lead time materials, advance planning, engineering, procurement services and technical manuals.

Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN (37%); Camden, NJ (25%); New Orleans, LA (11%); Norway (8%), Great Britain (7%); Farmington, MI (6%); and Eatontown, NJ (6%), and is expected to be complete by June 2015. All contract funds are committed immediately, and US NAVSEA in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-12-C-2401).

Oct 22/12: Engines. Rolls Royce has been picked to supply its MT7 gas turbine engine for the SSC, and design and manufacture the hovercraft’s air intake and exhaust systems. On each hovercraft, the MT7 gas turbines will be connected to a sophisticated gearbox system providing both propulsion and lift.

The MT7 is derived from the AE1107 engine, which already powers the US Marine Corps’ V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Rolls Royce says that the new engines will increase the hovercraft’s power by 25%, while dropping fuel consumption by 11%. Rolls Royce.

July 6/12: Textron, Inc. in New Orleans, LA wins a $212.7 million fixed-priced incentive-fee contract for the detail design and construction of a ship to shore connector (SSC) test and training hovercraft, and technical manuals. This contract includes options for up to 8 production SSC hovercraft, which could bring the cumulative value of this contract to $570.5 million.

While the contract is Textron’s, the team includes L-3 Communications for command, control and navigation systems; and Alcoa aluminum for aluminum alloys and structural engineering. Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA (59%); Camden, NJ (26%); Great Britain (6%); St Louis, MO (3%); Indianapolis, IN (3%); and Eatontown, NJ (3%). Final manufacturing will take place at Textron Marine & Land Systems’ 600,000 square foot shipyard near New Orleans, LA, which is designed so that finished hovercraft just motor off of the assembly area and into the water.

Work is expected to be complete by February 2017, but $60.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. This contract was competitively procured as a full and open competition via the FBO.gov website, with 3 proposals received. One of those proposals came from the competing team of Marinette Marine, Oceaneering International, and Britain’s world-class Griffon Hoverwork. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-12-C-2401). Textron.

Development contract

March 2012: DOT&E. The Pentagon’s Developmental Test and Evaluation and Systems Engineering’s FY 2011 annual report includes a section on the SSC program:

“While the initial Test and Training (T&T) craft will remain as the primary test asset, the first production craft will serve as a potential risk mitigation should a backup craft be required during IOT&E. The SSC program completed competitive prototyping on the subsystem level… to demonstrate increased performance, reduced weight, improved maintainability or improved reliability depending on the system… Prototype testing was also completed on the Advanced Skirt (AS), which is currently being evaluated as a “Should Cost” item for incorporation at a later date.

…the program schedule timeline is inadequate to support a MS C decision in 1st quarter FY 2015 because full-up system level testing does not start until 2nd quarter FY 2016. DASD (DT&E) considers SSC as moderate to high risk because it is a complete redesign of the LCAC, which has a legacy of reliability, corrosion and performance issues. All major SSC systems are new and some have not been used in a marine environment. The Navy has identified SSC drive train integration; command, control, communications, computers and navigation (C4N) control system development; and main engine development as moderate probability of risk occurrence with significant consequences if the risk occurs… The SSC is a complex new design with all new components that should have full-up system level testing to support craft production decisions.”

June 22/11: PDR. Preliminary Design Review for the Navy’s base SSC contract design.

Dec 9/10: FBO.gov releases solicitation N0002411R2401 “19–Detail Design and Construction of Ship to Shore Connector (SSC) Test and Training Craft and Production Units

Nov 4/10: Team Textron. Textron Marine & Land Systems opens the Textron Marine & Land Systems Win Center at its Slidell, LA facility. It will begin by housing the bid team for the U.S. Navy’s SSC program. Textron.

FY 2006 – 2010

Initial Capabilities Document. Milestone A. Boeing/MM SSC Concept

Sept 13/10: Team Textron. Textron and L-3 add Alcoa Defense to their SSC team. Textron Marine & Land Systems General Manager Tom Walmsley:

“With more than 100,000 lbs of aluminum in every craft, you want to make sure you have the undisputed world leader in aluminum on your team.”

Alcoa does more than just produce aluminum. They also design alloys for specific uses, and developing and manufacture high-performance aluminum structures that are optimized for a customer’s cost and weight. Textron Marine & Land.

May-June 2010: NAVSEA Stakeholders Steering Board conducts SSC Critical Design Review (CDR)

December 2009: Industry Day. SSC Industry Day, and release of draft specifications and drawing to industry.

Oct 13/09: Team Textron. Textron Marine & Land Systems and L-3 Communications announce their teaming agreement to pursue the Navy’s next generation Ship-to-Shore Connector (SSC) hovercraft program, and to further develop the Navy’s contract design using its proven detailed design-to-prototype build practices.

The SSC program could involve up to 80 hovercraft, with a total program value of $4 billion. Textron Marine & Land.

May 21/09: The SSC program receives Milestone A approval.

Milestone A

March 2009: NAVSEA Stakeholders Steering Board #2 approves SSC Functional Baseline Design

November 2008: NAVSEA Stakeholders Steering Board (SSB) #1 approve SSC Baseline Design.

November 2007: SSC Analysis of Alternatives Final Report signed by N85 & DASN Ships.

October 2006: SSC Initial Capabilities Document (ICD) approved by Pentagon Joint Requirements Oversight Council.

Kick-off

Additional Readings

Supplements and Alternatives

News & Views

Categories: News

France Modernizes Its Aerial Refueling Fleets

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:58
C-135FR
(click to view full)

In 2009, France’s DGA announced that they would be modernizing the avionics in the Armee de l’Air’s 11 C-135FR aerial tankers to the C-135FR RENO2 standard, in order to keep them compliant with ICAO regulations for operation in civilian airspace.

The goal was to deliver the first modernized aircraft in 2011, finish deliveries by 2013, and begin replacing the fleet in 2015 with A400Ms and A330 MRTTs. Budget problems (A330 MRTT, no contract yet) and late projects (A400M, late by 3.5 years) are forcing its C-135FR aerial refueling fleet to soldier on, and so France has just added the 3 KC-135Rs to its upgrade plans.

Contracts & Key Events C-135FR & JAS-39C-D
(click to view full)

France is expected to place an order for Airbus A330-MRTT aerial refueling and cargo planes, but it needs an interim bridge to serve until the new fleet is fully in place, and the older aircraft are retired. France’s A400Ms are eventually slated to include aerial refueling capabilities as well, but early deliveries aren’t focused on that.

Aug 21/14: Delivery. The 1st modernized KC-135RG is delivered to Istres AB in France, by an American crew who ferried the aircraft from San Antonio.

The upgrades include avionics that meet the RENO Global Air Traffic Management standard, creating navigation standards identical to those of modernized American KC-135s. The preserved the on-board intercom that’s unique to the French planes, fitted a high-frequency wire antenna, and re-configured the aircraft to carry standard cargo pallets. Sources: French Armee de l’Air, “Le premier KC-135 renove se pose e Istres”.

June 10/13: KC-135Rs. Rockwell Collins Inc. in Cedar Rapids, IA receives a $44.5 million firm-fixed-price contract to install the KC-135 Global Air Traffic Management Block 40 Upgrade into 3 French KC-135R aerial tankers.

France flies 3 KC-135Rs alongside its 11 C-135FRs, and the Block 40 upgrade is a well proven solution. The USA finished its own KC-135R fleet retrofits in 2010.

Work will be performed at Cedar Rapids, IA and is expected to be complete by Nov 10/15. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/WKKPA at Tinker AFB, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8105-13-C-0001).

KC-135 RG upgrade

Oct 12/10: C-135FRs. The French Air Force recaps the C-135FR modernization, and says that the first modified C135 is expected to be delivered in early 2011. Delivery of the equipment will continue until 2013. Sources: French Armee de l’Air, “Renovation des avions ravitailleurs de l’armee de l’air”.

Jan 14/09: C-135FRs. France will replace the avionics in its 11-plane C-135FR fleet, in order to comply with ICAO requirements and fly in civil air space. Modified planes will become C-135FR RENO2.

The EUR 37 million (almost $50 million) installation contract will be handled by Air France, who is also handling a similar set of upgrades to E-3F AWACS fleet. The planes have similar base airframes, with the tankers using the militarized C-135 as their base, and the E-3Fs using the civil 707-320B. DGA release [in French] | Flight International.

C-135FR RENO2 upgrade

Categories: News

DOTE to Acquisition Community: Don’t Shoot the Messenger!

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:55

  • The Pentagon’s office for operational testing (DOTE) published an update to their presentation [PDF] explaining reasons behind program delays. Their main conclusion is self-protective: “It is not testing per se that causes a delay, rather it is a problem with the system that is discovered during testing that causes a delay.” Army programs have often faced programmatic issues (e.g. delayed full rate production) while the Air Force sees more problems in manufacturing, software development, and integration. The profile of Navy programs falls somewhere in between. Schedule slippage, especially in missile defense, has sometimes be pretty graphic.

  • Meanwhile the Pentagon’s acquisition office is focused on increasing competition with new guidelines [PDF] focused on open systems, mostly based on the US Navy’s experience.

Middle East

  • The US Administration is trying to round up allies [NYT] to help fight the Islamic State. A broad coalition to support an American effort in Iraq? That rings a bell. So far several European countries including the UK, France, Germany and the Netherlands have contributed (or pledged to do so) logistics support. There’s also been talk of sending light arms to the Kurds, who confirm [Reuters] they have already received armament from Iran.

  • The Washington Post looks into the targets of US strikes launched since August 8. They seem to be mostly hitting… American vehicles seized by ISIL as it routed the Iraq military.

Get Used to the Sonic Booms

  • Last week 2 Dutch F-16s had to escort 2 Russian T-95 bombers out of NATO airspace under their responsibility (which 5 weeks after the MH17 crash shows the Russians wear their bad taste on their sleeve). This week local residents were startled [NL Times] by a loud sonic boom during a test flight, but a military spokesman reminded residents that unannounced Russian aircraft coming at or within the edge of Dutch airspace have become almost a matter of routine.

  • Today’s video, from the Economist, gives a recap (with maps) of China’s many territorial disputes with its neighbors:

Categories: News

Hungary Sells T-72 Tanks to…?

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 18:37
Hungarian T-72
(click to view full)

The Hungarian Ministry of Defence has announced that they’ve sold 58 T-72 tanks to a Czech company, Excalibur Defense Ltd., who has begun transporting them into the Czech Republic. Under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), the Czech firm will face resale limitations, and they must also comply with certain Hungarian laws.

The sale is a bit of a mystery, but some local reports suggest a possible explanation…

T-72M4 CZ
(click to view full)

Hungary has about 30+ T-72M1 tanks in service, and the 58 tanks are likely to be drawn from their reserves of 120 or so T-72M vehicles. This is hardly unprecedented; in 2005, they sold 77 of their T-72s to Iraq. With respect to this sale, the Ministry of Defence adds:

“The customer is allowed to resell the tanks only in compliance with the relevant provisions of the CFE Treaty.

The CFE Treaty sets a ceiling on the number of tanks that can be held by any one country and includes further provisions for reduction, withdrawal from service, storage, information exchange and verification.

Hungary has acted responsibly as it has sold the disused tanks with the provision that they cannot be sold to a country against which embargo is enforced. After the transportation to the Czech Republic, in accordance with the CFE Treaty, the Czech authorities are under obligation and in charge of authorizing and monitoring the handling, use and resale of military equipment.”

That’s a long disclaimer. Abridged version: “Don’t blame us.”

The buyer is unlikely to be The Czech Republic. Their army has about 30 T-72M4-CZ tanks in front line service, which were modernized locally. They also have about 90 T-72M1 tanks in reserve, so they don’t need Hungarian T-72Ms.

You are here…
(click to view full)

The right-wing Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita believes that the tanks are destined for the Ukraine, which has been looking for compatible second-hand Soviet-era equipment that they can use right away. The paper based its claim in part on the direction of shipment within Hungary, toward the Ukrainian border; in contrast, Hungary was careful to mention that the tanks are being shipped the opposite way, into the Czech Republic, which removes any common border with Ukraine.

On the other hand, Hungary’s Fidesz Party seems to have come down on Ukraine’s side after their internal debates, despite having a foreign policy that is friendlier than usual toward Russia. If the treaties can all be observed, could a private sector entity transport the tanks in a less obtrusive way from the Czech Republic through Poland, to the Ukraine?

Additional Readings

Categories: News

Aerospace, Excelled: The USA’s Arnold Engineering Development Center

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 17:36
AEDC at work: X-29
(click to view full)

The Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), named for U.S. Air Force pioneer Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, bills itself as “The World’s Premier Flight Simulation Test Facility.” Nearly half of the AEDC’s 58 test facilities are unique in the U.S., and 14 are unique in the world. These specialized test facilities have played a crucial role in the development and sustainment of virtually every high performance aircraft, air-to-air and air-to-ground weapon, missile, and space system in use by all four of the U.S. military services today. The Center has also been involved in the development of every NASA manned space system, many satellites, and numerous commercial aircraft and spacecraft systems.

In 2003, the Air Force consolidated the test operations contract and the base services contract into a single contract for operations, maintenance, information management, and base support, which was awarded to Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA) in Tullahoma, TN.

AEDC Services AEDC, Arnold AFB

ATA, a joint venture between Jacobs Sverdrup, Computer Sciences Corporation, and General Physics, was publicly announced as the winners of the 12-year, maximum $2.7B contract on June 30/03. This is actually the continuation of a long relationship.

Jacobs Sverdup performed the original AEDC site studies in the late 1940s, and supported the USAF in the complex’s design and buildout during the 1950s. In the 1960s, to support the USA’s space program, the firm’s engineers performed extensive tests on the propulsion units planned for escaping Earth’s atmosphere, orbiting the moon, landing and lifting off from the moon, and returning to Earth. In the 1970s, there was a significant focus shift toward tests on aircraft such as the F-15, F-16, and F-111, to ensure the U.S. held the edge in air superiority. In 1980, the Air Force divided AEDC operations into 3 separate contracts, with Jacobs Sverdup winning the propulsion operations contract. For the next 15 years, they continued propulsion work on programs as diverse as the F-22 and Space Shuttle; in recent years, the test workload is dominated by aerodynamics and propulsion development for national programs such as the F-22, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F-18 E/F, and Delta III and IV.

In 2003, the Air Force Consolidated the test operations contract and the base services contract into a single contract for operations, maintenance, information management, and base support. In effect, the 3 separate contracts were consolidated back into 1; the 12-year, $2.7B contract was awarded to Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA), a joint venture between Jacobs Sverdrup, Computer Sciences Corporation, and General Physics. JS is the managing partner of ATA, with responsibility for leading the implementation of ATA’s proposed initiatives in areas critical to AEDC’s future operation: technical excellence, effective management and processes, performance dependability, efficient and effective information technology and systems, and cost reduction and control.

In general the ATA provides comprehensive engineering services to support acquisition of new test facilities and systems, and upgrades for existing facilities. Other support can include anything from conceptual and feasibility studies spanning just a few weeks, to multi-year design/build projects for turnkey delivery of complex facilities. Wind tunnels and jet engine/ rocket test facilities are all cited in the firm’s description of AEDC-related work [PDF].

AEDC Contracts AEDC at work
(click to view full)

All contracts below are issued by the Headquarters Arnold Engineering Development Center, Arnold Air Force Base, TN to the Aerospace Testing Alliance in Tullahoma, TN. The contract runs from 2003-2015. As the numbering indicates, only publicly announced contracts over $5 million are covered. Work is performed at Arnold Air Force Base, TN.

Aug 26/14: FY 2015. A $224 million cost-plus-award-fee modification, exercising the FY 2015 option for AEDC operations, maintenance, information management and support. This pushes announced awards to date under the contract to about $2.397 billion of a possible $2.7 billion.

Work will be performed at Arnold AFB, TN, and the contract as a whole will be complete by Sept 30/15 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0334).

June 13/14: An $11.9 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for FY 2014 AEDC support, to be completed by Sept 30/14. Work will be performed at Arnold AFB, TN (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0330).

