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Military Purchasing News for Defense Procurement Managers and Contractors
Updated: 32 min 58 sec ago

S-300 Maker Fights EU Sanctions with Russia Tempering (Again) Iran Proliferation Threat | Crash-Prone SU-30MKI Earns Safety Audit | Italy Ups Defense Hardware Budget

2 hours 11 min ago


  • Russian arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey, which manufactures the S-300 and S-400 air defense systems, is appealing EU sanctions imposed on the company as a result of Russia’s support to separatists forces in Ukraine. The firm has been banned from selling defense and dual-use technologies to European countries, as well as seeing its assets frozen in western Europe. The company has been on the EU sanctions list since July 2014, as well as the US Treasury’s Special Designated Nationals list.

  • Separately, Russian media is reporting that the Russo-Iranian deal for S-300 air defense systems is yet to be finalized, following the signing a decree in April nominally opening the way for the potential sale. With a history of back-peddling and curtailed deals, the future of this latest deal may not be as final as the Russian Foreign Ministry makes out to be.

  • Georgia has unveiled a new unmanned attack helicopter, produced by the government’s State Military Scientific-Technical Center. The armed helicopter has a reported range of 280km and appears to be armed with two M134 mini-guns and eight ground attack missiles.

  • Germany’s Rheinmetall has signed an agreement with state-owned Kazakhstan Engineering to form a joint venture. Kazakhstan is pursuing an ambitious defense modernization program, with support from Israel, Russia and China bolstered by oil and gas reserves.

  • Italy’s 2015 defense budget was released on Tuesday, with a substantial EUR4.9 billion ($5.3 billion) set aside for procurement expenditure. The F-35 has been allocated $634 million, with Italy a Tier Two nation in the multinational program.


  • With India having begun sea trials of the INS Sindhukirti, a recently refitted and modernized diesel-electric submarine, questions have been raised over the extended time (nine years) taken to refit the sub. This lethargic refit has been blamed by the shipyard responsible – Hindustan Shipyard Ltd – on Russian experts deliberately delaying the boat’s overhaul, including insistence on sourcing components from Russia, delaying several processes significantly. The original program called for the refit to take three years. The Soviet-manufactured Sindhukirti has reportedly been fitted with Klub-S missiles – also recently supplied to Vietnam – and new sonar, as well as other new components.

  • India is to review its SU-30MKI fleet following the loss of one aircraft earlier this month. The high-level safety audit is a response to not only this latest crash, but the loss of six SU-30MKIs since the Indian Air Force received the first batch in 2002, a high attrition rate for a fighter which comprises roughly a third of the IAF’s fast jet force.

  • The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has declared their fleet of Wedgetail AWACS operational, achieving Full Operational Capability (FOC) in light of operations over Iraq. Following a $2 billion December 2000 procurement contract, the fleet of six Boeing E-7A aircraft achieved Initial Operating Capability in November 2012, following setbacks from 2006 onwards in a much-criticised procurement program.

  • Separately, the RAAF has demonstrated a satellite data link-enabled video stream between a C-17A and an IAI Heron UAV 2,000km away. The fleet of C-17As was recently equipped with SATCOM and imagery equipment as part of the Australian Defence Force’s Plan Jericho upgrade program.

Today’s Video

  • A RAAF video showing the use of the E-7A Wedgetail over Iraq:

Categories: News

Lockheed to Upgrade Japanese AEGIS Destroyer for ABM Use

4 hours 40 min ago
JS Kongou
(click to view full)

Lockheed Martin Maritime Sensors and Systems won a $124 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification to upgrade Japan’s Kongo-Class AEGIS destroyer JS Kongo [DDG-173] to give it AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense Block 2004 capability. Japan’s Kongo-Class destroyers are based on the USA’s Flight II DDG 51 Arleigh Burke Class, but feature many modifications both internally and externally. The Kirishima itself was posted to the Indian Ocean as part of Japan’s contribution to the war on terror, acting as flagship for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force.

DID has covered related Japanese contracts, including cooperation with the USA on missile defense and a related $400 million order for naval ABM components and services. Work on this contract will take place in Moorestown, NJ (78%); Baltimore, MD (15%); Eagan, MN (4%); and Aberdeen, SD (3%); and should be complete by November 2007. The project was not bid out, but was rather awarded by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC under contracting activity N00024-03-C-6110. See also Lockheed release.

May 27/15: Lockheed Martin was handed a $69.7 million contract to upgrade two Japanese Defense Force Atago-class Aegis-equipped ships through a Foreign Military Sale. The JDF is reportedly planning on building an additional pair of Atago-class ships, with Lockheed Martin having previously been awarded a contract in support of the class.

Categories: News

India Ordered, Modernized, Perhaps Regrets SU-30MKIs

4 hours 45 min ago
Indra Dhanush 2007
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India’s SU-30MKI fighter-bombers are the pride of its fleet. Below them, India’s local Tejas LCA lightweight fighter program aims to fill its low-end fighter needs, and the $10+ billion M-MRCA competition is negotiating to buy France’s Rafale as an intermediate tier.

India isn’t neglecting its high end SU-30s, though. Initial SU-30MK and MKI aircraft have all been upgraded to the full SU-30MKI Phase 3 standard, and the upgraded “Super 30″ standard aims to keep Sukhoi’s planes on top. Meanwhile, production continues, and India is becoming a regional resource for SU-27/30 Flanker family support.

India’s Flanker Fleet SU-30MKs & Mirage 2000s
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India originally received standard SU-30MKs, while its government and industry worked with the Russians to develop the more advanced SU-30MKI, complete with innovations like thrust-vectoring engines and canard foreplanes. The Su-30MKI ended up using electronic systems from a variety of countries: a Russian NIIP N-011 radar and long-range IRST sensor, French navigation and heads-up display systems from Thales, Israeli electronic warfare systems and LITENING advanced targeting pods, and Indian computers and ancillary avionics systems.

Earlier-model SU-30MK aircraft and crews performed very well at an American Red Flag exercise in 2008, and the RAF’s evident respect for the SU-30 MKIs in the 2007 Indra Dhanush exercise is equally instructive. The Russians were intrigued enough to turn a version with different electronics into their new export standard (SU-30MKA/MKM), and even the Russian VVS has begin buying “SU-30SM” fighters.

So far, India has ordered 272 SU-30s in 4 stages:

1. 50 SU-30MK and MKIs ordered directly from Russia in 1996. The SU-30MKs were reportedly modernized to a basic SU-30MKI standard.
2. Another 40 SU-30MKIs, ordered direct in 2007. These machines have reportedly been upgraded to the “Phase 3″ standard.
3. A license-build deal with India’s HAL that aims to produce up to 140 more SU-30MKI Phase 3 planes from 2013-2017
4. An improved set of 42 HAL-built SU-30MKI “Super 30s”. A preliminary order was reportedly signed in 2011, but the final deal waited until December 2012.

The Super 30 represents the next evolution for the SU-30MKI. Upgrades are reported to include a new radar (probably AESA, and likely Phazotron’s Zhuk-AE), improved onboard computers, upgraded electronic warfare systems, and the ability to fire the air-launched version of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

India may eventually upgrade its earlier models to this standard. For now, they represent the tail end of HAL’s assembly schedule, as the assembly of standard SU-30MKIs continues. The big challenge for HAL is to keep that expansion going, by meeting India’s production targets.

The overall goal is 13-14 squadrons by 2017. Based on 3rd party sources, IAF SU-30MKI squadrons currently comprise:

  • 2 Wing’s 20 Sqn. “Lightnings” & 30 Sqn. “Rhinos”, at Lohegaon AFS in Pune (W)
  • 11 Wing’s 2 Sqn. “Winged Arrows”, at Tezpur AFS in Assam (NE, near Tibet)
  • 15 Wing’s 8 Sqn. “Eight Pursuits” & 24 Sqn. “Hawks”, at Bareilly AFS in Uttar Pradesh (NC, near W Nepal)
  • 14 Wing’s 102 Sqn. “Trisonics”, at Guwahati/Chabua AFS in Assam (NE, near Tibet)
  • 27 Wing’s 15 Sqn. “Flying Lancers”, at Bhuj AFS in Gurajat (NW)
  • 34 Wing’s 31 Sqn. “Lions” & 220 Sqn. “Desert Tigers”, at Halwara AFS in Punjab (NW)
  • 45 Wing’s 21 Sqn. “Ankush”, at Sirsa AFS in Haryana (NW)

Initial SU-30 MKI squadron deployments had been focused near the Chinese border, but the new deployments are evening things out. There have also been reports of basings in other locations, though the number of active squadrons suggest that these are yet to come:

  • Bhatinda AFS in Punjab (NW, currently 34 Wing’s 17 Sqn. “Golden Arrows” MiG-21s)
  • Jodhpur AFS in Rajasthan (NW, currently 32 Wing’s MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons)
  • Thanjavur AFS in Tamil Nadu (SE) needs to finish building out, but is expected to permanently house SU-30MKIs by 2018. Its SU-30MKIs will offer India comfortable strike coverage of Sri Lanka, including the major southern port of Hambantota that’s being built with a great deal of Chinese help.

Contracts & Key Events 2013 – 2014

Engine and Fly-by-Wire issues; Industrial issues highlight cost waste; Crash grounds fleet. IAF SU-30MKI

May 27/15: India is to review its SU-30MKI fleet following the loss of one aircraft earlier this month. The high-level safety audit is a response to not only this latest crash, but the loss of six SU-30MKIs since the Indian Air Force received the first batch in 2002, a high attrition rate for a fighter which comprises roughly a third of the IAF’s fast jet force.

Nov 17/14: Air Chief Arup Raha was cited by PTI as saying that the reason for the sudden ejection seat activation in the Oct 14/14 crash isn’t clear, but inspections aren’t showing problems in the remaining fleet. The Court of Inquiry’s report is being finalized, and the fleet should be back in use by Nov 21/14. Sources: Russia & India Report, “India’s Su-30s to be back in use this week”.

Oct 23/14: Readiness. According to India’s Business Standard, the readiness rate for IAF SU-30MKIs has risen from 48% before 2013 to around 55%, meaning that 87 of 193 fighters are grounded at any one time. The paper cites MoD figures and documents that show 20% of the fleet (about 39) undergoing 1st line and 2nd line maintenance by the IAF, another 11-12% (about 22) undergoing overhaul at HAL, and 13-14% (about 26) grounded waiting for major repairs.

What’s interesting is that HAL is beginning to push back against the IAF, offering to take most maintenance off of the IAF’s hands under a Performance Based Logistics (PBL) arrangement that would pay HAL for fighters fit to fly, instead of paying for parts and labor. PBL would threaten a lot of military jobs, so the IAF has resisted such offers for the SU-30MKI and Hawk Mk.132 fleets. But HAL is touting the possibility of a 20% absolute improvement, under a contract structure that directly links pay and performance. That’s 2 full operational squadrons worth.

Meanwhile, the current arrangement continues, with the IAF vastly underspending on spares (INR 500 million per year, vs. INR 34.5 billion at a standard 5%/year rate), and spares worth INR 4 billion stockpiled by HAL at Nashik. Even if the IAF doesn’t adopt PBL, HAL would like to see 5 years worth of spares stockpiled. Most of the spares must still come from Russia, and surge capability is very poor. Sources: India’s Business Standard, “Govt takes note of Su-30MKI’s poor ‘serviceability'”

Oct 22/14: Grounded. IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Simranpal Singh Birdi says that the IAF’s SU-30MKIs are all grounded, which removes a substantial chunk of India’s front-line airpower.

“The fleet has been grounded and is undergoing technical checks following the latest accident in Pune. It would be back in air only after a thorough check…. A Court of Inquiry is in progress to ascertain the actual cause of accident…”

Meanwhile, the need to deal with the Sukhoi fleet’s various issues means that HAL needs to ramp up their ability to overhaul India’s SU-30s, from the current pathetic rate of 2 per year to 15 or so. Sources: | IBNS, “India temporarily grounds Sukhoi-30 fighter jets” | Hindustan Times, “Cloud over cause of Sukhoi crash”.

Oct 14-22/14: Crash. An IAF SU-30MKI crashes about 20 km from Pune airbase. Wing Commander Sidharth Vishwas Munje survived the type’s first crash in Indian service as a co-pilot, which was also a dangerous low-altitude ejection. The pilots apparently did quite a job, as Shiv Aroor (incorrectly) reports:

“They grappled to control a doomed fighter and eject only after ensuring it would glide into a sugarcane field, away from a built-up area that may have been the site of impact had the pilots chosen to eject earlier…. The IAF is still piecing together the full sequence of events, though it appears clear at this time that Munje and his junior had mere seconds to take a decision after lift-off.”

Both pilots escaped safely, but Aroor’s account turns out to be completely wrong. The IAF subsequently issues a release that says:

“One Su-30 fighter of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was involved in an accident on October 14, 2014 in which both ejection seats had fired whilst the aircraft was coming in to land.”

The Russian specialists brought into the investigation say that’s impossible without the pilot’s command, but Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Major is quoted as saying there have been a few incidents in other air forces. Sources: India PIB, “IAF SU30 Crashed” and “Update on Su-30 Accident” | Livefist, “Twice Lucky: Pilot In Yesterday’s Su-30 Crash Also Survived 1st MKI Crash In 2009″ and “Flanker Trouble: Did Fly-By-Wire Glitch Crash IAF Su-30?” | Bangalore Mirror, “No engine failure, pilot error in Sukhoi crash” | Deccan Chronicle, “Cause of Sukhoi-30 crash unclear” | Hindustan Times (Oct 23/14), “Cloud over cause of Sukhoi crash”.

Crash & fleet grounding

Aug 4/14: Engine issues. NPO Saturn has proposed a set of modifications designed to reduce mid-flight AL-31FP engine failures (q.v. July 20/14), and the IAF has accepted it. The modified engines will be tested first, then the refit of India’s 200 plane fleet will be carried out in batches over the next 18-24 months at HAL’s Sukhoi engine plant in Orissa. The Russians will reportedly include modified engines in India’s remaining 72 kits. Sources: Tribune News Service, “Engine rejig to cut Su-30 burnouts”.

July 20/14: Engine issues. Reports indicate that the IAF fleet’s problems aren’t limited to mission computers and displays (q.v. March 15/14). It also has a problem with engine failures in flight. Fortunately, as a 2-engine fighter, it can generally land on 1 engine, and the accident rate is low. The flip side is that this isn’t something you want to happen in a dogfight. Worse, every time this happens, the engine has to be taken out, tested, fixed, and put back. That takes a minimum of 4-5 days, which cuts readiness rates.

“The IAF has so far not arrived at a conclusion of its findings, but as a precautionary step, it has started servicing the engine after 700 hours instead of the mandated 1,000 hours of flying, adding to the non-availability of the aircraft…. The IAF had told Russians after studying each failure in detail that Sukhoi’s engines – AL-31FP produced by NPO Saturn of Russia – had been functioning inconsistently for the past two years (2012 and 2013). The number of single-engine landings by planes in two years is high and not healthy. It lowers the operational ability of the fleet, besides raising questions about war readiness, said sources.”

sources: Tribune News Service, “Su-30MKI engine failures worry IAF; Russia told to fix snag”.

June 16/14: Display fix. HAL chairman R K Tyagi discusses the issue of SU-30MKI display blanking and mission computer failure (q.v. March 15/14):

“The issue has been addressed by upgrading the software by the Russian side and replacing the mission computer and HUD wherever it was found unservicable during service checks [in India].” He further said that following the software upgrade and other service action taken, no problems concerning the Su-30 fighters has been reported from any IAF base.”

Sources: Defense World, “Software Upgrade Solves IAF Su-30MKI’s Display Problem”.

May 5/14: Astra AAM. An SU-30MKI successfully test-fires an Indian Astra BVRAAM (Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile), marking the next stage beyond the avionics integration and seeker tests that went on from November 2013 – February 2014. The firing marks a significant milestone for India.

The SU-30MKI will be the 1st fighter integrated with India’s new missile, giving its pilots an indigenous option alongside Russia’s R77 / AA-12 missiles. It will also be integrated with India’s LCA Tejas light fighter, alongside RAFAEL’s Derby. Sources: The Hindu, “Astra successfully test-fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI”.

April 22/14: Waste. India’s Business Standard discusses HAL’s planned schedule, and explains some of the difficult aspects of their contract with Russia. Deliveries currently sit at 15 per year, but completion of the program will be late. Final delivery is now scheduled for 2019, instead of 2016-17.

The second issue is price, which began at $30 million but rose to $75 million each, even though most work is being done in a lower-cost country now. The key is the contract, which mandates that all raw materials must be sourced from Russia. Of the SU-30MKI’s roughly 43,000 components, there are 5,800 large metal plates, castings and forgings that must come from Russia. Another 7,146 bolts, screws, rivets, etc. have similar stipulations, and Russia also produces major assemblies like the radar and engines. Those plates, castings, and forgings are a source of considerable waste:

“For example, a 486 kg titanium bar supplied by Russia is whittled down to a 15.9 kg tail component. The titanium shaved off is wasted. Similarly a wing bracket that weighs just 3.1 kg has to be fashioned from a titanium forging that weighs 27 kg…. manufacturing sophisticated raw materials like titanium extrusions in India is not economically viable for the tiny quantities needed for Su-30MKI fighters.”

An assembly line that wasn’t state-owned wouldn’t be wasting all that left-over titanium. Sources: India’s Business Standard, “Air Force likely to get entire Sukhoi-30MKI fleet by 2019″.

March 29/14: MAFI. India’s Business Standard discusses India’s INR 25 billion “Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure” (MAFI) project, which is being led by Tata Power’s strategic electronics division. It uses Doppler Very High Frequency Omni-directional Radio Range (DVOR), and Category II Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), allowing direction from 300 km and operations in visibility as low as 300 meters.

Bhatinda is MAFI’s pilot project, and a SU-30MKI was used to test the system on March 25/14. The challenge is that they can only upgrade 5-6 bases at any given time. The eventual goal is 30 IAF and navy bases set up by 2016, including 8 along the Chinese border. By the end of 2019, the goal is to expand MAFI to 67 air bases, including 2 owned by the ministry of home affairs. The larger goal is greater tactical flexibility for all fleets, and the SU-30s will be a major beneficiary. Sources: India’s Business Standard, “First upgraded IAF base commissioned”.

March 15/14: Readiness. India’s Sunday Guardian obtains letters and other documents sent by HAL to its Russian counterparts, pointing to serious maintenance problems with India’s SU-30MKI fleet. Compared with India’s older Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 fleets, whose readiness rates hover near 75%, fully 50% of the SU-30MKIs are considered unfit for operational flying. That’s a strategic-class issue for a country like India, and could provide the missing explanation for reports that India may abandon the joint FGFA/SU-50 5th generation fighter program in order to pay for French Rafale jets.

This isn’t the first time such issues have arisen (q.v. Dec 16/11), and the Russians have general reputation for these kinds of problems. One February 2014 letter from HAL’s Nasik plant reminds the Russians that they’ve been pursuing a critical issue since March 2013, with no reply:

“…multiple cases of repeated failure of Mission Computer-1 and blanking out of Head Up Displays (HUD) and all Multi-Function Displays (MFD) in flight… As the displays blanking off is a serious and critical issue affecting the exploitation of aircraft (it) needs corrective action/remedial measures on priority…”

From a Dec 24/13 letter:

“Due to non-availability of facilities for overhaul of aggregates [aircraft parts], the serviceability of Su-30MKI is slowly decreasing and demand for Aircraft on Ground (AOG) items on the rise…. Huge quantities of unserviceable aggregates [parts] are lying due for overhaul at various bases of IAF…. It appears that Rosboronexport and Irkut Corporation have limited control over other Russian companies [which provide vital parts like engines].”

One reason the MiG-29 fleet is doing better is that India has worked to build infrastructure like local RD-33 engine plants, bypassing the Russians entirely. Russian firms were supposed to set up a SU-30MKI repair-overhaul facility at HAL by December 2013, but that has fallen into a black hole, and so has the posting of aircraft specialists. India itself is often at fault in these scenarios, and indeed they’re reportedly haggling over price – but the specialist support contract reportedly states that they’re to be posted even if price negotiations aren’t finalized. India’s core defense posture demands that they resolve these issues, one way or another. Sources: India’s Sunday Guardian, “Russians go slow, Sukhoi fleet in trouble”.

Serious maintenance & readiness issues

BrahMos brefing

Jan 4/14: Russia and India Report looks at the way the SU-30MKI is changing the IAF’s strategy, citing the huge April 2013 IAF exercise based on “swing forces” in a 2-front war against China and Pakistan. The SU-30MKIs range made them the natural swing force, flying 1,800 km bombing missions with mid-air refuelling. The report also makes an interesting observation:

“There is another ominous angle. India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has asked for 40 nuclear capable strike aircraft to be used conjointly with land-based and submarine launched ballistic missiles. Although it’s not clear whether the IAF or the SFC will operate this mini air force, what is clear is that exactly 40 Su-30 MKIs have been converted to carry the BrahMos. That’s some coincidence.”

Sources: Russia & India Report, “How the Su-30 MKI is changing the IAF’s combat strategy”.

July 11/13: Weapons. Russian BrahMos Aerospace Executive Director Alexander Maksichev promises that 1st test-launch of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from an Indian Su-30MKI will be scheduled in 2014. Integration is underway, and 2 SU-30MKIs are being adapted for the missile. Sources: Russia & India Report, “First test-launch of BrahMos missile from Indian Su-30MKI in 2014″.

May 27/13: Infrastructure. The IAF has finished modernizing the old WWI vintage airbase near Thanjavur in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, across the strait from Sri Lanka. A pair of SU-30MKIs took off from the runway as part of the ceremonies, and the base is eventually slated to house a full squadron of the type. The airfield last served as a civil airport in the 1990s, and renovations began in 2006.

Thanjavur was used as an emergency airstrip during flood relief in 2008, but the dedication marks its inauguration as a base for high-performance fighters, which will reportedly include a squadron of SU-30MKIs. They will offer India comfortable strike coverage of Sri Lanka, including the major southern port of Hambantota that’s being built with a great deal of Chinese help. While the runway and other facilities are in place for “lily pad” deployments, Thanjavur AFS still needs flight hangers, avionic bays, labs, fuel dumps and other infrastructure before it will be ready to host SU-30MKI fighters on a permanent basis.
Sources: India MoD, “Antony Dedicates to Nation New Air Force Station at Thanjavur” | Defence News India, “Sukhoi-30MKI’s to dominate South India and Indian Ocean” | The Hindu, “Full-fledged IAF airbase at Thanjavur from May 27″.

2011 – 2012

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Dec 24/12: Super-30s contract. Russia signs over $4 billion worth of defense contracts with India, including the deal for 42 “Super 30″ upgraded SU-30MKIs. Key Super 30 upgrades are reported to include a new radar (probably AESA, and likely Phazotron’s Zhuk-AE), improved onboard computers, upgraded electronic warfare systems, and the ability to fire the air-launched version of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

Russian sources place the Super 30 deal at $1.6 billion, which is significantly below previous figures. The Hindustan Times places its value at Rs 16,666 crore instead, which is about $3.023 billion at current conversions. The Times’ figure is in line with previous estimates, and is the one DID will use. The planes will arrive at HAL as assembly kits, and will be added to HAL’s production backlog. So far, the company says that they have assembled and delivered 119 SU-30MKIs to the IAF.

Other major agreements signed at the 2012 summit include a buy of 59 more Mi-17 helicopters, and a memorandum of cooperation regarding Russia’s GPS-like GLONASS system. India has indicated that it isn’t looking to add to its Flanker fleet after this deal, but they may choose to modernize older aircraft to this standard. That would keep Russian firms busy for quite some time. Indian Ministry of External Affairs | Hindustan Times | Times of India | RIA Novosti || Pakistan’s DAWN | Turkey’s Hurriyet |
Wall St. Journal.

“Super 30″ contract?

Nov 23/12: More upgrades? Indian media report that India and Russia may be set to sign a $1 billion deal to upgrade the basic avionics of its existing SU-30MKIs, alongside the $3.8 billion “Super 30″ deal. The big deadline date is just before Christmas, when Russia’s Vladimir Putin arrives in India for high-level talks.

The report mentions a SU-30MKI squadron in Jodhpur, near Pakistan, but all other sources offer the same total of 8 current and near-term squadrons without listing this as a Flanker base. 32 Wing’s 32 Sqn. “Thunderbirds”, who are currently listed as a MiG-21bis unit, would be the most likely conversion candidates in Jodhpur. Russia & India Report.

Oct 17/12: Indonesia. During his visit to Jakarta, Indian Defence Minister A K Antony agrees to train and support the Indonesian Air Force’s Flanker fleet. India flies a large fleet of SU-30MKIs, and is conducting manufacturing and final assembly work in India at HAL. They’ve already leveraged that base to provide similar support to Malaysia’s fleet of SU-30MKM fighters, though there are some items like engines that still need to be handled by Russia.

Note that this isn’t a contract just yet. Indonesia needs to firm up its requirements, and a India high-level Indian Air Force team will be sent to finalize the training and spares support package. The move will have an importance that goes far beyond its dollar value, as it’s part of a wider set of enhanced defense cooperation agreements the 2 countries are reportedly pursuing. Indonesia isn’t looking to antagonize China, but China’s aggressive claims in the South China Sea are comparing poorly with India’s support for freedom of navigation, and for multilateral resolution of these disputes under international law. The result is an important Indonesian tilt toward more cooperation with India, which fits very well with India’s own strategic priorities. India MoD | Indian Express | The Jakarta Globe.

Oct 5/12: Infrastructure. Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne offers a window into planned Su-30 deployments:

Code-named Flying Lancers, the process to set up a new 15 Squadron in Punjab would be started in December and become operational by the middle of next year, he said.

“By the end of this year, in December and early next year, we will be inducting a new Su-30 squadron, based in Punjab. That will be the 10th squadron of Su-30s… Two extra squadrons are being raised in the eastern sector…. One more squadron will be based in Punjab and one will be in Thanjavur. Therefore, we will eventually have 13 to 14 squadrons of Sukhois,”

Sources: Hindustan Times, “IAF to modernise, raise four more Su-30MKI squadrons”.

Aug 8/12: Infrastructure. An Indian government response to a Parliamentary question shows that the Thanjavur base is behind schedule:

“Audit Para 2.7 (Inordinate delay in development of Air Bases) of Comptroller and Auditor General Report No. 16 of 2010-11 (Air Force and Navy) had made observations regarding delay in the establishment and activation of air bases at Phalodi and Thanjavur. The delay was due to various factors including change in plans necessitated due to operational requirements of the Indian Air Force, paucity of resources as well as changes in the geopolitical situation.”

Aug 5/12: Air chief NAK Browne confirms that the IAF has identified a “design flaw” with the SU-30 MKI’s Fly-By-Wire system. He says that the planes are still fit to fly, but more checks are being implemented within the fleet, and India has taken the issue up “with the designing agency.”

The implicit but unstated corollary is that the IAF’s fighters will have corresponding flight restrictions and/or changed procedures until the problem is fixed, in order to avoid another crash. Hindustan Times.

March 23/12: Russian order. Russia’s own VVS moves to buy 30 SU-30SM fighters, for delivery by 2015. These planes are a version of the canard-winged, thrust-vectoring SU-30MKI/M variant that was developed for India, and has since been exported to Algeria and Malaysia. Which raises the question: why didn’t Russia buy 30 more SU-35S fighters? A RIA Novosti article offers one explanation:

“Irkut has been churning out these planes for 10 years thanks to its completely streamlined production method. This means that its products are of high quality, relatively cheap… and will be supplied on time.

It is one thing if, in order to make 30 aircraft, you have to breathe life into an idling plant, to fine-tune (or develop anew) your technological method, buy additional equipment, and – still worse – hire personnel. But it’s quite another if you have been manufacturing standardized aircraft for years and years and can easily divert your workforce to produce an “improved” modification for your own country’s Air Force… This approach (buying quickly and on the cheap what can be produced immediately) has been growing in popularity in the Russian military.”

The systems inside will differ, but overall, this is very good news for India. Similar designs have been exported to Malaysia and Algeria, but Russia’s order locks in loyalty within the equipment manufacturer’s home country. Other Russian orders follow, but we won’t be covering them here.

Russia buys

Dec 20/11: Super-30s. Russia has reportedly signed a preliminary deal with India to sell 42 upgraded Su-30MKI “Super 30″ fighters, to be added to HAL’s license production backlog. That brings total Indian SU-30 orders to 272. Price was not reported, but Parliamentary transcripts place the budget for this buy at around $2.4 billion.

The Super 30 deal is 1 of 5 trade & defense deals signed in Moscow during the summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. A proposed nuclear plant deal was not among them. Assam Tribune | Deccan Herald | AP.

Dec 20/11: Cleared for flight. India’s fleet of SU-30MKIs resumes flying, after being informally grounded in the wake of the Pune crash. As for that crash, Daily Pioneer reports that:

“There was a problem in the fly-by-wire system… This is a new thing. Pilot did not get any warning. There were no indications in the cockpit and the aircraft was out of control,” the IAF chief told PTI here. He said the pilot “tried his best to control the aircraft for 15-20 minutes” before ejecting out along with the Weapon Systems Operator (WSO)…”

Dec 16/11: Readiness. The Hindustan Times reports that perennial problems with Russian spares & reliability have become an urgent issue for the SU-30MKI fleet now:

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to red-flag [SU-30] serviceability, product support and pending upgrade… at the annual [Russian] summit meeting… Top government sources said that Air Headquarters has urgently requested the Prime Minister to raise the issue of engine serviceability with his Russian counterpart after few incidents of engine failures… the top brass has conveyed to government that “shaft bearing failures” have occurred in some [AL-31FP] engines. “In peacetime, the fighter can land on the other engine but this can be a life and death situation in adverse conditions, said a senior official.”

