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Updated: 7 min 23 sec ago

Taiwan’s Force Modernization: The American Side

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 17:13

Despite China’s ominous military buildup across the strait, key weapons sales of P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, Patriot PAC-3 missiles, and diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan had been sabotaged by Taiwanese politics for years – in some cases, since 1997. The KMT party’s flip-flops and determined stalling tactics eventually created a crisis in US-Taiwan relations, which finally soured to the point that the USA refused a Taiwanese request for F-16C/D aircraft.

That seems to have brought things to a head. Most of the budget and political issues were eventually sorted out, and after a long delay, some major elements of Taiwan’s requested modernization program appear to be moving forward: P-3 maritime patrol aircraft, UH-60M helicopters, Patriot missile upgrades; and requests for AH-64D attack helicopters, E-2 Hawkeye AWACS planes, minehunting ships, and missiles for defense against aircraft, ships, and tanks. These are must-have capabilities when facing a Chinese government that has vowed to take the country by force, and which is building an extensive submarine fleet, a large array of ballistic missiles, an upgraded fighter fleet, and a number of amphibious-capable divisions. Chinese pressure continues to stall some of Taiwan’s most important upgrades, including diesel-electric submarines, and new American fighter jets. Meanwhile, other purchases from abroad continue.

Tracking the Programs: Patient Progress & Stalled Sales

Fortunately for Taiwan, there is movement beyond the stalled backwaters of F-16 and submarine sales. Can a combination of foreign weapon sales approvals and domestic efforts break Taiwan’s defense equipment logjam? Can the broader US-Taiwan defense relationship be saved, or is it eroding fatally?

Those are questions for the future. This Spotlight article will focus on the here-and-now instead, chronicling key developments and purchases as they arise.

Aerial Acquisitions (click to view full)

In the modern era, control of the air is the first requirement of effective defense. For an island country, control of the sea, or the ability to deny that control to enemies is equally strategic. Taiwan’s key modernization efforts in both areas remain troubled, which impairs the amount of real deterrence, and security, their military modernization can bring them.

ROCAF Mirage 2000-5
(click to view full)

The ultimate issue for Taiwan is one of numbers. In the air, quantity has a quality all its own. Taiwan expects to retire its F-5 and Mirage 2000v5 fighters by 2020. The ROCAF is moving to modernize its old F-16 fighters, but any fighter has a fixed airframe life, measured in flight hours. Modernization is a medium term solution, not a long term one, and does nothing to address the growing numeric imbalance across the strait. Even as US military studies suggest that the USAF and US Navy will find it more and more difficult to fly fighter reinforcements to Taiwan, and keep them in its airspace.

With 24 ROCAF F-16 fighters out of service for upgrades at any point, 16 in the USA for training at Luke AFB, and 30% of the remaining machines (32) unavailable for other maintenance, Taiwan’s fleet of 146 F-16s shrinks to about 74 F-16s in operational service. If equivalent rates hold true for the 71 locally built and upgraded F-CK-1C/Ds, that means about 50 operational Hsiung Ying fighters, for a total available fighter fleet of just 124 machines. Most of which will be 1980s level technology.

Consistent reports indicate that the USA has asked Taiwan to hold off on their request to add 66 new F-16s, in order to avoid a direct “no.” Reports suggest that a strong lobbying effort from China is dooming that effort, even as the PLAAF continues to add aircraft like the 4+ generation J-10, and equally advanced long-range SU-27 family fighters to its arsenal.

The Obama administration confirmed that perception in September 2011, when it opted to approve ROCAF F-16 fleet upgrades, rather than new F-16C/D Block 52 sales. They attempted to thread the needle by offering more advanced technology than the equipment in F-16 Block 52s, which have been sold to countries like China’s ally, Pakistan. The question is whether this is actually a worst-of-all-possible worlds outcome: showing weakness abroad on Taiwan, failing to extend the F-16 production line and American jobs at home, and offering cutting-edge technology that risks falling into the hands of Chinese intelligence.

The USA is also selling Taiwan the newest version of its attack helicopter, the AH-64E Apache Guardian. Its Longbow radar mast allows it to use radar guided, fire and forget missiles, and it also carries Stinger missiles for defense against enemy aircraft. Engine and communications upgrades, including the ability to control UAVs remotely, round out that package. The 30 Apaches would serve alongside Taiwan’s 60+ AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters, as a rapid reaction force able to counterattack beachheads and exploit the hilly island’s natural chokepoints.

Sea Control (click to view full)

At sea, the situation is simultaneously less overtly perilous, and less hopeful. China’s navy is certainly growing, but is not yet overwhelming. The problem is that without air superiority as cover, no Taiwanese surface navy can expect to survive, in order to maintain control of the seas around Taiwan. Britain faced the same equation in World War 2, and prevailed by winning in the air.

ROC Seadragon sub
(click to view full)

If that isn’t possible, a good submarine force is the classic military solution. Submarines are capable of either destroying efforts to cross the strait, or strangling Chinese trade as it moves through Southeast Asia’s key choke points. Modern missiles give them vastly longer offensive reach, and modern submarines are very difficult to find and target once they put to sea. For a nation like Taiwan, they’re the ultimate conventional deterrent against invasion.

Taiwan’s comprehensive failure to field this trump card stems even more directly from Chinese pressure. The USA approved a sale request in 2001, but they haven’t produced conventionally-powered subs for many decades, and don’t want to be the supplier. Without that option on tap, Chinese diplomacy has utterly strangled Taiwan’s efforts to find a party who is (a) able to make diesel-electric subs; and (b) is willing to sell them to Taiwan. The Republic of China currently relies on 2 submarines that are too old for anything but training missions, and 2 Hai Lung (Sea Dragon) class submarines. The Hai Lungs were ordered from the Dutch firm Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM) in 1981, as a derivative of their Zwaardvis (Swordfish) class. A follow-on order for 4 more submarines was blocked by the Dutch government in 1992 thanks to Chinese pressure, and RDM went out of business a few years later.

Since then, Taiwan has explored a number of alternatives to obtain diesel-electric submarines, without success. It’s reportedly even considering building its own boats from foreign designs. Australia’s experience suggests that this course may be fraught with peril. On the other hand, if the alternative is no submarines at all, and submarines are one of your most critical national defense needs, the perils of caution may outweigh the risks of inexperience. Taiwan seems determined to face the peril, and a report is expected by June 2014.

Land Defense (click to view full) CM11 tank
(click to view full)

Land defense improvements currently center on portable missiles, mobility, and massed counterattack against amphibious or paradropped beach-heads. The missiles provide dispersed, hard-to-target defenses against enemy aircraft and armored vehicles. Helicopter mobility allows rapid response to enemy airdrops or pre-positioned guerrilla units. Massed counterattack means the heavy armor of tanks, which remain the most important and element for crushing enemy beach-heads.

Taiwan’s situation with respect to tanks isn’t very good. The Republic of China Army currently fields about 480 M60A3 tanks acquired in the 1990s, but the M60 first entered US service in 1960, and the A3 version entered US service in the late 1970s. They’re joined by 450 much older CM11s (modified M48H 105mm turrets with improved fire control, mated to M60 hulls), and 300 of the M-48 medium tanks whose base design dates back to the 1950s: 50 M48A3s, and 250 CM12s (modified CM11 turrets mated to M48A3 hulls).

Contracts & Key Events Patriot Radar
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This article focuses on foreign imports, and the vast majority come from the USA. The US DSCA references to “the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States” are diplo-speak for “Taiwan” or “Republic of China”. DID uses the conventional term instead. Note that DSCA requests are not contracts; those are separate announcements, and sometimes years pass between the two events. Having said this, a DSCA request does open the door to contracts as permitted weapons exports through the Foreign Military Sales process, unless Congress moves to block the proposed sale within 30 days.

Note that upgrades to the ROCAF’s locally-designed and built F-CK-1 fighters are covered in a separate article, as an Indigenous Taiwanese program that sits outside this article’s scope.


P-3C arrives

Aug 20/14: AH-64E. Deliveries are a bit delayed. Taiwan is set to take delivery of 6 more AH-64E Apache attack helicopters in late August, which would bring their fleet to 23. This batch was supposed to arrive in May, and the delay is reportedly due to shipping issues. The final batch is now expected in October. Sources: Focus Taiwan, “Taiwan set to take August delivery of more Apache helicopters”.

Aug 11-12/14: Fighters, incl. F-35B? Taiwan’s MND reaffirms its continued interest in F-16C/D or better fighters, while openly stating their goal to acquire F-35s at some point:

“Ministry of National Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said Taiwan’s Air Force is ideally looking for aircraft with short-take off and vertical-landing capabilities and acknowledged that “it is our goal to acquire F-35s.” He admitted that it would be nearly impossible to obtain the fighters in the short term, “but we will continue to make effort on this issue.”

That seems to point clearly to F-35Bs, which make excellent sense when facing an opponent with thousands of runway-damaging ballistic missiles. The MND also denied China Times reports that the Mirage 2000-5 fleet was had maintenance issues because the French weren’t cooperating, leading to cannibalization of existing fighters. The MND said the fighters were being well-maintained by the French – the question is how much credence to give that assertion. Sources: Focus Taiwan, “Taiwan to seek U.S. sales of more advanced fighter jets: official” and “F-16C/D jet fighters still a consideration: Defense Ministry”.

July 15/14: Crash investigation. The AH-64E crash (q.v. April 25/14) is ruled as pilot error:

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

The environment refers to fast descending clouds, which disoriented the pilots while they were flying at a low altitude. Still, they should have checked the instruments to maintain adequate height. Taiwan has received 18 of their 30 helicopters, though they only have 17 now. Sources: Defense News, “Pilots Blamed for Taiwan Apache Crash”.

June 3/14: Submarines. ROC Ministry of National Defense (MND) Navy Command Headquarters has confirmed that Taiwan will try to replace part of the pressure hull on one of its existing Tench/ Guppy-II Class submarines. The boats were modernized to Guppy II standards in 1949, and transferred to Taiwan without torpedo systems in 1973, for use in anti-submarine training. Once in Taiwan, they were renamed SS-791 Hai Shih (ex-Cutlass) and SS-792 Hai Pao (ex-Tusk). Attempts to restore their torpedo firing capability reportedly failed, leaving them as surveillance and training vessels only.

The first problem is that they’re the world’s oldest serving submarines. While their core diving mechanism is simple and reliable, their continued safety under the compressing water pressure of a dive is a concern. MND has said that China Shipbuilding Corp (CSBC) and the Ship and Ocean Industries Research and Development Center (SOIC) have been appointed to oversee replacement of SS-791 Hai Shih’s lower pressure hull, in an TWD 450 million (about $15 million) program that will take place at a Navy Maintenance Command dry dock. Some old piping may also be replaced.

SS-791′s problem is the entire pressure hull, and its external hull would still be 70 years old after the replacement. A mistake would kill the boat, and even success may not leave Taiwan with an operational training submarine. But perhaps that isn’t the point. This is a good initial step, if the goal is moving CSBC and SOIC toward the capabilities they need to build a design provided by the USA, or to lead a local project to reverse-engineer and build a new submarine. If an unsafe submarine is sacrificed in the process, that may be seen as an acceptable “last hurrah.” Sources: China Post, “Old Taiwanese submarine to get new pressure hull: MND” | Taipei Times 2007, “Feature: World’s longest-serving sub feted” | San Francisco Maritime National Park Association, “Museum documents an operating US, WW II built submarine in Taiwan”.


April 25/14: Crash. During a training exercise, a Taiwanese AH-64E crash-lands on the roof of a low-rise residential building in Taoyuan county. Guys, that’s not what we were supposed to be training today.

The Helicopter is a complete wreck, but the pilots suffer only minor injuries, and no residents are hurt. Sources: The Daily Mail, “How did they get out alive? Lucky escape for pilots of Apache attack helicopter after it crashes into a housing block in Taiwan” | South China Morning Post, “Two Taiwan pilots injured as Apache chopper crashes into building”.

AH-64E crash

April 10-14/14: Frigates. The US House of Representatives passes HR.3470, a bill authorizing the sale of 4 decommissioned US frigates to Taiwan. It also officially reaffirms US support for the Taiwan Relations Act, which has lately found itself honored mostly in the breach. The bill was passed by voice vote, so there are no exact totals. The next step is consideration by the US Senate, which requires cooperation from Senate Foreign Relations committee chair Bob Menendez [D-NJ].

Success would bypass the State Department’s DSCA and make the USS Taylor [FFG-50], USS Gary [FFG-51], USS Carr [FFG-52], and USS Elrod [FFG-55] available to Taiwan, though Defense Minister Yen Ming has said that Taiwan would only buy 2. Taiwan would also have to add weapons back if they want anti-aircraft or anti-ship capabilities. The frigates have some residual value as anti-submarine platform without that, but Chinese control of the air and prominent use of missile attack craft would give them very short lifespans unless these capabilities are restored in some way. Taiwan was happy for the gesture, while China followed with predictable staged theatrics. Sources: GovTrack on HR 3470 | The Diplomat, “US House Approves Frigate Sale to Taiwan” | Focus Taiwan, “Taiwan planning to buy two warships from U.S.: defense minister” | Reuters, “China angered by latest U.S. arms sale plan for Taiwan” | Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs [in Chinese].

April 5/14: F-16. A CNA report says that the ROCAF will begin the process of upgrading its F-16 fleet in the second half of 2016, after the initial jets that are in the USA for compatibility testing etc. are finished. They don’t have an end date for the conversions yet. Sources: Taiwan’s Want China Times, “Taiwan air force to start upgrading F-16s from 2016″.

April 4/14: Submarines. So, good news?

“Minister of National Defense Yen Ming told a legislative committee that the United States “is willing to help us build the submarines together.”

The question is, what does that actually mean? the US hasn’t disavowed helping Taiwan acquire submarines over the past 8 years, they just haven’t done anything. Sources: Kyodo News International, “Washington agrees to help Taiwan build attack submarines”.

Feb 5/14: P-3s. Despite problems with the flight control systems in some recent deliveries (q.v. Jan 2/14), the ROCAF says that their overall delivery timetable will not be delayed, and could even be ahead of schedule. Sources: FOCUS Taiwan, “U.S. delivery of P-3C aircraft to Taiwan on schedule: military”.

Jan 27/14: F-16s. There are rumors that the USAF will remove the The Combat Avionics Programmed Extension Suite (CAPES) program from the 2015 budget request, in favor of a general F-16 service-life extension program (SLEP). We’ll know more in early March 2014. Taiwan was already complaining about having to pay most of the integration costs for the new configuration, but a USAF pullout would raise prices again. With the economy going soft, that could become a problem.

One option would be to make a troublesome switch from riding the USAF’s coat-tails and adopt the South Korean model for a BAE-led upgrade, which will integrate a different set of avionics that includes Raytheon’s RACR AESA radar instead of Northrop Grumman’s SABR AESA. Unfortunately, South Korea is still in the study phase, so even the ROKAF couldn’t tell Taiwan what’s involved in a switch. Singapore has also formally requested upgrades to its F-16 fleet, but the RSAF doesn’t seem to have decided on their exact configuration either, and their use of Israeli technology in some areas could be hard to duplicate.

Unless NGC strongly believes that Singapore will pick their SABR radar over Raytheon’s RACR, they’re the contractor with the most to lose if Taiwan’s upgrade fails. Can they deploy enough lobbying resources to keep CAPES, and hence their confirmed foothold in F-16 radar replacement? Stay tuned. Sources: Defense News, “F-16 Upgrade Dropped From US Budget Proposal, Sources Say”.

Jan 22/14: AH-64E. The China Post reports:

“The Army Aviation Special Forces Command yesterday said the grounding of the Apaches is set to be lifted in mid-February following the six-day Chinese New Year holiday that runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, once they replace the main transmission boxes. So far, the command has received several batches of new main transmission boxes and has installed them in half of the 12 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters.”

A subsequent report moves that date back a bit. The groundings will be lifted during the week of Feb 10/14. Sources: Taiwan’s China Post, “Army to lift grounding order on Apache helicopters after CNY” | “Grounding order for Apache helicopters to be lifted next week”.

Jan 21/14: Size cuts. Taiwan’s Defence Minister Yen Ming (KMT Party) proposes to cut Taiwan’s military by 20%+, from a current size of 215,000 to 170,000 – 190,000. There doesn’t seem to be a firm plan, only vague statements that cuts would take place across all 3 services, “in stages contingent upon the government’s budgets, the acquisition of new weapons and demographic changes.”

The news report touts it as “the latest sign of warming ties with former rival China”, which would cast this as a foolish move. Before jumping on that, however, we’d refer readers to the demographic reference. There has been a small widening at the very bottom of Taiwan’s population pyramid lately, but the proportion of children aged 0-14 has dropped from a 1990 census of 26.9% to 15.65% in 2010. If you’re trying to recruit a military, that matters. As StrategyPage recently noted:

“Some Taiwanese politicians, desperate to find volunteers for the military have proposed that the descendants of Chinese soldiers who fled to northern Burma and Thailand after the communists won the Chinese Civil War in 1949, be granted Taiwanese citizenship if they join the Taiwanese Army…. Taiwan, like many other nations during the last two decades, is finding that moving from conscription to an all-volunteer military is not easy. For two years now the military has been only able to recruit 30 percent of the soldiers it needs to be all-volunteer by 2014.”

This issue isn’t specific to American equipment, of course, but it will affect those buys. Recruitment shortfalls usually indicate that the high-end of the recruiting pool is suffering the most – exactly the people who will be needed to operate and maintain advanced new equipment. Sources: Channel NewsAsia, “Taiwan to slash armed forces by up to 20 percent” | StrategyPage, “Attrition: Taiwan Wants To Recruit From The Lost Army”.

Jan 2/14: P-3Cs. Taiwan’s 2nd P-3C sea control aircraft arrived on Dec 12/13, but 2 more were still hung up in Guam by a malfunction in the flight control system. P-3C #3 received a fix and arrived on Dec 17/13, but #4 is still waiting in Guam as of this date.

Why the delay? No P-3C supply facility at the military base in Guam, and U.S. personnel on Christmas vacation. At least Taiwan isn’t paying for the repairs; since that’s true, we can also expect corrective action within the refurbishment process. The rest of the 2013 – 2015 delivery schedule remains intact (q.v. Oct 31/13), but Taiwan’s 40 year old fleet of 11 twin-engine S-2T Trackers won’t formally retire until 2017. Focus Taiwan, “Malfunction delays U.S. delivery of P-3C aircraft to Taiwan”.

Jan 2/13: AH-64Es. A 2nd batch of 6 attack helicopters arrives, but none of the new helicopters are cleared for flight yet. Taiwan has checked its own AH-64Es and found no obvious problems, but they’re still waiting for the US Army report that will clarify why the US AH-64E’s main transmission failed in December. Training will take place in simulators until then.

AH-64Es #13-18 will arrive in March 2014, #19-24 will arrive in May 2014, and #25-30 will arrive in July 2014. Sources: Focus Taiwan, “Taiwan to receive six more Apache choppers Thursday”.


Long-range radar ready; National programs to develop a new fighter and a submarine gain traction; The real American problem with submarines for Taiwan. AH-64E
click for video

Dec 17/13: AH-64Es. Taiwan’s Army is notified of a main transmission failure in a US Army AH-64E attack helicopter. They respond by grounding all 6 Apache helicopters, pending a full investigation by the U.S. into the cause of the malfunction. Sources: Defense News, “Taiwan Grounds New US-Made Apache Helos Over Malfunction Fears” | Focus Taiwan, “Taiwan to receive six more Apache choppers Thursday”

AH-64Es grounded

Dec 17/13: BMD Radar. Raytheon IDS in Sudbury, MA, has been awarded a $6.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price, cost-reimbursement contract modification to create a testing environment related to the Taiwan Surveillance Radar program. The TSR is a huge, fixed radar installation based on an improved version of the PAVE PAWS system, used to track ballistic missiles thousands of kilometers away. Taiwan reportedly shares its data with the USA.

The technical term for this contract is “follow-on support string upgrade engineering change proposal.” In English, they’ll create a controlled site-like testing environment in the USA to test modifications, and perform system troubleshooting. You certainly don’t want to use the main radar for that. Work will be performed in Sudbury, MA and is expected to be complete by Nov 8/17. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/HBNA at Hanscom AFB, MA manages the contract (FA8730-13-C-0003, PO 0005). The same contract was also posted on Dec 13/13.

Dec 9/13: Submarines. Taiwan’s United Daily News reports that defense minister Yen Ming and Navy Command Headquarters chief Adm. Chen Yung-kang are strong supporters of a made-in-Taiwan submarine program. Partisan wrangling over the USA’s request for a NT$ 10 billion “contract design fee” (about $340 million) is generally seen as the key obstacle to progress on the 2001 sale approval, but the report also cites:

“…the U.S. Navy’s reluctance to build diesel-electric submarines at a U.S. shipyard because it fears that Congress would ask it to buy the conventional submarines to save money if an American shipyard had the capability to build such a ship.”

Taiwan’s shipbuilding industry association is scheduled to come up with a comprehensive assessment report by June 2014, and the military is reportedly doing its own due diligence in parallel. This won’t be easy. Taiwan would need to update its ship design technology, and would neither either considerable help or external sources for torpedoes, sonar, propulsion systems, combat systems, and submarine periscope lenses. Sources: FOCUS Taiwan, “Talk of the Day — Taiwan thinking of building its own submarines”.

Nov 13/13: On the list. Submarines remain high on Taiwan’s agenda, but they aren’t the only items. The ROCN will replace 2 of its FF-1052 Knox Class anti-submarine frigates in 2014, using 2 refurbished FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates. The rest may be replaced with local catamaran corvettes that have more of a surface warfare bent. The ROCN also seem to like the new minehunters, as they reportedly want to build some local MCM ships based loosely on their 2 new Ospreys. That’s a smart decision, and feasible for smaller shipyards.

Taiwan’s Marines reportedly want to buy another 48 AAV-7 amphibious personnel carriers, bringing their total fleet to 102 and allowing them to retire their ancient LVTP-5A1s.

The Air Force would like precision strike weapons, but if they’re thinking in terms of JDAM-type weapons, that won’t help them get inside Chinese air defenses. They’ll probably need to use their own weapons for that, and JDAMs are approved for export but the Air Force has delayed the purchase until 2014 or later. The ROCAF plans to go outside the USA entirely for its new jet trainer, but replacements for the AIDC AT-3 Tzu Chung have been canceled before. The last AT-3 was delivered in 1990, but South Korea’s T-50 family is reportedly quite tempting. China has been antagonizing South Korea lately, and a TA-50 sale would also provide Taiwan with a local interceptor and light attack jet. Sources: Defense News, “Taiwan Still Hungry for More US Arms”.

Nov 4/13: AH-64. Taiwan’s first 6 AH-64E attack helicopters have been re-assembled in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung Harbor, after arriving by ship. Four were flown to the Aviation and Special Forces Command in Tainan’s Guiren Township for initial flight testing, and the other 2 will arrive as part of the official ceremony on Nov 7/13. The US reportedly asked Taiwan’s military authorities not to reveal the AH-64E’s cockpit layout or configuration in its public display. If only it were that easy (q.v. Oct 28/13).

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

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

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

AH-64Es arrive

Oct 31/13: P-3Cs. President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday touted the P-3′s capabilities, during an official ceremony at Pingtung Air Base. The delivery schedule is supposed to fly in planes #2-4 by the end of 2013, planes #5-9 in 2014, and #10-12 in 2015, when the full P-3 squadron will be commissioned. Taiwan’s aged S-2Ts are scheduled to be decommissioned by 2017. Sources: Taipei Times, “President hails P-3C patrol aircraft”.

Oct 26/13: Espionage. Taiwan’s MND announces that a Major and 12 other officers are under investigation for selling details concerning Taiwan’s upgraded E-2C 2000 (aka. E-2K) AEW&C air surveillance planes. The last 2 planes only arrived in Taiwan on March 8/13.

E-2Ks aren’t the most modern version, but they are the most widespread type in the US Navy, so compromising their radar system or battle management system is a problem for the US Navy, as well as for Taiwan. National Party Rep. Ting Shou-chung acknowledged to Voice of America that this kind of leak could make the USA more reluctant to share advanced technology with Taiwan, but basically, it’s too late to fix the damage. Poor security has been a problem in Taiwan for some time now (q.v. Additional Readings). Even so, recent years have seen authorization and delivery of the USA’s most modern attack helicopters (AH-64E) and air defense missiles (PATRIOT PAC-3), a large ballistic missile defense radar, and some of America’s most modern AESA fighter radar technology for Taiwan’s F-16s. More significant technologies aren’t likely to be available to Taiwan anyway, the USA can’t take back what’s already given, and it’s more than unlikely that the USA would derail existing contracts. Sources: MND announcement [in Chinese] | Epoch Times, “Taiwanese Major Sells Military Secrets to China”.

Espionage: Hawkeye 2000 compromised

Sept 23/13: P-3Cs. Taiwan will be receiving its first P-3Cs at Pingtung AB within the next day or two, depending on Typhoon Usagi’s progress and course. Four of the 12 planes are expected by the end of 2013.

Subsequent reports indicate that the plane arrived on Sept 25/13. Sources: Taipei Times, “P-3C maritime patrol aircraft to arrive in Taiwan”.

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

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

click for video

July 31/13: F-16s. Raytheon’s RACR AESA may have won the South Korean F-16 upgrade contract, but refits for Taiwan and the US military will use Northrop Grumman’s SABR instead. It will also become the standard radar for Lockheed Martin’s “F-16V” new-build/ upgrade offering, replacing Northrop Grumman’s own APG-80 AESA used in the F-16E/F.

The Taiwanese deal still needs a firm radar contract, but this is a 10-figure combined opportunity. It’s a huge win for Northrop Grumman, whose AESA radars also equip USAF F-22A (APG-77) and global F-35 family (APG-81) fighters. Northrop Grumman.

SABR AESA radar picked

July 28/13: Submarines. US Under Secretary of Defense James Miller responds to Rep. Robert Andrews’ [D-NJ] letter by repeating what we already know. Taiwan’s government approved full funding for an American study re: diesel submarine design and feasibility in 2008, but the State Department and Pentagon still haven’t agreed to conduct one.

He adds, disingenuously, that “Taiwan has not submitted any requests for technical assistance or export licensing support pertaining to a submarine program.” First, the State Department’s DSCA would have to allow such a request to go forward to the Pentagon. Second, export licensing support and technical assistance would have their parameters defined by a feasibility study. Taipei Times.

May 14/13: Support. Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. in Hurst, TX receives a maximum $85.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, foreign military sales (FMS) contract for engineering and technical support services to Iraq and Taiwan. Orders will be placed as required.

Iraq operates Bell IA-407s, and also has a handful of UH-1N twin-Hueys. Taiwan’s heliborne strike force currently relies on OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scouts and AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, and a dwindling stock of aging single-engine UH-1H Hueys remains the backbone of their utility helicopter fleet. It’s reasonable to assume that most of these funds will be spent in Taiwan.

The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-13-D-0131).

April 25/13: PATRIOT PAC-3. Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang says that Taiwan has already deployed a PATRIOT PAC-3 battery in the north, which is ahead of the expected 2014 date. He adds that Taiwan will deploy the next 3 PAC-3 batteries in the south. Focus Taiwan.

April 24/13: AH-64. A $19.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, as part of Taiwan’s order for AH-64E helicopters and related support. The Pentagon says that this order brings the total cumulative face value of this contract to $624.4 million, of the maximum $2.532 billion noted in the October 2008 DSCA request. DID is having a hard time squaring that with known announcements.

Oddly, the Pentagon’s notice cites FY 2009 procurement contract funds as the source; presumably, they’re referencing Taiwan’s original order funding. The US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL acts as Taiwan’s FMS agent (W58RGZ-09-C-0147, PO 0022).

April 9/13: Keep an eye out. It didn’t take long for Taiwan’s long range mountaintop radar in Hsinchu County to come in handy. The Americans have reportedly asked the ROCAF to strengthen radar sweeps toward Northeast Asia for possible missile launches, and relay surveillance information. The Hsinchu radar is in the BMEWS class, with the ability to detect and track ballistic missiles from a range of up to 5,000 km. China Post.

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April 8/13: UH-60M. L-3 Link Simulation & Training announces a contract for 2 Taiwan Army UH-60M Operational Flight Trainers (OFTs). The contract is the result of a letter of agreement between the U.S. and the Taiwan Army, and is the 1st export of their UH-60M OFT. The 1st trainer will be operational at Shinshou Training Facility in Q4 2014, and the 2nd will follow in Q1 2015. A companion contract provides for 1 year of support, with a 1-year extension option. The US Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO-STRI) will manage the purchase as Taiwan’s agent.

The OFTs are mostly similar to those used in the US Army’s Flight School XXI program. A 6-degree of freedom electric motion system is coupled with a supplemental motion system that simulates helicopter vibration. High-fidelity software is designed to accurately simulate each platform’s engine, electrical, hydraulic, navigation and communications systems, and even aircraft survivability equipment. It’s even compatible with night vision goggles. The big difference will be a Taiwan geo-database, for faithful reproduction of flights over their home terrain.

April 5/13: As the US DSCA submits South Korea’s request for stealth-enhanced F-15SE Strike Eagles and F-35A stealth fighters, US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers points to that process as a clear example of the political weakness in Washington. “The threats the [South] Korean air force face are the same as those of Taiwan’s air force,” and the argument that China could easily ground Taiwan’s F-16s by staging a massive missile attack on air bases applies equally to North and South Korea. Taipei Times | Read “Korea’s F-X Multi-Role Fighter Buys: Phases 2 & 3” for full coverage of South Korea’s fighter modernization.

March 13/13: Beyond F-16s. Citing a newly released quadrennial defense review, Taiwan’s media say that the ROCAF wants to step beyond their upgraded F-CK-1s, and develop a new fighter with features like lower radar cross-section, long-range, and aerial refueling receiver, as well as the ability to launch missiles against land targets or ships.

Taiwan’s military currently estimates that the fighter and small submarine development programs will cost about NT$500 billion (about $16.9 billion). Which means they’ll be lucky to keep the real total below $20 billion. Senior officials are also careful to add that they haven’t given up on getting more F-16s, which could squeeze development budgets for something new.

On the other hand, Liberty Times quotes KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang statements that “For our national survival, we need to build up our defense capability under our own steam,” as a result of the USA’s increasing reluctance to assist Taiwan. Focus Taiwan.

March 13/13: Submarines. Taipei’s MND responds to reports that Taiwan has given up on buying new submarines abroad, by confirming that they’re “reviewing the relevant plans and budgets” for a 4-year local development project that was brought to the TWD 7 billion (about $236 million) National Defence Industrial Development Foundation in late 2012.

The ROCN actually foresees a budget closer to TWD 10 billion (about $340 million) to fund design, equipment acquisition, building industrial capability, and testing for a 1,000t – 2,000t submarine. Even that figure seems awfully low for a country that hasn’t built submarines before, and probably won’t be able to use an existing design as a base. Asia One.

March 8/13: E-2 AWACS. The last 2 upgraded Hawkeye 2000s arrive at Kaohsiung International Airport Station in southern Taiwan for follow-up tests and inspections (q.v. Nov 8/11 entry). This completes Taiwan’s E-2T Hawkeye upgrades, and restores its militarily critical AWACS fleet to full strength. Focus Taiwan.

All E-2 upgrades delivered

Feb 19/13: P-3s. StandardAero-San Antonio Inc. in San Antonio, TX receives a $10.6 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract modification, exercising an option for the overhaul of 16 T56-A-14 propulsion systems for the Government of Taiwan under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

That model of the T56 is unique to the P-3 family, and that number of engines would equip 4 refurbished P-3s. Or serve as fleet spares, which is more likely.

Work will be performed in San Antonio, TX and is expected to be complete in February 2014. All funds are committed immediately, and the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages the contract on behalf of its FMS client (N00019-09-D-0014).

Feb 8/13: P-3s. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training in Owego, NY receives a $9.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to incorporate engineering change proposals (ECPs) in Taiwan’s 12 P-3 aircraft. Upgrades will improve both Harpoon Block II compatibility, and improved radar and signals emission location.

Specifically, the ECP implements the Complimentary Navigation Message, which updates RINU-G and Control Display Unit software with a message set that helps the radar/GPS guided Harpoon Block 2 Missile with precision targeting. They’ll also replace the standard AN/ALR-95 Electronic Support Measures system with the more advanced AN/ALR-97. The final modification upgrades technical publications to reflect the “Mode-T” software instead of the “Mode “4″ software.

Work will be performed in Owego, NY (31%); Jacksonville, FL (18%); Van Nuys, CA (16%); Aberdeen, MD (14%); Cedar Rapids, IA (13%); McKinney, TX (3%); Marietta, GA (3%); and Woodland Hills, CA (2%), and is expected to be complete in February 2014. All Foreign Military Sales contract funds are committed immediately, and will be managed by the US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ on behalf of their ROC client (N00019-09-C-0031).

Feb 1/13: Long-Range Radar. Agence France Presse reports that Taiwan’s US-made long-range early warning radar is now deployed near the northern county of Hsinchu, on its mountaintop perch. The NT$40.9 billion (about $1.35 billion at 2013 conversions) project loks similar to existing Pave Paws stations, and reportedly has a 5,000 km range. The added warning time for ballistic missile attacks is just minutes, but it matters a bit more when minutes were all you had before. The ability to add a bigger picture view on top of the short range PATRIOT radars is very important for national command and control.

As a bonus, the radar’s ability to see into Chinese airspace, and even to monitor North Korean launches, makes it an equally valuable asset to the USA. If Taiwan decides to share that data, which is a reasonable assumption, it becomes a more valuable ally. AFP.


F-16 upgrade program begins; A domestic submarine program?; Budget for 4 frigates in 2013?; Stinger missiles; Harpoons prepped. F-16V
click for video

Oct 24/12: Planes? No tanks. Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu tells a legislative hearing that the cost of Taiwan’s F-16 upgrades is the reason for delays to tank purchases and self-propelled artillery upgrades. He adds that before requesting the 70-ton M1s, they would have to conduct a compatibility evaluation on the country’s infrastructure, such as roads, highways and bridges.

It’s certainly possible for large purchases to squeeze out less important items, within a defense budget. Then again, it’s also pretty common for a party that doesn’t really want to implement stronger defenses to use this sort of thing as an excuse to avoid doing what needs to be done. The KMT’s recent record makes it hard to tell which interpretation is the truth. Focus Taiwan.

Oct 1/12: F-16s. Lockheed Martin announces a contract valued at up to $1.85 billion to begin upgrading 145 ROCAF F-16A/B Block 20 fighters to the “F-16S” (not T?) configuration, including an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, embedded global positioning, electronic warfare upgrades, and other avionics improvements. Note Lockheed’s use of the word “begin”; the complete upgrade is very likely to cost more than $1.85 billion.

The F-16S upgrades will follow the Sept 21/11 DSCA request, which Lockheed Martin has firmed up into a global offering. The firm’s proposed F-16V was announced at Singapore’s airshow in February 2012.

Contract: F-16 upgrade

Aug 28/12: PATRIOT. The Taipei Times reports that new PATRIOT PAC-3 defense sites will begin construction in September 2012 around Greater Taichung and Greater Kaohsiung cities. A private contractor will handle the NT$ 61.4 million (about $2 million) contract, but the move has a significance that’s out of proportion to its size.

The PAC-3 systems would join Taiwan’s 3 upgraded PAC-2/ Config-3 units, currently deployed around the capital city of Taipei in Wanli, Nangang, and Sindian. The 4 new PAC-3 batteries from the October 2008 notification are reportedly being considered for a number of sites, including Greater Taichung’s Dadu Mountain, Greater Kaohsiung’s Jenwu District, Greater Tainan’s Hutoupi, protection for Taiwan’s E-2 2000 Hawkeye early-warning planes at Pingtung’s airport, and possibly the small airport terminal at Chiayi. About 386 missiles have been ordered so far, and the full PAC-3 systems are scheduled to arrive in 2014-2015. Another 2 PAC-3 batteries would follow under the 2010 DSCA request, as part of a future purchase phase.

Aug 2-10/12: Minehunters. Taiwan’s 2 Osprey Class minehunting ships arrive after their 2-year refurbishment and training period in the USA, and are inducted into the ROCN in welcoming ceremony at the Zuoying naval base, in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.

Taiwan’s fleet of minehunters now numbers 10 ships, but these are by far the newest and most capable. Designed in the 1990s instead of the 1950s, Osprey Class ships are equipped with an array of mine-hunting devices including Raytheon AN/SQQ-32 sonar, remotely-operated AN/SLQ-48 Mine Neutralizing Vehicles (MNV), video sensors, remotely-controlled mine detonators, cable cutters, and a pair of .50 caliber machineguns. The minehunters have a cruising speed of 10 knots, and mission endurance of 15 days. China Post | Taiwan Today | Defense Update.

2 Minehunters arrive

Aug 3/12: P-3s. The good news is, a Taiwanese P-3C Orion aircraft recently completed its 1st functional trial flight in late July 2012, and Taiwan should begin receiving its new P-3C sea control aircraft in 2013. The bad news is, the military’s plan to build a hangar at an air base in Pingtung County in southern Taiwan has gone nowhere.

The ROCAF says that the new planes could be placed in C-130H hangars, but that isn’t a long-term solution. The problem appears to be lack of jurisdictional clarity between the ROCAF and Navy over who will control the planes, and hence who will issue the RFP. Focus Taiwan.

July 24/12: Tanks. The Taipei Times reports that Taiwan is looking to join countries like Morocco, and try to obtain refurbished M1 Abrams tanks. The tanks used in Iraq and Afghanistan need major maintenance overhauls, and one option for the Army would be to sell the tanks to allies, and let them pay for the RESET costs.

“Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General David Lo… told local media yesterday that efforts to acquire used battle tanks from the US were currently under evaluation… Deputy Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang… [said] the Army was seeking to procure 200 tanks to bolster its forces, adding that the great bulk would be deployed in Hukou Township… [with] the 584th Armored Brigade… Taiwan’s efforts to procure the 70-tonne main battle tank go back to the early 2000s, when it requested M1-A2s from the US, a request that Washington turned down.”

July 13-22/12: Upgrade MoU signed. Reports indicate that the US and Taiwan have signed the $3.7 billion MoU to upgrade Taiwan’s F-16s, with upgrades occurring at a rate of 24 fighters out of service at a time, beginning in 2016 and continuing to 2028. The actual Letter of Acceptance (contract) is expected to be finalized within a couple of months, but it has a number of reported twists and conditions that are puzzling.

One of the oddest is that Taiwan will have no say in which radar (Northrop Grumman SABR or Raytheon RACR) is picked in 2013-2014, and then installed. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin’s recent agreement with state-run AIDC appears to have shut BAE out of the picture, without the opportunity to compete or be evaluated.

Another odds proviso is that Taiwan won’t recover it’s engineering costs to integrate the new AESA radars, if the US Air National Guard adopts the same radar and methods to retrofit its own F-16s. Taiwanese sources told Defense News that the MoU allows “some” reimbursement if other F-16 customers adopt the same retrofit. The most likely near-term customers are Korea and Singapore. AIDC [in Chinese] | Defense News | Defense Update | Reuters India (abridged) | Reuters, via Aviation Week.

July 11/12: LMCO-AIDC MoU. At the 2012 Farnborough Air Show, Taiwan’s AIDC and Lockheed Martin sign a memorandum of understanding to expand their strategic relationship, and jointly explore opportunities for the Taiwan F-16 A/B Retrofit Program.

The MOU defines potential collaboration on F-16 retrofit modifications, F-16 component parts manufacture and other potential offset projects. Its practical effect is to shut BAE Systems out of any competition (vid. March 14/12 entry). Lockheed Martin | Reuters.

F-16 upgrade MoU

June 25/12: F-16s. Reports from Taiwan indicate that the Ministry of National Defense is giving the USA’s May 2012 draft Letter of Acceptance for F-16 modernization some hard thought, as it screens the items and prices in the USA’s rumored $3.8 billion response. A decision is expected by the end of July.

The United Evening News reports that the $600 million cost for the AESA radars in particular has created unease among “senior government officials,” who are reportedly asking for other options. There’s certainly precedent for installing previous-generation APG-68v9 radars in early-model F-16s instead, as is being done for Pakistan. It would be a major improvement on Taiwan’s current radars, and equal other F-16C/D Block 52 fleets around the world, but would remain a generation behind AESA performance. Both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are touting their RACR/SABR next-generation radars as drop-in refits for older F-16s, but Taiwan is being told that additional system engineering work would be required. The Pentagon has reportedly promised to remit some of those custom design costs, if other countries choose to add AESA radar systems to their F-16A/Bs in the future. The China Post | Focus Taiwan | Agence France-Presse.

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

This brings total ROC Apache Block III contracts to $683.8 million so far, of the maximum $2.532 billion noted in the October 2008 DSCA request. This current total includes equipment like fire control radars and air-launched Stinger missiles, which were part of that request.

May 17/12: Minesweepers. Taiwan’s CNA reports that the former USS Oriole and USS Falcon Osprey Class coastal minehunting ships are scheduled for delivery to Taiwan in July after being refitted and reactivated. They are due to be commissioned into service in October 2012.

May 17/12: F-16s. The US House of Representatives approves Rep. Kay Granger’s [R-TX-12] amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310), which requires the Obama administration to approve the sale of 66 new F-16s to Taiwan. It’s 1 of 19 amendments that passes on a voice vote, before the House passes HR 4310.

Granger’s amendment is companion legislation to her House Bill (H.R. 2992) that “Directs the President to carry out the sale of no fewer than 66 F-16C/D multirole fighter aircraft to Taiwan”, and to Sens. Cornyn and Menendez’ Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act of 2011 (S.1539). Unless the Senate also passes a similar amendment to the 2013 budget, however, it won’t matter. Neither HR 2992 nor S 1539 has passed individually, and the final 2013 defense budget needs to pass both the House and the Senate with the same text. The wording is also somewhat questionable, as the President isn’t really the decider, and can always offer the excuse that the State Department never forwarded a request. Which is true – the State Department is blocking that request. Forcing approval of that request, either by State’s DSCA or via legislation removing this request from DSCA’s hands, might have been a better tactic. Rep. Granger | The Hill.

May 6/12: UH-60Ms. Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. in Stratford, CT received a $43.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for engineering services, to convert 4 more UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters “to the specific unique configuration for Taiwan.” In other words, to finish the 4 helicopters bought on June 30/11. This brings the total cost of those 4 helicopters to $91.8 million, or $23 million per machine so far.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT, with an estimated completion date of Oct 31/14. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by Taiwan’s FMS agent, the US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

4 UH-60Ms

May 2/12: Link-16. Data Link Solutions in Cedar Rapids, IA receives a $9.4 million firm-fixed-price delivery order to Taiwan of MIDS-LVT terminals, as a Foreign Military Sale transaction.

Work will be performed in Wayne, NJ (50%), and Cedar Rapids, IA (50%), and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/14. This contract was competitively procured via and the SPAWAR E-commerce website, with 2 offers received. The competition was real, as Taiwan has shifted its buys back and forth over time. US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, CA manages the contract, on behalf of its FMS client (N00039-10-D-0031).

April 27/12: F-16s. Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX] has lifted his hold on the confirmation of former Obama aide Mark W. Lippert, as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. It comes after Obama’s Director of the Office of Legislative Affairs, Robert L. Nabors II, sends a letter that promises to consider sales of new F-16s to Taiwan. Careful reading shows that this is all it promises, and Obama’s former aide will play a large role in any decisions. Unless there’s another reason to believe in a policy about-face, therefore, it’s unreasonable to expect any change, despite this language:

“We understand your desire to see Taiwan’s air force modernized with the addition of new F-16C/Ds… especially given the pending retirement of F-5s… [The new ASD] would use the position as the U.S. Chair of the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Review Talks and the interagency Monterey Talks to oversee the development of a combined review of Taiwan’s long-term defense strategy and resourcing plan, to include on Taiwan’s air and missile defense needs… We recognize that China has 2,300 operational combat aircraft, while our democratic partner Taiwan has only 490… The Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the inter-agency and the Congress, will play a lead role as the Administration decides on a near-term course of action on how to address Taiwan’s fighter gap, including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new U .S.-made fighter aircraft.”

April 22/12: More frigates? Media reports say that Taiwan may look to increase its fleet of FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates from the current set of 8. The defence ministry has reportedly briefed President Ma Ying-jeou, and is said to be ready to include a budget for 4 more in 2013.

These frigates are generally sold for very little money, except the cost of refurbishment. Taiwan’s FFG-7 frigates are fully armed, and include the original pop-up launcher for SM-1 air defense and Harpoon ship attack missiles. The US Navy has removed missiles from its own frigates, however, so adding them back would be part of the refurbishment contract, if Taiwan wants that. Bangkok Post. See also Aug 5/10, Jan 10/10.

March 20/12: Cracked AMRAAMs. The Taipei Times reports that the ROCAF currently has 120 AIM-120C-5 and 218 AIM-120C-7s in inventory, with deliveries that began in 2004. Unfortunately, some of them were experiencing cracking in their pyroceramic radome nose cones. American investigators concluded that Taiwan’s high humidity, plus the pressure created by supersonic flight, were the problem. The ROCAF will respond by improving storage and rotation cycles.

The Taipei Times does note that Taiwan’s radar-guided MBDA MICA and locally-built Tien Chien II missiles aren’t having this problem, despite being exposed to the same conditions.

March 14/12: F-16s. Lockheed Martin and BAE are both pushing to perform Taiwan’s F-16 upgrades, as part of a wider competition in this area between the 2 firms. BAE’s recent wins in providing fire-control and advanced ethernet capabilities for 270 US ANG F-16s, and upgrades for some Turkish F-16s, sends notice that Lockheed can expect competition in Taiwan, South Korea (up to $1.6 billion for 134 KF-16s), and Singapore (70 F-16C/Ds).

Taiwan will be a challenge for BAE, because its armed forces and government have a long-standing relationship with Lockheed Martin that they may be loath to jeopardize. Defense Update.

March 13/12: Thai Submarines. Thailand has dropped plans to buy 4 second-hand German U206A submarines, and let their option rights expire on Feb 29/12. Reports say that Thai Defence Minister Sukumpol Suwanatat refused to approve the deal, after several reviews of the navy’s submarine purchase plans.

The tiny 550t submarines are especially well-suited for shallow, constricted waters and near-coast operations. They’re old, but they’d fit Taiwan’s needs extremely well, offering a bridge buy whose layout and plans would also help teach Taiwanese designers. Or, the stealthy, shallow-water U206s may find another global buyer who values their unique specialties, and has a near-term need. Colombia has already bought 2 of the 6 submarines available. Europe Online.

Feb 27/12: Submarines. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense officially denies a magazine report saying that Taiwan was going to buy Greece’s U214 Papanikolis Class submarines, since Greece couldn’t pay.

The Hong Kong-based Chinese-language magazine, Asian Week (probably “Yazhou Zhoukan”), added that HDW officials has visited Taiwan in October 2011, and been told that a deal was possible for under $800 million each, plus 10-20 years guaranteed support, and US approval. The report added that HDW had officially informed the US about the proposal. Taipei Times.

UGM-84 Harpoon
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Feb 22/12: Harpoons for subs. Modernizations will allow Taiwan’s navy to arm its 2 submarines with UGM-84 Harpoon missiles, beginning in 2013. The move will greatly increase their submarines’ reach, allowing attacks from up to 70 miles away. That makes it much harder for enemies to protect themselves against a submarine attack, by widening the required search field.

Taiwan already equips its F-16s and some navy ships with other variants of this missile, but a submarine’s stealth adds a new level of difficulty for Taiwan’s enemies. Local reports indicate that integration will involve the addition of a stand-alone fire-control system for the missiles, to avoid the added time and expense of full integration. It will also require either changes to the torpedo tube mechanisms, or conversion/addition of a dedicated torpedo tube. For tactical reasons, it’s much better to have all torpedo tubes missile-capable, as this allows fast salvos of multiple missiles. Since firing a missile announces the submarine’s presence and location rather loudly, attacks on well-defended naval groups (like, say, an invasion force) will be much more effective as a missile swarm, rather than using the classic kung-fu movie approach where the attackers conveniently fight the defender one at a time. If, indeed, the submarine lives long enough to keep launching more attacks. See also July 29/10 entry. Taipei Times | 9abc | India’s Zee News.

Sub modernization

Feb 21/12: Submarines. The Taipei Times reports confirmations from the ROC Navy that it will begin a domestic submarine program in 2013, with “assistance from one or a number of foreign countries”, in order to create a small 1,000t – 1,500t design. The goal is reportedly to deliver a prototype within 3-4 years, and the ROCN would reportedly seek budgets for the program within 2 months.

Semi-native sub program?

Feb 13/12: PATRIOT. The USA’s FY 2013 budget documents include information about Taiwan’s PATRIOT PAC-3 missile orders. Looking through past years as well, one sees 386 PAC-3 missiles ordered from FY 2010-2013: 96 in FY 2010, 96 in FY 2011, 154 in FY 2012, and 40 missiles for FY 2013.

Feb 7/12: Minesweepers. An article about the Iranian mine threat to the Strait of Hormuz notes that the former US Navy Osprey Class minehunting ships Oriole and Falcon have been authorized for sale to Taiwan (vid. Jan 29/10 entry), but are still being refurbished in Texas.

Jan 5/12: Stingers. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AA receives a $7.8 million firm-fixed-price contract, to buy FIM-92H Block 1 Stinger missiles for Taiwan. The designation FIM-92H refers to FIM-92D missiles, which have been upgraded to the current FIM-92 RMP Block I standard. They can be used with air-to-air launchers on helicopters, or they can equip troops on the ground.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/16. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by Taiwan’s contract agents at US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-09-C-0520).


$5.3b F-16 upgrade program; Taiwan is a security risk for secrets; Political dogfight over F-16s in USA; Taiwan to try building submarines itself?; Major PATRIOT missile buy; AH-64D Block III attack helicopter buys; Upgraded E-2 surveillance planes returning; 1st 4 UH-60M helis ordered; Plans for new torpedoes. ROCAF F-16A Block 20
fires AGM-65 Maverick
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Dec 30/11: PATRIOT. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Andover, MA receives a $34.3 million firm-fixed-price contract, providing initial funding for 3 Taiwanese Patriot fire units and training equipment. DID is investigating possible connections to the Dec 16/11 announcement.

Work will be performed in several locations within Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington, Italy, Greece, and Canada, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2016. One bid was solicited, with one bid received. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract, incl. services as Taiwan’s agent (W31P4Q-12-C-0069).

Dec 30/11: PATRIOT. Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $606 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for FY 2012 PATRIOT requirements – which includes missiles, launchers, and ground support for Taiwan. Within the PATRIOT system, Lockheed Martin produces the PAC-3 missile, the missile canister 4-packs, a fire solution computer, and the Enhanced Launcher Electronics System (ELES).

Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX; Camden, AR; Lufkin, TX; Chelmsford, MA and Ocala, FL, with an estimated completion date of July 30/15. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract, as Taiwan’s FMS agent (W31P4Q-12-C-0002).

Dec 30/11: AH-64D. Longbow Limited Liability Corp. in Orlando, FL receives an announced $64.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, but Longbow LLC pegs its actual value at $181 million, with options to extend performance past 2015, to 2017.

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

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

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

Dec 30/11: AH-64D. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $13.9 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to fund FIM-92H Block-1 Stinger missiles and their air-to-air launchers for Taiwan. China’s near-certain air superiority in the event of a conflict makes aerial combat weapons for Taiwan’s attack helicopters a smart move. Their maneuverability and near-earth flight profile would make them a very difficult foe for many fast jets.

Taiwan’s DSCA request was for up to 173 missiles, which will be used on its AH-64 helicopters (q.v. Oct 3/08 entry). A $45.4 million contract has already ordered 171 of the missiles, plus ancillary equipment that included 24 of 35 requested Stinger Captive Flight Trainers with live guidance systems, but no rocket motors (q.v. June 25/09).

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/16. One bid was solicited, with one bid received. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the contract, as Taiwan’s FMS agent (W31P4Q-09-C-0520).

Dec 27/11: E-2s. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY receives a $6.9 million delivery order modification exercising an option for sustainment, engineering and technical services, and travel in support of ROCAF E-2Cs.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (70%), and Pingtung Air Force Base, Taiwan (30%), and is expected to be completed in January 2013. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract on behalf of its FMS client.