Jan 7/14: A $23 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for FY 2014 AEDC support, to be completed by Sept 30/14. Work will be performed at Arnold AFB, TN (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0321).

Aug 30/13: FY 2014. A $218.6 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for AEDC operation, maintenance, information management and support. This pushes announced awards to date under the contract to about $2.138 billion of a possible $2.7 billion, with the end in sight as of Sept 30/15. On the other hand, announced awards likely do not cover the full spectrum of contracts, and their structure means that not all of the announced funds were spent.

Work will be performed at Arnold AFB, TN, and is expected to be complete by Sept 30/14 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0307).

Feb 8/13: FY 2013. The Aerospace Testing Alliance in Tullahoma, TN receives a $7.8 million contract modification for their work at AEDC, Arnold AFB, TN. Looks like another ceiling-raiser due to increased workload. Work is expected to be completed by Sept 30/13 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0290).

This raises announced FY 2013 totals to just $50.9 million so far, and no other awards were publicly announced.

Dec 10/12: FY 2013. The Aerospace Testing Alliance in Tullahoma, TN receives a a $43.1 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. Work is expected to be complete by Sept 30/13 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0287).

Sept 8/11: FY 2012? The Aerospace Testing Alliance in Tullahoma, TN receives a $208.5 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of Arnold Engineering Development Center.

It is not clear whether this is an FY 2011 or an FY 2012 award, but past patterns suggest that this is the FY 2012 base amount. The AEDC/PK at Arnold AFB, TX manages this contract (F40600-03-C-0001).

Feb 16/11: FY 2011. The Aerospace Testing Alliance in Tullahoma, TN receives a $64.6 million contract modification for the FY 2011 AEDC contract. At this time, no funds have been obligated; they will be committed as needed (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0228).

Sept 3/10: FY 2011. A $204.2 million contract modification to provide operation, maintenance, information management, and support of Arnold Engineering Development Center for FY 2011. At this time, the entire amount has been committed. (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0207).

Jan 25/10: 2010. A modified contract for $86.7 million for the operation, maintenance, information management and support of the Arnold Engineering Development Center to cover additional workload in FY 2010. (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0192).

Aug 25/09: 2010. A modified contract for $199.3 million for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for FY 2010 (F40600-03-C-0001).

Sept 23/08: FY 2008. A modified contract for $8.3 million for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for additional workload in FY 2008. This increase results from changes to the workload in the test facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 00149).

March 14/08: FY 2008. A modified contract for $69.7 million for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for FY 2008. This increase results from changes to the workload in the facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements. No funds have been committed yet, but delivery orders can be issued as needed up to the required maximum (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0136).

F-22 Fluid Dynamics

Sept 25/07: FY 2008. A contract modification for $209.1 million. This action is a modification to the contract for the Operation, Maintenance, Information Management, and Support of Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for FY 2008. This increase results from changes to the workload in the test facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements (F40600-03-C-0001, Modification P00122).

Sept 25/07: FY 2007. A contract modification for $6.5 million for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for FY 2007. This increase results from changes to the workload in the facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0123).

Dec 21/06: FY 2007. A $63.6 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification. This action provides for the FY 2007 operation, maintenance, information management, and support of the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC). This increase results from changes to the workload in the test facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements. Work will be complete by September 2007 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0104).

August 14/06: FY 2006. A $212.1 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of Arnold Engineering Development Center for FY 2006. This increase results from changes to the workload in the test facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements. Work will be completed by September 2007 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0090)

June 8/06: FY 2006. An $8.2 million cost-plus award fee contract modification for FY 2006 efforts at AEDC. This increase results from changes to the workload in the test facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements. At this time, no funds have been obligated. Work will be complete September 2006 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0086).

Oct 6/05: FY 2006. A $42.7 million cost plus award fee contract modification for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of Arnold Engineering Development Center for FY 2006. This increase results from a higher test workload in the facilities and increased maintenance, investment, and mission support requirements. Work will be complete by September 2006 (F40600-03-C-0001/ P00066)

May 31/05: FY 2006. A $213.4 million cost-plus award-fee option was picked up for the operation, maintenance, information management, and support of Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for FY 2006. Work on this option will be complete by September 2006 (F40600-03-C-0001).

Dec 27/04: FY 2005. A $38.1 million cost plus award fee contract modification for the Operation, Maintenance, Information Management, and Support of Arnold Engineering Development Center for FY 2004 through FY 2005, because of a higher test workload in the test facilities. It also makes other minor changes to the facility, maintenance, and mission support workloads. Work will be complete by September 2005 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0035).

Sept 3/04: FY 2004. An $18.5 million cost-plus award-fee contract modification for the Operation, Maintenance, Information Management, and Support of Arnold Engineering Development Center for FY 2004. This increase results from a higher test workload in the test facilities and makes other minor changes to the facility, maintenance, and mission support workloads. Work will be complete by September 2004 (F40600-03-C-0001, PO 0021).

Aug 10/04: FY 2005. A $215 million cost-plus award-fee contract modification exercises an option for the Operation, Maintenance, Information Management, and Support of Arnold Engineering Development Center for FY 2005. Work will be complete by September 2005 (F40600-03-C-0001).

June 30/03: Base contract. Aerospace Testing Alliance, Tullahoma, TN receives a maximum $2.69 billion cost-plus-award-fee contract for the operation, maintenance, information management and support of the Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC).

Work under this contract includes the test, analysis and evaluation of aerospace programs; research and development leading to future test facility capability; and the operation, information management, maintenance and repair of the facilities and related utilities.

Solicitation began January 2003, negotiations were completed May 2003, and work will be complete September 2015 (F40600-03-C-0001).

AEDC contract
2003 – 2015

Additional Readings

Categories: News

US Defense Workforce Shrinkage, In Numbers

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 15:28

  • Politico reviewed SEC filings from major US defense contractors and found that “The number of employees at the five largest U.S. defense firms has dropped 14% from a peak in 2008 – and 10% over the past decade.” Lockheed Martin shrunk its workforce the most, in absolute (-31,000) and relative (-21%) terms.

Maintenance & Readiness – Or Lack Thereof

  • USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) had its flight deck just resurfaced but the non-skid coating doesn’t meet safety standards, which will likely delay the ship’s next deployment. Stars & Stripes.

  • Der Spiegel reported [in German] that according to a confidential report to the German minister of defense, the country’s air force has severe readiness issues, with just 8 out of 109 Eurofighters deemed fully operational [Xinhua]. The ministry brought little [in German] in the way of a rebuttal.

Middle East & Africa

  • USCENTOM says they have flown more than 1,500 sorties over Iraq since August 8.

  • According to the WSJ the US government is preparing to send surveillance aircraft over Syria, while the AP says these flights have already started.

  • Syria’s government offers itself [NYT] as a surreal ally against ISIS. Maybe John Kerry could help?

  • European Jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq are often recruited through the Internet: XX Committee | Corriere della Sera [in Italian].

  • US officials say [The Guardian] that recent air strikes on Islamist militias in Libya were coming from aircraft flown by UAE pilots out of Egypt.

  • MIT’s Theodore Postol is a well-known critic of missile defense in general, and Iron Dome lately, but Bill Sweetman of AviationWeek finds much to be challenged in Postol’s arguments against that sytem.

  • There’s more to procurement than just open military contracts. Sometimes, the weapon a dictator really needs is Wall Street. Recent case study: Zimbabwe [BusinessWeek].

More Russian Weapons Rolling Into Ukraine

  • Today’s video from the AP shows more armored vehicles coming from Russia into Eastern Ukraine. Russia claims [Kyiv Post] that 10 of their soldiers captured by the Ukrainians had crossed the border by accident:

Categories: News

Europe’s Galileo International GNSS Project

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 19:13
Galileo concept
(click to view full)

The USA’s Global Positioning System service remains free, but the European Union is spending billions to create an alternative under their own control. In addition to civilian GPS (the Open Service), services to be offered include a Safety of Life Service (SoL) for civil aviation and search and rescue, a paid Commercial Service with accuracy greater than 1 meter, plus a Public Regulated Service (PRS) for use by security authorities and governments. PRS/SoL aims to offer Open Service quality, with added robustness against jamming and the reliable detection of problems within 10 seconds.

Organizational issues and shortfalls in expected progress pushed the “Galileo” project back from its originally intended operational date of 2007 to 2014/15. After a public-private partnership model failed, the EU gained initial-stage approval for its plan to finance the program with tax dollars instead of the expected private investments. Political issues were overcome in 2007 by raiding other EU accounts for the billions required, but by 2011, it became clear that requests for billions more in public funds were on the way. Meanwhile, doubts persist in several quarters about Galileo’s touted economic model. Security concerns regarding China’s early involvement, and its potential Beidou-2/Compass projects, have been equally persistent, and there is good reason to expect that the constellation has a military purpose. On a European political and contractual level, however, Galileo is now irreversible.

This article offers background, players, developments, contracts, and in-depth research links for Galileo, as well as linked EU programs like GIOVE and EGNOS.

The Galileo Program

The EU is hoping Galileo will provide an alternative to the Pentagon-controlled Global Positioning System (GPS), and also tap a growing worldwide demand for satellite communications that Galileo’s advocates claim could be worth as much as EUR 300 billion by 2020. Many outside analysts are dubious about the commercial potential, but security and national services have helped the EU recruit other countries to join the list of Galileo partners. International signatories so far include: China (2003, now also a competitor), India (2005), Israel (2004), Morocco (2005), Norway (2009, in ESA but not an EU member), Saudi Arabia (2005), South Korea (2006), and the Ukraine (2005).

The Galileo System Galileo concept
(click to view full)

Global coverage requires a minimum of 24 satellites, and the USAF prefers at least 27, in order to maintain proper coverage around the globe from Medium Earth Orbit. In 2008, for instance, the USAF had 31 total NAVSTAR GPS satellites deployed.

The Galileo constellation was originally envisaged as up to 28 satellites plus the last 2 Galileo In-Orbit Validation (IOV) satellites, for a total of 30, but appears to be headed for a constellation of 26: 22 Galileo satellites, plus all 4 IOVs. The ESA’s December 2009 multi-award contract arrangement actually has options for up to 32 satellites, but the initial constellation for service launch in 2014/15 will be just 22: 4 IOV and 18 Galileo.

Each Galileo satellite will broadcast 10 different navigation signals, making it possible for Galileo to offer the open (OS), safety-of-life (SOL), commercial (CS) and public regulated services (PRS). At this point, Galileo is scheduled to provide 3 early services in 2015:

1. An initial free Open Service, using the L1 signal broadcast at 1575.42 MHz, and the new L5 open signal (1164-1215 MHz: E5a, E5b), in any combination. The new open signal specification will be shared with the USA’s GPS-IIF and GPS-III, which could create an explosion of competitive, cheap, and highly accurate receivers. OS also includes 3 data-less channels, and pilot tone ranging codes.

2. An initial “Safety-of-Life” service, for applications like search and rescue, or civil aircraft navigation. SOL services are like a data channel within the open signals, based on open signal measurements and integrity data carried in special OS messages. The L5 standard is often referred to as a “safety of life” standard.

3. An initial Public Regulated Service, which uses 2 encrypted signals (1575.42 MHz E2-L1-E1 band and 1278.75 MHz E6 band), with controlled encrypted access for specific users like governments.

The follow-on Commercial Service, with under 1-meter accuracy, will combine 2 encrypted E6 signals in the 1278.75 MHz band, for improved accuracy and data throughput rates, plus the ability to include commercial data within the open signals.

Galileo Elements GIOVEs concept
(click to view full)

Initial GIOVE-A and GIOVE-B technology demonstration and test satellites were launched in 2005 and 2008. GIOVE-A has now completed testing and been “parked” in a higher orbit, while GIOVE-B has remained active far beyond its anticipated 2-year life cycle.

The first 2 operational Galileo IOV (In-Orbit Validation) satellites were Galileo PFM (Protoflight Model) and FM2 (Flight Model 2). They were launched together on Oct 21/11, aboard the 1st Soyuz rocket launch from Arianespace’s facility in Kourou, French Guiana. The 2 follow-on Galileo IOVs were launched on schedule in October 2012, and another 18 Full Operational Capability satellites are now under contract.

To get the satellites into space, the ESA will be relying on Arianespace’s launch facility in Kourou, French Guiana. The fleet workhorse, however, will be made up of Russian Soyuz rockets. Jean-Jacques Dordain, Director General of ESA referred to it as “the legendary Russian launcher that was used for Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin.” That’s something of a backhanded compliment, but it does underscore the Soyuz medium rocket’s long history and proven design. Before Galileo, the Soyuz had only been launched from Russian sites in Baikonur, Kazakhstan or Plesetsk, Russia, with a maximum payload of 1.7 tonnes. French Guiana is much closer to the equator, which boosts the rockets’ payload to 3 tonnes. Each Soyuz rocket carries a French Fregat-T upper stage for extended range and precise placement, and can launch 2 Galileo satellites into orbit.

Toward the end of the project, Galileo satellites may fly on the French Ariane 5 heavy rocket. The program initially planned to fit up to 6 satellites on this rocket, but they’ve had to scale back to an Ariane 5 ES Galileo variant, whose special dispenser will carry just 4 satellites into their target orbits. The new launcher variant is expected to be re-qualified and ready by the second half of 2014, just in time for the initial constellation’s final launches.

On the ground, the Galileo constellation will rely on 2 Ground Control Centres (GCC) at Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany and Fucino, Italy. They’ll be supported by 4 Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TTC) stations on Kiruna, Sweden in Europe; Kourou, French Guiana in South America; Noumea, New Caledonia in the South Pacific; and St Denis, Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar.

The other support elements are the Galileo Security Facility (GSF), responsible for managing access to Galileo’s encrypted services, and the Galileo Mission Segment (GMS). GMS is a global network of 16 Galileo Sensor Stations (GSS) to monitor the signals from the satellites, a chain of 5 Up-Link Stations (ULS) around the globe to uplink navigation data to the satellites, parallel communications networks, and a complex sequence of processing elements that include the 2 main GCCs.

Galileo: Structure & Costs Tracking…
(click to view full)

Galileo’s assets are owned by the European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA), a public body that is a EU community agency. The European Global Navigation Satellite System encompasses Galileo, as well as the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), which overlays on top of GPS and GLONASS to improve their accuracy from about 20m to 2m. When Galileo is complete, GNSS would expand its operating reach, to provide a worldwide positioning and timing infrastructure.

The private Galileo Operating Company (GOC) is a management vehicle. Galileo was originally envisaged as a commercial venture, and 2/3 of its cost was originally expected to be covered by private financing. As the EU dithered and kept changing the terms for competitors, cooperation and planning broke down entirely. In response, the EC shifted to 100% public financing, as part of a new structure and model intended to get the project moving again.

The financial commitment required is unclear, because the exact extent of public involvement throughout the project remains unclear. As the UK’s Parliamentary Transport Committee’s November 2007 report put it, with classic British understatement: “The current estimated costs for the Galileo programme in its entirety are less transparent than might be wished for.” That’s still true. Based on credible reports, and EC requests to date, it’s safe to place the minimum cost to European taxpayers at EUR 21.2 billion for the constellation, required ground systems, and 20 years of operation: EUR 3.7 billion (1.3 + 2.4) allotted for the initial phase, another 7 billion requested to finish Galileo and operate the system for 6 years (vid. Nov 30/11 entry), plus EUR 10.5 billion for 14 more years, at the EUR 750 million per year cost cited in a German government report (vid. Oct 7/10 entry).

Since the EC now wants to transfer Galileo’s ongoing operation to the public sector, those operating costs may rise. If that scenario comes to pass, the constellation expands beyond 22 satellites, or satellite issues crop up, Galileo’s cost will grow. Meanwhile, the all-public sector model that the EC is pushing for is unlikely to raise significant revenues, unless other EU branches use their regulatory power to impose fees and force Galileo usage, instead of relying on free GPS signals. Which would constitute a tax by any other name.