Dec 13-15/11: An SU-30MKI crashes 25 minutes after takeoff, in the flying area of the Lohegaon IAF base, in Pune. Both pilots ejected safely. This is the IAF’s 3rd SU-30MKI crash; the 1st crash in 2009 was due to a fly-by-wire fault, and the 2nd also happened in 2009 when foreign matter was sucked into the plane’s engine.

In response, A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has been ordered to look into the reasons behind the crash. India also grounds its SU-30MKI fleet, pending maintenance inspections and some idea of what caused this crash. Rediff | Economic Times of India | IBN Live | Indian Express | Hindustan Times

Crash & grounding

Nov 23/11: Industrial. Minister of State for Defence Shri MM PallamRaju is grilled about SU-30 deliveries by Parliamentarians in Rajya Sabha, and explains both the project history, and HAL’s manufacturing responses. So far, he says that “Out of the total 180 aircraft”, India has received 99 SU-30MKIs “till 2010-11″.

That delivery total and date is very ambiguous. It implies orders with HAL for 180 planes, which would entail a 2nd contract for another 40-42 fighters (vid. Aug 9/10 entry). Earlier reports re: HAL deliveries (vid. June 26/10 entry) pegged them at 74 planes from HAL, and the Russian deliveries are expected to wrap up in 2012; 99 total planes from both sources would fit that model, if the answer is read as “99 by the beginning of the 2010-11 fiscal period.” With expected 2010 production of 28 HAL SU-30MKIs, however, a read of “99 of 180 SU-30MKIs delivered as of November 2011″ only makes sense if all the planes he’s referring to are from HAL. HAL’s responses to production delays are said to include:

  • Commissioning of additional tooling jigs & fixtures in manufacturing and assembly Shops.
  • Increased Outsourcing.
  • Development of alternate vendors.
  • Improvements in manufacturing processes & Operations in order to reduce cycle time.
  • Effective monitoring and timely actions through Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
  • Recruitment/Redeployment of manpower in critical work Centers.

Oct 11/11: AESA. India is reportedly looking at fitting its Su-30MKIs with Phazotron’s Zhuk-AE active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, instead of their present Tikhomrov N011M Bars passive mechanically scanned array radars. The switch would improve reliability, radar power, and performance, but the new radars would have to be tied into the combat system, tested for aerodynamic balance and other changes they might create, etc.

The X-band Zhuk-AE can reportedly track 30 aerial targets in the track-while-scan mode, and engage 6 targets simultaneously in attack mode. Aviation Week.

Aug 29/11: Super 30. Russia and India have reached agreement on the technical specification of the Super 30 upgrade, including BrahMos missile integration and an AESA radar. The exact nature of that radar is still in question. Reports to date have discussed an enlarged version of the MiG-35’s Phazotron Zhuk-AE, but Tikhomirov’s NIIP could also be chosen, and the firm demonstrated an improved version at the Moscow Air Show (MAKS 2011). AIN.

2009 – 2010

(click to view full)

Aug 18/10: Defence Minister Antony replies to Parliamentary questions about the “Super 30″ upgrade:

“There is proposal to upgrade the SU-30 MKI aircraft of the Indian Air Force by M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with the support of the Russian Original Equipment Manufacturer. The current estimated cost is Rs. 10920 crores and the aircraft are likely to be upgraded in a phased manner from year 2012 onwards.”

Note the word “proposal.” At this point, the estimate in rupees is equivalent to about $2.41 billion.

Aug 9/10: Super 30. Defense minister Antony offers an update re: additional SU-30MKI purchases, in a written Parliamentary reply to Shri Asaduddin Owaisi:

“The Defence Acquisition Council has accepted a proposal for the procurement of 42 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft from M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, India. The proposal is being further progressed for submitting to the Cabinet Committee on Security. The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 20,107.40 crores [DID: about $4.36 billion, or about $104 million per plane] and the aircraft is planned to be delivered during 2014-2018. The proposal is being progressed as a repeat order from M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, India under the Defence Procurement Procedure-2008.”

That’s even higher than the estimates in June 2010, when the story broke (vid. June 26/10 entry). The cost of this deal soon attracts controversy, especially given that a 2007 deal for 40 SU-30MKIs cost only $1.6 billion/ Rs 7,490 crore. That prompts speculation that these will be upgraded “Super 30″ aircraft. DNA India.

July 4/10: Upgrades. India’s Economic times quotes unnamed sources within India’s MoD:

“As part of IAF’s modernisation programme, we are going to upgrade 50 Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft with help of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from Russia… The ones to be upgraded are from the first phase [from Russia, before the HAL order, of mixed SU-30MKs and MKIs] and the project is likely to be completed in the next three to four years…”

Details are consistent with earlier “Super 30″ reports. Is there, in fact, a contract to do this work? Not yet.

June 26/10: Super 30. The Times of India reports that India’s Cabinet Committee for Security has cleared a nearly Rs 15,000 crore (about $3.3 billion) order for another 42 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters, for delivery by around 2018:

“The present order for 42 fighters was originally supposed to be 40, but two more were added to the order book to make up for the two crashed fighters. A senior official said that HAL is expected to complete all the SU-30 MKI orders by 2016-17 period… last year it delivered 23 of these fighters, this year it is expected to produce 28. HAL has already supplied 74 of these fighters.”

May 30/10: Super 30. India Today magazine reports that India has placed orders with the Russian defense industry to modernize 40 Su-30MKI Flanker-H fighters to “Super 30″ status, with new radars, onboard computers, and electronic warfare systems, and the ability to fire the air-launched version of the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. RIA Novosti.

Dec 7/09: Industrial. Defense minister Antony offers an update on the existing program to assemble SU-30MKIs in India:

“In addition to licensed manufacture of 140 SU-30 aircraft by M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a contact for procurement of additional 40 SU-30 MKI was signed with M/s HAL in 2007. Out of these three aircraft have been delivered to the Indian Air Force and delivery of the remaining aircraft is expected to be completed by 2011-12″

Nov 30/09: A SU-30MKI crashes near the firing range at Pokharan, triggering a fleet-wide grounding and investigation. Both pilots eject safely, and initial suspicion focuses on the plane’s engine. MoD announcement | Indian Express re: Grounding | Indian Express.

An SU-30 had also crashed on April 30/09, reportedly due to the failure of its fly-by-wire system. These 2 accidents are the only SU-30 losses India has experienced.

Crash & grounding

Nov 12/09: Sub-contractors. India’s Business Standard reports that the SU-30MKI program is about to include Samtel Display Systems’ multi-function displays; their first delivery will equip 6 Su-30MKIs in lieu of Thales systems manufactured under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd in Nashik. Samtel has a joint venture with Thales, and went forward on its own through the 5-year road to “airworthy” certification from DRDO’s CEMILAC. A public-private partnership with HAL has created Samtel HAL Display Systems (SHDS), which may create wider opportunities for Samtel’s lower-priced displays – if both delivery and quality are up to par on the initial SU-30MKI orders.

The article notes that Samtel has succeeded, in part, by embracing obsolete technology that others were abandoning (CRT displays), even as it prepares to leapfrog LCD displays with Organic Light Emitting Diodes. The road to military certification isn’t an easy one, though:

“Starting with liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, commercially procured from Japan and Korea, Samtel has ruggedised them for use in military avionics. The display must be easily readable even in bright sunlight; it must be dim enough for the pilot to read at night without losing night vision; it must work at minus 40 degrees Centigrade when conventional LCD screens get frozen solid; and it must absorb the repeated violent impacts of landing on aircraft carriers.”

Oct 9/09: Super 30. The Indian Ministry of Defence issues a release regarding the 9th meeting of the Russia-India Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation on Oct 14-15/09:

“The modernisation of the SU 30 MKI aircraft is also expected to come up for discussion in the Commission’s meeting. The aircraft, contracted in 1996, are due for overhaul shortly and the Russia side have offered an upgrade of the aircraft with incorporation of the latest technologies during the major overhaul.”

Obvious areas for modernization would include the aircraft’s N011M Bars radar, now that Russian AESA designs are beginning to appear. Engine improvements underway for Russia’s SU-35 program would also be a logical candidate for any SU-30MKI upgrades. The most important modification, however, might be an upgraded datalink that could reduce the level of coalition fratricide observed in exercises like Red Flag 2008. Indian MoD | RIA Novosti.

Oct 2/09: +50 more? Jane’s reports that India is looking to buy another 50 SU-30MKIs, quoting Air Chief Marshal P V Naik who said that the IAF was “interested.” This comes hard on the heels of comments that the IAF’s fleet strength was 1/3 the size of China’s, coupled with comments that the IAF would eliminate its fighter squadron deficit by 2022.

Interest is not a purchase, but reported prices of $50-60 million for an aircraft that can can equal or best $110-120 million F-15 variants do make the SU-30 an attractive buy, even relative to options like the foreign designs competing for the MMRCA contract. Forecast International offers an additional possibility, citing the context within which that interest was expressed, and wondering if the new SU-30KIs might be tasked with a nuclear delivery role. Their range and payload would certainly make them uniquely suited to such a role within the IAF.

If a purchase does ensue, it would be good news for a number of players, including Indian firms that have contributed technologies to the SU-30MKI design. Samtel Display Systems (SDS), who makes avionics for the SU-30MKI’s cockpit, would be one example of a growing slate of private Indian defense firms with niche capabilities. Construction firms may also benefit; The Deccan Herald reports that:

“The IAF is keeping one squadron of its most advanced Su-30 MKI fighters in Bareilly whose primary responsibility is the western and middle sector of the LAC. Similarly a Su-30 base is being created in Tezpur, Assam, for the eastern sector [near China].”

See: Jane’s | Russia’s RIA Novosti | Times of India | Associated Press of Pakistan | Pakistan’s Daily Times | Avio News | Forecast International | IAF size comments: Daily Pioneer and Sify News | Frontline Magazine on Indian-Chinese relations.

2000 – 2008

IL-78 refuels SU-30MKIs

March 31/06: Speed-up +40. India’s Cabinet Committee on Security approves the speeded-up delivery plan. The IAF signs revised contracts for 140 previously-ordered SU-30MKIs, to be delivered by 2014-15. A 2007 contract adds another 40 SU-30MKIs, by the same deadline, but those are ordered direct from Russia. Source.

180 SU-30MKIs

June 2005: Speed it up. IAF Headquarters looks at its fleet strength and planned aircraft retirements, and asks HAL if it could deliver all of the SU-30MKIs by 2015 instead. HAL responds with a proposal that they believe will get them to a full-rate assembly flow of 16 planes per year. Source.

Dec 12/04: Irkut Corp. announces that they have begun delivery of final “3rd phase” configuration Su-30MKIs to the Indian Air Force.

Initial deliveries involved aircraft optimized for aerial combat, while Phase 2 added more radar modes for their NIIP N-011 radars, TV-guided Kh-59M missiles, the supersonic Kh-31A/ AS-17 Krypton multi-role missile, and simultaneous attack of 4 aerial targets by guided air-to-air missiles. Phase 3 Su-30MKIs fully implement all navigation and combat modes in the contract, including laser-guided bombs, weapon launch in thrust-vectoring “supermaneuverability” mode, and engagement of up to 4 aerial targets in front or rear. Ramenskoye Design Bureau (RPKB) is responsible for the avionics and software, and also provide the Sapfir maintenance and mission planning ground suite.

SU-30MKI Phase 3 deliveries begin

Oct 6/04: The SU-30MKI’s Saturn AL-31FP engines have their “Certificate of the AL-31FP life-time” signed by the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defence, the Central Aviation Engines Institute (CIAM), NPO Saturn, UMPO, SUKHOI Corporation, and IRKUT Corporation.

The statistics are: MTBO (Mean Time Between Overhauls) 1,000 hours, and 2,000 hours assigned life. The thrust-vectoring nozzles take a beating, though, with only 500 hours MTBO. Irkut Corp.

Engines certified

January 2001: Indian government formally approves the SU-30MKI project, with an expected full-rate assembly flow of 12 planes per year, beginning in 2004-05 and continuing until 2017-18. Source.

Dec 18/2000: India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approves the project to assemble the SU-30MKIs in India. Source.

Oct 4/2000: Russia and India sign an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for transfer of License and Technical Documentation to India, for “production of 140 SU-30 MKI Aircraft, its Engines and Aggregates.” Source.

SU-30MKIs: initial local assembly order

Additional Readings

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

The SU-30 MKI

Related IAF Programs

  • DID – India’s M-MRCA Fighter Competition. Intends to buy 126 aircraft that will be very competitive with SU-30MKI performance, but will cost much more – $18 billion has been mentioned. Dassault’s Rafale is the preferred bidder. Essentially pays more up front to have a SU-30MKI analogue with better electronics, and much better support and readiness.

  • DID – PAK-FA/FGFA/T50: India, Russia Cooperate on 5th-Gen Fighter. Will probably become the SU-50. Early read is F-35 class stealth and F-22 class aerial performance, probably slightly less than its cited peers in both areas. SU-30MKI troubles may be affecting India’s willingness to spend the billions of development and acquisition dollars required.

News & Views

Categories: News

S-97 Raider Flies | Heaviest Heavy Lift Copter Ever Upgraded, Produced Again | Bell to Let Russian Firm Build 407GXP

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 02:35

  • Sikorsky’s S-97 Raider helicopter prototype has made its maiden flight, with this likely to be a welcome distraction from the firm’s current ailing business situation. The coaxial helicopter’s core X2 technologies will be at the heart of the Sikorsky-Boeing Defiant, a finalist for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role, Future Vertical Lift (JMR – FVL) competition.

  • BAE Systems has submitted a bid for the USMC’s Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) competition, with the company teaming with Italian firm Iveco Defence to develop the ACV 1.1 design.

  • Lockheed Martin has been handed a $27.3 million option for seven TB-37 multi-function towed array (MFTA) production units, as well as auxiliary equipment and support services. The work and production will be split between the US Navy and Japan under a previous Foreign Military Sale. The TB-37 is a potent anti-submarine warfare sensor, with the system offering several enhancements to the AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array System which it replaces. The TB-37 Multi-Function Towed Array is the first new surface ship array to be built for the US Navy in 25 years and is configured as a long array that can be towed behind surface ships for ASW mission sets.


  • Russian Helicopters has begun series production of the company’s new Mi-26T2 model, a modernized version of the Mi-26T. The model is the most powerful heavy-lift series production helicopter ever, capable of lifting 15 metric tons, with recent reports indicating that Russia and China may have recently signed a joint construction deal for a large heavy-lift helicopter, thought to be the upgraded Mi-26T.

  • Russia’s Sputnik News is reporting that US firm Bell Helicopter has signed a contract with Russian firm Urals Civil Aviation Plant (UZGA) for the licensed assembly of the former’s latest 407GXP single-engine helicopter. Bell Helicopter is a Textron company, which was recently awarded another sole-source contract from the Canadian Coast Guard.

  • Polish and German defense companies are collaborating to develop a new 6×6 amphibious armored personnel carrier. Two Polish firms – Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (Polish Armament Group) and the OBRUM company will partner with Germany’s Rheinmetall Man Military Vehicles on the new vehicle, intended to form a potential option to replace the Polish fleet of Soviet-era BRDM-2 APCs.

  • Poland has also released a tender for 200 “revolver-type” 40mm grenade launchers, with five firms having completed the technical dialogue with the government’s armaments directorate earlier in the year, including South African and Turkish, as well as domestic companies.

Middle East

  • Egypt is reportedly ordering 46 MiG-29 fighters, according to Russian media. Two Russian industry sources leaked details of the deal on Monday to Russian newspaper Vedomosti [Russian], indicating that the deal could be worth up to $2 billion in the highest single order of MiG-29s since the end of the Soviet Union. The Egyptians have mulled purchasing Russian MiGs before – both the -29 and more advanced -35 models. The Air Force possesses a diversified fleet, including US, French and Russian aircraft, partially a result of the US’s decision to suspend military aim to the country following the overthrow of the government in July 2013.


  • In addition to the recent order of 145 M777 howitzers, the Indian Army is to receive 114 upgraded Dhanush guns, based on the Swedish Bofors 155mm guns bought by the country in the 1980s. The initial $252 million contract comes on the heels of a set of successful trials, with the upgraded guns mostly (80%) Indian-manufactured. India’s attempts to both recover from the Bofors scandal and plug operational gaps previously led to a messy and ambiguous competition. A follow-on order for up to 481 guns is expected following the delivery of these 114 guns within a three-year time frame.

Today’s Video

  • The above mentioned Sikorsky S-97 Raider’s first flight…

Categories: News

Memorial Day in the US

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 13:17

Defense Industry Daily will not publish Monday, May 25th in recognition of Memorial Day.

Categories: News

Marine APCs: Peregrinations of the EFV to ACV to MPC to ACV 1.1

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 00:36
AAAV/ EFV, swim mode
(click to view full)

The US Marine Corps’ AAVP7 Amtracs have been their primary ship to shore amphibious armored personnel carrier for a long time; the AAV7A1 was initially fielded in 1972, and underwent a major service life extension program and product improvement program from 1983-1993. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was the USMC’s plan to replace the aging AMTRACS (lit. AMphibious TRACtorS), which saw extensive service deep inland during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The personnel version of the new EFVs would carry a crew of 3, plus a reinforced rifle squad of 17 combat-loaded Marines. A high-tech weapons station would provide firepower, via a stabilized ATK 30mm MK 44 Bushmaster cannon with advanced sights to replace the AAV’s unstabilized .50 caliber machine gun. A command variant would carry an array of communications and computer systems and staff personnel. The EFV remained the U.S. Marine Corps’ top land acquisition priority, even as its price tag and development issues cut its buy sharply. Push finally came to shove in 2010, however, as the USMC realized that it simply couldn’t afford the vehicle, or its performance.

That begat a new program called the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), designed to be a more realistic version of the EFV. A Marines version designed for only light water use was called the MPC, which was iced in June 2013. That program was resurrected under increased capabilities pressures as the APC 1.1, which had its coming out party during an industry day in July 2014. A draft RFP was released in November, with hopes that a final RFP would be issued in spring 2015.

$105.7 million was requested for ACV 1.1 research, testing and evaluation.

The APC 1.1 has been examined by the Congressional Research Service, producing this report, which – in a nutshell – says that the program has a few issues, the primary one being the strategic lack of “connectors” allowing equipment onshore. Current options (LCAC, JHSV and LCU 1600) are relatively unprotected.

Amtracs Replacement, Take 1: The EFV Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: Capabilities & CONOPS The New: EFV Features
(click to view full)

The EFV was expected to come in 2 main variants: EFV-P infantry fighting vehicles, and EFV-C command vehicles. Even after the program’s demise, its characteristics and associated Concept of Operations remain relevant. They were developed in response to what the Marines think they need, and early 2011 indications suggest that the service’s view hasn’t changed all that much.

The EFV-P personnel carriers have a stabilized turret[1] with advanced TV, laser and thermal imaging optics for accurate fire under all conditions out to 2 km (1.2 miles). Primary firepower is provided by an ATK 30mm MK 44 Bushmaster cannon and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, with a maximum elevation of 45 degrees (high elevation is useful in urban warfare) and maximum depression of -10 degrees (useful for enfilade fire). The Bushmaster cannon will use HEIT(High-Explosive Incendiary Tracer) rounds with a super-fast fuse for maximum shrapnel, and MPLD (Multi-Purpose Low Drag) tungsten-tipped rounds against harder targets. The MPLDs offer an advantage over current 25mm rounds because they penetrate before exploding, instead of just pock-marking the walls of fortified bunkers and buildings.

Rounds are selectable on the fly, and Col. Brogan of the EFV program office has said that the cannon would defeat any vehicle short of a main battle tank up to 2 km away. The EFV program has also completed foreign comparative testing for programmable fuse rounds similar to those slated for the XM307 machine gun, and those rounds were found to be more lethal. The goal was to qualify them as an additional standard ammunition choice.

The current AAV7 Amtracs, in contrast, offer only low-light vision optics, in a non-stabilized manned turret, firing a .50 caliber machine gun and a 40mm GMG grenade launcher. Some Amtracs have added thermal sights, but other vehicles are sporting far more advanced manned turrets – and these days, unmanned RWS systems as well.

Additional firepower comes from the EFV’s onboard Marines, which is meant to include a full reinforced Marine rifle squad of 17 (13 Marines + 4 additional or specialists, including Javelin anti-tank teams) in addition to the vehicle’s crew of 3. The AAV7 listed a capacity of 22 and a crew of 3, but in practice its limit was also a combat-loaded reinforced rifle squad. The AAV7’s original design parameters even included an M151 Jeep or trailer, or 2 supply pallets from an LKA ship, as holdovers from its role as a mere LVT (Landing Vehicle, Tracked) before USMC doctrine began emphasizing its role as an armored personnel carrier. The EFV dispenses with that.

EFV: Command variant
(click to view full)

A command EFV-C variant carries an array of communications and computer systems and staff personnel. Indeed, all EFVs were slated to carry an array of communications equipment and electronics including GPS/INS navigation systems and C2PC (Command and Control, Personal Computer). C2PC is similar to the Army’s “Blue Force Tracker,” showing an overlay of friendly units and detected enemies on a common map. The two systems aren’t interoperable yet, though things are moving that way. C2PC is used in the US Army at brigade level and information can be shared through that command structure.

Electronics and salt water don’t exactly mix, however, so the EFV program has had to take precautions. All electronics must be fully sealed, all cables have shielding & protection, and design efforts were made to remove voids and enclosures where salt might become trapped. On the outside, a series of enviro-friendly coatings were used that avoided the use of carcinogenic hexavalent chrome, and areas where dissimilar metals are mated need barriers to prevent electricity-producing galvanic reactions. If that sounds more complex and exensive than standard IFVs, well, it is.

The Old: AAVP7, ashore
(click to view full)

Beyond the difference in these variants, however, all EFVs had broad similarities in a number of areas.

The EFV was designed to have positive buoyancy, and the program office has confirmed that the vehicle will float when at rest. Waterjet propulsion gives an amphibious speed of more than 20 knots – 3 times that of the AAV7. An underwater explosion survivability requirement is incorporated, and EFVs are also meant to move at high speed up to Sea State 3, and transition/low speed up to Sea State 5 (up to 8 ft. waves). This sea state capability would match the older AAV7s, and this level of unassisted armored landing capability in high sea states is reportedly unique to the AAV7 among present-day vehicles.

Those EFV water speed and sea state requirements have driven a number of design decisions, however, raising the vehicles’ cost and increasing its vulnerabilities. For instance, the need for hydroplaning at speed forces a flat bottom, which limits the hull’s potential protection against IEDs and other land mines. It also leads to an engine bigger than a 70-ton M1 tank’s, as well as very high vibration levels in transit that aren’t very friendly to onboard equipment.

Once on land, keeping up with the USMC’s M1 Abrams tanks imposes land speed requirements that must also be addressed. EFV top speed after landing will be about 45 miles per hour, which is comparable to the land speed of a modernized AAV7 RAM/RS, and enables the vehicles to keep up with a USMC’s M1 Abrams tank’s cruising speed. An engine almost twice as powerful as the ones in the 70-ton M1 tanks they’ll be accompanying certainly helps. Maintenance and readiness are meant to be similar to vehicles like the M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley, though they never even got close to that goal before the program was terminated.

Bradley reactive armor

On the protection front, the EFV has done what it could within its specifications, but it will not reach the level of the US Army’s Bradley or similar IFVs.

Measures have been taken to make EFV detection harder, including moving thermal giveaways to the rear, reducing telltale dust via side skirts, etc. NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) protection is also included. For direct protection when maneuver or concealment become impossible, its LIBA SURMAX silicon ceramic composite armor is expected to provide protection from 14.5mm rounds and 155mm shell fragments. The previous AAV7’s base was 12.7mm/.50 cal weapons and 105mm fragments, though add-on armor could raise that to the same 14.5/155mm levels. The LIBA SURMAX armor adds high resilience under multiple hits from armor piercing projectiles, easy field repair, and lightness to the protection equation.

Having met that “same as” standard, the EFV program does not officially plan to include armor-up kits of its own. Reactive armor like that fitted to M2/M3 Bradleys, M113s, etc. for defense against higher-caliber autocannon and/or RPG rockets was not initially planned for the EFV; the Marines believed the its weight and hydrodynamic issues would destroy the EFV’s amphibious capabilities, and had no initial plans for “add-on ashore” kits. Nor was the “cage” slat armor fitted to Army Strykers etc. under consideration as RPG protection, for the same reasons. Some minor casualty reduction would have been provided by improved fire suppression, and by spall linings that narrow the ‘casualty cone’ of a rocket’s blast fragments in the hull from the 90-110 degree spray of the AAV7 Amtracs, to 10 degrees or so.

In response to pressure from Congress, ideas have now been floated re: removable applique armor, but no official decision was taken.

Over the longer term, the EFV had reserved computing power, a card slot, and memory to integrate “active protection systems” like the RAFAEL/General Dynamics “Trophy” being fielded in Israel, or the Raytheon APS system contracted before the Army’s FCS ground vehicle family was canceled. The EFV program office never formally evaluated any of these systems, however, as no funding or requirements were provided to do it.

Cougar 6×6, IEDed
- the crew lived.
(click to view full)

EFV protection varies against the IED land mines that have already destroyed several Amtracs in Iraq. The EFV’s flat bottom remains a hazard when facing mines. Detonations underneath will remain a challenge, however, because the need for hydrodynamic lift forces a flat bottom design – and the same design that catches the full force of the water to provide lift, will also catch the full force of a mine blast. Given the amphibious distance and speed requirements, however, the EFV program office noted that blast-deflecting V-hulls were not an option. Shock-absorbing seats that reduce spinal injuries were the best they could do, given the specifications.

On the other hand, its low side skirts offer very better protection from side blasts than current Amtracs, especially since the SURMAX armor is good at absorbing “dynamic deflection.” The front is helped by the presence of the extensible plate for water travel, while the back features armor levels comparable to the sides.

This last vulnerability, to the #1 in-theater killer from America’s last 2 major wars, attracted sharp political scrutiny, and was a factor in pressure to cancel the program.

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: The Case in Favor EFV exit
(click to view full)

Given these uncertainties, the increasing use of AAV7 Amtracs as armored personnel carriers deep inland, and the trends toward urban warfare and IED threats, the EFV has attracted some criticism. We begin with the USMC’s case for the EFV – and since the follow-on ACV seems to share similar underlying requirements, possibly the future ACV as well.

The biggest underlying requirement concerns the Navy, not the Marines. The Marines contend that advances in anti-ship missiles and surveillance, and the spiraling cost of US Navy’s designs for amphibious ships, made protecting those ships via long-distance launch a critical requirement. Rather than buying extra hovercraft or LCUs, the Navy and Marines wanted these waterborne abilities to be part of the vehicles themselves, so that amphibious assaults could introduce armor support very quickly. The EFV’s high-speed, long-distance swim capabilities, which have so influenced its design and execution, were seen as the best option for meeting that goal, while maximizing tactical flexibility in both Small Wars and high-intensity conflicts.

That speed has 2 major tactical rationales. One is protection. The other is flexibility. Col. Brogan of the EFV Program Office noted in our June 2006 interview that the “over the horizon” launch capability (about 25 miles out to sea) requirement of 25-mile swim capability in an hour. requirement was handed down in order to give friendly forces 2 opportunities to take down enemy missiles before they could hit the Navy’s amphibious ships, assuming AEGIS-equipped ships on station plus Cooperative Engagement Capability on the Navy’s amphibious assault vessels.

Staying afloat
(click to view full)

To illustrate the implications of flexibility, imagine a release point 15 miles offshore. At 25 mph swim speed, Pythagoras tells us that a 40 mile long stretch of coastline is at risk within an hour, complicating the defender’s options. The EFV’s speed, shared software and communications means that the vehicles can modify and share plans while still in the water; instead of having to look for a 1 km wide beach where they can all land in a wave, they can come ashore in dispersed fashion to re-form nearby, or exit in column through places as narrow as a boat ramp. Faced with this array of options, the defending commander must either disperse and hence weaken his defenses, try to anticipate the vehicles’ exact moves and risk being wrong, or accept the initial landing and plan to deal with the beach-head via counterattack.

Once on land, keeping up with the USMC’s M1 Abrams tanks in particular impose land speed requirements that must be addressed, even as the situations the US Marines face sometimes require far more protection than lighter vehicles like the BvS-10 can provide. The U.S. Marines must be able to operate in a wide variety of situations and environments, contend the EFV’s advocates, and their breadth of amphibious capabilities define them. With the EFV, the USMC argues, firepower, detection and flexibility are much improved over the AAV7, while amphibious and tracked mobility are maintained or improved. This combination makes the EFV an important tool that’s required in order to maintain the Corps’ full capability set.

The EFV’s amphibious capability remains tactically useful inland, however, reducing dependence on destroyable and easily-targeted bridges. As long as the opposite bank has a shallow enough slope for the EFVs to climb out within a few miles, EFVs can swim up rivers and cross water obstacles. Of course, accompanying USMC M1 Abrams tanks would not have this option. A Marine commander with a mixed vehicle set could split his forces, possibly assigning Javelin infantry teams, amphibious LAV-ATs with TOWs, Cobra helicopters, etc. for anti-tank punch. He could also use the EFVs in security operations as a bridgehead and guard force, until engineers could bring the tanks across.

Col. Brogan added that the USMC could always elect to put fewer than 17 Marines in an EFV depending on the mission, and noted that other vehicles in inventory from armored HMMWV jeeps and MTVR trucks, to LAV-25 wheeled APCs, to V-hulled RG-31 and Cougar vehicles, are available for commanders where lack of numbers or niche capabilities make the EFV an inferior mission choice.

Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle: The Case Against RAF CH-47 w. BvS10,
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Critics note the EFV’s number of Marines carried and cost, contending that the USMC is simply building a very expensive, casualty-maximizing IED land mine/RPG trap, whose required protection levels against mines and incoming fire were sacrificed to the requirement for improved water speed. Despite this water speed, they won’t be useful as fire support in the littorals, either, leaving that mission largely unaddressed. EFVs will be tied to heavier and less flexible forces because they cannot handle enemy tanks or IEDs independently, and they will be too vulnerable in the urban warfare scenarios that will be common features of future conflicts.

Options to improve these capabilities, they say, will only turn a very expensive system that has demonstrated serious reliability problems, into an extremely expensive system that is even less reliable, and requires more support than before.

Other Marine forces like the British and Dutch, they note, are relying instead on smaller amphibious vehicles like the BvS-10 Viking. These vehicles are also fully amphibious, but trade less water speed and slightly less protection for more vehicles per dollar, fewer soldiers per vehicle to minimize casualties, and ground footprints that can cross all terrains and won’t set off pressure mines. When trying to keep the Navy ships safe, they argue, why not opt for systems like these that offer heliborne air mobility, giving the Marines even greater operational speed and over-the-horizon reach, and offering naval defenses even more shots at enemy missiles? Systems like the BvS10 would be equally useful in “small wars,” where their heliborne insertion and all-terrain capabilities would give the Marines new options against lightly-armed but very mobile enemies.

K21 KNIFV concept
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Alternatively, the Marines could buy a more conventional IFV with some amphibious capabilities, and depend on extra hovercraft, vessels like the proposed and landing ships to get them ashore. South Korea produced the K-21 KNIFV for about $3.5 million each, with better firepower and protection options than the EFV, at a cost of carrying only 9 crew and reducing water speed to 4-5 mph in low sea states.

Once built, those extra hovercraft and LCUs could even find new roles in the world’s littoral regions. Armed with rockets, bolt-on RWS turrets, or even rolled-on armored vehicles, they would have new life as impromptu littoral and riverine patrol craft, policing terrain that the US military sees as high threat while keeping larger ships out of the picture. LCT-As were used this way in World War 2 landings, and LCU/LCMs with low gunwales have mounted M48A3, M67A2, and M60A1 tanks in Vietnam and Grenada.

These options, say the critics, plus other vehicles in the Marines’ current force mix, are more likely to be appropriate in more of the situations that US Marines are likely to face going forward. They’re also far easier to buy in numbers when the EFV isn’t sucking the budgetary oxygen out of the room, a situation that tends to turn arguments that could be made as “both/and” into something of an “either/or” rhetorical proposition.

The arguments continue; indeed, they are likely to gain in intensity and strength as the USMC works to define the EFV’s successor.

Amtracs Replacement, Take 2: After the EFV

The USMC’s EFV replacement strategy rests on 3 pillars. DARPA may have added a 4th option, but like all DARPA projects, it will have to overcome significant technical hurdles in order to become even a potential production program.

Replace Me: ACV Amphibious Combat Vehicle EFV: electronics inside
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The USMC hopes it can keep its Amphibious Combat Vehicle to $10-12 million per vehicle, compared to $16.8 million for the EFV. Even so, that’s still far above other Marines forces around the world. The expected schedule was an ACV technical demonstration vehicle by the end of FY 2012, and a fully operational demonstration vehicle done by the end of 2013 or 2014. Re-use of some EFV systems might help meet those deadlines, but reliability issues make that a riskier strategy than it might otherwise be. A competition between contractors will give several of them 3-4 years to build their offerings, followed by a chosen ACV around 2020.

The USMC acknowledges that their desired schedule is aggressive, which often creates testing surprises, delays, and rising costs. Their acquisition strategy isn’t set in stone, but they seem to be leaning on multi-way competition and a drive-off to offset those risks, even as that format also complies with recent defense acquisition reform directives. They’d better hope it works, because $10 million was touted for the EFV part-way through the program – and another episode of ballooning costs and delays will cripple the Marines for a generation. Even if it does work, and costs are within budget, a $10-12 million per vehicle program would be a prime target for cuts if rising interest rates cause the USA to hit a fiscal wall.

More ominously, Kurt Koch, the combat vehicle capabilities integration officer for Fires and Maneuvers Integration Division, says “the ACV will be operationally mobile in the water, capable of ship-to-objective maneuver from over the horizon.” That’s the same requirement that doomed the EFV to be a super-expensive water taxi, that wouldn’t protect its crew against cannon fire, rockets, or the #1 killer in recent wars: land mine attacks.

Extend Me: the AAV7 SLEP AAV7s, Somalia
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Until the ACV is ready, the Amtracs will soldier on. The AAV Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) aims to add better protection, a modern power-train, and higher capacity suspension components. Another gap in the current force is the current turret, which is unstabilized, and can’t be fired accurately on the move. Costs and scope are still under evaluation, but the goal is to run the AAV7 SLEP program from 2012-2021.

With the ACV not even slated to begin production until 2020, and even the MPC not slated to make a difference until 2018-2020, the AAV7 SLEP becomes critical to the corps. During the next decade, any serious problems in the Amtracs fleet could leave the US Marines in a difficult position indeed.

If AAV7 Amtracs had to be built new, the last AAV7 Amtracs were produced for Brazil in the 1990s. The cost range in those-year dollars was $2.2 – 2.5 million per vehicle. Without factoring in production restart costs (or any capability upgrades for the modern battlefield), that figure translates into about $3.5 million per vehicle in today’s dollars.

Complement Me: The MPC Marine Personnel Carrier MPC concept
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The wheeled Marine Personnel Carrier program is really a replacement for the LAV fleet, and has always been seen as a separate budgeted item. The EFV program’s failure doesn’t change that, but it does mean that MPCs may end up performing some EFV roles. They may end up in a bigger substitution role if the ACV also sinks, or the USA’s slow-motion fiscal wreck starts hitting the interest rate wall, and drastic cuts follow. If so, tactical changes will follow, because MPCs won’t be designed to come ashore through surf, even in low-medium sea states.

MPCs are expected to cost up to $4.5 million each, with a buy decision in 2013 and Initial Operational Capability in 2018. Declared MPC competitors already include BAE Systems/ Iveco with their SUPERAV), and Lockheed Martin/Patria with their Patria AMV. The current incumbent, General Dynamics, won’t be sitting out. They’re expected t bid their Piranha-III, or similar vehicles.


DARPA’s FANG. The Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation ground vehicle projects aims to develop a new heavy, amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) “with functional requirements intended to mirror the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle.”

That’s unusual. The approach is even more interesting, and unusual: “The contractor will stage a series of FANG challenges, prize-based design competitions for progressively more complex vehicle subsystems, culminating in the design of a full IFV.” DARPA has had good luck with competitions before, but they generally involve more than 1 vendor.

EFV: Contracts & Key Events

Unless otherwise indicated, all EFV program contracts are issued by US Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA to General Dynamics Amphibious Systems (GDAMS) in Woodbridge, VA.

FY 2012


May 25/15: BAE Systems has submitted a bid for the USMC’s Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV) competition, with the company teaming with Italian firm Iveco Defence to develop the ACV 1.1 design.

June 22/12: Industrial. The USMC won’t be moving a $16 million hull manufacturing line out of Lima, OH and over to Georgia just yet. The Army’s Joint Systems Manufacturing Center is run by General Dynamics, and the Marines will delay their decision until they compile a cost/benefit analysis of the proposed $19 million move ($6 million move + $13 million to restore the JSMC capability). It’s all part of a larger process:

“Following the Defense Department’s cancellation of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle Program, the Marine Corps began reviewing the future use of all EFV-associated equipment procured as part of that program. The JSMC was set to build the fighting vehicle, but now is using the hull machining equipment on other combat vehicles [DID: incl. Israeli Namer heavy APCs].”

June 19/12: Plan E – I’m the FANG. Ricardo, Inc. in Belleville, MI received a $9.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This 12-month base period may be followed by 2 successive 12-month options, which could increase its value to $27.6 million. It will fund a research and development effort entitled “FANG (Fast, Adaptable, Next-Generation) Ground Vehicle,” which aims to develop a new heavy, amphibious infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) “with functional requirements intended to mirror the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle.”

That’s unusual. The approach is even more interesting, and unusual: “The contractor will stage a series of FANG challenges, prize-based design competitions for progressively more complex vehicle subsystems, culminating in the design of a full IFV.” DARPA has had good luck with competitions before, but they generally involve more than 1 vendor.

Work will be performed in Belleville, MI (70.75%); Nashville, TN (13.38%); Atlanta, GA (9.26%); Brighton, MI (3.16%); San Antonio, TX (1.24%); and Troy, MI (2.21%). Work can run to June 17/15, with all options exercised. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency manages the contract (HR0011-12-C-0074).

FY 2011

EFV canceled. What now? Beached.
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June 10/11: Aviation Week reports that the USMC is looking to cut its analysis of alternatives (AOA) for the EFV replacement from 18 months to 9, or even 6 months. Areas of interest include “habitability” inside the vehicle, added features like an artificial horizon, and reaching out to shipbuilders for a better hull design.

The good news is that the USMC is reaching to a logical and related industry for help. The bad news is that an appetite for more and more based on notional requirements, rather than cost-driven limits that may force rethinks of what one can expect, is what sank EFV in the first place. Further bad news? The USMC say they need 38 amphibious ships, and might make do with 33, but will get 29. That will push them toward a long-swimming IFV design, as a way of compensating at sea. The question is whether that will create fatal vulnerabilities on land, or whether the shipbuilding sector can offer an EFV idea that squares the circle.

March 22/11: Plans B, C & D. The USMC outlines the 3 different vehicle programs that will replace the responsibilities the EFV would have held: AAV7 life extension from 2012-2021, wheeled Marine Personnel Carrier in service from 2018, and an Amphibious Combat Vehicle EFV replacement entering production by 2020. See above for more details.

Jan 12/10: Inside Defense reports that the US Marine Corps will pursue 3 contracts, in the wake of the EFV’s cancellation.

The first, required response involves life extension for the existing AAVP7 Amtracs fleet. The 2nd response will be to accelerate the LAV-II replacement Marine Personnel Carrier (MPC) program. Like its predecessor, MPC is required to have some amphibious capability, albeit less than the Amtracs. The 3rd response is the direct EFV replacment, currently known as the New Amphibious Vehicle (NAV) program.

Jan 6/11: Canceled. As part of a plan detailing $150 billion in service cuts and cost savings over the next 5 years, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announces the cancellation of the USMC’s Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV):

“This program is of great interest to the Marine community so I would like to explain the reasons… Meeting [its conflicting requirements] demands has… led to significant technology problems, development delays, and cost increases… already consumed more than $3 billion to develop and will cost another $12 billion to build – all for a fleet with the capacity to put 4,000 troops ashore. If fully executed, the EFV – which costs far more to operate and maintain than its predecessor – would essentially swallow the entire Marine vehicle budget and most of its total procurement budget for the foreseeable future… recent analysis by the Navy and Marine Corps suggests that the most plausible scenarios requiring power projection from the sea could be handled through a mix of existing air and sea systems employed in new ways along with new vehicles… the mounting cost of acquiring this specialized capability must be judged against other priorities and needs.

Let me be clear. This decision does not call into question the Marine’s amphibious assault mission. We will budget the funds necessary to develop a more affordable and sustainable amphibious tractor to provide the Marines a ship-to-shore capability into the future. The budget will also propose funds to upgrade the existing amphibious vehicle fleet with new engines, electronics, and armaments to ensure that the Marines will be able to conduct ship-to-shore missions until the next generation of systems is brought on line.”

Responding to the announcement, USMC Commandant Gen. James Amos said that:

“Despite the critical amphibious and warfighting capability the EFV represents, the program is simply not affordable given likely Marine Corps procurement budgets. The procurement and operations/maintenance costs of this vehicle are onerous. After examining multiple options to preserve the EFV, I concluded that none of the options meets what we consider reasonable affordability criteria. As a result, I decided to pursue a more affordable vehicle… Shortly, we will issue a special notice to industry requesting information relative to supporting our required amphibious capabilities.”

Finally, the Deteroit Free Press submits a note worth remembering when other program cancellations are discussed:

“Peter Keating, vice president of communications with General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, told the Free Press on Thursday morning that the elimination of the EFV would cost Michigan 5,444 direct jobs and 5,281 indirect jobs, according to a economic study the defense contractor had done last year. The Free Press contacted one of the experts who did the study – David Louscher, a former political science professor at the University of Akron, who said those numbers represented so-called “man years” over the course of the 14-year life of the program. In other words, each of those jobs equated to roughly a full time job for one year, or 766 over the course of the program.”

See: Gates’ full speech | a href=”″>Full Gates speech and Gates/Mullen Q&A transcript | Pentagon release | USMC statement || Defense Update | WIRED Danger Room | || Cato Institute | Lexington Institute || Atlanta Journal Constitution | The Atlantic | Bloomberg | Detroit Free Press | The Hill | NY Times | Politico | Stars and Stripes || Agence France Presse | BBC | Reuters | UK’s Telegraph | China’s Xinhua.

EFV Canceled

Nov 16/10: No Plan B. WIRED Danger Room says there is no Plan B for the EFV, which means the vehicle had better pass its tests by February 2011:

“After years of delays and cost overruns, Senate appropriators voted in September to put the $24-million-per-tank EFV program out to pasture if it can’t pass its final round of tests. The chairmen of the White House deficit commission marked it for termination in their cost-cutting proposal last week. At this point, the swimming tank is a pinata for defense reformers… But a September study from the Government Accountability Office [DID: sctually. the Congressional Research Service] found few alternatives to the swimming tank (.PDF). Either the Marines could continue to use their decades-old Amphibious Assault Vehicles, or they can modify their planned Marine Personnel Carrier for ship-to-shore operations. (One option for the carrier, GAO writes, is the Italian Supernav 8×8 tank, “a 24-ton vehicle that can carry 13 Marines and their equipment and can travel up to 500 miles nonstop on land and 40 miles on water.”) But the carrier won’t be ready until 2015 as it is.”

FY 2010

EFV may be canceled; GAO & CSBA dubious about the EFV.

Sept 17/10: Inside Defense reports that: “The Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee has provided funding to cancel the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program in its mark of the fiscal year 2011 defense budget.”

Sept 9/10: Carley Corp. in Orlando, FL wins a $35.8 million cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract to produce the EFV training system for USMC accession training, as well as for training fleet and reserve forces. The contract contains options that could boost it to $36 million. The training system will include several sub-systems: training courseware on a Learning Management System, simulators, devices, mockups, and training aids.

Work will be performed in Orlando, FL, and is expected to be complete by September 2015. This contract was a 100% small business set-aside posted in the Navy Electronic Commerce Office, with 3 offers received (M67854-10-C-0036).

Aug 24/10: Testimony. USMC Commandant Gen. James Conway defends the EFV capability, while distancing himself a bit from the current program. Defense Tech quotes him:

“It is not the platform it’s the capability… It’s not necessarily the EFV made by General Dynamics that goes 25 knots, its the capability that we need to be wed to… if that program were canceled outright we would still be looking to come up with that capability.”

He said the new batch of eight EFVs provided by General Dynamics for extensive testing are more reliable than the original prototypes and the Marines hope they’ll show marked improvement. “It has been a beleaguered program,” Conway said today at a Pentagon presser. “We are looking at affordability of the program in the out years… we have to ask ourselves are 573 (EFVs) affordable.”

Aug 19/10: Testing. The SDD-2 version of the EFV is undergoing testing at Camp Pendleton, CA, whose Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch (AVTB) at Camp Del Mar is well suited to the task. The team has also tested the EFV at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, and DoD facilities in Alaska and Hawaii. The AVTB is staffed by 53 Marines and 25 civilians who are currently conducting testing on 8 EFVs manufactured in Lima, OH.

The USMC release says that to date, more than 400 engineering design improvements have been implemented since AVTB became involved with testing the first EFV prototype in 2003. One is a “whale-tail” exhaust system that disperses heat down and outward from the vehicle, instead of straight upward. USMC.

July 9/10: Defense Tech reports:

“Yesterday at a reporter’s roundtable, House Armed Services Committee chair Rep. Ike Skelton said he expects SecDef Robert Gates and his merry band of program killers in OSD will try to terminate the Marine Corps armored amphibian, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV). Skelton said he’s pretty agnostic on the EFV and that the HASC would give the Marines time to conduct further tests on the vehicle.”

See also Aviation Week | Reuters.

July 2/10: GAO still dubious. GAO Report #GAO-10-758R’s title understates its tone: “Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) Program Faces Cost, Schedule and Performance Risks” was provided to Rep. Norman D. Dicks [D-WA], n his role as Chairman of the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee. Some excerpts:

“In 2006 we reviewed the EFV program to determine how it was performing… and reported that the program faced significant risks… In 2006 and 2007, the EFV business case broke down… The program was restructured in June 2007.” [With respect to SDD-2], Reliability growth approach and other performance issues present significant challenges and risks, [the] nature of development, test, and procurement schedules add unnecessary risk… Costs could increase due to concurrency, redesign effort, and final procurement quantity… [and the program’s] history of cost growth, schedule slips and performance failures and the current challenges (including changing threats) raise the question of whether the business case for the EFV program (in terms of cost, schedule, and performance) is still sound.”

The rest of their review is quite detailed and specific. It cites serious ongoing issues with capacity and weight, reliability, and maintainability, and sees the overlapping schedule for testing and early production as especially worthy of concern. See also Eric Palmer of DoD Watch.

May 4/10: Roll-out, Take 2. The USMC rolls out the SDD-2 EFV prototype at a ceremony, and continues to press their case for the vehicle amidst rumors of its cancellation at what turned into a mini pep rally for the vehicle and its supporters. Taking direct aim at some of the concerns raised recently by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that Marines may not need the EFV or that the vehicle could prove too costly, program and Marine Corps officials said the vehicle is exactly what they need to conduct operations from the sea. The EFV is meant to serve as a vehicle bridge for Marines, carrying them from Navy ships through the surf and sand and miles deep into enemy terrain. Program officials extolled the vehicle’s prowess and promise at a ceremony at the National Museum of the Marine Corps here, with the museum’s unique skyline sculpture in the background and a newly minted prototype EFV in the foreground.”>Aviation Week Ares.

May 3/10: Gates’ grumps. US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates delivers a speech at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space Convention, in National Harbor, MD. It’s widely seen as casting doubt on the future of the EFV. Excerpts:

“The more relevant gap we risk creating is one between capabilities we are pursuing and those that are actually needed in the real world of tomorrow… Two major examples come to mind. First, what kind of new platform is needed to get large numbers of troops from ship to shore under fire – in other words, the capability provided by the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. No doubt, it was a real strategic asset during the first Gulf War to have a flotilla of Marines waiting off Kuwait City – forcing Saddam’s army to keep one eye on the Saudi border, and one eye on the coast. But we have to take a hard look at where it would be necessary or sensible to launch another major amphibious landing again – especially as advances in anti-ship systems keep pushing the potential launch point further from shore. On a more basic level, in the 21st century, what kind of amphibious capability do we really need to deal with the most likely scenarios, and then how much?

…And that bring me to the third and final issue: the budget… it is important to remember that, as the wars recede, money will be required to reset the Army and Marine Corps, which have borne the brunt of the conflicts. And there will continue to be long-term – and inviolable – costs associated with taking care of our troops and their families. In other words, I do not foresee any significant increases in top-line of the shipbuilding budget beyond current assumptions. At the end of the day, we have to ask whether the nation can really afford [the current force structure and platforms].”

March 30/10: GAO – what’s next? The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. With respect to the EFV, it cites a 132% jump in the program’s R&D budget from December 2000 – August 2009, a 45% rise in the procurement budget, and a 42.1% drop in planned orders. When you actually crunch those numbers, that means a 249.8% rise in per-vehicle procurement costs. With respect to the program’s structure:

“The EFV’s design will continue to evolve into low- rate initial production… until 2014 as it executes its reliability growth and testing strategy. The program is addressing 180 design actions raised during its critical design review in December 2008 and plans to incorporate many of them into seven new prototypes currently under construction… An operational assessment is scheduled for April 2011. At that time, the program expects to demonstrate on average at least 16 hours of operation between operational mission failures, which will keep the EFV on the reliability path needed to reach its minimum requirement of 43.5 hours. Additional testing and design revisions are scheduled to continue through the fourth lot of low-rate production, and the program will commit to all four low-rate production lots before conducting initial operational test and evaluation to validate the performance and reliability of the EFV.

…the program will introduce new friction-welding processes during low-rate production that are expected to increase the strength of the hull and reduce weight… The Marine Corps recently formalized the IED requirement for the EFV, but did not make it a key performance parameter… If the NBC system were removed, warfighters would still be protected using mission-oriented protective suits, which they currently use on the AAV-7 legacy platform. No decision has been made on this proposal, but it is being held as an option for later in the program.”

Feb 2010: USMC Commandant Gen. James Conway tells the House Armed Services Committee that the EFV performed “about the same” as a 6-wheeled, Category 2 MRAP blast-resistant vehicle in blast tests. A single EFV prototype was subjected to 4 blasts, including 2 that simulated land mines, without its additional armor kit installed.

What the reports don’t say is whether the blasts were set to the side, where the EFV’s protection is strong, or underbody blasts, where the EFV is expected to be weak. Caveat governor. Defense News | Gannett’s Marine Corps Times.

Dec 2/09: EG&G Technical Services, Inc. in Dumfries, VA receives a $5.7 million task order for EFV support services. “Technical support under this effort includes the support services to advance the use of technology to improve system performance and operations, achieve design-to-unit production cost objectives, and to define mature production and manufacturing processes.”

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA, and is expected to be complete in December 2010 (M67854-02-A-9011, #0087).

Dec 1/09: EG&G in Dumfries, VA receives a $5.2 million for task order for EFV support services to US Marine Corps Systems Command’s PM Advanced Amphibious Assault (PM AAA). “Technical support under this effort includes the support services to advance the use of technology to improve system performance and operations, achieve design-to-unit production cost objectives, and to define mature production and manufacturing processes.”

Work will be performed in Quantico, VA, and is expected to be complete in December 2009 (M67854-02-A-9011, #0070).

Dec 1/09: CSBA ix-nay. The non-partisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) issues a study that recommends cancelling the EFV in favor of an armored vehicle with beter land capabilities and less focus on independent water travel, which would be provided by hovercraft.

It also recommends scaling back MV-22 buys, in favor of a mix of MV-22s and more standard, less expensive helicopters. Aviation Week Ares.

FY 2008 – 2009

SDD program gets a full re-boot; Mine protection issues raised. EFV, testing
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May 15/09: The EFV team conducts more EFV tests at the Potomac River training area just off the Quantico, VA. Work includes water maneuvering tests and a gunnery test of it 30mm Mk44 and 7.62mm M240 guns, and is taking place before field testing begins. USMC.

Aug 1/08: General Dynamics Land Systems, operating through its division General Dynamics Amphibious Systems in Woodbridge, VA receives a $766.8 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract that amounts to a reboot of the program. GDLS will redo the EFV, and produce 8 System Development and Demonstration 2 (SDD-2) Eprototypes. In addition, the contractor will modify existing EFV prototypes, procure preliminary spares and repair parts, order long lead materials for the SDD-2 prototypes, and conduct systems engineering, studies and analysis, logistics support and test support.

Work will be performed in VA (55%), IN (10%), MI (9%), Germany (9%), OH (4%), and various other states (13%), and is expected to be completed in September 2012. This contract was not competitively awarded. The Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, VA (M67854-08-C-0003). See also Defense News.

SDD re-boot

Jan 18/08: General Dynamics Amphibious Systems in Woodbridge, VA received an $12 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-05-C-0072) for the advanced procurement of long lead materials for Systems Development and Demonstration 2 phase of the EFV program.

Work will be performed in Michigan (37%), Indiana (20%), Arizona (13%), Maryland (5%), Louisiana (3%), Florida (2%), Mississippi (2%), New Jersey (2%), New York (2%), Ohio (2%), and Germany (12%), and is expected to be completed by November 2009.

Jan 17/08: General Dynamics Amphibious Systems (GDAMS) in Woodbridge, VA received a $19.5 million modification under a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the spares material under the systems development and demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program.

Work is expected to be completed by September 2008, and will be performed in Woodbridge, Va., (24.654%); Indianapolis, IN (18.727%); Muskegon, MI (11.437%); Salisbury, MD (3.234%); Spokane, WA (2.669%); Anniston, AL (2.625%); Lapeer, MI (2.612%); Tallahassee, FL (2.581%); Broomfield, CO (2.368%); Slidell, LA (2.045%); Houghton, MI (1.994%); Tuscon, AZ (1.772%); Springfield, VA (1.647%); Black Mountain, NC. (1.619%); Minneapolis, MN (1.345%); Duluth, GA (1.241%); San Diego, CA (1.223%); Tempe, AZ (1.123%); Plainview, NY (1.12%); Ottawa, Canada (1.875%); Freidrichshafen, Germany (0.988%); Calgary, Canada (0.144%); and several other locations within the United States, each with %ages lower than 1% (totaling 10.957%). The contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

Jan 9/08: The US House Armed Services Committee’s Seapower and Expeditionary Forces subcommittee is casting a skeptical bipartisan eye on the EFV program. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD, ranking subcommittee minority member] spoke to Inside the Navy after speaking at a conference in Arlington, VA. According to information released by his office, he and subcommittee chair Gene Taylor [D-MS] have ‘a lot of serious questions’ about the idea for additional applique armor to help remedy the EFV’s poor resistance to mines. The idea itself was spawned in reaction to the subcommittee’s pointed questions re: the EFV and its lack of resistance to IED land mines. Congressman Bartlett:

“…they would get a really thin, strong Marine who could scoot underneath that thing, because there’s only about 18 inches of ground clearance, and he would bolt on an applique of some special aluminum which would now protect them… the enemy has to be very cooperative and not shoot them while they’re affixing the armor applique, and that the Marines have to find hard terrain free of mines to do this re-jiggering [the USMC] told us that they would know that the beach wasn’t mined. I said, ‘If you can know the beach was not mined, how come our people in Iraq can’t figure out whether the road is mined or not’?”

Oct 22/07: A $10 million contract modification to previously awarded contract M67854-01-C-0001 to develop an alternative drivetrain subsystem preliminary design for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. Work will be performed in Augsburg, Germany (81%), Friedrichshafen, Germany (1%) and Woodbridge, VA (18%) and is expected to be complete by April 2008.

FY 2007

Program problems push the government toward competing the EFV going-forward; Revised costs & budgets as price climbs. Pushing hard
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Aug 22/07: The Pentagon releases its Selected Acquisition Reports for the June 2007 reporting period, and the EFV program is listed:

“The SAR was submitted to report schedules slips of approximately two years since the December 2006 SAR. In February 2007, the program experienced a critical Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach due primarily to system reliability challenges and a quantity reduction. The department certified a revised program to Congress in June 2007. Program costs increased $4,069.4 million (+34.2 percent) from $11,902.7 million to $15,972.1 million.”

DID’s follow-on article “Costing the Marines’ EFV” explains what’s going on, delving into current and past program cost growth, why it happened, and what it means for the price per vehicle. The short answer is that each EFV will cost $16-21 million.

$21 million per?!?

Aug 15/07: A $15.5 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for System Integration Laboratory Hardware, during the SDD phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (45%); Tallahassee, FL (30%); Lima, OH (20%); and Scranton, PA (5%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2008.

On the beach
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Aug 1/07: In reply to the July 12/07 Jane’s article, the EFV program office had this to say to DID:

“We plan to compete future contracts for certain EFV program efforts, where feasible, to increase performance or reduce program costs. However, General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) has been the sole EFV vehicle designer and developer since 1996 and as a result, the main design development and production efforts are planned as sole source to GDLS because no other firm can perform the requirements of development and production without substantial duplication of cost and additional, unacceptable delays to the EFV program.

GDLS has taken positive action to demonstrate their commitment to the EFV program and improve the probability of success in meeting EFV program requirements. GDLS implemented a major reorganization in early 2007 to transfer technical expertise to the EFV program and to align Director-level technical positions with their parent company, GDLS in Sterling Heights, MI.

In Jan 07, GDLS transferred their best Systems Engineer from GDLS to Woodbridge, VA to be the Director of Systems Engineering for the EFV program. In addition, they created a Director of Programs position and appointed a senior GDLS employee with proven success on numerous Defense programs to the position. GD then aligned key EFV positions with their corporate organization to provide corporate expertise and continuity across Defense programs. This included instituting a direct reporting relationship for the EFV SE Director to the GDLS Senior Director for SE and for the EFV Technical Director to the GDLS Senior Vice-President for Engineering Design & Development (ED&D).”

July 31/07: A $6.2 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001). It covers sustaining program management, as well as technical and engineering support for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) Drive train components, during the extended Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the EFV program. Work will be performed in Indianapolis, IN and work is expected to be completed by September 2008.

July 17/07: A $10.6 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the sustaining equipment manufacturing, technical, and engineering efforts in support of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) engine, during the extended Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the of the EFV program.

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (12%) and Friedrichshafen, Germany (88%) and is expected to be complete by September 2008.

July 12/07: Jane’s Defence Weekly reports that the USMC will consider alternative designs for the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) and plans to compete out future components of the $2.3 billion EFV contract currently solely held by General Dynamics. “The news follows continued scrutiny of the programme by the US Congress, which has sharply questioned the EFV’s flat-bottomed design, cost over-runs and production problems.”

Rep. Gene Taylor [D-MS], Chair of the House Armed Services Seapower & Expeditionary Forces subcommittee, is reportedly seeking legal opinions re: ownership of the vehicle design, in order to determine whether the EFV project could be turned over to another firm if Congress’ patience snaps.