Dec 19/11: E-2s. Taiwan gets 2 of its E-2Ts back as Hawkeye 2000s. The arrival of the 2 planes in Kaohsiung city brings their fleet size back to 4, with 2 more still in the USA for upgrades. Taiwan News.

Dec 16/11: PATRIOT. Raytheon announces a $685.7 million Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract from Taiwan for additional PATRIOT fire units, featuring current electronics, an improved man-machine interface, and claims of lower life-cycle costs. The firm adds that this award is in addition to the 2009 contract for new systems, and the 2008 contracts to upgrade Taiwan’s existing systems. Work under this contract will be performed at Raytheon’s Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, MA; El Paso, TX; and Huntsville, AL.

When queried, the firm clarified that this order will be built from the ground up as PATRIOT PAC-3, and that “fire unit” means the complete system, including radars, generators, antenna, ECS command module, and missile launchers. Taiwan is already beginning to build experience with the equipment, as Raytheon recently delivered the first upgraded Configuration-3 radar system, 10 months ahead of the original requested program plan. See also Taipei Times.

Major PATRIOT contract

Dec 15/11: Submarines. More reports that Taiwan is moving toward its own submarine program, per the Sept 19/11 entry below. The story adds one expert’s recommendation that the money and time might be spent on fast-attack missile boats like the Chinese Type 022. Which would be a good recommendation, if standard combat scenarios weren’t assuming PLAAF control of the air over the Formosa Straits.

The Taipei Times also reports that Taiwan turned down a proposed 2003 deal to buy up to 8 Sauro Class boats from Italy as they were decommissioned. The Fincantieri submarines had entered service between 1980 and 1992, which means they would have had limited remaining service life, and Taiwan decided that it was better not to buy them. Unfortunately, no deal for new submarines turned up.

Dec 7/11: AH-64 helicopters. Boeing in Mesa, AZ received a $141.3 million firm-fixed-price contract for “services in support of 30 Apache AH-64D attack helicopters for Taiwan.” See also the June 10/11 and Oct 8/10 entries for that order.

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

Dec 7/11: BMD Radar. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Sudbury, MA receives a $42.9 million cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for the Surveillance Radar Program. Specifically, this system includes a UHF phased array radar integrated with Taiwan-furnished Identification Friend-or-Foe beacons; 2 Missile Warning Centers; and communications and interface architecture and protocols to specific nodes within Taiwan’s military communications infrastructure, consistent with US restrictions

The SRP is a Foreign Military Sales Program managed by the USAF Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, MA, to provide Taiwan with the elements of a missile and air defense capability. Work will be performed in Sudbury, MA, and is expected to be complete by Nov 9/12 (FA8722-05-C-0001, PO 0062).

Dec 7/11: PATRIOT. Raytheon in Andover, MA received a $12.7 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee, and cost-reimbursable contract. The award will modify an existing contract for technical services in support of Taiwan’s PATRIOT air defense missile system.

Work will be performed in El Paso, TX, and Taipei, Taiwan, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/15. by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL, who is acting as Taiwan’s agent (W31P4Q-11-C-0317).

Nov 8/11: E-2s. Taiwan ships its 3rd and 4th E-2T Hawkeyes to the USA for upgrades to Hawkeye 2000 configuration (vid. Oct 3/08 entry). The move leaves Taiwan without any operational E-2Ts, as the first 2 planes aren’t expected to return from their upgrades until the end of 2011.

In their absence, the ROCAF does have 2 newer E-2C+ Hawkeye 2000s to rely on, but the move remains a calculated risk. Taiwan News.

Oct 5/11: PATRIOT. Raytheon IDS in Andover, MA receives a $20.4 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, to provide PATRIOT technical assistance services to Taiwan. Work will be performed in El Paso, TX; Taipei, Taiwan, and Andover, MA; with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received (W31P4Q-11-C-0317).

Nov 18/11: F-16 dogfight. Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX] sends a letter to President Obama, that also clarifies Taiwan’s current position re: the F-16s:

“Shortly after your Administration announced the F-16 A/B upgrade package, I wrote to President Ma to ask him for clarification on Taiwan’s military requirement for new F-16C/Ds. On Oct. 14, I received an unequivocal response, stating that Taiwan needs both the upgraded F-16A/Bs and the new F-16C/Ds to fulfill its “self-defense needs in qualitative and quantitative terms.” The sale of new F-16C/Ds to Taiwan also has the backing of 47 Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and 181 Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives who this past year have sent letters of support to your Administration. In your recent speech to the Australian Parliament, you stated that “The United States is a Pacific power, and we are here to stay.” I applaud this rhetoric, but it will ring hollow unless it is followed by meaningful action…”

Nov 14/11: A day after the New York Times publishes an editorial urging President Obama to sell out Taiwan, Rep. Ed Royce [R-CA-40] tells a Formosa Foundation group in Los Angeles that Congress is not contemplating abandonment. That may seem like harsh language, but the New York Times op-ed reads:

“President Obama… should enter into closed-door negotiations with Chinese leaders to write off the $1.14 trillion of American debt currently held by China in exchange for a deal to end American military assistance and arms sales to Taiwan and terminate the current United States-Taiwan defense arrangement by 2015.”

“Sell out” is a perfectly appropriate description. New York Times | Taipei Times.

Pakistani F-16D-52
(click to view full)

Sept 21/11: F-16 Block… 59s? The US DSCA issues up to $5.95 billion in ROCAF F-16 related upgrade and support requests, over 3 separate notifications. The procedure for Foreign Military Sale mode requests is that if Congress doesn’t block the sale within 30 days, negotiations and contracts can commence. The US military is technically the buyer and contract manager, but they do so on behalf of their FMS client. The exact DSCA requests include:

Pilot Training: Many foreign militaries train their combat pilots in the USA, taking advantage of America’s larger swathes of open airspace for training, and of training alongside combat-proven American pilots. Taiwan already trains its F-16 pilots at Luke AFB near Glendale, AZ, and a buy request worth up to $500 million would continue funding this program over the long term.

The training provides a “capstone” course that takes experienced pilots and significantly improves their tactical proficiency. Funding would cover flight training, supply and maintenance support, spare and repair parts, support equipment, program management, publications, documentation, personnel training and training equipment, fuel and fueling services, and other related program requirements.

L-3 Communications Corporation in Greenville, TX would be the lead contractor for this service, but there would be about 90 U.S. contractors providing various forms of aircraft maintenance and logistics support at Luke AFB. US DSCA [PDF].

Spare Parts: This Foreign Military Sales Order II program (FMSO II) request would provide funds for blanket spare parts orders, under the Cooperative Logistics Supply Agreement (CLSSA), to support Taiwan’s F-16A/B Falcon, F-5E/F Tiger II, and F-CK IDF Ching Kuo fighters, and C-130H Hercules transport aircraft. The estimated cost is up to $52 million.

Procurement of these items will be from many contractors providing similar items to the U.S. forces, and implementation of this sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives. US DSCA [PDF].

RACR retrofit
(click to view full)

F-16 Fleet Retrofit: This request [PDF] would retrofit up to 145 F-16A/B Block 20 fighters. The technologies involved in some aspects of this retrofit are something of a surprise, as they go beyond the new F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft Taiwan was said to be looking for – a type that was recently sold to China’s ally Pakistan. These retrofits are more advanced than that, rising to a technology level that would be ahead of any F-16 the USAF flies, and similar to (but not the same as) the UAE’s unique F-16E/F Block 60 Desert Falcons.

The estimated cost is up to $5.3 billion. The most advanced gear includes:

  • 176 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars. The only F-16s currently flying with AESA radars are the UAE’s F-16E/Fs, which carry Northrop Grumman’s AN/APG-80. Northrop Grumman (SABR) and Raytheon (RACR) are both offering AESA radars that retrofit into the same nose space as the original F-16 radars, while offering 2x-3x performance improvements over even the Block 52′s AN/APG-68v9 radar. Despite their retrofit target market, a sale would hand over some of America’s most advanced fighter radar technologies, derived from platforms like the Navy Super Hornets’ APG-79 (RACR) and the F-35′s APG-81 (SABR).

  • 176 Electronic Warfare Management systems, incl. possible upgrades to 82 ALQ-184 Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) pods to incorporate Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM) technology; and/or 176 of Terma’s AN/ALQ-213 EWMS; or ITT’s new AN/ALQ-211v9 AIDEWS(Airborne Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite) pods with DRFM; or Northrop Grumman’s AN/ALQ-131 pods with DRFM. DFRM is a major step-change in EW effectiveness. It can do more things at once, do them faster, and is easier to modify with new programming. F-16 sales to Pakistan pointedly specified solutions without DFRM.

  • HAVE GLASS II application. This is a special coating that reduces the plane’s radar reflectivity. Recent F-16 sales to Pakistan did not include this technology.

Other performance improvements would involve:

  • Engineering and design study on replacing existing F100-PW-220 engines with F100-PW-229 IPE engines, designed for longer life and improved performance.

  • 128 Night Vision Goggles

  • 176 Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation Systems

  • Upgrade of 158 BAE APX-113 Advanced Identification Friend or Foe Combined Interrogator Transponders. These are the “bird slicers” just ahead of the cockpit.

To improve the plane’s offensive performance, especially in ground strike mode, Taiwan wants the following ancillary equipment and weapons:

  • 128 of VSI’s Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems. These Helmet Mounted Displays track the pilot’s head movements, and make a huge difference when using “high off boresight” missiles like the AIM-9X, which has a wide sighting cone.

  • 40 Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder short range air-to-air missiles. By comparison, recent F-16 Block 52 sales to Pakistan pointedly specified previous-generation AIM-9M missiles.
  • 56 AIM-9X Captive Air Training Missiles, with no motor or warhead
  • 5 AIM-9X Telemetry kits, with a working motor, but telemetry instead of a warhead
  • 153 LAU-129 Launchers with missile interface, which can fire AIM-9X Sidewinder or medium range AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles

  • 16 GBU-31v1 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) GPS-guidance kits for existing 2,000 pound bombs.
  • 80 GBU-38 JDAM kits for existing 500 pound bombs.

  • 64 CBU-105 Sensor Fused Weapons with Wind-Corrected Munition Dispensers (WCMD). These are GPS-guided cluster bombs, whose tuna-can shaped submunitions spin out to hunt and destroy enemy vehicles and tanks over a wide area.

  • 112 Dual Mode/ Global Positioning System Laser-Guided Bombs, either Raytheon’s Enhanced Paveway, or Boeing’s Laser JDAM.
  • 16 x 2,000 pound: GBU-10 Enhanced Paveway II or GBU-56 Laser JDAM
  • 16 x 2,000 pound: GBU-24 Enhanced Paveway IIIs, with longer glide range and “bunker buster” penetrator warheads
  • 80 x 500 pound: GBU-12 Enhanced Paveway II or GBU-54 Laser JDAM

  • 86 tactical data link terminals; especially useful for ground support strikes

  • Upgrade 28 of Lockheed Martin’s electro-optical infrared targeting Sharpshooter pods.

  • Buy another 26 of Lockheed Martin’s AN/AAQ-33 Sniper or Northrop Grumman’s AN/AAQ-28 LITENING targeting & surveillance pods. The most current SE variants of these pods offer major advances in performance; the question is whether Taiwan would get those.

Also included in the buy request: More 20mm ammunition, alternate mission equipment, update of Modular Mission Computers, new cockpit multifunction displays, communication equipment, Joint Mission Planning Systems, maintenance, construction, repair and return, aircraft tanker support, aircraft ferry services, aircraft and ground support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.

F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in Fort Worth, TX would be the prime contractor, but additional contracts could include:

  • BAE Advance Systems Greenland, NY
  • Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in St Louis, MO
  • Goodrich ISR Systems in Danbury, CT
  • ITT Defense Electronics and Services in McLean, VA
  • ITT Integrated Structures in North Amityville, NY
  • ITT Night Vision in Roanoke, VA
  • L3 Communications in Arlington, TX
  • Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control in Dallas, TX
  • Lockheed Martin Simulation, Training, and Support in Fort Worth, TX
  • Marvin Engineering Company in Inglewood, CA
  • Northrop-Grumman Electro-Optical Systems in Garland, TX
  • Northrop-Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore, MD
  • Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, CT
  • Raytheon Company in Goleta, CA
  • Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, CA
  • Raytheon Missile System in Tucson, AZ
  • Symetrics Industries in Melbourne, FL
  • Terma in Denmark

Taiwanese sources state that these buys would be paid for over a period of 10-12 years, once contracts are negotiated. Implementation of this sale will require at least 5 contractor representatives for engineering and technical support, over the first 2 years of the program. Another 2 trips per year will be required for U.S. Government personnel and contractor representatives for the duration of the program, for program and technical support. See also: Focus Taiwan | Bloomberg | Reuters.

Sept 21/11: Reactions Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX] is among those who remain unimpressed by the upgrade offer. He has added a Senate rider that incorporates the language of his “Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act” (vid. Sept 12/11), as an amendment to H.R. 2832, the House Trade Adjustment Assistance bill that’s now making its way through Senate concurrence. The core of his disagreement is that upgrades don’t meet Taiwan’s request, and confirm Chinese influence on weapon sales that violates of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act. This also seems to be the widespread perception in Taiwan, though the KMT is defending the deal as expected.

Upgrades also won’t keep the F-16 production line rolling in Cornyn’s state past mid-2013, whereas a 66-plane order would add several years of continuation for about 2,000 jobs.

Cornyn’s amendment fails in the Senate. On the other hand, Rep. Kay Granger, [R-TX-12, which is Fort Worth] has introduced an S.1539 companion bill in the Republican-controlled House. If it passes there, it could find itself back in the Senate as a stand-alone bill. See also Focus Taiwan re: Taiwanese politics | Sen. Cornyn statement | Rep. Granger statement | Rep. Duncan Hunter [R-CA] op-ed | US-Taiwan Business Council [PDF] | Associated Press | Breitbart Big Peace op-ed re: security issues | Houston Chronicle | Miami Herald | Fort Worth Telegram Sky Talk re: House bill | WSJ Washington Wire || Special addition: FP magazine offers Taiwanese YouTube editorial animation videos.

DSCA: F-16 upgrade request

GR9 in Afghanistan w.
Sniper, Paveways
(click to view full)

Sept 19/11: Fighter Plan B – Go VTOL/STOVL! The Washington Times reports that a U.S. Defense Department study has concluded Taiwan’s best response to the threat of massive Chinese missile strikes against its airfields, is by buying short-takeoff and vertical-landing jets such as the V/STOL(Vertical/ Short Take Off and Landing) AV-8B Harrier II, or the new F-35B Lightning II STOVL(Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing capability) model. Read “Plan B: A V/STOVL Fighter for Taiwan?” for the full analysis and report.

Sept 19/11: Submarines. Focus Taiwan reports that Taiwan is considering building its own diesel-electric attack submarines:

“The military has commissioned a local shipbuilder to contact a non-U.S. country capable of building submarines for cooperation in building conventional submarines… sources said the Naval Shipbuilding Development Center has been very busy studying the blueprint of the country’s two… submarines… Moreover, naval authorities are preparing to send personnel abroad to study production technology or negotiate technology transfers for building pressure-resistant hulls, the most difficult part in submarine production, the sources said. Initially, the military may start from building small submarines weighing in the hundreds of deadweight tonnages.”

Maybe they can get a real deal from Germany for its 500t U-206As?

Sept 14/11: F-16 dogfight. Foreign Policy magazine reports that Sen. John Cornyn will not stall Senate confirmation of Ashton Carter as the Deputy Secretary of Defense. That kerfuffle had nothing to do with the Taiwanese sale; instead it involves assurances of Carter’s full support for the F-35 program, which faces strong budget pressures, and is assembled in Fort worth, TX.

Sept 12/11: F-16 dogfight. Amid rumors that the Obama administration will refuse Taiwan’s F-16 request, Sens. John Cornyn [R-TX] and Robert Menendez [D-NJ], introduce S.1539, The Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act of 2011. It would remove the decision from the administration’s hands, and force the USA to approve the sale of 66 new F-16s to Taiwan. This would not force a sale itself, of course, since Taiwan must choose to buy. But it would remove all approval road blocks.

The bill’s co-sponsors include Sens. Richard Blumenthal [D-CT] and Joe Lieberman [I-CT], Sens. Tom Coburn and James Inhofe [both R-OK], and Jon Kyl [R-AZ]. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who must then approve it for submission to the Senate. GovTrack for S.1539 | Bloomberg | Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Texas Insider.

Aug 30/11: Security Sieve. The Wall St. Journal publishes Taiwan is Losing the Spying Game, by Taipei Times deputy news chief and Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent J. Michael Cole. Key excerpt:

“…another factor may be at work: the penetration of almost every sector of Taiwanese society by Chinese intelligence. For the U.S. government and defense manufacturers, any arms sale to Taiwan carries the risk that sensitive military technology will end up in Beijing… Anyone who has followed developments in Taiwan over the years knows how deeply Chinese forces have infiltrated Taiwan’s military, especially its senior officers… Taiwan’s reputation has not been helped by a string of embarrassing cases involving members of the armed forces or civilians who spied for China… Even more damaging are the instances when culprits got away with a light sentence… Whether warranted or not, Taiwan is increasingly perceived as leaking secrets like a sieve.”

Taiwanese leaks

August 17/11: F-16 dogfight. According to the Taipei Times, President Ma Ying-jeou said the island was still seeking to acquire F-16C/Ds while the Ministry of National Defense denied having been notified by Washington officials of a refusal to proceed with the sale. The US State Department is saying no decision has been made yet. Vice President Joe Biden was in China until yesterday but this issue was not on the agenda, according to the Washington Times.

August 14/11: F-16 dogfight. No sale? That’s what Republic of China MND officials say that a US DoD delegation told them at the Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition. This would confirm reports from June 2011, though the decision remains to be officially confirmed by US sources – something expected to happen by October 1st. In an interview with Defense News, deputy defense minister Andrew Yang said just last week:

“If we don’t get the F-16C/Ds to replace our vintage fighters, then we lose our leverage and immediately face the challenge of fulfilling our responsibility of preserving peace and stability in the region. [..] Otherwise, the U.S. has to send its own military to replace our daily patrols in the region.”

Instead, retrofits on older F-16A/Bs are being offered, reportedly including ASEA radars, targeting pods and other upgrades. After all, even the USAF is considering upgrading its F-16 fleet to guarantee a smooth bridge until it has enough F-35s. Whether all, or only some, of the 146 jets would be upgraded appears to still be up in the air. AviationWeek | DefenseNews | Taipei Times.

July 14/11: F-16 dogfight. The US State Department is trying to convince Sen. John Cornyn [R-TX] to lift his hold on the nomination of Bill Burns as deputy secretary of state. Cornyn is demanding that the administration (and the State Department, who handles formal sales requests) clarify its policy on Taiwan arms sales first. Foreign Policy magazine.

June 30/11: UH-60s. A $48.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 4 “green” (basic) Black Hawk helicopters and government-furnished equipment to contractor-furnished equipment in support of Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan. Work will be performed in Startford, CT, with an estimated completion date of May 30/13. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

A series of queries that ended up with the US Army have confirmed that these are UH-60Ms, and are just the basic airframes plus installation. That still leaves key items like engines (which will be installed, but are bought separately), defensive systems, training, and spares to be handled by other contracts, and leaves the prospect of modifications by the receiving country for that country to address. This is also the pattern used by Sweden’s recent CSAR/MEDEVAC buy. Note that there is a larger Taiwanese UH-60M request outstanding (vid. Jan 29/10 entry).

June 27/11: F-16 dogfight. Defense News reports that Taiwan’s June 24 petition to submit a letter of request (LoR) for new F-16 fighter jets was blocked by the U.S. State Department, under orders from the U.S. National Security Council.

Current US laws require Taiwan’s defense needs to be the sole criterion for judging military sales requests. This request could be worth more than $8.5 billion, and would extend the F-16 production line for several more years beyond its current planned closure, in 2013.

June 14/11: The Taipei Times reports that:

“A senior military official who requested anonymity said the Ministry of National Defense had been forced to return NT$1 billion (US$34 million) allotted for military equipment purchases to the national treasury because Washington was stalling on a decision to sell the submarine plans and F-16C/D aircraft long requested by Taipei… starting next year, it would only allocate the “lowest operational necessity” costs for the potential purchase of the submarine plans and F-16C/Ds, the official said, adding that the funding would very likely be lowered to about US$10 million and become symbolic funding rather than actual funding. This does not mean that the Republic of China government has grown pessimistic about or is no longer interested in acquiring the F-16C/Ds and submarine plans from the US, the official said…”

June 10/11: AH-64s? Reports surface that Taiwan has signed a contract for 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III attack helicopters under its Sky Eagle program, making it the type’s 1st export customer.

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

US Army AH-64 project manager Col. Shane Openshaw is quoted as the source for the news, and says that Taiwan’s helicopters will be delivered from 2012-2013. The contract signing is consistent with April 2011 reports, and this will be treated as the full contract signing – but see also April 12/11, Oct 8/10, July 26/10, April 12/10, June 25/09, and Oct 3/08 entries, plus Flight International | Rotorhub | Asian Skies blog.

AH-64E attack helicopter order

May 26/11: F-16s 45 American Senators (out of 100) write to President Obama, supporting Taiwan’s request to buy 66 F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighters, in order to help keep pace with China’s buildup. Its authors include Senate Taiwan Caucus heads Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and James Inhofe (R-OK), as well as Senate China Working Group leaders Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Expressed concerns include both the imbalance created by China’s buildup of advanced fighters, and the economic benefits of the F-16 production line. The President is expected to ignore the letter, however, and the US State Department continues to stall the necessary approvals for the request to go forward. Full text [PDF] | Foreign Policy magazine | Flight International.

May 24/11: Harpoons for subs. US discusses the ongoing effort to arm Taiwan’s 2 submarines with Harpoon missiles:

“The Naval Air Systems Command, Precision Strike Weapons – PMA-201, intends to award a sole source contract to The Boeing Company, St. Louis, MO, for the acquisition of Encapsulated (ENCAP) Harpoon Certification Training Vehicle (EHCTV) Servicing Site and Weapons Station (WS) Support Equipment (SE) in support of the Taiwan Navy ENCAP Harpoon program. It is anticipated that a Firm Fixed Price (FFP) delivery order against Blanket Ordering Agreement N00019-11-G-0001 will be issued. This acquisition is being pursued on a sole source basis under the statutory 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1), as implemented by Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 6.302-1, only one responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements. It is anticipated that a Firm-Fixed Price type contract will be issued. THIS NOTICE IS NOT A REQUEST FOR COMPETITIVE PROPOSALS.”

May 23/11: Submarines. Taiwan’s government denies that it has backed off of its program to buy 8 diesel-electric submarines, amidst reports that the program has been scaled down to 4 boats. The USA agreed to the 8 -boat sale in 2001.

Nevertheless, the main problem remains, no matter how many are ordered. Despite policy papers from think-tanks like the neo-conservative AEI, The USA doesn’t produce diesel-electric submarines, and the countries who do make them have been too intimidated by Chinese threats of trade retaliation to supply them. Asia Times believes the rumors may be a political ploy by the Ma KMT government, which sees its support slipping before the 2012 elections and knows that defense is a weak issue. Floating the rumor and then responding looks like action, though it changes nothing. Iran’s Press TV | Asia Times.

May 16/11: Torpedoes. Taiwan’s military reportedly plans to budget $860 million to purchase new Mk54 and Mk48 torpedoes over the a 10-year period.

$300 million will reportedly be used to buy 600 Mk54 lightweight torpedoes, replacing existing Mk46s. They’re designed to launch for ships, and from aircraft like Taiwan’s incoming P-3C Orion sea control planes.

Another $160 million will be spent on the purchase of 40 Mk48s, replacing the existing German-made SUT heavyweight torpedoes Taiwan acquired with its 2 Hai Lung II (Zvaardis) Class subs built by the Netherlands. Another $400 million would cover 100 Mk48s, if Taiwan finds a way to source and purchase the 8 diesel-electric submarines it wants. See also July 20/10 entry, Focus Taiwan.

May 10/11: Defense committee member Rep. Lin Yu-fang [Nationalist Party] is quoted as saying that Taiwan intends to push back the due date for buying Patriot missiles from 2014 to 2017, and postpone buying Black Hawk helicopters from 2016 to 2019-2020. He says that those monies will be spent instead on the transition and recruitment costs associated with scrapping conscription, and fielding an all-volunteer force by 2015.

Defense Ministry spokesman Luo Shou-he cited the reason as production delays by U.S. defense contractors, but the contractors don’t seem to think so. Agence France Presse, via My Sinchew | AP, via Washington Post.

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

March 23/11: P-3 MPA. CAE announces a series of military contracts in more than 10 countries valued at approximately C$ 100 million, including a contract to build P-3C training devices for the Taiwan Navy. They’ll design and manufacture a P-3C Level D operational flight trainer (OFT) as well as a P-3C operational tactics trainer (OTT) for the P-3′s sensor operators. Both training devices will be delivered to Taiwan in 2014.

Feb 17/11: AMRAAM missiles. Focus Taiwan covers a ROCAF report on the May 2010 AMRAAM International Users’ Conference, in which the USAF’s 649th Armament Systems Squadron raised the issue of “Diminishing Manufacturing Sources and Material Shortages (DMSMS).” In English, that means people who manufacture some parts of the missile are either going out of business or ceasing production. The 649th ARSS said component shortages could begin as soon as 2012, and recommends that countries revise their AMRAAM support contracts to include maintenance and warranty clauses.

The longer term hope is to issue contracts for Raytheon to develop replacement components, as part of a joint logistics support plan extending to around 2030. Taiwan will join some other AMRAAM users in raising the issue of humidity, which makes it harder to store and maintain the missiles, and could accelerate their spares problem.

Jan 6/11: P-3C. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors Tactical Systems in Eagan, MN receives a $47.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for the initial outfitting of 12 Taiwanese P-3Cs with new avionics components.

Work will be performed in Eagan, MN, and is expected to be complete in December 2012. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages the contract, on behalf of its foreign Military Sales customer (N00019-09-C-0031).


USA’s non-public Direct Commercial Sales process now open to Taiwan; Major $6+ billion FMS request for 60 helicopters, 2 minehunting ships, sub-launched missiles & PATRIOT air defense upgrades; AH-64 helicopter buy; Sub-launched Harpoon missile buy; ATACMS ballistic missile buy; Up to 20 “Search & Rescue” helis; E-2C early-warning aircraft upgrades; We could use some new tanks; Military balance keeps tilting against Taiwan. ATACMS from M270

Dec 30/10: E-2C. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY receives a $6.6 million delivery order modification, exercising an option for engineering, technical and sustaining services in support of Taiwan Air Force E-2C aircraft under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (75%), and at the Pingtung Air Force Base, Taiwan (25%), and is expected to be complete in December 2011. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract on behalf of its Foreign Military Sale customer (N00421-05-G-0001).

Dec 26/10: P-3C. The China times in Taipei reports that Taiwan will receive its first P-3C Orion sea control aircraft in 2011. They end up being about 2 years ahead of themselves. Agence France Presse.

Dec 23/10: E-2 Hawkeyes. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY receives an $11.9 million firm-fixed-price delivery order to convert 2 E-2T aircraft into E-2C Hawkeye 2000 aircraft. These efforts will also support the transition to an anticipated performance based spares & maintenance solution for the aircraft.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY, and is expected to be complete in September 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract on Taiwan’s behalf (N00019-10-G-0004).

Dec 23/10: Missiles. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $916.2 million firm-fixed-price contract, with some cost-plus-fixed-fee contract line item numbers. They’ll provide 226 ATACMS missiles; 24 launcher modification kits; ground support equipment; contractor field support; and initial spares in Foreign Military Sales to United Arab Emirates, and Taiwan.

This order is probably deliberately ambiguous. ATACMS missiles are used with tracked M270 MLRS (2 pods) and FMTV medium truck-mounted M142 HIMARS (one pod) systems, with the ATACMS missile replacing all 6 of a pod’s 227mm rockets. In exchange, it offers a GPS-guided strike range of around 150 miles – which could technically cross the Taiwan Strait at its narrowest points, but in practice would be limited to the very useful ability to hit any target in Taiwan from a central firing location.

Taiwan doesn’t operate the HIMARS systems the UAE has purchased, or the MLRS. On the other hand, its 57 Thunderbolt 2000 systems mounted on HEMTT heavy trucks do carry rocket pod options that include 2 sets of 6 227mm rockets each, which indicates potential ATACMS compatibility. The UAE’s latest DSCA request included 100 ATACMS missiles and 60 training rockets, but a 2006 request could cover another 200 missiles. This leaves Taiwan’s actual ATACMS order ambiguous, pending more direct clarification.

Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX; Lufkin, TX; Ocala, FL; Camden, AR; and Chelmsford, MA, with an estimated completion date of Nov 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-11-C-0001).

DSCA: ATACMS missiles

Oct 8/10: AH-64 order. Boeing in Mesa, AZ receives a $141.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for 31 AH-64D Apache helicopters and 2 fixed-site Longbow crew trainers, matching “the Taiwan AH-64D aircraft configuration.” Work is to be performed in Mesa, AZ, with an estimated completion date of July 30/15. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by the US Army’s AMCOM Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-09-G-0147).

This is just the initial contract. The amount is enough to get work started, but won’t even come close to paying for 31 helicopters. See April 12/10, and also Oct 3/08, which identified the helicopters as AH-64D Block IIIs. Past experience, and the specifics of this Pentagon announcement, strongly imply that Taiwan’s AH-64D Block IIIs may not be the same as other nations who order the type.

Sept 13/10: Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Dallas & Grand Prairie, TX received a $7.8 million firm-fixed-fee and cost-plus-fixed fee contract for PAC-3 FY 2010 subset efforts to include the following: United States enhanced launcher electronics system kit cables; Taiwan control interface circuit card assembly redesign; Taiwan power and control circuit card assembly redesign; Taiwan missile test set; Taiwan portable four-pack test set; Taiwan seeker digital processor parts; United Arab Emirates (UAE) portable 4-pack test set; UAE guidance processor unit redesign – tooling and test equipment.

The estimated completion date is Oct 31/12, with work to be performed at Dallas, TX (95.74%), Camden, AZ (0.25%), and Ocala, FL (4.01%). One bid was solicited and one bid received (W31P4Q-10-C-0002).

Sept 6/10: BMD progress. Taiwan expects its initial missile defence shield to be ready in 2011, including 6 batteries of Patriot PAC-3 missiles, a “long-range early warning radar system,” and an integrated command and control system that also incorporates its own “Tien Kung” missiles. The China Times places the overall cost at about T$ 300 billion (currently about $9.39 billion), with about T$ 150 billion going toward the Patriot systems and T$ 40 billion to the long-range radar. Agence France Presse.

Aug 12/10: DCS OKed. The U.S. Department of State confirms that it will allow U.S. companies to make a number of defense sales to Taiwan as Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), instead of as Foreign Military Sale (FMS) packages. Items expected under $100 million or so in expected DCS deals include support for Taiwan’s air defense radar system, and an improved radar for its F-CK Ching-kuo fighters.

For Taiwan, DCS sales have 2 big advantages over FMS transactions. One is that they don’t have to pay middleman fees to the US military units who must oversee and manage the entire process. If the item in question can be competitively sourced and is well-understood, that can lower costs. The other, bigger advantage is that they don’t require the same level of public notification and political approval, which gives them a lower political profile. See the “Additional Readings” section below, for more on the differences between DCS and FMS sales. Taiwan’s CNA | CNA follow-up.


Aug 5/10: Reports surface that America will sell Taiwan 2 more refurbished FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Class Perry frigates for $40 million. On the other hand, “The Ministry of National Defense declined to comment on the report and a spokeswoman at the American Institute in Taiwan said she was not aware of it.”

The ROC Navy already operates 8 similar FFG-7 derivative Cheng Kung Class frigates, alongside its 6 high end Kang Ding Class Lafayette derivatives. AFP via Taipei Times | Pakistan’s The News International

July 29/10: Harpoon order. A $66 million firm-fixed-price contract for:

  • 32 Lot 85 Harpoon missile bodies (HMB) for the government of Taiwan
  • 4 Harpoon canister grade “B” missiles for the government of Canada
  • Associated spares and support.
  • Harpoon missile spares for the governments of Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, Japan, the United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, Turkey and Singapore, to include containers;
  • Plus Block II guidance section upgrade kits; wire bundle assemblies; and guidance control units.

  • GM-84 Harpoon missile body consists of the Guidance Section, Warhead Section, Sustainer (propulsion) Section, and the Control Section. The Harpoon missile body, along with an appropriate air, canister (ship) or other launch kit (to include wings, fins, booster if applicable for UGM-84s), makes up a Harpoon AUR. This contract combines purchases for the governments of Taiwan ($43.8M; 66.4%), Canada ($10.1M; 15.3%), Portugal ($7.6M; 11.5%), the Netherlands ($3.2M; 4.8%), Japan ($514,864; 0.8%), the United Kingdom ($263,986; 0.4%), Israel ($194,635; 0.3%), Pakistan ($169,360; 0.3%), Turkey ($31,643; 0.1%), and Singapore ($2,584; 0.1%) under the Foreign Military Sales program.

Work will be performed in St. Charles, MO (55.3%); McKinney, TX (10.7%); Toledo, OH (6.2%); Huntsville, AL (4.5%); Lititz, PA (3.7%); Middletown, CT (2.7%); Grove, OK (2.3%); Galena, KS (1.6%); Minneapolis, MN (1.5%); Motherwell, UK (1.2%); Elkton, MD (1.1%); Kirkwood, MO (1%); Anniston, AL (0.8%); Clearwater, FL (0.7%); McAlester, OK (0.6%); Melbourne, FL (0.6%); and various locations in and outside the contiguous U.S. (5.5%). Work is expected to be complete in June 2011. This contract was not competitively procured (N00019-10-C-0053).

Harpoon missiles

July 26/10: Hellfire missiles. The Longbow, LLC joint venture in Orlando, FL received a $39.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for engineering services supporting the Hellfire and Hellfire Longbow missiles. Work is to be performed in Orlando, FL (50%); Baltimore, MD (25%); United Arab Emirates (10%); and Taiwan (15%), and will run to Sept 30/12. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, AMSAM-AC-TM-H in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-10-C-0256).

The Hellfire Longbow missile is a fire-and-forget version of the Hellfire anti-armor missile. Unlike the semi-active laser guided Hellfires, Hellfire Longbow missiles rely on millimeter-wave guidance, and work in conjunction with the mushroom-shaped Longbow radar mast that’s mounted on top of the AH-64D attack helicopter’s rotor. Taiwan became a Hellfire missile customer in 2005, but doesn’t operate the Longbow variant yet.

July 20/10: Radars. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Sudbury, MA receives a $29.2 million contract modification for the surveillance radar program, which aims to provide Taiwan with elements of its missile and air defense system. This is a foreign military sales program managed by the 850th ELSG/PK at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA, and $8,324,987 has been committed (FA8722-05-C-0001, P00073).

July 20/10: Taiwan’s Liberty Times reports that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou ordered the country’s defense ministry to draft a draw up a shopping list of weapons Taiwan needs. It reportedly includes MK-54 lightweight torpedoes to replace aging Mk-46s, “dozens” of M1A2 tanks, and amphibious landing vehicles. Taiwan’s current tank corps is headlined by a set of about 480 M60A3 Patton tanks, which are 1960s-1970s technology, and a larger set of M48 variants, whose design dates from the early 1950s. UPI.

July 19/10: Tilting balance. A report sponsored by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, and published in Taiwan’s naval studies journal, estimates that China will increase the number of short- and medium-range missiles pointed at the island to 1,960 by the end of 2010. That would rise from the last current count of 1,300-1,400. The report estimates that these missiles would have the ability to destroy 90% of Taiwan’s infrastructure. AP | Reuters | RTT News | Taiwan News.

This day also marks the start of an annual computerized wargame by Taiwan’s military, simulating an invasion by China. During the 5-day drill, Chinese forces attack from Guangzhou and Nanjing, while Taiwanese forces test counter-attack strategies. eTaiwan News | Agence France Presse.

June 23/10: E-2s. Taiwan News reports that upgrades are beginning for Taiwan’s E-2T fleet of early warning aircraft. The ROCAF retains 2 E-2Ts and 2 newer E-2C+ Hawkeye 2000s, but it sent 2 “folded and wrapped” E-2Ts by truck from Kaohsiung’s Hsiaokang Airport to the city’s port under heavy escort, for loading onto a Taiwanese freighter and shipment to the USA.

Upgrades are being done in batches of 2, and are expected to finish up in 2012, at a total cost of NT$ 5.6 billion (currently about $175 million). See also July 21/09, Oct 3/08.

E-2 upgrades

June 1/10: Patriot. Raytheon Co. in Andover, MA receives a $21.3 million firm-fixed-price contract, covering spares for Taiwan’s PATRIOT Config-3 upgrade, and for Kuwait’s Patriot radar upgrade.

Work will be performed in Andover, MA, with an estimated completion date of June 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W31P4Q-09-G-0002).

April 30/10: Patriot. BAE Systems in Sealy, TX received a $5.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 8 of its M1086A1P2 and 9 of its M1A096A1P2 Patriot vehicles with Patriot kits installed for the country of Taiwan, as well as 7 M1088A1P2 FMTV tractor-trucks, for a total of 24 vehicles purchased with this modification. Work is to be performed in Sealy, TX, with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/10. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the TACOM Contracting Center in Warren, MI (W56HZV-08-C-0460).

Taiwan appears to have chosen FMTV medium trucks, as opposed to the Oshkosh HEMTT heavy trucks used by the US Army. While Oshkosh will own the next FMTV medium truck contract as well, BAE Systems retains the rights to key variants, and are currently the only production source for FMTV vehicles.

Chinese Type 022
(click to view full)

April 12/10: Corvette. Taiwan unveils a proposed design for a 1,000 tonne “carrier killer corvette,” as some media sources describe it. The catamaran design looks a lot like China’s current Type 022 catamarans, but would be armed with Taiwanese Hsiungfeng III ship-to-ship missiles. At this point, the project itself is not a firm decision, and could be built locally (most likely) or become a foreign tender.

While fast attack craft with advanced ship-killing missiles are always dangerous to carriers, they are also very dangerous to amphibious assault groups in an invasion scenario. Other potential uses could include coastal patrol, and even acting as a naval “cavalry screen” against China’s Type 022s, in order to buy space for American naval forces. See: Naval OSINT (with picture) | Defense News | Manichi Daily News, Japan | Singapore Straits-Times | UPI.

April 12/10: AH-64s. Defense News reports that a contract for 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters is expected to be signed in May 2010, for arrival in Taiwan between the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013. Focus Taiwan.

March 16/10: Tilting Balance. The U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission holds a public hearing on “Taiwan-China: Recent Economic, Political, and Military Developments across the Strait, and Implications for the United States.” Much of the debate surrounds Taiwan’s remaining request for F-16s, either implicitly or explicitly. Mark Stokes, of Project 2049, lays out a framework for thinking about these issues in his testimony:

“Aerospace power will become an increasingly powerful instrument of PRC coercion… Aerospace power likely will dominate any conflict in the Taiwan Strait and could shape its ultimate outcome… The cross-Strait security situation often is viewed within the context of a military balance. However, PLA capabilities should be judged against specific political objectives in a given scenario and assessed in light of Taiwan’s vulnerabilities, as well as assumptions upon which U.S. decisions… are made… An amphibious invasion is the least likely yet most dangerous scenario… Coercive strategies could include a demonstrations of force as seen in the 1995/1996 missile exercises, 1999 flights in the Taiwan, or in the future a blockade intended to pressure decision makers in Taiwan to assent to Chinese demands, strategic paralysis involving attacks against the islands critical infrastructure, limited missile strikes, flights around the island, just to name a few.

A coercive campaign could be geared toward inflicting sufficient pain or instilling fear in order to coerce Taiwan’s leadership to agree to negotiations on Beijing’s terms, a timetable for unification, immediate political integration, or other political goals. Military coercion succeeds when the adversary gives in while it still has the power to resist and is different from brute force, an action that involves annihilation and total destruction.”

See also RAND’s testimony regarding the overall military balance, and the challenge of Chinese missile salvos aimed at RoCAF air bases. Hearings page | Taipei Times | WIRED Danger Room.

Feb 25/10: Javelin missiles. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Orlando, FL received a $21 million firm-fixed-price contract for FY 2009-2011 hardware production of Javelin anti-tank missile systems to Taiwan.

Javelin is a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. Work is to be performed in Tucson, AZ (50%, Raytheon), and Orlando, FL (50%, LM), with an estimated completion date of Jan 17/11. One bid was solicited with one bid received by Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Command, CCAM-TM-H in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-09-C-0376). See also Oct 3/08 entry.

More Javelin missiles

Feb 22/10: Tilting balance. The Associated Press receives a US Defense Intelligence Agency report (DIA-02-1001-028) that supposedly says Taiwan’s air force is not ready to withstand an attack from China. While the Taiwanese have 400 combat aircraft to serve in various roles, “far fewer of these are operationally capable.” The F-5 fleet is near the end of its combat life, and its F-16A/B Block 20s need upgrades. Its Mirage 2000v5s are the most advanced in the fleet, but they are so expensive to maintain, and have had such chronic difficulties with the aircraft’s turbine fan blades, that Taiwan is considering retiring them.

That’s significant for Taiwan’s F-16 request, because under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, decisions on Taiwan’s weapon requests must be “based solely” on judgments concerning Taiwan’s defense needs, without other political considerations. AP | Defense News | Reuters

Feb 11/10: War by other means. Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Kuan Bi-ling alleges, and the Fisheries Agency confirms, that Chinese pressure on Indonesia has led to a government-recommended boycott of fishing vessels made in Taiwan. The economic impact is estimated at NT$ 100 million per year. The move is not a military move, but it does have some military implications. It’s both a protectionist strike in favor of China’s growing shipbuilding sector, and a way of weakening Taiwan’s breadth of expertise in that area. Taiwan News.

Feb 3/10: EC225 helicopter order. Taiwan is spending $112 million for 3 of Eurocopters’s EC225 Super Puma MkII+ helicopters in search and rescue (SAR) configuration, with an option for up to 17 more machines.

The order is carefully calculated, and the ROC government says the helicopters are for civilian use. The choice of helicopter is also careful, as China’s own Ministry of Communications already operates 2 EC225s for SAR duties, as does Japan’s Coast Guard to the east. On the other hand, EC225s could be converted to medium military helicopters quite quickly – a point that has been brought up before over Eurocopter’s EC175/ Z-15 and Z-9 joint ventures in China. France uses the military EC725 for SEA and Special Forces duties, and Mexico and Brazil have also ordered it. To this point, China has been silent concerning this order. Taiwan News | Defense News | DNA India | The Guardian, UK | Reuters.


Jan 31/10: F-16 dogfight. eTaiwan News quotes Premier Wu Den-yih, who says that Taiwan and the U.S. are still discussing F-16s and diesel-electric submarines:

“The premier also told reporters that the government would calculate if the cost of the package announced by the U.S. was not too high. The weapons had to come at a reasonable price for a useful quality level, he said. Wu said discussions on the F-16 jets were most likely to bear fruit, while the price tag for the submarines was “scary.” …Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said yesterday that Taiwan’s success in achieving the arms purchase was the result of hard work by the previous DPP administration.”

Link 16 Display
(click to see situation)

Jan 29/10: DSCA – One from category A, one from category B… The US DSCA announces up to $6.45 billion in official requests to recapitalize Taiwan’s battlefield helicopter fleet with 60 UH-60Ms, complete the upgrade of its Patriot missile system to PAC-3 status with missiles and command facilities, add Link-16 capability to key assets, purchase 2 Osprey Class minehunter ships, and buy 12 Harpoon Block II test missiles.

In response, the Chinese embassy in Washington, DC, released a statement condemning the move. There are reports that China will cut off military-to-military cooperation with the US, boycott Obama’s planned nuclear summit in April 2010, and even levy trade sanctions. As media like the UK’s Financial Times point out, however, growing protectionist sentiment in the USA makes trade sanctions against American firms an extremely risky move for the Chinese. China Post | Radio Taiwan International | Taiwan News | Taiwan Today | AllGov | The Australian | BBC News | UK’s Financial Times re: China’s risks | New York Times | Reuters | Times of India | Wall Street Journal | Voice of America | China Daily | China’s Xinhua | China’s Xinhua re: sanctions. See also Taiwan News: “The shadow over Taiwan’s arms procurement.”

UH-60M Black Hawks. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Taiwan’s official request for up to 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to replace its aged UH-1H Huey fleet, at an estimated cost is $3.1 billion. The principal contractors will be United Technologies’ subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT (UH-60M), and General Electric Aircraft Engines in Lynn, MA. The DSCA adds that:

“The purchaser has requested offsets; however, at this time they are undetermined and will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and contractors.”

Specific equipment sought includes:

  • 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters
  • 120 T-700-GE-701D engines installed
  • 18 spare T-700-GE-701D engines
  • 69 AN/APR-39Av2 Radar Warning Receivers
  • 69 AN/ALQ-144Av1 Infrared Countermeasure Sets
  • 69 AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning Systems
  • 69 AN/AVR-2B Laser Detecting Sets
  • 120 GAU-19/A .50 cal Machine Gun Systems
  • 310 AN/AVS-9 Aviator Night Vision Goggles.
  • Associated .50 cal ammunition, pyrotechnics, cartridges and propellant actuated devices, to equip the guns and countermeasures systems.
  • Plus “other explosives including devices,” Po-Sheng Communication/Data Link Systems, ammunition, spare and repair parts, tools and support equipment, publications and technical data, personnel training and training equipment, and other support.

Taiwan doesn’t operate Black Hawks yet, but its Navy operates S-70C Seahawk helicopters, so it has some experience with the general type. Implementation of this proposed sale may require the assignment of 2 contractor representatives for a period of up to 2 years.

DSCA: UH-60M request

MIDS-LVT/ Link 16: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Taiwan’s official request to buy 35 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems Low Volume Terminals (MIDS/LVT-1), 25 MIDS On Ships Terminals, plus spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, training personnel training and training equipment, repair and return, software and hardware updates, publications and technical documentation, and U.S. Government and contractor engineering and support services. The estimated cost is $340 million.

This may seem like an afterthought, but it’s actually a critical contract. MIDS-LVT terminals are a standardized way of embedding “Link 16″ datalinks into ships, aircraft, and land systems. By transmitting encrypted information to each other and filtering out duplications, Link 16 allows participating platforms to see the same tactical picture – what one sees, all can see. This dramatically improves awareness amidst the inevitable “fog of war” , and can help to minimize friendly fire incidents. LVT-1 terminals are used in aircraft, as well as ground units like Patriot missile systems. They include both Tactical Air Navigation System, and voice capabilities.

The prime contractor will be selected through a competitive procurement conducted by the U.S. Government, involving ViaSat and the BAE Systems/ Rockwell Collins joint venture Data Link Solutions. Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives to participate in training, program management, and technical reviews.

DSCA: Link-16 datalinks

Osprey Class minehunters The US DSCA announces [PDF] Taiwan’s official request to buy 2 Osprey Class coastal mine-hunting ships, including refurbishment and upgrade, overhaul of their AN/SQQ-32 sonars, transportation, support and test equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and U.S. Government and contractor support. The estimated cost is $105 million.

The USA’s 12 Osprey Class mine-hunters were built from 1993-1999 out of fiberglass-reinforced plastics, in order to minimize their magnetic signature. These 804t/ 57m vessels locate mines using the high definition SQQ-32 sonar, then neutralize them using a remotely controlled UUV(Unmanned Underwater Vehicle). Despite continued threats in critical global areas like the Strait of Hormuz, and adequate performance, the Osprey Class was taken out of US Navy service in 2006-2007. Taiwan would join Egypt (2), Greece (2), Lithuania (2), and Turkey (2) as customers for these second-hand vessels. Approval for the transfer of Oriole [MHC-55] and Falcon [MHC-59] was authorized back in the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-229), but the US State Department had dithered over the request (q.v. Nov 18/09 entry).

For this contract, a U.S. Prime contractor for the refurbishment will be chosen after a competitive source selection. Implementation of this sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government personnel or contractor representatives.

DSCA: Minehunters request

Harpoon Block II missiles. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Taiwan’s official request for 12 “Harpoon Block II Telemetry” missiles. The DSCA release cites 10 “RTM-84L” and 2 “ATM-84L” missiles, which have telemetry payloads for missile tests, instead of the warheads found on standard RGM-84 (ship-launched) and AGM-84 (air-launched) variants. In addition to the missiles, Taiwan would receive containers; training devices; spare and repair parts; supply/technical support; support equipment; personnel training and training equipment; technical data and publications; and U.S. Government and contractor support.

The estimated cost is $37 million, the prime contractor will be Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, Missouri, and implementation of this sale will not require any additional U.S. Government personnel or contractor representatives.

The Harpoon Block II could be militarily significant, because its GPS guidance and improved clutter resolution allow it to attack land targets, as well as ships. See also the Oct 3/08 entry, requesting submarine-launched Block II missiles. Taiwan is building its own “HF-2E Hsiung Feng” land attack cruise missiles with much longer ranges, however, so the Block II’s land-attack capability would not be a new military development in the region.

DSCA: Harpoon missile request

Patriot Missiles & C2. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Taiwan’s official request to complete its Patriot upgrade plans, adding PAC-3 missiles and additional command equipment.

  • 114 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles
  • 26 M902 Launching Stations
  • 3 AN/MPQ-65 Radar Sets
  • 1 AN/MSQ-133 Information and Coordination Center
  • 1 Tactical Command Station
  • 3 AN/MSQ-132 Engagement Control Stations
  • 3 Communication Relay Groups
  • 5 Antenna Mast Groups
  • 1 Electronic Power Plant III (EPP)
  • Plus battery and battalion maintenance equipment, prime movers, generators, electrical power units, trailers, communication equipment
  • Also personnel training and equipment, tool and test sets, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, Quality Assurance Team support services, and U.S. Government and contractor support.

The estimated cost is $2.81 billion, and the principal contractors will be Raytheon Corporation in Andover, MA, and Lockheed-Martin in Dallas, TX. “The recipient, which already has PAC-3 missiles in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles… Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government and contractor representatives.” See also Dec 23/09, Oct 16/09, Jan 26/09, and Oct 3/08 entries.

DSCA: PATRIOT missile request

Jan 14/10: E-2s. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, N.Y., received a $6 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement to provide engineering, technical and sustaining services in support of Taiwan’s 6 E-2T/E-2C+ Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft. Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (75%), and at Pingtung Air Force Base, Taiwan (25%), and is expected to be complete in January 2011. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00421-05-G-0001).

Jan 14/10: P-3C planes, shipped by land. Since the P-3 production line isn’t active any more, all 12 of the mothballed P-3s slated for Taiwan had to come from stored US Navy aircraft at AMARG’s “boneyard” near Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson, AZ. The problem is that all 12 were labeled “non-flyable” due to structural fatigue, which made the 2,000 mile trip to Lockheed Martin’s refurbishment and re-winging facility in Greenville, SC, a bit of a challenge.

After considering and rejecting rail transport due to offloading and re-loading risks, the AMARG team decided to use a flatbed truck. That’s an unusual method, but it worked. Their approach has stirred interest from other P-3 operators, and even US federal government agencies. Read “Delivering Your Plane, By Truck” for more.

Jan 10/10: Frigates? Reports surface that Taiwan plans to buy 8 FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry Class frigates from the USA, then outfit them with more advanced systems. Australia has already laid down a blueprint for that kind of modernization, adding SM-2 Standard and RIM-162 ESSM anti-aircraft missiles to their FFG-7 Adelaide Class frigates at great expense. But reports in the Taipei-based China Times speak of refitting the frigates with an AEGIS combat and radar system. That would break new technical ground, and may prove difficult to add, given the FFG-7 ships’ limited “growth space.” Agence France Presse | Information Dissemination.

Jan 3/10: The Washington Post adds fuel to speculation that approval of additional equipment sales for Taiwan – but not F-16s – is imminent:

“The Obama administration is expected to approve the sale of several billion dollars in Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan early this year, possibly accompanied by a plan gauging design and manufacturing capacity for diesel-powered submarines for the island…”

Taiwanese Patriot batteries already exist, of course, and their expansion contract is a done deal as of late December 2009. The next step is exporting the PAC-3 missiles themselves. Washignton Post | Radio Taiwan.