The 7 key contract segments issued by the ESA for the Galileo system, and their costs to date, have included:

  • Feb. 2012: EUR 310 million. 8 more satellites from OHB System (Germany/UK), Ariane 5 modifications by EADS Astrium, and a launch option from Arianespace (France).
  • June 2011: Galileo Mission Segment, Galileo Security Facility – EUR 281 million to Thales Alenia Space (France/ Italy).
  • June 2011: Full Operational Capability Ground Control Segment – EUR 74.3 million to EADS Astrium (UK).
  • Oct. 2010: Galileo Operations – EUR 194 million to SpaceOpal JV (Germany/Italy). For work to 2014.
  • Jan. 2010: Satellite launches – EUR 397+ million to Arianespace (France). 5 Soyuz launches, + options for 2 Soyuz launches or 1 Ariane-5 launch.
  • Jan. 2010: System Support Services for integration and validation – EUR 85 million to Thales Alenia Space (France/ Italy)
  • Dec. 2009: Up to 32 Galileo Satellites – Must be bid by OHB System AG (Germany/UK) and EADS-Astrium GmbH (Germany). OHB won an initial EUR 566 million, 14-satellite contract in Jan. 2010.

Galileo: Timeline

If Galileo’s services begin in 2015, they will be almost 8 years late based on the initial plan, 2 years late based on the July 2008 reboot as an EU-funded public project, and a bit more than a year late based on the January 2010 initial contracts.

Galileo: A Military Dimension ASMP-A4 on Rafale
(click to view full)

As far back as 2007, a Deutsche Welle report had stated that:

“The system will remain under civilian control but it is possible that the military, security sector or police will be able to use it, bringing in more money.”

The program has always has a police/public dimension; shifting the project’s emphasis in that direction, and adding a military dimension, is a likely first resort once billions have been spent, but revenues fall embarrassingly short. Whether Europeans would be sanguine about, for instance, Chinese police in Tibet relying on Galileo is an open question. Yet this may well be the inevitable result of the present agreement.

On the international front, there are lingering concerns in the USA, Japan, et. al. that some partners intend to use Galileo as the backbone for GPS-targeted weapons. The 2009 comments by OHB-System’s CEO that the French intended to use it as a component of nuclear targeting could only fan those concerns, notwithstanding the Gallileo contractor’s subsequent denials, and their firing of the CEO who made those remarks.

Navstar Constellation:
GPS Block IIA, IIR/M, IIF
(click to view full)

The other concern, expressed both within and beyond Europe, is that players like China may simply appropriate Galileo’s technical signals profile, using the knowledge gained from their early involvement and other sources. China’s Compass-Beidou already uses the same spectrum as Galileo’s encrypted Public Regulated Service, making the Galileo system a collateral damage hostage if an adversary blocks Chinese MILSAT signals.

The original US-EU disagreement over Galileo concerned the threat that Galileo might do this very thing to the Navstar GPS “M-Code”. An agreement between the USA and EU has averted this possibility, but Galileo remains wide open to similar 3rd party mischief. See the Additional Readings section, below, for more details and developments in this area.

Contracts and Key Events 2014

VS09 launch

Aug 22-23/14: Problematic launch. The VS09 launch on a Soyuz MT booster goes well, but NPO Lavochkin’s Fregat upper stage fails to place the 1st Full Operational Capability satellites in the correct orbit:

“The targeted orbit was circular, inclined at 55 degrees with a semi major axis of 29,900 kilometers. The satellites are now in an elliptical orbit, with excentricity of 0.23, a semi major axis of 26,200 km and inclined at 49.8 degrees.”

Uh oh. Satellites like the USA’s AEHF-1 hardened comsat have been able to correct placement failures, but Arianespace doesn’t seem to be focusing on that in releases. Stephane Israel, Chairman and CEO of Arianespace, said:

“Our aim is of course to fully understand this anomaly. Everybody at Arianespace is totally focused on meeting this objective. Starting Monday, Arianespace, in association with ESA and the European Commission, will designate an independent inquiry board to determine the exact causes of this anomaly and to draw conclusions and develop corrective actions that will allow us to resume launches of Soyuz from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in complete safety and as quickly as possible.”

Former ESA Inspector General Peter Dubock will chair the investigative board, and Roscosmos will have a liaison via Deputy Director General of TsNIImash Alexander Daniliuk. Sources: Arianespace, “Galileo satellites experience orbital injection anomaly on Soyuz launch: Initial report” | ESA, “Soyuz Galileo launch: injection anomaly” | Spaceflight Now, “Inquiry into Galileo launch anomaly to focus on Fregat” | Arianespace, “VS09 flight: Arianespace names independent inquiry commission”.

FOC Launch fail

Aug 20/14: Ariane 5 contracts. The European Space Agency (ESA) signs a contract with Arianespace for 3 Ariane-5 ES heavy rocket launches, each of which will send 4 Galileo FOC satellites into orbit. That’s double the capacity of the Soyuz launcher, and those 12 satellites should help get the constellation up and running more quickly. The initial launch is supposed to take place in 2015. Sources: Arianespace, “Arianespace serves the Galileo constellation and Europe’s ambitions in space with the signature of three new launch services using Ariane 5 ES”.

3 Ariane launches

Aug 13/14: FOCs joined. Arianespace joins Europe’s first 2 Galileo FOC (Full Operational Capability) satellites on a 2-sided dispenser system. The next step is mating to their Soyuz Fregat upper stage, followed by encapsulation in their composite fairing. The 730 kg birds “Doresa” and “Milena” are named for children who were among those winning a 2011 painting competition, and the platforms will be orbited by Arianespace during the VS09 mission on Aug 21/14. Sources: Arianespace, “Europe’s initial operational Galileo navigation satellites are integrated for their Arianespace Soyuz launch”.

2012 – 2013

Galileo concept
(click to view full)

Dec 2/13: FOC 1 & 2. The first Full Operational Capability Galileo satellite has completed thermal vacuum testing at ESA’s ESTEC Test Centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Thermal–vacuum testing on the 2nd Galileo FOC model will begin early in 2014, and the 2 are scheduled to launch together in mid-2014 to join the existing 4 IOV satellites in orbit. Sources: ESA, “ESA’s new breed of Galileo endures weeks of simulated space”.

July 3/13: SBAS. The Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) Interoperability Working Group agrees a common SBAS message standard, based on dual-frequency multiconstellation (DFMC) signals from up to 4 constellations post-2020: US GPS, EU Galileo, Russia’s Glonass, and China’s Compass/Beidou-2. That would help to create more precise and reliable GPS references, without having to use the military M-Code. The ESA’s “Experts agree satellite augmentation standard to gird globe” says that:

“Two solutions have been studied in parallel, one by ESA and one by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Both have been compared, with a final single definition to be made before the end of this year.”

May 3/13: Sync me. The 4 Galileo IOV satellites have begun broadcasting the 50 nanosecond offset (GGTO) between the Galileo and GPS constellations. That would create up to 15m of error, unless the time offset is known by the receiver itself, which can then align all observations to a single time scale.

The determination methods and interface design were agreed on a preliminary basis between the Galileo Project and the US Naval Observatory back in 2003. Source: ESA, “Galileo and GPS ‘synchronise watches’: new time offset helps working together”.

GGTO sync with GPS

March 12/13: The ESA:

“Europe’s new age of satellite navigation has passed a historic milestone – the very first determination of a ground location using the four Galileo satellites currently in orbit together with their ground facilities.

This fundamental step confirms the Galileo system works as planned.”

The constellation needed 4 satellites to make a position fix in 3 dimensions. At present, however, accuracy was only 10m – 15m. Sources: “Galileo fixes Europe’s position in history”.

1st 3D position fix

Jan 25/13: SBAS. More than 50 of the specialists overseeing the world’s 5 regional satnav augmentation systems (EU’s EGNOS, India’s GAGAN, Japan’s MSAS, Russia’s SDCM, USA’s WAAS/CWASS) met at Toulouse, France for the latest meeting of the Satellite-Based Augmentation Systems Interoperability Working Group (SBAS IWG). Source: ESA, “Russia and India join global satnav augmentation meeting”.

Nov 5/12: Delays. The project will be delayed several months, while the contractors work to harmonize the software on OHB AG’s new Galileo FOC satellites with that on board the initial 4 Galileo IOV satellites that are already in orbit. Those were made by a consortium of EADS Astrium and ThalesAleniaSpace, which explains the need for ThalesAleniaSpace engineers to reinforce the project (q.v. Oct 29/12). It also explains the reason for 2015 as the beginning of service.

Meanwhile, China has launched 12 GNSS satellites, without resolving their dispute over spectrum clashes with Galileo PRS (q.v. Sept 20/12). Sources: Space News, “Software Harmonization Issues Could Delay Galileo Deployment”.

Oct 29/12: Forced payment. EC VP Antonio Tajani discussed blame for the delays in Europe’s Galileo, and said that OHB AG would face financial penalties per the contract. Even a full penalty payment won’t finance the year-long delay, however, esp. since 10-15 ThalesAleniaSpace engineers were sent to OHB by the ESA as reinforcements. With respect to the collapse of Galileo’s obviously flawed economic model, the EU’s 1st resort is hardly a surprise:

“Tajani also said he has asked his staff to study options favoring the use of Galileo in Europe, “including a regulatory option that would require the use of Galileo, based on the example of [the automotive emergency service] eCall. The results of the study should be known in early 2014 and the commission will then make its decision.”

He adds that early services might not be available until 2015. ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain has promised to deliver an updated Galileo schedule with 3 launches in 2014, but there aren’t going to be any launches in 2013. That would create a constellation of 10 satellites: 4 IOV and 6 FOC. Unfortunately, Galileo needs 18 to begin. Sources: Space News, “European Space Agency, OHB Blamed for Galileo Delays; Financial Penalties Forthcoming”.

Oct 12/12: IOV 3 & 4 launch. A Soyuz ST-B launcher operated by Arianespace lofts IOV-3 and IOV-4 into orbit from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. Sources: ESA, “Deployment of Europe’s Galileo constellation continues”.

IOV 3 & 4 launch

Sept 20/12: China Syndrome. During a summit in Brussels, Belgium, China and the EU agree to take their spectrum dispute over Beidou-Compass and Galileo PRS to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Which has no power to impose a regulatory ruling, because their sharing of the spectrum doesn’t create an outright conflict.

Even if it could regulate, China has 11 satellites in orbit already, and is launching more quickly. Galileo will have 4 IOV satellites in space already, with 6 full satellites slated to launch in 2013, and at least 4 four more to follow by the end of 2014. By the time any ITU ruling is issued, this probably won’t be fixable. Sources: Space News, “China and Europe Taking Their Navigation Dispute to ITU”.

EU-China spectrum dispute to ITU. Won’t help.

Aug 17/12: IOV 3 & 4. Arianespace says that work to prepare for the launch of the 3rd and 4th validation satellites is underway, has the two sats have been delivered in French Guiana. The dual launch is currently scheduled for Oct 8/12.

Meanwhile the Air Force is pondering whether to use dual or triple launches for its GPS III satellites, envious of the cost-effectiveness enjoyed by their European and Chinese competitors.

June 14/12: Sub-contractors. Orolia Group’s Swiss Spectratime division of Switzerland announces that it will build atomic clocks for the 8 Galileo FOC follow-on satellite orders, under a contract valued at EUR 14 million euros ($18 million). It’s a follow-on to their EUR 20 million contract in 2011, for the first 14 satellites, and their work on the 4 IOV satellites as part of ThalesAleniaSpace’s team.

Immediate work is just an authorization to proceed but that the final contract will be completed and signed in a few weeks.

They’re a very experienced provider in this area, and have also provided less-sophisticated atomic clocks for China’s Beidou-Compass GNSS constellation. Sources: Space News, “Spectratime To Build More Atomic Clocks for Galileo”.

April 26/12: IOV fit for duty. Astrium confirms that the first 2 IOV sats have successfully passed tests and have begun full in-orbit operations.

Feb 2/12: Tranche 2 orders. The ESA signs a series of Galileo-related contracts, worth EUR 310 million. They accelerate the Galileo program slightly, and set the beginning of service to 2014, if all contracts are completed on time. That’s a lot later than the original 2007 plan, but earlier than the 2016 or so that was feared just a couple years ago.

A EUR 250 million order to the OHB consortium will build another 8 Galileo satellites. EADS Astrium is the losing bidder, but its subsidiary Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in Guildford, UK is building the navigation payloads. When added to the Jan 7/10 order, this places 22 satellites under contract with OHB: 4 Galileo IOV satellites, and 18 standard Galileo satellites. That’s enough for the initial constellation.

ESA also signed 2 contracts with France’s EADS Astrium. The EUR 30 million in contracts pays them to modify the more powerful Ariane 5 ES rocket to an Ariane 5 ES Galileo variant. Its special dispenser will carry 4 satellites into their target orbits, instead of launching just 2 aboard the Soyuz medium-lift rockets. The new launcher variant is expected to be requalified and ready by the second half of 2014.

The 3rd contract set involves an initial EUR 30 million launch option with Arianespace, who operates the rockets. ESA | EC | SSTL.

8 more satellites, Rocket mods, Launch option

Jan 25/12: Industrial. EADS Astrium subsidiary Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in Guildford, Surrey, UK hosts a ceremony to open its new Kepler Building manufacturing facility, based beside the company’s headquarters. SSTL is responsible for Galileo’s navigation payloads. SSTL | ESA.

2010 – 2011

Liftoff!
(click to view full)

Nov 30/11: New Framework, More Money. The European Commission proposes a new financing and governance framework for the Galileo and EGNOS programs, from 2014-2020. The EC proposes to earmark EUR 7.0 billion (currently about $9.4 billion) to guarantee the programs’ completion, and run the space and terrestrial infrastructures, the necessary replenishment/ replacement activities, certification procedures, and provision of services until 2020.

The proposal would also delegate system management to the European GNSS Agency (GSA), while delegating deployment management to the European Space Agency. This would replace the Oct 25/10 operating contract with the Finmeccanica/ Thales/ DLR SpaceOpal joint venture, which runs until 2014.

A cynic might say that this was the program opponents warned about (vid. the Nov 12/07 British report), and the EC denied, when the program needed member approval in 2007. Galileo has shifted from a public-private partnership that wasn’t supposed to support itself via business revenues, deployed by 2007, to a cut-down EUR 10+ billion, taxpayer-financed project, with government assuming management risk, deployed by 2014 at the earliest. At the same time, sunk commitments, and the EC’s structure, make it nearly impossible to cancel the project, or to deny new requests. EC | GSA view.

More money needed

Oct 21/11: 1st Launch! The first pair of Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites are successfully lofted into their 23,222 km orbit, by the first Russian Soyuz vehicle ever launched from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. The satellites being controlled by a joint ESA and CNES French space agency team in Toulouse, France in preparation for handover to the DLR/Telespazio SpaceOpal joint venture.

The Soyuz VS01 flight with its Fregat-MT upper stage is operated by Arianespace. The Soyuz used by Arianespace at the Spaceport adds a new digital control system, which also enables the use of an enlarged ST-type payload fairing. Its new site near the equator nearly doubles its payload capacity to 3 tonnes, relative to its 1.7 tonne capacity from its usual sites in Baikonur, Kazakhstan or Plesetsk, Russia.

The next 2 Galileo satellites are scheduled for a (slightly delayed) fall 2012 launch, to complete the IOV quartet. ESA | EC | Arianespace.

IOV 1 & 2 launched

Sept 12/11: The first Galileo navigation satellite lands at Cayenne Rochambeau Airport in French Guiana, packed within a protective, air-conditioned container aboard an AN-124 transport aircraft. The launch is scheduled for Oct 30/11. ESA.

June 22/11: Ground services contracts. The European Space Agency issues the last 2 major Galileo contracts.

EADS Astrium is the prime contractor for Galileo’s Full Operational Capability Ground Control Segment (GCS). The contract value is EUR 73.5 million, and Astrium’s UK facility will lead the effort. They’ll supervise expansion and full equipping of the existing Ground Control Centres at Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany; and Fucino, Italy; and the addition of 2 more Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TTC) stations on Noumea, New Caledonia in the South Pacific; and St Denis, Reunion Island, in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar. The TTCs are joining the existing stations at Kiruna, Sweden in Europe; and Kourou, French Guiana in South America.