June 8/07: A $5.7 million modification to previously awarded contract M67854-01-C-0001 for the redesign of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, using an alternate architecture in place of Spraycool technology, during the Systems Development and Demonstration phase. SprayCool will be kept for the more computing-intensive EFV-C command variant, but is being designed out of the infantry carrier vehicle in favor of a more modular architecture. This is bad news for SprayCool Corp., who touted their liquid cooling system for electronics in a success story release:

“In 2000, the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), being developed at that time as the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV), was experiencing significant difficulties in their command and control electronics suite due to overheating. Moreover, the program office realized that this problem would only get worse as their C4I roadmap called for more electronics, increasing the number of software programs, and numerous technology insertions of faster processors to transfer the required data.

By chance the program manager for the Command Variant of the EFV saw a SprayCool Technology demonstration and consulted with SprayCool. Using a Small Business Innovative Research contract and funding from DARPA, SprayCool built a prototype multi-processor unit, called the Command and Control Server (CCS). This prototype solved the overheating conditions and has evolved into the heart of the EFV’s electronic suite where it links ten operating stations with information from the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, Command and Control Operations (C2PC for situational awareness), Intelligence Operations System, and other C4I SR (command, control, communications, and computers intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems.

In developing the Multi-Processor Unit (MPU) for the Marine Corps, SprayCool won the Department of Defense Value Engineering Award for 2003 by enabling Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) technology insertions, saving the Marines over $350 million dollars over a thirty year life span.”

Work on finding a replacement cooling approach will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (34.2%), Spokane, WA (20.7%), Colorado Springs, CO (14.6%), Tallahassee, FL (11.5%), Calgary, Canada (9.5percent), Ottawa, Canada (4.2%), Los Angeles, CA (2.1%), Salisbury, MD (2.0%) and Sterling Heights, MI (1.2%) and is expected to be complete by September 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $3.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

May 2/07: House Appropriation Committee chair Henry Waxman submits formal requests to Secretary of Defense Gates and to General Dynamics Land Systems President David K. Heebner. He requests a long list of reports, assessments, and other documentation related to the EFV, by May 18/07, while citing several reports the program’s ongoing difficulties. House Appropriations Committee | Full Letter to DoD [PDF] | Full letter to General Dynamics Land Systems [PDF].

April 30/07: A $43.8 million contract modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for spares and material for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program.

Work will be performed in Germany (38.61%); Michigan (13.38%); Indiana (7.56%); Virginia (6.04%); Colorado (5.37%); Florida (4.61%); California (4.2%); Canada (4.26%); Maryland (3.94%); Washington (3.72%); Arizona (2.52%); North Carolina (2.49%); Louisiana (2.21%); New York (0.27%); South Carolina (0.24%); Massachusetts (0.20%); Missouri (0.19%); Minnesota (0.16%); and Pennsylvania (0.02%); and is expected to be complete by September 2007.

March 19/07: A $144 million modification to previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (M67854-01-C-0001) on Mar. 16, 2007, for design for reliability efforts for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program. In other words, this money will be used to address the reliability issues covered in “The US Marines’ EFV Program: Current State Report, November 2006“,” in order to get the EFV to a point where it’s ready for low-rate production.

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (40%), Indianapolis, Ind., (24%), Sterling Heights, MI (10%), Friedrichshafen, Germany, (10%), and various other states (16%), and is expected to be complete by September 2008.

FY 2006 and Earlier

Initial EFV SDD contract, and add-ons. Waterjets on!
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May 25/06: An $18.8 million cost-reimbursable modification under a previously awarded cost-plus-award-fee contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program. Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (50%); Aberdeen, MD (25%); and Camp Pendleton, CA (25%).

April 3/06: A $44.4 million cost-reimbursable addition modification under previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for the continuation of Systems Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program. GDAMS will provide all required materials, services, personnel and facilities to complete the design and development of the EFV, perform studies and analyses, manufacture and test all SDD prototypes, prepare for production, initiate logistics support of the EFV, and successfully complete the SDD phase.

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (38%); Camp Pendleton, CA (22%); Sterling Heights, MI (21%); Aberdeen, MD (9%), and undetermined location(s) (10%), and is expected to be complete by September 2009.

July 22/05: A $42.9 million cost-reimbursable addition to a previously awarded contract (N67854-01-C-0001) to extend the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle’s systems development and demonstration (SDD) phase. Full-up system live fire testing will be included. General Dynamics will provide all required materials, services, personnel and facilities to complete the design and development of the EFV, perform studies and analyses, manufacture and test all SDD prototypes, prepare for production, initiate logistics support of the EFV, and successfully complete the SDD phase.

Work will be performed in Virginia (21.22%); Indiana (12.47%); Germany (10.47%); Michigan (8.87%); North Carolina (6.81%); California (5.31%); Ohio (5.21%); Washington (5.20%); Maryland (4.38%); Minnesota (4.38%); Colorado (2.95%); Canada (2.53%); Illinois (2.37%); Arizona (1.07%); New York (0.87%); Alabama (0.54%); Florida (0.48%); Georgia (0.14%); Texas (0.13%); and undetermined (4.61%). Work is expected to be completed by September 2009.

Nov 1/04: A $136 million cost-reimbursable addition modification under previously awarded contract M67854-01-C-0001 for the continuation of system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the expeditionary fighting vehicle (EFV) program. GDAMS will provide all required materials, services, personnel and facilities to complete the design and development of the EFV, perform studies and analyses, manufacture and test all SDD prototypes, prepare for production, initiate logistics support of the EFV, and successfully complete the SDD phase.

This contract was not competitively procured. Work will be performed in Woodbridge, VA (59.02%); Indianapolis, IN (10.43%); Lima, OH (1.94%); Liberty Lake, WA (1.64%); Sterling Heights, MI (1.46%); Scranton, PA (1.38%); Linthicum, MD (1.20%); Tempe, AZ (1.18%); Arlington, VA (0.78%); Pittsfield, MA (0.69%); San Diego, CA (0.55%); Tallahassee, FL (0.53%); Frederick, MD (0.43%); El Centro, CA (0.37%); Muskegon, MI (0.02%);and Freidrichshafen, Germany (15.61%); Ottawa, Canada (1.82%); and Calgary, Canada (0.95%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2008.

EFV on land
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Feb 10/03: $15.9 million under a previously awarded cost-reimbursable contract (M67854-01-C-0001), exercising an option for the Live Fire Test Vehicle and initial spares for the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV).

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, Va. (30.9%); Indianapolis, Ind. (6.4%); Freidrichshafen, Germany (5.8%); Muskegon, Mich. (4.6%); Tempe, Ariz. (4.6%); Tallahassee, Fla. (4.1%); Scranton, Pa. (4.1%); Lima, Ohio (3.1%); Slidell, La. (2.2%); Lapeer, Mich. (2.2%); Boulder, Colo. (1.9%); Hebron, Ohio (1.9%); McKinney, Texas (1.9%); Boca Raton, Fla. (1.4%); Ottawa, Canada (1.3%); Jacksonville, Mich. (1.3%); Imperial Valley, Calif. (1.2%); East Aurora, N.Y. (1.1%); Tuscon, Ariz. (0.9%); Frederick, Md. (0.8%); Wayne, N.J. (0.8%); Calgary, Canada, (0.8%); Anniston, Ala. (0.7%); Clarkston, Wash. (0.6%); San Diego, Calif. (0.4%); Westbury, N.Y. (0.4%); Marlboro, Md. (0.2%); Sterling Heights, Mich. (0.1%); and all other states (14.3%). Work is expected to be completed by June 2005.

July 3/01: A $712 million cost-reimbursable contract for the systems development and demonstration (SDD) (formerly engineering and manufacturing development) phase of the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV) as part of the SDD phase. Under this procurement, two different types of vehicles will be developed and demonstrated, the Personnel variant (AAAV (P)) and the Command and Control variant (AAAV (C )). The AAAV is a replacement system for the current AAV7A1 that was fielded in 1972, underwent a major service life extension program and product improvement program from 1983 to 1993 and will be over 30 years old when the AAAV is fielded.

Work will be performed in Woodbridge, Va. (57.4%); Freidrichshafen, Germany (5.1%); Indianapolis, Ind. (5.1%); Tallahassee, Fla. (3.1%); Calgary, Canada (2.2%); Tempe, Ariz. (2.0%); Sterling Heights, Mich. (1.9%); Scranton, Pa. (1.9%); Muskegon, Mich. (1.8%); Lima, Ohio (1.7%); Imperial Valley, Calif. (1.5%); Clarkston, Wash. (1.4%); Boulder, Colo. (1.0%); Frederick, Md. (0.7%); Anniston, Ala. (0.5%); Upper Marlboro, Md. (0.5%); Arlington, Va. (0.5%); Lapeer, Mich. (0.5%); Reston, Va. (0.5%); Springfield, Va. (0.5%); East Aurora, N.Y. (0.4%); Ottawa, Canada (0.4%); McKinney, Texas (0.4%); Hebron, Ohio (0.4%); Tucson, Ariz. (0.2%); San Diego, Calif. (0.3%); Acton, Mass. (0.3%); Ottawa, Canada (0.2%); Boca Raton, Fla. (0.2%); Bettendorf, Iowa (0.2%); Chicago, Ill. (0.2%); Israel (0.2%); Wayne, N.J. (0.2%); and all other states (6.4%) and is expected to be completed in September 2006. This contract was not competitively procured (M67854-01-C-0001).

SDD contract

April 5/01: General Dynamics Land Systems, Woodbridge, VA, under their subsidiary General Dynamics Amphibious Systems, is being awarded a $6 million modification to previously awarded contract (M67854-01-C-0001) for long-lead material for the Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV) as part of the systems development and demonstration phase. The work will be performed in Woodbridge, Va. (40%), Lima, Ohio (20%), Tallahassee, Fla. (15%), Muskegon, Mich. (10%), Scranton, Pa. (10%), and Imperial Valley, Calif. (5%) and is expected to be completed by June 2001 (M67854-01-C-0001).


fn1. Remote Weapons Systems turrets like the RCWS-30 equipping the Czech Army’s river-amphibious Pandur II APC fleet were considered at the program’s outset, but they had not developed to their present capability levels. In addition, Col. Brogan noted that Remote Weapons Systems made crew nausea issues worse during amphibious testing. Money has not been allocated for current studies, the design is well advanced, and the EFV office has no plans to recommend reconsideration.

fn2. The GAO estimates $12.3 million per vehicle. See GAO report item in the “Additional Readings & Sources” section for deeper background.

Appendix A: Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle – The Program Previous timeline
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The US Marines originally hoped to replace 1,322 AAV7s with 1,013 EFVs: 935 EFV-P Personnel Variants, and 78 EFV-C Command Variants. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) was supposed to happen in 2010, and was defined as a platoon of 13 EFV-P and 1 EFV-C vehicle, ready for Marine Expeditionary Unit deployment workups, including the associated support and sustainment package. Plus a 2nd EFV platoon delivered and in New Equipment Training. Plus a 3rd EFV platoon in production. Full Rate Production was scheduled for the FY 2011-2020 period. Full Operational Capability (FOC) was scheduled for FY 2020.

It eventually became clear that 2010 wouldn’t even see the end of testing, and IOC was a long way away at FY 2017 or so, if everything went well. Even Low-Rate Initial Production wasn’t expected until FY 2013 – assuming that testing didn’t reveal additional problems, and the program survived that long. Which it did not.

The EFV nevertheless remained the Corps’ top land combat priority, right up until its cancellation by the Marine Corps – with a very hard push from the Pentagon. EFV budgets in recent years have included:

FY 2005: $291.7 million ($239.2M R&D, $52.5M procurement)
FY 2006: 272.7 million ($243.9M R&D, $28.8M procurement)
FY 2007: $348.7 million (all shifted to RDT&E following testing issues and cuts)
FY 2008 req.: $288.2M RDTE (Research, Development, Testing, & Evaluation)
FY 2009: $256.0M RDT&E
FY 2010: $292.2M RDT&E
FY 2011 request: $242.8M RDT&E, but the program was shut down.

The danger signs began when the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review resulted in a significant cut to the USMC’s EFV plans, as the service considered their total package of ground vehicles, and the schedule has foundered in the wake of serious performance and reliability problems. In contrast, blast-resistant wheeled patrol vehicles appears to have made large gains within the envisioned force mix, per the MRAP program etc.

Muddy ground
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Then, there were the EFV’s costs.

In 2000, the EFV program was expected to cost about $7.3 billion, including $1.6 billion for research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E). By 2006, that figure had risen to $12.5 billion, including $2.5 billion for RDT&E. At 1,013 EFVs, the final cost per vehicle had grown to $10.1 million[2] – but even this figure was true if, and only if, all planned vehicles were bought. By August 2009, the program’s estimated cost was $14.29 billion, including $3.74 billion in RDT&E; and this 14 billion dollar figure was so despite a 42.1% cut in the expected order, to just 593 EFVs. Overall, the cost per vehicle has risen almost 250% from its December 2000 baseline.

In a 2006 discussion, the program office estimated that a cutback to 573 vehicles could increase costs by up to $2 million per vehicle, to $12-13 million. Other reports have placed the cost as high as $17 million average.

Why is this? Much of it is a factor of the vehicle’s requirements. A 20 knot plus water speed, with that much carrying capacity, plus even a questionable level of protection on land, is a contradictory set of imperatives that creates a very expensive vehicle. Some of the cost jump a product of the vehicle’s rising complexity, as it gets redesigned. Some of it is also self-inflicted, and stems from cuts in the program.

Buying fewer vehicles means that the R&D is paid for and vehicles are bought earlier in the production learning curve, when the cost higher. If fewer vehicles are also bought over the same time frame, then fixed costs per vehicle increase for that reason as well. The EFV program office’s preliminary analysis showed that a reduction to 800 vehicles would raise the final average cost per vehicle by at least $1 million.

Of course, costs that rise during the R&D/SDD phase tend to lead to more production reductions, and the whole scenario can spiral very quickly. In an attempt to avoid that spiral, the EFV Program Office tried a number of improved project management techniques and procurement innovations. It was hoped that these efforts would help keep the program on its current schedule, and they did help. What they can never do, is fix a fundamental requirements set problem if one exists, or completely remove the unexpected surprises from a difficult technical journey.

Sunset battle
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In the end, however, the biggest killer was issues with EFV performance, as detailed in test results and GAO reports.

Full up EFV System Level Lethality testing began with an Operational Assessment between January-September 2006. Milestone C approval was expected to be followed by low-rate initial production (LRIP) vehicles in FY 2007 – 2008 for use during Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E). Unfortunately, the assessment revealed some serious issues with performance, capacity, and reliability.

LRIP production was delayed while the program was restructured, and the problems were not confined to just one sub-system, or just a few. In the end, the vehicle kept its basic outline, but got a major makeover that is still in progress.

The first step was a Design For Reliability phase, followed by what is in effect a do-over of the Systems Design & Development phase (SDD-2). Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) was delayed from 2008 until FY 2013 or so. Initial Operational Capability, meanwhile, was pushed from the original 2010 to 2016-2017 at the earliest.

As risky as that was, the US GAO cited an additional risk of overlap. EFV testing wasn’t supposed to be done until the end of FY 2014, but LRIP would start before that’s done. With up to 96 vehicles planned under the 4 LRIP production lots, problems discovered in late testing could become very expensive retrofits very quickly.

This schedule, and the growing risk of EFV program cancellation,made it clear that further upgrades and/or life-extension programs may be required for the AAV7 Amtracs fleet, in order to keep the heavily-used vehicles available to the Marines until replacements do arrive. During that interim, any serious problems in the Amtracs fleet could leave the US Marines in a difficult position indeed.

Appendix B: Additional Readings & Sources EFV Data

Official Reports

Other Readings

Categories: News

MFTA: The US Navy’s New Towed Array for Naval Detection

Mon, 05/25/2015 - 00:01
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Naval technologies have advanced on many fronts, but one of the most significant is the growing roster of diesel-electric submarines that boast exceptional quietness. Some of the newer AIP (Air-Independent Propulsion) models even have the ability to operate without surfacing for a week or two at a time. In exercises against the US Navy, diesel-electric submarines have successfully ‘killed’ their nuclear counterparts, and in 2006, a Chinese submarine reportedly surprised a US carrier battlegroup by surfacing within it.

The US Navy is slowly moving to beef up anti-submarine capabilities that had been neglected since the end of the Cold War, and other navies are also beginning to adjust. One of the first areas that requires attention is improved detection. That means wider coverage areas, longer baselines, better sonar and other detection systems, and greater use of small unmanned platforms on the surface and underwater. With UUV/USV platforms still maturing, and almost every advanced navy except the Chinese getting smaller due to the cost of new warships, towed systems are a natural place to start.

The New MFTA DDG-51 modernization
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In the USA, towed array systems are made by a number of manufacturers: EDO/ITT, L-3, Lockheed Martin Undersea Systems, and the small specialist firm Chesapeake Science Corp. are a few of the firms involved.

Unlike a ship’s main bow-mounted sonar, towed arrays can quickly be fitted to any ship with a minimum of yard work. Towed arrays will also be necessary adjuncts to future unmanned anti-submarine vehicles, as their low weight and streamlined shape makes them usable by smaller platforms. Hence MFTA (Multi-Function Towed Array) production contracts since 2008, which are replacing America’s existing set of AN/SQR-19 TACTAS arrays.

The new AN/SQR-20 (now TB-37U) MFTA is the first new surface ship array to be built for the U.S. Navy in 25 years, and is configured as a long 3″ diameter array that can be towed behind surface ships. It is an active and passive sonar sensor, meaning it can listen silently for enemy submarines, or can send out a an active sonar ping and listen for the echoes. MFTA provides several enhancements over the existing AN/SQR-19 TACTAS, including better coverage, better detection capability, and better reliability.

The new towed array will be integrated with AN/SQQ-89Av15 underwater combat systems that are being installed aboard Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyers and Ticonderoga Class missile cruisers as part of their planned upgrades. It’s also slated for use on DDG-1000 Zumwalt Class “destroyers” as part of the AN/SQQ-90 dual-and sonar, and aboard the Littoral Combat Ships as part of their Anti-Submarine Warfare mission package.


While the array is described as “towed”, it can still be helpful for the array to have some attached movement capability. One of the key technical issues faced by towed arrays is the fact that knowing the shape of the array in the water is critical to interpreting its results. Unfortunately, currents, maneuvers by the towing vessel, and a myriad of other factors can change the array’s shape in the water. Self-monitoring via a pinging device and listening “birds” clipped along the array (birds because they measure “time of flight”) is a commonly used approach to calculating the array’s shape, and some kind of monitoring approach will continue to be necessary.

Having a streamlined node on the end with some maneuvering ability of its own – a UUV, for instance – can still be quite helpful, allowing operators to adjust the array line’s shape so it remains more useful more often. The US Navy specifically declined to discuss any aspect along these lines, saying that towing characteristics and features were not for public release.

The other unmanned mobility option would be to expand coverage by attaching the relatively small arrays to unmanned vehicles, allowing a warship to cover a much larger area, and to use unmanned vehicles as quiet advance scouts.

Lockheed Martin has confirmed to DID that part of the MFTA contract included an option involving the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) snorkeling unmanned surface vehicle (USV). RMMV was expected to have a significant role to play in anti-submarine warfare (as the WLD-1), but the US Navy decided to restrict it to LCS’ counter-mine warfare package. That still leaves possibilities aboard USN cruisers and destroyers, but unless the USV improves significantly, WLD-1 probably would be more of a position adjustment aid than a towing platform. Overall USV technology, on the other hand, is expected to improve significantly in the coming decades. It’s very likely that some kind of USV or UUV system will eventually be deployed with MFTA as an independent sensor set.

Contracts and Key Events CG-47 modernization
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Unless otherwise noted, contracts are issued by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC, to Lockheed Martin Mission in Liverpool, NY. The division’s name changes, but it’s the same maritime sensor group.

May 25/15: Lockheed Martin has been handed a $27.3 million option for seven TB-37 multi-function towed array (MFTA) production units, as well as auxiliary equipment and support services. The work and production will be split between the US Navy and Japan under a previous Foreign Military Sale. The TB-37 is a potent anti-submarine warfare sensor, with the system offering several enhancements to the AN/SQR-19 Tactical Towed Array System which it replaces. The TB-37 Multi-Function Towed Array is the first new surface ship array to be built for the US Navy in 25 years and is configured as a long array that can be towed behind surface ships for ASW mission sets.

May 19/14: +9. Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Liverpool, NY, is being awarded a $31.8 million contract modification, exercising options for 9 TB-37/U Multi-Function Towed Array (MFTA) production units, tow cables, electro-optical slip rings, drogues, and engineering services.

$30.1 million is committed immediately, using various FY 2014 US Navy budgets. Work will be performed in Liverpool, NY (66%), Millersville, MD (33%), and Marion, Massachusetts (1%), and is expected to be complete by July 2016 (N00024-13-C-6292).

Sept 30/13: A $44.7 million fixed-price-incentive, firm-fixed-price, and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for TB-37/U MFTAs and associated support. They’ll act as part of the AN/SQQ-89A(V)15 Antisubmarine Warfare Combat Systems on board USN DDG-51 and CG-47 cruisers.

$28.2 of the $44.7 million is committed immediately, and the contract includes options which could bring its cumulative value to $199.1 million.

Lockheed Martin confirmed that the designation has changed, but it’s the same product. TB-37/U = SQR-20. Presumably, TB-37/U systems for the DDG-1000’s SQQ-90 dual-band sonar, and the Littoral Combat Ship’s forthcoming ASW module, are all handled under separate contracts.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (60%), and Millersville, MD (40%), and is expected to be complete by April 2015. This contract was competitively procured via, with 2 offers received by US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC (N00024-13-C-6292). Sources: | Pentagon DefenseLINK, Sept 30/13.

Multi-year contract & Designation changed

March 15/12: A $14.95 million contract modification to produce and support of AN/SQR-20 MFTAs. The Pentagon release specifically mentions production for the AN/SQQ-89Av15 antisubmarine warfare combat systems on board modernized US Navy cruisers and destroyers.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (60%); Baltimore, MD (20%); Cleveland, OH (14%); and Phoenix, AZ (6%). Work is expected to be complete by January 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year (N00024-08-C-6282).

March 25/11: A $7.9 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification exercises an option to produce more AN/SQR-20 MFTAs. Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (60%); Baltimore, MD (20%); Cleveland, OH (14%); and Phoenix, AZ (6%), and is expected to be complete by January 2013 (N00024-08-C-6282). See also Military & Aerospace Electronics.

March 24/10: A $12.2 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification exercises an option to produce more AN/SQR-20 MFTAs. Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (60%); Baltimore, MD (20%); Cleveland, OH (14%); and Phoenix, AZ (6%), and is expected to be complete by December 2012 (N00024-08-C-6282).

Dec 17/08: Lockheed Martin-MS2 in Liverpool, NY received a $15.1 million firm-fixed-price, cost plus fixed fee option under an existing contract (N00024-08-C-6282) to produce and support MFTAs for the AN/SQQ-89Av15 antisubmarine warfare (ASW) combat systems.

Work will be performed in Syracuse, NY (60%), Baltimore, MD (20%), Cleveland, OH (14%), and Phoenix, AZ (6%) and is expected to be complete by December 2012. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC manages the contract.

June 23/08: MFTA appears to be ready to begin production. Lockheed Martin announces a $10 million contract to produce and support MFTAs for the U.S. Navy’s AN/SQQ-89 Antisubmarine Warfare Combat System. Work will be performed at Lockheed Martin’s Syracuse, NY facility, in collaboration with Chesapeake Science Corporation in Millersville, MD. Lockheed Martin release.

Nov 21/07: A 3rd revision [PDF format] is made to the RFP. Several sections clarify the structure of the production options, and restate the government’s option not to exercise them if it so chooses. With respect to the issue of the drawings raised in the Nov 5/07 amendment, it adds this language:

“1. The Government may have some of the drawings available to it in a modifiable format and to the extent such drawings are available the Government will make them available after award, as a courtesy, upon request by the successful offeror. The Government, however, will be under no obligation to provide any such drawings at all or in a given time frame, nor will the Government be under an obligation to convert any drawings into a modifiable format.”

Nov 5/07: A revised RFP (Amendment 0002), includes questions and answers that indicate a serious controversy with one of the [unnamed] bidders, who believes the competition is not level:

“We have some serious concerns with respect to the referenced competition:

a. The competition is for a “winner take all” FFP contract [rest relates to numbers produced, Navy clarified]…

b. Our competitor, Lockheed Martin contributed to the design of the Engineering Development Model and the drawing package (their CAGE code appears on some drawings). The RFP states that the drawing package is being provided for information only, but also says that if a contractor uses a drawing package or design other than provided by the Navy it will be viewed as a risk. Hence, the Government is mandating a baseline system engineered by Lockheed Martin and allowing them to bid as a supplier…

c. The Navy has provided the drawing package, with some drawings missing, in PDF format. The selected contractor will have to re-deliver a production data package… We asked for the drawing package in CAD/CAM, i.e. modifiable format, but RFP Amendment 1 denied our request. We will be at a substantial cost disadvantage in that we will have to re-develop the entire data package, whereas Lockheed can proceed with the modifiable format they already have available.

[Complaints are also raised re: incomplete test data and drawing information]

It seems to us that we are at a disadvantage with respect to our competitor who constructed the original drawing package, has built and tested an array [for which limited data was provided to others], and has insight into the revised “informational” drawing package that is the only recognized low risk approach…”

The Navy’s response involved changes in only one area – that the drawing package information was provided for information only, and that contractors had to meet the government’s requirements. Which included either using the existing MFTA design, or providing an “in-depth comparison” with the Navy’s “informational design.” RFP, incl. amendment and Q&A.

Sept 15/07: The US Navy issues a Request for Proposal for the production of up to 75 Multi-Function Towed Arrays for the AN/SQQ-89A(V) 15 Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) Combat System. This RFP and related files listed under solicitation number N00024-07-R-6217 are issued electronically, and some controversy ensues re: the way the competition was set up. FBO advance notice.

Additional Readings

Categories: News

If the AF Dumps Them, Boeing Wants to Resell A-10s to Others | Turkey Wants more Phalanx | India, Israel Mull Joint Surface-to-Air Missile

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 02:50


  • Turkey has requested upgrades for its Phalanx close-in weapon systems, as well as four new systems, in a potential $310 million deal. The deal would also include Remote Weapons Stations, equipment, parts and training, as well as contractor (Raytheon) support. The Phalanx has been exported to several countries, with Australia recently requesting an upgrade package, with the UK and South Korea having imported the system, alongside other international customers. The CIWS is designed to provide a final tier defensive capability, with radar guiding a cannon to shoot down missiles and aircraft.

  • France is setting aside $1.7 billion to acquire new equipment over the next four years, according to reports Thursday. A portion of this is earmarked for 4 C-130 transports, as well as seven additional Tiger helicopters, to bring the total number ordered to 67. France recently increased its defense budget by 4%, representing €3.8 billion. The model of C-130 expected to be procured is either the J or K model.

Middle East


  • Alongside the news that India is pursuing closer ties to South Korea’s shipbuilding industry, the country is also reportedly talking to Russia regarding potential joint construction of warships based on the Russian Admiral Grigorovich class frigates. Russia has previously built six warships for the Indian Navy.

  • India and Israel are reportedly in the final stages of organizing a deal which will see the two sides jointly develop a new medium-range surface to air missile, following reports earlier this month that confirmed that the two sides were in negotiations.

  • South Korean and US forces will form a joint division next month, in what the military says is a response to threats by the North. However, this was originally announced last September. The division’s size has not been disclosed, however the number will be evenly split between the US and South Korea, combining a brigade from the South Korean Army and one from the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division.

  • India has successfully landed a Mirage 2000 fighter on a highway in a test of a plan to use India’s roadways as emergency landing strips. Other nations use this strategy, including Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. Highways need to be adapted in order for aircraft to land – aside from the obvious lack of chicanes, they require lighting to be at ground level, with no telephone or electricity pylons in the vicinity.

Today’s Video

  • Footage of China’s Xian H-6K flying over the Miyako Strait for the first time on Thursday. The most advanced variant of the H-6 bomber, a copy of the Russian Tupolev Tu-16, the new model boasts several upgrades over previous models. Thursday’s drill is likely to scare Japanese defense planners, given the range of the bomber and the proximity of Thursday’s flight to Okinawa.

Categories: News

Phalanx CIWS: The Last Defense, On Ship and Ashore

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 02:38
Phalanx, firing
(click to view full)

The radar-guided, rapid-firing MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapons System (CIWS, pron. “see-whiz”) can fire between 3,000-4,500 20mm cannon rounds per minute, either autonomously or under manual command, as a last-ditch defense against incoming missiles and other targets. Phalanx uses closed-loop spotting with advanced radar and computer technology to locate, identify and direct a stream of armor piercing projectiles toward the target. These capabilities have made the Phalanx CIWS a critical bolt-on sub-system for naval vessels around the world, and led to the C-RAM/Centurion, a land-based system designed to defend against incoming artillery and mortars.

This DID Spotlight article offers updated, in-depth coverage that describes ongoing deployment and research projects within the Phalanx family of weapons, the new land-based system’s new technologies and roles, and international contracts from FY 2005 onward. As of Feb 28/07, more than 895 Phalanx systems had been built and deployed in the navies of 22 nations.

The Phalanx Platform: Competition, Upgrades & Developments click for video

The MK 15 Phalanx system was originally developed as a last-ditch defense against enemy missiles, and possibly aircraft. It weighed in at around 13,600 pounds, and carries 1,550 rounds of 20mm ammunition. As radars have improved, and electronics have become both smaller and more powerful, the system has been improved to defend against a wider range of threats.