Major order for new PATRIOT missile ground systems; P-3 sea control planes ordered; Taiwan buys Stinger air-air missiles for its coming AH-64 attack helicopters. Patriot system
(click for explanation)

Dec 23/09: Patriot SAM. Raytheon announces Foreign Military Sales contract awards totaling $1.1 billion to fund new production of Patriot Air and Missile Defense System for Taiwan. The awards include ground-system hardware through an initial contract valued at $965.6 million, and an initial spares contract valued at $134.4 million.

See the Oct 3/08 DSCA release; this is the contract for the radars, ground stations, and other ancillary equipment besides the missiles themselves. The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages this contract for new-production Patriot fire units, which will include new advances in technology, improved man-machine interfaces, and (hopefully) reduced life-cycle costs over earlier generations.

Major PATRIOT contract

Dec 10-13/09: UH-60s yes, U214s maybe? Reports surface that Taiwan will not get its F-16s approved, but will get its purchase of UH-60s approved. The reports add that a 3-way sale would let Taiwan buy U214 submarines from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems’ HDW subsidiary. Radio Taiwan International | Taiwan Today.

Nov 18/09: F-16 dogfight. Rep. Ileana Ross Lehtinen [R-FL] introduces co-sponsored bill H.R. 4102. The bill cites key provisions of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act that are not being followed, including the stipulation that weapon requests be “based solely” on judgments concerning Taiwan’s defense needs, without other political considerations. It also cites Taiwan’s expressed desire for F-16 C/D fighters, and the lack of any arms transfer notifications to Congress for Taiwan during calendar year 2009 – despite Taiwan’s expressed desire for F-16s, H-60 Blackhawk helicopters, diesel submarine design, and additional Patriot PAC-3 systems. Nor have the Osprey class minehunter coastal ships Oriole [MHC-55] and Falcon [MHC-59] been transferred, even though Congress authorized the sale of these ships in the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-229).

The bill is essentially a Congressional freedom of information request, requiring reports 90 days after enactment and at least annually thereafter, so that Congress is aware of any discussions conducted between any executive branch agency and the Government of Taiwan during the covered period; and any potential transfer of defense articles or defense services to the Government of Taiwan. This would prevent unelected agencies from using their refusal to present requests to Congress as a way to keep such sales off of the political agenda.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; if it is not killed by that committee, it would proceed to a floor vote. See Taiwan Today | Bill tracking via GovTrack.

Oct 16/09: Patriot SAM. Raytheon in Andover, MA receives a $77.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for Taiwan’s Patriot hardware upgrade program. Work is to be performed in Andover, MA (8%), and Burlington, MA (15%), with an estimated completion date of June 30/15. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W31P4Q-09-G-0001).

See also the Jan 26/09 and April 23/08 entries, below.

July 21/09: E-2s. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Bethpage, NY receives an unfinalized $154.1 million contract to upgrade all 6 of Taiwan’s E-2 Hawkeye AWACS aircraft from Group II configuration to the more advanced Hawkeye 2000 (H2K) export configuration. See Oct 3/08 entries for more details.

Work will be performed in Bethpage, NY (40%); St. Augustine, FL (22%); Rolling Meadows, IL (6%); Dayton, OH (6%); Windsor Locks, CT (5%); Greenlawn, NY (4%); Mississauga, Canada (4%); Marlboro, MA (4%); and other various locations throughout the United States (9%); and is expected to be complete in June 2013. As Northrop Grumman is the E-2′s manufacturer, this contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-09-C-0040).

E-2C 2000 AWACS upgrade

June 30/09: F-16s. A Flight International article says that Taiwan may see progress regarding its F-16 orders:

“Taiwan’s plans to buy new Lockheed Martin F-16C/D fighters appear to be gaining some traction, with the outgoing de-facto US ambassador to the island saying that senior officials in Washington are likely to consider the issue shortly… Taiwan’s defence minister Chen Chao Min said this week that, contrary to media reports, Washington had not asked Taipei to choose between upgrades to its existing F-16A/Bs and new F-16C/Ds. Requests for mid-life upgrades for the F-16A/Bs and the new fighters are proceeding in tandem, he added.”

June 25/09: Stinger SAMs for AH-64s. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $45.4 million firm-fixed-price contract from Taiwan for 171 FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, 24 Captive Flight Trainers (CFT) with seekers but no rocket motors, 68 Air to Air Launchers (ATAL), 7 Launcher Circuit Evaluators, 2 Digital Launcher Test Sets (DLTS), 60 Coolant Reservoir Assemblies, 3 Launcher Emulators, one Lot of CFT Spares, one Lot of ATAL Spares, and one Lot of DLTS Spares.

The missiles will equip Taiwan’s 30 requested AH-64D Block III Apache attack helicopters; see also Oct 3/08 entries.

Work is to be performed in Tucson, AZ with an estimated completion date of July 31/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by the US Aviation & Missile Command Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AlL (W31P4Q-09-C-0520).

March 16/09: Tilting balance. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announces its defense review, including plan to cut its troop numbers by 60,000, and end the standard 12 months of compulsory military service within 5 years. This will leave the island with 215,000 troops.

The review adds that China currently has at least 1,300 ballistic missiles pointed at Taiwan, and has deployed advanced Russian-made SU-27 and SU-30 fighters near the island. Defense News.

March 16/09: F-16 dogfight. Taiwan News reports that the country intends to continue pursuing F-16 fighters. The country does not have a formal embassy in the USA, but the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) serves the same functions. TERCO spokesman Vance Chang responded to media requests by noting that the F-5E/F fighters that make up most of the country’s air force have been in service for more than 34 years.

“The planes now are obsolete and spare parts are difficult to obtain… [given China's ongoing modernization] our air superiority capability is at a serious disadvantage.”

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council represents about 100 companies, including Lockheed Martin. The organization’s president, Rupert Hammond-Chambers, adds that under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act, the USA “has an obligation to assist Taiwan to maintain a credible defense of its air space, which includes modern fighters.” This would explain a July 2008 US Navy PACOM evaluation that deemed the F-16s militarily unnecessary, a silly position on its face but explicable if one begins from the desired political result.

March 13/09: P-3 MPAs. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors Tactical Systems in St. Paul, MN receives a $665.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of phased depot maintenance, structural service life extension, and avionics modification to refurbish and sell 12 P-3C maritime patrol aircraft to the government of Taiwan. This contract also provides for ground handling, support equipment and publications.

Work will be performed in St. Paul, MN (50%); Greensville, SC (27%) and Marietta, GA (23%), and is expected to be complete in August 2015. This contract was not competitively procured, and is managed by the Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-09-C-0031). See also the Sept 12/07 DSCA request.


March 11/09: F-16 dogfight. Taiwan’s speaker is quoted as saying that the US has refused to sell Taiwan 66 more F-16s for about $5 billion, in order to augment and modernize the Republic of China’s fighter defense fleet. Wang Jin-pyng was quoted as saying that:

“The U.S. doesn’t want to give them to us… They wouldn’t name a price. It’s mainly because mainland China would oppose the sale.”

See: Taiwan News | Reuters | Washington Post.

Feb 23/09: P-3 MPAs. Defense News reports that Taiwan, the U.S. Navy and Lockheed Martin have finally settled issues over price and offset options, and are to soon sign a $1.3 billion contract to refurbish and supply 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. Taiwan had traditionally been opposed to buying refurbished aircraft taken from AMARC in Arizona, but re-starting the P-3C production line was not a realistic option. Lockheed Martin has re-started a production line to re-wing existing P-3Cs, however, and countries like Norway, Canada, and even the US Navy have been taking advantage of that capability to extend the service lives of existing aircraft.

Delivery of the P-3s would end the career of Taiwan’s 37 ancient S-2T Trackers, which are reportedly down to just 3 operational aircraft, even as China’s own submarine fleet grows by leaps and bounds.

Jan 26/09: Patriot SAM. Raytheon announces a $154 million Foreign Military Sales contract to upgrade more of Taiwan’s Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems ground systems and radars from Configuration-2 to Config-3 standard, enhancing the ROC’s ability to deal with threats like China’s growing array of ballistic missiles pointed at the island.

Work under this contract will be performed by Raytheon IDS at the Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, MA; the Warfighter Protection Center in Huntsville, AL; the Mission Capability and Verification Center at White Sands, NM, and by Raytheon Technical Services Company in El Paso, TX.

FY 2006 – 2008

$6+ billion request for PATRIOT missiles & systems, new AH-64 attack helicopters, E-2 early-warning aircraft upgrades, Javelin anti-tank missiles, submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, and aircraft spares; $1.96 billion request for 12 P-3C sea control aircraft; 2 new E-2 Hawkeye 2000 early warning planes commissioned.

Oct 3/08: DSCA Shopping Lists. It would appear that the financial crisis in the USA has a silver lining for Taiwan’s military, as a series of DSCA announcements worth $6.363 billion are issued to Congress’ extended session. All export requests are listed in DSCA releases as being “…consistent with United States law and policy as expressed in Public Law 96-8. The U.S. is committed to providing military assistance under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act.”

Purchase requests include:

Ar/Missile Defense – Patriot PAC-3 [see announcement, PDF]:

  • 330 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles
  • 24 Launching Stations
  • 4 AN/MPQ-65 Radar Sets
  • 2 Tactical Command Stations
  • 2 Information and Coordination Centrals
  • 12 Antenna Mast Groups
  • 6 Communication Replay Groups
  • 4 Engagement Control Stations
  • 282 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) (115 AN/VRC-88E, 96 AN/VRC-90E, 13 AN/VRC-91E, and 58 AN/VRC-92E) radios
  • 9 Electronic Power Plant III (EPP)
  • 50 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems (MIDS, provides Link 16 data sharing)
  • Plus battery and battalion maintenance equipment, vehicles, generators, electrical power units, personnel training and equipment, trailers, communication equipment, tool and test sets, spare and repair parts, publications, supply support Quality Assurance Team support services, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics services, technical documentation, and other related elements of logistics support.

See also Nov 9/07 request re: upgrading its Patriot PAC-2 batteries to be PAC-3 compatible (Config-3). The estimated cost of this request is $3.1 billion, and the prime contractors will be Raytheon Corporation in Andover, MA and Lockheed-Martin in Dallas, TX. Taiwan has not previously purchased PAC-3 missiles, but they do use PAC-2s. They will require several U.S. Government representatives for 2-week intervals twice annually, to participate in program management and technical reviews.


Hawkeye 2000 test aircraft
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Ar/Missile Defense – Hawkeye 2000 [see announcement, PDF]:

Taiwan already flies 2 E-2C+ Hawkeye 2000 and 4 E-2T Hawkeye aircraft for airborne early warning and control, and wants to upgrade the E-2Ts to the Hawkeye 2000 configuration used by the USA, France, Japan and others. The upgrade will include provisions for the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (Link 16 for a common battlespace picture), avionics, navigation and non-navigation upgrades, and aircraft electrical, mechanical, and survivability upgrades, all necessary hardware installations, support equipment, spares and repair parts, installation and training, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

American Hawkeye 2000s also have Cooperative Engagement Capability, which allows them to provide shared battlespace pictures and targeting for properly equipped Patriot PAC-3 and PAC-2 missiles. If CEC is not included, the JTIDS/Link 16 can be used to share a battlespace picture and provide advance warning, but cannot be used for targeting.

The estimated cost is up to $250 million, and the prime contractor will be Northrop Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, NY. Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 6 contractor representatives to the recipient for a not to exceed a 5-year period.

Taiwan has requested industrial offsets with this order; they will be defined in negotiations with Northrop Grumman.

DSCA: E-2C 2000 AWACS upgrade request

Air Force – Aircraft Parts [see announcement, PDF]:

This blanket order would allow Taiwan to requisition follow-on spare parts as required to maintain its C-130H Hercules transports, F-5E/F Tiger II fighters, F-16A/B fighters, and F-CK IDF fighter aircraft. The requisitions can include communication equipment, radar, and other related elements of logistics support, as well as spares. The estimated cost is $334 million, and items will be ordered from appropriate contractors as needed.

Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government and contractor representatives to the recipient.

AH-64D w. Arrowhead
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Army – Apache Longbow attack helicopters and weapons [see announcement, PDF]. Taiwan currently flies AH-1W Cobras in this role, and an attack helicopter deal has been in the works since 2002. The AH-64D beat Bell’s AH-1Z Viper on the grounds that it was battle proven, while the AH-1Z remains developmental.

Taiwan is requesting 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III attack helicopters, the helicopter’s most modern configuration which is just beginning to enter service in the USA. The helicopters will be equipped with 30 Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (MTADS/PNVS “Arrowhead”), 17 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars and AN/APR-48 Radar Frequency Interferometer (FCR/RFI), 69 T700-GE-701D Turbine Engines. Composite horizontal stabilators, crew and maintenance trainers, depot maintenance, all necessary support equipment, tools and test equipment, integration and checkout, spares and repair parts, training and training equipment, and other forms of support are included in the base purchase.

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

The estimated cost is $2.532 billion, and Taiwan has requested industrial offsets; these will be defined in direct negotiations with the contractor(s). Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 2 U.S. Government personnel for a period of 6 years to provide intensive coordination, monitoring, and technical assistance. In addition, 6 contractor representatives will be in country serving as Contractor Field Service Representatives for a period of 5 years, with the possibility of a 5-year extension. The principal contractors will be:

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

DSCA: AH-64D request

Army – Javelin missiles [see announcement, PDF].

Taiwan wants to buy 182 more man-portable Javelin anti-armor missile rounds and 20 command launch units, plus 40 missile simulation rounds, trainers, rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, support equipment, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $47 million.

Raytheon/Lockheed-Martin’s JAVELIN Joint Venture in Orlando, FL will be the prime contractor. Implementation of this proposed sale will require a U.S. Government Quality Assurance Team consisting of 1 contractor and 2 U.S. Government representatives in country for 5 days to accomplish the initial deployment of the missiles. Taiwan won’t need more help than that, as they were one of the Javelin “fire and forget” missile’s early customers in 2002.

DSCA: Javelin missile request

UGM-84 Harpoon launch
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Navy – Harpoon missiles [see announcement, PDF].

Taiwan requests 32 UGM-84L Sub-Launched Harpoon Block II missiles for its 2 Seadragon Class submarines. Harpoon Block II includes GPS guidance that makes them easier to use near shore (for instance, against amphibious landing ships on final approach), and also gives the missiles some land attack capability out to their 150 mile range. Taiwan’s request adds 2 UTM-84L Harpoon Block II Exercise missiles, 2 Advanced Harpoon Weapons Control System (Version 2) for installation on the Seadragon Class, 36 Harpoon containers, 2 UTM-84XD Encapsulated Harpoon Certification and Training Vehicles, test equipment and services, spares and repair parts for support equipment, and other forms of support.

The estimated cost is $200 million, and the contractor is Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas in St Louis, MO.

The US DSCA notes that “The recipient has previously purchased both air and surface launched HARPOON missiles and will be able to absorb and effectively utilize these submarine-launched missiles.” As such, no additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives will be required.

DSCA: Sub-launched Harpoon missiles request

Sept 29/08: Taiwan News reports that:

“The Pentagon was expected to notify the U.S. Congress of its intention to sell the arms to Taiwan by the end of its current session last Friday. Taiwan has expressed worries that if the U.S. missed the deadline, the Legislative Yuan would have to start the process of approving a budget for the arms package from the start… Congress had been extended to deal with the current financial crisis, and therefore the arms deal could still be approved.

The package includes Patriot missiles, Apache helicopters, diesel-powered submarines, anti-tank missiles, submarine-launched missiles and P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft, but not new F-16 fighter jets Taiwan was hoping to buy.

The U.S. State Department notified the Taiwanese media late on Friday that government departments were still reviewing the deal, and that once it was approved, Congress would be immediately notified.”

This did not sound like anything close to a sense of urgency, but events would prove otherwise. Pro-China elements in the US State Department are still blocking approval of Taiwan’s unofficial request for F-16C/D fighters.

April 23/08: Patriot SAM. Raytheon announces a $79 million Foreign Military Sales award from the U.S. Army to provide Taiwan with Patriot Configuration-3 radar upgrade kits and related engineering and technical services. This is part of a much larger order; see Nov 9/07 entry for more.

Work will be performed by Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems at the Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, MA; the Warfighter Protection Center in Huntsville, AL; and the Mission Capability and Verification Center in White Sands, NM.

Nov 9/07: PATRIOT upgrade request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] “The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States” formal request to upgrade and refurbish their 3 existing PATRIOT fire units’ ground support equipment to the latest Army Configuration 3 under a $939 million contract. Raytheon Corporation in Andover, MA will be the prime contractor. Although the purchaser generally requires offsets, at this time, there are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale and no additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives will be required.

Obviously, this effort is less helpful than acquiring new Patriot PAC-3 missiles to add to Taiwan’s defense. Instead, they are adding Patriot PAC-3 radar and communications enhancements to Taiwan’s existing Patriot batteries, turning them into a PAC-2 GEM+ type configuration in use by a number of US allies. The PAC-2 missile is larger than the PAC-3, and uses a fragmentation warhead instead of the PAC-3 missile’s “hit to kill” approach. Patriot’s widely-touted performance during the 1991 Desert Storm operation turned out to be significantly overstated, but when coupled with PAC-3 class radars et. al., it has demonstrated useful capabilities against incoming ballistic missiles. The specific sale includes:

  • 2 PATRIOT, MIM-104 (Patriot-As-A-Target)
  • Radar Enhancement Phase 3 (REP-3)
  • Classification, Discrimination and Identification Phase 3 (CDI-3)
  • Remote Launch Communication Enhancement Upgrade (RLCEU)
  • An Electric Power Plant.
  • 36 AN/VRC-88E SINCGARS EXP Vehicle Short Range Radio Systems
  • 32 AN/VRC-90E SINCGARS EXP Vehicle Long Range Radio Systems
  • 4 AN/VRC-91E SINCGARS EXP Long Range Radio Systems
  • 11 AN/VRC-92E SINCGARS EXP Dual Range Radio Systems

It also includes non-MDE (Military Designated Equipment under US Arms transfer laws) items such as
all necessary modification kits, communication support equipment, tools and test equipment, integration and checkout, spares and repair parts, installation and training, publications and technical documents, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, other related elements of logistics and program support, and 4 telemetry kits for its live fire training.

DSCA: PATRIOT upgrade request

P-3 Orion, armed -
note Sidewinder
(click to view full)

Sept 12/07: P-3 MPAs. The US DSCA announces [PDF] the “Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States” official request for 12 ‘excess’ P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, with strong surveillance and anti-submarine capabilities. The estimated cost is $1.96 billion. DSCA adds that:

“This sale is consistent with United States law and policy as expressed in Public Law 96-8. The United States is committed to providing military assistance under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act. The recipient’s current patrol aircraft are reaching the end of their fatigue and operational service life. To maintain national security it is necessary that recipient replace these fixed-wing aircraft with an airborne operational capability for land-based maritime patrol and reconnaissance, including economic exclusion zone surveillance and protection, command and control, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare. The recipient can absorb these additional aircraft into its inventory.”

Offset agreements associated with this proposed sale are expected, but they will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and contractors. Principal contractors include Lockheed Martin of Eagan, MN; Lockheed Martin Aircraft Center of Greenville, SC; Rockwell Collins of Cedar Rapids, IA; Raytheon Company of McKinney, TX, EDO (Condor Systems) of Morgan Hill, Ontario Canada; and L3 Wescam of Ontario, Canada. There may be up to 32 U.S. Government and contractor representatives with varying technical skills and disciplines who will be required, following the delivery of the aircraft, to provide support for 1 year after the last aircraft delivery. The exact request includes:

  • 12 ‘excess’ P-3C Orion aircraft with T-56 engines. It is likely that they will begin with ‘boneyard’ stored aircraft that need refurbishing to fly, and significant modifications to be viable for any significant period. Some parties like Norway, for instance, are making their P-3s viable by completely replacing their wings as part of their general overhaul.
  • Aircraft activation, aircraft life extension and avionics modification, transportation
  • 3 excess TP-3A aircraft (non-operational, to be used as airframe spares) with T-56 engines
  • 15 Data Link terminals
  • 19 MIDS-LVT Link 16 terminals
  • 2 MIDS On-Ship Terminals

Plus a mobile operation command center, Command Control Communications Computer Intelligence Surveillance, Reconnaissance, (C4ISR) network integration, training devices, medical services, support and test equipment, engineering technical services, supply support, operation and maintenance training, ground support C2 facilities, documentation, spare/repair parts, publications, documentation, personnel training, training equipment, contractor technical and logistics personnel services, and other related support elements.

DSCA: P-3C MPA request

April 16/06: President Chen Shui-bian presides over the commissioning of 2 E2C+ Hawkeye 2K planes recently purchased from the United States, and calls for an end to KMT blocking of his special military budget requests. The 2 new planes join 4 E-2Ts bought in 1995. China Post.

Additional Readings Background: Policy

Background: Equipment

News & Views

Categories: News

Boeing Wins CNS-ATM Upgrade Contract for USAF’s KC-10 Tankers

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:58
KC-10 & F-22A
(click to view full)

International CNS/ATM standards are in the beginning stages of a profound change. The FAA has mandated changes by 2015 that will tighten requirements for flying in civil airspace without a special permit, and the ICAO is working to a similar timeframe. Since the ability to fly in civil airspace significantly affects mission routes and fuel consumption, the US military is pushing to make its critical KC-135 and KC-10 tanker fleets fully compliant.

Boeing has been doing similar CNS/ATM work for the Dutch RNLAF’s 3 aircraft KDC-10 fleet, but lost its hold on the multi-billion dollar KC-10 long-term maintenance contract in 2009, putting its status for the KC-10 CNS/ATM project in question. Boeing won that contract, though, and will work with Rockwell Collins and ARINC…

Contracts & Key Events

KC-10 extends F/A-18C
(click to view full)

With its 2010 win, the USAF’s KC-10 CNS/ATM contract will be managed at Boeing’s Long Beach, CA, facility, which also produces C-17 heavy transports. The first KC-10 will be modified and flight-tested in 2012 at the company’s San Antonio, TX facility, and Boeing will complete and deliver the final modified KC-10 in 2015.

Aug 21/14: Avionics. Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, IA receives a $35.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 27 Group A and B KC-10 Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management kits and installs. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 USAF aircraft budgets. The total cumulative face value of the contract is now $114.5 million.

Work will be performed at Oklahoma City, OK; Cedar Rapids, IA; and Atlanta, GA, and is expected to be complete by November 2015. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/WKDK at Tinker AFB, OK manages the contract (FA8106-11-C-0006, PO 0027).

July 5/11: Avionics. Rockwell Collins Government Systems in Cedar Rapids, IA receives an estimated $55.2 million firm-fixed-price contract for KC-10 communication navigation surveillance air traffic management systems. In a subsequent release, the firm puts the potential maximum value at “more than $160 million over the life of the program.”

The DoD announcement says that: “This effort includes a single integrator for the engineering, manufacturing, development, production and installation,” but Rockwell Collins officials confirm that installation will actually be ARINC‘s primary responsibility. This contract indicates that the cockpit avionics themselves will be provided as “Government Furnished Equipment,” a fairly common practice. The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center/GKSKA at Tinker Air Force Base, OK (FA8106-11-C-0006). See also Rockwell Collins.

June 23/10: Boeing announced a 5-year, $216 million contract to upgrade the USAF’s 59 heavy KC-10 aerial tanker/ transports with new cockpit avionics. The new systems would comply with forecast 2015 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) CNS/ATM (communication, navigation, surveillance and air traffic management) standards.

More changes are coming to global aviation control. In early June 2010, Boeing received a 10-year, $1.7 billion contract from the FAA, as part a $4.4 billion contract set to design and implement a next-generation air traffic system. The new NexGen SE2020 system will replace the current approximate position with precise, GPS-aided position fixes, allowing planes to fly much more direct routes with less separation. Europe has a similar SESAR effort underway. These efforts will include new aircraft requirements in order to take full advantage, but Boeing representatives contacted by DID said that NexGen/SESAR compliance was not part of the KC-10s’ cockpit upgrade program.

Main contract

Categories: News

White House Wants to Encourage Contracting Innovation, Information Sharing

Thu, 08/21/2014 - 16:48

  • The US Office of Management and Budget [OMB] published a list of innovative contracting case studies [PDF] that include rapid prototyping, milestone-based competitions, challenges, and other contracting schemes. Both contractors and government employees are invited to join a Google group for further discussion. There is encouraging self-awareness in there: “transaction costs related to mandates unique to the government can add an 18 to 20% cost premium.”

Space Acquisitions

  • The USAF has been working on a draft RFP for its Consolidated Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) Modifications, Maintenance and Operations (CAMMO) acquisition. An industry day is scheduled on Sept. 3-4 at Peterson AFB, CO. The draft won’t be made available on the FBO website, only in the separate CAMMO bidder’s library [PDF].

  • Nitrous oxide-rubber hybrid rocket motors have lost [Parabolic Arc] 2 key spaceflight customers: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and SNC’s Dream Chaser shuttle. Instead Dream Chaser will use a liquid engine.

Middle East

  • The US launched new strikes in Iraq despite the Islamic State’s threats against the lives of hostages. The reaction from Western politicians to the video of James Foley’s execution may seem odd – as gruesome as it is – given the Islamic State’s prior filmed advertisement [Long War Journal] of its mass killings. But what is new here is direct blackmail against the US. And there’s a twist: the killer may well be [NYT] a British citizen, given his accent.

  • Turkish officials are rethinking the idea [Hurriyet] of designing a TF-X fighter from scratch. It certainly has the potential to be a huge time and money sink, but in the end, it’s a political decision. An opening for the KF-X, perhaps?


  • Hungary has signed an agreement [MTI] to upgrade its soldier-portable MBDA Mistral missiles to M3 status by 2018.


  • Several Indian industrial firms have high expectations [Reuters] that Modi’s government vows to accelerate defense procurement and buy locally will indeed turn into booming business.

  • Today’s video shows Singapore’s bombastic action-packed armament display during its national day parade:

Categories: News

Poland’s Balancing Act: A Briefing for the Defense Sector – Part 2

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 20:43
(click to visit)

Guest Article by Christina Balis, Avascent

This is a pivotal year for the Polish defense market. Part 1 of this series offers an overview of Poland’s $44 billion military modernization program. This 2nd and final part covers key near-term purchases, as Poland becomes a key battleground for US and European industries.

Russia’s troubling regional ambitions have added urgency to Polish plans for a stronger military and more capable indigenous defense capabilities. Against that backdrop, the nationality of the winners of key missile defense and rotor-wing contracts, to be decided in the next 12 months, will set the tone for Polish defense relations over the remainder of its 10-year modernization program.

A Looming Transatlantic Battle Poland’s TMP
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Up to PLN 3.5 billion ($1.2 billion) are to be spent this year on military equipment approved under the multi-year technical modernization program (TMP). According to the latest government estimates, this figure will increase to PLN 7 billion by 2016, with the remaining PLN 75.6 billion to be spent in 2017-2022. Of the PLN 91.5 billion allocated for 2014-2022, 3 procurements to be decided within the next 12 months will consume some 40% of the total.

All 3 will pit major US and European companies against each other, creating something more than a typical industry showdown. The contracts will be viewed as Poland shifting its defense posture toward European industry and its attendant alliances – or away from it.

US-European rivalry for the Polish market will be most intense within the broader air and missile domain. Poland’s military modernization also features several programs in the land and naval domains, but individual competitions tend to be smaller in value, or offer fewer inroads for American firms. Naval competitions primarily draw European bidders, while land systems programs typically involve leading roles for Polish industry.

Medium-range air and missile defense Aster-30
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The PLN 16 billion “Wisla” (or Vistula) program is part of a PLN 26.6 billion ($8.5 billion) multi-layered “Shield of Poland” air defense system, and stands as the single largest near-term program. The MND’s June 30/14 announcement that it had down-selected Raytheon and Eurosam (a Thales/MBDA consortium) surprised many observers. This was a near-complete reversal of fortunes from earlier this year, when Raytheon was thought to be in a losing position against the MBDA-backed MEADS and Eurosam SAMP/T teams.

In announcing its decision, the MND decided to prioritize project risk and time to deployment. It adopted 3 main criteria: the system had to be operational; it had to have been adopted by a NATO country; and it had to offer significant participation for Polish industry. Raytheon’s offering is now seen as a lower-risk, quickly deployable solution that easily meets the first 2 criteria, after their adoption effectively excluded both MEADS and David’s Sling.

Industrial participation remains an important factor, possibly the most important. Eurosam’s comprehensive offer is balanced against Raytheon’s ability to offer export opportunities within its wide customer set. Both bidders will have an opportunity to improve their offers, and up to half of the contract’s value could wind up with Polish firms.

Patriot operation
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The choice of Poland’s newly-consolidated PGZ as a partner is a given for both Wisla bidders, and PGZ is also expected to play a prominent role in the medium-range Narew air defense program. Engagement across the broader Polish defense industry, such as the recent LOI signed between Raytheon and TELDAT, should further strengthen each side’s industrial offer. Raytheon has focused its cooperation on radars and command and control systems. Eurosam’s focus remains to be seen.

Operationally, integration into NATO’s Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) is guaranteed with both bids, but cost and access to future upgrades could prove critical in the Polish government’s decision. That decision’s scheduling ensures that it will land in conjunction with key upcoming missile defense procurements by 2 other NATO members, Germany and Turkey. Taken together, these 3 decisions have the potential to substantially reshape NATO’s missile defense architecture.

Medium-lift utility helicopters S-70i
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The other major transatlantic contest, worth about $3 billion, involves the procurement of 70 helicopters in 4 variants (48 multi-role transport, 10 Search And Rescue, 6 maritime rescue, 6 anti-submarine) to be deployed throughout the Polish military. A winner will be selected by the end of the year, ahead of the announcement on the missile defense competition, with the first aircraft due to enter service in 2015.

Three bidders are competing: 2 European, and 1 American. Airbus Helicopters’ EC725 Caracal (Super Cougar), AgustaWestland’s AW149, and Sikorsky’s S-70i Black Hawk have until September 30th to respond to the RFP issued in early June.

The S-70i would seem to have the advantage both operationally (in meeting the anti-submarine capability requirement) and in terms of industrial footprint (leveraging its PZL Mielec subsidiary, which serves as the global final assembly center for the S-70i). AgustaWestland will match Sikorky’s in-country presence by leveraging its own PZL Swidnik subsidiary, and Airbus Helicopters plans to use a teaming arrangement with Heli Invest/WZL-1 to make up for its weaker local footprint.

Any shortcomings in current capability by either European bidder will have to be offset by a better price offer, and a more expansive industrial partnership package.

Attack helicopters Tiger HAD
(click to view full)

The tender for the “Kruk” (Raven) program was originally scheduled to be launched in 2018, with delivery starting in 2020. In response to recent developments in Ukraine, the Polish government has decided to accelerate the timeline. The procurement of 40 attack helicopters, up from 32 at the start of the TMP, will replace the Polish land force’s fleet of 29 Mil Mi-24D/Vs. Poland’s military views this program as particularly critical to the nation’s defense, given the country’s wide open, rolling landscape from East to West.

Ten bidders have reportedly responded to the August 1 RFI deadline, and once again US and European suppliers appear to be the strongest contenders for this $1.5 billion buy. Boeing (AH-64E Apache) and Bell/Textron (AH-1Z Viper) represent the US side, while AgustaWestland/Turkish Aerospace Industries (T129 ATAK) and Airbus Helicopters (EC665 Tiger HAD) are leading on the European front. It isn’t clear whether Sikorsky offered a S-70i with their Level 2 or 3 Battlehawk kits, but the number of respondents and Sikorsky’s bids elsewhere indicate that this is possible. The bidders’ Polonization approaches are also unclear, with key industrial partnerships likely to become known in coming months.

An award decision is expected sometime in 2015, most likely after the Wisla program’s winner is announced, making this the last pick of the 3 tenders. That could make Poland’s Raven a more politically charged competition than might normally be the case.

What Now, What Next? M-346 in Poland
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Poland faces a significant challenge as it moves ahead with its next 3 big-ticket purchases. All 3 programs are critical to the country’s national security, but Polish doctrine and threat assessment should dictate different strategic weightings.

The need to stay within the TMP’s fixed budget may also shape the government’s options. An earlier competition this year for advanced jet trainer (AJT) aircraft was awarded to Alenia Aermacchi (like AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italy’s Finmeccanica), who offered 8 of its M346 jets and support at the bargain price of PLN 1.186B ($390M). The bids for BAE’s Hawk and LM/KAI’s T-50 were 46% higher and 50% higher than the MND’s PLN 1.2 billion cap, respectively. Many outside observers saw this cap as a highly unrealistic target, given the inclusion of 30-year sustainment support in the bid request. A repeat of this scenario for a strategically important buy would have much more serious consequences.

We believe that the most likely outcome of the 3 upcoming competitions will be a 2:1 split in favor of one side, rather than a sweep. One plausible scenario would see Poland buy a mix of US and European helicopters, and a US air and missile defense system.

Within Europe, a parallel game of musical chairs is underway across the TMP, although even here the spoils (spread across air, land, and naval requirements) should be shared, however unevenly, among Europe’s 4 largest national industrial bases, plus the Scandinavian countries.

While in theory these upcoming Polish military acquisitions are not linked, their combined outcome will send a political signal to both sides of the Atlantic. The decisions will also determine the degree of the country’s integration into, and acceptance by, the rest of Europe’s defense industry. Under these circumstances, we believe that integrated management would offer Poland clear benefits. The Polish government could afford to make trade-offs among programs to facilitate planning across the entire TMD, while remaining within the total allocated budget. In addition to stretching the delivery period for certain systems, for example, the MND can opt to invest less in one area to pay for additional capability in a more strategic area.

All this should set the stage for other medium-term procurements that will further test Poland’s relative penchant for weighing US and European systems against each other, including medium-heavy lift aerial transports, various C4ISR programs; and, even further down the road beyond the TMP, next-generation fighters.

Avascent is the leading strategy and management consulting firm advising clients in defense, security and government-driven industries. With a team of 100 full-time professionals located at its offices in Washington, DC, and Paris, France, and a worldwide network of regional and subject matter experts, Avascent has nearly 30 years of experience of assisting clients in the areas of strategic growth, value capture, and mergers and acquisitions. To speak to Business Development, contract Jay Korman. For further information about Avascent’s European operations, contact Christina Balis.
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Categories: News

US Navy Leaning on CANES to Integrate Shipboard Networks

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 19:30
Networking the Navy
(click to view full)

The US Navy’s Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) program is designed to streamline and update shipboard networks to improve interoperability across the fleet. It will replace 5 shipboard legacy network programs to provide the common computing environment on board for command, control, intelligence and logistics. The primary goal of the CANES program is to build a secure shipboard network required for naval and joint operations, which is much easier when you consolidate and reduce the number of shipboard networks. That consolidation can also lower costs and maintenance requirements and reduce training needs, if good choices are made. The intent is to build it as an Infrastructure and Platform as a Service (IaaS / PaaS) and field it on a rolling 4-year hardware baseline and a 2-year software baseline.

In 2010, the US Navy awarded 2 contracts, with a potential value of $1.7 billion, for the design and development of the CANES common computing environment. Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin are competing, and a single prime contractor was expected to be picked in 2011. It took until early 2012, but Northrop Grumman won.

Contracts and Key Events

Note that CANES is about covering ships’ IT systems and networks, not core naval functions. Combat systems, and machinery control networks, are not included in CANES.

CANES is currently in production, after Northrop Grumman beat Lockheed Martin in February 2012. Introduction to the fleet was to begin with a pair of 2012 Engineering Development Model installations on unit level ships, followed by Limited Deployment installations in 2012 that cover force level ships, shore sites, and additional unit level ships. Instead, installations started at the end of 2012, and budget issues created more delays. 2013 saw operational testing, ongoing installs, and fielding of the 1st ship. If the program recovers its schedule, CANES would ultimately be deployed to more than 190 ships, submarines and Maritime Operations Centers by 2021.

FY 2013 – 2014

Milestone C approval; Installations begin; 2014 follow-on production re-compete? NGC on CANES
click for video

Aug 19/14: US SPAWAR in San Diego, CA issues 5 multiple-award contracts for CANES’ production phase (q.v. March 27/13), allowing the winners to compete for up to $2.53 billion in awards over an 8-year ordering period. Individual delivery orders will be competed among the qualifiers and awarded as they are needed. The contracts were competitively procured by full and open competition bids via Space and Naval Warfare e-Commerce Central and, with 7 offers received. Work is expected to be complete by August 2022. The winners are:

  • BAE Systems Technology Solutions & Services, Inc. in Rockville, MD (N00039-14-D-0121)
  • General Dynamics C4 Systems in Taunton, MA (N00039-14-D-0122)
  • Small business qualifier Global Technical Systems in Virginia Beach, VA (N00039-14-D-0123)
  • Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Herndon, VA (N00039-14-D-0124)
  • Serco, Inc. in Reston, VA (N00039-14-D-0125)

8-year production contract

March 4/14: FY15 Budget. The USN unveils their preliminary budget request briefings. They aren’t precise, but they do offer planned purchase numbers for key programs.

CANES spending remains steady, growing from FY13$ 323 million to FY14$ 352 million, and FY15$ 386 million. What’s changing is the balance between development and deployment. FY 2015 funds are for the Full Deployment contract award to procure 33 units, and handle associated costs for pre-installation design and installation on 25 afloat ships. A Full Deployment Decision is anticipated in FY 2015. Sources: USN, PB15 Press Briefing [PDF] | USAF, Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Overview.

Feb 6/14: CVN. The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis [CVN 74] is the 1st carrier to be upgraded with CANES. There’s are a lot of wiring pulls and hardware tear-outs involved, which is why they’re doing it during the ship’s Docking Planned Incremental Availability maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Sources: USN, “Stennis is First CVN to Receive CANES”.

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). CANES is included for the 1st time, and the report is rather short because it isn’t fully tested yet. The Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COTF) conducted an CANES operational assessment from September 12 through October 10, 2012, in a laboratory environment. The next major test involves IOT&E for unit-level ships aboard the ballistic missile defense destroyer USS Milius in June 2014. Worth noting:

“COTF has only tested 4 of 32 baseline applications for CANES. The Navy will conduct developmental test events before the start of IOT&E to test the remaining interfaces and representative applications…. As of November 14, 2012, CANES had a large number of cybersecurity vulnerabilities (29 Category 1 and 172 Category 2). The Navy must mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities prior to the IOT&E.”

Nov 25/13: CANES afloat. The 1st installed CANES system sets sail. The Arleigh Burke Flight IIA destroyer USS McCampbell [DDG-85] had it installed during the ship’s 5-month scheduled maintenance at US Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. The ship is now underway sooner than the DDG-51 Flight I destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69, q.v. Dec 7/12), because Milius was in an 11-month long Extended Drydock. According to Northrop Grumman, that installation is still underway.

Northrop Grumman has delivered 11 CANES systems: 10 for guided-missile destroyers and 1 for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Sources: Northrop Grumman, Nov 25/13 release.

June 3/13: A Northrop Grumman release announces that they’ll submit a bid for CANES full deployment contract (q.v. March 23/13). Well, of course.

May 9/13: Is CANES investment and deployment fast enough to handle evolving cyber-security threats? Probably not, and that’s the US Navy’s thinking rather than outside critics. Sources: Inside Defense, “CANES Deployment May Not Be Fast Enough, Stackley Says” [subscription only].

March 27/13: RFP. The Space and Naval Warfare System Command (SPAWAR) releases a draft RFP N00039-13-R-0013 for the procurement of CANES full deployment production units in order to promote the early exchange of information. The core contract would be a firm fixed price (FFP) complemented by FFP and cost plus fixed fee (CPFF) CLINs for associated analysis and assessment support services. The draft documents are available from a secure Navy website for authorized US DoD personnel and contractors.

Feb 25/13: Inside Defense reports that The Pentagon has cleared CANES for full-rate production.

December reports from Jane’s had indicated that it was set for later in 2013.


Feb 21/13: Delays. Inside Defense reports that uncertainty regarding fiscal sequestration has delayed 8 CANES installations, just as it’s delaying a number of other ship maintenance plans.

Jan 17/13: DOT&E testing. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). CANES is mentioned peripherally, mostly with respect to carrier integration:

“The Navy conducted developmental testing on the unit-level CANES configuration used on Aegis destroyers in the lab from July 11 – 24, 2012. The Navy has scheduled developmental and follow-on testing of the force-level CANES configuration used on the Nimitz and Gerald R. Ford [aircraft carrier] classes for the 4QFY14.

Currently, the ALIS [F-35 fighter maintenance support] system has provided all required parametric information to interface properly with CANES, but CANES is not fully developed yet, as the contract was awarded in August 2012. ALIS is expected to undergo Application Integration Process testing in FY13 to ensure proper interface with CANES. DOT&E will be able to better assess the impact on JSF operations aboard CVN-78 [the Gerald R. Ford] after the test. Currently, data are planned to be exchanged manually until ALIS and CANES properly interface.”

Dec 17/12: The US Navy begins installing the 1st first of 10 CANES systems planned for FY 2013 aboard USS Milius [DDG 69]. the installation is expected to take about 18 weeks. Jane’s Defence Security Report.

Dec 14/12: CANES is approved for Milestone C, and limited fielding of 29 CANES units with 23 installations. USN SPAWAR.

Milestone C & 1st install begins

FY 2010 – 2012

From preliminary design contracts to Northrop Grumman’s win; 2013 budget shows initial plans.

May 7/12: Contracting strategy. The good news is that Navy officials say CANES is turning out to be about 44% cheaper than they predicted. CANES program manager Capt. DJ LeGoff attributed the savings to competition, and said that the Navy would repeat the competition process every 4 years. That’s possible because CANES requires commercial off-the-shelf components, and also because the Navy is maintaining control of the SOA. From Federal News Radio 1500AM, “Navy says CANES network is 44 percent cheaper than expected”:

“To up the ante on the anti-proprietary attitude toward CANES, the Navy is taking the lead on much of the software work that might ordinarily be handled by a traditional systems integrator. A segment of CANES called Afloat Core Services (ACS) – the services-oriented architecture that will form a key part of the common system – was not part of the contract the Navy awarded earlier this year. The Navy will maintain ACS on its own as a government set of services and the result will be products that are entirely open-source, Legoff said.”

March 4/12: On second thought… That was fast: Lockheed Martin dropped its GAO protest.

Feb 13/12: Protest. Lockheed Martin files a bid protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), claiming “flaws in the evaluation process preclude consideration of the best solution for the customer”, without elaborating further.

Feb 13/12: FY 2013 budget. The US Navy announces its FY 2013 plans. They want to buy 21 CANES afloat units, 6 ashore units, 1 unit of technical training equipment (TTE), integration, with associated costs for pre-installation design and activity drawings, and installation. Funds are also requested for continued development on Platform Set 3 and 4 baselines, Developmental Testing and Initial Operational Testing & Evaluation on a unit level platform in support of Full Deployment Decision in FY 2013.

The Navy is asking for $435 million (CANES + CANES Intell P-40s), an average unit cost of about $10.9 million. Installation costs actually vary from less than $5 million to more than $12 million apiece, depending on ship class, level of the platform, variant of predecessor system the hull currently has installed (ISNS Alpha/Charlie/Delta/Legacy), and the geographic location of the installation. Spending for following years through the current FYDP stays in the $450 million ballpark.

In FY 2012 CANES is procuring for: DDG (11), LHD (1), CVN (1). In FY 2013 CANES is procuring: DDG (18), CG (3), LHD (2), LSD (2) CVN (2). FY13 PB Navy Highlights | Justification book [PDFs].

Feb 1/12: Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems Corp. in Reston, VA beats Lockheed Martin for the CANES contract down-select, whose maximum value is $637.8 million if all options are exercised. It will begin with a $36.7 million delivery order under a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract, with other delivery orders to follow. Northrop Grumman will provide the 1st CANES common computing environment guided missile destroyer (DDG) variant; DDG variant production units; and the 1st multipurpose amphibious assault ship variant.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete by September 2012, or September 2013 if all contract options are exercised. US Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, CA manages the contract (N00039-10-D-0028).


Sept 12/11: Lockheed Martin has submitted its final CANES proposal to the US Navy. Lockheed Martin.

July 27/11: US Navy SPAWAR provides an update on CANES, which has just completed its Critical Design Reviews for both competing systems. A Test Readiness Review will be followed by formal Contractor System Integration Test, and selection of a single CANES winner.

The failure of the last Congress to pass a budget has delayed CANES by 5 months, and forced it to change its schedule. They still believe that the major milestones set out in the Milestone B approval can be achieved; the 1st CANES installation on a fleet destroyer is now planned for late in FY 2012 (late summer 2012).

Jan 10/11: The CANES program receives Milestone B approval, beginning the program’s Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase, and green-lighting the production of 4 limited fielding units. Those units are for operational and training use, and will not be installed anywhere after the operational assessment and Milestone C approval.

SPAWAR cites CANES as an example of the Pentagon’s recent “Better Buying Power” criteria, designed to: (1) Target Affordability and Control Cost Growth (2) Incentivize Productivity and Innovation in Industry (3) Promote Real Competition (4) Improve Tradecraft in Services Acquisition and (5) Reduce Non-Productive Processes and Bureaucracy. Or at least, Tactical Networks Program Office program manager, Navy Capt. D.J. LeGoff, says it meets “the spirit and intent of what the Department of Defense wants acquisition programs to be doing.” US NAVY PEO C4I (SPAWAR) release [PDF].

Milestone B

Aug 16/10: NGC. Northrop Grumman announces a successful 2-day Preliminary Design Review at its CANES program office in San Diego, CA. The PDR and subsequent approval of the CANES design are milestone along the way to the CANES critical design review later this year, and planned shipboard installation of the first system in fiscal year 2012.

Northrop Grumman team members contributing to the Navy PDR included IBM Global Business Services, as Northrop Grumman’s major technology and services partner on CANES; and small-business partners Atlas Technologies, Beatty and Company Computing, Juno Technologies, Syzygy Technologies, and CenterBeam.

March 4/10: NGC. Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems Corp. in Reston, VA won a $17.4 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract (N00039-10-D-0028) for design and development of the US Navy’s CANES common computing environment. The contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring its cumulative value to $775.3 million.

Northrop Grumman’s CANES team includes IBM Corp., as well as small-business partners Atlas Technologies in Charleston, SC; Beatty and Company Computing, Juno Technologies, and Syzygy Technologies, all based in San Diego, CA; and CenterBeam in San Jose, CA. Northrop Grumman will perform the work at its Command and Control (C2) Futures Lab in San Diego, CA and expects to complete it by April 2011. If all options are exercised, work could continue until September 2014.

March 4/10: LMCO. Lockheed Martin MS2 Tactical Systems in San Diego, CA won a $15 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract (N0039-10-D-0027) for design and development of the CANES common computing environment. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring its cumulative value to an estimated $936.9 million.

Lockheed Martin’s CANES team includes General Dynamics, ViaSat, Harris Corp. and American Systems Corp. Lockheed Martin will perform work on the CANES in San Diego and is expects to complete the work by April 2011. If all options are exercised, work could continue until September 2014.

These contracts were competitively procured with 4 offers received via the FedBizOpps Web site and the SPAWAR e-Commerce Central Web site. SPAWAR in San Diego manages the contracts. FedBizOpps announcement | SPAWAR E-Commerce announcement.

Development contracts

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Categories: News

Days of the Jackal: Supacat’s HMT Vehicles

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 18:52
MWMIK Jackal
(click to view full)

Britain is part of the general push by western countries to field heavier, mine-protected vehicles, via orders for the Mastiff Cougar variant and its smaller 4×4 Ridgback companion. UK forces are also fielding vehicles like the Land Rover WMIK (Weapons Mounted Installation Kit) that have a very different core concept: firepower and visibility over protection. When deployed in mixed groups with more protected vehicles, and used on open terrain like the plains of southern Afghanistan, ‘the porcupine’ (WMIK) has earned enemy respect and commander requests.

The British sought to build on the WMIK’s strengths, while asking for a vehicle that offered both greater firepower, and better off-road mobility. In response, Supacat’s High Mobility Transporter (HMT) was adapted, then adopted, by the British (“Jackal”) and by Australia’s SAS commandos (“Nary”). Success led to more British orders for Jackal 2 and HMT 600 “Coyote” designs, and now Australian Special Forces are adding the new Extenda vehicle to their fleet.

Supacat’s MWMIK/ Jackal: Origins and Program Jackal, front
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The Jackals have a somewhat complicated history. As Battlespace Magazine notes:

“The initial history of the MWMIK was littered with cost overruns, delays and technology changes which resulted in the MoD taking IPR for the top hamper design of the vehicle. The vehicle was developed as a result of an MoD requirement for replacement of the aging Pink Panther Land Rovers. The previous UOR, issued in 1982, caused the then Technical Director of SMC, Mike Stone, to say, “The only thing this vehicle [specification] can’t do is fly!” SMC declined to bid!

Thus, when the UOR (Urgent Operational Requirement) for this replacement vehicle was issued in 1999 it had, once again, a very onerous specification. Many companies bid the UOR including ATK, Ricardo and AutomotiveTechnik, but the contract was won by Supacat which ticked all the capability boxes. It rapidly became apparent that the vehicle offered by Supacat, the HMT, although superior in performance and speed, lacked the engineering and support required for the vehicle.

Thus, after many months of protracted negotiations, the MoD took some IPR over the vehicle which allowed it to purchase further batches, and a deal was hammered out with DML which allowed it to recoup some of the money in establishing the assembly for the initial batch. Supacat had obtained the sales and deign rights for the vehicle from HMT Vehicles Ltd a fledgling Scottish Company owned by the Duke Of Hamilton and the Trustees of the Hamilton Estates along with other investors.”

Jackal family vehicles are designed by Supacat in Honiton, Devon, but manufacturing is done by a company known for ship-building and nuclear submarines. Babcock subsidiary Devonport Management Ltd (DML) will build it at their Devonport dockyard in Plymouth, as part of a larger diversification effort to reduce dependence on dwindling ship-building contracts for the Royal Navy et. al. In April 2009, the 2 firms formalized their alliance.

A single project office, located at Dunkeswell in Devon, provides overall control. Supacat is the design authority, responsible for design, development, prototyping, integration and overall program management. Babcock took responsibility for detailed production planning, purchasing and manufacture. Other industrial partners include:

  • Allison (transmission)
  • Cummins (engine)
  • Frazer-Nash systems engineering consultancy (assistance during testing and trials)
  • Universal Engineering (chassis)

Lockheed Martin’s INSYS land vehicle subsidiary is also involved, thanks to its acquisition of original designer HMT Vehicles Ltd. HMT had originally negotiated a royalty of GBP 4,000 per axle for the vehicle, but the arrival of British contracts has reportedly led INSYS to reduce that royalty.

To date, Britain has ordered over 565 vehicles in the Jackal family:

  • 35 HMT MEPs for Project Soothsayer (canceled in 2009)
  • 202 Jackal 1s
  • 120+ Jackal 2s
  • 140 Jackal 2As
  • 70+ Coyote TSV-Ls.

Jackal, Afghanistan
(click to view full)

The approximate contract value of the various British buys is over GBP 350 million. That includes GBP 174 million for Jackal 1 + GBP 140 million for the Jackal 2 and Coyote buys + GBP 45 million has been spent ordering Jackal 2As. The first Jackal 1 vehicles entered service in November 2007, and were in theater in early 2008. The Jackal 2s entered service in August 2009, as did the cargo-carrying Coyote TSV-L, which is based on the 6×6 HMT 600.

Supacat has been hoping for continued orders from the British government, and/or other governments around the world, in order to keep the ball rolling. Follow-on work has materialized from Britain, Australia became the vehicle’s second special forces customer, with total orders rising to 120, and Canada currently has a special forces vehicle competition underway. Even so, the pace of deliveries has been challenging for Supacat.

Supacat’s HMTs: The Vehicles Jackal & Jackal 2
click for video

The new Supacat MWMIK/ Jackal has provisions for 2 crew-served weapons, just like the Land Rover WMIK. The other similarity is that it’s an open vehicle, so the crew has a full field of visibility and fire with rifles, light 5.56mm machine guns, or whatever is at hand. The Supacat HMT Jackal is larger at 5.39 m/ 17’8″ long, and 6,650 kg/ 14,660 pounds. Key advantages include smoke/specialty grenade launchers as integral fittings, longer driving range, greater carrying capacity (4 tonnes), and far better off-road mobility than its Land Rover counterpart. Some concerns did remain, however. Battlespace magazine:

“One stumbling block is believed to be the requirement to armour the front cab, an addition which not only adds weight to the front axle but also overall weight which may affect the ability to heli-lift the system. Another area of concern would be mobility in rough terrain with a 6×4 system with weight added. The Carmichael 6×4 Fire Engines purchased by the MoD in the eighties suffered from problems in rough and wet terrain due to the 3rd trailing non-driven axle getting stuck in the mud.”