The Fucino GCC will also function as a temporary backup option for the 4 forthcoming Galileo In-Orbit Validation operational satellites, which begin launching in August 2011. Astrium already has experience as the initial GIOVE-B test satellite’s GCS provider, and that satellite remains on orbit following its April 2008 launch. Once the other Galileo satellites join the next 4 GIOVEs in space, Astrium UK will be responsible for their on-orbit validation “housekeeping,” including correct positioning and maintenance of the satellites’ orbits.

The other major “WP” contract is a 4-year EUR 281 million contract with Thales Alenia Space in France, to handle Galileo’s ground-based Galileo Mission Segment (GMS) and the Galileo Security Facility (GSF), and ensure the formatting of navigation information for broadcast by the satellites.

As its name implies, the Galileo Security Facility (GSF) will be responsible for managing user access to Galileo’s encrypted Public Regulated Service (PRS). The GMS is a global network of 16 Galileo Sensor Stations (GSS) to monitor the signals from the satellites, a chain of 5 Up-Link Stations (ULS) around the globe to uplink navigation data to the satellites, parallel communications networks, and a complex sequence of processing elements that include the 2 Galileo Control Centers (GCC) in Fucino and Oberpfaffenhoffen. EC | ESA | EADS Astrium | Thales Alenia Space.

Ground Services contracts

June 18/11: A pair of Soyuz ST-B launchers from Samara, Russia, and their accompanying Fregat-MT upper stages from the factory in Moscow, arrive at Kourou harbour in French Guiana, after shipping from St. Petersburg on June 3/11 aboard MN Colibri. The next step for the launch vehicles will be the Launcher Flight Readiness Review on July 21/11. Success would authorize rocket assembly, and launcher deployment.

Because of the launch facility’s location near the equator, the system’s geostationary launch capacity rises from a standard 1.7 tons at Baikonur, Kazakhstan or Plesetsk, Russia, up to 3 tons. Each launcher will hold 2 satellites, allowing these rockets to deploy the first 4 Galileo In-Orbit Validation spacecraft. ESA.

May 23/11: The ESA, Arianespace, and the European Commission announce that the launch of the first 2 Galileo GIOVE satellites is planned for Oct 20/11, from Arianespace’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. They’ll ride aboard a Russian Soyuz launcher, marking the inaugural Soyuz flight from its new launch facilities there. ESA.

April 21/11: EGNOS upgrade. Thales Alenia Space signs a EUR 54.5 million (about $80 million) contract with the European Space Agency to upgrade the ground systems for the EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System) GPS overlay. The 28-month hardware and software contract will upgrade critical ground subsystems where spare parts have become hard to find, and provide upgrades to the current network.

The next-generation EGNOS platforms will be hosted on SES’ commercial satellites, which would have trouble working with the current ground system. So the hardware and software is getting an advance update, before the existing payloads are retired around 2014. Thales also touts this upgrade as a step toward a larger goal: the Galileo ground segment contract, which is expected in a few months. Thales Alenia Space | Space News.

EGNOS GS upgrade

EGNOS has been deployed since 2005, in order to improve GPS accuracy and signal acquisition. The system consists of 38 reference stations, a data processing center, 6 uplink stations to send data to 3 geostationary satellites, and a control-command station. Its “Safety of Life” service was formally declared available in March 2011, and EGNOS can now be used by civilian aircraft during the landing phase, without ground guiding equipment.

April 4/11: Politics. The European Commission issues a statement concerning its initial vision of an “integrated Space Policy to be developed with the new legal basis provided by [Article 189 of] the Lisbon Treaty.” Galileo and EGNOS are the 1st items mentioned, but it also discusses a European Space Industrial Policy, the European Earth Monitoring Programme (GMES), and a European Space Situation Awareness monitoring system. EU | Aviation Week.

Jan 18/11: EC progress report. The European Commission releases its progress report on Galileo, per Article 22 of Regulation (EC) No 683/2008. So far, the EU contribution to the Galileo and EGNOS programs for 2007-2013 amounts to EUR 3.4 billion, plus a contribution from Norway. That funds EUR 600 million for completion of Galileo development, about EUR 2.4 billion for the deployment phase, and about EUR 400 million for the operation of Galileo’s EGNOS predecessor. The program expects to issue ground infrastructure, and additional equipment & facilities contracts in 2011, to complement the 4 major contracts already issued.

The EC’s release is breezily cheerful about the program, but the full report [PDF] itself is frank. Security issues involving China re not settled, delays of up to 4 years must be expected, and there is a funding shortfall of about EUR 1.9 billion under current arrangements. Excerpts below:

“With regard to China, the question of the overlay of frequencies is a major problem for the security of the EU and the Member States; despite the commitment of the Member States and the Commission it has not yet been resolved, and a solution will not be found without political support from those players and from the European Parliament.

“…The additional cost of the development phase amounts to some [EUR] 500 million in total. At the request of the Member States the Commission has agreed to bear this cost… The price of launch services, for example, has entailed an additional cost of more than [EUR] 500 million by comparison with the original budget [due to lack of competition]… Moreover, the requirements of Galileo’s SoL(Safety of Life) service are having an impact on the programme’s funding needs, particularly with regard to the ground infrastructure. Studies to redefine this service are under way in order to adapt it to the new needs of users and new technological developments. The system also needs to be simplified, its risks and costs need to be reduced and its GPS compatibility needs to be improved. The decisions on these issues will have to be taken over the next few years.

… Taking into account the cost overruns arising in the development and deployment phases (see 1.2.2. above), the Commission considers that additional funding of [EUR] 1.9 billion is needed to complete the infrastructure (see 2.2.1. below). The estimated average annual operating costs are around [EUR] 0.8 billion (see 2.2.2. below). Appropriate financing mechanisms should therefore be established… the Commission7 has not so far proposed the allocation of additional funding for the programmes under the current financial framework. This will entail probable delays of four years in completing the full infrastructure of the Galileo programme, and also additional costs.

In the absence of additional funding before 2014, the deployment strategy for the programmes must be redefined, incorporating the trade-offs between service performance and the associated costs on the one hand, and the need to provide a service of sufficient quality to maintain a place on the market on the other.”

Sources: EC release | EC full report [PDF] | Agence France Presse | BBC.

EC Report

Jan 13/11: The Norwegian paper Aftenposten is poring over the WikiLeaks archive of US diplomatic cables, and discovers a 2009 incident wherein OHB-System CEO Barry Smutty told American diplomats that in his opinion Galileo was “a waste of EU taxpayers’ money championed by French interests” – mostly French military interests. Despite its promotion as a civilian project, Galileo’s encrypted government-users-only “public regulated navigation” signal will allow French nuclear missiles and smart bombs to strike accurately, even if the USA withholds GPS constellation support. He also reportedly discussed the massive scale of the French government’s industrial espionage, which is well known in global security circles.

This is all rather embarrassing to the firm, even if true, or perhaps because it is true. OHB-System won the contract to build the first 14 operational Galileo satellites (vid. Jan 7/10). Step 1 was a release distancing themselves from the reports, on Jan 14/11:

“Immediately after the Wikileaks documents were published, I therefore asked Mr. Smutny on the basis of the provisions of his service contract if there was any truth in the statements attributed to him. Mr. Smutny declared in a statutory oath that he did not make the statements attributed to him. I have no knowledge causing me to question this declaration. The OHB Group expressly repudiates all the statements attributed to Mr. Smutny in the WikiLeaks documents and affirms its full and complete commitment to “Galileo” as the European Union’s first major space technology infrastructure product.”

On Jan 17/11, however, the company’s board decided to remove Smutny from his post, “with immediate effect”:

“The General Assembly and the Supervisory Board saw no alternative to this decision in order to effectively avert any further damage to the company on the part of customers, political representatives and the public at large. Marco R. Fuchs, the CEO of the parent company OHB Technology AG, will additionally be assuming the position of CEO of OHB-System AG until further notice and will share the duties of Mr. Smutny with the Members of the Management Board, Dr. Fritz Merkle and Frank Negretti… thanked Mr. Smutny for the work that he had performed over the past 18 months, particularly stressing the fact that last year had been the most successful in the company’s history.”

See also: Aftenposten || Agence France Presse | Deutsche Welle | NY Times | The Register | Wall Street Journal.

WikiLeaks gets OHB CEO fired

Dec 20/10: Infrastructure. Telespazio’ inaugurates a 5,000 square meter Galileo Control Centre (GCC) at its Fucino Space Centre, which already handles the in-orbit operation of GIOVE-B. The new GCC build-out is part-financed by Italy’s Abruzzo region, and will eventually host more than 100 specialist operators and engineers. Telespazio [PDF].

Oct 25/10: Operating contract. The ESA signs a EUR 194 million contract with SpaceOpal GmbH, to operate the Galileo system until 2014. SpaceoOpal is a joint undertaking between Telespazio, itself a 67% Finmeccanica/ 33% Thales JV, and Germany’s Gesellschaft fur Raumfahrtanwendungen (GfR) mbH, which was set up by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Other industrial partners will include CNES, ESA/ESOC, RSS, SES, Astrium (ASV), T-Systems and Vitrociset.

This contract covers all operations up to the launch of the constellation’s first 18 satellites. SpaceOpal will be responsible for supplying in-orbit (IOT) services, the operational and logistics services necessary to manage and control the Galileo constellation and mission, and the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP) services, from the initial In-orbit validation (IOV) phase until the system reaches “Full Operational Capability” (FOC).

These services will be provided through the 2 Galileo Control Centres (GCCs): in Italy, at Telespazio’s Control Centre in Fucino, and in Germany, at the Space Centre of the DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen near Munich. ESA | Finmeccanica’s Telespazio [PDF].

Interim operations contract

Oct 7/10: Costs up. Germany’s Der Spiegel:

“According to a report by the German government, which has been seen by the Financial Times Deutschland, Brussels now calculates that the project will face further delays and cost [EUR 1.5 -1.7 billion]… extra… “All in all, it is assumed, based on the currently available estimates, that the operating costs will exceed direct revenues, even in the long term,” reads the government report, according to the newspaper. Even when the expected annual revenues of [EUR] 100 million ($139 million) are taken into account, the EU would still need to subsidize the project to the tune of [EUR] 750 million per year. The annual operating costs for the system had up to now been assessed at [EUR] 250 million.”

New cost estimates

March 24/10: Testing. Eurocopter and Funkwerk Avionics have successfully completed a helicopter test flight with an EC145 in the Galileo test bed GATE in Berchtesgaden, Southern Germany. The test flight was observed by IFEN GmbH, the operator of the GATE test bed. The test marked the first time that signals from the future European satellite navigation system Galileo were used for navigation in a helicopter. In the Galileo Test and Development Environment (GATE), transmission antennas on six mountain peaks simulate the Galileo signals. In recent months, these pseudolites had been upgraded to the current Galileo signal definition. EADS release.

March 12/10: China syndrome. The EC is reportedly about to remove the Galileo IOV satellites’ Chinese-built search-and-rescue payloads. A similar technology-independence policy will also prevent them from buying search-and-rescue terminals from Canada’s Com Dev, despite Canada’s status as an associate ESA member and Com Dev’s strong market position. As one might imagine, IOV launch dates are slipping.

China’s disinvitation once the EU changed Galileo into an in-house project led a Chinese official at the March 10/10 Munich Satellite Navigation Summit to ask when China’s cash investment in Galileo would be returned. The answer? Basically never. Which is also China’s answer to European insistence that China move Compass-Beidou off of the same spectrum frequencies as Galileo’s encrypted Public Regulated Service. China says “I’m sorry, Davido, I can’t do that,” and has already begun deploying their planned system of 35 satellites, with full deployment expected by 2020. Sources: Space News, “European Officials Poised To Remove Chinese Payloads From Galileo Sats”.

Jan 7/10: Initial contracts. The European Commission awards 3 of the 6 contracts for Galileo’s initial operational capability. The contracts are expected to be signed in the next few weeks between the chosen companies and the European Space Agency, on behalf of the European Commission, and the remaining 3 contracts (Ground mission infrastructure, Ground control infrastructure and Operations) should be awarded by mid-2010. Contracts 5 & 6 would actually take until mid-2011.

Germany’s OHB System AG wins the first EUR 566 million order for 14 Galileo satellites, under the multi-award framework where it competes with Germany’s EADS Astrium GmbH. The first satellite is expected in July 2012, followed by 1 satellite every 1.5 months until March 2014.

Arianespace wins a EUR 397 million contract to cover 5 Soyuz launches, each carrying 2 satellites. The first launch is scheduled for October 2012 from Kourou, French Guiana, and will be followed by 4-5 launches per year. The contract also contains options for either 2 additional Soyuz launches (carrying 2 satellites each) or 1 Ariane 5 launch (carrying 4 satellites).

Italy’s ThalesAleniaSpace wins an EUR 85 million contract for system support services, and they will support the European Space Agency in its the integration and the validation of the Galileo system. The framework contract runs from 2010 – 2016, but this 1st work order runs from 2010 – 2014. It includes system, performance, signal-in-space, security, and ground segment engineering; system assembly and integration, and product assurance work.

The EC also sets the timing for the provision of the different Galileo services: the Open Service, the Public Regulated Service and the Search And Rescue Service are targeted for early 2014. The Safety-of-Life Service and the Commercial Service will be tested as of 2014, and will be provided at an indefinite date “as Galileo reaches full operational capability with a constellation of 30 satellites.” EC announcement | Deutsche Welle.

Initial contracts: 14 satellites, 5+ launches, initial support

2008 – 2009

EGNOS concept
(click to view full)

December 2009: Competition change. A framework contract is signed with both OHB System AG and EADS-Astrium GmbH, for the eventual provision of a maximum of 32 Galileo satellites. This is a multi-award/ double-souring contract, in which satellite orders will be put up for bid, and awarded to the best value of the 2. The EC chose the double sourcing to lower risks, particularly in terms of delivery timings, and to increase their flexibility. Source.

Oct 28/09: Aviation Week reports that European Union agencies and the European Space Agency are looking to to help create a less fragmented set of civil and military space programs, via an ESA/EDA/EC body called the Structured Dialogue on Space and Security:

“…a road map should be drawn up to survey user requirements for space-based security missions, identify existing dual-use capabilities that could meet these requirements, and determine gaps that need to be addressed. The process could lead to definition of a single system, encompassing nearly all of Europe’s security capabilities except signals intelligence, early warning and other pure-defense systems… efforts to deploy the Galileo satellite navigation system’s encrypted Public Regulated Signal have been stymied by opposition from some countries to using the civilian system for military purpose… the [Gianus] European Space Responsiveness System, seeks to [link] navigation, satellite communications, Earth observation and other capabilities (existing and new) into a single, coherent, user-driven system.”

Oct 22/09: Just 22? The Galileo satellite navigation system could be forced to operate with just 26 satellites. The EC says that it’s just ordering the satellites in 2 batches of 22 and 6, but it does not give a date for the planned second stage buy. The commission has also asked both bidders to quote prices for 8 and 16 satellites, in case it decides to divide the work. Space News | Flight International | GPS World | Aviation Week.

Oct 9/09: Delays. The ESA confirms that Galileo in-orbit validation (IOV) satellites scheduled to launch in 2010 have missed their first pad date, due to delays in both the satellites and the introduction of Russian Soyuz rockets at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana. The 4 satellites are now scheduled for 2 launches, in November 2010 and early 2011. The initial launch date was later moved again, to October 2011. GPS World.

Both launches had been set for earlier in 2010, but ESA has encountered difficulties with the satellites, built by a consortium led by Astrium Satellites and Thales Alenia Space. Introduction of Russia’s Soyuz rocket at Europe’s Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, on the north coast of South America, has also been repeatedly delayed.