Block 1, Baseline 2. Uses high pressure air instead of hydraulics to release the rounds, boosting the MK 15’s firing rate from 3,000 rounds per minute to 4,500. That gives the system 21 seconds of full-rate firing before a reload is required, enough for several engagement sequences.

Phalanx maintenance
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Block 1B. This is the new standard for the US Navy, and the baseline for SeaRAM missile systems. Block 1B adds day/night FLIR optics that boost performance against drones, small boats, and missiles with low radar cross-sections, while boosting angle tracking against conventional targets. For conventional MK 15s, the gun barrels are tweaked, and new MK224 “Enhanced Lethality Cartridge” (ELC) ammunition has a 48% heavier tungsten penetrator that maximizes the effect of the small 20mm round.

The US Navy wants to be an all-1B fleet by 2015, at a conversion cost of about $4.5 million per unit. A number of allies are following that lead within their own time frames. Paul Gilligan, head of platform integration for Raytheon’s UK subsidiary, was quoted saying that:

“This upgrade is vitally important, especially in the context of the evolving threats worldwide… It provides protection to ships and their crews against an increased number of threats including small, fast gunboats; standard and guided artillery; helicopters; mines and a variety of shore-launched, anti-ship missiles.”

Block IB Baseline 2. Radar modifications swap out some hard-to-get analog components for digital off-the-shelf signal processing electronics, a new signal source and mixer, and a “surface mode” software upgrade that improves performance against targets on or near the water’s surface.

The US Navy wants to standardize at this level by 2019, using upgrade kits that cost just under $1 million.

Phalanx: New Frontiers SeaRAM
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The high speed and hence low warning time provided by many supersonic anti-ship missiles are also an evolving concern for global navies. Given the Phalanx’s limited range of just a couple of miles, coping with saturation attacks by missiles traveling at speeds of 0.5 – 1 mile per second requires layered defenses. To that end, the MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B’s mountings and electronics are also the base platform for the SeaRAM short range anti-air missile system. Unlike vertically-launched missiles, the SeaRAM’s RIM-116 missile is fired on a flat trajectory from an 11-round launcher. That saves precious seconds compared to vertical launch, allowing the system to provide an intermediate zone of defense between Phalanx guns and medium-range vertically-launched missiles like the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow or SM-2.

RIM-116 missiles can also be used against surface targets, and a number of ships use RAM or SeaRAM systems instead of standard Phalanx guns.

Another option to extend the system’s range involves an entirely new technology: lasers. Kevin Peppe, Raytheon’s Phalanx program director, has said that “a robust but relatively low power, low beam-quality commercial laser” is under investigation. It could offer an effective range about 3 times that of the existing M61A1 20mm gun, along with lower life-cycle costs and fewer worries about civilian casualties when used on land. Even so, this concept is a long way from becoming a practical battlefield weapon. More powerful solid-state lasers will probably be required in order to make the concept feasible against the full range of threats, and other complications like the effects of fog on lasers, and stopping power issues, must also be overcome.

Land, Ho! C-RAM/ Centurion Phalanx C-RAM
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One area of clear progress for the Phalanx system is on land. Back in June 2005, “Phalanx R2D2s to Counter Land Mortars” drew attention to the US Army’s land-based version, imaginatively known as the “Land-based Phalanx Weapon System” and also known as MK 15 MOD 29 Centurion. The MK 15 MOD 29 Centurions are Block 1B CIWS weapon systems mounted on low-boy trailers, with self contained diesel electric power and cooling water.

Centurion fires explosive rounds that self-destruct if they don’t hit a target, so that falling 20mm bullets don’t kill people in the base itself or in nearby populated areas.

Unofficially, many refer to these weapons as “R2D2s,” after the Star Wars robot they resemble. Originally developed to defend US bases against mortar attack, these trailer-mounted weapons could also provide defensive options against the kinds of rocket attacks encountered in Round 1 of Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah, Iran & Syria. This appears to be a spiral development contract, with fielding of interim solutions as development progresses.

AN/TPQ-36 Firefinder

Centurion can reach beyond its own array and use other target acquisition sensors to detect and track fired rounds, including Northrop Grumman’s AN/TPQ-36 short-range Firefinder radar and the Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar.

C-RAM (Counter Rockets, Artillery and Mortars) is both a term used to refer to Centurion’s general role, and a specific command and control program that makes use of the weapon. The fire-control subsystem Northrop Grumman Mission Systems provides for C-RAM uses software modified from their Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control (FAAD C2) system, which ties together the sensors and weapons of the Army’s short-range air-defense battalions. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for FAAD C2, which is operational throughout the world and has been especially critical to homeland security efforts in the Washington, DC area.

Once a threat is detected by Army sensors FAAD C2/C-RAM triggers audio and visual alarms sound to warn exposed soldiers. A fire-control subsystem predicts the mortar’s flight path, prioritizes targets, activates the warning system, and provides cueing data to help Centurion defeat the mortar round while still in the air.

Centurion has been deployed by the USA, and Britain. In October 2008, Raytheon and Oshkosh unveiled the Mobile Centurion, which mounts the system on a hybrid-electric HEMTT A3 heavy truck.

Phalanx: Competitors Thales Goalkeeper
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Phalanx is not alone on the market. Its principal competitor is the Thales Nederland Goalkeeper system, which uses the same GAU-8 30mm tank-killer gatling gun mounted on the A-10 Thunderbolt close support aircraft, and a dual frequency I/K-band track while scan radar. The GAU-8/A offers a firing rate of 4,200 rounds per minute, and the heavier projectiles offer more hitting power, which may help stop fragments of a supersonic missile from hitting a ship and doing damage. On the flip side, Goalkeeper takes up a larger footprint of space on board ship, and requires significant “deck penetration” and integration instead of being a bolt-in offering like Phalanx. The Goalkeeper is a distant second in the market, but it has a solid foothold. It’s currently in service with the British Royal Navy, as well as Belgium, Chile, the Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, South Korea, and the UAE.

There are no reports of a 30mm Phalanx, but Raytheon is taking other steps to keep its platform on top of the market, and relevant to modern threats.

Phalanx Contracts and Key Events

Unless otherwise specified, all contracts are issued by the US Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC to Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ.

FY 2014 – 2015

Korea buys Block 1Bs for FFX frigates; Japanese multi-year support; Australia requests upgrades; Other contracts. MK15, HMCS Ottawa
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May 22/15: Turkey has requested upgrades for its Phalanx close-in weapon systems, as well as four new systems, in a potential $310 million deal. The deal would also include Remote Weapons Stations, equipment, parts and training, as well as contractor (Raytheon) support. The Phalanx has been exported to several countries, with Australia recently requesting an upgrade package, with the UK and South Korea having imported the system, alongside other international customers. The CIWS is designed to provide a final tier defensive capability, with radar guiding a cannon to shoot down missiles and aircraft.

Oct 30/14: Japan. Raytheon announces a multi-year, $205 million bulk-buy contract to provide Phalanx upgrade kits, support equipment, and hardware spares to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon awarded $205 million Phalanx upgrade contract”.

Japan: multi-year support

Oct 14/14: Australia. The US DSCA announces Australia’s formal export request for up to 3 Phalanx Block 1B Baseline 1 to Block 1B Baseline 2 upgrade kits; overhaul and upgrade of up to 9 Phalanx Block 1A mounts to Block 1B Baseline 2 systems; 11 Remote Control Stations; 11 Local Control Stations, spare and repair parts; support equipment; test equipment; personnel training and training equipment; publications and technical documentation; and other forms of US Government and contractor logistics and technical support.

The principal contractor will be Raytheon Missile Systems Company in Tucson, AZ, and the estimated cost is up to $76 million. Implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to Australia. Sources: US DSCA #14-50, “Australia – Close-In Weapon System Block 1B Baseline 2 Upgrade”.

DSCA request: Australia

Sept 26/14: Support. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ, receives a $15.5 million contract modification, which buys spares for Land-based Phalanx systems. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 and 2014 US Army budgets.

Work will be performed in Williston, VT (23.4%); Louisville, KY (16.9%); Andover, MA (11.6%); Grand Rapids, MI (6.2%); Phoenix, AZ (4.5%); Tucson, AZ (3%); and other locations under 1% (34.4%), and is expected to be complete by February 2017. US Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, DC manages the contract (N00024-13-C-5406).

June 27/14: Support. Serco Inc. in Reston, VA, received a $31.2 million cost-plus-fixed-fee/ firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) waterfront installation support. they’ll help with installation of Ship Alterations, Ship Change Documents, and Ordnance Alterations for Phalanx systems on US Navy and US Coast Guard vessels, and for the US Army. Only $114,000 is committed immediately, with the rest awarded as required.

Work will be performed in Norfolk, VA (41%); San Diego, CA (30%); Pearl Harbor, HI (5%); Everett, WA (6%); Mayport, FL (6%); and various overseas ports (12%); and is expected to be complete in June 2017. This contract was competitively procured via with 3 offers received by the US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division in Indian Head, MD (N00174-14-D-0028).

May 22/14: Support. Raytheon in Tucson, AZ receives a $115.5 million contract modification for MK15 Phalanx upgrades and conversions, system overhauls and associated hardware.

All funds are committed using various FY 2013 & 2014 budgets, with $43.6 million expiring on Sept 30/14. Work will be performed in Williston, VT (13%); Melbourne, FL (9%); Andover, MA (6%); Louisville, KY (5%); Tempe, AZ (5%); Pittsburgh, PA (5%); Ottobrunn, Germany (5%); Bloomington, MN (3%); Ashburn, VA (3%); Phoenix, AZ (3%); El Segundo, CA (2%); Hauppauge, NY (2%); Syracuse, NY (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Joplin, MO (2%); Bracknell, United Kingdom (2%); Grand Rapids, MI (1%); Norcross, GA (1%); and various other locations less than 1% each (29%); it is expected to be completed by September 2017. US NAVSEA in Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity (N0024-13-C-5406).

Feb 24/14: South Korea. Raytheon announces a $123 million Direct Commercial Sale (DCS) contract to deliver 9 Phalanx Block 1Bs for installation aboard the ROK Navy’s FFX Batch II light frigates, and aboard the AOE II successors to their 3 Cheonji Class fast combat support ships. Phalanx deliveries will begin in 2016, and are scheduled to be complete in 2022.

DCS contracts are subject to different announcement rules than Foreign Military Sale contracts, and are managed directly by the buyer instead of by a US military surrogate. This is Raytheon’s largest DCS contract for Phalanx systems, and it was actually signed in Summer 2013. Sources: Raytheon, “Raytheon awarded $123 million Phalanx contract from Republic of Korea”.

9 Block 1Bs for ROK FFX

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

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

FY 2012 – 2013

British order; US upgrades. Target shoot-down
(click for video)

Sept 10/13: FY 2013-14. A $136.2 million contract to overhaul and upgrade 19 MK 15 Phalanx systems, and produce 4 new SeaRAM systems. This contract provides purchases for the U.S. Navy (80%), Japan (15%), the US Army (4%) and Pakistan (1%) under the foreign military sales (FMS) program; and all funds are committed immediately. $55 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/13.

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

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

FY 2013 order

Oct 23/12: 5 for RFA. Raytheon signs a GBP 42.8 million (about $68.6 million) contract to deliver 5 Phalanx Block 1B systems to Britain, beginning in 2013. Installation and in-service support will be provided by Babcock Marine.

The weapons are destined for Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels. At the moment, Raytheon’s Phalanx system is installed on 14 Royal Navy vessels, including their 6 new Type 45 destroyers. Other British ships use Thales’ Goalkeeper 30mm system. Royal Navy | Raytheon.

British order

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

Raytheon’s release cites 9 Phalanx overhauls and upgrades, 20 Phalanx radar upgrade kits, and 2 SeaRAM systems that use the Phalanx system as the chassis for an 11-shot RIM-116 short-range anti-aircraft missile launcher, instead of a 20mm gatling gun.

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

FY 2012 order

FY 2011

Japan; South Korea; Poland; UK. MK.15 IB on JS Hyuga
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Dec 27/11: Support. A $45.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Phalanx, SeaRAM, and Land-based Phalanx design agent engineering and technical support services covering overall maintainability, reliability, and improvements. The contract is initially funded with $726,000, with more to be allocated as needed.

Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be completed by January 2013. This contract was not competitively procured by US NAVSEA in Washington, DC (N00024-12-C-5405).

Sept 12/11: Raytheon signs a $65.5 million Direct Commercial Sale contract to deliver 5 Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon Systems to the Republic of Korea Navy for the new 3,200 ton Ulsan-1 Class FFX inshore patrol frigates.

The contract calls for the systems to be installed starting in April 2013, and represents Phalanx’s largest sale to the ROK fleet – which generally uses Thales’ larger 30mm Goalkeeper instead. Raytheon.

South Korea: FFX buy

Aug 31/11: Support. A 5-year, $162.2 million not-to-exceed fixed-price requirements contract for performance based logistics support for the Phalanx CIWS. This announcement includes service to the governments of Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan, Poland, and Bahrain, which will be issued as separate delivery orders, on an as-required basis.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY, and is expected to be completed August 2016. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1, by US NAVSUP Weapon Systems Support in Mechanicsburg, PA (N00104-11-D-ZD43).

Aug 25/11: FY 2011. A not-to-exceed $161 million contract modification to previously awarded contract for MK 15 Mod 31 SeaRAM systems in support of Independence Class ships LCS 6 Jackson and LCS 8 Montgomery, and Japan’s “DDH 2405 helicopter destroyer”; as well as Phalanx CIWS Block 1B class “A” overhauls, and land-based Phalanx Weapon System class “A” overhauls.

The SeaRAM systems differ from other RAM launchers by having the full Phalanx enclosure, including the accompanying radar, as well as added infrared sensors. This creates a bolt-on missile system that can be operated semi-autonomously, or integrated and coordinated via the ship’s combat system. In exchange, it holds just 11 missiles in its launcher, instead of 21. DID covers it as a separate system.

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

The Pentagon adds that Phalanx CIWS is currently installed on approximately 152 US Navy and 14 US Coast Guard ships, and is in use in 23 foreign navies. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (9%); Germany (7%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburgh, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2015, but $90.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-10-C-5427).

FY 2011: USA, (Japan)

Aug 1/11: Support. A $7 million contract modification for MK 15 Phalanx engineering and technical services to the US military, and the governments of Japan and Saudi Arabia (1%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by April 2012. $200,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/11 (N00024-07-C-5437).

July 26/11: Poland submits a DSCA notice for service life extensions of its FFG-7 frigates, which includes upgrades to its MK 15 systems from Block 0 to Block 1B/ Baseline 2. Read “Poland to Extend, Improve its FFG-7 Frigates” for full coverage.

Poland request

June 21/11: UK. Babcock International Group announces the pending qualification and testing of Raytheon’s Phalanx 1B 20mm close-in weapon system on HMS Daring. The Type 45 air defense destroyers were not delivered with secondary defensive systems for use against UAVs, small boats, and incoming missiles, so the pending qualification will help to patch the gaps in their defenses.

Babcock will supervise the installation of 2 systems in HMS Daring at Portsmouth Naval Base, as a lead-in to Naval Weapon Sea Trials (NWST), including a towed target firing. Most British ships have used Thales larger 30mm Goalkeeper system, but the Phalanx is an easier and cheaper “bolt-on” addition. Babcock’s previous Phalanx installations have been upgrades on the Type 42 destroyer HMS York, and the fleet replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria.

April 29/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] Britain’s official request for Ordnance Alteration Kits for 36 MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) upgrade (Ordnance Alternation, or OrdAlt) kits. The request includes 20 kits for converting Phalanx Block 1A systems to Block 1B Baseline 2, and 16 kits that raise systems from Block 1B Baseline 1 to Baseline 2. Spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, software support, and other US government and contractor support are also included. The estimated cost is up to $137 million, but exact costs will depend on a negotiated contract.

The Block 1B Baseline 2 upgrades improve optical and radar close-in detection, tracking and engagement, and extend Block 1A capabilities to include targets like helicopters, UAVs, and fast boats. Raytheon Systems Company in Tucson, AZ will be the contractor, but implementation will not require any contractor or US government support personnel.

Britain request

April 11/11: Raytheon announces that it has delivered the 1st 20mm Phalanx Block 1B Close-In Weapon System to the Republic of Korea Navy. The direct commercial sale calls for the Phalanx Block 1B system to be installed on the lead FFX light frigate in 2011.

Other South Korean ships use Thales 30mm Goalkeeper system, but Phalanx’s bolt-on nature makes it a friendlier choice for smaller vessels. Raytheon expects to sign another contract with South Korea for an additional 5 Phalanx systems in the near future, representing the other 5 FFX ships.

South Korea: initial order & delivery

FY 2010

Support and tests. Phalanx, reloaded
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Sept 29/10: Support. A $35.2 million contract modification for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx close-in-weapon system. Work will be performed in Tucson, Z, and is expected to be complete by December 2011. $8,379,133 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/10 (N00024-07-C-5437).

May 19/10: Support. A $22.9 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437) for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx CIWS. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $5.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

March 31/10: FY 2010. A $204 million not-to-exceed contract for MK 15 Phalanx Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) upgrades and conversions, system overhauls, and associated hardware.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburgh, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1% ); and New Albany, IN (1%). Work is expected to be complete by September 2014, and $51.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured (N00024-10-C-5427).

FY 2010

March 24/10: Support. A $5.8 million modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437), exercising options for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2010.

March 9/10: Testing. USS Abraham Lincoln [CVN-72] successfully completes a PACFIRE test firing of her 20mm Phalanx Close In Weapons System (CIWS), while exercising the boat’s combat systems. Upgrades to the close-in self-defense weapon system included transition from block 1 baseline 0, to block 1 baseline 2.

The main improvement uses compressed high pressure air instead of hydraulics to release the rounds faster, allowing the gun to fire 4,500 rounds per minute instead of 3,000. US Navy.

FY 2009

Israel; Canada. Boat beat-down
(click for video)

Sept 23/09: Support. A $13.7 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437), exercising options for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

June 19/09: The Government of Canada awards Raytheon Canada Limited of Calgary, AB an 8-year, C$ 180 million contract to overhaul, repair and upgrade the Canadian Navy’s Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). The Phalanx serves on Canada’s Halifax class frigates, its aged Iroquois/Tribal class “air defense” destroyers, and its Protecteur class supply ships. The upgrades will likely take the systems to Phalanx Block 1B status, which improves capabilities against fast boats, helicopters, and UAVs.

Canada’s Industrial and Regional Benefit (IRB) Policy applies to this procurement. It requires that Raytheon Canada Limited undertake “high quality and advanced-technology business activities in Canada valued at 100 per cent of the contract value.”

Canada support & upgrades

May 15/09: FY 2009. A $259.9 million contract modification for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System (CIWS) Block 1B upgrades and conversions, system overhauls, and associated hardware. This includes the MK 15 MOD29 Centurion land-based system. $8.8 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/09.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburg, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%), and is expected to be completed by September 2012 (N00024-07-C-5444).

FY 2009

May 13/09: Training. A $5.8 million contract modification for phalanx simulated infrared/visible engagement target simulator kits with shorting plugs in support of the Phalanx CIWS Program. The shorting plugs are useful, in order to make sure the simulated targets can’t lead to live firing.

Raytheon will work on the contract in England (80%); Louisville, KY (15%); and Tuscon, AZ (5%); and expects to complete work by January 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command manages the previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5444).

April 21/09: Israel. Despite news reports that Israel would order the land-based Mobile Centurion system, the Jerusalem Post quotes “senior defense officials” who say that a decision won’t be made until Israel can watch live tests in summer 2009. The report adds that Israel is interested in the system’s potential along the Gaza Strip border, but there are still several obstacles that must be overcome first.

One is its effectiveness against Kassam rockets and mortars, which will be answered by the live tests. The second obstacle is cost, given that each system covers 1.2 square km and costs about $25 million. That works well for protecting a base, but protecting a city like Sderot become far more costly. In a democracy, issues like noise levels are an obstacle that must be evaluated under environmental regulations, though that’s likely to be a minor hindrance at best. The final obstacles would involve American approval of the sale, which is very likely, and the willingness of American military customers to give up their own production slots, which is less certain. If they do not expedite delivery with production slot swaps, the required wait time might affect the rationale for choosing the Phalanx-based system over other options.

Jan 30/09: Laser Phalanx. White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico state continues to test a solid-state laser version of the Phalanx weapons system. The laser has proven capable of “rapidly” penetrating armor plating even when not at full power, and the next step is to test the system on mortar rounds.

The exact time required for burn-through or detonation of incoming rounds is a very important number. US Army release.

Oct 8/08: Mobile Centurion. Raytheon and Oshkosh unveil the “Mobile Centurion,” which mounts the Phalanx system on a hybrid-electric HEMTT A3 heavy truck. To make room, the truck’s normal load-handling system was removed, in favor of a fixed platform for the Phalanx. The ProPulse drive A3 model was picked because it has 120 kW of power to divide between the truck’s drive train and the Pahlanx as needed, which removes the need to tow a bulky generator.

The other benefit is air mobility. Instead of fitting just 1 current model Centurion/C-RAM trailer into a C-17 strategic transport plane, 3-4 Mobile Centurions could be fitted instead. Defense News.

FY 2008

Australia, New Zealand. Over Baghdad
click for video

Sept 22/08: Support. A $31.3 million modification to previously awarded contract N00024-07-C-5437, exercising an option for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx CIWS.

Phalanx CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 USN ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies. This modification combines support for the US Navy, US Army and the Governments of Egypt, Portugal and Australia under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ, and is expected to be complete by September 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $1.7 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Sept 18/08: FY 2008. A not-to-exceed $220.5 million modification to a previous contract for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System Block 1B upgrades and conversions, system overhauls, and associated hardware. Contract funds in the amount of $19.9 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Most Phalanx Block 1B conversions involve naval ships, due to the upgrade’s defensive value against small boats. The land-based C-RAM system is also based on Block 1B, however, and they will require system overhauls and spares of their own as part of their regular maintenance.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (30%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (7%); Long Beach, CA (6%); Radford, VA (6%); Burlington, VT (6%); Palm Bay, FL (2%); Pittsburg, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%), Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%), and is expected to be complete by September 2012 (N00024-07-C-5444).

FY 2008

May 23/08: Support. A $14.3 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437) provides more incremental funding for engineering and technical services, bringing the contract’s current exercised value to $57.6 million. This modification combines purchases for the U.S. Army (45%); U.S. Navy (42%) and the Government of Pakistan, (13%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be completed by September 2008. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, DC issued the contract.

May 16/08: New Zealand’s TV3 reports that the country’s 2 ANZAC Class frigates will upgrade their Phalanx guns to Block 1B status, as the first step in a larger overhaul and upgrade. See “NZ Looks to Upgrade ANZAC Frigates.”

NZ upgrade

May 12/08: Centurion. A not-to-exceed $61.2 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5444) for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System (CIWS) ordnance alteration kits, spares, and associated hardware for Land-Based configurations to support the Global War on Terrorism.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (22%); Andover, MA (19%); Tucson, AZ (16%); Syracuse, NY (9%); Long Beach, CA (9%); Radford, VA (7%); Burlington, VT (7%); Palm Bay, FL (3%); Pittsburg, PA (2%); Bloomington, MN (2%); Salt Lake City, UT (2%); Norcross, GA (1%); and New Albany, IN (1%); and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $1.5 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Jan 22/08: Support. An $18.7 million modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-07-C-5437) for engineering and technical services in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In-Weapon System. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ and is expected to be complete by September 2008. Contract funds in the amount of $3.6 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

“PHALANX CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 USN ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies.”

Nov 9/07: FY 2007. Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received a $225.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS) Block 1B Upgrade and Conversion equipment, plus U.S. Army Block 1B Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS) Upgrade and Conversion equipment, and U.S Army Block 1B LPWS’s and associated spares and support equipment. This effort also includes purchases for the Governments of Portugal (1.23%) and Australia (1.09%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program.

A subsequent Raytheon release adds more details: they will overhaul and upgrade 34 Phalanx CIWS systems for the U.S. Navy and 1 system for the Royal Australian Navy, and will build 12 Land-Based Phalanx Weapon Systems for the U.S. Army, while providing associated hardware to all customers under the agreements.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (55.7%), Burlington, VT (12.4%), Palm Bay, FL (8%), Andover, MA (4.9%), Pittsburg, PA (4.8%), Carson, CA (4.1%), Tucson, AZ (3.4%), Brooklyn, NY (3.4%), Bloomington, MN (3.3%), and is expected to be complete by November 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $7.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC (N00024-07-C-5444).

FY 2007: USA, Australia

Oct 1/07: Overhauls. A $16.7 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5460) for 7 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) Class A Overhauls. PHALANX CIWS is currently installed on approximately 187 USN ships and is in use in 20 foreign navies. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete in February 2011. All contract funds will expire at the end of the fiscal year.

FY 2007

FLIR; Lasers? UK Phalanx at night
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Sept 27/07: Centurion. Jane’s International Defence Review reports that Raytheon is planning to approach NATO with a strategy to lease or sell a number of its Centurion land-based Phalanx systems for deployment at fixed bases in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sept 25/07: Ammo. Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) in Mesa, Ariz., USA, won an estimated $44.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for MK 244 Mod 0, linked armor-piercing discarding sabot (APDS) 20mm cartridges, electric-primed 20mm rounds designed to be fired by the M61A1 20mm gatling cannon mounted in the shipboard Phalanx CIWS. This cartridge is referred to as the Enhanced Lethality Cartridge, as it contains a heavier projectile and inflicts more damage to the target than the precursor to this round, the MK149 Mod 4.

Work will be performed in Independence, MO, and is expected to be complete by September 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $512,519 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured and advertised via the Internet, with 2 offers received [General Dynamics ATP was almost certainly the other bidder]. The US Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, Ind. issued the contract. (N00164-07-D-4285)

Sept 11/07: Laser Phalanx. Jane’s reports from the British DSEi exhibition that Raytheon is working on a Phalanx variant that can fire lasers. What advantages would a laser system offer? Would it really be an advance over the current Phalanx system? DID explains.

Aug 23/07: Sub-contractors. DRS Technologies, Inc. announced a $26 million contract, with an option for an additional $23 million contract, to produce, integrate, test and deliver Phalanx Thermal Imagers for the MK 15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System (CIWS). The contract was awarded to DRS by the Missile Systems business of Raytheon in Louisville, KY. The imagers were developed by the company’s DRS Sensors & Targeting Systems unit – California Division in Cypress, CA, and DRS-produced work for this contract will be accomplished by the unit’s Optronics Division in Palm Bay, FL. DRS will start delivering the imagers immediately, with completion expected by July 2008.

DRS’s Phalanx Thermal Imagers incorporate 2nd-generation FLIR (Forward Looking Infra-Red) technology, similar to that used by the company in the Horizontal Technology Integration series of sighting system products being delivered to the U.S. Army and Marines for ground combat systems like the M2/M3 Bradley IFV and M1 Abrams tanks, LRAS3, et. al. The new systems will replace 1st generation FLIR technologies currently in use on MK 15 Phalanx mounts.

May 25/07: UK C-RAM. Jane’s Defence Weekly reports that Britain will deploy a C-RAM system to protect UK forces in southern Iraq. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute’s (RUSI’s) Air Power conference in London on May 17/07, Air Chief Marshal Sir Clive Loader, Commander-in-Chief of the RAF’s Air Command, disclosed that the Raytheon Land-based Phalanx Weapon System (LPWS) was being acquired “to protect the UK’s deployed bases in operational theaters.”

May 2/07: EDO Corporation announces a $15 million follow-on award for expanded support of the Army’s C-RAM (Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar) system, which includes a land-based Phalanx weapon coupled with self-destructing explosive bullets. The task order was effective April 1, 2007 and includes in-theater support.

EDO services have included testing and validation of the systems at test facilities and in the field, assistance in fielding systems, and logistics services to ensure their continued operation. These services are being provided in the U.S. and in support of nearly 20 locations in combat zones. EDO release

Feb 28/07: Call UPS! Raytheon announces a 5-year, $169.9 million Performance Based Logistics contract to manage the spare parts for the U.S. Navy’s Phalanx CIWS. More than 1,100 part numbers amounting to more than 30,000 individual Phalanx parts are warehoused in Louisville, KY, where, for a firm-fixed-price, Raytheon, in partnership with United Parcel Service Supply Chain Solutions, guarantees delivery of spares to drop points within an agreed-to time frame.

The distribution and management functions allow for worldwide delivery using the best commercial carrier available, while maintaining process control through in-transit tracking. This process also allows for retail and wholesale spares modeling, spares procurement and, perhaps most importantly, inventory management. The provisions and benefits of the contract apply to both the U.S. Navy and the 24 international navies that have Phalanx in their inventories. Frank Wyatt, vice president for Raytheon’s Naval Weapon Systems in Tucson, AZ:

“The partnership with United Parcel Service, developed through the previous Phalanx logistics contract, has greatly improved inventory accuracy. Currently, Phalanx inventory accuracy stands at 99.9 percent resulting in a substantial increase in supply availability and a reduced wait time… Future cost savings and improved responsiveness can be anticipated by reducing parts demands through engineering redesign of selected high-demand, high-cost parts.”

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

Jan 3/07: Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Huntsville, AL received a delivery order amount of $29.9 million as part of a $144.5 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Forward Area Air Defense Command and Control/ Counter-Rocket Artillery Mortar Systems (FAAD C2/ C-RAM) Integration contract. Work will be performed in Huntsville, AL and is expected to be complete by Sept. 28, 2009. This was a sole source contract initiated on Nov. 20, 2006 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-06-D-0029).