Jackal 2
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In the end, even more armor became mandatory. The follow-on Jackal 2 adds weight by adding some side armoring as standard equipment, and providing space for an additional crew member. A larger 6.7 liter engine replaces the original vehicle’s 5.9 liter Cummins ISBe Euro3, in order to maintain similar performance. The upgraded Jackal 2A’s most significant change involves a new cab design with integrated mine blast protection. Supacat says that it’s easier to build, and offers better protection than the Jackal 2′s system. Even so, the HMT family’s defenses against mines or small arms fire are best described as limited.

An optional “Extenda” module can add a third axle, turning the vehicle from a 4×4 into a 6×4 wheel base, and adding length and storage space. Conversation takes 2 hours, and requires a forklift. The Coyote TSV-Light (HMT 600) is built as a 6×6 version from the outset, and will be used to carry supplies alongside its brethren.

Extenda SOF
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The Supacats have very good all-terrain capability. Even so, they aren’t tracked vehicles; as Canada’s Afghan experiences alongside the British have shown, this can become an operational limitation. Fortunately, the vehicle’s intended use as a special forces vehicle and long-range reconnaissance platform is likely to keep the Jackal away from most of those situations.

When the terrain is suitable, the Jackal’s engine can push it to a top speed of 130 kmh/ 80 mph. Given convoy operational procedures and the ever-present dangers of mines from the enemy or even from the Soviet era, that mobility isn’t likely to be used very often during convoy operations. It may help get a scout group or special forces team out of the kill zone quickly, however, should they come under fire in ambushes. Absent protection, it does pay to have speed.

Contracts and Key Events 2011 – 2014

Australia. Leaving Afghanistan

Aug 19/14: Australia. Australia’s Defence Material Organisation awards Supacat a $105 million contract to deliver 89 HMT Extenda Mk2 Special Operations Vehicle – Commando (SOV-Cdo) in 4 variants, under the JP2097 Ph 1B (REDFIN) program. The vehicles are convertible to either a 4×4 or 6×6 configuration, as required, and will supplement the existing 31 HMT “Nary” vehicles used by the Australian SAS. Sources: Supacat, “Supacat to deliver 89 Special Operations Vehicles – Commando under $105m contract for JP2097 Ph 1B (REDFIN) Program”.

Australia: 89 HMT Mk2 Extenda

December 2013: UOR to Core. The Ministry’s Defence Equipment & Sustainment group confirms that blast-resistant vehicles will become something of a ‘new normal’ for Britain’s Army. Most blast-resistant Protected Patrol Vehicles (PPV) will be sustained as long-term additions to the force, and so will all of the Jackal all-terrain vehicles and Coyote TSV all-terrain supply vehicles. Vehicles that have survived will go through “regeneration” to make repairs, convert some vehicles to different roles, bring them into line with UK regulations for local use, etc. DE&S:

“Also included is a range of ancillary equipment procured at short notice to provide additional safety features to the deployed fleets, including minerollers, emergency lighting and egress equipment and rollover protection. The vehicles will now form the backbone of patrol capabilities for Army 2020… Husky, Mastiff and Ridgback will be issued to protected mobility infantry battalions, combat support and combat service support units. Jackal and Coyote will be used by some of the newly-badged light cavalry units…. The estimated cost for the minor work, conversions and support is thought to be in the region of [GBP] 300 million over four years.”

The Jackals Sources: UK DE&S Desider magazine, “Protected Vehicles From UOR to core”.

June 19/13: Industrial. Supacat partners with Navistar Defence, signing a a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to form a team that will integrate their existing support structures for their Jackal and Husky Urgent Operational Requirement vehicles. that will help them prepare to become a “Strategic Support Supplier” that could service over 1,000 vehicles, which have been bought under various urgent requirements by the U.K. Defence Equipment and Support’s (DE&S) Protected Mobility Team (PMT). Sources: Supacat, “Supacat and Navistar defence sign MoU providing future joint support to the U.K. MoD protected mobility fleet”.

Dec 14/12: Australia. Supacat delivers a prototype of its new special operations vehicle to the Australian Defence Force under Project REDFIN 1B, on time and on budget. The decision to buy up to 76 of them, as supplements to the existing 31-vehicle Nary HMT fleet, is still a couple of years away. Sources: Supacat, “Supacat successfully delivers REDFIN 1B vehicle prototype to the Australian Defence Force”.

April 16/12: Australia win. Supacat announces that they are the Preferred Bidder for Australia’s JP2097 Ph 1B (REDFIN) program’s Special Operations Vehicles, and received an unspecified initial contract for the Project Definition and Evaluation (PD&E) phase.

Supacat’s HMT Extenda offers considerable commonality with the SAS’ Supacat Narys, but adds additional armoring options, as well as the extra module in back that can turn it from a 4×4 into a 6×4.

Supacat Managing Director Nick Ames calls the REDFIN 1B award “pivotal to Supacat’s expansion,” and the end of British HMT family orders gives that assertion weight. The problem is timing. Australia’s DMO is expected to acquire a fleet of about 76 vehicles under a separate contract, after PD&E is done. But that’s expected to happen around 2014-2015. The 14-company Supacat Team Australia group (vid. Oct 13/11 entry) will run the project from their Melbourne program office, in collaboration with Australia’s chosen battlefield C2 provider Elbit Systems.

Australia picks Supacat

March 7/12: USP acquired. Supacat Pty Ltd. buys the business assets and staff of Unique Solution Partners Pty Ltd. (USP) based in Melbourne, Australia. USP was already part of Team Supacat Australia, and Supacat’s release says that:

“The acquisition is in line with the strategy announced last October of the creation of a Supacat operational capability in Australia. The acquisition enhances Supacat’s capability to provide in-country support to existing fleets in the critical areas of design and engineering.

In addition to a general automotive engineering capability, USP provides Supacat with world-class capabilities in Computer Aided Engineering, Composite Material Technology and Prototype Development. It also provides a strategic foothold in the Asia Pacific region.”

Jackal, Afghanistan
(click to view full)

Dec 12/11: A Force Protection release says they have been informed that their entry lost Australia’s REDFIN competition, but doesn’t mention a winner. Neither do other releases, yet.

Oct 13/11: Team Australia. Supacat announces their operational launch in Australia, and names the 15 partner firms in Supacat Team Australia.

Australian Michael Halloran will transfer as Managing Director, from his current position as Director & General Manager of Supacat’s UK operations. It will be Supacat’s 1st international office, and will extend beyond defense to include Supacat’s solutions for Australia’s very large mining sector, among other civil opportunities.

If Supacat’s JP2097 Ph 1B REDFIN program bid wins, VEEM Pty Ltd will extend its current support role from the existing 31-vehicle Nary HMT contract, to add the 76 new Extenda HMTs. Other Team Australia partners include Aerostaff, Andrew Engineering, Baker and Provan, Broens Industries, Cablex, Eggler Consulting Engineers, Hallmark Logistics & Engineering, Hofmann Engineering, Marand Precision Engineering, PS Management Consultants, QinetiQ, Tectonica Australia, and Unique Solution Partners. Supacat.

Aug 15/11: Australia. Supacat Team Australia submits its 76-vehicle bid for the JP2097 Phase 1B “REDFIN” program, offering their Special Forces HMT Extenda vehicle. The Extenda shares commonality with the Nary HMT, which Supacat delivered for Australian SAS use in 2008-2009 (q.v. Oct 27/08 entry). Supacat.

2009 – 2010

Jackal 2A. Coyote TSV
(click to view full)

June 23/10: +140. The new coalition government’s Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, says they will be buying 140 of Supacat’s Jackal 2As, alongside 28 more Wolfhound blast-protected TSV-H heavy cargo vehicles from Force Protection. The pair of contracts is reported to be worth a total of GBP 65 million (about $96.8 million), and Supacat’s release confirms its share at GBP 45 million (about $67 million). This new order will bring the total number of Jackal variants in service with the UK Armed Forces to over 530.

The upgraded Jackal 2A is an enhanced version of the successful Jackal 2. The most significant change involves a new cab design with integrated mine blast protection. Supacat says that it’s easier to build, and offers better protection than the Jackal 2′s system. Production began in February 2010, right after the firm finished deliveries on the April 2009 order for Jackal 2 and 6×6 Coyote TSV-L cargo variants. Supacat | Defense News | UK MoD.

UK: 140 Jackal 2As

April 6/10: RAF, too? The RAF announces that No 3 Sqn RAF Regiment took delivery of 2 Supacat Jackal-2 vehicles in early March 2010, as part of a 2 month long assessment of its suitability for Force Protection Operations in the Area of Operations around Bastion Joint Operating Base in Helmand, Afghanistan.

It is expected that the Jackal, which has already proven itself in Afghanistan with other service branches, will replace the RAF Regiment’s current fielded fleet of Land Rover RWMIK vehicles.

April 22/09: Jackals & Coyotes. Britain’s Ministry of Defence announces a GBP 74 million ($108 million equivalent) order for “around 110 enhanced Jackal 2 vehicles and more than 70 Coyote Tactical Support Vehicles.”

Supacat as the vehicle designer has been awarded the prime contract, but GBP 55 million will be subcontracted to Babcock as the vehicle manufacturer. Most of these vehicles are expected to be delivered during 2009. Supacat would later confirm the total as over 120 Jackal 2s, with final deliveries taking place in February 2010. UK MoD | Babcock.

UK: 120 Jackal 2s, 70 Coyote TSVs

April 22/09: Babcock deal. Supacat and Babcock formalize their cooperation on the Jackal program. Supacat is the design authority, responsible for design, development, prototyping, integration and overall program management. Babcock will take responsibility for detailed production planning, purchasing and manufacture at their Devonport dockyard facility. A single project office, located at Dunkeswell in Devon, will provide overall control. Supacat | Babcock International [PDF].

Partnership agreement

March 10/09: Canada? The Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese relays a CASR report that Canada’s JTF2 Special forces may be about to order 100 Jackals as their special operations vehicles, and adds research of his own. According to Pugliese, Mercedes’ Wolf G-Wagen variant is not a finalist; instead, the Jackal’s competition will be a special operations adaptation of the Hummer: the GMV-S used by some American special forces.

Canada’s solicitation is for 80 special reconnaissance vehicles and 20 quick reaction vehicles, to be fielded in a number of variants: troop carrier/weapons platform, cargo carrier with an optional tow package and trailer, ambulance, and a simpler litter carrier for stretcher cases.

2007 – 2008

Jackal, armed

Nov 19/08: Coyote wins TSV-L. The UK MoD selects a 6×6 version of Supacat’s Jackal as its preferred choice for the Coyote TSV (Light), an all-terrain vehicle with enhanced carrying capacity. It’s expected to operate alongside Jackal vehicles as supply carriers.

At this point, exact vehicle numbers and costs have yet to be finalized, but Supacat eventually confirms “over 70″ vehicles ordered. This purchase is part of a GBP 700 million land vehicle upgrade round that was first announced on Oct 29/08. UK MoD Oct 29 | UK MoD Nov 19.

Oct 27/08: Australia’s Nary. While visiting the Australian Special Air Services Regiment (SASR) at Campbell Barracks in Western Australia, the Minister for Defence inspects the first Nary Special Operations Vehicles (SOVs) delivered under Project Redfin. They replace the current set of long range patrol vehicles. Project Redfin is designed to enhance the ADF’s Special Operations equipment, and will introduce a range of combat and support vehicles.

Australia’s DoD confirms that they have ordered 31 SOVs, whose design is based upon the Supacat HMT. Australia’s version has been named the ‘Nary,’ in honor of SASR Warrant Officer Class Two David Nary, who died during a training operation in the Middle East in 2005. Australian DoD release.

Australia: 31 HMT/ Nary

Oct 16/08: Not mine. The Supacats are not designed for mine protection. UK MoD release:

“It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm the death of Trooper James Munday, of 1 Troop, D Squadron, the Household Cavalry Regiment, on Wednesday 15 October 2008. Trooper Munday was serving as a Jackal driver on Operation HERRICK 8 when he was killed in action in Helmand province. His Troop was conducting a routine patrol approximately 23km north of Forward Operating Base Delhi when he was killed by a contact explosion [land mine].”

May 8/08: +72. Supacat announces that the UK MoD is buying another 72 Jackal vehicles, bringing total UK Jackal 1 orders to 202 (237 if Soothsayer vehicles are counted).

UK: 72 Jackals

Apr 25/08: The UK MoD announces that the first MWMIK Jackal courses for drivers and driver instructors have just finished at the Defence School of Transport (DST).

At this point, there are 10 instructors on the Jackal at DST, with 12 of the vehicles at their disposal to be used for some 24 courses per year. All potential Jackal operators from 3 Commando Brigade, approximately 120, will train on the vehicle initially at DST. The article adds that the vehicle is already being used in the field by 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Sept 5/07: 130 Jackals. The UK MoD announces a GBP 30 million contract for 130 Supacat HMT MWMIK/Jackal vehicles.

UK: 130 Jackals

Appendix A: How Land Rover Lacunae Left Britain Looking Land Rover WMIK,
40mm GMG & GPMG
(click to view full)

The British Land Rover WMIK (Weapons Mounted Installation Kit) lacks even the protection levels of an armored Hummer. It’s a flat-bottomed vehicle with the troops positioned over the axles, which is where pressure mines will detonate. It has very little armor on the sides, no doors, and lacks a roof to protect its crew from the elements. Its weapons even lack transparent gunshields.

This is sometimes costly, vid. the June 9/07 incident outside of Sangin, Afghanistan. What the WMIK it does have is a pair of weapon mounts for firepower overmatch. The main mount can take a heavy machine gun for accurate ranged fire, or the 40mm grenade machine guns that have been in demand for their devastating area effects, or even a Javelin missile for use as a scouting mechanism and ultra-accurate long range shot. There’s also a lighter 7.62mm machine gun mount next to the “shotgun” front seat.

The “infantry enhancement” effect is similar to adding one of the Royal Marines’ popular BvS-10 Viking tracked vehicles, but with an adjusted set of plusses and minuses. The Land Rover WMIK/ Jackal’s advantages include:

  • Higher top speed
  • Better all-round visibility
  • Air portability via helicopters smaller than a CH-47 Chinook
  • Lower costs

Drawbacks include:

  • Cannot traverse some Afghan terrain that would be accessible to BVS10s
  • Less armor protection in all dimensions, verging on none
  • Less versatility in terms of possible battlefield roles

BvS-10, Afghanistan -
note anti-RPG ‘cage armor’
(click to view full)

On balance, however, these trade-offs appeared to be acceptable to commanders in theater. The WMIK became popular, and the Taliban reportedly refer to them as ‘porcupines’ due to their appearance and effect. They worked with some reconnaissance and elite elements, acted as advance scouts for some supply convoys, and also took up middle and rear positions to provide sudden firepower while the convoys are running. Even so, they took no shortage of criticism.

On May 3/07, the UK MoD responded to press reports by saying:

“A newspaper repeats claims from earlier this week that British commanders in Afghanistan have complained that they do not have enough combat vehicles, especially the heavily-armed Land Rover “wimiks” (Weapons Mounted Installation Kit or WMIK). There are sufficient vehicles in Afghanistan to conduct our extant operations, and further vehicles have been delivered to allow for a planned step-change in the overall campaign. The new armoured Vector vehicles, purchased specifically for operations in Afghanistan, and the new Mastiff vehicles [DID: Cougar MRAPs, see DID coverage] have arrived in theatre. We’ve received the first tranches of these so far, with an additional batches coming in regularly and more to follow.”

Those helped, but they didn’t solve the problem of full all-terrain mobility needed by special forces, and increasingly by regular British troops as well. Hence the MWMIK’s designation as an “Urgent Operational Requirement,” and the string of contracts from 2007 to 2009.

At the time of the September 2007 MWMIK/Jackal announcement, there were 300 Land Rover WMIKs in the task force. Now they’ve added hundreds more upgraded Supacat/DML Jackals to that mix, which were delivered through 2010 as Urgent Operational Requirements.

Additional Readings

News & Views

Categories: News

German Minister to Defense Industry: Go Do Something Else

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 15:55

  • German weapons manufacturers are miffed that Sigmar Gabriel, the minister of economic affairs, has deliberately built up a backlog of unapproved export requests. Gabriel is sticking to his guns (bad pun intended) and urges “entrepreneurial consolidation in the industry and the promotion of diversification strategies in the civilian sector.” Deutche Welle.

  • Russia eyes joint development of weapons within BRICS [Svobodnaya Pressa], not just as a conduit to sell their weapons, but also to build on expertise in Brazil and South Africa. Brazil’s problem is that the Super Tucano implicitly competes with the Yak-130, while the KC-390 competes with the Russo-Indian MTA.

US Programs

  • The US Air Force grounded 82 F-16Ds after finding cracks during post-mission inspections.

  • The USAF intends to release an RFP [FBO] in December on the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP), a 4-year program meant to design and develop a 45,000lb thrust-class engine suitable for ultimate installation into combat aircraft. An industry day will take place on August 29 in Dayton, OH.

  • James Hasik at the Atlantic Council think tank notes that the main bottleneck for DoD to reap rewards from its Should Cost acquisition directives is a more qualified acquisition workforce. People Are Policy, and it takes a long time to retrain existing staff and/or attract more effective employees.


  • While the US lifted its trade embargo on Vietnam 20 years ago, weapon exports are still banned. That may soon change, report Voice of America and Tuoi Tre News.

Middle East & Africa

  • According to the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey, MANPADS of Chinese and Russian origin are proliferating in Syria [PDF].

  • Here we go again: Gaza cease-fire broken [WaPo] as militants’ rocket attacks spark retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.

  • Things got so bad in Libya that a rebel general claims [Reuters] he’s able to conduct air strikes.

  • Iraqi forces and Pesh Merga troops have been fighting for credit after taking control of the Mosul dam, more than they have been fighting retreating ISIL insurgents. Al Jazeera video | WSJ.

  • The Iraqi military is now attacking ISIL in Tikrit [WaPo], where they are facing IEDs and snipers.

  • In today’s video the Council on Foreign Relations recaps how a humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Syria and Iraq:

Categories: News

Saudi Shopping Spree: A Hardened, Networked National Guard

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 17:25
LAV-25 in combat

The Saudi Arabian National Guard is receiving a lot of investment. In July 2006, the Saudis formally tabled a multi-billion dollar request to buy LAV wheeled APCs and related equipment for its National Guard. October 2010 added a slew of added requests, covering a wide range of transport, scout, and attack helicopters. Other contracts in between and since have involved missiles, communications, and training. It all adds up to a fairly comprehensive modernization.

Who is the SANG, and why are they a globally significant institution? A must-read article in the Tribune-Libanaise explains:

“The [Saudi] National Guard’s importance is that it was created to protect the royal regime and its interests, including protecting strategic sites such as oil installations. The National Guard is made up of two separate forces: a large group of 60,000 men and a smaller core force of 20,000 men originating from Bedouin tribes such as the Otaiba and Qahtani, who can be mobilised quickly. The men of the core force are called the “White Army,” a name given to them because they wear the white robes of the Bedouin. As the Head of the National Guard, Prince Abdallah has been able to win the backing of the tribes, something that the Sudairis in principle do not have. However, basic recruitment of core units is fraught with inter-ethnic and tribal rivalries. Few men are recruited from the Hijaz region, one that has been opposed to the Sauds since they came to power in the 1920s and 1930s.”

Contracts & Key Events 2014

Huge LAV contract; Huge TOW missile contract; AH-6i flies in production configuration; 2nd UH-60M order begins. USMC LAV-ATs
(click to view full)

Aug 19/14: UH-60M. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT receives a $30.3 million contract modification for 12 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, on behalf of the Saudi Arabian National Guard. All funds are committed immediately. This appears to be an initial award, with a follow-on to come that will modify the helicopters for Saudi use (q.v. Dec 20/13), and bring total SANG UH-60M sales to 20 of 72 requested (q.v. Oct 20/10) machines.

The estimated completion date is Aug 31/17. Work will be performed in Jupiter, FL and Stratford, CT. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL manages the order on behalf of its Saudi client (W58RGZ-12-C-0008, PO 0072).

May 1/14: AH-6i. Boeing flies its AH-6i armed scout helicopter for the first time in its production configuration, performing basic maneuvers during the 20-minute flight. They add: “Future tests will expand the flight envelope over the next several months.” Translation: these helicopters won’t be operational in Saudi service any time very soon. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing Flies Production Configuration AH-6i Light Helicopter for the 1st Time”.

April 23/14: TOW me. Raytheon announces:

“An international customer signed an agreement with the U.S. Government for a foreign military sale (FMS) of tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) missiles to be supplied by Raytheon Company (NYSE: RTN) in a deal valued at approximately $750 million.

Raytheon plans to deliver nearly 14,000 TOW missiles to the customer over a three-year period beginning in 2015. A resulting order is expected to be executed by the U.S. government with Raytheon in the coming weeks.”

Do they mention the customer? No, they don’t. Are there any other customers with pending orders for “nearly 14,000 TOW missiles” (q.v. Dec 5/13)? No, there aren’t. Keeping the one secret while advertising the other is irrational. Then again, anyone who was willing to give DID $750 million would be allowed to be be irrational, too. Sources: Raytheon, “International customer signs agreement with USG valued at $750 million for Raytheon’s TOW missiles”.

14,000 TOW missiles

Feb 14/14: LAVs. The Canadian government announces a huge contract, and lets slip that it’s from Saudi Arabia in the footnotes. Mr. Fast led trade missions to the Saudi kingdom in 2012 and 2013, so he has cause to be pleased, but he may have missed the nuance that Saudi Arabia is generally reticent about its military buys. Even if it is a tremendously timely order for GDLS Canada, which will keep the plant and its supply chain open as US Stryker (LAV-III) purchases wind to a close:

“The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, and Danny Deep, Vice President, General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada, announced today a historic multi-billion dollar contract win for vehicles and associated equipment, training and support services. The announcement was made in London, Ontario, where the light armoured vehicles will be designed and manufactured and which will become the epicentre of a cross-Canada supply chain directly benefiting more than 500 local Canadian firms. This 14-year contract will create and sustain more than 3,000 jobs each year in Canada, with southern Ontario accounting for approximately 40 percent of the supply base.”

To clear up any confusion about jurisdictions: The contractor is General Dynamics Land Systems, which is an American firm subject to US government export laws and approval requirements. At the same time, the state-run Canadian Commercial Corp. handles all exports from Canadian firms, even if they’re subsidiaries like GDLS-Canada.

There’s no official corporate release yet, but General Dynamics has described the deal to reporters as $10 billion, which could rise to $13 billion if all options are exercised. That’s far bigger than Oct 4/07 and June 13/11 DSCA requests for new vehicles (total: about $1 billion) can account for. Nor do purchases for the Saudi Arabian National Guard make up much of the difference. GDLS-Canada announced a $2.2 billion deal on Nov 24/09 for 724 LAV-II 8×8 wheeled armored personnel carriers, in 10 different variants, which exactly matched a July 20/06 Saudi DSCA request.

The Saudis already had a substantial fleet of LAV vehicles in their military branches. It seems very likely that a support contract covering all Saudi LAV fleets going forward is a big part of this deal, along with all LAVs requested to date and perhaps more. It is possible for the Saudis to order vehicles as a Direct Commercial Sale, which still requires approvals but doesn’t require the same announcements, and would make the Saudis fully responsible for managing the buy. Sources: Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, “Largest Advanced Manufacturing Export Win in Canada’s History” | Reuters, “General Dynamics Canada wins Saudi deal worth up to $13 billion”.

Feb 5/14: Saudi Arabia. Raytheon in McKinney, TX receives a $16.3 million firm-fixed-price, foreign military sales contract for 22 modified improved target acquisition systems for the Royal Saudi Land Forces SWORD program, and 3 for the Saudi Arabian National Guard. A seemingly-related solicitation describes SWORD as:


LAV-ATs use under-armor TOW missiles, and improving them with ITAS modified for those vehicles delivers a lot of bang for the buck. Bids were solicited via the Web, with 1 received. Work will be performed in McKinney, TX, and the estimated completion date is June 30/15. Work will be managed by US Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI as the Saudis’ agent (W56HZV-14-C-0066).

2012 – 2013

Buys: AH-64 attack, AH-6i armed scout, UH-60M medium utility, and MD-530F light utility helos; Firing range upgrades; DSCA: a ton of TOW missiles; Training and support request. TOW 2B
(click for cutaway)

Dec 20/13: UH-60Ms. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT receives a $105.3 million contract modification to contract “to modify 8 UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters to a General Service Configuration in Support of the Saudi Arabian National Guard.” The contract number indicates that these machines are purchases under the MYP-8 multi-year deal, which explicitly allows other countries to take advantage of American volume pricing. Essentially, they’re buying 8 UH-60Ms as an initial order under the Oct 20/10 DSCA request to export up to 72 machines.

One bid was solicited with one received. Work will be performed in West Palm Beach, FL and in Saudi Arabia. US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL acts as the Saudis’ agent (W58RGZ-12-C-0008, PO 0089).

Dec 5/13: TOW missiles. The US DSCA announces that Saudi Arabia has requested export clearance to buy 13,935 TOW missiles: 9,650 BGM-71E TOW-2A RF wireless missiles, 91 TOW-2A Buy-to-Fly test missiles, 4,145 BGM-71F TOW-2B Aero wire-guided missiles, and 49 TOW-2B Buy-to-Fly test missiles. Plus containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and other US government and contractor support.

The TOW-2As have a nose spike to help penetrate reactive armor or walls, and have a published range of around 4 km/ 2.5 miles. The TOW 2B Aeros lose the spike, add more range, and rely on a top-attack mode using twin EFP (explosively-formed penetrator) warheads, but these missiles continue to use the old trailing wire guidance. This top-attack mode is somewhat useful against soft targets, but the nature of EFPs mean that they are far best used against armored vehicles.

The estimated cost is up to $900 million, and the principal contractor will be Raytheon Corporation of Tucson, AZ. Saudi Arabia, who already fields TOW missiles, won’t need any additional personnel in country for support. The DSCA adds that:

“The proposed sale will support the Ministry of the National Guard’s defense and counter-terrorism missions… [and] improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet and defeat current and future threats from enemy armored vehicles.”

Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Bahrain requested these same missiles in late 2011, but they were withheld by the US State Department following the government’s crackdown on protesters. Saudi Arabian forces played a role in that crackdown, and the Saudi National Guard’s explicitly-referenced internal security role would seem to offer a parallel. The most interesting speculation belongs to StratRisks, who thinks the TOWs may be involved in a plan to transfer non-American anti-tank missiles (HOT, Bill 2, SS-11) to Syrian rebels, while replenishing Saudi stocks.

Unlike Bahrain, however, seriously offending the Saudis carries really big costs to the US defense industry. Two weeks after the announcement, there isn’t a peep of Congressional opposition. Sources: DSCA, 13-57 | StratRisks, “What’s up with Saudi Arabia’s 15,000 anti-tank missiles?”.

DSCA request: TOW RF missiles

June 20/13: Support. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s official request for up to $4 billion in support services for the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) modernization program. This has been an ongoing program in Saudi Arabia (q.v. July 18/08, Jan 20/10 entries).

Services to be provided will include OPM-SANG operation, support and equipment, and Modernization Program support, personnel training and training equipment, transportation, repair and return, spare and repair parts, automation initiatives, SANG Health Affairs Program support, construction, communication and support equipment, publications and technical documentation, and other forms of US Government and contractor support.

The principal contractor will remain Northrop Grumman, though its subsidiary Vinell Arabia. Implementation won’t require any more people than the existing 250 U.S. Government personnel and 650 contractor representatives who are already in country.

DSCA: Support & training request

March 25/13: Saudi. Sikorsky in Stratford, CT receives a $49 million firm-fixed-price contract. This modification will provide engineering and configuration services to 4 utility helicopters for Saudi Arabia. The contract number indicates a MYP-8 purchase, and the amount indicates that there’s an accompanying base helicopter order still to come. There are ways that could be done outside the purview of standard contract announcements.

Work will be performed in Stratford, CT with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/16. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W58RGZ-12-C-0008).

Saudi Arabia: 4 UH-60Ms?

March 8/13: Training. Lockheed Martin in Orlando, FL receives a $28.3 million firm-fixed-price contract to support of the SANG’s Live-Fire range modernization. They’ll upgrade existing ranges, and install trajectory tracking on newly constructed ranges. This is the kind of infrastructure that can make a real difference in a force’s effectiveness, if its personnel are diligent and its leadership is solid. Both of those requirements have been questioned by observers of the Saudi Army, but the SANG’s role makes it a different organization.

Work will be performed in Orlando, FL; Suwanee, GA; and San Diego, CA; with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/14. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by US Army Program Executive Office Simulation, Training & Instrumentation in Orlando, FL (W900KK-13-C-0038).

Military MD-530F
(click to view full)

July 13/12: MD-530Fs. MD Helicopter in Mesa, AZ receives a $40.7 million firm-fixed-price contract, to buy MD 530F helicopters and related equipment for Saudi Arabia. This is the type’s 2nd military order, after Afghanistan ordered it as a training & utility platform, so the buy is significant to the company.

Saudi Arabia’s Oct 20/10 DSCA request had mentioned 12 MD-530Fs, which are designed to operate in the thinner air created by hot and/or high-altitude conditions. These helicopters are often used in policing and light utility roles, but they can be armed with light weapons. The SANG’s forthcoming AH-6is are more explicitly designed for the Armed Reconnaissance role.

Work will be performed in Mesa, AZ with an estimated completion date of July 30/13. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL, on behalf of its Saudi Foreign Military Sale client (W58RGZ-12-C-0105).

MD-530F helicopter buy

Feb 13/12: SANG AH-6is. Boeing representatives tell reporters that Saudi Arabia signed a Letter of Agreement for 36 AH-6i light scout and attack helicopters “a few weeks ago.” The AH-6i were part of the Oct 20/10 DSCA request for its National Guard, and the next step involves negotiations on price and delivery schedules. If those are completed, it isn’t clear whether Saudi Arabia would be the type’s 1st customer. A Rotor & Wing report says that:

“Tilton can also see further military riches on the horizon as Boeing pushes the AH-6i into the world market as a mini-Apache “with attitude.” There is a first order of 24 aircraft with more to follow.”

The other country that has been publicly associated with the AH-6i is Jordan, who reportedly signed a Letter of Intent in 2010. Defense News | Rotor & Wing.

AH-6i helicopter LoA

Jan 5/12: SANG AH-64s. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, FL received a $66.6 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The award will provide for the procurement of AH-64D Apache M-TDAS/PNVS (“Arrowhead“) systems and spares for the Saudi Arabia National Guard. Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, with an estimated completion date of March 31/15. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by US Army Contracting Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL as the Saudi’s FMS agent (W58RGZ-11-C-0120).

This is one of several ancillary contracts supporting reports that Saudi Arabia has signed a deal to buy AH-64D Longbow Block III helicopters. That deal wasn’t announced publicly, so it isn’t 100% confirmed, and it isn’t clear which Saudi military branches were covered. Beyond the SANG’s interest in buying 36 Apache Longbow Block IIIs, the Royal Guard wanted 10, and the regular Army wanted to add 24 Block IIIs to its existing fleet of 12 Block IIs. See the Oct 20/10 DSCA request for more.


Buys: LAV armored vehicles, TOW missile targeting systems, Vehicle intercomms; DSCA request: LAVs.

TOW w. ITAS sensors
(click to view full)

June 25/11: Raytheon in McKinney, TX receives a $53.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for 78 Improved Target Acquisition System units. ITAS is a part of the targeting system on the missile-carrying LAV-AT, and is also used for BGM-71 TOW missiles carried by troops or mounted on other vehicles. The contract could rise to 115 ITAS units, if options of 12 units for the Saudi Arabian National Guard, and 25 units for the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense and Aviation, are exercised.

Work will be performed in McKinney, TX, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 30/13. One bid was solicited with one bid received by US Army TACOM’s Project Management Office Light Armored Vehicle in Warren, MI (W56HZV-11-C-0274).


June 13/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s official request to buy up to 82 more LAV wheeled armored vehicles, plus associated equipment and support. The estimated cost is $350 million, but exact amounts will depend on the contract, if one is negotiated. In light of Saudi troops’ recent intervention in Bahrain at that government’s request, this bit from the DSCA was interesting:

“The proposed sale will improve the Saudi Arabian National Guard’s ability to effectively conduct security and counter-terrorism operations, and would serve to make a key strategic partner in regional contingency operations more capable of defeating those who would threaten regional stability and less reliant on the deployment of U.S. forces to maintain or restore stability in the Middle East.”

Prime contractors will include General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario, Canada (LAVs), ITT Aerospace/Communications in Fort Wayne, IN (radios); Harris Corporation in Rochester, NY (radios); and Raytheon Corporation in Tucson, AZ (LAV-AT’s weapon system). Saudi Arabia already deploys many LAVs, and implementation of this sale will not require the assignment of any more U.S. Government or contractor representatives. Items requested include:

  • 25 LAV-25s, with 25mm cannon turrets
  • 8 LAV-AG Assault Guns, with 90mm cannon turrets
  • 8 LAV-AT Anti-Tank Vehicles, which carry BGM-71 TOW missiles
  • 6 LAV-MS, with breech-loaded 120mm mortars and up to 40 rounds inside
  • 3 standard LAV wheeled APCs, no turret
  • 2 LAV-A Ambulances
  • 24 LAV-C2 Command and Control Vehicles
  • 3 LAV Ammo Carriers
  • 2 LAV-R Recovery Vehicles, for towing stuck vehicles
  • 1 LAV Engineer Vehicle, which can add bulldozer, mine plough, and other attachments
  • AN/VRC 90E and AN/VRC-92E Export SINCGARS radios

Plus battery chargers, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and U.S. Government and contractor support.

2nd LAV request

June 3/11: MILES Training. Lockheed Martin in Orlando, FL receives a $38.3 million firm-fixed-price contract, to give the SANG its Multiple Integrated Laser System (MILES) instrumentation, and exercise control/after action review capabilities. MILES can be thought of as the grown-up, militarized ancestor of laser tag, with the laser carrying information about the shooter (soldier or vehicle), weapon and ammunition. That lets the target’s MILES system determine the results of a hit, if the match indicates that damage is possible, using semi-randomized algorithms. Kind of like “laser tag meets Dungeons & Dragons, on a cyber-date.”

Vehicles usually have a belt of laser sensors, while dismounted troops often wear the vest/harness plus helmet sensors that laser tag veterans know so well. Reference to exercise control/AAR functions indicates a real-time datalink allowing position and event data to be transmitted back to a central site, for review later.

The contract includes materials, manufacturing, integration, system validation and verification, delivery, government acceptance testing, and contractor logistics support to the Saudi Arabia National Guard. Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, and San Diego, CA, with an estimated completion date of May 31/13. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office of Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO-STRI) in Orlando, FL, on behalf of its Saudi client (W900KK-11-C-0004).

May 3/11: Vehicle intercoms. It isn’t always easy to talk to troops or drivers inside armored vehicles, when your infantry is outside. But recent experiences in Iraq have shown that it’s a very important capability – especially in urban warfare. That’s why Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. in Linthicum Heights, MD received a $16.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for vehicle intercom communication, vehicle testing, a 10% spares reserve, and a contractor-provided field service representative for the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

Work will be performed in Linthicum Heights, MD, with an estimated completion date of Nov 31/13. One sole-source bid was solicited with one bid received. The U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-11-C-H609).

April 28/11: Raytheon Network Centric Systems in Dallas, TX receives a sole-source $25.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for driver’s vision enhancers and commander vision enhancers, as part of a Foreign Military Sale to the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

Work will be performed in Dallas, TX, with an estimated completion date of April 30/14. One sole-source bid was solicited with 1 bid received by U.S. Army CECOM at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD (W15P7T-11-C-H608).

Jan 4/11: LAVs – SANG? GDLS SVP Dr. Sridhar Sridharan announces that U.S. Army TACOM Life Cycle Management Command has awarded them a $138 million contract for 82 Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) for “a Foreign Military Sale”. Further details are also murky, but what’s known is this: Vehicles provided under this contract will be the 300hp, 8×8 LAV II, with a base gross vehicle weight of up to 32,000 pounds/ 14,500 kg. The vehicles will be produced in 4 different variants, and vehicle deliveries will begin in January 2012. Since the LAVs are made in London, ON, Canada, the contract was signed through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the Canadian government’s Crown Agency for military exports.

A December 2011 GDLS announcement re: a follow-on buy of 73 LAVs exactly matches a Royal Saudi Land Forces (regular army) DSCA request from June 13/11, while confirming that both contracts are destined for the same country. That establishes the buyer for this contract as Saudi Arabia with reasonable confidence, but tying this order to a specific request is harder. The July 2006 DSCA request for 724 SANG LAVs was filled by a contract announced on Nov 24/09. There is an SANG request for 82 LAVs, but it was made later, in June 13/11 LAV request that included up to 10 variants.

This may be a SANG contract, or it may be a partial fulfillment of an Oct 4/07 DSCA request [PDF] for 126 LAVs and other vehicles, on behalf of the regular Saudi Land Forces.


SANG requests are part of the $60 billion DSCA arms request landslide; Saudis buy wireless TOW-2A missiles; Award under SANG support contract. Boeing’s AH-6 ARH
(click to view full)

Oct 20/10: As part of Saudi Arabia’s $60 billion 2010 mega-request, the US DSCA announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s formal request to buy helicopters, long-term support, and possibly even base construction for the SANG, worth up to $25.6 billion.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require approximately 900 contractor representatives and 30 U.S. Government personnel on a full time basis in Saudi Arabia, for a period of 15 years. Also, this program will require multiple trips to Saudi Arabia involving U.S. government and contractor personnel to participate in annual technical reviews, training, and one-week Program Reviews in Saudi Arabia.

Items requested include:

  • 36 Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III attack helicopters. This is the latest version, and Saudi Arabia could become its first confirmed export customer.

  • 72 Sikorsky UH-60M Block Hawk Helicopters. The most current variant. Saudi neighbors Bahrain and the UAE have already ordered them.

  • 36 Boeing AH-6i Light Attack Helicopters. A different branch of the same family tree that gave birth to the MD 530F. Nearby Jordan signed a Letter of Intent for the AH-6i in May 2010.

  • 12 MD Helicopters MD-530F helicopters. Often used by law enforcement as an excellent light utility helicopter, though some countries operate militarized light attack variants. The 530F variant has longer rotor blades and other enhancements, so it performs better in the thinner air of hot or high altitude conditions. It doesn’t use MD’s patented NOTAR system.

  • 243 T700-GE-701D turboshaft engines. The UH-60M and the AH-64D both use 2 engines for each helicopter.

  • 40 Modernized Targeting Acquisition and Designation Systems/Pilot
Night Vision Sensors. M-TADS/PVNS, also known as the AH-64D’s “Arrowhead” turret.

  • 20 AN/APG-78 Fire Control Radars with Radar Electronics Unit. The Apache Longbow’s mast mounted radar.
  • 20 AN/APR-48A Radar Frequency Interferometer

  • 40 Wescam MX-15Di (AN/AAQ-35) Sight/Targeting Sensors. Likely for the AH-6is.

  • 52 30mm Automatic Weapons. AH-64D Apaches use ATK’s M230 chain gun.

  • 40 GAU-19/A 12.7mm (.50 caliber) Gatling Guns. Can be used as door guns, or pylon-mounted on helicopters. Popular light helicopter weapon.

  • 168 M240H Machine Guns. FN Herstal USA’s 7.62mm helicopter door guns, not used on Apaches.

  • 421 M310 A1 Modernized Launchers. For Hellfire missiles.
  • 158 M299 Hellfire Longbow Missile Launchers
  • 2,592 AGM-114R Hellfire Missiles. The -114R is the most modern version, with a triple-threat blast, armor defeating, and fragmentation warhead.

  • 171 of Northrop Grumman’s AN/APR-39 Radar Signal Detecting Sets
  • 171 of Goodrich’s AN/AVR-2B Laser Warning Sets
  • 171 of BAE’s AAR-57v3/5 Common Missile Warning Systems
  • 318 Improved Countermeasures Dispensers

  • 108 of EFW’s Improved Helmet Display Sight Systems. IHADSS is used by the Apache. The number involved indicates that they may have been picked for the AH-6is as well.

  • 300 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles.

  • 1,229 AN/PRQ-7 Combat Survivor Evader Locators (CSEL). Radios used by pilots, especially if they’re shot down.

  • 18 Aircraft Ground Power Units.
  • 4 BS-1 Enhanced Terminal Voice Switches
  • 4 Digital Airport Surveillance Radars
  • 4 Fixed-Base Precision Approach Radar
  • 4 DoD Advanced Automation Service
  • 4 Digital Voice Recording System
  • Also included are trainers, simulators, generators, munitions, design and construction, transportation, wheeled vehicles and organization equipment, tools and test equipment, communication equipment, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems, GPS/INS, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, and U.S. Government and contractor support services. The Saudis usually require a lot of support from contractors, in part because it’s an opportunity for royal family members to take a cut.

UH-60M Test flight
(click to see full)

The DSCA specifies the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) as the AH-64D recipient, but is less clear about the other helicopters. The implicit message is that they’re part of the same FMS case to the same military entity, and the SANG could certainly make good use of the UH-60Ms, AH-6is, and MD 530Fs for “the defense of vital installations and will provide close air support for the Saudi military ground forces.” The DSCA adds that this sale will improve the SANG’s “Apache sustainability and interoperability with the U.S. Army, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, and other coalition forces.”

The prime contractors will be:

  • Boeing in Mesa, AZ (AH-64D, AH-6i, CSEL)
  • Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, FL (Arrowhead, Hellfire IIs, launchers)
  • Lockheed Martin Millimeter Technology in Owego, NY (Longbow system)
  • Longbow LLC in Orlando, FL. A Lockheed/Northrop-Grumman joint venture (Longbow system)
  • Sikorsky Aircraft West in Palm Beach, FL (UH-60M)
  • MD Helicopters in Mesa AZ (MD 530F)
  • General Electric Company in Cincinnati, OH (engines)
  • ITT Aerospace/Communications in Fort Wayne, IN (night vision)

Saudi Arabia already operates some AH-64s and UH-60s, and the DSCA believes they will have no difficulty absorbing all of these helicopters into their armed forces. Given the level of contractor support included, that’s no surprise.

DSCA: Huge 2010 weapons request

July 18/10: Raytheon announces a $55 million contract to deliver TOW 2A RF (Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wireless-Guided) anti-armor missiles, as part of a foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia’s National Guard.

This will make Saudi Arabia one of the first TOW RF customers; most TOW missiles in arsenals around the world are still guided through the missiles’ unspooling wire. See also Dec 17/09 entry.

TOW-2A RF buy

Jan 20/10: Training & support. Northrop Grumman announces a 5-year contract to continue the modernization and training of the Saudi Arabia National Guard. The $550 million cost-plus-award-fee hybrid contract also contains fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price elements, and as a Foreign Military Sale contract it is managed through the US Army.

Under the terms of the contract, Northrop Grumman Technical Services subsidiary Vinnell Arabia LLC will provide U.S. Army-based doctrine and military training, as well as logistics and support services. Work will be performed throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Training & support

2007 – 2009

Big LAV armored vehicle buy; DSCA export requests: major SANG support, TOW-2A missiles. TOW-2A cutaway
(click to view full)

Dec 17/09: TOW-2A. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s official request to buy 2,700 of Raytheon’s BGM-71E-4B-RF TOW-2A Radio Frequency missiles, plus 42 missiles for lot acceptance testing), publications and technical documentation, and other related elements of support, under the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) modernization program. The estimated cost is $177 million, and the principal contractor would be Raytheon Corporation in Tucson, Arizona. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale, and its implementation will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Saudi Arabia.

The TOW 2A is an improved version of the original Tube-launched Optically-tracked Wire-guided missile that’s designed for “bunker busting” attacks on fortifications, bunkers and urban structures. It can also defeat reactive armor if used against tanks etc. The TOW 2A has a published range of 3.75 km/ 2.33 miles.

The TOW-2A RF departs from the type’s standard wire-guided approach by replacing the unspooling wire in the missile’s rear with an encrypted radio link. The Canadian Army became the missile’s first customer in 2007, and because the wireless system is built into the missile and the missile case, TOW RF is compatible with all existing TOW 2-capable ground launchers – including Canadian LAV-TUA (LAV-AT) vehicles.

DSCA: TOW-2A missile request

(click to view full)

Nov 24/09: LAVs. General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada in London, Ontario announces a $2.2 billion Foreign Military Sale contract for initial work on 724 LAV-II 8×8 wheeled armored personnel carriers, in 10 different variants. While the destination country is not specified, the number exactly matches the July 20/06 Saudi request. Delivery will begin in 2011.

Dr. Sridhar Sridharan, senior vice-president of General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada:

“We are pleased to be working once again with TACOM and USASAC in support of their Foreign Military Sales program. This contract now allows us to immediately start work on variant design and production readiness. We look forward to reaching the manufacturing portion of this contract which will help us bring stability to our production workforce.”

See July 20/06 entry, and PR Newswire | London Free Press | AP.

Large LAV buy

July 18/08: Support. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s formal request to buy up to $1.8 billion in equipment for the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG), covering the years 2009 through 2013. This includes training, professional military advice and assistance, management assistance, contract administration, construction oversight, transportation of equipment, personnel training and training equipment, LAV training, spare and repair parts, management of repair and return of components, automation program support, and other related elements of logistics support.

The principal contractor will be Vinnell Arabia Corporation of Herndon, VA. At present, there are approximately 215 U.S. Government personnel and 500 contractor representatives in country supporting the SANG Modernization Program.

DSCA: Support & training request


DSCA requests: Radios, Lots of LAV armed vehicles. AN/PVS-7: The View
(note MFALS on gun)

Sept 27/06: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s official request to buy Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG) equipment. “The radios will provide the critical VHF and HF links necessary for a large fast moving force and integration with the SINCGARS radios SANG already has fielded in its Light Armored Vehicle and Light Infantry Brigades.” The request includes:

  • 552 AN/VRC-90E Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS) Vehicular Single Long-Range Radio Systems;
  • 225 AN/VRC-92E SINCGARS Vehicular Single Long-Range Radio Systems Dual Long Range
  • 1,214 AN/PRC-119 E SINCGARS Man-pack Single Long-Range Radio Systems Man-pack
  • Vehicular installation kits, communications management system computers, antennas, programmable fill devices, support equipment; publications and technical data; personnel training and training equipment; contractor engineering and technical support services and other related elements of logistics support.
The estimated cost of is up to $84 million, though that will depend on negotiated contracts. The principal contractors will be:

  • ITT Aerospace/Communications Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Harris Corporation Rochester, New York
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation Linthicum, Maryland

At present, there are approximately 250 U.S. Government personnel and 630 contractor representatives in country supporting the SANG modernization program.

DSCA: Radios request

SpearHead radios

July 20/06: LAVs. The DSCA announces [PDF] Saudi Arabia’s formal request for 724 Light Armored Vehicles (LAV) in a number of different variants, plus weapons, night-vision equipment, communications gear etc., in order to modernize the SANG. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $5.8 billion.

Congress didn’t take any action to block the sale, but progress took a while. When we talked to GDLS over a year later, in October 2007, they expected to complete a deal some time in 2008, but it took until November 2009 before a contract emerged. Variants requested at the time included:

  • LAV-PC (personnel carrier)
  • LAV-25 (personnel carrier with 25mm canon)
  • LAV-A (Ambulance)
  • LAV-AC (Ammunition Carrier)
  • LAV-AG (Assault Gun with 90mm cannon)
  • LAV-AT (Anti-Tank, pop-up turret carries TOW missiles)
  • LAV-CC (Command & Control)
  • LAV-E (Engineer, with bulldozer blade et. al.)
  • LAV-M (81mm Mortar carrier – but there is a LAV-M(S) Saudi configuration, with a 120mm breech-loading mortar in a turret)
  • LAV-R (Recovery, equipped with crane etc.)

Other equipment ordered included:

The Saudis are also requesting Harris Corporation Commercial High Frequency Radios; various commercial vehicles; fixed facilities and ranges; simulations; generators; battery chargers; protective clothing; shop equipment; training devices; spare and repair parts; sets, kits, and outfits; support equipment; publications and technical data; personnel training and training equipment; contractor engineering and technical support services and other related elements of logistics support.

As noted earlier, the total value if all options are exercised could be as high as $5.8 billion, with no industrial offset agreements. The principal contractors will be:

  • General Dynamics Land Systems in London, Ontario, Canada (LAVs)
  • ITT Aerospace/Communications in Fort Wayne, IN (SINCGARS, Night Vision)
  • Harris Corporation in Rochester, NY (Radios)
  • Raytheon Corporation in Tucson, AZ (PAS-13)

As the DSCA notes:

“The continuation of services under the SANG Modernization Program is an evolution of the SANG as an effective defensive force with the advice, assistance, and training of the U.S. Army… At present, there are approximately 250 U.S. Government personnel and 630 contractor representatives in country supporting the SANG modernization program… The proposed sale will also provide SANG with additional command, control, and communications equipment needed to operate in a secure communications environment that will facilitate the performance of its mission within Saudi Arabia… The radios will modernize equipment and provide the critical VHF and HF links necessary for a large fast moving force and integration with the SINCGARS radios SANG already has fielded in its Light Armored Vehicle and Light Infantry Brigades.”

DSCA: Major LAV request

Additional Readings & Sources

Categories: News

Heavy Lifting Down Under: Australia’s Half-Dozen C-17s

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 16:13
C-17 #1 Arrives
(click to view full)

In March 2006, the Australian government announced that the Australian Defence Forces would acquire up to 4 new Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift planes and associated equipment for A$ 2 billion ($1.49 billion then conversion). In April 2011, Australia upped their order to 5 aircraft, and will soon add a 6th plane to their fleet.

Since that first contract, RAAF C-17As have been rolling off the assembly line, arriving on or ahead of schedule, and flying the (un)friendly skies to support Australia’s military and humanitarian efforts around the globe. The first plane arrived in Australia in December 2006, and the 4th plane arrived in March 2008. Even that didn’t mean C-17 expenses were done. Ongoing maintenance, training facilities, and more must still be paid for, and Australia liked the Globemasters so much that it decided to buy more. DID chronicles the entire process, and its associated contracts.

Australia: Why the C-17? Airbus A400M

Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III was in competition with the Airbus A400M to become Australia’s next-generation transport aircraft. While the A400M’s flyaway price tag of USD$ 120 million or so would be approximately half that of a C-17, in return for about half the payload and two-thirds of the cargo volume. Australia’s M1 Abrams tanks would not be transportable in an A400M. Indeed, the Long Beach Press-Telegram quoted industry observers who said that the C-17′s ability to tote Australia’s M1 Abrams tanks and CH-47 Chinook helicopters won over the Australian government. Another consideration was the fact that the rival A400M lacked even a test model at the time the decision was made. In hindsight, Airbus’ multi-year program delays have only validated the ADF’s choice of the heavier Boeing jet.

Australia’s government sums up their choice as follows: “One C-17A can carry up to four C-130 Hercules loads in a single lift, and cover twice the distance in three-quarters of the time of a C-130.”

C-17s are very capable planes. The maximum payload capacity of the C-17 is 170,900 lb (77,500 kg), and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 585,000 lb (265,350 kg). With a payload of 160,000 lb (72,600 kg) and an initial cruise altitude of 28,000 ft (8,500 m), the C-17 has an unrefueled range of 2,800 nautical miles (5,200 km). The C-17 is designed to operate from runways as short as 3,000 ft (900 m) and as narrow as 90 ft (27 m). On short runway segments, thrust reversers are used to back the aircraft and reverse direction on narrow taxiways, using a three-point or multi-point turn maneuver.

C-17s can even operate from unpaved, unimproved runways, though this is rarely done. The potential for minor but expensive damage from flying rocks or other hazards makes air forces reluctant to do it, unless there’s some compelling need.