Oct 2/09: Competition. The European Commission asks EADS Astrium and OHB System for their “best of final offers,” which must be submitted by Nov 13/09. The procurement decision is expected by the end of the year. The solicitation involves just 22 satellites instead of 28, however, which would be added to the 4 GIOVE validation satellites to create a 26-satellite constellation. As Flight International reports on Oct 22/09:

“OHB chief operating officer Fritz Merkle told Flightglobal that the operational constellation would now be the 22, the first four satellites launched in 2010 and the two Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element (GIOVE) test satellites already in orbit. The original plan had been to have 30 in orbit, not counting GIOVE A and B. The Commission did not comment on whether the reduced spacecraft numbers is an attempt to stave off potential cost increases for Galileo, which has had an unchanged [EUR] 3.4 billion ($5 billion) price tag for years. However, according to the Commission: “We are ordering in two batches. The first batch will contain 22 and the second one, six. Total 28 [with] two on the ground [as spares]. A decision still needs to be taken when we will order the second batch.”

Oct 2/09: GIOVE-A parked. GIOVE-A, the first Galileo test satellite, completes its mission and is repositioned to a parking orbit 113 km/ 70 miles above the Galileo constellation’s planned orbit. Built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. and launched in December 2005, GIOVE-A was designed for a 2-year lifespan of securing international frequency filings, collecting data to characterize Galileo’s medium Earth orbit, and demonstrating atomic clocks and other key system technologies. It remains operational, and will continue broadcasting test signals from its new position.

With respect to Galileo more broadly, the first 4 “In-Orbit Validation satellites” are under construction, and are set for 2 launches in 2010 and 2 in 2011. System, satellite and launch awards for the other 26 Full Operating Capability satellites are expected by the end of 2009, if the project’s 2013 operational deadline is to remain intact. Contract awards for satellite and mission control and operations are expected in 2010. MundoGeo | Aviaiton Week.

GIOVE-A done and parked

Oct 1/09: EGNOS up. The European Commission declares that EGNOS’ freely available satellite navigation signal is operationally ready as an open and free service, improving the accuracy of GPS to within 1-2 meters instead of 17 meters, with over 99% availability within its European footprint. See also Space News.

EGNOS operational

June 26/09: EC progress report. The European Commission releases a short report on the state of the program and next steps: “Report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the implementation of the GNSS programmes and on future challenges pursuant to Article 22 of Regulation (EC) No 683/2008.” One of its passages notes that:

“The cooperation with China will undergo a major test at the next steering committee, jointly set as a key milestone to assess the progress made in the 2008/2009 timeframe on the critical issue of COMPASS/Galileo compatibility. The European side expects positive reactions on the proposals made by the experts. If the problem is not solved promptly, it cannot be excluded that the cooperation with China will get a major reshaping.”

June 18/09: Competition. EADS Astrium CEO Evert Dudok says that a split-buy between EADS Astrium and Germany’s OHB System could increase satellite costs by as much as 40%, due to lower volumes. One possibility being floated is a split plan where each manufacturer would be asked for 8 satellites, with the remaining 12 awarded to one firm based on performance. The cost of the satellites is expected to total EUR 840 million, and the ESA has issued long-lead contracts of EUR 10 million to OHB System and just 6 million to EADS Astrium. That award set surprised Astrium, which is asking for an explanation.

Dudok is quoted as saying that he expects a procurement decision in December 2009, after the September tender deadline. Flight International.

June 15/09: Contract. OHB System announces that the bidder consortium led by OHB-System AG and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) have signed a EUR 10 million Galileo contract for sourcing long-lead time items. Note that payload integrator SSTL is a subsidiary of EADS Astrium, the leader of OMB System’s competing consortium.

April 3/09: Norway joins Galileo, and commits EUR 68.9 million (about $92.5 million) toward the project. Norway is not a member of EU, but it is a member of the European Space Agency. GPS Daily.

Norway MoU

April 1/09: EGNOS is ours. The European Commission announces that it has assumed ownership of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) infrastructure, and entrusted the company ESSP SaS with the operation of the system. ESSP SaS, based in Toulouse, France, was founded by 7 air navigation service providers: Aena (Spain), DFS (Germany), DSNA (France), ENAV (Italy), NATS (UK), NAV Portugal, and Skyguide (Switzerland). The European Space Agency will maintain the role of design and procurement agent through a Delegation Agreement.

The EUR 600 million, 12-year EGNOS project complements the existing American GPS system, and is seen as Galileo predecessor. It is currently composed of 3 transponders installed in geostationary satellites, coupled with an interconnected ground network of about 40 positioning stations and 4 control centers. EGNOS disseminates integrity signals in real-time, and its correction data improves the accuracy of the current GPS services from about 10 meters to about 2 meters. Its coverage area includes most European states and has the built-in capability to be extended to other regions within the potential coverage areas of the 3 geostationary EGNOS satellites.

The EGNOs concept has wider applications, of course, and could be pursued by a variety of players. Boeing has an interesting parallel research project of its own, for instance, which would use Iridium satellites to offer military-class improvements to M-code.

Feb 9/09: China Syndrome. The Space Review reports that the Chinese are refusing to change the frequencies they plan to use for their new and improved Beidou (Compass) satellite navigation system:

“Reports from the recent International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (ICG) meeting, held in December 2008 in Pasadena, indicate that while the US was able to reach an agreement with China on a few minor issues, Europe was unable to get China to change its plans to use a frequency that will render the Galileo Public Regulated Service (PRS) signals pretty much useless for military purposes unless China first gives permission. This is the so-called frequency overlay issue.”

China signed an agreement in 2003, but appears to have gone its own way since.

Jan 13/09: Astrium buys SSTL. EADS Astrium buys most of the University of Surrey’s 88% stake in Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, which started out as a university spin-out in 1985. The deal took a while; serious discussions were reported back in April 2008.

SSTL built the first Galileo test satellite, GIOVE-A, while Astrium led the construction of GIOVE-B. SSTL will remain part of the OHB team (vid. Nov 28/07 entry), however, which is competing against EADS Astrium for the wider Galileo satellite contract. Beyond Galileo, the move also gives EADS Astrium better positioning in the market for smaller satellites, which is SSTL’s specialty. EADS Astrium | BBC.

Galileo concept
(click to view full)

Dec 19/08: Handoff to ESA. The European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA) sign a delegation agreement covering Galileo’s deployment phase. Since July 25/08, the European Commission has been responsible for the management of the EGNOS and Galileo programs. By delegating implementation of the budget to the ESA, they can to manage the technical programs, while retaining the EC’s power of audit. EU release.

ESA takes the reins

Sept 19/08: RFP. The ESA and EU select prime candidates for both the Galileo FOC Space Segment and Ground Control Segment, and invite Expressions of Interest from suppliers for Space Segment and Ground Control Segment Elements. During the first phase of the procedure, interested parties submitted a “Request to participate,” and candidates were short-listed on the basis of pre-defined selection and exclusion criteria. The next step of the procurement procedure will be organized and managed by the European Space Agency as the delegated procurement agent The 11 pre-selected candidates are:

  • Space segment: EADS Astrium (GER), OHB System (GER)
  • Ground Control System: EADS Astrium (UK), G-Nav grouping represented by Lockheed Martin IS&S (UK)
  • System Support: ThalesAleniaSpace (IT), Logica (NL)
  • Ground Mission System: ThalesAleniaSpace (FR), Logica (UK)
  • Launch Services: Arianespace (FR) – no mention of Russia’s Starsem and its Soyuz
  • Operations: Nav-up grouping represented by Inmarsat (UK), DLR (GER) and Telespazio (IT)

Originally planned for a 2007 deployment through a public private partnership, the EC and ESA now aim to follow with contract awards during Q1-Q3 2009, for a 2013 roll-out. See: EC announcement | EADS Astrium release | Flight International.

July 1/08: Go-ahead. The European Commission – with the support of ESA – is launching the procurement of Galileo, with an overall objective of providing 5 main services by 2013: the Open Service, the Safety of Life Service, the Commercial Service, the Public Regulated Service, and the Search and Rescue Service. ESA release | EC release [PDF].

Revised plan, qualified firm & RFPs

May 7/08: GIOVE-B – Common Signal. GIOVE-B begins transmitting navigation signals, following a successful launch on April 27/09 from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on board one of Starsem’s Soyuz/Fregat rockets. The satellite is under the control of Telespazio’s spacecraft operations centre in Fucino, Italy. GIOVE-A was launched in 2005, but GIOVE-B was delayed for almost a year due to a short-circuit problem in final testing.

The 500 kg GIOVE-B was built by a European industrial team led by EADS Astrium GmbH, with Thales Alenia Space performing integration and testing in Rome. It’s the first to transmit the GPS-III/Galileo common signal using the optimized MBOC (multiplexed binary offset carrier) waveform, in accordance with the July 2007 agreement between the EU and USA.

Like GIOVE-A, GIOVE-B carries 2 redundant rubidium atomic clocks with a stability of 10 nanoseconds per day, and a Passive Hydrogen Maser clock whose stability is better than 1 nanosecond per day. GIOVE-B’s PHM is currently the most stable clock operating in earth orbit, and operational Galileo satellites will carry 2 of each atomic clock type. GIOVE-B also incorporates a radiation-monitoring payload to gather data at the Galileo constellation’s planned altitude, a laser retroreflector for high-accuracy laser ranging; and signal generation units that will provide representative Galileo signals on 3 separate frequencies, via an L-band phase array antenna. ESA launch release | ESA signal release | EADS Astrium | China’s Xinhua agency.

GIOVE-B launch

April 8/08: Standards. The European GNSS Supervisory Authority (GSA) releases a new version of the provisional Galileo Open Service Signal-In-Space Interface Control Document (SIS ICD), designed to help developers to create products and applications that employ the Galileo system and signals. The new document is open for public consultation until May 2008. Inside GNSS report.

April 8/08: China Syndrome. In its brief “China’s Space Ambitions,” the right-wing American Enterprise Institute think tank specifically mentions Galileo as a key technology transfer with military implications:

“An additional opportunity for Chinese acquisition of sensitive dual-use technology has arisen from Beijing’s participation in the European Union’s global navigation satellite system project, Galileo… Beijing likely hopes that access to the Galileo architecture will help it resolve the principal weakness in the Beidou system, a lack of accurate positioning. The Beidou system has been dogged by weaknesses in its timing technology, a crucial failing that limits its positioning accuracy to approximately 10 meters. In contrast, Galileo’s target of 1-meter accuracy will involve developing the precise technologies that China seeks. The difference in such degrees of accuracy could be significant for the military applications of a highly accurate global navigation satellite system… “

While the brief recommends renewed diplomatic initiatives with both China and Europe, it also offers blunt conclusions with wider implications for transatlantic defense cooperation:

“…American attempts to frustrate China’s growing military space capabilities have reached a critical point of failure. This dilemma has no easy solution. A combination of European arms manufacturers and aerospace firms appear to have decided to provide China with arms and dual-use technology so long as they can avoid providing Beijing with the lethal tip of its military hardware… If European arms manufacturers and aerospace companies continue to sell weapons systems and permit the transfer of sensitive space technology to China, the day may come when Washington recognizes that the shared strategic vision underlying U.S.-European defense-industrial cooperation has passed. The only rational consequence to such a development will be for the U.S. to reassess its defense-industrial relationship with Europe, accept that we can no longer afford to subsidize the arming of an adversary, and accept that the transatlantic partnership has reached the end of its natural life.”

April 7/08: Formal EU agreement. EU member states agree on implementation rules outlining a timetable and industrial tendering plan as well as a clear division of roles and responsibilities. The new general approach sets out the legal basis for the implementation of the EUR 3.4 billion budget for the programme development and deployment phase (2007-2013), and a new management structure for the project. The European Parliament’s plenary vote on the matter is expected to take place by end of April 2008.

The ‘Galileo Interinstitutional Panel’ (GIP) will include representatives of the European Council, EU Parliament and the European Commission. It will manage and set the annual work program, and handle overall governance and political control. The European Commission will act as the program manager, while the Galileo Surveillance Authority (GSA) EC agency is responsible for security accreditation, operation of the Galileo security center, and commercialization preparations.

The process of picking technology companies to build the satellites and ground stations is expected to begin in the next 2 months. Construction and launch of the first satellites and the establishment of the first ground-based infrastructure is now slated to begin in 2008 and end in 2013. The procurement and industrial tendering of the infrastructure will be split into 6 main work packages: system engineering support, ground mission infrastructure completion, ground control infrastructure completion, satellites, launchers and operations. Additional work packages may be added. European Parliament | EurActiv | GPS World | PC World

Revised EU agreement

2003 – 2007

Galileo Satellites

Dec 3/07: Politics. Galileo receives an important go-ahead [PDF] from the European Commission’s Transport Council:

“After long discussions with the Member States over the last 3 months, the Transport Council reached historical conclusions at its session of 29/30 November 2007 on the future developments of Galileo, more specifically on the procurement and governance aspects. Together with the ECOFIN Council and European Parliament decision of 23 November 2007 on the financing of the programme, the European Commission has now the basis to implement the next phase of the European GNSS programmes. As proposed by the Commission on 19 September, this next phase – the deployment of Galileo – will be carried out and financed by the Community.

The next phase includes the operational availability of EGNOS1 within the next 1-2 years as well as the procurement of Galileo and leading to a Galileo operational system by 2013.”

Nov 28/07: Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd., who built the GIOVE-A demonstrator satellite, has joined Germany’s OHB-System to bid on building the Galileo satellites. BBC.

Nov 23/07: Politics. Germany is the only EU member state to vote against the EU’s proposal to contribute an additional EUR 2.4 billion (about $3.56 billion) to the Galileo project. Germany had advocated that the funds come from cuts to other EU research projects, and initially had the support of Britain, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. The EU changed course and agreed to draw EUR 600 million from other scientific endeavors in the bloc, plus EUR 1.6 billion from the unused agriculture budget as a “one time move”. At which point Germany became the only “no” vote, with Spain abstaining.

Deutsche Welle reports that the EU plans to advertise for private bids in at least six different sectors, with no single company receiving a contract in more than two sectors. This approach is intended to alleviate German fears that French companies would win control of the project’s essential elements, leaving Germany as a major financier and minor industrial beneficiary.

Vote adds more EU money

Nov 15/07: R&D. The European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Supervisory Authority (GSA) has issued a call for proposals under the Transport (including aeronautics) part of the Seventh Framework Program (FP7). Topics covered by this call include: innovative GNSS-based road applications; innovative GNSS-based mobile location-based services (LBS) applications; GSA support; accelerating EGNOS adoption in aviation; mass-market GNSS applications and mass-market receivers. The budget is EUR 25 million. EU Business report.

Nov 12/07: Critical British report. The British Parliamentary Transport Committee unveils a report that is extremely critical of the Galileo project, and holds forth the idea of downsizing or scrapping the project, given its likely costs to British taxpayers. The question is whether the UK Parliament – or even the UK as a whole – will have any say in the matter. [Release: "Galileo: Recent Developments" | Full report | Committee membership]. Key excerpts:

“The estimated and outturn costs of the Galileo programme have increased at every stage of its history. We have no reason to believe that even the very substantial costs now estimated… bear any significant relationship to the likely outturn…” “Flawed governance or procurement strategies could be a source of further, disastrous delays and cost over-runs…” “Comprehensive, rigorous and realistic information is in short supply across many crucial aspects of the Galileo programme…” “There is an alarming absence of rigorous and unprejudiced appraisal of the costs and benefits of different options for Galileo. Cost-benefit analyses undertaken years ago, based on assumptions which no longer hold true, cannot be relied upon…” “In our view, the benefit projections put forward by the European Commission throughout the life-time of the Galileo project appear fanciful…” “An atmosphere that does not allow the continued rationale for the full Galileo programme to be questioned appears to have enveloped Brussels.”