Northrop Grumman’s Jan 17/07 release describes it as “a contract valued at up to $71 million to continue their support in system engineering, integration, and installation for…C-RAM… In addition to continuing to support systems engineering, integration and installation of C-RAM capabilities, the indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) C-RAM installation and support contract includes logistics and training support.”

FY 2006

Pakistan; Australia; UK. Calibration on CVN 73
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Sept 29/06: Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Huntsville, AL received a delivery order amount of $28.6 million as part of a $670 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Forward Air Defense Command and Control/ Counter-Rocket Artillery and Mortar Systems (C-RAM) Integration. Work will be performed in Huntsville, AL and is expected to be complete by Sept. 28/08. This was a sole source contract initiated on May 4, 2006 by The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command in Redstone Arsenal, AL (W31P4Q-06-D-0029).

Under a $38 million contract awarded in October 2005, Northrop Grumman was tasked with integration, deployment, and installation of the C-RAM command and control systems architecture; assisted in integrating the command and control with target acquisition and tracking radars, warning, and response subsystems; and trained soldiers to operate and support the “system of systems.”

Sept 13/06: FY 2006. A $369.1 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract N00024-04-C-5460 for Phalanx CIWS and associated spares for FY 2006 US Navy (51%) and US Army (35%) purchases, and the Governments of Pakistan (12.8%) and Australia (1.2%) under the foreign military sales requirements.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete December 2009. Contract funds in the amount of $7.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

FY 2006: USA, Pakistan, Australia

Aug 9/06: Centurion. A $6.9 million firm-fixed-price modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5460) for land-based Phalanx weapon system ancillary equipment. This is the land-based configuration for the US Army’s counter-rocket, artillery, mortar program. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete by April 2007.

Feb 7/06: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ received a $169.9 million firm-fixed-price requirements contract for performance-based logistics in support of the Phalanx CIWS.

This contract combines procurements between the US Navy (74.79%); US Coast Guard (4.6%); and the Governments of Australia (5%); Israel (5%); New Zealand (5%); Japan (1%); United Kingdom (1%); Canada (1%); Taiwan (1%); Poland (1%); Bahrain (0.4%); and Saudi Arabia (0.21%) under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (90%), and Tucson, AZ (10%), and is expected to be complete by April 2011. This contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Inventory Control Point in Mechanicsburg, PA (N00104-06-D-L007).

January 2006: UK. The British Defence Logistics Organization’s (DLO) Maritime Gunnery and Missile Systems (MGMS) Integrated Project Team signs a 10-year support, maintenance and availability contract with DML, with incentives to increase the number of days the guns are available and fit for use.

On Oct 31/06, the DLO noted that the target time each Phalanx spends having operational defects fixed was 1.56 days per operational mount, but DML was already achieving 1.24 days. As of October 2006, there were 36 Phalanx guns in service on Royal Navy Ships and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries; an upgrade of these units to Mk 15 Phalanx 1B status is slated to begin entering service by May 2008.

British long-term support

Oct 24/05: Northrop Grumman announces that the U.S. Army has selected them the prime contractor for the Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar (C-RAM) Integration and Fielding contract. Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems sector is developing a systems architecture and integrating the C-RAM target acquisition, fire control, warning and engagement subsystems. Under a $38 million contract, Northrop Grumman will first deploy a mortar-attack warning capability and install that capability at 8 forward operating bases in Iraq. Northrop Grumman Mission Systems will also train soldiers to use the system and integrate an intercept subsystem as it is fielded. Northrop Grumman release | DID article.

FY 2005

Canada; Portugal. Phalanx CIWS

May 16/05: FY 2005. A $45 million not-to-exceed, firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-04-C-5460) for Block 1B Upgrade and Conversion performance enhancement equipment for United States and Portuguese Navy Phalanx Close-In Weapon Systems (CIWS). This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy (31%) and the government of Portugal (69%) under the Foreign Military Sales program: 3 upgrade and conversions for the U.S. Navy, and 3 Phalanx MK-15 CIWS and ancillary hardware are planned in support of Portugal requirements.

Work will be performed in Louisville, KY and is expected to be complete by December 2007.

FY 2005: Portugal, USA

March 24/05: A $5.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification to previously awarded contract N00024-04-C-5460 for production of 99 sets of Reliability and Maintainability Spares in support of the MK 15 Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS) program. Work will be performed in Tucson, AZ (10%) and Louisville, KY (90%), and is expected to be complete by July 2007.

March 3/05: A not to exceed $129 million firm fixed price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-04-C-5460 for the Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS). The contract includes Block 1B upgrades, overhauls, parts and support equipment, and other ancillary equipment. This equipment will be installed aboard several Arleigh Burke Class Destroyers (DDGs 107, 108, 109, 110, 111 & 112) and backfit upon various classes of ships. Additionally, 2 mounts will be provided to the United States Army. Work will be performed in Louisville, KY (90%) and Tucson, AZ (10%), and is expected to be complete by May 2009.

Dec 8/04: Canada exercised a contract option, engaging engage Raytheon Canada to repair, overhaul and upgrade its 16 Phalanx Close in Weapon Systems (CIWS). The contract lasts to 2009 and will cost at least C$ 82.5 million (about $68 million).

The original multi-million dollar contract was signed between Raytheon Canada and Canada’s Department of Public Works and Services in 2003. Under that contract, Raytheon Canada was to provide total life-cycle support for Canada’s 21 Phalanx CIWS systems, including fleet repair work, field service support, overhauls, upgrades, overhaul support material and engineering services.

The new contract extends Raytheon’s service to the Royal Canadian Navy to 2009, and the new C$ 44.6 million modification means the contract is now valued at in excess of $82.5 million. Work, including upgrade to the Mk 15 Phalanx 1B configuration, will be performed in Calgary, Alberta, at Raytheon Canada’s Naval Systems Support (NSS) facility.

Canadian upgrades & support

Additional Readings


Categories: News

Next-Stage C4ISR Bandwidth: The AEHF Satellite Program

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 00:01
AEHF concept
(click to view full)

The USA’s new Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites will support twice as many tactical networks as the current Milstar II satellites, while providing 10-12 times the bandwidth capacity and 6 times the data rate transfer speed. With the cancellation of the higher-capacity TSAT program, AEHF will form the secure, hardened backbone of the Pentagon’s future Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) architecture, with a mission set that includes nuclear command and control. Its companion Family of Advanced Beyond-line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T) program will give the US military more modern, higher-bandwidth receiving capabilities, and add more flexibility on the front lines. The program has international components, and partners currently include Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands.

This article offers a look at the AEHF system’s rationale and capabilities, while offering insight into some of the program’s problems, and an updated timeline covering over $5 billion worth of contracts since the program’s inception.

The AEHF Program Program Status and Budgets

The decline in GAO program coverage creates some challenges in making apples to apples comparisons, but the trends are clear. Like a number of American satellite development programs, AEHF has been cited for cost overruns and schedule slips. Part of the reason involves the US National Security Agency’s failure to furnish key cryptography requirements and specifications, and mechanical and construction difficulties were also involved.

Yo-yoing constellation size played a role of its own in program total changes, while creating cost spikes for individual satellites. Satellites 5 & 6 are expected to cost almost double the average for SV 1-3, owing to a production line that was interrupted and restarted because the decisions to add more satellites came after a gap of 4 years. That was too late to keep the production line from closing temporarily, and re-starts are difficult and expensive.

Note that USAF budgets do not include the US Army’s small participation, contributions from international partners, or RDT&E funding beyond FY 2014:

Past and Future C4ISR Future?
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The AEHF partnership program currently involves 4 operational and 2 reserve satellites, and includes Britain, Canada, and the Netherlands.

AEHF began as a program in April 1999, and development began in September 2001. The production decision was made in June 2004, and the original intent was to launch the first satellite in late 2007. NSA delays in providing key cryptographic requirements ended up being very expensive, and other technical difficulties also pushed the program back. First launch didn’t take place until August 2010.

Along the way, the AEHF program’s size has yo-yoed. In December 2002, optional satellites 4 and 5 were deleted from the program, with the intention of making AEHF only an interim bridge to the larger Transformational Satellite Network (T-SAT) and its ultra-high bandwidth laser interlinks. As TSAT faltered, however, the AEHF bridge became the destination.

The first indication of shifts in the program came when the Pentagon’s April 2008 Selected Acquisition Reports confirmed that the program had expanded to add AEHF-4. The TSAT successor program was restructured, but in June 2009, Secretary of Defense Gates finally lowered the boom and confirmed that the Pentagon intended to kill TSAT, leaving Advanced EHF satellites as the military’s main future guarantors of secure, hardened bandwidth. In response, the US military expanded and internationalized the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS), restored AEHF SV-5 to the hardened constellation, and eventually added a 6th AEHF satellite in April 2010.

The 5th and 6th satellites are currently planned as a reserve that will replace the first 2. Even so, the USAF is considering a 7th and 8th satellite, as it works through an Analysis of Alternatives for its “Resilient Basis for SATCOM (RBS) in Joint Operations” study. The exact nature of the AEHF Follow-On will be informed by this protected MILSATCOM AoA.

Down here on Earth, the companion FAB-T (Family of Advanced Beyond-line-of-sight Terminals) development effort aimed to create a family of software-defined radios that could become a common terminal for the next generation of High Data Satellite Communications, including AEHF, Wideband Gapfiller, and other future satellite systems. It’s aimed at aircraft, and the NSA’s poor handling of its cryptographic challenges has contributed to the overall program’s delays and cost overruns. A limited production contract is expected by mid-2014.

Beyond Boeing’s FAB-T, a number of vendors are developing and fielding SATCOM solutions that are compatible with AEHF, for use by land and naval assets.

Launch Plans and Dates The Process
click for video

AEHF Space Vehicle-1 (SV-1) launched in August 2010, almost 3 years later than originally planned, but slightly earlier than some 2010 reports had expected. It encountered serious propulsion problems, which left it well short of its operational orbit, but ground control found some timely workarounds the eventually got the satellite to its orbital plane. The flip side is that instead of conducting on-orbit testing in August 2010, the USAF had to wait until November 2011. Meanwhile, AEHF SV-2 and SV-3 were ready, but SV-1’s technical failure and delayed on-orbit tests left them on hold.

AEHF SV-2 was slated for launch in May 2011, but was eventually launched on May 4/12.

AEHF SV-3 missed its January 2012 window. A full launch schedule meant that the launch ended up taking place on Sept 18/13.

AEHF SV-4 is still expected to launch in Q3 (spring) FY 2017, which tracks with the 4-year delay before the additional order.

SV-5 was supposed to follow in 2018, and SV-6 in 2020, but they’ve been shifted to a reserve role instead. Despite the US military’s exploding demand for bandwidth, they’ll be used as end-of-life replacements for SV-1 and SV-2, or as an emergency replacement option for any AEHF satellite that malfunctions or is destroyed.

The AEHF Satellites

Advanced EHF satellites will provide at least 10 times greater total capacity, and offer channel data rates 6 times higher, than current Milstar II communications satellites. These new hardened and crosslinked satellites are designed to be very hard to jam, while surviving shocks that can include EMP radiation surges from atmospheric nuclear blasts. They’ll offer 24-hour low, medium, and high data rate satellite connectivity from 65 N to 65 S latitude, worldwide.

Each Advanced EHF satellite employs more than 50 communications channels via multiple, simultaneous downlinks. To accomplish their goal of 10x capacity and 6x channel data of existing Milstar II satellites, Advanced EHF adds new higher data-rate transmission modes:

Each satellite uses than 800 ASICs (chips) delivered by Honeywell Aerospace in Plymouth, MN, and BAE Systems of Arlington, VA. These customized chips benefit from general advances in chip density and speed since the existing MILSTAR constellation was built, which means reduced weight. Each AEHF payload includes:

  • 25 computers
  • Almost 1 million lines of software code
  • 70 unique monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) chip designs – almost 18,000 total MMICs
  • More than 50 unique integrated microwave assemblies and hybrid designs – over 13,000 total.

AEHF is X-band capable for high-bandwidth data rates, in addition to the Milstar low data rate and medium data rate modes that ensure backward compatibility. The crosslinks eliminate the need to route messages via terrestrial systems, which cuts some of the latency associated with satellite links.

Bandwidth is already a significant constraint in theater, and these higher data rates will allow more transmission of tactical military communications into remote areas, to include real-time video, battlefield maps, and targeting data.

The AEHF Satellites: Contracts & Key Events Payload testing
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The Pentagon DefenseLINK summaries of awarded AEHF contracts were unusually informative, providing a commendable level of insight into the program and its challenges. Note, especially, the effects of key delays from NSA re: cryptography in the early years. We’ve also broken out the AEHF’s FAB-T terminals that will connect the military to the AEHF network and other satellites. Though the satellites and terminals are intertwined on many levels, and some cryptography-related contracts may mention neither but apply to both, separation of these contracts adds more clarity.

As of January 2013, Lockheed Martin is under contract for 6 satellites.

Unless otherwise specified, the USAF Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, CA has issued the following requisitions under contract #F04701-02-C-0002:

Satellites FY 2014 – 2015

SV-4 launch prep. NGC on AEHF

May 22/15: Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $735 million support contract for the Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellites, Milstar and Defense Satellite Communications System III. The company was awarded a similar contract for the latter two in 2009.

Dec 27/13: SV-4 launch prep. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, CA receives a $116.1 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification for AEHF SV-4 (q.v. Dec 15/10) launch operations, including support to integrate the satellite into the launch rocket. Launch preparation activities begin at launch minus 12 months, and include an early orbit operations rehearsal campaign alongside the physical preparations.

$2 million in USAF FY 2014 missile procurement funds are committed immediately. Work will be performed at Sunnyvale, CA, and El Segundo, CA, and is expected to be complete July 31/19. The USAF Space and Missile Systems Center, PKJ, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA, is the contracting activity (F04701-02-C-0002, PO 0548).

Satellites FY 2013

SV-5 & SV-6; SAR is sort of good news; Canada begins using AEHF. Encapsulation
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Sept 18/13: AEHF-3 launch. A Delta V 531 rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral, and successfully launches AEHF-3. The satellite will spend the next 110 days thrusting to raise its orbit, followed by about 60 days of on-orbit testing. It’s ULA’s 40th mission with the Atlas V EELV.

AEHF-3 was encapsulated in its 5m diameter fairing on Sept 11/13. Sources: ULA | USAF Los Angeles AFB | Lockheed Martin.

AEHF-3 launched

Sept 16/13: IOC Delay. Inside Defense Reports that the USAF is citing Software Development Difficulties as the reason for delaying AEHF’s Initial Operational Capability designation by a year. Source: Inside Defense, “Air Force Delays Key AEHF Milestone One Year, Citing Software Development Difficulties”.

IOC delayed

Sept 12/13: Netherlands. Lockheed Martin reveals that in July 2013, the Dutch tested engaging AEHF-1 and AEHF-2, exchanging voice and data communications with the U.S. and Canada by connecting to the AEHF-2 satellite, crosslinking with AEHF-1, then downlinking to the U.S. Navy terminal in San Diego and a Canadian terminal at Shirley’s Bay, Ontario. They also completed their first local AEHF call from ship to shore, using international versions of the Navy Multi-Band and SMART-T terminals. Source: Lockheed Martin, Sept 12/13 release.

June 20/13: Canada. A U.S.-Canada team has successfully communicated with the USAF’s 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, CO, using AEHF-1 satellite and a SMART-T terminal variant to exchange data from a location near Ottawa, Canada. Follow-on tests involved multiple Navy Multi-Band IP variant terminals exchanging data over AEHF networks.

Canada is the 1st international partner to reach this point, and will continue testing for several months as their forces move toward initial operational capability. Britain and the Netherlands are scheduled to complete their first terminal connections by the end of 2013. Lockheed Martin.

May 24/13: SAR. The Pentagon finally releases its Dec 31/12 Selected Acquisitions Report [PDF], and AEHF is a good news story. Not completely good news, given the raised costs for these satellites thanks to the production gap, but $500 million is always nice:

“Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Satellite – The AEHF program is comprised of two subprograms, Space Vehicles 1-4 and Space Vehicles 5-6. Only the Space Vehicles 5-6 subprogram had selected cost changes in the December 2012 SAR. AEHF Space Vehicles 5-6 – Subprogram costs decreased $510.4 million (-14.6%) from $3,488.2 million to $2,977.8 million, due primarily to a reduced estimate to reflect program efficiencies for production and launch operations for Space Vehicles 5-6 (-$507.1 million). The savings were applied to higher Air Force needs.”

SAR: good news, sort of

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.

For AEHF, the 2014 budget continues to reduce annual funding through FY 2017, but the block buy of SV-5 and SV-6 is on track. That budget is $2.59 billion maximum, based on $227 million in FY 2011 for long lead time parts, an unfinalized contract with a $2.199 billion maximum for production and launch, and $164 million for potential Engineering Change Orders (ECOs).

There are a few important changes, beginning with having SV-5 and SV-6 “replace AEHF-1 and AEHF-2 at the end of their useful life,” instead of launching to address the US military’s exploding demand for bandwidth. The program has also extended. Instead of terminating in 2018, the budget suddenly adds advance procurement in FY 2016 – 2017, and a big FY 2018 spike for 2 clones of SV-5/6. AEHF SV-7 and SV-8 are really just placeholders so far, as the USAF works through an Analysis of Alternatives for its Resilient Basis for SATCOM (RBS) in Joint Operations study. The exact nature of the AEHF Follow-On will be informed by the protected MILSATCOM AoA.

Jan 3/13: SV-5/6. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co., Sunnyvale, CA receives a $1.937 billion contract modification for AEHF Space Vehicle 5 and 6 “Production Launch Operations.” When we add ancillary and long-lead item contracts announced to date, the total so far for SV-5 and SV-6 comes to $2,469.2 million, or about $1.235 billion per satellite:

  • Jan 3/13: $1,936.5 (main)
  • Sept 17/12: $43.0 (crypto)
  • June 25/12: $249.0 (antennas)
  • May 10/12: $13.5 (parts)
  • Dec 5/11: $167.2 (long-lead)
  • Nov 16/11: $60.0 (long-lead)

As noted above, the need for a production line restart created a huge cost increase. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale and El Segundo, CA, and is expected to be complete by Jan 24/22. Note that substantially the same announcement was made on Dec 28/12 (FA8808-12-C-0010).

SV-5 & SV-6 main contract

Satellites FY 2012

AEHF-1 and 2. AEHF-2 launch
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Sept 24/12: AEHF-2 ready. The satellite completes its on-orbit testing successfully. Testing began with single-satellite testing, followed by a period of crosslink testing between AEHF-1 and AEHF-2, and culminating with testing in the operational Milstar constellation. USAF.

Sept 17/12: SV-5/6. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $43 million contract modification for AEHF SV-6 Crypto Availability KI-54D. Decoded, that means they’ll produce/order and then install the satellite’s “black box” encoding/ decoding module for secure communications.

Work will be performed Camden, NJ and El Segundo, CA (Northrop Grumman, sub-contractor), and is expected to be complete by Oct 16/15 (F04701-02-C-0002, PO 0544).

Aug 10/12: AEHF-2 on-orbit. AEHF-2 arrives at its geostationary orbit test location and altitude. Unlike AEHF-1, this one went smoothly: 4 Liquid Apogee Engine burns to get above the densest Van Allen radiation belts, deployment of the solar arrays, then 47 Hall Current Thruster burns over an 85-day period. Payload activation and about 2 months of on-orbit testing are next. USAF.

June 25/12: SV-5/6. Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $249 million firm-fixed-price contract for AEHF SV-5 and SV-6 antennas and flight materials. That kind of hardened bandwidth in space doesn’t come cheap. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, CA, and will be complete by Nov 1/12 (FA8808-12-C-0010, PO 0001).

May 10/12: SV-5/6. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $13.5 million firm-fixed-price contract for Space Vehicle 5/6 production. Specifically, they’ll supply a gimbal mechanism and beam select switch parts.

Discussion with Lockheed Martin confirms that this is for AEHF. Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, CA until Dec 30/13 (FA8808-12-C-0010).

Feb 27/12 – May 4/12: AEHF-2 delivery & launch. Lockheed Martin delivers AEHF-2 to the Air Force on Feb 27/12, after keeping it in storage since the end of 2010. The satellite was scheduled for launch on April 27/12 from Cape Canaveral, using an Atlas V rocket. Encapsulation took place on April 21/12 at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, FL, but the launch date slipped to May 4/12.

The launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was successful. AEHF SV-2 will take about 110 days to fly to its final orbit, followed by about 120 days of on-orbit testing, before it is transferred to the 14th Air Force for Satellite Control Authority. USAF | ULA | Lockheed Martin | Dutch MvD [in Dutch].

AEHF-2 launch

Dec 5/11: SV-5/6 lead-in. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $167.2 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification, to buy more AEHF SV-5 & SV-6 long lead time materials. This comes on top of the $60 million Nov 16/11 announcement, and includes the basic long-lead parts for Lockheed Martin’s electronic boxes and core structure, and for Northrop Grumman’s payload. These parts have a 24-week (about 6 month) lead time, and will support the coming SV 5/6 production contract.

Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, CA (F04701-02-C-0002, PO 0528).

Dec 2/11: Support. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $312.2 million cost-plus-incentive-fee contract modification for AEHF satellite program engineering support from Dec 1/11 to Dec 31/14.

Work will be performed at Redondo Beach, CA, and could include “on-orbit anomaly resolution and investigation” (vid. AEHF-1’s tribulations), flight and payload software sustainment after on-orbit tests are done, Networked AEHF System Tested tool sustainment, mission control familiarization, and development test. They’ll also provide hardware, software, training and logistics support, technical order maintenance, system security and information assurance engineering, support for AEHF and Milstar combined constellation integration transition and test activities, coordination with the Milstar O&M contractor, satellite database updates for Milstar and AEHF, and on-site technical support for satellite operations at Schriever AFB, CO, and Vandenberg AFB, CA. The USAF Space and Missile Systems Center’s Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate in Los Angeles, CA manages the contract (F04701-02-C-0002, PO 0454).

Nov 16/11: SV-5/6 lead-in. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA received a $60 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for AEHF SV-5 & SV-6 long lead time materials. The USAF Space and Missile Systems Center’s Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate in El Segundo, CA manages the contract (F04701-02-C-002, PO 0525).

Nov 3/11: AEHF-1. The USAF announces that AEHF SV-1 has completed initial activation of its communications payload, and has begun on-orbit testing. This included successful deployment of the payload wings, the Gimbal Dish antennas, and the Advanced Anti-Jam Nulling antennas, as well as log-ons and data communications using communication terminals located at Schriever AFB, CO, and M.I.T/Lincoln Labs, MA.

A combined team of Air Force, Aerospace Corp., Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman personnel have worked on activation, and SMC MILSATCOM Systems Director Dave Madden believes that by the end of November, they’ll have enough data to make a decision on whether or not to launch AEHF SV-2 in April 2012.

Oct 25/11: The USAF announces that AEHF-1 has finally reached its designated orbital slot, 14 months after launch. The process required approximately 500 thruster burns, but they still expect to get the required 14 years of mission life from the satellite, even though onboard fuel is directly correlated with mission life. Other US satellites have lasted longer than expected in orbit, so it’s hard to evaluate the USAF’s expectation without knowing the before/after confidence intervals, safety margins, etc. Time will tell.

The next step is a 4-month detailed test and checkout phase of all spacecraft systems, which is actually the most critical on-orbit phase. If the satellite’s other systems are performing as expected, the Space and Missile Systems Center plans to transfer satellite command authority to USAF Space Command’s 14th Air Force in early 2012. USAF.

Huge save: AEHF-1 makes it!

Oct 4/11: AEHF-1. The Space & Missile systems Center at Los Angeles AFB says that AEHF-1 is going to be a bit late to its orbital slot. It will arrive in late October instead of today, “while maintaining the safety of the vehicle and conserving on-board fuel.” Burning the Hall Current Thrusters to make up for the Liquid Apogee engine’s problems has a price, as fuel is the main determinant of satellite lifespan in orbit. The MILSATCOM Systems Directorate says that when they achieve the desired orbit, AEHF-1 will maintain the same expected capabilities they were estimating back in June.

Satellites FY 2011

AEHF-1 not where it should be. SV-4. Cost increases; layoffs. AEHF-1 recovery award
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Sept 30/11: Support. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $9.8 million cost plus award fee contract modification to extend AEHF sustaining engineering support by 2 more months, from Sept 30/11 through Nov 20/11. Support is provided for MilStar and AEHF satellite operations at Schriever Air Force Base, CO and Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, and includes on-orbit anomaly resolution and investigation, flight and payload software sustainment, Networked AEHF System Tested Tool sustainment, support for mission control segment Increment 5 familiarization and development test, mission control segment Increments 4 and 5 software maintenance, and on-site technical support.

The USAF Missile Systems Center Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate in El Segundo, CA manages the contract (F04701-02-C-0002, PO 0519).

June 14/11: Layoffs. Layoffs at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. This branch of the firm employs around 16,000 employees in 12 states, but intends to shed 1,200 employees by year-end, including a 25% cut in middle management to reduce impacts elsewhere. LMSS’ Sunnyvale, CA; Pennsylvania; and Denver, CO sites will be hardest hit, and the firm’s release says that it’s pushed in part by several of their major programs moving beyond the labor-intensive development phase.

Space Systems says it will offer “eligible” salaried employees an opportunity for a voluntary layoff, plus career transition support for all affected employees. Lockheed Martin.


June 13/11: Studies. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $17.7 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification, extending AEHF’s capabilities insertion study. As Lockheed Martin’s engineers contemplate ways to improve future AEHF satellites and meet growing military bandwidth needs, they will be performing capability/requirements tradeoffs for systems, technology assessments, development of design alternatives, risk assessments, and cost and schedule analysis (F04701-02-C-0002, PO 0500).

May 9/11: Changes. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $21.3 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification to develop AEHF program software changes in 3 areas. Absent further specifics, the award has been placed in this section.

Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, CA, and King of Prussia, PA. At this point, $19 million has been committed by the USAF Space and Missiles Center, SMC/PKJ in El Segundo, CA (F04701-02-C-0002, P00483).

April 15/11: The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 30/10 includes the “significant cost changes” in AEHF program – both satellites and terminals. The satellite section reads:

“Program costs increased $1,065.1 million (+8.6 percent) from $12,448.9 million to $13,514.0 million, due primarily to a revised procurement estimate to fully fund the fifth and sixth satellites (+$1,620.7 million) and an extension of interim contract support due to the launch delay for the first satellite (+214.5 million). These increases are partially offset by an estimating decrease due to an acquisition strategy change from full funding to a block buy for the fifth and sixth satellites (-$798.5 million).”

SAR – cost increases

April 7/11: AEHF-1. The USAF’s Space and Missile systems Center provides an update on AEHF-1 progress, as they work to move it into an operational orbit after it fell short upon launch. Today, AEHF-1 crosses the 20,000 km/ 12,427 mile perigee mark.

SMC says orbit-raising is successfully continuing as planned. Phases 1 & 2 using hydrazine thruster phase are complete, and the satellite is now using its AEHF’s Hall Current Thruster electric propulsion system. The goal is to reach geosynchronous orbit in late summer 2011. If they do, it would cap as remarkable effort, and a very nice recovery for the joint government and contractor team. On the other hand, fuel reserves are the #1 determinant of how long a geosynchronous satellite can remain effective, and AEHF-1’s fuel reserves will be much lower than planned. See also Nov 16/10 entry for more details. USAF SMC (no URL).

March 22/11: AEHF-1. AEHF-1 crosses the half-way mark to geosynchronous orbit, with its perigee climbing above 17,893 km/ 11,174 miles altitude. USAF SMC (no URL).

Dec 15/10: SV-4. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $1.31 billion contract modification for SV4, the 4th AEHF satellite, SV4 unique systems engineering, a system level factory test, system database management functions, systems level support equipment, and program management. At this time, $1.236 billion has been obligated (FO4701-02-C-0002; PO0448).

See also Sept 10/09 and July 18/06 entries, which raise total SV-4 contracts to $1.604 billion. USAF release.

SV-4 main contract

Dec 14/10: AEHF-1. In response to questions about AEHF-1’s orbital problems, the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center says they’ve briefed senior Air Force leaders, who are considering initiating a Safety Investigation Board. They will also present their investigation briefing to selected Congressional Staff Members later in December 2010. Based on the current costs for AEHF-1/2/3, the unit cost per satellite is about $1.7 billion, and the USAF is reviewing its options concerning contractor financial responsibility and/or penalties.

Under current plans, AEHF-1 is looking at a 9-month delay, reaching its test/check-out orbit on Aug 11/11, instead of Nov 10/10.

Nov 16/10: AEHF-1 may have launched successfully, but a propulsion system problem prevented a series of 3 liquid apogee engine burns, so it didn’t reach its operational mission orbit. Los Angeles AFB discusses the new plan to fix this, which involves 4 major stages:

The 1st Parking Burns stage used 3 of the 6 reaction engine assemblies, or REAs, to quickly raise the perigee altitude to reduce drag and attitude disturbances. The 5 pound thrusters brought the orbit to a perigee altitude of 1,156 km and an inclination of 19.9 degrees on Sept 7/10. Apogee altitude remained at 50,000 km, per plan.

The 2nd stage was a series of 6 REA Apogee Burns, to more efficiently raise the perigee path to 4,712 km, and lower inclination to 15 degrees. It was completed on Sept 22/10.

The 3rd stage involves firing 2 high-efficiency hall current thrusters (HCTs), for as long as 12 hours around the apogee altitude. These burns will continue every orbit, centered on apogee, and this stage is planned to last between 7-9 months. It began on Oct 20/10, with a 9 hour burn during AEHF-1’s 100th apogee. Meanwhile, the satellite has managed to deploy its solar arrays, and pass operational readiness checkouts.