C-17 unloads CH-47
(click to view full)

The C-17 is designed to airdrop up to 102 paratroopers and equipment. In Australian terms, it ca also can carry one 60-ton M1 Abrams tank, as well as loads ranging from 5 Bushmaster infantry vehicles to 3 Tiger reconnaissance/attack helicopters.

Australia became the C-17 Globemaster III’s 3rd customer, after the USA and Britain. A slew of orders from other countries ensured that they were not the last customer, and helped keep the production line busy long enough to allow further Australian orders. Australia is basing No. 36 Squadron’s C-17s at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley near Brisbane, which will become the primary base for both its new C-17s and its A330 MRTT tanker aircraft. Amberly was home to Australia’s F-111 fighter/bomber fleet, and is undergoing the infrastructure upgrades required for these new roles.

Australia: C-17 Related Contracts & Events Over Canberra
(click to view full)

Note that C-17 support is provided under a global support partnership with Boeing, which is covered separately. It’s also important to note that contract figures may not match government announcements. That’s because C-17 contracts with Boeing don’t include items like engines (another $35-38 million per plane), some internal equipment, accompanying spares, etc.

2011 – 2014

Australia orders 2 more, and takes delivery of #5-6; Additional training aids and expeditionary infrastructure; Final Operational Capability reached. Avalon 2013

Aug 18/14: Australian defense minister Sen. Johnston hints that the coming Australian white paper will look to add to Australia’s KC-30 aerial tanker/ transport fleet, and could recommend buying up to 2 of the 12 unsold C-17As in Boeing’s final production run.

That would be great news for RAAFB Amberley in Queensland, which already hosts the 5 KC-30Bs of 33 Sqn and the 6 C-17As of 36 Sqn. Sources: Flightglobal, “Australia considering more C-17s, KC-30 tankers”.

Feb 28/14: FOC. The RAAF announces that the C-17 fleet has achieved Final Operational Capability: the planes are bought and operating at full capabilities, everyone is trained as they need to be, and infrastructure and maintenance are fully in place. All within budget and on schedule.

Technically, the first 4 C-17A Globemasters achieved FOC back in 2011, but the addition of planes 5 and 6 required some additional work. Sources: Australia DoD, “Final Operational Capability for C-17A fleet”.

FOC, program done

Nov 26/13: Boeing wraps up Australia’s C-17 program by delivering a full-scale C-17 Globemaster III Cargo Compartment Trainer (CCT) to RAAFB Amberley. It can realistically simulate both day and night operating and loading conditions for loadmaster, aeromedical evacuation and aeromedical specialist training. It’s only the 3rd CCT mock fuselage in the world, with the other 2 residing in the USA.

Australia now has full training capabilities in-country, and this delivery is the last component of their program. Sources: Boeing, Nov 26/13 release.

Nov 22/12: #6 arrives. Australia’s government officially welcomes the 6th C-17A Globemaster III aircraft to RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland.

To celebrate its arrival, a flypast is conducted over Brisbane and the Gold Coast by 4 C-17As, including the latest aircraft. Each aircraft carried a different cargo load: 1. Abrams tank; 2. A pair of Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters; 3. A specialist medical team and equipment; and 4. Four Bushmaster blast-resistant patrol vehicles. Australia DoD.

Final arrival

Nov 1/12: #6 handover. Boeing hands over the RAAF’s 6th C-17A Globemaster III at the final assembly facility in Long Beach, CA. The delivery happened so fast because the U.S. government let Australia take a C-17 from one of their production slots. They can take delivery of their extra plane a little bit later. Boeing.

June 19/12: #6. Boeing in Long Beach, CA wins a $171.5 million firm-fixed-price contract to buy 1 base C-17A aircraft. Boeing has confirmed to DID that this order is for Australia, though it’s executed under the USAF’s framework contract for FY 2010, which also covered India’s 10 C-17s.

Work will be performed in Long Beach, CA, and will be complete by Nov 21/12. The ACS/WLMK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, acts as Australia’s agent to manage the contract (FA8614-06-D-2006, DO 0011).

#6 ordered

March 19/12: #6 confirmed. Australia’s government announces that its 6th C-17A will be purchased through the United States Foreign Military Sales program, at a total acquisition cost of around A$ 280 million (about $297 million), for delivery early in 2013. This sounds like a contract, but there is no announcement yet from Boeing or from the Pentagon.

The government says that buying a 6th C-17A will double the number of C-17A aircraft they can make available for operations at any one time, from 2 to 4. Training and maintenance are especially significant in small fleets, but given the C-17′s 80%+ availability rates, the math is a bit of a head scratcher. It should be noted that the RAAF has used 3 C-17s on operations before, when responding to situations like the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Aid to Japan
(click to view full)

Nov 15/11: Request for #6. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Australia’s official request for a 6th C-17A Globemaster III aircraft, plus 4 Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines, 1 AN/AAQ-24v13 Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) defensive system, spare and repair parts, supply and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.

The estimated cost is up to $300 million, but extact figures will depend on a contract. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, CA will be the prime contractor.

DSCA request: 1 C-17A

Sept 26/11: 5th arrives, 6th intended. As the RAAF’s 5th C-17 arrives in Australia at RAAFB Amberley, the Australian government announces that it intends to buy a 6th C-17. Australia has sent a Letter of Request to the United States, beginning the contract process.

There is no reference at this time to joint operation with New Zealand (vid. April 17/11). Australia DoD | Boeing.

Sept 14/11: Training. L-3 Link Simulation & Training announces that it has assumed responsibility of RAAFB Amberley’s C-17 Training System (TS) for pilots, loadmasters and maintenance personnel. The work is actually done under the umbrella of a USAF C-17 TS contract, which adds RAAFB Amerley as the 11th site beyond the 10 installations in the United States.

Under the C-17 TS program, L-3 Link is responsible for program management, training device modifications, courseware development, instruction, and concurrency management between the training system and aircraft platform. sub-contractor and Textron subsidiary AAI Corporation is responsible for maintenance training device production and modification, and all C-17 TS contractor logistics support.

Sept 13/11: #5 handover. Boeing holds a ceremony in Long Beach, CA, handing over the keys to Australia’s 5th C-17. Boeing.

June 28/11: #5 contract. Boeing in Long Beach, CA receives a $195.7 million firm-fixed-price delivery order against the basic C-17 production contract, to provide 1 C-17A to Australia as a foreign military sale transaction. That’s a very good base price, in light of circumstances. Recall, however, that fairly expensive items like F117 engines, additional spares, and associated equipment like defensive systems, must still be bought separately. The engines alone tend to be around $35-38 million per plane.

Work will be performed in Long Beach, CA. The ASC/WLMK at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH will manage the contract on behalf of its FMS client (FA8614-06-D-2006, DO 0008).

#5 ordered

April 18/11: #5. The Commonwealth of Australia has signed an agreement with the U.S. government to acquire a 5th Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifter, and will take early delivery in August 2011 thanks to American cooperation. Boeing has confirmed that the new C-17 “is not a transfer; it’s a new order for the RAAF”, but the USAF is giving up a production slot, and will take a later delivery instead.

No figures are announced at this point. Past RAAF C-17As were USD $195 million each, plus additional funds for defensive systems etc. That’s not a reliable predictor, however, because Boeing was trying to extend its production line back then, and encourage an influx of allied orders. In contrast, 2011 features a slowed annual production line that places more fixed-cost burden on each aircraft, and no rush-order discount campaign. Boeing.

April 17/11: #5. Aviation Week reports that Australia’s 5th C-17 may come directly from the USAF fleet, rather than the production line. They add that Australia may be interested in a 6th C-17, possibly for joint operation with New Zealand, who has expressed interest in the concept.

NATO’s SAC program already offers time-share purchase of C-17 operating hours, but the planes’ location in Hungary would make charters by New Zealand slower to respond, and add flight transit time to the charter hours. That would make joining rather expensive. The question is: more expensive than what? Much will depend on Australia’s offer, and New Zealand’s perception of its need for assured response times.

March 16/11: 5th confirmed. Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith confirms that the government has decided to buy a 5th C-17 [Sky News | ABC 24 interviews]:

“And separately, this week, the government’s also formally decided that we should acquire another C-17 large aircraft, and we’ll do that as quickly as we can. And this has been – this has arisen in part because of the great utility we’ve got out of our current C-17 fleet in disaster relief, both in Christchurch, the earthquake recently, but now as literally as we speak, also in Japan, so far as the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunamis concerned there. So we’re – we are very keen to pick up the Bay Class to cover that amphibious lift capability, and the C-17s have been a very useful asset for us, and getting another one will really help us in terms of our flexibility.”

March 9/11: 5th requested. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Australia’s formal request to buy 1 more one C-17, along with “up to 4″ Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines (the plane requires 4), an AN/AAQ-24V(13) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) defensive system against infrared guided missiles, plus spare and repair parts, supply and test equipment, personnel training and training equipment, and other US Government and contractor support.

The estimated cost is up to $300 million, but actual costs will depend on negotiations for an actual contract with Boeing in Long Beach, CA.

DSCA request: 1 C-17A

March 1/11: Pour me a 5th? Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith confirms that the government is looking into buying a 5th C-17, and has sent a Foreign Military Sale Letter of Request to the United States asking about costs and availability.

The RAAF’s C-17s have performed well in the face of massive flooding in Queensland, and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, while supporting far-flung missions in Afghanistan. The tradeoff under consideration is whether to buy 1 more C-17A, or buy 2 more C-130J-30 Super Hercules tactical transports between 2013-12015 under project AIR 8000 Phase 1. One C?17A can carry up to 4 C-130 Hercules loads in a single lift, and cover twice the distance in three-quarters of the time. On the other hand, it costs over 3 times as much, and can’t be in 4 places at once. Australia DoD.

March 1/11: Infrastructure. Northrop Grumman announces that the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation has awarded them a contract its Expeditionary Tactical Automated Security System (ExTASS), to protect RAAF C-17s while at home air stations and during expeditionary operations.

ExTASS is an implementation of the Tactical Automated Security System (TASS), an open architecture platform on a mobile trailer that integrates a variety of sensors, and is designed for force-protection missions. The system provides for real-time detection and assessment of intrusion, and is also deployed at more than 100 sites worldwide by the U.S. military.

Feb 23/11: Training. Boeing, Defense, Space & Security in St. Louis, MO receives a $25.8 million contract for 1 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) physical C-17 simulator. At this time, the entire amount has been committed by the ASC/WNSK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, who manages this Foreign Military Sale class transaction on behalf of Australia.

The basic model includes simulated aircraft systems; simulated aircraft structure; cargo compartment floor and rail systems; cargo compartment ramp and door; forward loadmaster station; aft loadmaster stations and remote panels; cargo compartment lighting; tie down equipment; aerial deliver systems equipment; cargo winch equipment; passenger/troop equipment; intercommunication equipment; and public address system.

Unique RAAF requests add all sidewall seating on the right and left sides of the cargo bay, plus aeromedical requirements: functional litter stations, functional hookups for oxygen, functional electrical outlets, and other equipment to support aeromedical training. That last item includes actual representation of a first aid kit, 36 litters, and a mock-up of the comfort pallet (FA8621-11-C-6299).

2007 – 2010

Infrastructure contracts & build-out; Australia’s takes delivery of all 4 ordered planes; ANAO says “bonza!” Just dropping in…
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Nov 24/09: ANAO report positive. Australia’s National Audit Office delivers its 2008-2009 Major Projects Report, [PDF] which includes the C-17 acquisition. Surprisingly, it was rated as an “ACAT II” program with high technical risk, despite the standard nature of its design and active foreign production line. Unsurprisingly, the C-17 rates as one of the best performers in terms of budget and schedule, coming in on budget and ahead of schedule. Expenditures to date are A$ 1.308 billion, out of the A$ 2.055 billion program budget.

Remaining expenditures will include increased stocks of long lead-time spares, role-specific snap-ins, and full ramp-up of Australian training devices and facilities. Full Operating Capability will be achieved when permanent C-17 Globemaster facilities have been established at major Royal Australian Air Force bases, and the training systems have been set up in Australia. That’s anticipated in 2011.

Nov 18/09: Training. The C-17 flight simulator is accepted at RAAFB Amberley, in Queensland. Boeing built the Simulator in the USA, transported it to Australia using 2 C-17s, and installed it in an Amberley facility that was purpose-built by the John Holland Group. Its installation means that beginning in January 2010, RAAF C-17 pilots will undertake their training at Amberley instead of traveling to the United States.

Continuation training for current RAAF C-17 pilots and loadmasters will begin on Jan 11/10, followed on Feb 1/10 by the first intake of new RAAF pilot students seeking initial qualification. Boeing Defence Australia will provide instructors for these courses, as well as scheduling and logistics support. Subcontractor Thales Australia will perform future maintenance on the training devices.

The Simulator is the centerpiece of Australia C-17 ATS. The complete system includes a Maintenance Trainer to be delivered in 2010, and a Cargo Compartment Trainer to be delivered in 2013. Australia is the only foreign C-17 operator to own a Simulator; the other 20 are owned and operated by the USAF. Australian DoD | Boeing.

C-17 TEPATS module
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Sept 5/08: Training. Boeing announces a $33 million U.S. Air Force Foreign Military Sales contract to provide a C-17 Aircrew Training System (ATS) to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The contract marks the first international sale of the system, which has been used by the USAF since 1992. The RAAF’s Heavy Air Lift Director, Group Captain Andrew Doyle, added that the RAAF had deliberately reduced the frequency of simulator training, in order to avoid long trips to the United States. With the new ATS in place, that will no longer be an issue.

The new ATS at the RAAF’s Amberley base will include a Weapons Systems Trainer, a loadmaster station, and a learning center. It will also use Boeing’s newly developed Virtual Cargo Load Model, a new training device that allows loadmaster students to practice configuring a variety of cargo loads on a laptop computer.

Boeing subcontractor Flight Safety International of Tulsa, OK is providing the hardware, while Boeing Support Systems is responsible for software development and integration as well as program management. Boeing Australia Limited will provide support. Boeing release.

March 10/08: #4 arrives. The RAAF’s 4th and final C-17 touches down at RAAF Base Amberley after making the journey from the US. The delivery has now been finalized within its agreed timeframe and within budget, and RAAF C-17s have already been involved in Operation Catalyst (Iraq), Operation PNG Assist, and Operation Astute (Timor-Leste), as well as several Australian Defence Force exercises. The RAAF is now working towards more complex roles, including the airdrop of personnel and cargo and high dependency aero-medical evacuation.

The Globemaster fleet will be operated by No. 36 Squadron out of RAAF Base Amberley. Full operational capability of the aircraft is scheduled for the end of 2011, with the completion of in-country training and permanent facilities for No. 36 Squadron. Related upgrades are also in progress at RAAF Bases Darwin, Townsville, Edinburgh and Pearce. Australian DoD: News Blog | Ministerial release.

Feb 12/08: #3 arrives. The RAAF’s 3rd C-17A arrives in Australia. The 4th Globemaster will arrive at RAAFB Amberley in early March. Australian DoD release.

Jan 18/08: #4 handover. Boeing delivers the 4th and last C-17A Block 17 to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during a ceremony at the company’s Long Beach, CA manufacturing facility. In 2008, a variety of air lift roles are planned to be cleared for Australia’s Globemasters, including aero-medical evacuation, in which the C-17 will be configured to carry 6 “high-dependency”/intensive care patients or 36 “low-dependency” patients. Australian Ministerial release.

With the delivery of this new airlifter, the worldwide C-17 fleet now includes 171 U.S. Air Force C-17s as well as 4 in the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) and 2 in the Canadian Forces. The RAF and the Canadian Forces will each receive 2 additional C-17s in 2008, completing their orders. The U.S. Air Force is on contract to receive 19 more C-17s by mid-2009, whereupon their current orders will also be complete unless new planes are added to the program. Boeing release.

Sept 20/07: Infrastructure. The Minister for Defence announces the official go-ahead for Stage 3 of the redevelopment of RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland. The Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Public Works gave their approval, and that was then approved by Parliament. Construction is expected to begin in early 2008 with completion expected in late 2011.

Sept 20/07: Infrastructure. The Minister for Defence announces the official go-ahead for the C-17 Infrastructure project. Specifically, the Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on Public Works gave their approval, and that recommendation was approved by Parliament. Construction will commence in early 2008 around each of the 5 home and deployment bases.

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May 30/07: Infrastructure. A Ministerial release announces that the Government will commit A$ 268.2 million (currently about $220 million) for The C-17 Infrastructure project, which will create the required permanent facilities and airfield pavements to support C-17 operations at RAAF Base Amberley, and expanded infrastructure at deployment bases RAAF Bases Edinburgh, Darwin, Pearce and Townsville. Subject to Parliamentary clearance of the works, construction is planned to start in early 2008 and is expected to be complete by 2011.

The release adds that this project will generate a significant amount of short-term employment opportunities for skilled consultants, sub-contractors and construction workers in each of the 5 regions that encompass the home and deployment bases.

May 30/07: Infrastructure. The Australian Government announces that it is committing A$ 331.5 million (currently about $271 million) for RAAF Base Amberley’s 3rd stage of redevelopment. RAAFB Amberley is located in the middle of Australia’s eastern coast, near Ipswich in Queensland. This stage of the redevelopment will include fuel farm works, training accommodation, medical and dental facilities, trainee living-in accommodation, combined messing facilities and office accommodation. Subject to Parliamentary clearance of the project, construction is expected to begin in early 2008 with completion expected in late 2011.

The efforts are meant to keep up with Amberley’s growth, including the newly arrived No 36 Squadron to operate the new C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the planned relocation of 9th Force Support Battalion in late 2007, and the 2009 relocation of 33 Sqn from RAAFB Richmond in New South Wales once they begin receiving their KC-30B Multi-Role Tanker Transports.

Amberley currently supports Australia’s 22 F-111C/G fighter-bombers and RF-111C reconnaissance aircraft, and is slated to receive 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets as replacements when the F-111 are retired in 2010. RAAF Base Amberley is also home to 38 Sqn and its aged but incomparable DHC-4 Caribous; as well as providing support for RAAF units including the Headquarters of Combat Support Group, and the RAAF Security and Fire School and Airfield Defence Wing.

Major infrastructure work at RAAFB Amberley

May 11/07: #2 handover. The RAAF takes delivery of its 2nd C-17 Globemaster III a month ahead of schedule, during a ceremony at the Boeing facility at Long Beach, California.

The aircraft will transport newly acquired Army Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats and their support equipment, along with C-17 logistical equipment, back to RAAF Base Amberley. It is expected to arrive on May 19/07. Australian DoD release | Boeing release.


From initial DCSA request to an order for 4, and arrival of the 1st plane. Commodore & Wing Cmdr.
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Dec 12/06: #1 arrives. Australia’s first C-17A airlifter touches down at RAAFB Amberley.

Nov 28/06: Australia’s first C-17 is rolled out in “Block 17″ configuration. A black stallion on the C-17′s tail identifies the airplane as part of the RAAF’s No. 36 Squadron, an airlift unit that will be based in Amberley, west of Brisbane. After a December 4, 2006 welcome ceremony in Canberra, Australia, the aircraft will fly to RAAF Base Amberley on December 6th.

The aircraft arrived on schedule. Australian DoD Air Force newspaper.

1st delivery

Oct 5/06: GSP. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, CA received an $8.5 million cost-plus-incentive fee, fixed-price-award fee and time and materials contract modification. This is an undefinitized contract action for the FY 2007 portion of the Royal Australian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III sustainment partnership program.

The RAAF has procured four C-17 aircraft (via a separate contracting action). This action will provide the sustainment of these aircraft over the course of FY 2007 to include aircraft maintenance, upgrade, and sustainment. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8614-04-C-2004/P00129).

July 31/06: 1-4 Ordered. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, CA received a $780 million firm-fixed-price, undefinitized delivery order contract that will provide 4 C-17 aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force ($195 million per plane). The C-17 system group, in accordance with air mobility command, has arranged for the reallocation of four C-17 aircraft delivery positions from the Air Force Multi-Year Procurement II (MYPII) contract, F33657-02-C-2001, for delivery to the RAAF. Negotiations were complete July 2006, and work will be completed in phases: 1st delivery November 2006; 2nd, May 2007; 3rd, January 2008 and 4th, February 2008 (FA8614-06-D-2006, delivery order 0001).

The Headquarters 328th Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract. The Public Affairs point of contact is ASC/PAM at 937-255-3334.

4 C-17s ordered

Aloha, Australia
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July 28/06: GSP support. Boeing Co. in Long Beach, CA is awarded an $80.7 million cost-plus-incentive-fee/ fixed-price award-fee/ time-and-materials contract modification. This contract modification is a foreign military sales requirement for Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17 Globemaster IIIs to join the international C-17 Sustainment Partnership Program. This action incorporates the RAAF’s 4 aircraft into the C-17 “virtual fleet” which includes aircraft maintenance, upgrade, and sustainment. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, OH is the contracting activity (FA8614-04-C-2004/P00110).

The proposed plan will also require seven each U.S. Government and Australian representatives at the facility, plus the assignment of up to ten each U.S. Government and contractor representatives to travel to Australia for annual participation in training, program management, and technical review. Additional subcontractors may be needed depending on the exact nature of the contracting arrangements established. As part of its role, Boeing will establish a facility at RAAF Base Amberly to provide logistics support for the C-17. See also Boeing’s August 17, 2006 release.

April 3/06: Australia request. The formal DSCA request [PDF] includes:

  • Up to four C-17 GLOBEMASTER III aircraft
  • Up to 18 Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 engines
  • Up to four AN/AAQ-24V(13) Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Systems
  • Up to 15 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles; plus
  • Personnel Life Support equipment, spare and repair parts, supply support, training equipment and support, publications and technical data.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notes that this sale will involve the following contractors:

  • Boeing Company Long Beach, CA
  • Boeing Company Training Systems St. Louis, MO
  • AAI Services Corporation Goose Creek, SC
  • United Technologies Corporation East Hartford, CT
  • Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation Rolling Meadows, IL

DSCA request: 4 C-17As

Appendix A: A New Day for Boeing’s C-17? (April 2006) RAAF-3 assembly

The timing of Australia’s initial order was fortuitous for Boeing, as C-17 production was expected to shut down in 2008, and each new C-17 aircraft ordered reportedly extends Boeing’s C-17 line by 3 weeks. Nevertheless, as Copley News Service explains, Boeing is slightly ahead of schedule and will be able to deliver the additional 4 aircraft without affecting its timelines for closure. The US Air Force had listed obtaining 7 more C-17s as its top unfunded requirement, however, and this could buy enough time to extend C-17 production into early 2009 while Boeing hunts for more orders [See DID's situation update, production actually continued until 2015].

The DSCA notes in conclusion that industrial offset agreements associated with this proposed sale are expected, but at this time the specific offset agreements are undetermined and will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and contractors.

Categories: News

ISIL Chooses Mobility Rather than Head-On Fighting Under Airstrikes

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 15:25

  • Islamic State insurgents chose to yield ground [WaPo] rather than fight Iraqi and Turkish forces backed by US airstrikes in an effort to take back an important dam near Mosul. But ISIL reportedly booby-trapped buildings and is still close by.

  • US Army Col. Joel Rayburn says that Iraq is almost out of time [WaPo], and explains just how messy its disintegration would be. Ali Khedery of the NY Times talks about Iraq’s last chance, but sees some good news in the new Prime Minister.

  • Meanwhile the Taliban are attacking Afghan forces with the aim of taking and holding positions, with hundreds of fighters making a push [Reuters] in Logar, near Kabul.

US Business

  • Lockheed Martin announced it has completed the acquisition of Zeta Associates – a software and communications firm – for an undisclosed amount of pocket change (at least at LockMart’s scale). Lockheed Martin has been shedding employees in past years, but they’ve also increased the rate at which they acquire small firms lately, often in security and energy fields that complement and somewhat look like defense.

  • DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) is organizing a proposer’s day on Sept. 5 in Arlington, VA to discuss the Ground X-Vehicle Technologies (GXV-T), an effort to improve crew survivability in ground vehicles otherwise than by adding heavy passive armor.

  • Here is the slide deck [PDF] recently presented to industry participants by the US Marines Program Manager Advanced Amphibious Assault (PM AAA) on the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) 1.1 acquisition with its updated requirements and schedule. A draft RFP should be posted in October, with the final document ready next spring.


  • India is ramping up [Tribune] its defense presence along irs border with China.

  • The RAND Corporation reviews China’s efforts to develop relationships in South and Central Asia:

“China’s management of its relations with neighbors to the west in the 21st century has been quite impressive. Beijing’s response to the daunting problems it confronts in Central Asia and western China has been to skillfully project an image of great strength and outward confidence to mask extreme weakness and inner insecurity: an Empty Fortress strategy. Through deft use of high-profile diplomacy and modest military exercises, combined with growing economic clout, Beijing has promoted the image of a powerful and benevolent China.”

  • East Asia Forum explains that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces political headwinds to implement his cabinet’s self-defense constitutional interpretation into actual legislation.

  • Japan is conducting its annual Fuji Firepower exercise. Pictures | video below:

Categories: News

Canada Crafting High-End UAV Requirements

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 19:04
Sperwer UAV
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By the time 2005 drew to a close, Canada was pursuing UAVs on 3 fronts. The RQ-11 Raven’s early performance in Afghanistan led to purchases of solider-portable mini-UAVs, which would be joined by older Sperwer tactical UAVs already in inventory. Canada’s Air Force was also crafting a multimillion-dollar plan to purchase the Joint Unmanned Surveillance Target Acquisition System (JUSTAS), for fielding around 2010.

Canada’s defense procurement system rivals India’s for inefficiency, so it isn’t completely surprising that nearly a decade of effort has produced essentially nothing…

MDA Heron-1
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Canada’s existing Sperwer fleet served until April 2009. At one time, the Oerlikon-Contraves Sperwer was in service with Canada, Denmark, France, Greece, the Netherlands, and Sweden. That list has dwindled to just France and Greece, as many of these countries moved to cancel their Sperwer/Kestrel program, dispose of the UAVs, and buy or rent newer platforms.

Canada joined Australia in renting “CU-170″ Heron-1 UAVs as a service from IAI and Canada’s MDA Ltd., which bought them some time to think JUSTAS through.

The Canadian Forces insist that the Sperwer was not a mistake. It was, according to officials quoted in the Defense News article, “the right one for the job which we understood we had to do at the time. It’s just not good enough for what we’re going to do tomorrow… Now, having had a taste of [UAVs], we want more… we want them to go farther, deeper, higher up.”

MQ-9 Mariner
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Initial JUSTAS estimates were about C$ 500 million (USD $420 million), but subsequent reports have given ranges up to C$ 3.4 billion for UAVs and 20 years of support. The question is what Canada wants. Overwatch for foreign-deployed forces? Arctic patrol capabilities? Maritime patrol capabilities? Civilian uses in disaster or forest fire scenarios? The ability to carry weapons? All have been bandied about at one time or another, and it’s difficult to meet all of them with current market offerings.

As an illustrative example, the most versatile option for Canada is probably General Atomics MQ-9/ Predator B family. They can carry a good array weapons and sensors, mount maritime surveillance equipment, or carry proven equipment and software that can be used to help fight forest fires. On the flip side, MQ-9s aren’t ideal for arctic patrol, and their relatively slow speed creates coverage limitations.

By 2013, it had dawned on DND that their high end UAV requirements might require 2 separate UAV types.

Contracts & Key Events Polar Hawk
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Aug 18/14: The JUSTAS program remains in disarray, without a clear set of requirements and missions, or a budget that would allow Canada to field a viable solution by the 2023 target date:

“A series of internal briefings, stretching back over two years, show that military planners were forced to go back to the drawing board in early 2013 after consultations determined what the country wants to accomplish with the remotely piloted planes might be too broad for just a single type of aircraft…. expects the drones to not only provide surveillance at home and abroad, but also carry weapons, such as Hellfire missiles, for precision strikes during overseas missions”

Briefings that would have leveraged the war in Libya to kick-start JUSTAS went nowhere, as 1 of 6 separate attempts since 2005 to buy or rent MALE or HALE UAVs. The Heron-1 rental that lasted until 2011 only went through because it became a condition of Canada’s continued deployment to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the scope of Canada’s requirements continues to muddy the waters:

“One briefing, prepared for former associate defence minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay in early 2013, says five of eight companies that responded to a request for information in the fall of 2012 proposed a mixed fleet…. the federal government was prepared to spend to up $3.4 billion to buy and service military drones over 20 years, but those numbers are being revisited because of the delay.”

Sources: Ottawa Citizen, “Canadian Forces quest to obtain unmanned aerial vehicles – 10 years and counting”.

June 18/13: GA-ASI. General Atomics signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CAE to explore collaboration on an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Mission Training System for Predator B/MQ-9/Reaper, Predator C Avenger, and Predator XP UAVs. Any further collaboration and sales, to any customer, would count toward Canada’s Industrial & Regional Benefits requirements. Sources: GA-ASI, “GA-ASI and CAE Expand Partnership Beyond Canada”.

April 23/13: GA-ASI. After adding CAE to its Canadian UAV partnership in May 2011, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. adds industrial database firm OMX, via a 2-year agreement to support their JUSTAS Industrial Regional Benefit (IRB) program. Over the past year, OMX has developed the largest, amalgamated structured database in the Canadian defence, aerospace, and security industry, with nearly 50,000 companies indexed.

The partnership is offering a combination of the MQ-9 Predator B and/or the jet-powered Predator C Avenger for JUSTAS. Sources: GA-ASI, “GA-ASI and OMX Partner to Identify Suppliers for Canada’s JUSTAS Program”.

May 30/12: NGC. Needless to say, JUSTAS went nowhere, but the requirement still exists. Northrop Grumman has teamed up with L-3 MAS to offer a modified version of its RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 30, dubbed “Polar Hawk.” It will add satellite communications system that can work with spotty Arctic coverage, while adding wing deicing and engine anti-icing capability from the US Navy’s BAMS program. NGC:

“In addition to its surveillance payloads, Polar Hawk has the power to support and can be equipped with a wide range of instrumentation for conducting science and environmental missions, as demonstrated by NASA using earlier versions of the Global Hawk UAS as far as 85 degrees north latitude. It can also be deployed to support humanitarian missions and provide surveillance over Canada’s vast territory stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific territorial waters and coasts.”

Offering the actual MQ-4C Triton UAV was reportedly seen as too expensive, and also too distant because it’s still a developmental program. Then again, the Block 30 still has sensor developmental issues of its own. To offset that risk, the Polar Hawk would skip the airborne signals intelligence payload (ASIP) for its 3-5 UAVs. Sources: NGC, “Northrop Grumman, L-3 MAS to Join Forces on Unmanned System for Canadian Security” | Flight Global, “Northrop Grumman pitches Global Hawk variant for Canada.”

Aug 7/08: Canada’s Heron contract. MDA announces the “Project Noctua” Canadian contract, adding that its surveillance solution will be operational in Afghanistan before February 2009. The initial C$ 95 million (then about $90 million) UAV operations and training contract will keep the Herons in service until early 2011, with a C$ 35 million option for an additional 3rd year. MDA release.

Heron rental

Nov 17/06: Arm JUSTAS? Flight International reports that DND is about to sign off on a final JUSTAS requirements statement that will recommend weapons capability, ahead of formal applications for government funding approval. The project is seen as buying about 9 MALE UAV systems, and cost about C$ 500 million ($446 million), with an initial operational capability targeted for February 2009.

The overall JUSTAS project has not been approved yet, and was split into 2 phases in August 2006. Phase 1 is intended to provide near term overland surveillance with 9 MALE UAVs, and a contract may be forthcoming in Summer 2007 in order to achieve initial operating capability by February 2009. Phase 2 will introduce a maritime/ arctic surveillance capability comprising up to 6 HALE [High Altitude, Long Endurance] aircraft and an additional 3 medium altitude MALEs by 2025. Phase 2 was expected to be heavily influenced by US and Australian selections for the BAMS project, which ended up picking an RQ-4 Global Hawk derivative. Sources: Flight International, “Canada signals plans to arm new MALE UAVs”.

December 2005: As Canada prepares to send 2,000 new troops to Afghanistan in February 2006, their planned UAV mix includes mini-UAVs, Sperwer tactical UAVs, and a higher-end JUSTAS program.

In a 2005 Defense News article, JUSTAS project director Lt. Col. Gord Smith said that they wanted to approach industry by 2007, with the intent that by 2010, the Canadian Forces would be able to put a unit overseas that can do that area surveillance work that a MALE [medium-altitude, long-endurance] type of airplane would fulfill, and able to integrate with other UAV-type assets on the ground. A 5-person team was working on determining the Canada’s UAV needs in this sector, with the aim of employing them for sovereignty missions such as surveillance of Canada’s coastlines as well as for overseas operations.

The Canadian Forces flew its SAGEM CU-161 Sperwer tactical UAVs on 86 missions in support of tactical land operations in the Kabul area in 2003 and 2004. They also pushed the operating parameters of Sperwer farther than any other military had at that point, and the Sperwer had 4 widely publicized crashes in Afghanistan.

Additional Readings & Updates

Categories: News

EMALS/ AAG: Electro-Magnetic Launch & Recovery for Carriers

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 18:00
EMALS Components
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As the US Navy continues to build its new CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class carriers, few technologies are as important to their success as the next-generation EMALS (Electro-MAgnetic Launch System) catapult. The question is whether that technology will be ready in time, in order to avoid either costly delays to the program – or an even more costly redesign of the first ship of class.

Current steam catapult technology is very entertaining when it launches cars more than 100 feet off of a ship, or gives naval fighters the extra boost they need to achieve flight speed within a launch footprint of a few hundred feet. It’s also stressful for the aircraft involved, very maintenance intensive, and not really compatible with modern gas turbine propulsion systems. At present, however, steam is the only option for launching supersonic jet fighters from carrier decks. EMALS aims to leap beyond steam’s limitations, delivering significant efficiency savings, a more survivable system, and improved effectiveness. This free-to-view spotlight article covers the technology, the program, and its progress to date.

From Steam to Magnets: EMALS vs. Current Approaches Steam cat, ready
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Current steam catapults use about 615 kg/ 1,350 pounds of steam for each aircraft launch, which is usually delivered by piping it from the nuclear reactor. Now add the required hydraulics and oils, the water required to brake the catapult, and associated pumps, motors, and control systems. The result is a large, heavy, maintenance-intensive system that operates without feedback control; and its sudden shocks shorten airframe lifespans for carrier-based aircraft.

To date, it has been the only option available. Hence its use on all full-size carriers.

EMALS (Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System) uses an approach analogous to an electro-magnetic rail gun, in order to accelerate the shuttle that holds the aircraft. That approach provides a smoother launch, while offering up to 30% more launch energy potential to cope with heavier fighters. It also has far lower space and maintenance requirements, because it dispenses with most of the steam catapult’s piping, pumps, motors, control systems, etc. Ancillary benefits include the ability to embed diagnostic systems, for ease of maintenance with fewer personnel on board.

EMALS’ problem is that it has become a potential bottleneck to the USA’s new carrier class. It opportunity is that it may become the savior of Britain’s new carrier class.

The challenge is scaling a relatively new technology to handle the required weights and power. EMALS motor generator weighs over 80,000 pounds, and is 13.5 feet long, almost 11 feet wide and almost 7 feet tall. It’s designed to deliver up to 60 megajoules of electricity, and 60 megawatts at its peak. In the 3 seconds it takes to launch a Navy aircraft, that amount of power could handle 12,000 homes. This motor generator is part of a suite of equipment called the Energy Storage Subsystem, which includes the motor generator, the generator control tower and the stored energy exciter power supply. The new Gerald R. Ford Class carriers will require 12 of each.

Ford Class Enhancements
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Because it’s such a big change, it’s a critical technology if the US Navy wishes to deliver its new carrier class on-time and on-budget, and fulfill the CVN-21 program’s cost-saving promises. If EMALS cannot deliver on time, or perform as advertised, the extensive redesign and additional costs involved in adding steam catapult equipment throughout the ship could easily rise to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Launches have begun, and the 2nd phase of EMALS aircraft compatibility testing is scheduled to begin in 2012. Engineers will continue reliability testing through 2013, then perform installation, checkout, and shipboard testing, with the goal of shipboard certification in 2015.

The related Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) sub-program will replace the current Mk 7 hydraulic system used to provide the requisite combination of plane-slowing firmness and necessary flexibility to the carriers’ arresting wires. The winning AAG design replaces the mechanical hydraulic ram with rotary engines, using energy-absorbing water turbines and a large induction motor to provide fine control of the arresting forces. AAG is intended to allow successful landings with heavier aircraft, reduce manning and maintenance, and add capabilities like self-diagnosis and maintenance alerts. It will eventually be fitted to all existing Nimitz class aircraft carriers, as well as the new Gerald R. Ford class.

CVF concept
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EMALS was also set to play a pivotal role in the British CVF Queen Elizabeth Class, until the window of opportunity shut in 2012. The F-35B’s ability to take off and land with full air-to-air armament was already a matter of some concern in Britain before the 2010 strategic defense review, which moved the heavier F-35C from “Plan B” for British naval aviation, to the Royal Navy’s preferred choice.

An F-35C requires catapults, but the Queen Elizabeth Class carrier’s CODAG (COmbined Diesel And Gas) propulsion doesn’t produce steam as a byproduct, the way nuclear-powered carriers do. Instead, it produces a lot of electricity. Adding steam would require a huge redesign in the middle of construction, and raise costs to a point that would sink the program entirely. Instead, after commissioning some research of their own with British firms, they placed a formal request to buy EMALS.

By 2012, however, the Royal Navy had discovered that adding catapults to its new carrier design was much more difficult and expensive than BAE had led them to believe. In an embarrassing climb-down, the government retreated back to the F-35B STOVL (short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) fighter, and ended efforts to add catapults to its carriers.

Program Teams Growler, EMALed

The program is managed by US NAVAIR’s PMA-251, under the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program manager. General Atomics’ EMALS team includes:

  • GA’s Electromagnetic Systems Division – Electromagnetic System Design and Fabrication, System; Integration, Power Electronics and Controls, Software, and Logistics;
  • Alion Science and Technology – Specialty Engineering;
  • Kato Engineering – Energy Storage Systems Manufacture;
  • L3 Communications’ Applied Technologies Pulse Sciences – Power Electronics;
  • QinetiQ’s Foster Miller, Inc. – Control Systems, System Health Monitoring;
  • STV, Inc. – Test Site Design/Integration, Naval System Logistics;
  • University of Texas at Austin Center for Electromechanics – Energy Storage Systems Design and Analysis.

General Atomics’ related Advanced Arresting Gear team, which is part of the larger ALRE program and can be ordered under EMALS contracts, includes:

  • GA’s Electromagnetic Systems Division – Systems Integration, Cable Drum and Cable Shock Absorber, Power Electronics/ Controls/ Software, Arresting Controls Software, System Health Monitoring, Test Site Design and Integration;
  • Alion Science and Technology – Shipboard Integration, Thermal Systems, Electric Power;
  • Curtiss-Wright Electro-Mechanical Corporation – Electric Motor;
  • ESCO Corporation – Water Twister and Mechanical Brake Systems
  • ITT Corporation – Naval System Logistics
  • QinetiQ’s Foster Miller, Inc. – Control Workstations

Contracts and Key Events FY 2013 – 2014

Tests expanding to all carrier-launched manned aircraft. CVN 78 cost growth
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Aug 11/14: Testing. EMALS deck testing begin aboard CVN 78, Gerald R. Ford. The Launch Control Subsystem is the 1st below-deck testing assessment, which will try to get a handle on how all of the sub-systems work together on board. Fortunately, EMALS has personnel on hand like EMALS integrated product team lead George Sulich, who has been with the program since its inception in 1999.

The EMALS top deck components for the catapult trough are still arriving, as the last 6% of equipment to be delivered. Dead-load launches from the ship are scheduled to begin in late 2015, with manned aircraft launches to follow CVN 78′s scheduled delivery in spring 2016. Sources: US NAVAIR, “Navy’s brand new aircraft launch system embarks on below-deck testing”.

July 23/14: Recognition. PMA-251 program manager Capt. James Donnelly presents NAVAIR’s Affordability Championship Award (ACA) and Letters of Appreciation to the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) Thermal Management Fluid Working Group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in Lakehurst, NJ.

The AAG Thermal Management Fluid Working Group was stood up in response to failures of the AAG water twister. The cross-organizational team consisted of representatives from the Research and Engineering Office (AIR 4.0), PMA-251, the Future Aircraft Program Carrier Office (PMS-378) and the Naval Systems Engineering Directorate (SEA 05) to identify an acceptable fluid substitute that could take the heat. The group identified NALCOOL 2000 for its unique physical and chemical properties, and NAVAIR has estimated the savings as being over $1 million. Sources: US NAVAIR, “NAVAIR team members receive recognition for improved affordability work”.

July 15/14: CVN 78. General Atomics in San Diego, CA receives a $10.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for CVN 78 EMALS shipboard software and support. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2011 US Navy shipbuilding budgets.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (79%), and Waltham, MA (21%), and is expected to be complete in October 2015. Fiscal 2011 shipbuilding and conversion (Navy) funds in the amount of $10, 267,000 are being obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey, is the contracting activity (N68335-09-C-0573).

May 8/14: CVN 79. General Atomics in San Diego, CA receives a maximum unfinalized contract for $26.6 million, to buy Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear long-lead time materials for CVN 79. $15.4 million in FY 2013 US Navy shipbuilding budgets is committed immediately.

CVN 79 is scheduled to be delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2023, so the main award doesn’t need to happen before January 2017.

GA Electromagnetic Systems Group will manufacture EMALS and AAG components at its state-of-the-art 367,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Tupelo, MS. Work will also be performed in San Diego, CA (47%); Mankato, MN (35%); Spring Grove, IL (16%), and Detroit, MI (2%), and is expected to be complete in January 2017. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, by US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD, (N00019-14-C-0037). See also: GA, “General Atomics Awarded Initial Contract for Launch & Recovery Systems for Future John F. Kennedy Aircraft Carrier”.

March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. There’s some added information re: EMALS/ AAG:

“Deficiencies affecting water twister components—used to absorb energy when arresting aircraft—of the advanced arresting gear (AAG) technology continue to disrupt the system’s development. Recent water twister redesign proved unsuccessful in testing last year. The Navy resolved problems with the redesign and is planning for concurrent testing. Despite these steps, the Navy forecasts AAG land-based testing to be complete in August 2016 – a new delay of nearly two years—and after the Navy has accepted CVN 78 delivery…. Land based testing for EMALS and DBR has progressed enough that program officials do not anticipate significant redesign.”

March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. For EMALS and AAG, unit costs are listed as FY08$ 762.9 million (614.7 + 148.2) for CVN 78, and FY13$ 883.1 million (713.7 + 169.4) for CVN 79.

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). EMALS is included, as part of the CVN-78 assessment, and EMALS/AAG remain 2 of the 4 key risks for the carrier. Both are far below expected reliability levels at this stage

“Aircraft compatibility testing continued in 2013. Approximately 400 aircraft launches are being conducted using EA-18G, F/A-18E, F/A-18C, E-2D, T-45, and C-2 aircraft. The Navy has also conducted an additional 1,200 dead-load launches (non-aircraft, weight equivalent, simulated launches). Approximately 55 percent of the EMALS government furnished equipment (GFE) has been delivered to the shipyard.

At the Lakehurst, New Jersey, test site, over 1,967 launches have been conducted and 201 chargeable failures…. approximately 240 Mean Cycles Between Critical Failure… where a cycle represents the launch of one aircraft. Based on expected reliability growth, the failure rate is presently five times higher than should be expected.

….Testing to date has demonstrated that AAG should be able to recover aircraft planned for the CVN-78 air wing, but as with EMALS, AAG’s reliability is uncertain. At the Lakehurst, New Jersey test site, 71 arrestments were conducted earlier this year and 9 chargeable failures occurred. The Program Office estimates that AAG has approximately 20 Mean Cycles Between Operational Mission Failure…. 248 times higher than should be expected.”

Sept 5/13: GAO Report. EMALS and AAG delays and cost increases have hit a point where they’re creating problems for the new Ford Class carriers, driving up costs to $12.8 billion for the 1st ship, adding risk, and impairing initial capabilities.

Costs: Since 2008, EMALS-related costs for the first-of-class Gerald R. Ford [CVN 78] have risen by 133.7%, from $317.7 – $742.6 million. AAG costs have also spiked, though its 124.8% jump is only from $75 – $168.6 million. This is so despite the Navy’s 2010 firm fixed-price contracts to produce these systems for CVN 78. Even with cost caps, however, late delivery and testing means that changes have to be made to a partially-complete ship. EMALS configuration changes have already forced electrical, wiring, and other changes within the ship; and instead of just being hoisted into place, the Advanced Arresting Gear will now have to be installed in pieces via a hole cut in the flight deck. AAG continues to undergo redesigns, most recently to its energy-absorbing “water twister,” and limited EMALS testing with the delayed F-35C risks forcing further changes after the ship has been built. The Navy says that all future changes will take place within the components’ allotted space and weight, but GAO doesn’t think they can possibly know that.

Risk: Beyond redesign risks, the Navy needs to confront larger ship delivery risks. At present, EMALS isn’t scheduled for TRL 7 level maturity until FY 2014, with AAG to follow in FY 2015. The ship is due for delivery in FY 2016. Systems are already maturing so late that comprehensive testing must wait until the ship is at sea, so further schedule delays have nowhere else to go. Launch delays would mean delays to post-launch test programs, which are closely synced with ship delivery.

Once CVN 78 is built, EMALS and AAG’s reliability will continue to hamper operations. As of March 2013, both systems are far below where they’re supposed to be, with critical failures every 2-3 cycles. Since Initial Operational Test & Evaluation requires certain reliability levels between critical failures (MTBCF), continued problems could endanger the ship’s entry into service. GAO points out that the Navy’s “Duane” model for reliability growth doesn’t match their long-standing data, and even under optimistic planned growth levels, AAG isn’t supposed to hit the ~100 cycle MTBCF minimums before 2027. EMALS will take even longer, to 2032.

Unless and until they succeed, they’ll destroy the new carriers’ key 2007 promise of generating 25% more aircraft sorties per ship than the Nimitz Class. As things stand, even meeting the USS Enterprise’s OEF wartime record of 2,970 combat missions and a 99.1% sortie completion rate seems unlikely. Sources: GAO Report #GAO-13-396 | Virginian-Pilot, “The costs and doubts keep growing for carrier Ford”.

June 25/13 Testing. NAVAIR successfully launched an EA-18G Growler for the 1st time. This starts the 2nd phase of their manned aircraft launch tests, as they intend to proceed with more than 300 launches this year to test all aircraft currently launched from carrier catapults, save for E-2C Hawkeyes. They have already launched each of the Navy’s newest planes at least once. This ramp-up comes at about the same time railguns are also seeing more tests.

April 15/13: Budget. The FY 2014 Presidential Budget adds funding and/or reprogramming to FY12 and FY14 to properly reflect pricing. At $43 million, FY14 is the final year with significant spending built over the FYDP, as FY15/16 see about $2.5 million each, and there’s nothing for FY17/18. This accelerates slightly the spending plan from the FY13 president budget. Cost to completion is now seen reaching $834.7 million.

In parallel the Navy is working on demonstrating “an automation control environment for carrier shipboard equipment,” in order to reduce manpower requirements and ongoing costs. They won’t elaborate, but EMALS System Development and Demonstration (SDD) continues to be scheduled for completion by Q2 2015. To get there, the Navy intends to conduct full system and risk mitigation testing at the System Functional Demonstration (SFD) site by completing repeated cycles with deadload testing and gap variation tests. They aim to reach 4,000 deadload launches to assess reliability. Sources: US Navy PE 0603512 [PDF].

EMALS generator
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March 14/13: Testing. US Navy PMA-251, the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office, completes shared generator testing for EMALS at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. Launches to date have involved just 1 aircraft, but the real system will have to drive up to 4 launchers. The motor generator stores the system’s energy in the inertia of its rotor, and releases that energy for aircraft launch. Hence “shared generator” testing for multiple catapults, which was completed ahead of schedule. That should make OT&E happy.

The team also used General Atomics’ CVN 78 ship-representative controls lab in Rancho Bernardo, CA, to conduct extensive modeling and simulation of the 4-catapult system. That ensured that the software and launch controls were set up correctly, before they began experiments with weighted sleds at Lakehurst on the East Coast. Sources: US NAVAIR.

Jan 17/13: DOT&E Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). EMALS is included parenthetically, as OT&E addresses the next-generation aircraft carrier program. They remind that “EMALS, AAG, DBR, and Integrated Warfare Systems remain pacing items for successful delivery of the ship,” and add:

“DOT&E holds moderate concern regarding the performance risk generated by the inability to test the full four-catapult electrical distribution system prior to initial trials aboard ship.”

FY 2011 – 2012

1st ever electro-magnetic aircraft launch is an F/A-18E; Other aircraft follow. UK adopts then abandons EMALS. 1st F-35C launch
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Aug 15/12: Support. General Atomics in San Diego, CA receives a $44.5 million cost-plus-fixed-fee order for maintenance planning related to the Gerald R. Ford’s EMALS system. They’ll develop supportability analysis, repair level analysis, maintenance plans, a logistics management information database, maintenance guidance that make reliability the top priority, and create associated technical manuals and training.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (90%), and Lakehurst, NJ (10%), and is expected to be complete in April 2016 (N68335-11-G-0003).

May 10/12: Britain. Britain’s government confirms long-standing rumors that it would abandon the F-35C and its associated catapult modifications to 1 carrier, returning to the ski-jump deck and F-35B STOVL variant.

A DSTL report has explained some of the capabilities Britain would lose by abandoning the F-35C, but the government justifies their decision by saying that the F-35C’s improved capabilities and compatibility with American and French carriers would come at too steep a cost. Staying with the F-35C, they say, would delay Britain’s return to carrier capability from 2020 – 2023 or later, cost nearly GBP 2 billion to modify 1 of their 2 carriers, and leave the Royal Navy with no carrier capability if their converted ship needs maintenance. In contrast, the F-35B will be compatible with the US Marines and with Italy, and gives Britain the option of taking its 2nd CVF carrier out of strategic reserve when the primary carrier is out of service for long refits or maintenance dockings. UK MoD.

No EMALS for Britain

Dec 21/11: UK. General Atomics in San Diego, CA receives $17.4 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to provide engineering support for the development of EMALS and Advanced Arresting Gear configurations for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier Program. One of Britain’s 2 new carriers is slated to receive the combination, and operate F-35C fighters.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA, and is expected to be complete in June 2012. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-11-C-0057).

Initial contract for Britain’s CVF

Nov 18/11: F-35C launches. The land-based EMALS at Lakehurst, NJ launches an F-35C Lightning II fighter for the 1st time. The EMALS launch of test aircraft CF-3 follows more than 50 steam catapult launches, and “also provided information for the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence as the UK proceeds with including EMALS in the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier.”

Both EMALS and the F-35C are currently in test and evaluation, but the F-35C is especially important to the new catapult. The heavy fighter will be EMALS most significant technology companion over their life cycle together, and its 70,000 pound/ 31,800 kg maximum takeoff weight places it very close to the F-14D Tomcat. EMALS and the F-35C need to demonstrate that they can help each other with maintenance costs, or the real price of EMALS will escalate significantly. US NAVAIR.

Nov 15/11: The US DSCA announces [PDF] Britain’s official request for Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System/Advanced Arresting Gear (EMALS/AAG) long lead sub-assemblies. EMALS long-lead items include the Energy Storage System, Power Conditioning System, and Launch Control System. AAG long-lead items include Power Conditioning, Energy Absorption Subsystems, Shock Absorbers, and Drive Fairleads. The request would also cover Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, software support, and other forms of U.S. Government and contractor support.

The estimated cost is up to $200 million, and the prime contractor will be General Atomics in Rancho Bernardo, CA. This is still just a potential sale, but the nature and specificity of the request strongly suggests that Britain has decided to abandon its own electro-magnetic catapult research. Now that EMALS is launching real aircraft, they can certainly reduce technical uncertainties and costs by buying it to equip one of their forthcoming Queen Elizabeth Class carriers.

British request

Sept 27/11: E-2D launches. The EMALS test site at Lakehurst launches an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, one of the new aircraft that will accompany it onto its new carriers. EMALS has already launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet, a T-45 Goshawk jet trainer, and the Hawkeye’s C-2A Greyhound cargo cousin.