“We are deeply concerned that the consequences of the five-year delay… the market context is likely to be very different and much more competitive than the one on which current revenue projections seem to be based…” “Building and running Galileo over 25 years is estimated to cost almost £10 billion… British tax-payers could end up paying 17% of these costs…”

“Budgetary priorities agreed unanimously in the European Council should not subsequently be re-visited through a qualified majority… This is a slippery slope that must be avoided at all costs… vital that elementary and important principles of budget discipline are not wantonly abandoned in a scramble to save this one flagship project…”

“The Galileo project is at a crossroads. The option of reducing its scope or dropping the project altogether cannot and should not be ruled out unless a balanced and comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, which includes an assessment of the marginal benefit of Galileo over GPS III, is on the table… new cost-benefit analysis should include a comparative evaluation of the “zero-option” of scrapping the project altogether…”

UK Parliament report is very critical

Sept 19/07: EU wants 2.4 billion more. The EU unveils its financing proposal to cover the additional EUR 2.4 billion they believe will be required for Galileo. Mindful of the potential collection issues and political blowback inherent in raising their contribution requests, they have decided to raid other areas of the 2007-2013 “multi-annual financial framework” instead:

“Of the amount required, EUR 220 million will be transferred from the margin available in 2007 and 2008 under the heading “Administration”, which covers the running costs of the European institutions; EUR 2.189 billion will be transferred from the margin available in 2007 and 2008 under heading 2 “Preservation and Management of Natural Resources” which won’t be needed and which leave anyway a margin of EUR 2 billion under the ceiling in 2008; EUR 0.3 billion which are available within the transport related research programmes dedicated to Galileo under the 7th Research Framework Programme… The transfers mentioned above imply that the total financial commitments agreed upon by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in 2006 will not be increased. The IIA provides that, in the event of unforeseen circumstances, the Commission may propose the revision of the framework.

The discussions between the two arms of the Budgetary Authority and the Commission will take place in so-called Trilogue meetings before the Commission proposal will be formally submitted for adoption to the European Parliament and the Council. The provisions of the IIA apply. Since the amount at stake for the revision is far below 0,03% of the EU GNI, the decision to revise the financial framework can be adopted by a qualified majority in the Council and a majority of the members of the EP with three fifth of the votes cast.”

June 8/07: Changed terms. EU Transportation ministers met and unanimously approved the EU’s plan to make Galileo’s build-out a publicly-financed project, which will require an initial outlay of EUR 2.4 billion ($3.2 billion), on top of the EUR 1.3 billion total that various national governments have already committed. Deutsche Welle report.

Note that plan approval does not translate into budgeted dollars until the various member states agree on and approve their individual contributions.

End of public-private approach

Dec 12/06: Morocco joins. The EU and Morocco sign an agreement regarding that country’s participation in Galileo. EU release.

Morocco MoU

Jan 12/06: ROK on. The EU reaches agreement with South Korea regarding their participation in Galileo. The agreement is signed on Sept 11/06. EU release.

Korea MoU

Dec 28/05: GIOVE-A launch. The 600 kg GIOVE-A test satellite successfully lifts off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz rocket.

GIOVE-A carries 2 small, redundant rubidium atomic clocks, with a stability of 10 nanoseconds per day. A pair of signal generation units are used to generate a simple Galileo signal, and a more representative Galileo signal. ESA | BBC.

GIOVE-A launch

Sept 7/05: India in. The EU signs an agreement with India at an EU-India Summit in New Delhi. The EU release says that:

“India is the fourth country joining the GALILEO programme, after the signature of agreements with China, Israel and Ukraine. Discussions are also under way with Argentina, Brazil, Morocco, Mexico, Norway, Chile, South Korea, Malaysia, Canada and Australia.”

India MoU

June 3/05: Ukraine joins. The EU signs an agreement with the Ukraine in Kiev, which Ukraine provides for co-operative activities on satellite navigation in a wide range of sectors, particularly in science and technology, industrial manufacturing, service and market development, as well as standardisation, frequency and certification. It also represents the first step towards the extension of EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) to Ukraine, and the participation of the country in the programme through a stake in the GALILEO Joint Undertaking.

Ukraine already has experience with space programs and GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technologies, from its role in Soviet-era projects. EU release.

Ukraine MoU

March 29/05: No decision for you. The Galileo Joint Undertaking (GJU) decides to continue negotiating with both consortia competing for the Galileo concession contract, rather than naming a primary bidder as expected. Both consortia are surprised. GPS World reports that both the iNavsat and Eurely consortia met the EU’s goal of 2/3 private sector participation, and reported speculation that the European Commission (EC) had intervened in hopes of proposal combining elements of the two teams’ proposals and balancing the geographic membership. The GJU is coy:

“We have received two great offers,” Rainer Grohe, GJU executive director, said of the bids by iNavsat (a team led by EADS, Thales, and Inmarsat) and Eurely (led by Alcatel, and the Italian group Finmeccanica, along with Spain’s Aena and Hispasat). “Both are so great that they deserved a serious negotiation.”

The Galileo concessionaire will be responsible for completing the Galileo constellation and ground segment, now being built under the auspices of the European Space Agency (ESA), and for running the system over the next 20 years. The European Union (EU) has set a goal that two-thirds of the investment in Galileo will come from the private sector, which both teams’ bids have reportedly met. Representatives of both consortia expressed surprise at the decision, and said they believed that their team’s bids had been preferred by the GJU.

No decision

March 17/04: The EU signs an agreement with Israel, laying the basis for Israel’s active participation in the program. The agreement will be submitted to the next EU Transport Council meeting on June 2004 for formal approval by the EU Member States, and provides for co-operative activities on satellite navigation and timing in a wide range of sectors, notably science and technology, industrial manufacturing, service and market development, as well as standardisation, frequencies and certification. It also paves the way for Israel to take part financially through a stake in the GALILEO Joint Undertaking. EU release | Agreement text [PDF].

Israel MoU

Sept 19/03: China. The China-Europe Global Navigation Satellite System Technical Training and Co-operation Centre (CENC) is inaugurated in Beijing’s Zhongguancun Hi-Tech Zone. The Centre will serve as a focal point for all activities on GALILEO. EU release.

Sept 18/03: Chinese agreement. The Chinese government signs an agreement with the EU, after talks began in March 2003. China will reportedly invest about $259 million equivalent in the European navigation system in return for a stake in the project and access to the technological architecture of the navigation system. This agreement provides for co-operative activities on satellite navigation and timing in a wide range of sectors, notably science and technology, industrial manufacturing, service and market development that reportedly involves a responsibility to build Galileo ground stations in China, as well as standardisation, frequency and certification. It also opens the way for China to take a substantial financial part in the programme through a stakeholding in the GALILEO Joint Undertaking.

The draft agreement will be submitted to the next EU Transport Council meeting on Oct 29/03 for formal approval by the EU Member States, and must also be approved by China’s State Council. The text will subsequently be submitted for signature at the forthcoming EU-China Summit on Oct 30/03. EU release.

Note that China eventually moved ahead with its own program, and isn’t a player in Galileo, but they have created some issues for the constellation.

China MoU

Appendix A: Gallileo – How Do You Solve a Problem like the EU? Initial Momentum

Large space projects with long lead times can be politically perilous. The USA’s Transformation Satellite Network (TSAT) aimed to create a system that can deliver fiber cable class bandwidth to or from any point on the globe, using lasers as the space transmission backbone. Funding and technical progress issues pushed the project back from its originally intended date of 2008-2009 to 2015+, and eventually killed it.

The original Galileo project also faced a tough funding environment, given constrained national budgets. The key change came in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. In the aftermath of that attack, the US voiced security fears, and also made trade reservations felt. As the State Department’s March 2/02 letter stated:

“…the U.S. delegation has raised potential concerns about various aspects of the Galileo project as it has been described by Europe. These potential concerns fall into three broad categories: trade-related, technical, and security.”

This request, and related US pressure, helped solidify a shift within the EU’s member countries – toward funding the Galileo program.

The Galileo program got its formal go-ahead on May 26/03, and June 2004 saw the signing of an agreement with the United States that appeared to smooth over some of the technical and security concerns.

Consortium Confusion

The path beyond that agreement was expected to be smooth. It wasn’t. What it was, was consistent: away from private sector involvement, and toward a 100% public sector model, with denials at every stage that this was happening.

A combination of political jockeying, and difficulties in reaching a solid agreement, delayed the critical choice of which industrial consortium would be selected to build the system: iNavsat (EADS SPACE Services, Inmarsat, and Thales), or Eurely (Aena, Alcatel, Finmeccanica SpA, and Hispasat). The EU stumbled through more than one decision date, and received quite a bit of grumbling from industry regarding its negotiating approach. Finally, both consortia appeared to take matters into their own hands – by submitting a single, joint bid to the EU in June of 2005. Deutsche Telekom and the German Aerospace Center (DLR) were also part of the ‘final’ Galileo consortium.

This seemed to break the impasse, and get the project moving. Then the EU’s May 16/07 statement laid the project’s deep divisions open for the public to see. EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot complained that there was no single company structure to regroup the partners, nor any negotiator to speak with the Galileo Supervisory Authority who is supposed to oversee the project. News reports said that consortium unity in the proposal stage had been replaced by arguments over how to divide the workload between the 2 coalitions’ members, and the situation eventually deteriorated to the point that consortium finalization negotiations among the firms had been suspended.

Meanwhile, other reports indicated that the firms involved had reached agreement on one subject – they wanted more time, additional funds, and stronger public guarantees for the project.

In this situation, it’s no surprise that the expected final agreement on a 20-year services and satellite contract was considered very doubtful. The EU’s response?

“The lack of progress in the negotiations on the concession contract, which provided for the deployment and management of the infrastructure by the private sector, is posing a serious threat to the completion of the project. The Council (Transport Ministers) which met on 22 March 2007 therefore asked the Commission to let it have, before its next meeting in June, a detailed report setting out the progress made in the negotiations with the consortium applying for the concession and alternative scenarios for the rapid deployment of the space infrastructure. The Commission’s conclusion is that the present roadmap, which provides for the involvement of the private sector at an early stage, will not enable the project to be completed within the desired timeframe and that this is likely to lead to considerable extra costs for the private sector.”

The EU’s alternative proposal was straightforward, but politically perilous. The original project had been sold to cash-strapped governments on the basis that the private sector would make heavy investments, limiting their funding exposure to 1/3 of the project. After the EC’s own failure to make decisions had played a large role in torpedoing that model, its September 2007 proposal changed course 270 degrees:

“The Commission shows that the most beneficial, the most realistic and, in the long term, the most economic option will be for all the initial infrastructure to be put in place while being piloted and financed by the public sector. In contrast, the operation of the system will be entrusted to a private concession holder.

The Commission calls on the EU Member States to take the necessary decisions in terms of policy, finance and programme management to enable the project to be completed as soon as possible and to meet the needs of satellite navigation market users.”

By 2011, the EU had backtracked on even that commitment, and wanted Galileo to be operated by the public sector as well. Of course, by then, a lot more money had been committed, contracts were in place for 14 satellites, and the project could not really be canceled.

Funny Money GPS IIIA concept
(click to view full)

The question being asked in some quarters is whether this was the real intention all along, which had to be masked until commitment traps had ensured the necessary funds. As the UK Parliament Transport Committee’s November 2007 report put it, in classic British understatement: “The current estimated costs for the Galileo programme in its entirety are less transparent than might be wished for.”

European governments face very high fixed social spending costs and little fiscal maneuverability – which is further reduced by EU membership directives. Even assuming that required financial commitments can be secured, each country who does step up with funding is likely to ask for a greater share of the investments and benefits in return for its financing. This is likely to add further complications to the project’s organization and governance. Which translates, in turn, into additional challenges securing final agreement, amidst an environment in which launch timing matters.

Given the likely commitment trap inherent in even a “lesser” funding plan, it’s significant that a May 2007 Deutsche Welle report placed the final program commitment total much higher than the totals used to sell the program, or the EC’s 2007 funding plan:

“Brussels estimates that it could require up to 10 billion euros ($13.6 billion) all tolled in public funds until 2030 – which includes the 20-year period during which industry will manage the system.”

The UK Parliament set the bar even higher, at EUR 14 billion. Its multi-party transportation committee’s Nov 12/07 report put forth the most complete and honest estimate at that time:

  • Definition, Phase 1: Complete. Cost an est. EUR 133 million, an overrun of 66% from original estimates.
  • Development and validation, Phase 2: In progress. Cost an est. EUR 1.5 billion, an overrun of 37% so far.
  • Deployment, Phase 3: Not begun, EU was holding firm to 30 satellites (since slipped to 26). Est. cost 3.4 billion, an overrun of 62% to date.
  • EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service), 2 satellites enhance US GPS & Russian GLONASS: Deployed, in testing and early use. Cost to date EUR 520 million.
  • Galileo related research through Framework programs. Est. cost EUR 480 million

This gives 2007 estimated total build and launch costs, excluding post-launch running costs, of EUR 6.04 billion. Then we have:

  • Operations, Phase 4: Not begun. Est. cost over 20 years (2014-2034) is EUR 7.96 billion, for a total commitment of EUR 14 billion. Or 13.48 billion, if one strikes the precursor EGNOS project from the list.

All of this was a substantial jump from initially-touted totals. From the committee’s report:

“When we produced our last report on Galileo in 2004, the total cost of Phase 3 was estimated to be [EUR] 2.1 billion, of which the PPP concessionaire was supposed to pay [EUR] 1.4 billion and the European Union would have paid [EUR] 700m.[27] The current cost estimate for phase 3 is [EUR] 3.4 billion – an increase of some 60% in three years. Apart from the increase in overall costs, the collapse of the PPP means that European tax payers are likely to end up financing the project in its entirety, facing an effective cost increase of 385% to the taxpayer.[28] This means an increased commitment from the public purse of at least [EUR] 2.4 billion[29] from now on, just to get the system into orbit. To this should be added an estimated [GBP] 5.5 billion over 20 years to operate the Galileo system – an estimated [GBP] 275 million per year.”

A 2010 Deutsche Welle report said that the EU’s own reports had shifted to an estimated total of EUR 750 million per year in operating costs, or EUR 15 billion over 20 years. This was followed by news in November 2011 that the EC planned to ask for another EUR 7 billion, to fund Galileo deployment and operating costs for 6 years. Which would be undertaken by public sector agencies, not private sector operators under contract.

Which brings us to Galileo’s second challenge: its business model. Competition against free systems is inherently difficult, unless backed by regulations that force ‘customers’ into that system, while operating within Europe. Which had been the core of the USA’s major trade concerns concerning the Galileo project.

Commissioner Barrot projected offsetting Galileo revenues of EUR 8 billion to offset the EUR 10 billion price tag cited by sources like Deutsche Well. Those projections are also in question, to put it mildly. First, there’s the issue of timing. Deutsche Welle, again:

“Experts fears that a delay in the launch of Galileo could hurt its future, with competition from Russia and China and a high-performance GPS III system which could to go into operation from 2013. “If Galileo would only come in 2014 or 2015, we would not need it anymore,” Galileo expert Carsten Rolle from the German Industry Federation (BDI) told DW-WORLD.DE. “At that point, it would be hard to find a market for it.” “

2014 is now seen as an optimistic date for the beginning of the Galileo service. Next, there’s the issue of basic demand for paid services. A May 2007 UK Financial Times article said that:

“An executive close to Galileo confirmed that, despite forming a joint company in March, the consortium had no intention of signing a contract to require it to finance two-thirds of the project.

“The market is just not there. We were too optimistic. GPS is fine for most purposes. Besides, who gets the money from satellite navigation services? Usually the maker of the device, not the satellite operator.”

The UK Parliament’s transport committee had expressed similar reservations, and openly called the EU’s promises of economic benefits “fanciful.”

Additional Readings Background: Galileo Basics

Background: Galileo Precursors and Ancillaries

  • European Space Agency – What is EGNOS? Short answer: a regional augmentation system.

  • European Space Agency – GIOVE: Galileo In-Orbit Validation Element. 2012 snapshot offers history and added information.

  • European Space Agency – Ariane 5 Generic. A modified variant will eventually become a launch vehicle.

  • The United States Mission to the European Union (2008) – Galileo & GPS. 2008 snapshot includes major statement, agreements, etc.

PNT/GNSS Alternatives

News and Views

The Security Dimension

  • China Galileo Industries. Still active in “interoperability” projects and studies.