The 4th and final stage will require a near-continuous firing of the HCTs to adjust to the final mission orbit, lasting about 3 months. Los Angeles AFB.

AEHF-1: We have a problem

Nov 9/10: Support Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $49 million contract modification for AEHF sustainment engineering support from Oct 1/10 to Sept 30/11. At this point, $9 million has been committed by the AFSMC/MCSQ in El Segundo, CA (F04701-02-C-002; P00427).

Oct 28/10: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces the end of Intersegment System Testing (IST) for the 2nd AEHF satellite in Sunnyvale, CA, completing pre-launch verification for the new eXtended Data Rate (XDR) high-bandwidth service. XDR offers a 10-fold increase in system capacity, coverage and network connectivity, allowing applications such as real-time video, and voice and data conferencing. Completion of IST for AEHF-2 caps an extensive suite of interoperability tests with new XDR-capable user terminals, which demonstrating protected anti-jam communications at data rates up to 8 Mbps using agile satellite spot beams.

The 2nd AEHF satellite has completed all testing, and will be placed in storage in November 2010. The 3rd AEHF satellite is currently progressing through thermal vacuum environmental testing at the Lockheed Martin facility in Sunnyvale, CA.

Satellites FY 2010

AEHF-1 AEHF-1 highlights
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Aug 16/10: Studies Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $16 million contract to study AEHF enhancement options, and all funds have already been committed. With the demise of AEHF’s T-SAT successor, AEHF enhancements become a critical opportunity for the bandwidth-constrained US military (F04701-02-C-0002, P00443).

Aug 14/10: SV-1. The USAF’s 45th Space Wing launches AEHF-1 from Pad 41 in Cape Canaveral, FL, on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. USAF | Dutch MvD | ULA | Lockheed Martin | Florida Today, incl. video | Spaceflight Now.

AEHF-1 launch

August 10/10: SV-1. AEHF-1 is encapsulated into the Atlas V rocket. The launch has been delayed again, until Aug 14/10.

July 16/10: SV-1. Los Angeles AFB announces that, the Lockheed-Martin/Air Force AEHF team has continued a long-standing tradition, and signed a piece of the flight thermal blanket for the AEHF-1 satellite in preparation for launch. The satellite was shipped on May 24/10, and is currently at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL being readied for launch.

July 14/10: SV-1 launch slips. The USAF announces that:

“The Atlas V launch of the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite from SLC-41 at the cape has been delayed 10 days from 30 July to 10 August. This delay was necessary to provide engineers more time to perform confidence testing on a launch vehicle component associated with releasing the fairing support structure. Processing on both the launch vehicle and satellite continues nominally to a new launch date of 10 August. This slip in the AEHF-1 launch is not expected to impact other launches in the manifest.”

See USAF | Lockheed Martin | United Launch Alliance | Florida Today, incl. video | Spaceflight Now.

May 25/10: SV-1. Lockheed Martin delivers the 1st new AEHF secure broadband communications satellite (SV-1) to the USAF, for a planned July 30/10 liftoff.

As of this date, Lockheed martin says that SV-2 has completed Final Integrated System Test, and is now preparing for Intersegment testing. SV-3 has now completed acoustic testing. Lockheed Martin.

AEHF-1 delivered.

April 14/10: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that it has completed all factory testing of the first AEHF satellite, which means it’s ready for delivery to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL for a September 2010 liftoff aboard an Atlas V rocket.

The 2nd AEHF satellite (SV-2) is in the midst of its final performance test known as Final Integrated System Test which will verify all spacecraft interfaces, demonstrate full functionality and evaluate satellite performance. The 3rd AEHF satellite, SV-3, is gearing up for acoustic testing.

April 1/10: The Pentagon releases its April 2010 Selected Acquisitions Report, covering major program changes up to December 2009. AEHF makes the list, owing to procurement shifts in the wake of TSAT’s cancellation:

“Program costs increased $2,510.3 million (+25.3%) from $9,938.6 million to $12,448.9 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of two satellites from four to six satellites (+$2,623.7 million). This increase was partially offset by decreases due to an adjustment to the cost estimate (-$20.0 million), Congressional general reductions (-$19.2 million), a contractor to civilian personnel conversion (-$11.8 million), and the application of revised escalation indices (-$53.9 million).”

SAR – to 6 satellites

March 30/10: GAO Report. The US GAO audit office delivers its 8th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs report. With respect to the AEHF, it’s a bit behind the curve in listing only 4 satellites in the program for its figures, but it does acknowledge them in its commentary. Excerpts include:

“The AEHF program has overcome the technical problems that have delayed the first satellite’s launch by almost 2 years and increased the cost of the program. Defective satellite parts were replaced and the satellite successfully completed system-level environmental testing… Three satellites have been added to the program in recent years… The cost of the fourth satellite is significantly more than the estimated $952 million (then-year dollars) cost of the third satellite because there is an estimated 4-year break in production and some electronics components are no longer manufactured. Program officials do not anticipate significant technical challenges, but integrating, testing, and requalifying the new components will require time and money… design specifications for the first three satellites will remain unchanged for satellites four through six, which will be clones except for obsolete parts. The program office estimates the cost of satellites five and six will be about $1.6 billion and $1.7 billion (then-year dollars), respectively, with estimated launch dates in 2018 and 2020.”

Oct 7/09: Studies. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA received a $21.6 million contract for AEHF satellites that will perform a 50% design adequacy assessment for the mission control segment and continue preparation for the preliminary design review as well as study the impacts on strategic command requirements. At this time, $4 million has been obligated (F04701-02-C-0002, P00383).

Satellites FY 2009

Beyond TSAT.

Sept 17/09: No TSAT. What Now? During a media roundtable with USAF Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center Commander, Lt. Gen. Tom Sheridan, he explains the way forward in the absence of TSAT. AEHF-4 and WGS F5/F6 have been added, but that will not make up the gap in space-based bandwidth. Meanwhile, the need for high bandwidth anywhere is exploding, thanks to the skyrocketing number of UAVs and other surveillance and/or remotely-operated platforms.

Efforts are now underway to look at the overall gap created by TSAT’s removal, determine the military’s overall priorities among military wideband (WGS), hardened (AEHF), or other bandwidth options, and figure out how that gap might be covered a piece at a time. New solutions will be an option, and so will the possibility of adding new technologies to existing platforms like AEHF.

If this doesn’t sound like a firm plan, it’s because there isn’t one yet. The current foci involve figuring out customer priorities, and finding near-term funding that would retain a number of TSAT personnel and engineers. Success in retaining these people is expected to ensure that they can bring their experience with next-generation technologies to help generate new options, and then analyze alternatives.

TSAT dead – long live AEHF!

Sept 14/09: Training. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $6.1 million contract to develop training material for increment 7, train the trainer for subject matter experts at Fort Gordon, and train international partners for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite program. At this time, $324,048 has been committed by the SMC/PKA in El Segundo, CA (F04701-02-C0002, P00353).

Sept 10/09: SV-4. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company receives a $22 million contract for advance procurement of long-lead parts for AEHF Satellite Vehicle 4. At this time, $11 million has been committed (F04701-02-C-0002, P00379).

Sept 10/09: SV-1. Lockheed Martin announces that AEHF-1 has entered final testing at the company’s Sunnyvale, CA facilities, following successful completion of all spacecraft environmental testing. The Lockheed Martin-led team is now executing the final integrated spacecraft and system test procedures necessary to prepare the vehicle for flight. Over a 75-day period, the satellite will go through a series of factory tests to verify all spacecraft interfaces, demonstrate full functionality and evaluate satellite performance.

AEHF-1 was originally scheduled for launch in 2007, but the current release sets the bar for delivery at early 2010, and launch at an unspecified time in 2010. The 2nd and 3rd AEHF satellites are also progressing through final integration and test activities, and are currently on track for launch in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

March 31/09: GAO Report. American GAO auditors look at the AEHF program, as part of their 7th annual “Defense Acquisitions: Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” report:

“For the second straight year, technical problems with satellite components resulted in a delay of the first launch. This latest delay is almost 2 years. Further, the program office estimates that the fourth AEHF satellite could cost more than twice the third satellite because some components that are no longer manufactured will have to be replaced and production will have to be restarted after a 4-year gap…

During system-level environmental testing of the first satellite, the program office identified six components with workmanship or design problems. Five of these components will need to be removed from the spacecraft for repair, and one will need a software fix. Once all components are repaired and reinstalled, the spacecraft will undergo environmental testing a second time to assure all components are working properly. Continued problems with integration and testing have led to additional schedule delays. The launch of the first satellite has slipped almost two years – from November 2008 to as late as September 2010. The launch of the second satellite was delayed from August 2009 to around June 2011, and the third satellite is now planned for launch in 2012. Due to these delays, initial operational capability has slipped 3 years – from 2010 to 2013.”

Feb 27/09: SV-4 lead-in. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA receives for $175 million for “the congressionally mandated advance procurement of long-lead parts in FY08 and FY09 for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency Satellite Vehicle four.” At this time $104.5 million has been committed (F04701-02-C-0002, POO347).

See also the $119.2 million July 18/06 contract. Each contract may not spend its full amount, but issued contracts to date now total $294.2 million.

Feb 27/09: Sub-contractors. Northrop Grumman delivers the payload module for AEHF-3. They are 22 days early, marking 3 consecutive early deliveries to the Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, CA facilities (2007, 2008, 2009). Their payload module consists of the complete set of processing, routing and control hardware and software that handle the satellite’s communications, including critical features that protect against interception or jamming.

Lockheed Martin now will begin mating the payload module with its A2100 satellite bus and other space vehicle components, to be followed by environmental and acceptance testing of the completed satellite. NGC release.

Dec 30/08: TVAC issues. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA received a $7.2 million modifications, authorizing Lockheed to perform 2 additional thermal vacuum (TVAC) cycles on the AEHF Space Vehicles 2. As the Dec 16/08 entry notes, AEHF-1 is already facing problems due to TVAC related anomalies.

The US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at El Segundo, CA manages this contract (F04701-02-C-002, P00343).

Dec 30/08: Studies. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA received a $9.9 million modification to provide feasibility studies. These studies will center on extending the AEHF system in the Military Satellite Communications Program, which appears to bode ill for the $20+ billion TSAT program that was supposed to surpass AEHF. At this time, all funds have been obligated.

The US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at El Segundo, CA manages this contract (F04701-02-C-002, P00340).

Dec 16/08: TVAC issues. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA receives a $252 million Change Order that will implement additional vehicle-level Thermal Vacuum (TVAC) testing for AEHF-1. The DefenseLINK release adds that:

“The first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite is undergoing a significant amount of rework on mission critical unit’s dues [sic] to anomalies.”

At this stage, anomalies are very bad news. Additional TVAC testing suggests that the problem affects the satellite’s ability to survive and operate in the vacuum and wildly varying temperatures that a space satellite must endure.

Testing fail forces contract

Nov 17/08: The latest Pentagon Selected Acquisitions Report finds the AEHF program on the announcements list again:

“Program costs increases $2,576.6 million from $5,645.3 million to $9,938.6 million (+35.0%) to reflect cost increases which have resulted in a critical Nunn-McCurdy unit cost breach currently undergoing certification review.”

This is slightly confusing, as the April 2008 announcement set costs at $7.36 billion – rising from $6.42 billion because they had added a 4th AEHF satellite to the program.

SAR – major cost breach

Satellites FY 2008

Cost increases. Antenna test
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Sept 16/08: Sub-contractors. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that they have integrated all electronic units for AEHF-3’s payload module. The equipment includes approximately 20 electronics units that offer a complete set of radio frequency, processing, routing and control hardware, plus approximately 500,000 lines of software code.

NGC is currently under contract to provide 3 communications payloads to AEHF prime contractor Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA, and has delivered the first 2 on or ahead of schedule. This integration with Lockheed Martin’s A2100 satellite bus leaves the firm on track to maintain that record.

July 18/06: SV-4 lead-in. A $119.2 million modification to a cost plus award fee, cost-plus fixed-fee, cost-plus incentive-fee, firm-fixed-price contract with Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp. of Sunnyvale, CA (F04701-02-C-0002, P00315). The modification covers long-lead parts for the 4th AEHF Satellite, and is an unfinalized contract whose exact numbers will be adjusted later. At this time $59.6 million has been committed.

April 7/08: Cost increases for the AEHF satellite and FAB-T terminal programs land them both on the Pentagon’s latest Selected Acquisition Reports release. The total increase is about 14.5% for the program as a whole, but the biggest increase is easy to understand – they added a satellite:

“[AEHF] Program costs increased $940.5 million (+14.6 percent) from $6,421.5 million to $7,362.0 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of one satellite from three to four satellites (+$946.0 million). Congress appropriated advance procurement for Space Vehicle 4 (SV-4) in the fiscal 2008 Appropriations Act. The Department added SV-4 Full Procurement in fiscal 2010, with a launch capability targeted in fiscal 2014.”

SAR – to 4 satellites

Feb 28/08: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces successful acoustic testing of the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) military communications satellite at its Space Systems facilities in Sunnyvale, CA. This test is designed to duplicate the sound and vibration levels expected during launch into orbit.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems and payload supplier Northrop Grumman Space Technology can now proceed with thermal vacuum testing, which tests performance in the enormously wide temperature extremes found in space. AEHF-1 will be shipped to the Air Force in late 2008 in preparation for launch aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle.

Satellites FY 2007

AEHF-1 meets EEVL. P&P integration
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June 18/07: Lockheed Martin announces that it has successfully integrated the AEHF’s spacecraft propulsion core structure and the payload module. The core structure contains the integrated propulsion system as well as panels and other components that serve as the structural foundation of the satellite. The payload module consists of spacecraft electronics as well as the complete set of payload processing, routing and control hardware and software that perform the satellite’s communications function.

The successful integration allows the team of Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA and payload supplier Northrop Grumman Space Technology in Redondo Beach, CA to begin system level environmental and acceptance testing in preparation for launch in mid-2008. Lockheed Martin release.

June 1/07: Sub-contractors. Raytheon Co in Marlborough, MA received a $27.1 million3 firm-fixed-price contract for production, test, and delivery of 9 Extremely High Frequency (EHF) Satellite Communications Follow-On Terminal Communication Groups P/N: G752718-2 and 17 ship Antenna Groups P/N: G674898-1 (seven Radar Reducing Cross Section and ten Non-RRCS variants). This contract includes an option which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $38.3 million.

Work will be performed in Largo, FL (61.8%); Marlborough, MA (36.8%); and Saint Pete, FL (1.4%), and is expected to be complete by May 2009. This contract was not competitively procured; it was synopsized as a sole source procurement via the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command E-commerce web site on July 5, 2006. The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, San Diego, CA issued the contract (N00039-07-C-0001).

Feb 28/07: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Littleton, CO received a $108 million firm-fixed-price contract to launch AEHF-1 using an Atlas V Launch Vehicle under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. At this time, total funds have been obligated and work will be complete February 2009. The Headquarters Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (FA8816-06-C0004).

AEHF-1 launch contract

Dec 28/06: SV-1. Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA received a $7.8 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification for the use of a commercial payload processing facility to test, integrate, and fuel the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite in preparation for launch. This modification replaces the use of a government facility with a commercial facility that meets program requirements for floor space sufficient to support simultaneous mechanical and electrical launch processing operations. At this time, $1 million has been obligated. The Headquarters Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (F04701-02-C-0002/P00214).

Dec 22/06: SV-3. Lockheed Martin announces that it has delivered the flight structure for the 3rd AEHF satellite ahead of schedule. The flight structure, which is based on the A2100 geosynchronous spacecraft, will now be sent to Lockheed’s Mississippi facility for integration with its propulsion subsystem.

Over the next several months, a team of engineers and technicians at Lockheed Martin’s Mississippi Space & Technology Center, an advanced propulsion, thermal, and metrology facility located at the John C. Stennis Space Center, will integrate the spacecraft’s propulsion subsystem, which is essential for maneuvering the satellite during transfer orbit to its final location as well as conducting on-orbit operations and repositioning maneuvers throughout its mission life. See Lockheed Martin release.

Oct 19/06: Crypto. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $7.7 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification. This undefinitized contract action involves integration of the NSA-developed top secret key translation element into the AEHF system, and authorizes Lockheed Martin to start working the system design and test program changes required. The modification will develop, test and integrate the required hardware/software in to the AEHF mission control segment.

At this time, $4.5 million has been obligated. This work will be complete June 2019. The Headquarters Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing, Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (F04701-02-C-0002/P00212).

Oct 4/06: Changes. Lockheed Martin Space and Missiles in Sunnyvale, CA received a $7.6 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification for software and hardware changes to the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite system. The changes are necessary to develop and maintain backward compatibility with the predecessor Milstar communications satellite system, and are part of a series of modifications necessary to ensure this compatibility. The Headquarters Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (F04701-02-C-0002/A00013).

Satellites FY 2004 – 2006

Schedule slip. AEHF-1, 3. AEHF model test
(click to view full)

April 19/06: Testing. Lockheed martin engineers perform a successful modal survey for AEHF. It is designed to ensure that launch and other sources of vibrations such as reaction wheels, solar arrays and various deployable and steerable mechanisms will not affect the critical mission of the communications payload. The successful test was performed by a team of engineers at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, facilities in Sunnyvale, Calif. and included 292 accelerometers, 508 accelerometer channels and six shakers mounted to the structure and surrounding ground surface. Lockheed Martin release.

April 14/06: Lockheed Martin, Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $454.9 million cost-plus fixed-fee, cost-plus award-fee contract modification for the implementation of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Satellite Communication System Program re-plan, which started in late 2004.

The re-plan was necessary due to delayed delivery of government-furnished information assurance products, added payload component testing, and replacement of critical parts that were disqualified for space flight. The effort includes development of emulators, additional testing associated with integrating multiple incremental deliveries, and additional months of non-recurring development. The resulting AEHF first launch date of April 2008 is consistent with the revised Acquisition Program Baseline approved in March 2005. This work will be complete May 2010 (F04701-02-C-0002/P00136).

Major SDD increase

Jan 12/06: SV-3. Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $491.2 million cost-plus-award-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract modification. This is a modification of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite contract to add satellite vehicle #3 (SV3) as envisioned and permitted by a clause in the contract. This action includes the main SV3 contract, and introduces the option for Launch and Operations support.

The Launch and Operations Support option associated with this modification is planned to be exercised beginning in FY 2009 to support an FY 2010 launch, and the acquisition of SV3 will complete the AEHF program of record unless the T-SAT program is deferred or canceled (in which case AEHF SV4 & SV5 will be launched). Work on this contract, which takes the total amount of AEHF expenditures announced on DefenseLINK to $4.276 billion, is expected to be complete in May 2011 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00156).

AEHF-3 contracts

March 7/05: SV-3. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $78.2 million cost-plus award-fee, cost-plus fixed-fee, firm fixed-price contract modification to provide for the advance procurement of long-lead parts for AEHF Satellite Vehicles #3 (SV3) in FY05 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00102).

Dec 21/04: The U.S. Air Force announces that the AEHF program has suffered a 1-year schedule slip, and cost growth of about 20%. The first launch of the 3 planned satellites is now slated for April 2008 rather than 2007 [Source]. In its release, the USAF cites:

“…unavoidable delays and cost growth due to delayed delivery of information-assurance [signal-encryption] products, and the resulting delay of terminals required for satellite command and control… replacement of critical electronic parts and added payload component testing…”

Program slips

Aug 4/04: Spares. Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA and Northrop Grumman Space Technology in Los Angeles, CA received a $32.55 million cost-plus award-fee contract modification for spare critical components to be used, if necessary, in factory by the contractor during assembly and test and of Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) satellites.

Originally, 5 AEHF satellites were to be built, which ensured that there would be enough spare parts to avoid delays during production because the first satellites could use parts from satellites being assembled later. For this reason, the original AEHF plan did not include production spares. In November 2002, 2 of the Advanced EHF satellites were cancelled and the 3rd satellite was delayed one year, which meant there were no longer adequate numbers of spare critical parts to prevent production delays. Work will be complete by January 2009 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00083).

May 18/04: Crypto. Lockheed Martin Corp Space Systems and Northrop Grumman Space Technology received a $149 million contract modification which incorporates within-scope changes resulting from Revision to the KI-54 Cryptographic Interface Control Document (ICD).

The KI-54 ICD “black box” encryption device was modified by the NSA’s (National Security Agency) contractor, which meant the AEHF team was required to redesign the Host Accessory Logic Application Specific Integrated Circuit (HAL ASIC) in the AEHF communication payload. This effort was captured in Phase 1. In Phase 2, the AEHF contractor team will receive a 4 month program extension to identify and mitigate the risks and modifications to the whole satellite associated with this redesign. Locations of performance are: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale CA (51%) and Northrop Grumman in Los Angeles, CA (49%). This work will be complete in September 2008 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00061).

Dec 22/03: Changes. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space in Santa Maria, CA received a $15 million cost-plus award-fee contract modification. This technical change will provide two different connection modes to allow MPE to communicate with Army and Air Force terminals and adapt to different terminal and network changes, as Option 5 of an analysis Study that defines Mission Planning Element (MPE) versus Terminal Functionality into the AEHF baseline. This work will be complete by September 2008 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00042).

Satellites FY 2002 – 2003

SDD contract; increase. older AEHF concept
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Aug 8/03: Crypto. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $78.5 million cost-plus award-fee, cost-plus fixed-fee, firm-fixed-price contract modification. It provides for an in-scope change to Incorporate KI-54 Interface Control Document (ICD) Revision F-Phase 2 impacts. The KI-54 ICD is a “black box” encryption device for military communications passing through AEHF. A two-phase approach was initiated to evaluate the KI-54 ICD Revision F changes. Phase I focused on the effort to redesign the HAL ASIC. Phase 2 focused on identifying and mitigating the AEHF system level impacts associated with the HAL ASIC redesign, as defined in Phase 1, such that the 4-month HAL ASIC PDR slip will not result in a launch delay. This work will be complete by September 2008 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00046).

July 23/03: Changes. Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA and Northrop Grumman Space Technology in Los Angeles, CA received a $16 million contract modification for the following:

(1) Provide capability to assign any single uplink transmission security (TRANSEC) key to any beam;
(2) Provide capability to blank 2nd key contiguous bandwidth within any one permute group in multiples of wideband channels for every hope of the date frame. The blanking timing error shall be factory selectable and upload able from mission control segment (MCS);
(3) Allow extra high data rate users to acquire high gain earth coverage, reposition medium resolution coverage area (beam shared and full-time) and high-resolution coverage area beams without using super high gain earth coverage (SHGEC) uplink resources;
(4) Provide capability for all users to acquire and communicate in the same coverage requests, and the SHGEC which is only used for communications and time tracking terminals acquiring or communicating in any particular beam will do so using only one uplink TRANSEC key that is currently configured to that beam;
(5) Allow for permute group 0 group to support wideband channels.

This work will be complete in September 2008 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00043).

June 13/03: Changes. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $5.2 million contract modification to provide for in-scope changes to modify the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) Payload. The technical change ensures backward compatibility with MILSTAR satellite operations. Specifically, it will provide users the capability to fence the necessary payload resources to process Rapid Reconfiguration Order Wire (RROW) streams, and the capability to control the fenced RROW XC2 stream processing payload resources as any other fenced resource, including sub-fences and sub-sub-fences, via command and access control protocol. The change will impact multiple specification documents including the Mission Planning Element of the Mission Control Segment, the Configurable Onboard Router in the Digital Processing Subsystem and the payload software. This work will be completed in September 2008 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00031).

Payload I&T
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May 27/03: Changes. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space in Sunnyvale, CA received a $10 million cost-plus-award-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee, firm-fixed contract modification. This is an in-scope change to redesign the host accessory logic circuit (ASIC) in response to a specification upgrade for the KI-54 cryptographic device. This effort will ensure secure communication capability by providing an improvement to the host accessory ASIC within the AEHF digital processing subsystem. This work will be complete January 2004 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00034).

May 22/03: SDD. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. received a $9 million contract modification as an amendment to the existing system development and demonstration (SD&D) contract that was definitized April 15, 2001. The purpose of this amendment is to increase the contract value from $2.63 billion to $2.64 billion. This increase is the result of an engineering change proposal to implement a new AEHF System alternate key management plan (AKMP). The effort is within scope of the existing contract, and is necessitated by requirement/design changes that meet National Security Agency (NSA) security requirements that have been validated by Air Force Space Command. The system keys can’t be produced until the NSA approves the AKMP, and these changes must be implemented to avoid possible impact to the launch schedule. The locations of performance are Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space in Sunnyvale, CA, and TRW Inc. Space and Electronics Group in Redondo Beach, CA. This work will be complete June 2008 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00029).

May 22/03: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, CA is being awarded a $498 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. This is an amendment to the existing letter contract for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) System Development and Demonstration (SD&D) phase. The purpose of this amendment is to increase the not-to-exceed from $2.698 billion to $3.196 billion, as a result of the FY 2002 appropriation act decrease of $70 million and the loss of $30 million in international partner funding. Also, the not-to-exceed increase includes effort necessitated by the recent revision of the National Security Agency’s KI-54 encryption Interface control document, revision D in the amount of $46 million. This action provides for satellites replacement and upgrade of the associated ground command and control segment, and the necessary sustainment. The period of performance for this effort will span approximately 10 years.

Lockheed Martin Corp. will perform this effort at TRW Inc. Space and Electronics Group in Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, CA (46%), and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, Sunnyvale, CA (28%) and other locations (F04701-02-C-0002, P00007).

Major SDD increase

Nov 16/02: The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) National Team, comprised of Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, CA, and TRW Inc. in Redondo Beach, CA, are being awarded a $2.698 billion (not-to-exceed) firm-fixed-price and cost-plus award fee contract for the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) phase of the AEHF satellite communication system program. This effort includes production of two satellites, plus replacement and upgrade of existing military satellite communication (MILSATCOM) ground command and control segment components to support AEHF and associated sustainment.

Solicitation for this sole source contract began in October 2000, negotiations were completed November 2001, and work will be complete in December 2011. The contractors will perform this effort in Sunnyvale, CA (45%), and Redondo, CA (55%). The Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (F04701-02-C-0002).

AEHF SDD contract: includes AEHF-1 & 2

FAB-T Terminals and Ground Control

FAB-T (Family of Advanced Beyond-line-of-sight Terminals) is designed to provide a family of software-defined radios that use a common open architecture to link to different satellites, and enable information exchange between ground, air and space platforms. It is envisioned as a common terminal for the next generation of High Data Satellite Communications using AEHF, Wideband Gapfiller, and other future satellite systems. Aircraft involved include bombers like the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and B-52 Stratofortress, specialty platforms like the RC-135 Rivet Joint, E-4 NAOC, E-6 Mercury/TACAMO, et. al., and key UAV types like the RQ-4 Global Hawk and MQ-1/9 Predators.

The FAB-T family includes software-defined radios, antennas and associated user interface hardware that will provide a powerful system capable of hosting a multitude of transmission “waveforms” to accommodate data rates in excess of 300 megabits per second.

FAB-T Increment 1 will begin as a terminal for the AEHF and older Milstar satellite systems.

FAB-T Increment 2 will develop terminals to support Wideband Global SATCOM satellite operations on surveillance aircraft including key UAVs, with other platforms to follow.

Fortunately, FAB-T also is the first survivable Software Communications Architecture (SCA)-compliant communications system. Because its implementation will be software based, rather than hardware based, future upgrades that improve performance or extend the standard can be implemented without the time-consuming and expensive process of disassembling equipment and adding new electronics. These “future proofing” modifications can be made to any SCA-compliant radios if it is deemed necessary, even those outside the AEHF/FAB-T program.

Evolution Toward Competition E-6B Mercury
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While FAB-T was initially a Boeing program, Raytheon steadily won orders for AEHF-compatible terminals from every service, finally displacing Boeing in 2014.

FAB-T was initially a 6-year, $279 million system design and development contract in 2002, and it expanded to become an SDD/EMD and production program worth over $3.6 billion. Program activity was managed by Boeing’s Battle Management/Command, Control and Communications (BMC3) & Strategic Systems business segment in Anaheim, CA with key support from Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, CA. Principal team members at the time included:

  • Boeing (Lead contractor, systems engineering and integration, system and terminal architecture, software development, test and evaluation, integrated logistics support and communications engineering)

  • Harris Corporation’s Government Communications Systems division in Melbourne, FL (integration of terminal and antenna hardware)

  • L-3 Communications’ Communications Systems West division in Salt Lake City, UT (development of the modem processor)

  • Northrop Grumman’s Mission Systems (not specified, but acquired TRW whose Command, Control and Intelligence Division in Fairfax, VA was working on AEHF waveform management)

  • Raytheon (related SMART-T terminals for USA, Canada and the Netherlands)

  • Rockwell Collins’ Government Systems Division (not specified)

  • ViaSat, Inc.’s Communications Systems Group in Carlsbad, CA (communications security module hardware and information security)

In September 2012, the USAF had run out of patience, and gave Raytheon a second crack at things with a limited FAB-T development contract. Raytheon had already managed to win a number of service-specific contracts for AEHF-compatible terminals from various branches of the US military (Army SMART-T, Navy MBT, STRATCOM MMPU) so their own development has been faster and less expensive than Boeing’s by a couple orders of magnitude.

Bu June 2014, Raytheon had become the USAF’s FAB-T CPT supplier as well, displacing Boeing and fielding the 1st set of FAB-T terminals onto command aircraft: the 4 national command post E-4Bs based on the 747, and the 16 E-6B Mercury Block IIs used as STRATCOM mirrors and “Looking Glass” theater command planes.

The USAF has deferred moves to equip its B-2A and B-52H bomber fleets, and its RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic eavesdropping jets. If they decide to go ahead, the contracts will be the subject of new competitions.