About 63 – 65 launches are planned for each aircraft type, and the 2nd phase of aircraft compatibility testing is scheduled to begin in 2012. Engineers will continue reliability testing through 2013, then perform installation, checkout, and shipboard testing, with the goal of shipboard certification in 2015. US Navy.

June 8-9/11: C-2A launches. EMALS performs 18 launches of a VX-20 Sqn. C-2A Greyhound cargo delivery aircraft, over a wide range of aircraft weights. The C-2 is also the E-2 Hawkeye AWACS plane’s base airframe. US NAVAIR.

June 1-2/11: T-45 launches. EMALS takes a new step by launching a T-45C Goshawk jet from the NAVAIR Lakehurst, NJ test site. VX-23 Sqn. made 12 successful launches with the Goshawk over this period, as part of on-going aircraft compatibility testing. US NAVAIR.

May 9/11: Delivery. General Atomics delivers the 1st set of EMALS production components to US NAVAIR, for installation in the Gerald R. Ford. NAVAIR will convey the items on to Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc., in Newport News, VA. General Atomics.

March 9/11: Testing. Gannett’s Navy Times reports that EMALS testing has been put on hold since its 1st aircraft launch. The problem involves a gap in the handoff between linear motors, as the aircraft is accelerating. General Atomics has reportedly been working on the system’s software to cure the problem, and a system functional demonstration is planned for later in March 2011.

The information emerged during a House Armed Services Seapower & Expeditionary Forces subcommittee hearing, in response to question from Rep. Todd Akin [R-MO]. Earlier testimony indicated that the CVN 78 Gerald R. Ford is 20% complete and on schedule for September 2015 delivery, which intensifies the pressure on EMALs to deliver in time. As the publication notes: “Further EMALS delays, one source said, could begin to impact the carrier’s building schedule and threaten cost increases.” See also full HASC hearing.

1st EMALS launch: F/A-18E
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Dec 18/10: Launch! The EMALS test catapult at Naval Air Systems Command in Lakehurst, NJ successfully performs the 1st electro-magnetic aircraft catapult launch in history.

The F/A-18E Super Hornet from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) was piloted by Lt. Daniel Radocaj. Chief Petty Officer Brandon Barr of NAWCAD’s Test Department was the “shooter,” assisted by Petty Officers 1st Class Hunsaker and Robinson, and Petty Officers 2nd Class Williams, Wong, and Simmons.

Engineers will continue system functional demonstration testing at NAVAIR Lakehurst, with test launches set to expand to C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft and T-45 Goshawk trainers in 2011. The ALRE program manager at this time is Capt. James Donnelly, and Cmdr. Russ McCormack of PMA-251 is deputy program manager for future systems. US NAVAIR | USN Photo release | Gannett’s Navy Times.

1st EMALS Launch

Nov 8/10: UK. Babcock Deputy Chairman Lord Hesketh tells London’s Telegraph newspaper that:

“Britain could afford to run both ships – and put aircraft on them from the start – were it not for the “vested interest” of BAE Systems, the prime contractor. “We are paying twice as much as we should to get half the capability,”… said the [GBP] 5.2 billion project was a “Loony Tunes” operation that was “about to turn into a classic British disaster”… the F35 will not be ready until 2020, and plans for a jump-jet version have been scrapped – meaning an electric catapult to launch the aircraft will have to be developed at extra cost. Lord Hesketh said a far quicker and cheaper solution was to adapt the RAF’s existing Typhoons for work at sea. But he said this was less remunerative for BAE than buying dozens of new F35s.”

Note the bit about “an electric catapult.”

Oct 29/10: UK. In an interview with BBC Scotland during a visit to the Govan shipyard, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said that estimates for the addition of catapults to the Queen Elizabeth Class ranged “upwards from GBP 500m,” with studies on going to pick a catapult system and determine likely costs.

Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Peter Luff confirmed that the government had not yet been decided whether one or both carriers would be converted, what type of catapult system to use, procurement approach, or delivery dates, though the SDSR would give a planned 2020 in-service date for Britain’s lone operational carrier. Defence Management.

FY 2009 – 2010

Initial orders; Cost jumps & concurrency concerns; EMALS survives review; Testing; UK becomes interested in EM launch. CVN-74 hydraulics:
legacy system?
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Sept 23/10: US NAVAIR announces that EMALS has completed catapult commissioning testing for its system functional demonstration (SFD), with no-load and dead-load launches in all areas of the required performance envelope, including a 154-knot dead-load launch equivalent to the weight of an F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Cmdr. Russ McCormack, PMA-251 deputy program manager for future systems, notes that EMALS hardware production is occurring independently from the SFD, “as component operation was previously proven in the High Cycle Testing and Highly Accelerated Life Testing phases of the program.”

Moving into SFD as of Sept 12/10 marks the opening of the test program window for the F/A-18E launch and future launches. The F/A-18E is currently being instrumented and test data is being analyzed in order to obtain flight clearances and launch approval for later in 2010.

Aug 23/10: Leadership. NAVAIR PMA-251, The Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) Program Office gets a new program manager, as Rear Adm. Randy Mahr leaves PMA-251 to become NAWCAD(Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division) Commander. He is replaced by his deputy, Capt. Jim Donnelly, who became the deputy program manager for future systems – EMALS and the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) in April 2008. Donnelly is a 1986 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and naval aviator, whose previous stints include piloting EC-130Q Hercules and E-6A/B Mercury national command aircraft, Catapult and arresting gear officer and assistant air officer on the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), Executive officer and commanding officer of the VQ-3 Ironmen squadron, and Program Executive Officer for NAVAIR Tactical Aircraft Programs. NAVAIR’s release adds that:

“The future Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) full-scale test catapult went operational for the first time at NAVAIR Lakehurst, N.J., and has since demonstrated max speed of 180 knots, or 207 miles per hour. The program is scheduled to launch its first test aircraft later this year.”

July 20/10: UK. Jane’s reports that the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is funding development of an electromagnetic catapult system for the Royal Navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, in case the F-35B STOVL is abandoned. Rather than go through the involved process of joining America’s EMALS program, however, they appear to have contracted with Converteam, who was already developing an electro-magnetc launch systems for UAVs under an April 2006 EMKIT(Electro Magnetic Kinetic Integrated Technology) contract.

A GBP 650,000 (about $1 million) EMCAT (electro-magnetic catapult) contract was reportedly awarded in July 2009, as a follow-on effort to continue the design, development and demonstration of high-power electrical systems for its EMCAT system. In October 2009, a smaller-scale demonstration of both controlled acceleration and braking was performed using electromagnetic linear motors. This could lead to the same core systems being used for launch and recovery. New Low Voltage linear motors with reduced end effect coils were delivered in early 2010, paving the way for the design of medium voltage linear motors which will help Converteam scale up their design. Jane’s Naval Intelligence | Converteam project page.

May 5/10: Testing Problem. The Newport News Daily Press reports that in January 2010, a software glitch caused one of the EMALS shuttles to reverse course and slam into other equipment during one of the initial full-scale land-based tests. It caused $52,000 worth of damage, set back the testing program by about 3 months, and set back the overall EMALS program by 7 months.

“Despite the problems, the Navy’s program manager for the launch system, Capt. Randy Mahr, said the delay would not affect the delivery of the Ford… scheduled to enter the fleet in 2015. The Navy and General Atomics had planned to begin launching aircraft from the land-based system this summer, but that’s now been delayed until later this fall, Mahr said… The things that are delaying me right now are software integration issues, which can be fine-tuned after the equipment is installed in the ship.”

That particular software problem has since been fixed, and more than 750 no-load test runs of the equipment have been done, with about 250 at full speed. Dead loads with weighted sleds are the next step, aircraft trials are expected in fall 2010, and the first pieces of EMALS equipment are now scheduled to begin arriving in Newport News for installation in May and June 2011.

April 1/10: SAR. EMALS is cited in the Pentagon’s April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report for major cost increases. The Pentagon’s own decisions are causing even larger cost increases in the carrier program, but EMALS’ contribution is still quite substantial at almost $1.3 billion in additional costs:

“Program costs [for the next-generation aircraft carrier] increased $5,426.4 million (+15.5%) from $35,119.1 million to $40,545.5 million, due primarily to the shift from a four-year to five-year build cycle (+$4,131.2 million), which placed the program on a more fiscally sustainable path while continuing to support a minimum of 11 aircraft carriers through fiscal 2040. Additional increases resulted from revised cost estimates for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) (+$1,292.6 million)…”

See also Newport News Daily Press.

SAR increase

March 30/10: GAO Report. The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. For the EMALs and Advanced Arresting Gear projects:

“While CVN 21 program officials stated that the EMALS program is on schedule to deliver material to the shipyard when it is needed for construction, concurrent EMALS testing and ship construction continue to present cost and schedule risks to the program… As a result of the [2009 EMALS] tests, the program identified design changes that are necessary to improve the performance of EMALS, but add cost and schedule risk to the program… The Navy plans to test EMALS with actual aircraft in summer 2010. The Navy awarded a not-to-exceed fixed-price production contract to General Atomics for EMALS and the advanced arresting gear in 2009. At the time of award, the contract price had not been finalized. The Navy expects to finalize the price of this contract in March 2010.”

“The advanced arresting gear includes seven major subsystems. Programs officials expect that six of the subsystems will be mature after analyzing data from a recent reliability test. The remaining subsystem – control system software – will remain immature until integrated [AAR] land-based testing with actual aircraft occurs in fiscal year 2012. This testing will overlap with the first arresting gear deliveries to the shipyard.”

March 25/10: Testing. Federal Business Opportunities issues pre-solicitation #N00019-10-R-0060, “Corrosion Resistant Study Reports & Test Equipment.” Excerpt:

“NAVAIR Hwadquarters, Patuxent River, MD intends to enter into a sole source contract with McGee Industries, Inc. for one simulated Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) simulated Trough Exposure Test Rig and engineering reports on environmental effects on fatigue and fracture mechanical properties of EMALS materials. The Government intends to procure these reports and test equipment under the authority of 10 USC 2304( c)(1) as implemented by the Federal Acquisition Regulation Section 6.302-1. Award to an alternate source would result in a substantial duplication of costs that could not be recovered through competition. McGee Industries has performed start-up studies using techniques that are not commercially available at standard testing labs, and is the only source possessing the requisite background knowledge and technical data necessary to provide the required support without substantial re-work at additional program costs. Firms that believe they can satisfy this requirement are encouraged to identify themselves…”

Nov 12/09: Ready. NAVAIR’s Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office (PMA-251) hosts a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the EMALS full-scale catapult test site at Joint Base McGuire-Fort Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. In an interesting twist, the EMALS armature is used to cut the ribbon.

Engineers at JBMDL will begin dead-load testing this fall with the first aircraft launch scheduled for summer 2010 with an F/A-18 Hornet. US NAVAIR.

Lakehurst ready

Nov 9/09: CVN 78. General Atomics in San Diego, CA receives a $102.2 million modification to the unfinalized EMALS Ship-set contract to provide for the production of 1 counterpart advanced arresting gear system ship-set for CVN-78. While EMALS will serve as the Ford’s launch technology, the Advanced Arresting Gear will offer related improvements around carrier landings, using a system based on electric motors rather than the Mk7 hydraulic system used with current arrester wires. Unlike EMALS, AAG is also slated for refits to existing Nimitz class carriers.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (35%); Mt. Pleasant, PA (28%); Tupelo, MS (15%); Waltham, MA (12%); and Aston, PA (10%), and is expected to be complete in September 2015. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages the contract (N68335-09-C-0573).


Oct 20/09: AAG testing. General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems Division (GA-EMS) announces the end of 1st phase Extended Reliability Testing (ERT) of the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) at its Rancho Bernardo, CA facility. Phase 1 cycled the AAG hardware through more than 5,400 shipboard-representative “arrestments” to obtain reliability growth data, and to prove out the real-time control software.

Future dead-load arrestment testing will begin in spring 2010, followed by aircraft arrestment testing scheduled for late 2010. ERT Phase 2 will begin February 2011 in GA’s Tupelo, MS manufacturing and test facility, and will test the equipment over an additional 104,000 cycles. GA-EMS believes that the transfer will help reduce program costs.

Prepping EMALS

Sept 28/09: Testing. US Navy NAVAIR announces that EMALS has completed Phase 1 of Highly Accelerated Life Testing (HALT) and the 2nd phase of System Functional Demonstration (SFD) commissioning.

HALT tests look at the system’s launch motor will perform under at-sea conditions, and provides data to verify peak performance, even in extreme conditions. SFD testing replicates full-scale launching capabilities, and SFD commissioning ensures that the system is ready for upcoming test launches of dead-loads (weighted, steel-framed sleds) and aircraft.

Phase 2 of SFD commissioning integrated and tested all power components of the system with the launch controller. The upcoming 3rd phase will integrate the remainder of the system, and test the basic ability to convert electrical power to mechanical force. The testing culminates with the launch of dead-load weights and non-operational test aircraft at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, NJ; commissioning with dead loads is scheduled to begin during fall 2009.

Aug 17/09: SDD. Inside the Navy reports that:

“The Navy has added another $24 million to the budget for a revamped research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) effort for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System aboard the new Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers bringing FY-09 spending on developing the troubled program to more than $168 million.”

June 30/09: CVN 78. General Atomics in San Diego, CA received an unfinalized $573 million ceiling-priced contract to build the EMALS shipset for the Gerald R. Ford [CVN 78]. This is added to a $43 million long-lead contract (q.v. March 27/09), creating a total of $613 million.

Work will be performed in San Diego, CA (49%); Tupelo, MS (19%); Mankato, MN (12%); Waltham, MA (4%); and various locations across the United States (16%), and is expected to be complete in September 2015. This contract was not competitively procured, pursuant to FAR 602-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ manages this contract (N68335-09-C-0573).

CVN 78 main

April 15/09: Review. Reuters reports that the U.S. Navy has completed a major review of EMALS that weighed possible technical, costs, and schedule risks. The Navy has decided to proceed, on the grounds that EMALS is the best option for keeping the program on schedule, vs. redesigning and building the ship for steam. The system’s potential cost savings are also listed as a factor by US Navy spokesman Lt. Cdr. Victor Chen.

The Navy is reportedly starting detailed, fixed-price contract negotiations with General Atomics. If that becomes the basis for a renegotiated contract, it would shift the risk of delays or additional work onto the contractor.

EMALS survives

April 3/09: Naval site Information Dissemination runs an article assessing EMALS’ current state, and the Navy’s contention that the system poses no schedule risks. The title: “Wal-Mart Called, They Want Their Yellow Smiley Face Back.”

Despite the title, the background is valuable, and the discussion is substantive. Is EMALS a technology too far? Or is it just a complex technology with more issues than expected, each of which is being dealt with but at a rate that creates some schedule concerns? What, if anything, does a realistic Plan B look like? Delay construction until EMALS is ready, given its promised operations costs savings? Extensively redesign CVN 78 for steam catapults? Buy another CVN 77 design ship instead, and store the pieces that have already been made?

March 31/09: Review. The Daily Press of Virginia reports:

“We’re still conducting a review to assess and mitigate risks in the program cost, schedule and performance of EMALS,” said Lt. Cmdr. Victor Chen, a Navy spokesman. “At this point, EMALS is still the launching system of record for (the Ford).

…If EMALS is scrapped for the Ford, the shipyard would have to re-engineer the carrier to support the old steam-driven catapults used on previous ships. That process, which includes running thousands of feet of new pipe to and from the Ford’s propulsion system, could extend the construction schedule by up to a year and is expected to cost several hundred million dollars.”

“At this point…” is perhaps not the ringing endorsement one had hoped for.

March 30/09: GAO report. The US government’s GAO audit office issues GAO-09-326SP: “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs.” With respect to EMALS and the CVN-21 program, it says that 10/14 technologies are either fully mature, including the nuclear propulsion and electrical plant, or approaching maturity. Of the remaining 4 immature technologies:

“…the development and design of the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS), the advanced arresting gear, and the dual band radar (composed of the volume search and multifunction radars) present the greatest risk to the ship’s cost and schedule.”

Ominously, it adds:

“A February 2008 program assessment recommended a number of changes to the EMALS program to improve performance. The Navy re-planned the test program and changed the management approach. The CVN 21 program office is now responsible for overseeing EMALS production and ship integration, rather than the Naval Air Systems Command. In addition, EMALS will no longer be provided as government-purchased equipment. Instead, the shipbuilder will purchase EMALS, giving it a more direct role in managing the integration on CVN 78. The cost impact of this change has not been finalized.”

There are also schedule concerns:

“Problems during EMALS development have already resulted in cost growth and schedule delays. In order to meet CVN 78′s delivery date, the Navy adopted a strategy that will test, produce, and ultimately install EMALS with a high degree of concurrency. In September 2008, the contractor completed the first round of high- cycle testing, gaining confidence in the performance of the generator–a source of past problems. Contractor-led integrated land-based system testing will not be complete until the end of fiscal year 2011–2-years later than estimated in December 2007. Assuming no further delays, EMALS will not demonstrate full performance of a shipboard ready system until at least 7 months after installation on CVN 78 has begun…”

March 27/09: CVN 78. Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Inc. in Newport News, VA received $43 million, unfinalized modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2110). The contract covers long lead-time materials that must be ordered early, in order to ensure timely production of Gerald R. Ford’s [CVN 78] EMALS catapults. Materials bought will include Energy Storage Subsystem (ESS) Induction Motor Stator Assemblies, ESS Induction Motor Rotor Assemblies, ESS Exciter Stator Assemblies, ESS Exciter Rotor Assembly, ESS Rectifier Assemblies, ESS Main Rotor Assemblies and Power Conversion Subsystem Rectifier material components.

Work will be performed in North Mankato, MN (74%); Mt. Pleasant, PA (17%); and San Diego, CA (9%), and is expected to be complete by November 2012. The US The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, D.C. manages this contract.

March 19/09: Testing. NAVAIR’s EMALS developers have given a green light to engineers at General Atomics in Tupelo, MS to engage in full power train testing of EMALS motor components.

This second phase of High Cycle Testing (HCT-2) will involve full power train testing, and will give a specific prediction of EMALS operations. HCT-2 will also perform environmental qualification testing, which is used to confirm the adequacy of the equipment design and safety under normal, abnormal, design basis event, post design basis event and in-service test conditions. US NAVAIR.

Dec 23/08: Infrastructure. Sauer, Incorporated in Jacksonville, FL wins an $8.3 million firm-fixed-price task order to design and build an Electromagnetic Launch RDT&E(Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation) facility at Naval Support Activity South Potomac in Dahlgren, VA (N62477-04-D-0036, #008).

Work is expected to be complete by May 2010. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Washington in Washington, DC received 5 proposals under an existing multiple-award construction contract.

FY 2004 – 2008

From development contract to Preliminary Design Review; Considerable worry that EMALS will be ready in time. EMALS motor, HCT-1
(click to view full)

Sept 3/08: Testing. EMALS reaches the 10,000 High Cycle Testing, phase 1 (HCT-1) milestone at the General Atomics test facility in Tupelo, MS. HCT-1 was conducted in order to verify the performance capabilities of EMALS’ electrical and thermal power equipment, and the shipboard cycling rate of the energy storage subsystem. Those tests reduce the risk of structural failure, strengthen confidence in EMALS’ reliability, and help to validate both system life predictions and electromagnetic interference predictions.

EMALS is scheduled to begin its second phase of HCT in winter 2009. US NAVAIR.

March 14/08: During US House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee hearings about the proposed the FY 2009 budget, chairman Gene Taylor [D-MS] discusses the state of the program:

“Another very risky program is the new aircraft carrier. Not that the Navy and Newport News Shipyard don’t know how to build aircraft carriers, they do. However, one of the major new technologies, the electro-magnetic launch system, or EMALS, has not even been tested in a shipboard configuration and the ship is already under construction. Just this last week the Navy requested an additional $40 million dollars for continued development of EMALS because, and I quote, ‘the contractor underestimated design and production cost.’ The cynic in me would say the contractor purposefully low-balled the bid to get the contract knowing full well the Navy would be forced to pay whatever the true costs of the system turned out to be. Perhaps we should have built another Nimitz class carrier until the research and design for EMALS was complete.”

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

April 17/08: The first full size test motor generator for the Navy’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) has now been assembled, and finished its 30 days of factory acceptance testing at Kato Engineering’s plant in Mankato, MN on April 11/08.

The motor generator weighs over 80,000 pounds, and is 13.5 feet long, almost 11 feet wide and almost 7 feet tall. It’s designed to deliver up to 60 megajoules of electricity and 60 megawatts at its peak. In the 3 seconds it takes to launch a Navy aircraft, that amount of power could handle 12,000 homes. This motor generator is part of a suite of equipment called the Energy Storage Subsystem, which includes the motor generator, the generator control tower and the stored energy exciter power supply. The new Gerald R. Ford Class will require 12 of each, and 5 of each are currently being manufactured under General Atomics’ Systems Development & Demonstration contract. One is slated for component level testing, and 4 will be installed and used for system level testing at the Lakehurst, NJ, EMALS catapult site. NAVAIR release.

Nov 28/07: General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) catapult recently passed its final critical design review (CDR), led by Mr. Dave Cohen of NAVAIR’s Systems Engineering competency. The team spent a week thoroughly reviewing the entire EMALS program, and determined that the design is technically compliant with requirements and properly documented, although “a few open action items remain.” As noted above, EMALS is one of the new technologies that will be critical to the CVN-21 Class’ ability to fulfil its cost-saving promises and enter service on time.

Capt. Stephen Rorke, Aircraft Launch & Recovery Equipment program manager thanked the team for open and honest dialog during the months leading up to the CDR as evidenced by the fact “the team knew about all open issues prior to the review and that no issues of major significance surfaced during the CDR.”

The next step in the process is to begin installing the full size, ship representative EMALS equipment in the recently completed EMALS test facilities at Naval Engineering Station Lakehurst, NJ. The EMALS equipment installation is scheduled to begin in mid 2008, with actual testing to begin in early 2009 and continue throughout 2009. The first components of the EMALS equipment is scheduled to be delivered to Northrop-Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding in Norfolk, VA for installation in the Gerald R. Ford [CVN-78] in 2011. The USS Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be delivered to the US Navy in 2015. NAVAIR release.


Nov 27/07: Infrastructure. Officials at the Lakehurst Naval Base hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to acknowledge the completion of the base’s new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) facility. General Atomics will have the system’s equipment installed at the Lakehurst base in the beginning of March 2008, with the strong intent of beginning testing in February 2009. Manchester Times story.

March 17/06: SDD. General Atomics’ team receives $6 million for engineering changes to the EMALS catapult system.

April 2/04: General Atomics is awarded an SDD $145 million contract to design, build, integrate test and support a full scale, full length, shipboard representative Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for NAVAIR Lakehurst, at the Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, NJ. The contract is the final step in a multi-phase research and development acquisition program to replace the current steam catapults used on aircraft carriers. According to the Navy release, “General Atomics, based in San Diego, will have its equipment installed at Lakehurst by 2006 and conduct testing in 2007-2008.”

The EMALS land based support facility is to be built by Hensel Phelps Construction Co., of Aurora, CO under a $20.5 million contract, and is expected to be complete by December 2005 [DID: the ribbon cutting would actually take place in November 2007, and construction will last to late 2008]. It will include building the infrastructure, supporting buildings and related utilities for the EMALS program. US Navy | General Atomics.


Background: EMALS & AAG

Official Reports

News & Views

  • Aviation Week (July 13/07) – Risk Areas In CVN 21 Cost, Development [dead link]

  • Defense Tech, via WayBack (April 5-7/07) – EMALS: Next-Generation Catapult and Building a New Ford. Latter includes some interesting background re: EMALS integration challenges and solutions.

Background: The Carriers

Categories: News

USN Ship Protection: From “Slick 32s” to SEWIP

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 16:52
“Slick 32″
(click to view full)

The US Navy’s AN/SLQ-32 ECM (Electronic Countermeasures) system uses radar warning receivers, and in some cases active jamming, as the part of ships’ self-defense system. The “Slick 32s” provides warning of incoming attacks, and is integrated with the ships’ defenses to trigger Rapid Blooming Offboard Chaff (RBOC) and other decoys, which can fire either semi-automatically or on manual direction from a ship’s ECM operators.

The “Slick 32″ variants are based on modular building blocks, and each variant is suited to a different type of ship. Most of these systems were designed in the 1970s, however, and are based on 1960s-era technology. Unfortunately, the SLQ-32 was notable for its failure when the USS Stark was hit by Iraqi Exocet missiles in 1987. The systems have been modernized somewhat, but in an era that features more and more supersonic ship-killing missiles, with better radars and advanced electronics, SLQ-32′s fundamental electronic hardware architecture is inadequate. Hence the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP).

SEWIP Blocks “Slick 32″ screen on
USS Iowa, 1984
(click to view full)

Overall, SEWIP is a $5.297 billion program, with spending ramping up sharply as of FY 2014.

Though SLQ-32 is a Raytheon system, SEWIP began in 2003 with General Dynamics as the lead integrator. Blocks 1A, 1B2, and 1B3 all use the improved control and display (ICAD) console, which is a GD-AIS upgrade based on the commonly used Lockheed Martin AN/ULQ-70 computing and display console.

SEWIP Block 1A adds the improved displays and a modern interface noted above, along with some hardware switchouts that add modern commercial-off-the-shelf hardware to drive the new display, and handle some signal processing (Electronic Surveillance Enhancements, or ESE).

SWEIP Block 1B1 made more changes to replace obsolete SLQ-32 electronics, some of which aren’t even manufactured any more, and improved the system’s ability to locate the source of incoming radar signals. SEWIP Block 1B1 provides a AN/SSX-1 stand-alone specific emitter identification (SEI) subsystem to ships with the active AN/SLQ-32(V) variant. For small ships, the Small Ship Electronic Support Measures System (SSESM) provides Specific Emitter Identification (SEI) capability in a stand-alone configuration.

SEWIP Block 1B2. For those ships which already have 1B1, this adds federated Specific Emitter Identification, and fully integrates SEI with Block 1A’s ICAD/Q-70 console.

SEWIP Block 1B3 adds additional display upgrades, and a High Gain High Sensitivity (HGHS) subsystem, to help ships deal with modern missiles that announce their presence less boldly and offer less warning time. It received its Milestone C/Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) go ahead in summer 2012, and is expected to hit Full Rate Production (FRP) in spring 2014.

SEWIP-2 concept
(click to view full)

Those low-cost, low-risk inserts deal with some of the SLQ-32 system’s issues, but not all. Over the longer term, the system’s fundamental receiver/emitter electronics need to be updated to modern technologies. Its software needs improvements that let ships take better advantage of the new hardware’s capabilities, make it easier to share SEWIP information with their own ship’s combat system, and allow sharing with other ships.

SEWIP Block 2 is described as an upgrade, but it’s more like a major home renovation. It replaces the old SLQ-32 receivers and antennas with modern digital technologies, adding new capability, flexibility, and signal processing muscle. Block 2 also modifies the software, creating a single, unified interface to the combat system in place of multiple interfaces to individual components of the combat system. This makes future upgrades simpler, and may also have the effect of improving performance. Lockheed Martin’s ICEWS materials touted under 200ms end-to-end latency, a low false alarm rate, and good high-pulse throughput for cluttered environments.

The Block 2 contract was awarded to a Lockheed Martin/ ITT partnership at the very end of FY 2009. June 2010 was the next key milestone, and a July 2010 contract continues development. The system passed its Critical Design Review in early 2011, and the partnership was scheduled to deliver 2 prototypes in 2012. It was slated for its its Milestone C Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) by winter 2013, with Full Rate Production scheduled for fall 2014 if operational testing goes well.

SEWIP Block 3 and beyond could look very different. Block 3 looks to add improvements to SEWIP’s Electronic Attack (EA, or jamming) capability. The goal is a common EA capability to all surface combatants (CVN, CG, DDG, LHA) outfitted with the active V3/v4 variants of the AN/SLQ-32, mainly the (V)3 and (V)4, as well as “select new-construction platforms.” It builds on ESM improvements in Blocks 1 and 2, but isn’t expected to hit its Milestone C Low-Rate Initial Production approval until early 2017. Initial Operational Test & Evaluation isn’t scheduled until summer 2018.

A US Navy program called “Integrated Topside” aims to take all of the little bolt-ons and antennas used for communications, basic radar functions, and electronic warfare, and make them all part of 1 unified architecture. That could help improve ships’ anti-radar profiles, increase their communications bandwidth, and resolve electromagnetic interference and compatibility issues between different devices. New-generation AESA radars have already demonstrated communications and electronic jamming potential, and current research is focused on that technology as the way forward.

SEWIP Block 3T will provide “an initial interim capability of a focused application of the Naval Research Laboratory Transportable EW Module (TEWM) to meet an urgent operational needs statement.”

Contracts and Key Events FY 2013 – 2014

SEWIP 2 restructured to fixed-price components; LRIP orders for Block 1B3 and Block 2; EW simulator shortage could affect Block 2 testing.

Aug 18/14: Block 1, FY14. General Dynamics AIS in Fairfax, VA receives a not-to-exceed $19.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for 15 SEWIP Block 1B3 sets; FY 2014 orders are still Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) units, instead of hitting Full Rate Production as expected. $8.1 million is committed immediately, using US Navy FY 2011, 2013, and 2014 budget lines.

Work will be performed in Pittsfield, MA (50%): Fairfax, VA (18%); Thousand Oaks, CA (17%); and San Diego, CA (15%), and is expected to be complete by September 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1) and FAR 6.302-1 by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-14-C-5341).

Jan 14/14: Block 2. Lockheed Martin has been doing land based testing of SEWIP Block 2 since the January 2014 Milestone C decision, and they have now completed shore-based tests of full system operation in multiple scenarios.

Work on the SEWIP program is performed at the company’s Syracuse, N.Y. facility, which houses a new electronic warfare system test facility. Low-rate production is underway, and the program’s next steps involve ship installation, via upgrades of existing AN/SLQ-32(V)2 systems. Sources: Lockheed Martin, “Lockheed Martin Completes Critical Milestone To Upgrade The Navy’s Electronic Warfare Defenses”.

May 31/13: Block 1B3. General Dynamics, Advanced Information Systems in Fairfax, VA receives a $15 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for 9 high-gain, high-sensitivity antenna systems in support of SEWIP Block 1B3 low-rate initial production requirements. The new antennas give SEWIP the ability to detect and identify additional enemies.

Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA, and is expected to be complete by March 2015. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2012 and 2013 funds. The Naval Sea Systems Command is the contracting activity (N00024-09-C-5396).

Block 1B3 into production

May 29/13: Block 2, LRIP-1. Lockheed Martin in Liverpool, NY receives a $39.1 million firm-fixed-price option for SEWIP Block 2 System low-rate initial production units. Lockheed Martin had originally announced it as a $57 million contract (vid. March 26/13), but if this is the same production year, the LRIP Lot 1 total appears to be $70 million instead.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (68%), and in Lansdale, PA (32%), and is expected to be complete by September 2014. All funding is committed immediately by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-09-C-5300).

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.

This budget is an important inflection point for SEWIP, as critical production approvals are now in place. The procurement budget request jumps from $92.3 million in FY 2013 to $203.4 million, and is set to increase further in the coming years, reaching $372.1 million in FY 2018. The overall procurement program is $5.297 billion.

March 26/13: Block 2, LRIP-1. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Liverpool, NY receives a $30.6 million contract modification, exercising firm-fixed-price options for low-rate initial production SEWIP Block 2 units.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (68%), and Lansdale, PA (32%), and is expected to be complete by September 2014. All funding is committed immediately, and will be managed by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-09-C-5300). See also Lockheed Martin.

March 22/13: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Liverpool, NY received a $27.4 million modification and restructuring of the SEWIP Block 2 contract. The restructuring converts fixed-price with incentive-options for Block 2′s System long-lead time pre-production material to firm-fixed-price options. All funds are committed immediately.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY, and is expected to be complete by March 2014. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-09-C-5300).

Block 2 contract restructured, 1st LRIP order

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). SEWIP Block 2 is included only in passing:

“At present, there exists only one each of the Kappa, Uniform, and Gamma EW simulators. These simulators are flown on Lear Jets against shipboard EW systems. SEWIP Block 2 is the latest EW system under development. Two of these simulators are needed (one for each Lear Jet) so that threat-realistic stream raid profiles can be used to adequately test the SEWIP Block 2 in FY14. An estimated development/procurement cost is $5 Million.”

FY 2011 – 2012

Block 1B1 and 1B2 production; Block 2 full SDD contract and CDR; Budget documents provide some updates; Vendors thinking about Block 3.

Aug 1/12: Block 3. Lockheed Martin and Raytheon demonstrate their proposed SEWIP 3 solution during the multinational Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) maritime exercise near Hawaii. It went to sea aboard Lockheed Martin’s mobile Integrated Common Electronic Warfare System (ICEWS) test bed. Lockheed Martin.

Feb 13/12: The USA’s FY 2013 budget documents include documents that don’t break SEWIP spending out specifically, but do discuss some past SEWIP activities and future plans, as part of a larger suite of research:

“[2011] Continued the Enhanced Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Transmitter FNC effort by starting system architecture design and Low Voltage Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) High Power Amplifier (HPA) Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) purchases. This effort develops affordable and reliable solid state transmitter technologies to engage anti-ship cruise and ballistic missile RF seekers.

[2013] Complete Enhanced SEWIP Transmitter – Conduct a final test of the enhanced Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) transmit array in the anechoic chamber…. Complete Enhanced Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Transmitter – Demonstrate full enhanced SEWIP array performance in a relevant field environment.”

Jan 31/12: Block 3. Lockheed Martin (SEWIP Block 2) and Raytheon (original SLQ-32) announce that they’re teaming to compete for SEWIP Block 3, whose details aren’t clear yet. Lockheed Martin | Model of their proposed solution [JPG graphic, 2.3 MB].

July 18/11: Block 1. General Dynamics Advance Information Systems (GD-AIS), Fairfax, VA receives cost-plus-fixed fee job orders estimated at $9.9 million to continue systems engineering and system software/firmware support for SEWIP Blocks 1A, 1B1, 1B2, and 1B3.

Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA, and is expected to be complete by January 2015. The basic ordering agreement was not competitively procured because the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN determined there was only one responsible source, and no other suppliers will satisfy the agency requirements (N00164-11-G-PM04).

March 16/11: FY 2011 Block 1. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Fairfax, VA receives a $7 million contract modification, exercising firm-fixed-price options for FY 2011 SEWIP Block 1B1 and 1B2 full-rate production and spares.

Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA, and is expected to be complete by July 2012. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC manages the contract (N00024-09-C-5396).

March 15/11: Block 2. Lockheed Martin announces a successful critical design review (CDR) for SEWIP Block 2. Lockheed Martin’s SEWIP program director, Joe Ottaviano, notes that the CDR’s success serves as the contractual go-ahead to produce 2 system prototypes by 2012.

Block 2 CDR

FY 2010 – 2011

Block 1B3 development; Block 2 development contract & PDR.

Aug 11/10: Testing. Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems in Tewksbury, MaA receives a $36.1 million contract modification (N00024-05-C-5346) for mission systems equipment (MSE) that will be used on the US Navy’s Self Defense Test Ship, in support of the Anti-Air Warfare Self Defense Enterprise Test and Evaluation Master Plan. The equipment will support the DDG 1000 and CVN 78 classes of ships, which use the new Dual Band Radar. Raytheon will also conduct follow-on operation test and evaluation efforts for the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (RIM-162 ESSM) and Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP).

July 28/10: Block 2. Lockheed Martin announces that the U.S. Navy has approved their SEWIP Block 2 upgrade design, in a Preliminary Design Review. This is a significant milestone under the initial design contract (vid. Sept 30/09 entry).

Block 2 PDR

July 8/10: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Liverpool, NY received a $51.1 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5300), exercising the cost-plus-incentive-fee option for SEWIP Block 2 system development and demonstration.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (74.5%); Lansdale, PA (13.7%); and Morgan Hill, CA (11.8%). Work is expected to be complete by January 2013. US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC manages the contract (N00024-09-C-5300).

Block 2 SDD

March 25/10: Block 1. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, Inc. in Fairfax, VA received a $12.4 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-5396), exercising a cost-plus-fixed-fee option for FY 2010 SEWIP Block 1B engineering services. It also exercises firm-fixed-price options for FY 2010 SEWIP Block 1B1 production units and spares, and for Block 1B2 production units, modification kits, and spares.

Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA (65%), and Annapolis Junction, MD (35%), and is expected to be complete by December 2012. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages this contract.

Sept 30/09: Block 2. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Liverpool, NY receives a $9.9 million cost plus incentive fee contract for the Preliminary Design of the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 2.

Lockheed Martin’s Nov 2/09 release says that their team will provide a modular solution based on the Integrated Common Electronics Warfare System that was demonstrated at sea in summer 2008, using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics. The company confirmed that it remains partnered with ITT, and their team will produce a preliminary design by June 2010. If development is successful, there will be no re-compete, and production options could total $166.9 million.

Work will be performed in Liverpool, N.Y. (76%); Lansdale, PA (13%), and Morgan Hill, CA (11%). This contract was competitively procured under full and open competition, and 3 offers were received (Lockheed/ITT, GD/BAE, and Northrop Grumman) by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, D.C. (N00024-09-C-5300). See also Lockheed Martin.

Team Lockheed wins SEWIP Block 2 development

March 31/09: Block 1. General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, Inc. in Fairfax, VA received a $40 million not-to-exceed contract for Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 1B research and development, and production requirements. This contract includes the continued design and development of SEWIP Block 1B3, with a specialized HGHS (High Gain High Sensitivity) subsystem, to enhance the SLQ-32′s detection capabilities against emerging threats, and full rate production of SEWIP Block 1B2 units.

GD-AIS has been the SEWIP program’s lead integrator since 2003. Work will be performed in Fairfax, VA (60%) and Syracuse, NY (40%), and is expected to be complete by July 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-09-C-5396).

Dec 3/08: Block 2 competition. Defense Daily offers a roundup of the SEWIP Block 2 program competition between GD/BAE, Lockheed/ITT, and Northrop Grumman, who’s thinking about adapting the system it’s developing for the Navy’s DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers. Read: “Industry Readying For Navy’s Release of SEWIP Block 2 RFP.”

Dec 1/08: Block 1. Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems and Sensors wins a contract from General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, Inc., to develop and produce SEWIP Block 1B3′s High Gain, High Sensitivity (HGHS) sub-system. The contract includes the topside antenna systems, the below decks signal processor, and the processing algorithms that accompany the processor. It is valued at up to $36 million including options, and was awarded after a competitive bidding process. GD-AIS.

Dec 1/08: Block 2 competition. Lockheed Martin and ITT announce that they’ve teamed up to compete for the SEWIP Block 2 contract. Lockheed Martin.

October 23/08: Block 2 competition. General Dynamics and BAE Systems announce that they’ve teamed up to compete for the SEWIP Block 2 contract. Their solution is called “Sea Lightning.” BAE Systems.

Additional Readings

Categories: News

The USCG’s Legend Class National Security Cutters

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 16:30
WMSL-750 Bertholf
(click to view full)

The Legend Class National Security Cutters were the largest ships in the The US Coast Guard’s massive $25 billion Deepwater meta-program, and served as its flagship in more ways than one. The 418 foot, 4,400 ton ships will be frigate-sized vessels with a 21 foot draughts, and are rather larger than the 379 foot, 3,250 ton Hamilton Class High Endurance Cutters (HECs) they will replace. Controversies regarding durability and potential hull fatigue, as well as significant cost overruns, have shadowed the new cutter’s construction. The program has survived, and is pushing toward its end in a few years – but will the number of ships bought be enough to help the USCG?

This DID FOCUS Article covers the Legend Class cutters’ specifications, program history, and key events…

Quick Background: The Deepwater Program (click to view full)

The US Coast Guard is currently operating vessels that date from the 1950s and 1960s, and a fleet-wide recapitalization had become an urgent priority given its new domestic security responsibilities. That effort is being handled as an integrated, multi-year $25 billion meta-project called Deepwater that encompasses everything from long-range patrol aircraft and UAVs, to new communications and computing backbones, to new ship designs.

Deepwater has been fraught with difficulties since the program’s inception. The Coast Guard was guaranteed a rough ride due to the issues with its existing fleet, and lower status than the military services. In fairness, the events of 9/11 changed the Coast Guard’s perceived role, leading to widespread re-evaluation of designs and specifications that have complicated several programs, and raised Deepwater’s overall cost from $17 billion to over $25 billion. With that said, the Coast Guard’s choice of program structure has also received negative reviews (as well as some official reports of improvement) for some time, culminating in a series of failures and scandals that have deeply wounded the overall program. The USCG’s Island Class cutter modification program, and the Deepwater Fast Response Cutter that was supposed to replace it, were especially fraught.

In the wake of these problems, the Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS) joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman was replaced as the program’s overall system-of-systems integrator by US Coast Guard personnel. See “US Coast Guard’s Deepwater Effort Hits More Rough Sailing” for more in-depth background.

The National Security Cutters are built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in Pascagoula, MS. Lockheed Martin is building and integrating the command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.

The Legend Class National Security Cutters WMSL 750 Bertholf,
Sea trials
(click to view full)

More akin to a full-fledged warship than a Coast Guard cutter, the 418-foot NSC is designed to be the USCG’s flagship vessel, capable of meeting all maritime national security needs. It will routinely carry a small boat and will be outfitted with an aviation detachment, whose composition will depend on individual mission requirements. The Legend Class cutters will displace 4,400 tons fully loaded, with a 21 foot draught and a crew of 110.

The NSC is powered by a combined diesel and gas turbine power propulsion plant known as Combined Diesel and Gas Turbine (CODAG). A pair of 9,925 hp medium speed MTU 20V 1163 TB93 diesel engines will provide regular propulsion, with GE’s ubiquitous LM2500 gas turbine available to offer 29,500 hp for high speed and intercept operations. The ship’s 14 foot controllable pitch propellers will turn at 231 rpm, and can drive the ship to a sustained top speed of 29 knots. A trio of 1360 Kw Ship Service Diesel Generator Sets will also be on board, to power the ship’s electrical and communications systems. With all three engines working together the total combined output of the plant is 36,800 kW (49,350 hp). The propulsion plant and its auxiliaries are all controlled and monitored by an MTU provided automation system. When operating at most efficient speed, the ships will have a range of up to 12,000 nautical miles.

Onboard sensors will include surface search & navigation radars in X & S Band, EADS’ TRS-3D Air Search Radar and the SPQ-9B Fire Control Radar, complemented by a Mk46 Electro-Optical Infrared Sensor for long-range passive surveillance. Legend Class ships will also use an advanced Deepwater communications suite that will allow Legend Class ships act as a flagship and command vessels, HF, VHF & UHF Communications, a radio direction finder, and multiple sensors on board for intelligence collection and sharing. A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) aboard ship makes it easy to process and receive data in place.

Given the kinds of industrial accidents and terrorist aftermaths the Coast Guard is tasked to deal with, it isn’t surprising that sensors to detect chemical, biological and radiological attacks will also be included in the NSC’s package, and a Collective Protection System (CPS) will serve to keep such contaminants out of the ship’s interior. As a greatly appreciated side benefit, CPS systems provide excellent air conditioning.

Mk 110 MOD 0 concept
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Legend Class ships will carry several weapons systems, including BAE Systems’ 57mm Mk 110 naval gun. The Mk110 also outfits the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ship, and will equip its DDG 1000 Zumwalt Class destroyers and the Coast Guard’s smaller Offshore Patrol Cutters. Its 6-mode programmable ammunition can be used against air threats as well as surface targets, and its offensive and defensive punch will be complemented by the same Mk15 Phalanx Block 1B 20mm gatling gun that offers US Navy ships their last-ditch defense against anti-ship missiles. The Phalanx Block 1B model adds the ability to destroy surface targets as well; its 4,500-7,000 rpm firing rate should give fast attack boats pause. Ancillary .50 cal machine gun mounts and/or remotely-operated weapons can also be expected. A “Slick 32″ AN/SLQ-32 system provides electronic jamming, just as it does for the US Navy’s high-end destroyers, and the US-Australian Mk53 Nukla automated decoy system rounds out the NSC’s protective fittings.

A series of ancillary systems will enhance the NSC cutter’s capabilities over its lifetime. The ships are eventually expected to deploy with a multi-mission MH-65 Dolphin helicopter (2 slots each) and 2 vertical unmanned aerial vehicles (1 slot each), though different mixes are possible. The H-60 family of helicopters can also be embarked.

Eventually, the ships are expected to carry aerial UAVs and sea-going UUV/USV unmanned craft. The Deepwater program specified Bell Textron’s tilt-rotor Eagle Eye as the full-size UAV of choice, but that program died without a replacement. The Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout helicopter UAV could easily step into that role, but the Coast Guard is in no rush to make a decision. Smaller UAVs like Boeing’s ScanEagle/ Integrator families should also be expected on board eventually.

The NSC cutter’s Stern Launch Ramp for small boats is a vital part of any large Coast Guard ship. The Legend Class can carry up to 2 rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs): The Deepwater Short-Range Prosecutor (7m RHIB, speed up to 33 knots) and Long-Range Interceptor (11m RHIB, speed up to 45 knots, can be armed) are currently forecast as typical load-outs, and a starboard davit also exists for the SRP. These slots could also be occupied by future Unmanned Surface Vessels, some of which are based on existing RHIB hulls.

Ships of class include:

  • WMSL 750 – USCGC Bertholf
  • WMSL 751 – USCGC Waesche
  • WMSL 752 – USCGC Stratton
  • WMSL 753 – Hamilton
  • WMSL 754 – James
  • WMSL 755 – Munro
  • WMSL 756 – Kimball
  • WMSL 757 – Midgett

The Legend Class Program: Contracts & Key Events FY 2014

Main contract for #7; Long-lead contract for #8; Progress on NSC 4-6. USCG on NSC

Aug 18/14: #4 trials. HII announces that Hamilton [WMSL 753] has successfully completed 2 days of US Navy INSURV sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Hamilton is scheduled for commissioning on Dec 6/14 in Charleston, NC. Sources: HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Completes Acceptance Sea Trials on Fourth National Security Cutter”.

Aug 16/14: #5 christened. HII christens U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter James [WMSL 754], today in front of nearly 1,000 guests. Charlene James Benoit, great-great niece of the ship’s namesake, Capt. Joshua James (q.v. May 6/14), is the ship sponsor. Sources: HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Christens Fifth National Security Cutter, James”.

June 14/14: #8 long-lead. HII announces a 76.5 million fixed-price contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase long-lead materials for WMSL 757 Midgett, the company’s 8th NSC ship. Materials will include steel, the main propulsion systems, generators, electrical switchboards and major castings.

With respect to the rest of the program, WMSL 753 Hamilton will have builder’s sea trials later this summer, WMSL 754 James will be christened in August, and the keel for WMSL 755 Munro will be officially laid later in 2014. Sources: USCG, “Acquisition Update: Option Exercised for Long Lead Time Materials for Construction of Eighth National Security Cutter” | HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Awarded $76.5 Million Advance Procurement Contract for Eighth NSC”.

May 6/14: #5 launched. WMSL 754 James is launched at HII’s Pascagoula, MS shipyard. Note that “launch” doesn’t mean what it does in some movies. It just means that the ship can be moved out of the building on rails to a drydock, then floated to a berth while construction finishes. James is expected to deliver in 2015. So, who is the ship named after?

“Joshua James… was born in Hull, Mass., Nov. 22, 1826. He conducted his first rescue in 1841, at age 15, when he joined volunteers from the Massachusetts Humane Society, then a maritime rescue organization…. By 1886, he had been involved in countless rescue operations and was estimated to have saved over 100 lives.

In 1889, at age 62, James was appointed keeper of the U.S. Lifesaving Service’s newly established Point Allerton Lifesaving Station in Hull, Mass. Despite being 17 years beyond retirement age, his record of lives saved was so impressive that Congress granted him a special dispensation to serve as keeper. He and his crews saved 540 lives during his 13-year tenure at the station. James passed away in 1902, suffering a heart attack following a training exercise at the station. “

Sources: USCG, “Acquisition Update: Fifth National Security Cutter Launched” | HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Launches Fifth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter”.

March 31/14: #7 bought. HII receives a $497 million fixed-price, incentive-fee contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to build WMSL 756 Kimball, the 7th Legend Class National Security Cutter. Construction is expected to begin in January 2015, and delivery is scheduled for some time in 2018.

When combined with the long-lead contract (q.v. June 14/13), the total reaches $573.8 million.

Ingalls has delivered the first 3 NSCs. WMSL 753 Hamilton is 81% complete and will deliver in Q3 2014; WMSL 754 James is 52% complete and will launch in April 2014; and WMSL 755 is scheduled for launch in the Q4 2015. Sources: USCG, “Acquisition Update: Production Contract Awarded for Seventh National Security Cutter” | HII, “Ingalls Shipbuilding Awarded $497 Million Contract for Seventh U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter”.

NSC 7 order

October 26/13: #4 Hamilton. WMSL 753 Hamilton, the 4th ship of class, is christened on schedule. It was launched in August and will be delivered in the fall 2014, a couple of months later than originally anticipated.

The ship is named after Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. He’s also known as the 1st Secretary of the Treasury, but he’s also the founder of the Revenue Marine, which became the United States Coast Guard. His direction to his newly-appointed Revenue Marine captains to “always keep in mind that [their] countrymen are freemen” is timeless and refreshing. Sources: USCG, “Acquisition Update: Fourth National Security Cutter Christened” | USCG Compass, “Building the national security cutter: Christening”.

October 7/13: #6 starts. Production of WMSL 755 Munro starts at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS. Sources, “Acquisition Update: Coast Guard begins fabrication of NSC 6″.

FY 2013

NSC 6 ordered; Long-lead for #7; US naval future & NSC. Waesche, Java Sea
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Aug 10/13: #4 launched. Hamilton is launched at at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS. Sources: “Acquisition Update: Fourth National Security Cutter Launched”.

June 14/13: #7 long-lead. HII announces a $76.8 million fixed-price contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase long-lead materials for WMSL 756 Kimball, the company’s 7th NSC ship. Materials will include steel, the main propulsion systems, generators, electrical switchboards and major castings.

This is actually the 1st of 2 long lead-time contracts. Construction and delivery of the ship will be performed at the company’s Pascagoula, MS facility. USCG | HII.

May 17/13: #5 keel. Keel-laying/ authenticating the keel of WMSL 754 James. USCG.

May 1/13: #6 bought. Huntington Ingalls Industries receives a $487 million, fixed-price-incentive-fee contract to build the 6th National Security Cutter, WMSL 755 Munro. Construction is expected to begin in October, and this could be the last ship of class. Adding the March 20/12 long-lead material buys raises the total cost to around $563 – 574.9 million.

WMSL 753 Hamilton, is currently 40% complete, with launch scheduled for this summer and christening in October. WMSL 754 James is just 17% complete, and will have its keel laid on May 17/13. Launch isn’t expected until spring 2014. HII.

NSC 6 order

Feb 2/13: Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp is joined by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert to discuss maritime strategic issues during the WEST 2013 Luncheon Town Hall Address in San Diego, CA. Papp makes this point about the NSC fleet:

“Many years ago the Coast Guard rebalanced its high endurance cutter fleet to the Pacific due to the longer transit distances and harsher weather. But the 12 high endurance cutters are slated to be replaced by only eight national security cutters. “Regardless of how advanced those eight ships are, they can’t be in all the same places that 12 could be, so I’m very hopeful we can continue the construction of all eight and then get into acquisition of our offshore patrol cutters because we need those as well. The Pacific is a big part of what we do.”

Fewer of its largest ships combined with an expanding mission space in the Arctic is making it more challenging for the Coast Guard…”

Well, yes. The program may even end at 6 ships (q.v. Feb 20/12). Wouldn’t the time to think of this sort of thing be before the program begins? US Coast Guard Compass.

FY 2012

HII unveils frigate derivatives; USCGC Stratton commissioned, but springs some holes; A challenging rescue and an Arctic patrol; Program to terminate at 6?. Bertholf & Waesche
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Sept 26/12: #3 accepted. The USCG announces formal acceptance of USCGC Stratton. The ship had already been commissioned, but some defects were found during the shakedown period.

Sept 17/12: Arctic. USCGC Bertholf crosses the Arctic Circle, in the class’ first patrol excursion into the Arctic waters. The waters around Alaska are famously treacherous, and operations in this region face a number of unique challenges as well. USCG.

Sept 5/12: #4 keel. HII and the USCG lay the keel for WMSL 753, the future Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton, at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, MS. USCG.