  • Space News (Oct 8/12) – China and Europe Taking Their Navigation Dispute to ITU. Galileo PRS and Compass-Beidou’s Authorized Service share the same spectrum, so you can’t jam 1 without jamming both. This won’t be fixed.

  • The New Federalist (April 24/10) – Galileo, the UK and China – the wrong trio for the EU?. This is a European e-zine.

  • Space News (March 12/10) – European Officials Poised To Remove Chinese Payloads From Galileo Sats. They did. China’s participation essentially ended once the EU made it a publicly-funded project.

  • The Space Review (Feb 9/09) – Galileo and the Chinese: one thing after another.

  • Space News International (Jan 12/09) – China’s Satnav Progress Stokes Concerns About Galileo Overlap [PDF, dead link]

  • The Space Review (Aug 21/06) – China and Galileo, continued

  • DefenseTech (Aug 4/06) – Could Compass put the US (and Europe) in a jam? “In yesterday’s article I referenced the peculiar number of Compass satellites registered with the ITU. Naturally, such registrations also include the frequencies to be used. Things get very interesting when you compare Compass’ registrations to the GPS and Galileo allocations…”

  • DefenseTech (Aug 3/06) – Compass – Chinese SatNav or Galileo Bluff? “What is Europe to do? The economic returns on Galileo must be protected if the project is to succeed. China could be given rights under the Supervisory Authority, minimizing its need for Compass. However, this would probably allow Chinese companies to build Galileo ground receivers, a potentially lucrative market that Europe would like to keep for itself. It would also give China access to the encrypted, and sensitive, public-safety signals. The stakes are high, but can Europe afford to call China’s bluff?”

  • The Space Review (June 19/06) – Will China Compel the Development of GPS 4? “This will mean that the current GPS 3 program will have to be curtailed or modified beyond recognition. The generation after next of GPS satellites will have to include much more robust methods for overcoming or avoiding enemy interference… In the long term this could create some interesting opportunities for the Transformational Satellite (T-Sat) communications program to work with the designers of the future GPS system.”

  • DefenseTech (June 15/06) – China’s GPS: Military Threat? “But there’s more: the Chinese are apparently ‘threatening’ to use an encrypted signal for military ops that would actually overlay and maybe interfere with ‘M-Code,’ the Pentagon’s GPS broadcast. That’s the signal that keeps everything from precision bombs to flying drones on track. You might remember that the Pentagon had a right royal hissy fit when the Europeans proposed to overlay Galileo’s encrypted signal on the M-code, because under those circumstances the U.S. military wouldn’t be able to jam Galileo during any hostilities without blocking its own ability to access the GPS signal…”

  • Asia Times (Feb 9/06) – Galileo: Why the US is unhappy with China. “It’s simply useless to deny it: access to Galileo’s cutting-edge satellite-navigation technology will increase Beijing’s military power, despite the fact that the European positioning system is under totally civilian, non-military control.”

Categories: News

Korea’s New Coastal Frigates: the FFX Incheon Class

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 16:26
FFX: Jeonbuk launch
(click to view full)

South Korea currently owns some of the world’s best and most advanced shipyards. That civilian strength is beginning to create military leverage, and recent years have seen the ROK take several steps toward fielding a true open-ocean, blue water navy. Their new KDX-II destroyers, KDX-III AEGIS destroyers, LPX amphibious assault ships, and KSS-I/KSS-II (U209/U214) submarines will give the nation more clout on the international stage, but what about the home front? North Korea’s gunboats have launched surprise attacks on the ROK Navy twice in the last decade, while its submarines continue to insert commandos in South Korean territory, and committed acts of war by sinking ROKN ships. To the west, Chinese fishing rights are a contentious issue that has led to the murder of a Korean Coast Guard official on the high seas.

Hence the Future Frigate Experimental (FFX) program. It aims to build upon lessons learned from ROK naval shipbuilding programs in the 1980s and 1990s, and replace 37 existing ships with a modern class of upgunned inshore patrol frigates. A contract to build the lead FFX frigate Incheon was issued in December 2008, and South Korea continues to work to define the program, including the forthcoming Batch II design.

The FFX Class, and its Predecessors The ROKN’s Existing Fleet Ulsan Class
(click to view full)

It’s easier to understand and critique the thinking behind FFX, if you look at what it will replace.

The ROKN’s 9 small 2,200 – 2,300 ton Ulsan Class frigates were built in South Korea, and commissioned from 1981-1993. They’re not designed to operate alone in high-threat areas, or to provide general fleet defense on the open seas. Instead, they’re designed to serve as high-end coastal patrol vessels with a mix of anti-air (RIM-7 Sea Sparrow), anti-ship (guns, RGM-84 Harpoon), and anti-submarine capabilities. They carry a crew of 150.

The ROKN’s 24 Pohang Class 1,220 ton patrol corvettes were commissioned from 1984-1993, and have no anti-air missile capabilities. They mount 76mm, 40mm, and 30mm guns like the Ulsan Class, and are divided into 4 anti-surface warfare versions with MBDA’s Exocet ant-ship missiles, but no sonar or torpedoes; and 20 anti-submarine versions with sonar and torpedoes, but no missiles. They carry a crew of 95.

ROKS Cheonan, sunk by a North Korean torpedo in March 2010, was a Pohang Class ship.

Pohang Class
(click to view full)

The ROKN’s 4 low-end Dong Hae Class 1,000 ton patrol corvettes were commissioned from 1982-1983. they are armed with guns, sonar, and torpedoes, and also carry a crew of 95.

Bottom line? The Dong Hae Class are aging out of the water. The Pohang Class have shown that they can’t deal with North Korea’s subs, and have no air protection in waters that are more and more contested. The Ulsan Class can serve a while longer, but their equipment is outdated. Modern replacements are in order, and the threat’s challenges are pushing the ROKN toward an inshore corvette/frigate replacement that can carry higher-end equipment.

FFX: Batches and Key Improvements FFX combat system
(click to view larger)

In contrast to the older classes described above, the new FFX frigates will follow the modern pattern of stealthier ship designs with far better radars, sonars, and communications equipment. The new class is said to have accepted less radar stealth in the design, however, in order to keep ship costs down. That’s an acceptable tradeoff for an non-expeditionary inshore frigate.

The new frigates were expected to begin service in 2011, with the first 6 all built and delivered by 2015, but those dates have slipped. The first-of-class Incheon was launched in April 2011, but formal delivery to the ROKN didn’t happen until late 2012, and the ship wasn’t commissioned until 2013. The ROK Navy still intends to replace all ships in the Ulsan, Pohang, and Dong Hae classes by 2020. Overall construction will take place in at least 2 batches, and possibly 3.

FFX Batch I: The Incheon Class ROKS Incheon
(click to view full)

The 1st batch of 6 FFX Incheon Class frigates measure about 114m long by 14m wide, with an empty weight of 2,300 tons and a crew of 145-170 sailors. Hyundai Heavy Industries claims a cruising range of about 8,000 km, though that would require a cruising speed well below the ship’s claimed 30-knot maximum.

Each FFX Batch I frigate is said to cost around WON 250 billion ($232 million), and the ROKN plans to have Hyundai Heavy Industries build 6 of them. Ships include:

  • FFG-811, ROKS Incheon
  • FFG-812, Gyeonggi (scheduled Oct. 2014)
  • FFG-813, Jeonbuk (scheduled Dec. 2014)
  • FFG-814, Gangwon (scheduled late 2015)

Even the FFX Batch I ships boast a number of significant improvements over the current Ulsan Class; their firepower and versatility will provide a very considerable upgrade over the ROKN’s existing corvettes.

Sensors. FFX ships’ use of improved modern sonars via a Thales/STX partnership has become a particular focus of attention, as post-Cheonan assessments questioned the adequacy of anti-submarine detection systems on earlier-model ships. The built-in sonar will eventually be complemented by a towed sonar, and the current plan is to produce that towed array in South Korea.

Other sensors include a Thales Smart-S Mk2 radar, and passive long range “electro-optical” day/night cameras. A SamsungThales combat system will integrate the ship’s sensors and weapons.

ROKN SL-300
(click to view full)

Weapons. FFX firepower improves sharply over past classes. The ships will carry BAE’s Mk45 MOD 4 5″/ 127mm gun for longer-range gunnery and amphibious support, RIM-116 RAM short-range missiles for killing missiles, aircraft and fast boats, and an embarked helicopter. Early reports also had the ships carrying a 30mm Thales Nederland “Goalkeeper” system like other South Korean combat vessels, to be used for last-ditch missile defense and small boat overkill. In the end, however, the FFX became the 1st Korean ship to carry Raytheon’s smaller and less structurally intrusive 20mm Phalanx Block 1B. Rheinmetall’s MASS decoy system and LiG Nex1′s SONATA electronic warfare system offer “soft kill” options.

Anti-ship missiles and light torpedoes will also be on board, as is the case with the current Ulsan Class. What’s new is that FFX’s Blue Shark (K745 Chungsangeo) torpedoes and 8 C-Star (Haeseong I) anti-ship missiles will both be Korean designs.

The ship’s hangar is large enough for smaller naval helicopters like South Korea’s Super Lynx 300s. A January 2013 contract indicates that the FFX frigates may eventually embark the next generation of Lynx helicopters: the AW159 Wildcat SCMR naval variant, with full anti-submarine capability that includes an advanced dipping sonar.

FFX Batch II SAAM concept
(click to view full)

Between 6-9 FFX Batch II ships are planned, to be built by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. These ships may be slightly larger, and will include almost all of the same core systems onboard Batch I ships.

One exception is the engine. Instead of using a CODOG system, Batch II ships will be powered by a single 36-40MW MT30 turbine, and propulsion will be all-electric. Finmeccanica’s newly-developed Permanent Magnetic Motor hybrid-electric drive will offer the ships weight, space and power advantages over standard AIM drive technologies, and all of those advantages are especially valued in a small ship.

The other changes are tied to a 16-cell K-VLS Korean Vertical Launch System that will broaden the ships’ weapon array, lengthen their reach, and add a lot of flexibility. K-VLS will let the frigate add locally-designed SAAM medium-range air defense missiles in place of the Batch I’s short-range RAM, along with vertically launched anti-submarine missiles like Korea’s own Red Shark, and longer-range Haeseong-II cruise missiles. There’s enough room to add another 16-32 cells in Batch III.

Finally, a larger hangar will allow Batch II frigate to handle larger 10-ton helicopters, like KAI’s own naval Surion helicopter.

Contracts and Key Events 2013 – 2014

FFX #1 commissioned, #2-3 launched; FFX Batch II design unveiled; Long-term contract for Phalanx systems; AW159 helo picked for MH-X. Red Shark ASROC
(click to view larger)

Aug 12/14: #4 launched. The Gangwon Ham is launched at STX Offshore & Shipbuilding’s yard in Changwon, Gyeongsangnam-do. There’s a bit of numbering confusion somewhere, because photos show the number 815 painted on the side. That’s out of sequence, and the official MND release says:

“Rear Admiral Choi Yang-sun, the first deputy chief of staff for planning and management in the Navy Headquarters, named the next fourth frigate ‘Gangwon’ and assigned ’814′ as the ship number through the denomination No.460.”

The ship is scheduled to be handed over to the ROKN in late 2015, and enter service in 2016. Sources: ROK MND: “The next FFG, ‘Gangwon Ham,’ a powerful ship for safer Korean territorial waters”.

June 9/14: Urgency rises. North Korea is showing movies of new anti-ship missiles mounted on and fired from its military ships, and has also placed the new missile “among the country’s closely guarded submarines, which were also featured for the first time.” The missile sure looks like the Russian SS-N-25/ Kh-35, or a copy, and South Korea is taking the reports seriously enough that:

“Military authorities here are reportedly trying to find out where the North bought the Kh-35 missiles, on the assumption that it was clandestinely imported from a third country like Burma.”

North Korea’s willingness to attack South Korea, including the deliberate sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, makes the use of more advanced and longer-range Kh-35 missiles a potential issue for ROKN ships operating near the border. The Pohang Class was already defenseless against the KPANF’s 1950s-era SS-N-2 Styx missiles, but Kh-35s would outclass the Ulsan Class’ RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missiles as well, while allowing North Korean ships greater standoff firing distance. That could create pressure for more FFX ships, and/or acceleration of the FFX Batch II program. The Incheon Class’ RAM missile systems are an adequate point defense countermeasure, but only FFX Batch II ships and larger ROKN destroyers will offer an air defense umbrella that lets other patrol vessels nearby operate with confidence.

The good news is that North Korea has few naval platforms that are suitable for these missiles, and with respect to submarines, there’s a reason the videos were limited to placing a missile nearby. The KPANF’s 370t Sang-O and 130t Yono boats are unlikely candidates as missile subs. Ditto the ancient Romeo Class boats in service, unless they’ve been given significant Chinese or Russian upgrades – but Kim Jong-Un recently executed the most senior individual pushing for closer ties with China. Sources: Chosun Ilbo, “New N.Korean Anti-Ship Missiles Threaten Older Patrol Boats”.

May 26/14: Weapons. South Korea has been working to resolve problems with its vertically-launched “Red Shark” (Hongsangeo) rocket-boosted torpedoes since a formal complaint was filed in July 2012. They’ve just finished their 3rd consecutive successful test, which has led DAPA to resume production.

The ASROC-type weapons have been deployed on ROKN destroyers thus far, but FFX Batch II ships are also expected to include them. Sources: Yonhap, “S. Korea to resume production of homegrown torpedo after quality improvement”.

March 19/14: Sub-contractors. DRS Technologies Inc. announces a $9 million sub-contract from Korea’s Hyosung Corporation to design and produce FFX Batch II’s Hybrid Electric Drive propulsion system based on permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMM) technology The first ship-set is supposed to be delivered in 2015.

The equipment in question has a naval lineage that traces back to the USA’s DD-X/ DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyer, whose Integrated Power Systems were initially set to be powered by DRS’ PMM technology. When PMM development took longer than expected, the ships switched to Alstom’s maritime standard Advanced Induction Motors (AIM) to help stay on schedule. DRS continued to develop their PMM technology, which is lighter, smaller, and produces much more power than AIM. They wound up being too late for use in the Zumwalt Class, but FFX Batch II will also use the MT30 turbine, so DRS’ past work is still valuable. This export foothold is a promising step for DRS, if the technology performs reliably. Sources: Finmeccanica’s DRS, “DRS Technologies Awarded Contract to Supply Its Hybrid Electric Drive System to Korean Navy’s New Class of Frigates”.

Feb 24/14: Weapons. Raytheon announces a $123 million Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) contract to deliver 9 Phalanx Block 1B 20mm Close-In Weapon Systems for installation aboard the ROK Navy’s 6 FFX Batch IIs, and aboard the AOE II successors to their 3 Cheonji Class supply ships. Phalanx deliveries will begin in 2016, and are scheduled to be complete in 2022.

DCS contracts are subject to different announcement rules than Foreign Military Sale contracts, and are managed directly by the buyer instead of by a US military surrogate. This is Raytheon’s largest DCS contract for Phalanx systems, and it was actually signed in Summer 2013. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon awarded $123 million Phalanx contract from Republic of Korea”.

Nov 13/13: #3 launched. Hyundai Heavy Industries holds a launch ceremony for Jeonbuk, the 3rd Incheon Class frigate. Sources: Portnews, “Hyundai Heavy launches new frigate.”

Oct 19/13: Batch II. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering unveils their FFX Batch II design, during a festival celebrating the 63rd anniversary festival of the Incheon amphibious landing that changed allied fortunes in the Korean War. Key changes include:

  • 16 K-VLS vertical launch cells for Haeseong I/II cruise missiles and Red Shark ASROC torpedoes.
  • The Batch I’s RAM short-range air defense missile launcher will be removed, in favor of a local medium-range SAAM system under development by LIG Nex1.
  • A hangar big enough for a 10-ton helicopter like the Surion naval variant or MH-60 Seahawk.
  • All-electric propulsion system to go with the ship’s extremely powerful (36-40MW) MT30 turbine, which replaces the previous CODOG arrangement.