May 8/12: Holy Stratton! Gannett’s Navy Times reports that:

“Capt. Charles Cashin… called in engineers last month when his crew discovered a trio of ‘pinholes’ and a fourth hole ‘slightly smaller than a golf ball’ in the ship’s hull [...] in mid-April while the ship was working off the coast of Los Angeles [...] patched for now but the Stratton soon will head to a dry dock… The intent is to get out of the water [...] We are literally just waiting for a contract.”

The Coast Guard has reportedly concluded that it’s not a design problem, since Bertholf and Weasche haven’t had this issue. Estimated time for dry-dock repairs is 4-6 weeks.

April 2/12: USCG Stratton. WMSL 752 Stratton, the 4th Legend Class cutter, is commissioned in Alameda, CA by First Lady Michelle Obama. She had also christened the ship, back on July 23/10.

The ship is named after The cutter is named after Captain Dorothy Stratton, the first woman to serve in women’s reserve of the Coast Guard in World War II. Pacific patrols are expected to begin later this month. White House | USCG Compass.

NSC 3 commissioned

April 1/12: Rescue me. CGC Bertholf rescues a pair of sailors 250 miles off the California coast, after their yacht got in trouble during an around-the-world race. Bertholf’s executive officer, Cmdr. Dave Ramassini, offers some insight into the Legend Class’ differences from previous HECs:

“All that lay between us and the distressed sailing vessel was about 300 nautical miles and a low pressure system harboring 40 to 50-knot winds and 20 to 30-foot seas… Bertholf landed a Jayhawk helicopter out of Air Station San Diego and then proceeded overnight into the next day directly into the heart of the storm. While unthinkable in our nearly 50-year-old high endurance cutters the national security cutters are replacing, we proceeded with a medium range helicopter secure on our large flight deck making full speed dead into the 20-foot seas… The Bertholf, in this case, proved an extreme endurance cutter giving us the ability to travel twice as fast in howling gale while carrying a larger helicopter that could fly twice as far…”

March 30/12: #6 long-lead. HII’s Ingalls yard receives a $76 million fixed-price contract to buy long-lead materials for a 6th National Security Cutter. If recent budget submissions come to pass, this would be the last. WMSL 755 will be built at the company’s Pascagoula, MS facility, and a 2nd second phase of this advance buy contract could bring the overall value to $87.9 million. The US Coast Guard touts the fact that they saved $1.7 million by executing the contract within 1 year of that for the 5th National Security Cutter, Joshua James. The increased value of the U.S. dollar to the euro also helped.

The contract will buy critical main propulsion and navigation systems, generators, electrical switchboards, and major castings, using $75.9 million in FY 2012 funds appropriated for this purpose. Two sub-contract line item numbers will be established for valves ($2.8 million) and Ships Integrated Control System ($9.1 million). Funding requested in the president’s FY 2013 budget request supports this remaining $12 million, unless funding is made available sooner. USCG | HII.

Feb 20/12: Just 6? The US Department of Homeland Security’s FY 2013 budget documents ask for $658 million to build a 6th National Security Cutter, but they also show an intent to end the program at 6 ships, instead of 8. Congress will decide whether or not they wish to agree to this. Defense Daily Network | Washington Post.

Jan 30/12: Frigate derivatives. HII unveils a pair of Navy patrol frigate designs, derived from the Legend Class. This is a concept the firm has been considering for some time, but the possible early end of the NSC program adds additional motivation. Even so, positioning and sales will be challenging.

Patrol Frigate 4501 are very similar to current NSC ships, though they would displace 4,600 tons instead of 4,400. They are better suited to nations who want long-range coast guard type ships, but may be challenged to compete against sales of used USCG High Endurance Cutters (vid. recent Philippines transfers), or nearly-free transfers of used US Navy FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry frigates (vid. Pakistan’s “Almagir Class”).

Patrol Frigate 4921 adds improved anti-aircraft, anti-submarine, anti-surface and mine-warfare capabilities. The 57mm gun becomes a 76-mm gun, a 12-cell vertical launch system is added to hold a wide variety of missiles and ASROC torpedoes, an anti-ship missile launcher and torpedo tubes give it naval strike punch, a sonar dome helps it detect submarines, and models have shown it with an improved CEAFAR active array radar system. The overall package is reasonable, but the NSC’s base price will place them head to head against high-end frigate options like the Franco-Italian FREMM, Britain’s Type 26, the modular Dutch Sigma Class, etc. All are highly capable ships, built by shipyards whose technology levels make it challenging to compete with them on price. See also Defense Media Network.

FY 2011

NSC 4 & 5 ordered. Stratton sea trials
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Sept 9/11: #5 ordered. The US Coast Guard formally awards the rest of the contract for the 5th NSC ship, to be named the Joshua James [WMSL 754]. Huntington Ingalls receives a $482.8 million fixed-price incentive contract, raising totals so far to $576.8 million (vid. Jan 17/11 entry). This is the 2nd NSC production contract awarded outside of the original “Deepwater” project’s Lead Systems Integrator framework, under direct management by the USCG’s Acquisition Directorate. Construction and delivery will be performed at HII’s Pascagoula, MS shipyard. The official “start of fabrication” milestone is expected in Q2 2012, with delivery expected in mid-2015.

Captain Joshua James (1826-1902), served in the USCG’s predecessor service, the U.S. Life Saving Service, for nearly 60 years. During his career in Massachusetts, James was credited with saving more than 600 people. USCG | USCG Compass re: Joshua Jones | HII.

NSC 5 order

Sept 2/11: Stratton delivered. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. delivers USCGC Stratton [WMSL 752] to the U.S. Coast Guard, via a shipboard transfer of ownership ceremony. She is the 3rd ship of class to be transferred to the USCG. HII.

Aug 30/11: #4. Huntington Ingalls Industries, Inc. marks the official “start of fabrication” for the 4th NSC ship, Hamilton [WMSL 753]. The shipbuilding milestone signifies that 100 tons of steel have been cut and fabricated at Ingalls’ steel fabrication complex, using a robotic plasma arc cutting machine.

Ingalls only received the contract for this 4th National Security Cutter in November 2010, and says that the ship isn’t scheduled for delivery to the U.S. Coast Guard until the fall of 2014. That’s about 3 years after the 3rd ship of class, Stratton. HII.

Aug 12/11: #3 INSURV. Stratton [WMSL 752], returns to her Pascagoula shipyard after successfully completing INSURV acceptance sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. She received just 2 “starred card” issues, compared to 8 for Bertholf, and 3 for Waesche. USCG | HII.

July 1/11: Testing. Northrop Grumman spinoff Huntington Ingalls Industries announces that the 3rd NSC ship, Stratton [WMSL 752], has successfully completed 3 days of builder’s sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico, testing basic operations and electronic systems.

Jan 17/11: #5 long-lead. An $89 million long-lead materials contract for WMSL 754, the 5th National Security Cutter. The contract is actually an option that was part of the Nov 30/10 contract for WMSL 753, and this firm fixed-price contract has options of its own that would increase its potential value to $94 million. US Coast Guard | Northrop Grumman

Jan 12/11: C4ISR for #4. Lockheed Martin announces a $66 million contract from Northrop Grumman to provide the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) system for the 4th National Security Cutter, WMSL 753.

Lockheed Martin also provides the C4ISR systems for the Coast Guard’s HC-130J Hercules and HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircraft, which will work with the cutters.

Nov 30/10: #4 ordered. Northrop Grumman announces a $480 million fixed-price incentive contract to build WMSL 753, the 4th National Security Cutter. Construction and delivery will be performed at the company’s Pascagoula, MS facility.

At present, USCGC Bertholf [WMSL 750] and USCGC Waesche [WMSL 751] have been commissioned and are executing Coast Guard missions. The 3rd ship in the class, Stratton [WMSL 752], was christened in July 2010, is over 65% complete, and is scheduled for delivery in 2011.

NSC 4 order

FY 2010

USCGC Waesche commissioned. Bertholf & HC-144
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July 23/10: #3 christened. First Lady Michelle Obama christens the Stratton [WMSL 752]. Stratton is the 3rd NSC ship, and is named in honor of Captain Dorothy C. Stratton (1899-2006), the U.S. Coast Guard’s first female commissioned officer and director of the SPARS (“Semper Paratus – Always Ready”), Women’s Reserve during World War II. SPARS mainly replaced men in shore stations, but as the war progressed SPARS began to work in jobs like parachute riggers, aviation machinists’ mates and air control tower operators. NGC.

May 7/10: USCG Waesche. USCGC Waesche [WMSL 751] is commissioned into Coast Guard service in her home port of Alameda, CA. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Lance Bardo assumes command as her commanding officer. NGC.

NSC 2 commissioned

April 30/10: SCIF secures secrets. USCGC Bertholf’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) gets Authority To Operate. That makes it the service’s 1st onboard SCIF, and indeed the 1st SCIF certified outside of the US military. As the Coast Guard puts it:

“The events of Sept. 11, 2001, caused the nation, as well as the Coast Guard, to dramatically review its security posture. As a result, Coast Guard leadership took a close look at the intelligence capabilities of the yet-to-be-constructed first National Security Cutter (NSC).

Leadership recognized the imperativeness of reserving a space with electrical and air conditioning requirements on the NSC for the [SCIF]. Knowing the requirements and funding for this new initiative were still being developed, it was recognized that the SCIF installation would occur post-delivery of the first NSC, the USCGC Bertholf. The addition of SCIF technology would require a dramatic increase in Coast Guard communications technology…

In September 2009, Bertholf began the last phase of the rigorous installation and testing of the SCIF and its dependent system… including both visual and instrumented Tempest inspections. On April 8, 2010, Certification, Test and Evaluation approval was granted by the Department of Homeland Security. This enabled the Bertholf to have a one-year authority to operate the SCIF’s core capabilities, known as Ship’s Signals Exploitation Equipment (SEEE) and the Sensitive Compartmented Information network systems. By next March, 2011, SEEE upgrades will enable Bertholf’s SCIF authority to operate to be upgraded to a three-year approval.”

mid-January 2010: #2 C4ISR. USCG Waesche is granted Authority to Operate its Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence and Surveillance (C4ISR) systems, which lets it share communications and data with other local and federal law enforcement agencies, U.S. Coast Guard ships, air and shore stations, and the Department of Defense (DoD), including the U.S. Navy. USCG Director of Acquisition Programs Rear Adm. John H. Korn says that “In nearly all aspects, Waesche is far ahead of where Bertholf was at the same point in time.” Waesche’s ATO authorization was accomplished in just over 2 months after preliminary acceptance, whereas Bertholf, took a year to obtain ATO certification. USCG.

Nov 12/09: #2 INSURV. Gannett’s Navy Times reports that the Waesche [WMSL 751] received only 3 “starred cards” (deficiencies that could affect mission performance) during Navy/Coast Guard INSURV acceptance trials, vs. 8 for the CGC Bertholf. Coast Guard acquisition directorate chief Rear Adm. Ron Rabago told reporters that almost every system showed improvement, saying that the quality of the workmanship has improved, and lessons learned from WMSL 750 are being incorporated. The report adds that:

“Work to complete and certify for operation the new cutter’s complex command-and-control suite, known as TEMPEST assurance, also will be finished significantly sooner than on the Bertholf. That work, which includes requirements for the Navy to install and certify equipment, took about 18 months on the Bertholf. That same work will be done in about eight months on the Waesche… The third ship in the class, the Stratton, is nearly 30 percent complete, Rabago said, with that ship’s christening by First Lady Michelle Obama set for next summer.”

Oct 1/09: Testing. Waesche [WMSL 751] completes a successful Coast Guard acceptance trial, paving the way for her delivery in early November 2009. NGC release.

FY 2009

Bertholf – 1st patrol & final acceptance; Whistleblower lawsuit. WMSL 751 Waesche, trials
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Aug 17/09: Testing. Waesche [WMSL 751] completes successful Builder’s Trials, after undergoing rigorous testing in the Gulf of Mexico. The trials featured extensive testing of propulsion, electrical, damage control, and combat systems. The ship will return to sea in September 2009 for her acceptance trials, and will be delivered to the Coast Guard in 2009.

Waesche’s keel was laid Sept 11/06, and she was christened on July 26/08. NGC release.

May 8/09: Bertholf accepted. The US Coast Guard’s Final Acceptance of CGC Bertholf [WMSL 750]. In plain English, problems with the ship after final acceptance become the Coast Guard’s budgetary problem, rather than the builders’ contractual problem. The move takes place exactly 1 year after Preliminary Acceptance, and represents the Coast Guard’s assessment that all of the 8 major issues (or “starred” trial cards) have been addressed and closed, along with “the overwhelming majority of the less serious identified issues.”

An iCommandant guest post by RADM Gary Blore, Assistant Commandant for Acquisition (CG-9), states that information assurance and TEMPEST testing has been part of this process.

The ship will now follow its post-delivery plan, including mission systems and weapons testing; follow on manpower and training analysis; and installation of additional communications and sensors.

NSC 1 acceptance

June 2/09: Lawsuit. Deepwater whistleblower and former Lockheed Martin engineer Michael DeKort files a qui tam False Claims Act lawsuit against Integrated Coast Guard Systems, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman Corp. He claims that a series of known deficiencies by the contractors, and acquiescence in the deficiencies of other contractors, has led to major safety, security and national security problems with the entire Deepwater acquisition program. This includes the critical area of communications security, which reportedly extends to the new National Security Cutters due to system re-use. Read “US Coast Guard’s Deepwater Effort Hits More Rough Sailing” for more.

April 2009: Costs. In this month’s issue of the US Naval Institute’s Seapower Magazine, “Economic Realities” reports that the National Security Cutters will cost an addition $60-90 million per ship over their baseline cost, which was expected to be $500 million. High commodity costs in 2008, when materials were purchased, are blamed for the 12-18% increase.

As an example, the Deepwater program appropriated $357.3 million for NSC 4 Hamilton, but actual costs are expected to come in at $560-590 million, leaving the service over $200 million short. Instead of beginning in FY 2009, therefore, an additional FY 2010 funding request will be required in order to begin construction.

The Coast Guard’s HC-144 Ocean Sentry, an EADS-CASA CN-235MPA variant, is also facing sharp cost hikes. That aircraft has been affected by a weakening US dollar exchange rate versus the Euro, and the $1.7 billion program for 36 planes looks set to rise to $2.2 billion. The plane contains 65% American-made parts, but all parts are bought by EADS-CASA, and final assembly takes place in Spain.

March 4/09: USCG Bertholf [WMSL 750] returns to her Alameda, CA homeport, after a successful 8-week underway period that included Combat System Ship Qualification Trials (CSSQT). The crew tested the ship’s weapon systems’ ability to engage surface and aerial targets, as well as delivering warning shots and disabling fire on target vessels. They also ran full power trials of the propulsion system, and performed the ship class’ first fueling at sea and towing exercises. US Coast Guard, incl. CSSQT YouTube videos.

Nov 16/08: 1st patrol. USCG Bertholf returns to its homeport in Alameda, CA, marking the completion of the cutter’s first operational patrol. Bertholf’s crew conducted a shakedown of the ship’s systems and carried out flight operations, small-boat operations and weapons testing. US Coast Guard.

FY 2008

USCGC Bertholf commissioned following “preliminary acceptance”; Serious questions raised re: communications security, overall class issues; GAO Report. Bertholf & HH-65, Miami
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Aug 15/08: Radars. EADS Defence & Security (DS) announces a follow-on order from Lockheed Martin MS2 for its TRS-3D radars, bringing the number employed in the Deepwater program to 5. So far, 3 radars have been delivered on time, with 2 more deliveries planned for end of 2008 and summer 2009.

The TRS-3D is a 3-dimensional multimode naval radar for air and sea surveillance, and can correlate target information with the MSSR 2000 I identification system for automatic identification of vessels and aircraft. With this order, the radar has sold 50 units worldwide for ships including the new K130 corvettes of the German Navy, the “Squadron 2000″ patrol boats of the Finnish Navy and the Norwegian Coast Guard “Nordkapp” and “Svalbard” icebreakers.

Aug 3/08: USCG Bertholf. USCG Bertholf [WMSL 750] is commissioned in Alameda, CA. Navy Times.

NSC 1 commissioned

July 26/08: Waesche christened. Christening of the Waesche [WMSL 751]. Waesche is named for Adm. Russell R. Waesche, who was the first Coast Guard commandant to achieve the rank of admiral. He led the Coast Guard from 1936 to 1946, which is the longest tenure of any USCG commandant. NGC release.

Meanwhile, Bertholf is undertaking a publicity tour along the eastern seaboard.

May 8/08: “Preliminary Acceptance.” The U.S. Coast Guard accepts delivery of the National Security Cutter Bertholf [WMSL 750], via “preliminary acceptance”. USCG Brief [PDF] | NGC release | Defense News’ article “New U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Delivered” includes a detailed list of key issues remaining, and proposed measures.

April 2008: Bertholf INSURV. A Navy Board of Inspection and Survey team (INSURV), went aboard the Bertholf to give the cutter a top-to-bottom assessment. InSurv identified 2,816 points on the ship, listed as “trial cards,” that were incomplete or needed attention; that’s actually a pretty good number for a first-in-class ship. INSURV also highlighted 8 major systems that needed improvement, but reported that overall, Bertholf “was found to be a unique and very capable platform with great potential for future service.”

One issue worth noting is a computer software problem with its Wonderware system, which has forced the ship to rely on backup station control for the main engines, auxiliaries and pumps’ primary controls. Wonderware has been dismissed, and a new contractor, Matrikon, is working to fix the situation by end of May 2008.

The key unresolved issue remains the security of the Bertholf’s command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance suite, commonly known as C4ISR. Much of the information systems gear was not yet installed when INSURV came onboard. The Navy says this issue will be fixed after the ship moves to its homeport of Alameda, CA. Navy Times | Defense News.

March 11/08: GAO on Deepwater. The US Government Accountability Office releases report# GAO-08-270R: “Status of Selected Aspects of the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Program” [Report page | Plain text | PDF, 20 pages]. Key passages related to the NSC program include a very useful cost growth table (reproduced above), and:

Changes to the NSC have had cost, schedule, and performance ramifications. The estimated costs for the first three ships have generally doubled from the initial projected costs due to a number of contributing factors, including requirements changes as a result of September 11, Hurricane Katrina damages, and some program management actions by the Coast Guard. Delivery of the ship could be delayed. An aggressive trial schedule leaves little time for dealing with the unexpected, and most certifications have yet to be completed. Coast Guard officials expect the ship to meet all performance parameters, but will not know for certain until the ship undergoes trials. Further, Coast Guard engineers have concerns that most of the ship’s available weight margin has been consumed during construction, meaning that subsequent changes to the ship will require additional redesign and engineering to offset the additional weight. We have closed two of the five open recommendations from our previous report… Coast Guard has taken actions on the three recommendations that remain open… at this time, the actions are not sufficient to allow us to close them.

…Of the 987 certification standards, ICGS was to submit documentation on 892 for review and acceptance by the Coast Guard Technical Authority. Almost all remain outstanding… Coast Guard officials told us that they requested the [TEMPEST-related] test be done earlier than usual so that issues could be identified and corrected sooner… Coast Guard officials noted, however, that a mitigation strategy is in place and adjustments are being made that will increase the service life weight margin.”

March 11/08: Bertholf issues. In a telephone news conference, USCG Chief Acquiistion Officer Rear Adm. Gary Blore, assistant commandant for acquisition, and Program Execurtive Officer Rear Adm. Ronald Rabago discuss allegations rearding the Bertholf. [vid. Federal computer Weekly | Gannett's Navy Times]. Key contentions include:

  • The Bertholf was preliminarily scheduled for acceptance at the end of February 2008 [DID: originally 2006, revised twice to get to Feb 2008, see above] but the date was pushed back to late April or early May due primarily to problems with launch-and-recovery apparatus and safety equipment, not C4ISR.

  • It is routine for the Coast Guard to accept delivery of a ship and then take several weeks or months to test for and correct, C4ISR-related problems before granting the ship certification for full mission capability [DID: our sources agree re: Navy ships as well].

  • Contractors have fixed 80 percent of the problems discovered to date, and final certification of the C4ISR suite is expected “within weeks or months” after the ship is accepted in late April or early May 2008.

  • C4ISR certification is unlikely to cause further delays [DID: note that full operational status, which is the only thing TEMPEST could delay, is not planned until March 2010]

  • The C4SIR electronics systems on the Bertholf are different from those on the patrol boats. [DID: doesn't really answer, absent specifics explaining the lack of commonality with the flawed systems in question].

March 3/08: Deepwater choices. After receiving the service’s formal “Deepwater alternatives analysis” in February 2008, USCG Chief Acquisition Officer Rear Adm. Gary Blore forwards recommendations to Coast Guard senior leadership in a formal decision memorandum. Commandant Adm. Thad Allen is expected to approve Blore’s decision in the near future – which includes approval of the way forward for the NSC ships. Part of the Deepwater AoA report, however, suggests that if the Coast Guard can buy more capability in Deepwater’s smaller Offshore Patrol Cutters, it might consider reducing the number of National Security Cutters by 2. Inside the Navy’s March 10/08 report [PDF] offers more details, see also Gannett’s Navy Times.

March 3/08: Systemic problems? Writing in World Politics Review, defense journalist David Axe says in “Cutter Delay is Latest Evidence of Systemic Problems with Coast Guard Ships” that:

“…last week at the Bertholf’s scheduled acceptance, the Coast Guard declined to sign the “DD250″ forms that accompany any handover of major defense items from the manufacturer. The refusal to sign is apparently related to the discovery that Bertholf’s electronics are, as predicted by critics, vulnerable to leaks. This was a problem originally identified on the 123-foot boats by Lockheed whistleblower Mike DeKort and initially denied by the Coast Guard, then later acknowledged in the course of congressional and internal investigations… Ron Porter, a civilian Coast Guard employee, four years ago issued waivers to paper over known network problems with the 123-foot boats, according to [April 2007] Senate testimony by Jim Atkinson, a senior engineer with Massachusetts-based consulting firm Granite Island Group. Atkinson is one of the handful of engineers trained to inspect electronics equipment for compliance with the National Security Agency’s “Tempest” emissions standards. Tempest ensures that enemy snoopers can’t tap into U.S. communications…”He waived – accepted – systems with critical security failures that were pointed out by the Navy,” DeKort said of Porter. “Since this is a system of systems design, that meant the NSC had to use common designs, systems and equipment as the 123s. The 123s set the pattern.”… Atkinson likewise told World Politics Review. “As the Coast Guard accepted the flaws in the 123s, the contractor feels that they do not have to resolve the problem that the Coast Guard has already accepted and certified.”

Coast Guard spokeswoman Laura Williams said the Navy will return to do a 3-week inspection on Bertholf before its rescheduled acceptance in April 2008.

Feb 25/08: C4ISR security. USCG Assistant Commandant and Technical Authority for C4IT Rear Adm. David T. Glenn, and Capt. Leonard L. Ritter Jr. from the Office of Cyber Security & Telecommunications, post to the Coast Guard Journal blog re: Bertholf info-security certifications [see also Gannett's Navy Times article]:

“Before the BERTHOLF becomes part of the Coast Guard’s fleet it must go through a standardized Information Assurance (IA) process based on Federal and Department of Defense (DOD) policies, wherein delivered equipment and installation procedures are certified for compliance by the Coast Guard. This process includes such activities as TEMPEST [DID: Telecommunications Electromagnetic Performance and Emission Standards] testing and inspections of emission security requirements… initial approval is called an Interim Authority to Operate (IATO), which is a “qualified” certification to operate designated C4&IT systems. As Technical Authority, we anticipate authorizing BERTHOLF a limited authority to operate some or all of its systems prior to its special commissioning status to facilitate the vessel’s transit to its new homeport in Alameda, CA.

While the Coast Guard is eager to deploy with the new technological capabilities of the NSC class of vessels, they recognized early on that as a “first in class” they would need to pay close attention to IA issues… began testing and evaluating the systems as early as possible, often before installations were even complete… Full instrumented TEMPEST surveys along with IA scans of the BERTHOLF’s networks and systems will be performed after Acceptance Trials (AT) with TEMPEST and IA status highlighted and documented on our acceptance agreement with the shipbuilder (DD250)… Similar to the process undertaken by the U.S. Navy for its own ships of comparable size and complexity, the Coast Guard has formed a dedicated government-industry working group to resolve or mitigate IA discrepancies aboard BERTHOLF.”

Dec 14/07: Weapons. BAE Systems in Minneapolis, MN received a $7.7 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-5117), exercising an option for a 57mm MK 110 MOD 0 gun system. Its primary mission is to deliver high rates of fire, with extreme accuracy, against surface, airborne and shore-based threats with proven effective six-mode programmable, 57-mm Mk 295 ammunition.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (78%); Karlskoga, Sweden (21%); and Minneapolis, MN (1%), and is expected to be completed by December 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $88,898, will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., issued the contract.

Dec 4/07: Testing. The first-of-class National Security Cutter Bertholf [WMSL 750] sails away from Northrop Grumman’s Pascagoula, MS facility under its own power for the first time, to begin its sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. Initial reports from the first 2 days are positive.

The ship will complete 3 sets of trials, including these initial Machinery Trials which will last for about a week. Builder’s Trials are scheduled for early 2008, and Bertholf is scheduled to be delivered to the Coast Guard following Acceptance Trials in spring 2008. NGC release.

FY 2007

Hearings & controversy lead to big shifts in Deepwater program; NSC 3 ordered; C4ISR contract for first 3 ships; Costs keep rising. WMSL-750 Bertholf,
final fitting
(click to view full)

Sept 11/07: Northrop Grumman announces the completion of a pair of construction-related milestones. On Bertholf [WMSL 750], which stands at 90% complete, the two main propulsion diesel engines completed a successful light-off. Following this accomplishment, the stern assembly was erected onto Waesche [WMSL 751], which now stands at 33% complete. NGC release.

Sept 3/07: Costs. A Defense News report mentions both the Bertholf’s expected delivery date, and its final cost. The new delivery date is Feb 26/08; it was set as part of the major program agreement with the Coast Guard announced Aug 8/07. The contract also fixed the total price for the new ship at $641 million – a figure that includes $441 million to build the ship, money to buy government-furnished equipment such as weapons, and future costs for structural improvements and modifications.

See “USCG National Security Cutters: Bad News, Good News” for further details regarding ongoing process improvements, and an explanation of the connections between the two releases.

Aug 9/07: C4ISR contract. Lockheed Martin announces an agreement re: their consolidated contract action (CCA) over the command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems on board the first 3 National Security Cutter ships. Lockheed serves as the NSC ships’ overall integrator for electronics and sensor systems, and the craft’s C4ISR systems are critical to ensuring that the crew can see vessels in distress or targets of interest, collaborate with other Coast Guard platforms of all kinds; and take action on the most current and pertinent information available. The systems also need to be very inter-operable, in order to work with 117 agencies and organizations as part of the Coast Guard’s duties.

The Lockheed Martin portion of the $592 million contract awarded to Integrated Coast Guard Systems on Aug 8/07 is valued at $82.7 million, and includes both new work on the 3rd ship of the Legend Class and resolution of their $12.1 million request for equitable adjustment for post-9/11 changes to NSC 1 (Bertholf) and NSC 2 (Waesche). Those changes included enhanced interior voice communications, added C4ISR systems and equipment associated with classified information handling and messaging, and updated C4ISR system performance specifications as well as modifications associated with government furnished weapons systems.

As of this release date, Lockheed Martin says that development of the NSC’s C4ISR systems is 90% complete. Shipboard integration and test is well underway on NSC 1 Bertholf, leading up to USCG acceptance trials at the end of the calendar year. The crew of the Bertholf has completed initial C4ISR operations training at the Coast Guard’s training center in Petaluma, CA, and is preparing for live shipboard training. Meanwhile, equipment for the NSC 2 Waesche is now available, and is being delivered to the shipyard for installation. Lockheed Martin release via CNN Money.

C4ISR contract

Aug 8/07: #3 ordered. As part of an over-arching agreement with the industry teams involved, the US Coast Guard announces a $337 million award to Integrated Coast Guard Systems for construction of the 3rd national security cutter. Northrop Grumman’s Pascagoula facility has the lead role, and NGC will receive $285.5 million of that amount. The USCG says that its 3rd national security cutter incorporates cost-saving efficiencies and process improvements learned during the ongoing construction of the first two national security cutters, as well as design enhancements to ensure it meets a 30-year fatigue life and all operational requirements.

The agreement also includes $255 million to settle outstanding issues over the first 2 Legend Class ships. In a written statement, Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thad Allen said that: “This agreement resolves more than 192 outstanding technical and contract issues and incorporates plans to complete prudent structural enhancements to the National Security Cutter.” Issues included Northrop’s Request for Equitable Adjustment to reflect the numerous changes made in the first 2 ships since construction of the Bertholf was ordered in 2002, along with material cost changes, damages by Hurricane Katrina and the effects of a recent strike at the Ingalls shipyard. They also included ICGS partner Lockheed Martin’s request for equitable adjustment for changes to the ships’ communications systems (see Aug 9/07 entry).

See: USCG release | NGC release | Sen. Trent Lott [R-MS] statement | South Mississippi Sun Herald article | Gannett Navy Times article.

NSC 3 order + settlement on first 2

Turbine Light-Off
(click to view full)

Aug 7/07: Testing. The Coast Guard fires up the USCGC(US Coast Guard Cutter) Bertholf’s General Electric LM 2500 gas turbine engines for the first time, as Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer 3 Walt Probst presses the switch. The procedure was an initial operational test of the ship’s combined diesel and gas (CODAG) turbine propulsion system, and the next test will be a diesel engine light-off. NGC release | ICGS Deepwater release | Gannett Navy Times article.

July 31/07: Deepwater shifts. By a unanimous roll call vote, the US House of Representatives approved bill H.R. 2722, 426-0. It was introduced by Elijah Cummings [D-MD-7], chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

The bill makes far-reaching changes in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Deepwater program, removing the NGC/ Lockheed Martin Integrated Coast Guard Systems consortium from the project within 4 years, installing a civilian Chief Acquisitions Officer, and imposing a series of deadlines, reports and oversight on its programs. The removal clause may not be that significant, however, as this is a 2007 vote and the ICGS Deepwater contract ends in 2011.

With respect to the NSC ships, Rep. Cummings, said that the bill would require that the designs for cutters 3 – 8 be reviewed by the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Carderock Division, which helped identify potential concerns with the hull fatigue life of cutters 1 and 2. That provision, and other components, satisfy Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS, and chair of the House Armed Services Committee's Maritime & Expeditionary Forces subcommittee], who had called for the review by the naval experts in an amendment when the bill was approved by the House Transportation Committee in June 2007. The bill would also require that the design and construction be certified by an independent third party. HR 2722 | Mississippi Sun-Herald article.

Big shifts in Deepwater program

July 19/07: Mast stepping. Northrop Grumman Corporation observes a traditional naval custom known as “mast stepping” during the construction of the U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter Bertholf (WMSL 750). “Stepping the Mast” is an ancient custom of placing coins under the step or bottom of a ship’s mast during construction that dates back to Greek mythology. It was thought that if the ship wrecked at sea, the coins would help the sailors pay the wages for their return home. Northrop Grumman and Coast Guard officials permanently affixed $7.50 in coins – to represent the hull number of Bertholf – under the mast. Each coin commemorated a significant date in the life of this ship and its namesake, the USCG’s first Commodore Ellsworth Bertholf.

Other activities related to the Bertholf included removing and re-installing the LM2500 gas turbine engine to demonstrate that those activities could be accomplished within 48 hours, and installation of a Mk15, Block 1B Phalanx 20mm Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) that can target incoming missiles, helicopters, or even surface boats. NGC’s release adds that Bertholf is 86% complete, with Main Engine Light-Off as the next major test.

March 14/07: Infrastructure. The U.S. Coast Guard today formally opens its new Deepwater shipboard operations training facility at Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma. The $26 million facility was equipped by Lockheed Martin with state-of-the-art simulators, radars and electronics equipment to train Coast Guard crews assigned to the new Legend Class National Security Cutters.

In addition to National Security Cutter crews, the facility will train U.S. Navy crews to operate and maintain the TRS-3D air search radar. In exchange, the Navy will train Coast Guard crews to operate the 57mm medium caliber deck gun. Lockheed Martin release, via

Feb 14/07: Report. The US House of Representatives Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation holds its “Oversight Hearing on Recent Setbacks to the Coast Guard Deepwater Program.” The NSC is discussed.

Jan 23/07: Report. The US Department of Homeland Security, Inspector General’s Office releases its report: Acquisition of the National Security Cutter, US Coast Guard.

FY 2006

From naming to launch for Bertholf; Waesche keel laid. Bertholf construction
(click to view full)

Sept 22/06: #1 launch. Northrop Grumman Ship Systems launches the U.S. Coast Guard’s first National Security Cutter, Bertholf [WMSL 750]. NGC release.

Sept 11/06: #2 keel. Keel laying for the NSC 2 Waesche [WMSL 751] takes place.

Nov 11/06: #1 christened. The first Legend Class ship, Bertholf, is christened. Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS] reminds all present that it will take more than technology:

“In the course of your career, you are going to have some tough times… see another Hurricane Katrina… and generals and admirals have convinced me that you are going to see a major attack on the heartland of America – and you are going to be called upon to respond… So it is fitting that our nation is providing you with a great ship and great training, but at the end of the day it’s going to take the great people that you are, to make those things work.”

Nov 22/05: Naming. NGC relays the U.S. Coast Guard’s announcement that the first Deepwater National Security Cutter (NSC) will be named Bertholf in honor of the organization’s first Commandant, Ellsworth Price Bertholf (1866-1921). NGC release.


fn1. A ship’s draught measures how deep the water must be for the ship to float, rather than resting on the bottom. Return

fn2. Hurricane Katrina caused considerable damage to the shipyard, but more important, it caused an exodus of experienced workers, forcing contractors to use more overtime hours and disrupting the traditional learning curve. [Return]

Appendix A: The Pitfalls of Being a Legend – NSC Issues & Action Boutwell HEC in
Iraqi waters, OIF
(click to view full)

The Legend Class National Security Cutter’s transition from drawing board into service was not smooth, and matters eventually reached a point that put the entire program in doubt. With the passage of legislative bill HR 2722 in July 2007, however, the US Congress decided to move forward with the Legend Class cutters. in exchange, they demanded more stringent monitoring and certification procedures. Barring further difficulties, it appears that the 8 planned NSC ships will in fact be built.

The question is, “at what cost and timeline”?

First-of-class ships are often more expensive, post 9/11 changes did add 1,000 of the final design’s 4,300 tons, and the NSC program compares favorably in many respects with past programs like the US Navy’s current core of AEGIS DDG-51 destroyers and CG-47 cruisers. Even so, that National Security Cutter’s $641 million per ship price tag begins to place the Bertholf Class in the same realm as the new Fridtjof Nansen Class AEGIS air defense frigates that form the high end core of Norway’s navy. In every respect, this is a very high-end ship.

Price tags often decline as more ships are built, but there are also cases like the LPD-17 San Antonio Class, whose $1.7 billion cost and 100% overrun on the first ship appear to have perpetuated throughout the build cycle. The Coast Guard’s existing High Endurance Cutters (HECs) are wearing out, which only adds urgency to the key question: which example will this new NSC ship class follow?

A table from the GAO’s March 11/08 report is instructive. Note that all figures are in millions, that “Economic changes” include, for example, escalation of material/labor following the departure of many shipyard workers post-Katrina, and some costs associated with settling the REA. “Other GFE” includes certifications, tests, and training, and also additional government oversight for NSC 3:

Cost Growth for NSC 1 – 3 NSC 1 NSC 2 NSC 3 Design 67.7     Build 264.4 200.7 189.2 Govt. furnished equipment (GFE) 52.8 50.0 40.0 Initial projected costs (2002) $384.9 $250.7 $229.2 Requirements changes post 9/11 75.9 60.0 60.0 Hurricane Katrina [2] 40.0 44.4 38.7 Economic changes 58.3 69.9 86.8 Structural enhancements 40.0 30.0 16.0 Other GFE 41.5 40.7 73.9 Current projected costs (2008) $640.7 $495.7 $504.6

Timing is also important. The original 2006 delivery date for the first-of-class USCGC Bertholf [WMSL 750] slipped. Post-9/11 design changes pushed the date back to August 2007, then a revised 2007 program agreement moved the timeline back to February 2008. Bertholf was delivered via a “preliminary acceptance” procedure in August 2008. The second ship, Waesche [WMSL 751], was commissioned in May 2010.

That’s a long gap, and there’s a reason for that. First-of-class ships often have issues that require fixing before full operational certification is granted, and sea trials frequently last a year or more. After acceptance of WMSL 750, the Coast Guard planned to conduct operational testing at sea for approximately 2 years; March 2010 became the target date for full operational status, but key features like the SCIF only received Authority to Operate in April 2010, and some capabilities like UAVs remain works in progress.

Speculations concerning further progress, or regress, need to consider the program’s history.

As far back as 2002, technical experts for the Coast Guard raised doubts about the ship’s hull, contending that significant flaws exist in its structural design. In 2004, assistant commandant Rear Adm. Errol Brown sent a memo detailing more than 5 design deficiencies to Rear Adm. Patrick Stillman, urging the program officer to resolve any disputes over engineering before proceeding with construction of the first cutter. That apparently did not happen; a 2007 Office of the Inspector General report revealed that hull fatigue was still a concern, and that some USCG specifications still had not been met, even as the ship’s cost had increased by more than 33% since the Deepwater program began.

Worse revelations followed. In 2007, Rep. Henry A. Waxman [D-CA, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee], was quoted in the Washington Post saying that a Navy engineering report in December 2005 included “bottom-line” warnings. Red ink on a pair of Navy engineering briefing slides concluded the cutters would not last the required 30 years. But the warnings were allegedly deleted in a copy of the report given by Coast Guard officials to Department of Homeland Security auditors, and altered in an edited version included in a wider briefing. See “Additional Readings & Sources” for more documents and reporting.

In 2007 testimony to the US Congress, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General said that:

“On the NSC acquisition, the cutter’s performance specifications were so poorly worded that there were major disagreements within the Coast Guard as to what the NSC’s performance capabilities should actually be… The cost of NSCs 1 and 2 is expected to increase well beyond the current $775 million estimate, as this figure does not include a $302 million Request for Equitable Adjustment (REA) submitted to the Coast Guard by ICGS on November 21, 2005 [DID: this and other REAs were resolved in July 2007]. The REA represents ICGS’s re-pricing of all work associated with the production and deployment of NSCs 1 and 2 caused by adjustments to the cutters’ respective implementation schedules as of January 31, 2005… The current $775 million estimate also does not include the cost of structural modifications to be made to the NSC as a result of its known design deficiencies. In addition, future REAs and the cost of modifications to correct or mitigate the cutter’s existing design deficiencies could add hundreds of millions of dollars to the total NSC acquisition cost…

The NSC, as designed and constructed, will not meet performance specifications described in the original Deepwater contract. Specifically, due to design deficiencies, the NSC’s structure provides insufficient fatigue strength to achieve a 30-year service life under Caribbean (General Atlantic) and Gulf of Alaska (North Pacific) sea conditions… The Coast Guard’s technical experts first identified and presented their concerns about the NSC’s structural design to senior Deepwater Program management in December 2002, but this did not dissuade the Coast Guard from authorizing production of the NSC in June 2004 or from its May 2006 decision to award the systems integrator a contract extension. Due to a lack of adequate documentation, we were unable to ascertain the basis for the decision to proceed with the production of the first two cutters, knowing that there were design flaws…”

NSC-class Cutter Concept
(click pic to view full)

In response, Northrop Grumman Ship Systems President Philip Teel outlined the issues as NGSS saw them:

“The NSC is designed to meet a 30 year service life and many of the structural items raised by the Coast Guard have been addressed and were incorporated in the Bertholf and Waesche (NSC 1 and 2) prior to production. For example, upgraded steel, thicker steel, modifications to Fashion Plates and Re-entrant Corners, and the addition of 2 longitudinal Hovgaard bulkheads to provide increased stiffness at the stern were incorporated into the design.

With regard to NSC fatigue life, even the best engineers will have different opinions. Analysis has been performed on the NSC utilizing a relatively new model developed by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division (Carderock) utilizing two different approaches. The difference in the two approaches is whether or not the model is benchmarked by calculating the fatigue strength of proven ship designs with similar operational characteristics and hull form that has been at sea for the desired time. This enables the calculation of permissible stress levels that can be applied to test the new design. The results of these two analyses have generated a responsible dialog between the engineers which will lead to final agreement about enhancements to fatigue structure… The American Bureau of Shipbuilding (ABS) certified 14 Systems Level drawings, including structural design drawings. ABS will also certify 35 ship systems during this acceptance process… During the design process, there will be a total of 46 independent third party certifications prior to or as part of the USCGC Bertholf (NSC 1) delivery process… The US Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) will conduct the Ship’s Acceptance Trials (AT) when the cutter gets underway later this year.

Cost growth has also been mentioned in the media. Two elements have led to the majority of cost growth on the NSC – increased post 9/11 requirements and the impact of Hurricane Katrina. The NSC that will be delivered to the Coast Guard this year is not the same ship that was first proposed in 1998. Today’s NSC has greatly improved operational capabilities that address post 9/11 requirements including Chemical, Biological & Radiation (CBR) protection, a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) and more robust aviation installations so that the NSC, in addition to its normal embarked Coast Guard aviation complement, will be able to launch, recover and operate US Navy, US Government Agency and partner nation manned and unmanned rotary wing aircraft. These enhancements have added approximately 1000 tons to the displacement, including a one third increase in electrical power systems, a tripling of air conditioning and ventilation capacity (HVAC), the addition of 25 antennas and a 26% growth in the size of the berthing spaces.

It is true that Katrina delayed the delivery of Bertholf by several months and added cost to the program… Even taking into account Katrina, Bertholf continues to set new lead ship standards in quality and efficiency with, higher performance to standards than both the first or second Arleigh Burke Class (DDG 51) destroyer and labor utilization measures that routinely out perform other programs in our shipyard. Much of what has been done on the NSC program is being transitioned to the rest of the shipyard to other construction programs. In addition to the specific actions as they relate to the NSC program, we are investing $57.3 million dollars of our own money in a new suite of management tools that will increase our visibility, work sequencing capability, material and engineering modeling and capacity and resource planning. These tools will enable the reduction in the number of units we construct to build the NSC. Currently we build the vessel in 45 units and integrate these sub assemblies into 29 erection lifts on the ship. The new tool set will allow us to plan and construct the vessel in less lifts, our target is 16, and as we know the less number of lifts the less cost. We are investing in our human capital, process improvement, and our facilities to reduce the cost associated with building future ships.”

WMSL-751 Waesche
(click to view full)

As that last sentence notes, NGSS is taking action to improve the ships over time, as part of a structured improvements process. As each milestone is met, personnel involved in the ship’s construction meet to discuss “lessons learned.” Good practices, as well as opportunities for improvement, are noted and applied to the construction process of the next ship in the series. Through lessons learned on Bertholf, work on the Waesche improved significantly, moving thousands of hours of work out of the integration area where ship sections are joined, and into the shop areas. This allows work to be accomplished earlier in the process, more efficiently, and at a reduced cost to the Coast Guard. As an example, the engine and propulsion install took 8 days on Bertholf, but just 1.5 days on Waesche.

These kinds of lessons and improvements are typical in ship-building programs.

In addition, the Bertholf is the first ship to be constructed using a new shipyard configuration in Pascagoula. The Bertholf and the Waesche were built side by side, making it easy for personnel to access both ships for comparison and/or referencing activities. The new shipyard configuration also allows tests and trials to be conducted on the ships without relocating them. Over time, Northrop Grumman also aims to reduce the number of “block lift” sections required to finish the ship, by improving each block’s level of final readiness and avoiding tricky post-lift installs that may force rework, or encounter difficulties because it’s harder to get access to key areas.

The success of the process improvements outlines above, and resolution of outstanding design issues, will play a large role in determining whether the coast guard’s flagship cutters can make the next transition. A transition from ‘rescued program,’ to a good program that delivers acknowledged value, and begins to place the troubled $25 billion Deepwater modernization program back on track.

Appendix B: Additional Readings Program and Ships

News & Views

Official Reports & Testimony

Note that USCG links are forcibly excluded from archiving, and Senate links are likewise blocked. URLs may or may not still work. GAO and DHS links remain reliable.

Categories: News

Chinese Private Hacker Indicted for Defense Program Hacking

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 16:00

  • The “Espionage as a Service” [Jeffrey Carr] hacking case involving Su Bin and his Lode-Tech firm has expanded, with a US grand jury indictment [Contra Costa Times]. Programs affected include the C-17, F-22, and F-35. Su is currently being held in Canada, where he has been denied bail [CBC News]. Canada happens to have a wider array of problems with Chinese espionage, cyber and otherwise [Toronto Sun].

  • China’s Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding launched the 1st of 3 C82A corvettes ordered by Algeria. Delivered is expected in May next year.

Ukraine, Russia

  • Ukraine’s government say they have taken back control of Luhansk [BBC], a city held by pro-Russian rebels for months.

  • US State Department Undersecretary Rose Gottemoeller denounces Russia’s INF treaty violation:

“There is an expert debate in Russia about its nuclear modernization programs and about the contribution of the INF Treaty to Russia’s security. It is important for Russia to take into account that no military decisions happen in a vacuum. Actions beget actions. Our countries have been down the road of needless, costly and destabilizing arms races. We know where that road leads and we are fortunate that our past leaders had the wisdom and strength to turn us in a new direction. Let us hope that debate in and out of the government leads to a decision to return Russia to compliance with all of its international obligations.”

From the Land of the Free and Informed

  • Marcus Weisgerber from Defense News reports deliberate efforts at censorship and intimidation by the Huntsville (Alabama) police department as well as on-site private security during last week’s Space and Missile Defense Symposium. Reporters were barred from taking pictures of unclassified slides showed by the Missile Defense Agency, among other niceties. Industry representatives manning booths at the event were also hassled while trying to take pictures of their own booths. See also the take from AviationWeek’s Amy Butler.

  • The Justice reporter for the Huffington Post sees earplugs on the ground in Ferguson, MO, tweets that he believes they’re rubber bullets. It’s hilarious – but the problem of basic incompetence that it illustrates also affects mainstream defense coverage. Our take: in an electronic age, the quest for better standards begins by disseminating and mocking the lack of same.

  • Northrop Grumman saved itself [AvWeek] from a $420M handicap in its competition with Boeing/Lockheed Martin in the USAF’s next-gen strategic bomber competition. California had initially voted tax breaks limited to subcontractors that Northrop would not have been able to claim.

  • Congratulations are in order: the Pentagon finally figured out their Microsoft’s biggest customer and are pooling [C4ISR & Networks] enterprise license agreements across services.

Unmanned Naval Flight Ops

  • Today’s video shows the US Navy testing an X-47B UAV flying alongside an F-18, both operating off USS Theodore Roosevelt:

Categories: News

Poland’s Balancing Act: A Briefing for the Defense Sector – Part 1

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 20:27
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Guest Article by Christina Balis, Avascent

This is a pivotal year for the Polish defense market. Russia’s actions in Ukraine have underscored the urgency of Poland’s $44 billion military modernization program, and accelerated planned purchases. Critical defense procurement decisions will be made in 2014, testing the government’s ability to successfully manage big international tenders that pit Americans against Europeans. This year will also see the implementation of the country’s highly ambitious plans to consolidate most of its domestic industrial base under one roof, with significant implications for foreign suppliers seeking industrial arrangements with local partners.

Naturally, foreign companies are eager to secure a share in Europe’s most promising defense market. To compete effectively, defense primes and their subcontractors need to understand the financial, industrial, and political landscape they face in Poland.

The Polish Opportunity Poland: TMP budgets
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At PLN 32 billion ($10 billion), Poland’s current defense budget is a fraction of Europe’s biggest spenders, but outlays are set to grow faster than any other country on the continent. Poland is on a path to overtake Spain and the Netherlands in total defense spending in the next 2 years. (In terms of pure defense investment, Poland already ranks 5th behind the UK, France, Germany, and Italy). Poland has committed to maintaining its defense budget at no less than 1.95% of the previous year’s GDP, a level currently met or exceeded by only 2 other European NATO members: the UK, and Greece.

That GDP continues to grow. The Polish economy, now the 6th largest in the EU, is also among the healthiest. It survived the global financial crisis and Eurozone recession remarkably well, and GDP is estimated to grow in real terms by 3.4% next year, compared to the EU’s 2% average. Poland’s long-term growth is underwritten by the country’s growing exports, strong foreign investment, and some EUR 106 billion in EU funds to be allocated in 2014-2020.

Poland’s TMP is highly ambitious both in scale and in scope. Valued at about PLN 131.2 billion ($44 billion), the ten-year program touches on every aspect of the country’s defense apparatus. Weapons procurement accounts for 70% of the total, comprising 14 different operational areas.

At the beginning of the country’s 2013-2022 Technical Modernization Program (TMP), Avascent estimates that the Polish defense market was worth some $2.7 billion. This annual figure, which comprises all defense investment and excludes spending on personnel and ongoing operations, is expected to grow to $4.8 billion by 2022. While the Ukraine crisis is unlikely to prompt any further boost for Polish defense spending, it should ensure the planned modernization is kept largely on schedule, and even hastened in select capability areas like attack helicopters.

In sum, the size of the opportunity combined with solid economic fundamentals and an enabling security environment, makes Poland one of the most attractive defense markets for firms looking to improve their top line with exports.

Polish Partners: The Industrial Angle Rosomak
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Poland’s military modernization program is closely intertwined with the government’s bold plans for developing its defense industrial base. While open competition and formal tenders have become the standard in large-scale contracts, industrial participation has become a key criterion in the selection of foreign bidders.

All government procurements must comply with the country’s Public Procurement Law (PPL) as amended in 2013 and consistent with EU regulations. Where procurement is exempt from the PPL because of national security interests, offsets under the New Offset Act of June 2014 may apply (formally the EU bans all types of offsets because they contravene internal market rules). In reality, however, industrial participation known as “Polonization” has supplanted offset rules, with 25% often seen as the minimum threshold for Polish participation in the production process – be it in the form of significant subcontractor work, local footprint, or working through a local partner.

In the land systems sector, Polish industry typically takes the lead, sometimes working under license (e.g., the Rosomak APC, produced by WZM under license from Finland’s Patria) or in close collaboration with a foreign supplier (e.g., PHO and BAE Systems partnering on the development of a tracked platform based on the Swedish CV90 IFV design). Polish industry was upset when the government opted to buy 119 Leopard 2A5 tanks from the German army, instead of paying for a new-design Polish option, but Germany’s extremely low price were an offer they could not refuse. In the air, missile and naval domains, by necessity, foreign primes remain in the lead but local industrial content can be the determining factor in procurement selections.

Polonization is designed to strengthen the country’s defense industrial capabilities and key competencies in areas consistent with the TMP. This is not unlike the implicit or explicit policies of other European countries. The UK’s 2009 Defense Industrial Strategy identified 12 sectors where the government seeks to retain sovereignty and “operational independence.” However, contrary to the UK and other countries in Europe, Poland’s defense industrial base remains both fragmented and largely inefficient.

The pending far-reaching consolidation of the Polish defense industry under PGZ (the Polish acronym for “Polish Armaments Group”) is intended to address these shortcomings – a move fraught with uncertainties for both local players and foreign partners.

Registered formally in late 2013, PGZ obtained control of 17 entities in May and is now entering the critical second stage of the consolidation process. By the end of the year, PGZ should see the transfer of shares from companies belonging to PHO, or Polish Defence Holding, the country’s largest defense company and itself the recent result of a merger of some 40 entities. PGZ will ultimately comprise at least 30 companies, previously controlled by the MND, the State Treasury and the Industrial Development Agency, a joint stock company owned by the Treasury and responsible for implementing state industrial policy. To be sure, greater scale will not make Polish industry more competitive overseas nor will integration automatically ensure improved efficiency at home. The integration of so many disparate state-run firms presents an organizational, and political, nightmare.

The greatest risk lies in the execution of such an ambitious industrial restructuring, even one based on a sound underlying strategy. Recent history makes this clear. The government’s previous plans to partially consolidate and privatize the defense sector (under its Strategy of Consolidation and Support of Development of Polish Defence Industry in 2007-2012) proved impractical within the original timeframe, and plans to merge Bumar (since renamed PHO) with Huta Stalowa Wola had to be scrapped. Why should setting up PGZ be any easier or more successful? It also remains to be seen how the transfer of PHO minority shares to PGZ will affect other companies, notably Gdynia-based radar company Radmor, controlled by Poland’s largest privately held group, WB Electronics.

The government’s evolving thinking on industrial consolidation has significant implications for foreign players and international partnerships. It is unclear how PGZ will operate as a whole, particularly given historical rivalries among some of its constituent elements, what degree of autonomy will be left to individual entities, or how consolidation of capabilities within the group and the creation of centers of competence across the broader industrial base will occur over time. Given the requirements for Polonization and industrial participation, foreign suppliers can ill afford ignoring these ongoing developments within the Polish defense industry. Even the most tactical pursuit, let alone long-term success, in the Polish defense market requires proper due diligence in the selection of partners and close monitoring of the government’s evolving defense industrial plans.

No Simple Choices: Purchases as Geo-Strategy You are here…
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For the past decade, Poland has thought about its future as a nation aligned with both America (through NATO) and Europe (through the EU). Yet Poland’s defense modernization may now force it to pick sides, in a sense, between American and European defense industrial partnerships. These industrial choices will force them to consider near-term jobs and investment, long-term opportunities that can help Poland maintain a strong national defense sector, and the uncertain quality of security guarantees on both sides of the Atlantic.

Poland sees the European strategic environment through a unique perspective. Historically, the scars of the 20th century linger. Geographically, it’s the largest border country in the eastern part of the EU. Vladimir Putin’s ambitions add urgency to Poland’s modernization plans, and indeed validated the country’s often-alleged “paranoia” about Russia. As Joseph Heller reminded us in Catch-22, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

In that kind of environment, outside events and near-term decisions may have long-term consequences.

US responses to the crisis in Ukraine, including the dispatch of US F-16s to Poland shortly after Russia’s intervention in early March, and the $1 billion European Reassurance Initiative announced by President Barack Obama in early June, have been predictably faster and more forceful than Europe’s. That doesn’t change the revelations that senior Polish officials have lost a great deal of trust in the United States, but it may help.

RFS Vladivostok
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Meanwhile, the EU sanctions on Russia that took effect on August 1 are far more extensive than previous restrictions. On the other hand, it took the EU fully 5 months to reach this modest point, following Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and events continue to unfold in the Ukraine. France’s dogged refusal to cancel delivery of the first of 2 Vladivostok Class amphibious assault ships sold to Russia (first delivery is expected in October) could ultimately harm French industry in Poland, despite strengthened bilateral ties over the past couple of years.

None of this eliminates the need to buy the best military capability, even if other considerations sometimes relegate it to one factor among many. Polish history doesn’t suggest a tremendous margin for error, and Poland’s terrain, geography, and plausible threats will make some platforms better than others at meeting the country’s needs.

In sum, Poland will have to juggle military capability requirements, industrial imperatives, and geo-strategic considerations as it seeks to complete 3 of the largest defense purchases under its modernization program in the coming 18 months. The bad news is that those considerations sometimes work at cross-purposes.

Poland’s choices will be a complex balancing act. Part 2 will look at those 3 competitions, and the balancing acts associated with each.

AAvascent is the leading strategy and management consulting firm advising clients in defense, security and government-driven industries. With a team of 100 full-time professionals located at its offices in Washington, DC, and Paris, France, and a worldwide network of regional and subject matter experts, Avascent has nearly 30 years of experience of assisting clients in the areas of strategic growth, value capture, and mergers and acquisitions. To speak to Business Development, contract Jay Korman. For further information about Avascent’s European operations, contact Christina Balis.
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Categories: News

UH-60V: Upgraded Avionics Coming to Legacy Black Hawks

Sun, 08/17/2014 - 18:06
UH-60V Cockpit
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The US military is ordering new UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters at a rapid clip, but it still has a large legacy fleet of UH-60Ls. Upgrading UH-60L performance etc. isn’t cost-effective, but upgrading their avionics to a common standard will save money by cutting down on training, removing dependence on out-of-production parts, etc. As a bonus, new digital technologies take up less space, weigh less, and draw less power. Northrop Grumman has been picked for the program.

The US Army intends to upgrade 700 – 900 UH-60Ls this way, turning them into UH-60Vs with a pilot interface that’s essentially identical to the UH-60M. Northrop Grumman says that the new avionics are aligned with the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE), which began as a US NAVAIR standard for avionics interoperability and software portability, but has spread through the Pentagon as intended. As part of that commitment, Northrop Grumman is providing full, unlimited government purpose rights to technical data and software. Sources: NGC, “Northrop Grumman Selected to Modernize Black Hawk Cockpit for US Army”.

Categories: News

Surya’s Chariots: India’s AWACS Programs

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 17:45
IL-76/A-50EI Phalcon
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In recent years India has been shifting toward aircraft that would give it the ability to patrol and act at extended ranges. In January 2004, India and Israel signed a $1.1 billion contract for 3 Phalcon airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, as part of a $1.5 billion tripartite agreement with Russia. With the arrival of its first IL-76 Phalcon, India joined the global ranks of AWACS operators. The aircraft has to monitor huge swathes of Indian airspace, intercept communications and log radar frequencies, add some ground surveillance, and help command IAF responses. By 2012 India announced that it wanted to follow up on that procurement with native capabilities.

In parallel, India has moved to implement AWACS capabilities on a smaller platform, in order to provide broader aircraft coverage of its territory. The goal there is to field a Tier 2 platform based on Embraer’s ERJ-145 jet, and Indian radar and electronics, allowing India to join the global ranks of AWACS designers. Just to make things interesting, their arch-rival Pakistan offers a contrasting case study, with quicker fielding of off-the shelf buys from China (Y-8 based ZDK-03) and Sweden (Saab 2000 Erieye).

India’s AWACS: Platforms & Programs

India’s ultimate goal is reportedly around 15 aerial surveillance and command aircraft, with varying levels of endurance and capability. Over the 2004 – 2014 period, they’ve fielded just 3.

Catch-Up: India’s A-50EI Phalcon AWACS Russian A-50
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AWACS capability was seen as an urgent need in India, so their initial effort focused on integrating proven systems from abroad.

India chose its IL-76TD medium jet transport as its base. IL-76/78 jets were well-proven within the IAF as strategic transports and aerial refueling tankers, and modified IL-76s already served in Russia as the A-50 AWACS.

The IL-76TD’s upgraded Prem PS-90 engines will make operation in India’s hot climates easier, and the system will reportedly make heavy use of Russian avionics, including a partial glass cockpit.

Rather than relying entirely on Russia, however, India chose a proven AWACS system from Israel instead. Israel Aerospace Industries’ Phalcon is built around an ELTA EL/M-2075 AESA L-band radar, then adds electronic and communications intelligence gathering (ELINT and COMINT) capabilities. The system can receive transmissions from other air and ground stations to round out its surveillance picture, and uses sensor fusion to provide a complete picture of the battlespace out to several hundred kilometers. On-board communications allow these AWACS planes to direct communications-compatible forces and allies based on the bigger picture, which is why AWACS planes are so valuable.

Chile’s E-707 Condor
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Several Phalcon platforms already existed, but the A-50EI was a departure. IAI had already delivered an earlier-model “Condor” Phalcon 707 aircraft to Chile, and created a CAEW Nachshon variant for Israel and Singapore that fits into a much-smaller Gulfstream 550 long-range business jet. Instead of the front and side structural modifications made to Chile’s 707 and the G550s, however, India’s A-50EI Phalcon uses a conventional AWACS top-mounted radome. Less conventionally, the radome is fixed rather than rotating, because IAI Elta designed a radar configuration that automatically scans in 360 degrees.

Reports indicate “unspecified additional capabilities” for its 3rd A-50EI Phalcon plane. The most likely additions would involve additional radar modes for specialized maritime and/or ground coverage, and/or improved signals intelligence intercept & location capability.

A-50EI: The Long and Winding Road A-50EI Phalcon
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Even though India picked an existing aircraft type in the IL-76, and an existing AWACS & radar system in the Phalcon, the process of marrying them together and adding India’s special request items makes the A-50EI a development project. As often happens, that project slipped its timelines.

India was supposed to receive the first A-50EI Phalcon from its 2004 order in December 2007, but Uzbekistan’s Tashkent Aircraft Production Organization (TAPO) was late in customizing the airframes. By November 2007, India’s 1st A-50EI was only at the maiden flight test stage, which continued into early 2008. Flight certification followed, and first delivery ended up taking place in Q2 2009, about 18 months late. At that point, all 3 aircraft were promised by the end of 2010, but final delivery of an enhanced 3rd A-50EI+ actually took place about 3.5 years late, in mid-2011.

Even final delivery isn’t the end, of course. The A-50EI Phalcons have taken some time to become operational, and they were even grounded for a while at Agra while issues were ironed out.

Despite the delays, India is reportedly happy with its new capabilities. The IL-76 Phalcons are part of an emerging architecture for India’s air force, which include the Operational Data Link (ODL), the Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS), and Air Force Net (AFNET). All of those systems received a major workout during the March-April 2013 ‘Livewire’ exercises, which took place across India and involved most of the IAF.

A major follow-on contract has been rumored since April 2008, when India reportedly picked up a $1-2 billion option for 3 more A-50EI Phalcon AWACS aircraft, with delivery expected in 2011-12. Despite multiple confirmations at the time, it now appears that 2008 was only the beginning of India’s long negotiating and approval processes. Reports continued in late 2011, but by 2012, it became clear that India was leaning toward designing its own large AWACS system as the follow-on, even if that meant a less-sophisticated rotating radome and no follow-on aircraft until 2020. As of 2014, they haven’t even finalized specifications.

EMB-145SA AEW&C: DRDO’s Mid-Size Complement EMB 145SA AEW&C
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India has a great deal of territory to cover, and the Indian Air Force appears to be taking the “brittle swords lesson” to heart. As additional A50EI option discussions staled, DRDO proposed another 3 mid-size surveillance aircraft to act as immediate counterparts to the larger Ilyushin Phalcons.

While a G550 Phalcon would provide systems commonality with the IL-76s, using an already-integrated and proven platform, India chose a path aimed at maximizing indigenous R&D above all other considerations. They could end up buying 8-10 of them, but first, they have to develop them.

The state-owned DRDO research and development agency’s original 2004 timeline had their medium AEW&C project finishing by 2011, and the 3 aircraft together were expected to cost around R 1,800 crore (about $385 million) total when fully equipped. Unfortunately, it took until mid-2008 to sign an aircraft contract while R&D continued in the background, and the modified base aircraft configuration wasn’t delivered to India for integration until August 2012. Delays have now pushed delivery of all 3 contracted aircraft back to mid-2014: 2 aircraft for the IAF to begin operational testing, and a 3rd to remain with DRDO as a test and development platform.

DRDO’s platform of choice was Embraer’s ERJ-145 business/ regional jet. The militarized EMB-145 comes in several variants, including maritime surveillance and electronic intelligence planes. The most common variant, currently operated by Brazil and Greece, is the R-99 Erieye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft [1], using the same Saab Erieye AESA radar that will be mounted on Pakistan’s new Saab 2000 turboprop AEW&C fleet. There are some blind spots with its “dorsal blade” configuration, most notably to the front, but flight patterns can be planned around those gaps to ensure good coverage of the area in question. India’s DRDO aims to create a similar aircraft, using locally-designed technologies.

Under a $210 million agreement with DRDO in July 2008, Brazil’s Embraer will act as the overall system integrator, supplying the jets, mounting the radar and electronics on or into the AWACS fuselage, ensuring that the altered jets retain acceptable flight performance, and handling flight recertification.

The radar itself won’t be a proven model. Instead, it’s a development project from DRDO’s Electronics and Radar Development Establishment. A September 2005 ACIG report claimed that the radar would be similar to Saab’s Erieye, and the CABS illustration certainly looks very similar. CABS is reportedly working with the private sector firm Astra Microwave Products of Hyderabad to develop transmit-receive multimodules [JPG format] for the radar. Doing so at a reasonable cost is always a challenge for AESA radars, however, and India’s experience with the type is limited.

Likewise, the Bangalore-based DRDO Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) is responsible for overall integration of the aircraft’s electronic systems, mission computer, display and data handling. DRDO’s Defence Electronics Application Laboratory will be involved with the primary sensors, communication systems and data link. DRDO’s Defence Avionics Research Establishment will be involved with the jet’s self-protection systems, electronic warfare suites and communication support systems. DRDO’s Defence Electronics Research Laboratory will be involved with “counter-support measures.”

This radar and systems work will be the real key to the Embraer AEW&C project’s success or failure.

AEW&C: Force Multipliers & Risk Multipliers PAF S-2000 Erieye
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Unfortunately, it’s quite common for similar products to have extended technical issues and operational shortfalls when newly-designed equipment is first fielded, and India’s development strategy involves multiplying these points of failure. DRDO’s radar record is also cause for some concern.

DRDO was responsible for “Project Guardian/Airawat,” which suffered a disastrous project failure in 1999 when its HS-748 turboprop AWACS testbed aircraft crashed, killing several engineers and scientists who were critical to the project. These Embraer aircraft are the proposed successors to that effort. More recently, the multimode radar being developed for India’s Tejas lightweight fighter couldn’t meet specifications. IAI Elta’s M-2032, which is already in India’s Sea Harriers and some of its Jaguars, is now being used instead, in order to keep the already-late fighter program on track.

Given India’s slow procurement processes for even off-the-shelf buys, a DRDO effort that falls short of operational needs could easily set the country’s medium AEW&C efforts back by more than 5 years.

Meanwhile, India’s rival Pakistan is fielding 2 advanced AWACS plane types of its own. One is Saab’s Erieye system, mounted on a Saab 2000 turboprop. Its 4 Erieye planes will be joined by 4 larger Chinese Y-8 turboprop derivatives, the ZDK-03 AWACS. Both varieties are military-off-the-shelf configurations, rather than development projects, which has allowed Pakistan to field operational AWACS planes of similar quality much more quickly. As of early 2014, India has struggled to field 3 A-50EIs to cover a much wider area, while Pakistan has bought and fielded a 50/50 mix of 8 operational AEW&C aircraft.

Contracts & Key Events 2013

Indigenous AWACS looks at E-767 or A330; AEW&C by mid-2014; Livewire country-wide exercise. Lots to see
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Aug 15/14: AWACS – more A-50EI? Russian media say that India may be reconsidering its AWACS needs, and buying another 3 A-50EIs after all:

“India is mulling possible delivery of another three AEW&C aircrafts, talks are on now,” the commission’s source said. He did not specify a timeline planned for a deal to strike.

The delivery of AEW&C aircrafts is planned “in the same configuration” as under the agreement in 2003, he said.

Meanwhile, the source added that after the A-50 delivery a contract for their maintenance was signed with India…”

India’s government recently changed hands in a BJP landslide, and the new government is trying to push a number of defense projects forward. It’s hard to say whether India is trying to compare more A-50s vs. the DRDO AWACS program, or simply decided that India will need 6 full AWACS planes long before 2020. If they are in the same configuration, of course, the IL-76s will need to head to Israel for modifications. Sources: ITAR-TASS, “India plans to buy 3 radar reconnaissance aircrafts A-50 in Russia”.

March 31/14: AWACS RFP. India puts out a tender inviting bids by July 15/14 for the “supply of suitable aircraft with necessary structural modifications, power and endurance adaptations…. “equipment installation/installation provisions for the AWACS India role”. The 10m rotodome and support on the airframe is obviously the most critical modification, and design and certification work will be part of that tender work. Sources: Flight Global, “India scans for new AWACS platform”.

January 2014: DRDO AWACS. India Strategic offers interesting updates regarding India’s full-size AWACS program (q.v. June 19/12, Jan 26/13, March 4/13). An interview with DRDO chief Dr. Avinash Chander reveals that India has chosen a rotating radar dome for its full-size AWACS, using a radar that will also be electronically steered (Electronically Scanned Array). That choice was reportedly driven by their goal of 360 degree coverage. The flip side is that space requirements for the radar and its systems are so large that they’re looking at the Boeing 767 and Airbus A330 as carrier platforms. They could also build on the IL-76 that carries the current Phalcon system, but DRDO is leaning toward civilian platforms that can leverage commercial maintenance ecosystems. Boeing (Japan’s E-767) has an AWACS conversion in service, but Airbus doesn’t.

2020 is DRDO’s target date, though their record in that regard isn’t inspiring. They still need to freeze specifications, obtain multiple layers of government approval, invite expressions of interest, and then successfully carry out an RFP, selection, and contract negotiations. Sources: India Strategic, “India developing AWACS”.

January 2014: AEW&C. India Strategic offers program updates from an interview with DRDO chief Dr. Avinash Chander. On the mid-tier front, delivery will take place around mid-2014, with 2 aircraft for the IAF, and a 3rd to remain with DRDO as a test and development platform. They’ve completed some flight evaluation trials, and the communication relays are operational.

His industrial comments were equally interesting, coming from DRDO. The question is whether the bureaucracy will willingly give up its current bottleneck position, in order to foster that vision:

“[He regrets delays,] But with the recent encouragement to the private sector, the country’s defence industrial infrastructure was set to grow rapidly and with that, the time-frame for development of various systems would also reduce. Then there are many off the shelf components available form international markets, and DRDO uses them both because they are not made in India and easily available…. Dr Chander favoured FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) as it brings not only money but also several soft skills like quality assurance, quality management, efficient production processes and manufacturing technologies. He cited the example of Maruti cars and the automobile revolution in India in this perspective.”

Sources: India Strategic, “India’s n-Submarine Arihant Ready for Sea by March” (not a misprint).

March 16 – April 9/13: Exercises. India runs huge cross-country IAF exercise called “Live Wire,” which includes its new A-50EI Phalcon AWACS fleet, and involves redeployment of aircraft between different battle fronts.

These kinds of exercises are essential, in order to get multiple IAF squadrons used to working under AWACS coordination on large-scale operations. That’s precisely when AWACS coordination is most critical – yet because of its expense, it’s the environment that gets the least AWACS-related training. Livewire will stand some IAF pilots in very good stead when they head on to the USA’s multinational “Red Flag” exercise afterward, and encounter full use of USAF E-3 AWACS as a matter of course. Sources: Zee News, “IAF gears up for ‘Livewire’” | Calcutta Telegraph, “Air force holds drill on two-front war” | Times of India, “Indian Air Force’s biggest aerial exercise today”.

March 18/13: DRDO AEW&C. An India MoD release offers a list of late DRDO projects, along with a voluminous list of excuses. Credit is due for not using “the dog ate our blueprints,” but every other issue one normally expects in projects of this nature can be found.

India’s Tier 2 AEW&C is one of the listed projects, and its Probable Date of Completion has slipped from October 2011 to March 2014.

March 4/13: DRDO AWACS. India’s Defence Minister AK Antony’s Parliamentary answer confirms that India is moving ahead with its own full-size AWACS program, rather than buying abroad. That’s going to take at least 7 years, so he also lowers expectations for the IAF:

“AWACS are meant as force multipliers for specific area cover and not for surveillance of the entire space of our country. All three AWACS are part of Network Centric Operations and are able to provide adequate coverage of specified areas…. To leverage the experience and expertise gained in the design and development of Airborne Early Warning & Control Systems, a project proposal for indigenous development of AWACS (India) by DRDO has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on 12th February, 2013. The development of AWACS (India) is envisaged to be completed in 84 months from the date of formal sanction of the Programme.”

Costs weren’t mentioned, but see Jan 26/13 entry. The AWACS effort seems to predate India’s renewed effort to shun foreign vendors, supposedly as a way of eliminating corruption. Of course, it does nothing of the sort. Allocating work to state-run companies just avoids whistle-blowing from losing vendors, and makes blacklisting corrupt organizations unthinkable. In other words, it hides the problem. Past experience suggests that it also leads to delivery failure, but that’s a secondary concern to a politician. India’s PIB.

Jan 26/13: New AWACS Program? DRDO director-general Dr V.K. Saraswat says that India has started to develop a Rs 6,000 crore (currently ($1.118 billion) Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) programme, as a high-end complement to its AEW&C efforts. “The Government of India has given its clearance for the programme and the DRDO has begun to work on it,” said Dr Saraswat (vid. June 19/12 entry).

There are still reports that India is negotiating for more A-50EIs, but earlier reports appear to characterize this as a new development effort. Deccan Chronicle | The Hindu | Qatar’s The Peninsula.

2011 – 2012

AEW&C unveiled, 1st flight; Order for more Phalcons stalled; Going its own way on future AWACS?; Plans for a mix of 15. EMB 145SA in Brazil
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Sept 21/12: India’s plans. India’s Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Normal Anil Kumar Browne discusses the country’s AWACS programs. He says that India’s current plans involve 5 higher-end AWACS aircraft, and 10 medium AEW&CS planes.

India already has 3 A-50EI Phalcon AWACS planes, and is looking at how they want to move ahead on the high-end front.

DRDO’s mid-tier AEW&CS project still has a number of milestones before it proves itself, with the 2nd plane scheduled to arrive in December 2012, and the 3rd in 2013. Integration of the radar, communications, and control equipment is the next step, followed by trials, and 2014 is the target date for operational AEW&CS planes. If that operational date can’t be met, or the project runs into serious technical issues, then the high-end buy will become much more important to India. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s off-the-shelf Saab Erieye turboprops are already serving. The Hindu.

Aug 16/12: AEW&C. The first EMB 145SA jet is delivered to India a few months later than anticipated.

Note that this isn’t a war-ready system, by any means. The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) within India’s DRDO is now going to integrate its missions systems into the plane.

June 19/12: New AWACS Program? The Times of India reports that “clearances are underway” for an AWACS-India project as a follow-on the the IAF’s Phalcons, run by India’s state bureau DRDO and its Bangalore-based Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS). The program would reportedly develop 2 AWACS planes with “360-degree AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars… mounted on large aircraft like IL-76, Boeing or Airbus.” Another 4 would follow. The Times of India adds that:

“The case for two additional “follow-on” Phalcon AWACS, with a range of over 400-km and 360-degree coverage like the first three, has run into some rough weather due to sharp cost escalation.”

The key question to ask is why the costs are rising, and what choices are being pushed. The current Phalcon fleet has been late – what lessons have been learned from that, and how are costs affected? Are policies getting in the way of better value? For instance, India has rejected proven, lower-cost options with the same performance, like IAI’s CAEW 550 Nachshon in service with Israel and Singapore. Finally, how credible is the alternative, and what’s the risk? DRDO’s mid-range AWACS project remains late, and its own history is one of lowballing early, followed by cost increases later. Good policy, and effective capability, requires thought-through answers. Which isn’t always what goes on behind closed doors.

IAF update, 2011
click for video

Dec 6/11: AEW&C. Embraer announces a successful first flight at its headquarters in Sao Jose do Campos. They anticipate delivery during the first half of next year.

EMB-145SA 1st flight

Nov 8/11: Updates. One step ahead, one step back. India is getting close to a follow-on order for 2-more IL-76 Phalcons, but its indigenous medium AWACS program is hitting delays.

India’s media are reporting that an $800 million draft contract for the 2 Phalcons “is now finally in the final stages of being examined,” as a follow on to the original $1.1 billion contract for 3.

On the other hand, the existing Phalcons have taken some time to become operational, and have even being grounded for a while at Agra. At the same time, DRDO’s planned ERJ-145 derivative AWACS prototype project has been pushed back to April 2014. Times of India.

July 25/11: Phalcons. Flight International reports that India is negotiating to buy 3 more AWACS planes from IAI, based on the IL-76. That’s higher than reports in India’s media, which have involved 2 planes.

IAI has been suggesting that India could get the same performance and range for less money, and have lower operating costs, by buying the same Gulfstream 550 CAEW jets used by Israel and Singapore.

June 1/11: Industrial. Israel’s High-Tech Industry Association signs a memorandum of understanding with the Confederation of Indian Industry to boost cooperation in advanced technology, a move that is wider than the countries’ deep military ties but may give them a boost. Trade between the 2 countries hit $47 billion in 2010, moving India moving into 2nd place among Israel’s export markets. A UPI report adds that:

“As part of the Phalcon deal, the Israelis disclosed they would establish five factories in India to produce artillery shells, a project reportedly worth $250 million.”

That move would be good for India, whose problems in this area are well-known, and also for Israel, by diversifying its potential supply base for a critical item.

Feb 10/11: AEW&C. Aero India 2011 sees India’s mid-tier AEW&C design unveiled, which turns out to have some important differences from similar aircraft like Brazil and Greece’s R-99s. Among other changes, the plane has a different tail configuration, as some of the antennae were moved to the side fairings.

The design on display includes 5 operating consoles and 7 crew seats for resting, as well as provisions for an aerial refueling probe if the IAF wishes to add it later. Embraer | Defense Update | Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Feb 8/11: Phalcons. The Times of India reports that the IAF’s proposal to acquire 2 more Israeli IL-76 Phalcons remains stalled “There is in principle approval for two more Phalcon Awacs but negotiations are still in progress,” said a top defence ministry source.” At the same time, India’s indigenous AEW&C program is falling behind:

“The CCS had then set a time-frame of seven years [from 2004]… But these AEW&C planes are nowhere near even beginning their flight trials. The project completion date has now being extended to April 2014, which itself is set to be revised. “The aircraft and mission system availability is now scheduled for this year, with the integrated system availability pushed back to 2013,” said a MoD source.”

The subsequent comparison with Pakistan’s successful off-the-shelf programs is invidious.

Jan 28/11: AEW&C. Aviation Week reports that Embraer’s first EMB-145 jet for the Indian Center for Airborne Systems department’s AEW&C program is scheduled for a Feb 21/11 rollout, followed by an August 2011 landing in India for system integration.

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the Rs 1,800 crore ($396 million) AEW&C development program in October 2004, with the expectation that development would be done in 2011 – but the IAF’s 3-year delay in finalizing the system’s requirements has pushed the estimated end of system development to 2014.

Jan 12/11: Phalcons. India’s 3rd Phalcon aircraft is performing long-duration flights over Israel and the Mediterranean using “some very complex scenarios”, with Indian Air Force personnel aboard. The planes also reportedly have some additional features, as India requested “unspecified additional capabilities” for its 3rd Phalcon plane. The most likely additions would involve additional radar modes for maritime and/or ground coverage, and improved signals intelligence intercept & location capability.

Delivery of the 3rd plane is scheduled for mid-2011. Flight International.

2009 – 2010

A-50EI Phalcon AWACS arrives; Grinding through the projects. FAB EMB-145 AEW&C
(click to view full)

Nov 9/10: AEW&C. IANS reports that India’s indigenously-developed AEW&C radar system will be sent to Brazil “shortly,” to be integrated with an Embraer 145 jet. DRDO’s Chief Controller (SI) Prahlada, told India Strategic defence magazine that the first base jet for the program is due to roll out in January 2011, and the Indian AEW&C radar will be integrated on it by the end of 2011. That would allow testing and certification, which will take a couple of years.

Nov 1/10: AEW&C. India Defence quotes DRDO’s Chief Controller of Research and Development, Dr. Prahlada, as saying that the EMB-145 will be the base platform for India’s first 3 mid-tier AEW&C planes, but the platform for the remaining 6 aircraft is undecided. DRDO’s AEW&C is currently scheduled to enter service around 2015.

In practice, the costs of integrating all of the systems involved into another aircraft type are generally to high to justify a mid-program switch, unless the original platform faces critical limitations or cannot perform. The other possibility is simply to buy an aircraft off the shelf, bypassing the indigenous program. IAI is offering its CAEW 550 planes flown by Israel and Singapore, touting them as the same capability in the IL-76 Phalcons, with significant commonality, for a fraction of the operating costs. Boeing has also reportedly made overtures with its larger E-737, which has been purchased by Australia, South Korea, and Turkey.

June 23/10: AEW&C. EADS Defence & Security announces a “two-digit-million [Euros, presumably]” contract to help India’s DRDO develop the system architecture for its indigenous AEW&C program. Airbus’ experience with civil certification and mission equipment optimization will also play a role in this contract.

EADS Defence Electronics has worked with DRDO since 2006, developing a Missile Approach Warning System for Indian helicopter and wide-body aircraft. Beyond India, EADS DS developed a data fusion system that’s installed on NATO AWACS aircraft, as well as Australia’s and Turkey’s E-737 Airborne Early Warning fleets.

May 27/10: Phalcons. India’s 2nd of 3 contracted Phalcon AWACS aircraft arrives at Jamnagar in Gujarat, after which it will proceed to the AWACS homebase in Agra. Formal delivery and handover can take place outside of India, hence the March 25/10 date previously offered by the defense minister.

The IAF is keen to buy another 3 AWACS, even as DRDO works on its $210 million mini-AWACS demonstrator project. Times of India.

May 5/10: Phalcons. Defence Minister Shri AK Antony offers a written Parliamentary update:

“The contract for supply of three Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft was signed with M/s Elta, Israel on March 05, 2004. The first and second AWACS aircraft were delivered to the Indian Air Force on May 25, 2009 and March 25, 2010 respectively as per the revised delivery schedule. The delivery of the third aircraft is planned for December 2010. Additional AWACS aircraft are planned to be procured in the 12th, 13th and 14th Plans.”

The 1st Phalcon AWACS was originally scheduled for delivery in December 2007, with the 2nd following in September 2008 and the 3rd in March 2009.

April 11/10: Phalcons. Russia delivers the 3rd and final converted IL-76/ A-50EI airframe to Israel, for full systems installation and testing. A spokesman for the Beriyev aircraft center said that: “We have finished retrofitting a [third] transport plane for special tasks, and sent it to Israel in October…” RIA Novosti.

Feb 2/10: AEW&C. The inauguration of the Bangalore-based Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) System Test and Integration Rig (STIR) complex for testing airborne systems offers an update on India’s AWACS project. CABS Director S Christopher says that:

“AEW&C’s flying platform is the modified EMB145, which will take to skies later this year. It is scheduled to be delivered to us in Aug 2011… our mission systems will be ready by this year. It will be tested in this rig in 2011, followed by flight testing in 2012.”

Jan 17/10: IANS reports that India’s 2nd IL-76 Phalcon is slated for delivery in March 2010, and is also slated to be based at Agra air base. This is later than the original delivery schedule.

May 25/09: Phalcons. The first Indian IL-76 Phalcon AWACS plane lands at Jamnagar air base in India’s far western Gujarat province. The plane took off from Ovda air base near Eilat, Israel, and was escorted by Indian MiG-29s and Jaguar fighters for the last leg of its flight. The formal induction ceremony will take place on May 28/09.

The planes will eventually be based at IAF Central Command’s Agra air base in Uttar Pradesh. Agra isn’t far from the border with Nepal, but it’s best known for its association with the nearby Taj Mahal. Indian AF release | Sify | Straits Times | Thaindian News | Times of India | Rediff background

1st A-50EI Phalcon delivery

Feb 12/09: G550s proposed. Defense Update reports that a July 2008 contract for 3 smaller AWACS based on the ERJ-145 hasn’t stopped Israel’s IAI from promoting its Gulstream G550 CAEW, which uses an Elta AESA EL/W-2085 radar that’s closely related to the one in India’s 2 planned IL-76 AWACS. The jet can perform aerial target tracking, along with some electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intercepts (COMINT); it will succeed the E-2C Hawkeye and 707 Phalcon in Israeli Air Force service, and Singapore’s RSAF recently inducted its first aircraft.

India’s history of project failures makes promotion of the G550 a wise move, in case the DRDO’s ERJ-145 AWACS radar fails. The move may be aimed at another target, however – India’s options for additional IL-76 Phalcons. The G550 is an extreme range business jet, and Israeli data gives their CAEW variant an endurance of 9 hours. This compares to 6 hours on station for the larger IL-76, which is also more expensive to operate. As a demonstration of its capabilities, a G550 CAEW flew non-stop from Israel to India for Aero India 2009.

Jan 11/09: Landed. The first IL-76 Phalcon reportedly lands in New Delhi, India, for inspection. India Today.

2008 and Earlier

AEW&C specification battle; AEW&C contract for 3 EMB-145s. Radar aerostat: USA’s JLENS
(click to view full)

Sept 18/08: Updates. The Times of India quotes Defence ministry sources as saying that the first IL-76 Phalcon will now land in India only around January-February 2009, though they are pushing IAI to deliver the aircraft before the end of 2008 despite “technical hitches in the integration work”.

The Times’ report adds that India signed a $210-million deal with Brazilian firm Embraer in July 2008 for 3 EMB-145 aircraft. The intent of the INR 18 billion (about $385 million) project is to modify them with DRDO-provided radar and command systems; if that works, the jets would begin arriving in 2011-2012.

India is also reportedly on course to acquire 4 more Israeli tethered aerostats and EL/M-2083 radars, at a cost of around $300 million. This follow-on to the aerostat radars inducted from 2004-2005 has reportedly been cleared by the Defence Acquisitions Council; if adopted, it would raise India’s total Airborne Early Warning aerostat purchases to about $445 million. Aerostat-mounted radars trade the advantage of mobility for incredible persistence, and are especially useful for watching key coastline and key border regions, or defending high value areas.

Sept 14/08: Phalcons. Zee News quotes Indian Army Maj. Gen. (Retd) Mrinal Suman, writing in the September issue of Indian Defence Review, as saying that India paid twice as much as it should have for its initial order of A-50 Phalcon AWACS aircraft.

“…inability to negotiate contracts astutely has been the biggest weakness of the entire defence procurement regime… as the vendors exploit ambiguities in the contract language, especially with respect to delivery schedules, warranties, after sales support and penalties for default.”

Suman retired as Technical Manager (Land Systems) in the Indian Defence Ministry’s acquisition wing.

July 2008: AEW&C. Brazil’s Embraer signs a $210 million contract to deliver 3 ERJ-145 jets, to be modified into AWACS aircraft by adding radar systems from India’s DRDO.

Embraer will act as the overall system integrator, supplying the jets, mounting the radar, ensuring that the altered jets retain acceptable flight performance, and handling flight re-certification. Final integration and testing of the complete systems will take place in India. Source.

3 EMB-145 jets

May 16/08: Phalcons. The Calcutta Telegraph reports that the first 3 IL-76 Phalcons will be delayed, and so will a pair of Israeli aerostat-mounted radars India has ordered:

“A source in the Indian Air Force has confirmed that the delivery of the first Phalcon will be delayed. It was expected in September but is now more likely to reach India only at the end of the first quarter of 2009… delivery of two Aerostat radars… will also be delayed.

This is the second time that the delivery schedule of the Phalcons has been disrupted. The original schedule envisaged the delivery of the first aircraft in November 2007, the second in August 2008 and the third in the second half of 2009… The delays, however, have not dissuaded the air force from working through a proposal to ask for three more Phalcons in a follow-on order estimated at $2 billion.”

April 13/08: Phalcons. India Defense reports that India is pleased enough to pick up the option for 3 more IL-76 Phalcon AWACS aircraft, in a deal worth up to $2 billion.

Jane’s Defence Weekly issued a concurring report later in the week, but placed the deal’s value at $1 billion. Assuming that the equipment sets are the same and inflation is 3% per year, note that repeating 2004′s $1.5 billion deal works out to about $1.7 billion by 2008. Delivery of these 3 additional planes would be expected to take place in 2011-12. By the end of 2012, however, there’s still no contract for additional A-50EI aircraft.

Feb 4/08: AEW&C. New Indian Express reports that India’s state-run DRDO research agency has made a breakthrough in radar transmit/receive modules, and seems to have its indigenous AEW&C program back on track. Via Livefist:

“The Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS), Bangalore, has developed an Indian transmitter/ receiver module that will form the nerve of the system. It’s an array of a number of T/R (transmit/receive) modules that make up the AWACS’ nervous system making it capable of rummaging through all electronic movements in a radius of hundreds of kilometers.

Top CABS sources told this website’s newspaper that India would soon patent its T/R module as “it’s unique in many respects.” It’s a cost effective system and through its development we’re now independent and needn’t rely on imports, sources said. The phased array that India will be using on the AWACS will have the potential to engage multiple targets…”

June 11/07: AEW&C rethought? Indian media report that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has rethought their specifications for the indigenous airborne early warning and control system (AWACS), including the radar and related equipment, and have asked India’s DRDO to look at using larger Boeing 737 or Airbus A319/320 aircraft, instead of Embraer’s EMB-145.

They believe the EMB 145 has altitude and endurance limitations, and see the right solution as a fleet of 6-8 Phalcon AWACS planes operating out of Agra. They wanted DRDO’s program, re-sanctioned in September 2004 with a Rs 1,800 crore budget, to deliver a more basic “airborne battlefield surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance system” instead. Meanwhile, the Phalcon program has been pushed from a 2012 end date to 2016. domain-B | Livefist.


fn1. The terms AWACS and AEW&C can be used interchangeably. Many militaries are gravitating toward the more cumbersome “AEW&C” as standard nomenclature these days.

Video Briefings from Aero India 2009

Additional Readings & Sources Current & In-development

  • Israeli Weapons – Phalcon

  • Spyflight – Boeing 707 Phalcon

  • DRDO – Indian AEW&C System . In development, using a modified EMB-145. See also CABS Areas of Work, which lists a number of key sub-systems under development: Primary Radar, Secondary Radar/IFF, CSM, Integrated IRESS defensive systems, mission control systems, etc.

News & Views

Categories: News

No More An-124s On The Way

Sat, 08/16/2014 - 16:36
Antonov AN-124:
One rocket, to go…
(click to view larger)

Antonov’s An-124 Condor began as a Soviet super-heavy military transport aircraft that would be even larger than the American C-5 Galaxy. After coming out on top in that particular ‘mine is bigger than yours’ contest, the An-124 outdid its American rivals again by going on to a surprising second career in the civilian sector. It has become the de facto global standard super-heavy cargo aircraft for outsize loads. Even NATO uses the Condor these days, via its SALIS lease of 6 AN-124s to meet the military transport needs of 17 participating nations.

On the flip side, that popularity means existing AN-124s are accumulating flight-hour fatigue, and some of them have yet to be upgraded with newer electronics and engines. As the fleet ages, freight carrier Volga-Dnepr chairman Alexei Isaikin was quoting forecasting An-124 capacity shortages by 2008. Hence the Dec 15/06 negotiations held at ANTONOV ASTC headquarters with key customers Volga-Dnepr Airline JSC and Aviastar JSC, and subsequent talks with Russia concerning new military airlifters.

Days of the Condor: Re-newing the AN-124 Modern Marvels: AN-124
click for video

The current An-124-100 is actually a fully commercial derivative of the military AN-124, with more than 15 years of operational experience. The civil An-124-100 was certified in 1992, and meets all current civil standards including ICAO Stage/ Chapter III noise limits and modern navigational equipment requirements. These upgrades let the AN-124 operate with a decreased crew, offer increased range of flight and payload, add new engine options that meet the newest ICAO standards, and incorporate modernized avionics.

Modification of the aircraft to a reported An-124-100M-150 status is said to extend the AN-124′s freight capacity from 120t to 150t, reduce required crew size from 6 to 4; and add a strengthened front cargo ramp, simplified and accelerated loading/unloading, increased range, an improved braking and tire system, and upgraded avionics including a ground proximity warning system.

Aviastar JSC Executive Director Mr. V. Savotchenko, hinted at concrete arrangements for further production when he said in 2006 that “…the plant did not stop production of the airplanes. That is why we are ready to renovate serial production of the airplanes, the giants of An-124 family.”

The engineering and production reality behind that statement remains murky, but in September 2004, the governments of Russia and the Ukraine announced that series production of the An-124 would be restarted, with to 80 An-124-100M upgraded aircraft to be jointly manufactured by Aviastar and Aviant between 2006-2020. That project has been delayed, and there have been no public reports of a contract, but neither has it been affirmatively cancelled.

In the interim, a military contract to begin producing a 10-20 new Condors for Russia’s military is moving forward alongside a confirmed refurbishment program for Russia’s existing fleet. Once signed, this military contract could break the logjam by re-opening production; from there, it’s just a question of rate and scale.

Global Markets and Competition C-17 vs. AN-124
(click to view full)

In 2006, Herman A. Kurapov’s research pegs the global out-sized air cargo market at:

“…about US$250M in annual sales. 5300 tonnes of cargo are carried and 14,600 flight hours flown. During the ’90s, the market grew 12% per year on average, compared to 5-6% growth for regular airfreight. Business has quadrupled in the last 10 years and is expected to reach US $ 500M by 2010 and become worth US $ 2B within 30 years.”

Much of this market is not military in origin; indeed, Kurapov claims that more than 52% of this market (or US$ 115 million per year) is currently North America-related (35-40% of total sales in the US market, 11-12% in Canada).

This indicates that the An-124 is likely to occupy a unique and sustainable space in the global cargo market for quite some time to come, with new aircraft rolling off the production line and financing available. Across the Atlantic, the USAF is undertaking upgrades to its decades-old C-5A Galaxies that will give them acceptable mission readiness profiles via new engines and electronics. They also seem intent on shuttering C-17 production despite usage and wear levels in the existing fleet that have been significantly higher and more strenuous than originally envisioned. Oddly, the Americans even seem to be creating

  • /">obstacles to civilian C-17 use.

  • Skyhook concept
    (click to view full)

    Over the longer term, the An-124 could find itself facing competition from a completely different type of platform. Blimp-like hybrid airships are rising slowly but noticeably, as new materials, new designs, and fuel cost economics all combine to create new levels of comparative performance. As of 2011, near-term possibilities seem to be concentrated in the 20-30t range, with offerings including cargo versions of the US Army’s LEMV surveillance blimp, Aeros’ Pelican, Boeing/JHL’s Skyhook partnership, and Lockheed Martin’s Skytug.

    Their carrying capacity is significantly below the An-124′s, but the firms involved are all explicitly targeting industries that need outsize aerial transport services. They also believe that there are no significant engineering obstacles to scaling their designs well past the 100t range. When combined with ultra-low fuel costs and the ability to land without a runway, the An-124 could be facing a formidable competitor in future years. The long-term question for Antonov and its operators is how much that competition will act as a substitute for their platform, and how much it will grow the outsize lift market as a whole.

    Contracts and Key Events French Buffalo, delivered
    (click to view full)

    Aug 16/14: Dead program. Russia’s invasion of the Crimea, and subsequent fostering of a civil war in Eastern Ukraine, appear to have killed future An-124 production. At the International Air Transport Forum 2014, Russian Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Yuri Slusar said:

    “I am very sorry… The project for resuming the production and upgrade of the unique plane Ruslan is off the agenda. That’s too bad. The niches that the Ukrainians and we might have taken… Designers there and producers here…”

    The twin-engine An-148 regional jet program remains in effect as a cooperative venture, as does its derivative An-158. Russia’s ITAR-TASS, “Resumption of Antonov-124 jumbo jet project with Ukraine grounded – trade ministry”.

    Dec 19/13: Negotiations. The Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers has approved a draft inter-governmental agreement with Russia to restart serial production of An-124 aircraft powered by D-18T engines. It’s part of the process of establishing a joint venture related to An-124 production, which could produce 80 aircraft worth a total of $12.89 billion – about $160 million per plane.

    The Ukraine recently bowed to Russian pressure and turned away from integration into the EU, a move that set off large protests within the country. The question is whether the Ukraine had much choice, given Russian policies that blocked shipments of goods into Russia, and targeted heavy industry in the Ukraine’s eastern region that depends on the Russian market. Trade was being strangled, and foreign reserves had fallen below the standard 6-month safe level. The larger agreement reportedly has Russia invest $15 billion in Ukraine’s government debt (giving them a future lever), and reduces gas prices from Russia to Naftogaz by about 1/3, but may involve some ceding of control over the Ukraine’s pipelines. Military deals like the An-124 and An-70 can also become bit pieces in these dramas. Sources: Russian Aviation, “Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers approved the draft agreement with Russia on production of An-124″ | Interfax-Ukraine, “An-124 plane production recovery program includes production of 80 planes, says Ukrainian premier” | IHS Jane’s 360, “Ukraine, Russia agree to restart An-124 production among raft of economic agreements” || See also Antonov, “Ukraine and Russia continue cooperation on joint aviation projects” | Reuters, “Special Report: Why Ukraine spurned the EU and embraced Russia”.

    Oct 28/13: Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is non-committal when talking to an audience at the Don State Technical University about the An-124. He says only that “Joint tests are continuing, with the purpose of making a decision about the possible resumption of the manufacture of Antonov An-124 aircraft”. Sources: Interfax-Ukraine, “Lavrov: Russia, Ukraine working to restore An-124 Ruslan production”.

    Aug 29/13: Negotiations. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Boiko says that the Ukraine and Russia have reportedly finalized a draft agreement to resume An-124 batch production. They’re working out the technicalities, and expect to sign an agreement in September-October 2013. Sources: The Voice of Russia, “Ukraine and Russia plan to resume production of An-124 planes”.

    April 11/13: SALIS celebration. Antonov and the Ukrainian Embassy organize a reception at Leipzig’s Leipzig?Halle airport, dedicated to the 30?year anniversary the AN?124?100′s maiden flight. Leipzig-Halle has been the base for NATO’s SALIS program since 2006, and has acted as a maintenance hub since January 2007, sparking the airport’s growth into a key regional logistics hub.

    Antonov First Vice President – Director General Vladimir Korol adds that Antonov and the Volga?Dnepr group of companies have performed about 1,400 SALIS flights, including 222 flights from Germany and 177 to Germany, carrying more than 81,500t of cargo, including 14,195t from Germany and 8,440t to Germany. Sources: Antonov, “30 years since the AN-124 Ruslan maiden take-of” | Antonov, “The AN?124?100 was presented at Leipzig?Halle airport”.

    AN-124-100 variant
    (click to view full)

    Aug 16/11: Speaking at Russia’s MAKS-2011 military exhibition, United Aircraft Corp CEO Mikhail Pogosyan tells reporters that there is no formal contract yet, but:

    “Starting from 2015, we plan to supply the Defense Ministry with ten An-124s as part of the arms procurement program until 2020.”

    Oct 27/10: Russian and Ukrainian leaders sign a Participants’ Agreement to establish a joint venture between Antonov and Russia’s state-owned UAC. According to Antonov:

    “The joint venture will be engaged in coordination of activity of enterprises of ANTONOV and UAC in directions of vendor items purchase, production, marketing and sales, as well as after-sale support and design of new modifications of ANTONOV aircraft. The list of programs to be realized by the JV includes: further development of AN-148 regional jet of a new generation, AN-70 STOL military transport, assumption of new versions of AN-124-100 RUSLAN freighter.”

    Sept 30/10: Russia’s RIA Novosti says that a proposed Russia-Ukraine venture has received orders for 60 An-124 cargo aircraft, to be produced by a forthcoming Antonov/UAV joint venture joint venture.

    What they do not have, is a contract – and one is not announced by Antonov as of August 2011. That doesn’t mean a contract cannot exist, but it does make its status rather murky. Russia’s RIA Novosti

    July 19/10: The Russian Defense Ministry’s 2011-2020 spending plans includes about 20 An-124-100 Ruslans. Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin:

    “We are now working on this issue… We intend to buy about 20 such aircraft… We plan to modernize two [existing AN-124] planes annually [under a recent contract], and starting from 2015-2016, if the manufacturers are ready, we will start purchasing them.”

    That last bit is the challenge. Restarting production is always expensive, and the study mentioned in the June 24/08 entry seems to set 40 orders as the threshold for a good financing case.

    June 11/10: Russia’s Kommersant newspaper quotes UAC head Alexei Fyodorov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as saying that Russia had proposed the joint production of the AN-124 in the USA to the U.S. government, and that the issue would be on the agenda of President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the United States later in June.

    A number of American firms do have AN-124 outsize heavy lift contracts, including Boeing, the United Launch Alliance, and Lora. The Pentagon has used them too, and reportedly has contract options until 2016. Still, this was probably a very short conversation. The cost of setting up even a final assembly line will run into 9 figures, which offers little incentive to Boeing without a lot of orders. that’s unlikely, since there is little economic or political incentive for the US government to encourage the AN-124. The Ukranians were reportedly upset by even the mention of this topic, and wish to keep production in the Ukraine. RIA Novosti.

    Dec 25/09: Merry Christmas to the Air Force? RIA Novosti:

    “I believe that by 2020 we will begin receiving new aircraft of this type,” Lt. Gen. Viktor Kachalkin, commander of the 61st Air Army, said Friday at a news conference in Moscow.”

    First, they have to resume production.

    Nov 24/09: Russian and Ukranian media report that a $500 million investment looks set to relaunch AN-124 design in 2010, with a goal of beginning production in 2012. Key quotes include Russian President Dmitry Medvedev:

    “There’s a market niche for new large cargo transporters. If we don’t seize this opportunity, others will.”

    Volga-Dnepr President Aleksey Isaikin, whose airline owns 10 of the planes:

    “BP used our 124s to ship oil rigs to a deposit in Colombia. They say it worked out tens of times cheaper than by boat. But we desperately need new planes to fill demand.”

    The price tag is estimated at $200 million per plane, which pleases state-owned United Aircraft Corporation President Aleksey Fedorov:

    “We will manufacture 70 new 124s in the first phase. That will require investment by the government of half a billion dollars.”

    This is still not a contract. The first task will be re-creating a reliable supply chain, and prospecting work has begun. The Ukrainian government is reportedly considering state financing for related development projects to modernize the Antonov An-124-100 and its D-18T engines. Interfax-Ukraine reports that a relevant agreement was reached by the Russian-Ukrainian intergovernmental economic committee, at a Moscow meeting of its subcommittee for cooperation in aircraft. RIA Novosti’s RT | Interfax-Ukraine | StrategyPage.

    Nov 17/09: Ukrainian Industry Minister Volodymyr Novytsky is quoted as saying that Ukraine and Russia will speed up work on preparations for resuming the mass production of An-124 Ruslan aircraft in 2010. The 2 countries had already started preparatory work, including design work by Antonov to modernize the avionics. BSANNA.

    June 24/08: Russia’s RIA Novosti:

    “It will take 4 billion rubles ($165 million) and at least 40 solid orders to resume production of the An-124 Ruslan (Condor) heavy-lift cargo plane, the RBK daily said on Tuesday citing a feasibility study… by Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and Ernst & Young, stated that An-124s could be manufactured at Ulyanovsk-based Aviastar from 2012 at a rate of one to two a year. If 40 firm orders are secured, a business plan would be drafted and a loan sought.”

    The study estimates 70 potential orders until 2030, at a current cost of $150-160 million each.

    April 27/07: The new Ruslan AN-124-100M-150 has completed tests. Antonov announces the completion of Russian GosNII GA and GosNII Aeronavigatsiya certification tests for the new AN-124-100M-150. Documentation is now being prepared for consideration by the Interstate Aviation Committee, in order to obtain their certificate for the AN-124-100M-150.

    Dec 15/06: Representatives of ANTONOV ASTC, Volga-Dnepr Airline JSC and Aviastar JSC sign an “agreement on modernization and construction of AN-124 Ruslan aircraft family.” Antonov ASTC press release.

    Additional Readings

    Categories: News

    Ukraine, Iraq, Venezuela, and More: Pick Your 2014 Chaos

    Fri, 08/15/2014 - 16:15

    • The UK’s Telegraph reports first-hand sighting of Russian armored vehicles crossing into Ukraine, also witnessed by Shaun Walker from the Guardian. This is a different column of vehicles than the “aid” convoy [NYT] of 260 trucks sent by Russia to “help” [see also this AP video].

    • Jessica Lewis from the Institute for the Study of War was on MSNBC to discuss the Islamic State’s goals and modus operandi.

    • Venezuela continues to sink towards failed-state levels of violence: gunmen wreak havoc in Caracas emergency rooms [AP].

    US Paramilitary Law Enforcement

    • The backlash against the federally-funded militarization of local police forces across the US is healthily bipartisan [Bloomberg video]. Events such as the police behavior on display in Ferguson were easily predictable, and previewed by SWAT teams with a pretty aggressive [Reason] representation of themselves. But mainstream media and national-level politicians end up again in a mostly reactive posture, while there was little reporting of, or political resistance against, massive equipment transfers from DoD to law enforcement in small towns and suburbs.

    High-Res Sat Imagery


    • China is struggling [MIT Technology Review] with its effort to develop shale gas. This may portend more aggressiveness around more straightforward energy sources – like the South China Sea.

    • Today’s video shows the EW antenna being mounted on Australia’s Hobart destroyer:

    Categories: News