FFX Batch II unveiled

March 3/13: Philippines. The Philippines has decided not to buy second-hand Italian Maestrale frigates from the 1980s, and will pursue 2 new frigates instead. That will be a major acquisition given their budgets, and they’re reportedly talking to South Korea about the Incheon Class as an option.

South Korea is building a broader defense relationship with the Philippines, and is in advanced stage negotiations to renew the PAF with KAI’s TA-50 light fighter. PNA via Defense Studies.

Jan 17/13: ROKS Incheon. The ROKN commissions ROKS Incheon [FFG-811], the first-of-class FFX Batch I frigate. Hyundai Heavy Industries will build 5 more FFX Batch I vessels under current plans, and the next 2 are scheduled to launch in mid-2013. Navy Recognition.

FFX #1 commissioned

Jan 16/13: AW159. South Korea picks AgustaWestland’s naval AW159 for its MH-X competition, with a planned initial buy of 8 helicopters. They will complement an existing fleet of 24 Super Lynx naval helicopters, and the ROKN’s new AW159s will have the full complement of dipping sonar, AESA radar, surveillance & targeting turret, rescue hoist, provision for anti-ship missiles and torpedoes, door gun, etc.

These helicopters will arrive from 2015-2016, and could serve aboard the new Incheon Class. As the FFX ships are built and fielded, follow-on buys become likely. Read “AW159 Wildcat: The Future Lynx Helicopter Program” for full coverage.

AW159 Helo picked

2010 – 2012

Contracts for Batch I ships 2-3; Initial ship launched; RAM/Phalanx picked; MT30 engine for FFX Batch II; Pohang Class ROKS Cheonan sunk. Incheon launch
(click to view larger)

June 26/12: MT30 for Batch II. Rolls-Royce announces that its MT30 gas turbine has been picked to power the FFX Batch II frigates, which Rolls Royce touts as the first frigate to feature the MT30.

The decision also includes a contract to supply an engine for the 1st Batch II ship. Rolls Royce will build and test the engine, then ship it to Korea, where Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) will integrate it into the steel enclosure which also houses the air inlets, exhausts and ancillary equipment. Shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) will install the enclosure in the ship.

The MT30 is the world’s most powerful marine gas turbine, delivering 36-40 MW, and The FFX Batch II frigates will use just 1 MT30, instead of carrying 2 turbines like most other frigates. This arrangement is similar to Lockheed Martin’s frigate-sized Littoral Combat Ship, but the MT30′s other platforms are revealing: the battlecruiser-sized DDG-1000 “destroyers,” and Britain’s CVF Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

Sept 12/11: Weapons. Raytheon signs a $65.5 million Direct Commercial Sale contract to deliver 5 Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon Systems to the Republic of Korea Navy for the new FFX Batch I ships. The contract calls for the systems to be installed starting in April 2013, and represents Phalanx’s largest sale to the ROK fleet. Raytheon.

April 29/11: FFX-1 launch. Shipbuilder builder Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. in Ulsan launches the 1st FFX Batch I frigate: the 2,300-ton (empty) FFG-811 Incheon. Hyundai HI | Korea Herald.

April 11/11: Weapons. Raytheon announces that it has delivered the 1st 20mm Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon System to the Republic of Korea Navy, representing the Phalanx’s introduction into the ROK fleet. The direct commercial sale calls for the Phalanx Block 1B system to be installed on the lead FFX frigate in 2011.

Raytheon expects to sign another contract with South Korea for an additional 5 Phalanx systems in the near future. The Phalanx has some small-ship advantages over Thales 30mm Goalkeeper, as it can be installed as a simple bolt-on.

March 29/11: Unconfirmed report that the lead FFX ship will be named ROKS KyungGi, and is expected to be launched in late April 2011. The date turns out to be right, but not the name. World Armed Forces Forum.

Sept 29/10: Ships #2-3. A spokesman from the ROK’s Defence Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) tells Jane’s that Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has been selected to construct the 2nd and 3rd Ulsan-I class FFX frigates. A contract to build the 2 ships, estimated to be valued at around $600 million, is scheduled to be signed by the end of 2010, with deliveries from 2014. Jane’s.

Contract: ships #2-3

June 6/10: RAM & Phalanx picked. The Korea Times reports that Raytheon has beaten Thales Nederland and MBDA to supply the FFX frigates’ air defense weapons. Its RAM Rolling Airframe Missile reportedly beat MBDA’s VL-MICA (a surprise mention, as the Crotale NG/Mk3 is a closer analog, whose land variant is already in service with the ROK Army), while Raytheon’s 20mm Phalanx system was picked over the 30mm Goalkeeper system that equips other Korean ships.

A DAPA spokesman told the paper that the Phalanx CIWS contract was signed in May, while negotiations remained in progress for the RAM system. DAPA hopes to finalize that by July, and other DAPA sources are quoted as giving the Phalanx system an $11 million price tag, and the RAM system about $17 million.

March 26/10: ROKS Cheonan The Pohang Class corvette ROKS Cheonan is attacked and sinks, killing 46 of the 104 crew members. Subsequent investigation shows that it was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, fired from a submarine with what was apparently complete surprise.

The attack causes South Korea to re-evaluate its defense plans. The FFX project may end up receiving a boost, at the expense of high-end ships like the KDX-III AEGIS destroyers. Wikipedia re: Cheonan | Chosun Ilbo | JoongAng Daily | NY Times || ROK ambassador to US CSIS presentation [PDF] | Korea JoongAng Daily re: force rethink.

ROKS Cheonan attacked & sunk

2007 – 2009

Initial ship ordered.

Oct/Nov 2009: Sub-contractors. Marine Propulsion reports that:

“Degaussing systems from SAM Electronics of Germany are specified for the Korean Navy’s new FFX-class multi-purpose frigates, starting with the lead-ship due next year. The order maintains a 30-year relationship forged when one of SAM’s predecessors, AEG-Schiffbau, secured a contract to deliver such systems to the first-generation Ulsan-class light frigates built in Korea…”

Degaussing systems are used to help remove magnetism from a ship’s hull. Without them, the ship becomes a lot more vulnerable to weapons like naval mines.

July 20/09: The Korea Times reports that their Navy plans to establish a strategic mobile fleet of 2 destroyer-led squadrons by February 2010, in a bid to develop blue-water operational capability beyond coastal defense against a North Korean invasion.

Each mobile squadron would initially consist of a KDX-III Aegis destroyer, 3 4,500-ton KDX-II destroyers, and maritime aircraft. That would be augmented by submarines and smaller ships like the FFX frigates, once a forward naval base is finished on the southern island of Jeju, around 2014.

March 18/09: Jane’s reports that South Korea’s DAPA procurement agency has re-issued a tender for the FFX’s tactical air navigation (TACAN) systems, after just one potential vendor submitted a bid. That triggered a DAPA rule forcing the re-issue.

Dec 26/08: Ship #1. Hyundai Heavy Industries signs a WON 140 billion (about $106.5 million) contract to build the lead ship of the South Korean Navy’s new FFX frigate class. It is not clear whether this is a complete contract, a contract for the ship minus “government furnished equipment” like weapons, or a partial award.

Hyundai had been in charge of the basic FFX design. There had been rumors that Korea was considering the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile for medium-range air defense, to be mounted in a vertical launching system that could also host anti-submarine rockets and add new weapons over time. While the ships’ planned 4,550 nautical mile operating range might make that idea attractive, the South Korean Navy appears to have decided to contain costs, and stick to its original mission of coastal defense. Korea Times sources indicate that the new ships will not have vertical launchers. The Korea Times | Your Shipbuilding News.

Contract: Ship #1

Feb 5/07: Sensors. Thales Underwater Systems announces a contract from Korea’s STX Engine CO Ltd, for industrial cooperation aiming at the full scale development of a new Hull Mounted Sonar (HMS) for the FFX frigate program. The sonar will be based on current Thales off-the-shelf products, and final contract completion is expected in 2009.

Additional Readings FFX & Its Predecessors

FFX: Ancillaries

News & Views

Categories: News

Namer: Israeli Leopards Coming to the USA

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 16:06
Namer
(click to view full)

Urban fights are thought of as the future of warfare in many countries, but to Israel, urban fighting is a very current reality. At the same time, conventional defense requires well-protected forces that can maneuver and survive with the country’s heavy armor, out in the tank-friendly environs of the Middle East. The Israelis had long depended on the M113 to fill these roles, but heavier options were needed, and the Israelis could care less about air-transportability. The resourceful Israelis turned to their stock of captured Soviet T-54/55 tanks for initial solutions, producing the Achzarit APC. They liked the results so much that they decided to do the same thing with their older Merkava Mk.I tank hulls, creating the 60 tonne Namer (“leopard”). That’s about twice the weight of the USA’s M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), but Namers are mostly used as ultra-heavy but lightly-armed armored personnel carriers. Unmanned turrets with a 30mm cannon and Spike missiles would be needed to turn them into true IFVs.

Even in an APC role, experiences during the 2006 war in Lebanon against Syria and Iran confirmed the Namer’s value. The Israelis decided to build more using new Merkava Mk.IV hulls, but that creates some manufacturing issues for the Israelis, who were trying to quickly build up their Merkava fleet per the long-range “Tefen” plan. Israel would also benefit financially from having more manufacturing done in America. The solution? Find an American partner. Enter General Dynamics Land Systems.

Contracts & Key Events 2013 – 2014

Namer, GCV trials
(click to view full)

Aug 21/14: More? Recent fighting in Gaza killed 7 members of the elite Golani Brigade, when their M113 tracked APC was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade. There’s a strong sense among Israeli commanders that they need better armor, especially if they expect to fight Hezbollah again in Lebanon. The question is, what kind of armor?

Namers are certainly on the shopping list, judging by published comments. At the same time, the success of Windbreaker/ Trophy active protection systems against Hamas anti-tank RPGs and missiles means that they’re likely to find themselves in the priority pipeline as well. Modifications to existing M113s could add v-hulls to reduce vulnerability to mines, and Windbreaker to defeat incoming RPGs and missiles. Israel has many hundreds of M113s to replace, and retrofits are definitely a cheaper option. It will be interesting to see which mix they choose. Sources: Globes, “Israel’s defense cos will be Gaza conflict’s big winners” | IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, “IDF wants more Namer APCs and Trophy protection systems”.

Jan 11/14: Cuts coming. The Israel Ministry of Defense next multi-year plan would slash its planned procurement of Namer heavy IFVs from 386 to 170 vehicles, and will production 2 years earlier, in 2017. The first batch of 7 Namer hulls was delivered by General Dynamics at the end of 2013, for full outfitting in Israel, with production expected to ramp up to 60 per year. If the Israeli plan is finalized, changes will be required.

The initial GDLS contract involved 110 Namers, with fixed-price options for up to 276 more, and up-front investment in tooling at the Lima, OH JSMC plant. Israeli sources say the contract is being renegotiated, and Defense News estimates that renegotiation penalties will be around $17 million. In addition, lower economies of scale are expected to raise base vehicle costs from $730,000 at full rate production to about $900,000 each at reduced production. Since each Namer needs to be outfitted with a range of advanced equipment in Israel, its final cost is significantly higher than that.

Merkava Mk4 tank production has also been slowed, so Israel could probably bring production back home, but that’s an unlikely outcome. There are real financial and industrial benefits to keeping GDLS as a supplier. With that said, lower Namer production at a facility that won’t have American vehicle orders until 2017 isn’t great news for GD. Sources: Defense Update, “Israel Plans to Slash Namer Production by 60%” | Defense News, “GD, Israel Renegotiate Troop Carrier Deal To Cut US Production”.

Aug 25/13: Industrial. The Lima News provides an update regarding the Namer contract:

“Israel is contracting with General Dynamics for a new armored personnel carrier. The JSMC has worked on five prototype vehicles and will begin shipping them by the end of the month. Once the vehicle is in full production, the JSMC will make five a month, for 60 a year. The contract calls for 386 vehicles to be built through 2019.

The JSMC, which is a government-owned facility operated by General Dynamics, currently employs about 700. Deters said it would be difficult to say what that number will look like even in the short term… much of its future in the next few years depends on the foreign work…. The Pentagon has wanted to shutter the Abrams program until 2017, saying it has enough tanks until the next generation of the battle tank is developed and in production.”

2010 – 2012

Merkava Mk4
(click to view full)

June 27/12: Passive on active protection. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel has finished equipping its 1st brigade of Merkava 4 tanks with the Trophy active protection system, but adds:

“While the installation of the Trophy will continue, the IDF has yet to begin installing a missile defense system on its new Namer armored personnel carrier (APC). State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss issued a report last month… and criticized the Defense Ministry’s decision in 2010 to combine the Trophy with a similar system – called Iron Fist… Iron Fist launches a projectile that IMI claims makes it effective in intercepting tank shells and not just anti-tank missiles – something Trophy cannot do. The comptroller’s main criticism centers on the defense establishment’s failure to develop or order an active protection system for the Namer. While Trophy is already being installed on tanks, a decision from 2009 to install Iron Fist on the Namer has been overturned and a replacement has not been found.”

June 22/12: The USMC won’t be moving a $16 million hull manufacturing line out of Lima, OH and over to Georgia just yet. The Army’s Joint Systems Manufacturing Center is run by General Dynamics, and the Marines will delay their decision until they compile a cost/benefit analysis of the proposed $19 million move ($6 million move + $13 million to restore the JSMC capability). It’s all part of a larger process:

“Following the Defense Department’s cancellation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Program, the Marine Corps began reviewing the future use of all EFV-associated equipment procured as part of that program. The JSMC was set to build the fighting vehicle, but now is using the hull machining equipment on other combat vehicles…
“As a matter of fact, we’re machining the Namer nose assembly on that machine right now,” Deters said.”

Looks like General Dynamics’ bid was successful.

Oct 25/10: General Dynamics Land Systems announces that they have become the preferred bidder to negotiate a contract with the Israeli Ministry of Defense, which would transfer at least some production of Namer IFVs from Israel to the USA. The competitive procurement process was for the production of Merkava APC hulls, material kit sets, and integration work, and the Israelis are rumored to be interested in 100 vehicles or more.

General Dynamics expects to complete contract negotiations by the end of this year, for a base contract extending to March 2015, with options to November 2019. If successful, production will be performed at their Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, OH. This would allow Israel to purchase them with American military aid dollars granted by the Camp David Peace accords etc. General Dynamics.

Additional Readings

Categories: News

SpaceX, Pentagon Tests Fail Right After Launch

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 15:13

  • The Pentagon aborted the test flight of a hypersonic weapon shortly after launch early this morning. Washington Free Beacon.

  • A SpaceX rocket exploded during a test flight on Friday. Video.

  • In each case nobody was hurt. Test failures happen.

US Navy and Friends

  • 2 Chinese flankers conducted a reckless intercept of a US P-8 patrol aircraft over international waters (but in China’s EEZ) on August 19, according to the US Navy, while the Chinese say they remained within safe distance.

  • Last week the US Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations released his 2015-19 Navigation Plan [PDF], mixing reminders on planned acquisitions over the period with posture elements. There’s an increasing presence in the Pacific, but in the longer run the critical submarine fleet is set to shrink [Stars and Stripes].

Middle East

  • Calls are mounting in the US to strike at ISIL in Syria, but one concern [WaPo] is whether US forces would have intelligence that’s good enough to lead to effective attacks.

  • Iran has reportedly sent tanks [War is Boring] to assist Kurds fight ISIL in northern Iraq, though their capabilities and how much they will really help is doubtful.

  • The Islamic State has clashed with Lebanese forces [Daily Star], and is threatening to kill captured Shiite soldiers unless Hezbollah leaves Syria. But people who routinely use human shields in war will likely be immune to this tactic.

Europe

  • Denmark plans to modify [Politiko, in Danish] 1 or more frigates, to make them useful for missile defense tracking. The Iver Huitfeldt Class uses the same Thales APAR and SMART-L radars that the Dutch are modifying for missile defense [Xinhua] on their De Zeven Provincien Class frigates. Note that SMART-L is the long-range tracking radar, APAR the fire control radar. If they want tracking-only, looks like the Danes will just modify the SMART-Ls.

Categories: News

Pages