FAB-T & Ground Control: Contracts and Key Events FY 2012 – 2014

USAF gets annoyed, funds parallel design efforts; Raytheon wins FAB-T CPT competition, displacing Boeing.

E-4B mission
click for video

Aug 12/14: Raytheon VP and GM for Integrated Communication Systems Scott Whatmough says that they’ll be done FAB-T CPT testing by the end of 2014 (q.v. June 2/14). He adds that the B-2A Spirit stealth bomber would be a particularly challenging future addition, as its antennas are different from the B-52H or RC-135. Furthermore:

“It was a classified program when it was being developed and they came up with a very unique mechanical packaging concept for all of their electronics. Turns out no other aircraft ever adopted it, so it has a unique mechanical packaging.”

Sources: C4ISR & Networks, “Raytheon: FAB-T qualification testing done by year’s end”.

June 2/14: FAB-T contract. Raytheon in Marlborough, MA receives a $298 million firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification for 84 FAB-T Command Post Terminals (CPT), which will equip E-4B NAOC and E-6B Mercury Block II command post aircraft, as well as some ground and mobile locations. After FAB-T reaches Milestone C, Phase 2 production contract options for Low-Rate Initial Production and beyond will open up for Raytheon, expanding the contract considerably.

It’s a sharp blow to Boeing, but not entirely unexpected. On the other hand, it’s not the absolute end. Buying FAB-T terminals for USAF B-2 and B-52 bombers, RC-135 SIGINT/ELINT aircraft, or other planes, would require another procurement process.

Work will be performed in Marlborough, MA and Largo, FL, with the Florida location serving as the assembly point. USAF FY 2013 through 2019 budgets will fund FAB-T buys over time, with just $31,274 committed immediately. Two bids were solicited and two received. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/HNSK at Hanscom AFB, MA, solicited 2 bids, and received 2 (FA8705-13-C-0005, PO 0002). Sources: Pentagon DefenseLINK | Raytheon, “Raytheon awarded $298 million for US Air Force FAB-T satellite terminal program” | Defense News, “Space Fence, FAB-T Awards Show an Emboldened DoD”.

Raytheon wins FAB-T CPT

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The AEHF program is included, but the entry isn’t long and focuses on Mission Control Segment Increment 5 (MCS i5), which controls both Milstar and AEHF satellites.

The USAF hasn’t deployed the full AEHF MCS capability, so no conclusions can be drawn until testing is done in 2014. DOT&E did say that MCS i5 demonstrated improved reliability, dependability, and maintainability compared to i4, and was also more secure.

Jan 27/14: FAB-T situation. Raytheon VP of integrated communications systems Scott Whatmough has told reporters that the USAF is expected to award the FAB-T production contract by the end of March 2014. Raytheon is hoping to beat development contract holder Boeing, using its own privately-developed, AEHF-compatible receiver terminal.

The FAB-T program was most recently projected to cost $4.67 billion, a 48-percent increase from the original estimate of $3.17 billion, but the coming production order is expected to include just 84 FAB-T systems instead of the program’s 246. The bomber fleet installations have been put aside, and production systems will only be used in airborne and land-based command posts. Sources: DoD Buzz, “Pentagon May Award FAB-T Contract in March”.

Aug 1/13: Ground System. USAF Space Command accepts Mission Control Segment Increment 5 (MCS i5) for operational use as the Milstar and AEHF ground segment. It can support Low Data Rate and Medium Data Rate communications over a combined constellation of Milstar and AEHF satellites, and high-bandwidth Extended Data Rate (XDR) for command and control and some tactical communications. Sources: Pentagon DOT&E FY 2013 Annual Report.

July 1/13: FAB-T competition. Raytheon Network Centric Systems in Marlborough, MA receives a $34 million contract modification to continued development and testing of air (E-4B, E-6) and ground fixed and transportable command post terminals with presidential and national voice conferencing. The systems are a parallel project award under the Family of Advanced Beyond line-of-sight Terminals (FAB-T) program – q.v. June 19/13 and Sept 10/12 entries.

Work will be performed at Marlborough, MA, and is expected to be complete by October 2013. Fiscal 2012 Research and Development funds are being obligated at time of award. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center/HNSK, Hanscom Air Force Base, MA manages the contract (FA8307-12-C-0013, PO 0013).

June 19/13: FAB-T situation. Aviation Week reports progress on Raytheon’s competing FAB-T development contract (q.v. Sept 10/12).

Next month, Raytheon plans to complete work, including delivery of developmental terminal models for the E-4B and E-6B command post aircraft, and Presidential voice communications. The firm has just completed a critical design review (CDR), and an October 2013 test will involve satellite communications. The goal is a production-ready system by September 2014, and they’re basing their work on related AEHF-compatible wins like the US Army’s SMART-T (q.v. Oct 4/12), US Navy’s Multiband Terminal (MBT), and the USAF’s Minuteman Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network Program Upgrade (MMPU, q.v. Dec 30/11).

Boeing hasn’t stopped working. Their CDR took place in 2012, and they’re now in the final stages of system level functional qualification. Demonstrations have taken place with AEHF and Milstar control systems, and flight tests are scheduled for this summer. Beyond FAB-T, one imagines that Boeing would like to win the upcoming Global Aircrew Strategic Network Terminal (GASNT) competition. Of course, so would Raytheon. Aviation Week.

Oct 4/12: SMART-T. Raytheon in Marlborough, MA receives a $164 million firm-fixed-price contract to create AEHF secure, mobile, anti-jam, reliable, tactical (SMART-T) terminals.

FAB-T isn’t the only game in town when it comes to AEHF-compatible terminals for sending and receiving data, and this is one of several service-specific contracts for AEHF-compatible terminals that don’t need all of FAB-T’s functionality, but may need other capabilities. See also Sept 19/11 entry.

Work location will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Sept 28/15. The bid was solicited through the internet, with 1 bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Fort Monmouth, NJ (W15P7T-12-D-0071).

Sept 10/12: FAB-T competition. About 10 years after losing the FAB-T contract, Raytheon Network Centric Systems in Marlborough, MA receives a $70 million firm fixed price contract for development, testing and production of FAB-T engineering development models of air (E-4B NAOC, E-6B TACAMO), ground fixed and transportable Command Post Terminals with Presidential and National Voice Conferencing (PNVC).

The location of the performance is Marlborough, MA. Work is to be complete by July 2013. The AFLCMC/HSNK at Hanscom AFB, MA manages the contract (FA8307-12-C-0013).

FAB-T becomes competitive

Dec 30/11: STRATCOM MMPU. Raytheon Network Centric Systems in Marlborough, MA receives a $9.4 million cost-plus-award-fee, firm-fixed-price, time-and-materials and cost reimbursement contract to upgrade the Minuteman Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network Program to support AEHF constellation communications. The LM-30 Minuteman III ICBM is the land-based leg of the US nuclear weapons triad.

Work will be performed in Marlborough, MA, and is expected to be complete 12 months after receipt of order. The USAF ESC/HNSK at Hanscom AFB, MA manages the contract (FA8726-08-C-004, PO 0080).

FY 2010 – 2011

SAR shows program cost growth; Milstar ground control compatibility; Other firms producing AEHF-compatible terminals. Older Milstar II

Sept 19/11: SMART-T. Raytheon announces that they have fielded the first AEHF Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) satellite communications solution to the U.S. armed services, using Raytheon’s eXtended Data Rate (XDR) waveform hardware and software modification.

SMART-T is compatible with EHF and AEHF satellites, and AEHF increases the data rate by a factor of 4x. Through 2015, Raytheon will field 364 AEHF SMART-T terminals to the U.S. armed services, 19 systems to Canada, and 7 to the Netherlands.

August 2011: Testing. Boeing successfully demonstrates high-data-rate transmissions between FAB-T and an AEHF test terminal, using the low probability of interception, low probability of detection extended data rate (XDR). XDR will be used for, among other things, nuclear command and control.

The testing covered XDR re-key, XDR text communications, dual FAB-T log-on with the AEHF payload, and interface with the AEHF Satellite Mission Control Subsystem. More than 50% of system integration tests are done, and system qualification testing is due to start in 2012. Note that Boeing’s Oct 3/11 release refers to Paul Geery as its FAB-T VP and program manager.

July 18/11: Testing. Boeing updates progress. The FAB-T EMD program has completed 90% of hardware qualification testing, 97% of all system software through-code and unit testing, and approximately 30% of systems integration and test. Boeing has conducted platform and payload integration testing through over-the-air low-data-rate tests and risk-reduction flight tests, and April 2011’s RC-135 Rivet Joint flight test of a Block 8 terminal was the 2nd in a series of airborne terminal tests, on the 1st operational program to be integrated.

Boeing is working toward the LRIP (low-rate initial production contract) for the Nuclear Command and Control Network Communications System, and completing qualification of the Block 8 third-generation hardware and high-data-rate waveform software. John Lunardi is currently Boeing’s FAB-T vice president and program director.

April 15/11: The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 30/10 includes the “significant cost changes” in AEHF program – both satellites and terminals. The FAB-T section reads:

“Program costs increased $630.9 million (+15.8 percent) from $3,981.9 million to $4,612.8 million, due primarily to complexities with software integration and challenges with hardware qualification (+$260.1 million), higher manufacturing costs due to loss of learning and production inefficiencies (+$258.9 million), and other increases due to the schedule stretch-out (+$134.7 million), partially offset by decreases in other support costs (-$32.7 million).”

SAR – cost increases

April 6/11: SDD. Boeing in Huntington Beach, CA receives a $271.2 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. It covers “the new estimated cost completion” amount for FAB-T’s System Development and Demonstration, and “provides increment funding aligned with Continuing Resolution authority.”

Work will be performed at Huntington Beach, CA, and Salt Lake City, UT. Hanscom AFB’s Electronic Systems Center, MA manages the contract (F19628-02-C-0048, PO 0219).

Major SDD Increase

Jan 26/11: Testing. A successful demonstration of over-the-air, low-data-rate communication between an orbiting Milstar satellite and the a 3rd generation (Block 8) FAB-T terminal, passing voice and data communication using the FAB-T’s low-data-rate software and its newly developed large aircraft antenna.

The system in question demonstrates why this kind of backward compatibility matters: it’s a Nuclear Command and Control Network Communications System. The team of Boeing, L-3 Communications, Rockwell Collins and ViaSat, Inc. will conduct more terminal integration, software testing and flight testing activities before building this system.

Boeing’s System Integration and Testing Lab in Huntington Beach, CA includes 12 FAB-T systems with connections to 3 antennas, allowing simultaneous over-the-air operation. 2011 will feature in-depth FAB-T system integration tests, now that over 80% of the hardware qualification testing and nearly 65% of the FAB-T software qualification testing is complete. The program is scheduled to enter flight testing in Q1 FY 2013 (fall 2012), and exercise its low rate initial production option in Q3 FY 2013 (summer 2013). USAF.

Oct 6/10: B-52s. Boeing in Wichita, KS received a $12.4 million contract modification for a future beyond line of sight (BLOS) communication capability on the B-52 heavy bomber, using AEHF-compatible BLOS terminals. At this time, $10 million has been committed by the ASC/WWVK at Wright Patterson AFB, OH (FA8107-05-C-0001; PO 0058).

This contract is part of the B-52 CONECT program.

Aug 3/10: AEHF & Milstar. Lockheed Martin announces that a joint company/USAF team has successfully transitioned the Milstar satellite constellation’s ground control system to the new AEHF Mission Control Segment (MCS). The AEHF MCS is now performing day-to-day operation of the USAs existing Milstar satellite constellation, leaving MCS ready to support deployment of AEHF-1 in August 2010. Lockheed Martin.

July 8/10: Integral Systems, Inc. in Columbia, MD receives a $13.4 million contract modification, extending the contract for the command and control system-consolidated (CSS-C) program for a year (from Sept 30/11 – Sept 30/12), due to launch delays on AEHF Space Vehicles 1, 2 and 3. At this time, no money has been committed; this contract just authorizes the funds if needed (F04701-01-C-0012, P00170).

CCS-C has been an overall money-saver for the USAF, migrating tracking, telemetry, and command and control from mainframe systems to cheaper and more flexible commercial client/server computing options. The USAF says that CCS-C sustainment costs are just 25% of the previous Satellite Control Network Command and Control Segment. After a competitive system ‘fly off’, in March 2002 Integral Systems Inc. (ISI) of Columbia, Maryland was awarded the CCS-C development/ sustainment contract. ISI/CCS-C employs approximately 130 people, and operates 2 software development laboratories in Maryland and Colorado.

Jan 4/10: FAB-T changes. Boeing in Huntington Beach, CA received a $34.3 million contract to implement the following changes to the functionality available for the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals Increment 1: Contractor Technical Requirements Document (CTRD) update version 9.2; Simple Key Loader 6.0 interface to data set manager (DSM) for DSM flash control station profiles; and implementation of auto broadcast features on the Extended Data Rate (XDR) capability. At this time, $500,000 has been obligated. The 653 ESW/PK at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA manages the contract (F19628-02-C-0048-P00180).

Dec 1/09: Support. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale, CA received a $39.5 million contract to provide sustainment for the AEHF satellite ground segment from Dec 1/09 – Sep 30/10 (F04701-02-C-0002, P00399).

Oct 21/09: Canada. Rockwell Collins announces a 5-year, USD$ 52.3 million contract to provide the Canadian Forces with AEHF-compatible Single Channel Anti-jam Manportable (SCAMP XDR-IPV, Extended Data Rate International Partners Variant) terminals. The Foreign Military Sale contract will be executed through the U.S. Army’s Communications-Electronics Command Group (CECOM).

Rockwell Collins’ SCAMP terminals provide worldwide secure, jam-resistant, covert, voice and data communications. They offer communication for a wide variety of applications and users. The terminals feature Extended Data Rate (EDR) capability that delivers data rates comparable to high quality, Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) modems.

SCAMP for Canada

Oct 14/09: Testing. Boeing Launch Services of Huntington Beach, CA received a $21.8 million contract modification to provide engineering development models for the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) to allow for operational testing with production representative terminals. FAB-T terminals will connect soldiers or military platforms like planes, ships, et. al. with the AEHF constellation. At this time, $1.3 million has been obligated. The 653 ESW/PK at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts manages the contract (F19628-02-C-0048, P00171).

FY 2006 – 2009


June 26/09: AMACS antenna. Raytheon announces a successful test of their Advanced Multiband Communication Antenna System (AMCAS), developed for the U.S. Air Force. AMCAS is an extremely low-profile antenna that extends only 8 1/2″, and attaches to the aircraft’s metal skin rather than requiring complex in-fuselage installations. That configuration reduces drag, and minimizes time out of service during upgrades.

During the test, the AMCAS antenna communicated with the Milstar satellite’s medium data rate waveform, but it has been developed for use with FAB-T.

Oct 28-30/08: A successful system-wide Critical Design Review (CDR) for the FAB-T family. The Boeing Terminal Test team established log on, downlink, and uplink connections with a Milstar 6 satellite, as a first step toward implementing AEHF’s Extended Data Rate (XDR) waveform.

Formal qualification testing will now take place to validate the terminals’ interoperability and satellite interfaces, and Boeing expects to begin deliveries of engineering development modules to the Air Force in 2009 for FAB-T Increment 1. Flight testing of these modules is currently planned for mid-2009. Boeing release.


Sept 16/08: Testing. Boeing announces that it has delivered its FAB-T Increment 2 prototype to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA, ahead of schedule. The lab will use it to continue developing the DVB-S2 based communications waveform.

Waveforms define how radios, satellites, et. al. communicate. The Lincoln Lab’s efforts will define a waveform used for airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance readout over Ka-band military satellite communications. That waveform can then be incorporated in air, ground, maritime, and space communications equipment as required, as long as they have the required hardware or are software-defined and SCA-compatible.

Sept 4/08: Changes. A $16.7 million cost plus award fee contract modification to Boeing of Anaheim, CA to update new platform requirements and Advanced EHF (AEHF) system interface. At this time, $7 million has been committed by the Air Force Materiel Command,’s Electronic Systems Center, 653d ELSG/PK at Hancom AFB, MA (F19628-02-C-0048, P00146).

July 28/08: Changes. A $53.4 million modification to Boeing in Anaheim, CA, in order to update new platform requirements and FAB-T’s AEHF system interface. The Electronic Systems Center of Air Force Materiel Command manages the contract (F19628-02-C-0048 P00143).

April 9/08: Changes. Boeing received a modified contract for $25 million to incorporate Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) 0035, Strategic Networks, into the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) Increment 1 program. At this time $9.25 million has been obligated, and the contract amount will be finalized later. Hanscom AFB, MA issued the contract (F19628-02-C-0048/P00141).

April 7/08: Cost increases for the AEHF satellite and FAB-T terminal programs land them both on the Pentagon’s latest Selected Acquisition Reports release:

“[FAB-T] Program costs increased $454.8 million (+14.4 percent) from $3,167.4 million to $3,622.2 million, due primarily to a revised cost estimate resulting from analysis by the OSD Cost Analysis Improvement Group (+$348.8 million). Costs also increased due to a net quantity increase of 6 terminals from 216 to 222 terminals (+$44.7 million), adjustments in real and predicated escalation (+$26.6 million), an increase in initial spares (+$25.5 million), and a net stretch-out of the procurement buy profile (+$9.2 million).”

SAR – cost increases

Feb 15/08: Changes. Boeing of Anaheim, CA received a contract modification for $49.8 million. This undefinitized contract action to incorporate Engineering Change Proposal 0034, “New Platform Requirements and Advanced EHF System Interface Changes,” into the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals. At this time $17 million has been obligated. 653 ELSG/PKX at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issued the contract (F19628-02-C-0048/P00138).

Feb 1/08: Testing. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that it has demonstrated compatibility between the AEHF military communications satellite with user ground terminals using the new Extended Data Rate (XDR) waveform and protocols. Other future satellite communications programs, including the Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) and the Enhanced Polar System, will also use XDR waveforms.

Earlier testing in May 2006 had already verified the backward compatibility of Advanced EHF with legacy terminals using Low Data Rate (LDR) and Medium Data Rate (MDR) waveforms. This latest demonstration included all 3, as 84 test objectives were demonstrated including links the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical terminal (WIN-T), the international variant of the Secure Mobile Anti-Jam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T), and Lincoln Laboratory’s Advanced Universal System Test Terminal (AUST-T).

Tests were conducted using a U.S. Army user terminal as well as a terminal configuration to be used by international partners, and included participants from the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Northrop Grumman, the Joint Terminal Engineering Office, Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Army WIN-T program, the Lincoln Laboratory, and Raytheon (terminal manufacturer).

Jan 16/08: STRATCOM. Raytheon Network Centric Systems, Inc. of Marlborough, MA received a contract for $37.5 million. The firm will perform a Minuteman Minimum Essential Emergency Communications Network Program upgrade to support communications via AEHF satellite constellations. To give you an idea of just how serious that is, the Minuteman-III fleet is the USA’s set of land-based nuclear missiles. The upgrade will provide an improved terminal operator control function, add an AEHF and address other system improvement for the MMP. At this time $15.2 million has been obligated. The Electronic Systems Center, AFMC at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8726-08-C-0004).

Sept 14/07: Changes. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Corp. of Sunnyvale, Calif. received a contract modification for mission software improvements amounting to $16.9 million. Element 1 covers a change order to modify the Mission Planning Element of the AEHF’s ground software, which models the AEHF’s communication plan, to accurately model and support both current and new AEHF terminals. Element 2 of these modifications will allow the Mission Planning Element to distribute transmission security keys for terminals using the Ultra High Frequency (UFO/ MUOS) Follow-On Enhanced Extremely High Frequency (E/EE) or Interim Polar satellite systems. Finally, 2 increments of the Mission Planning Element software being developed in parallel will be combined to create efficiencies in software development and maintenance.

Taken together, these software improvements will also mitigate the risk of incompatible planning tools between the United States and its International Partners in future coalition operations. At this time $8,470,148 has been obligated.

Sept 4/07: Testing. Boeing announces the first time that its FAB-T system acquires an operational Milstar satellite and completes downlink data transmissions. The Low Data Rate test meets program schedule commitments and lays the foundation for uplink tests and other interoperability assessments later in 2007. The test, conducted from Rockwell Collins’ FAB-T Systems Integration Laboratory, used Boeing, RCI, ViaSat and L-3 Communications integrated hardware and software products. Boeing release.

June 26/07: Changes. Integral Systems, Inc. in Lanham, MD received a $5.8 million cost-plus-award-fee contract modification. It modifies the Command and Control System-Consolidated (CCS-C) effort to support the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite (WGS) Program Operations Readiness, add training, and incorporate changes to the system/Subsystem Specification (SSS) to clarify development requirements for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite program.

The CCS-C program provides an upgraded capability to command and control the Air Force’s communication satellites, including the Defense Satellite Communication System, Milstar, Advanced Extremely High Frequency, and Wideband Gapfiller Satellites (N.B. now also called Wideband Global SATCOM, but this was the language of the US DefenseLINK release). At this time, $2 million has been obligated, and work will be complete in June 2010. The Headquarters Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing in Los Angeles Air Force Base, CA issued the contract (F04701-01-C-0012/P00118).

March 26/07: Recognition. Boeing announces that their joint replan of the FAB-T program in conjunction with U.S. Air Force Space Command has earned the USAF’s Agile Acquisition Transformation Leadership Award. Approximately 300 of the program’s 700-plus requirements were changed, along with detailed schedule re-phasing for development, test, delivery and installation. Boeing claims that the replan delivered new capability, while ensuring that “strategic nuclear command and control connectivity remains uncompromised.”

The award, presented in February 2007 to the Space Command’s FAB-T Alpha Contracting Team at the annual Acquisition Leaders Forum in Atlanta, Ga., recognizes the joint government-industry effort for completing a significant replan of the FAB-T program in a record 10 weeks during the summer of 2006. The award also acknowledges skill in acquisition program management and leadership bringing about acquisition process transformation. Boeing release.

Feb 13-17/07: CDR. Team Boeing successfully completes a an external Critical Design Review (CDR) for FAB-T, paving the way for deliveries to begin. The CDR follows the recent delivery of a Block 4 software-defined radio to the U.S. Air Force, and successful Preliminary Design and Integrated Baseline reviews. Initial FAB-T deliveries will begin in December 2008.

A CDR needs to demonstrate that the program’s requirements are defined and understood to a point that gives the review board confidence in the team’s ability successfully execute a production contract. In this case key requirements included a survivable command and control capability for the next generation AEHF satellite constellation, plus demonstrated compatibility with the Extremely High Frequency Low Data Rate (EHF LDR) waveform, which forms the basis for future Advanced EHF (AEHF) waveforms and block upgrades. SCA-compliant EHF LDR compatibility also provides a base for hosting new waveforms being developed for the T-SAT (Transformational Satellite Communications) program. Boeing release.

Dec 11/06: Sub-contractors. ViaSat, Inc. finalizes a $35 million dollar subcontract modification with Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. This award adds additional technical requirements to the ViaSat FAB-T subcontract, and extends ViaSat product development and support through 2011. See ViaSat press release. To date, ViaSat has completed two major FAB-T program deliveries. Acceptance testing on the Prototype phase is complete and has been delivered to the U.S. Air Force as part of the Boeing team FAB-T terminal delivery. Boeing has also taken delivery of the FAB-T engineering development model hardware and software.

Nov 28/06: Mission planning. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Sunnyvale, CA received a $51 million cost-plus-award fee contract modification. This modification of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) MILSATCOM Systems Wing contract provides for transition from legacy Milstar ground control and mission planning equipment to new AEHF equipment. This realignment is necessary to account for delays in the delivery of new command post terminals, and the need to reduce the operational impact of the transition. This realignment also includes a program decision to upload the final planned increment of satellite software capability before launch rather than afterward, to avoid an interruption to future operations. The effect of these decisions is to extend the turnover date by 7 months for additional preparation and tests, though the launch date remains unchanged. At this time, $8 million have been obligated. Work will be complete May 2010.

Oct 17/06: Boeing has successfully completed a Preliminary Design Review for the FAB-T program, a key milestone. Attended in Anaheim, CA by more than 150 Boeing, senior government and industry officials, the four-day review included presentations from systems, software and hardware teams. Part of the key criteria were that Boeing and its industry team had to show that they had successfully incorporated schedule and requirement changes that are part of the program’s new baseline. See release.


Sept 27/06: Changes. Boeing Co. C3 Networks in Anaheim, CA received a $465.9 million cost-plus award fee contract modification. This modification will incorporate Engineering Change Proposal 0020 replan into the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line of Sight Terminals (FAB-T) increment 1 program. FAB-T terminals will connect soldiers or military platforms like planes, ships, et. al. with the AEHF constellation. The ECP 0020 replan addresses changes necessary to implement an executable program within cost and schedule objectives that will support AEHF requirements.

Specifically, the replan addresses the following: program overruns; requirements deferrals and accelerations; requirements deletions; pending requirements changes that will enable FAB-T to meet external requirements from concurrently evolving systems e.g., the AEHF payloads; and the INFOSEC module for FAB-1. The replan also includes the option to support government interoperability testing. Work will be complete December 2011. The Headquarters 653d Electronic Systems Wing at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issued the contract (F19628-02-C-0048/P00095).

NB. The DefenseLINK release adds that “at this time, $1,761,770 have been obligated,” – which makes little sense as it is 4 times larger than the contract award. We’ve asked PA POC Monica Morales at (781) 377-8543 to clarify.

FY 2002 – 2005

SDD contract.

March 10/05: Crypto issues. The NSA (National Security Agency) issued modified handling instructions during development, integration and testing of the FAB-T modem processor group, because of delays in their Cryptographics Verification and Design Verification testing of the ACTS cryptographic devices. In order to comply with the modified ACTS handling guidance, Boeing in Anaheim, CA received a $10.5 million cost-plus award-fee Undefinitized Contract Action (UCA) for Contract Change Proposal (CCP)-0011: ACTS (Security Chip) Handling procedures. This guidance requires physical security and emanation protection of the test facility, and will limit contact with the test equipment to personnel with appropriate clearances. The Headquarters Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issued the contract (F19628-02-C-0048, P00051), which is expected to end in September 2008.

Dec 21/04: Program slips. The U.S. Air Force announces that the AEHF program has suffered a 1-year schedule slip, and cost growth of about 20%. The first launch of the 3 planned satellites is now slated for April 2008 rather than 2007 [Source]. In its release, the USAF cites:

“…unavoidable delays and cost growth due to delayed delivery of information-assurance [signal-encryption] products, and the resulting delay of terminals required for satellite command and control… replacement of critical electronic parts and added payload component testing…”

Program slips

Dec 8/04: Changes. The Boeing Co. in Anaheim, CA receives a $42.5 million cost-plus award-fee contract modification for Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T), ECP 0011: Incorporated of additional Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) COMSEC/TRANSEC System (ACTS) chip and keying material delays into the FAB-T baseline; and update of FAB-T and AEHF baseline specifications. This contract modification incorporates both the most recent ACTS-related delays and synchronization with the maturing AEHF specifications. These modifications will be incorporated into 16 AEHF Engineering Development Models of terminals for the B-2, B-52, E-4, E-6, and RC-135 aircraft and for ground-fixed and ground-transportable command post terminals. At this time, $10 million has been obligated and work will be complete by September 2008. The Headquarters Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issued the contract (F19628-02-C-0048, P00040). The DefenseLINK release adds that:

“ACTS chip and ACTS keying material delays have occurred since FAB-T contract F19628-02-C-0048 award, driving schedule delays in both the AEHF and FAB-T schedules. In addition, AEHF system-level and inter-segment specifications have matured through working groups involving the government, Boeing, and the AEHF system contractor team.”

Aug 24/04: Changes. Boeing Co. in Anaheim, CA receives a $20.2 million cost-plus award-fee contract modification to bring FAB-T into line with changes in the AEHF specification. At this time, $2.1 million of the funds have been obligated, and work will be complete by December 2007. The Headquarters Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA issued the contract (F19628-02-C-0048, P00028). The DefenseLINK release openly acknowledges that:

“At the time the FAB-T contract F19628-02-C-0048 was signed, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) specifications referenced in the contract were not complete and/or mature. Since that time, the (AEHF) system design and specifications have been maturing through working groups involving the Government, Boeing and the AEHF system Contract Team…”

Aug 04/04: PDR. The Boeing team announces completion of “a highly successful Preliminary Design Review (PDR) in Anaheim,” which included both systems-level and software reviews. See release.

Sept 24/02: The U.S. Air Force’s Electronic Systems Center (ESC) at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA announced Boeing as the prime contractor for a 6-year, $273 million contract to design and develop the first increment of FAB-T. See release.

SDD contract

April 29/02: The Boeing Space and Communications Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) team announces the delivery of their proposal. Boeing Space and Communications (S&C) is leading one of two industry teams competing for a 6-year, $279 million system design and development contract, which will be managed by the MILSATCOM Terminals Office at Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, MA.

The proposal submitted by the Boeing team represents the first increment of the multi-phase program, where the winning team will have sole responsibility for a 6-year period of performance upon award in late June 2002. At the time of release, the initial design period is expected to be followed by the low-rate initial production phase in 2007, and the production phase in 2008. The system is expected to be fully operational by 2009. See release.

Additional Readings & Sources


Related Ground Systems


News & Views

Categories: News

F-35B Hopes to Dispel Operational Awkwardness Concerns on Wasp| Israel Requests 14,500 JDAM Tailkits | al-Abadi in Russia: What We Need Against ISIS is Weapons

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 03:32

  • United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is reportedly in talks with potential buyers regarding its Sikorsky business, with Boeing, Airbus and Lockheed Martin all apparently angling for the sale. The maker of the Black Hawk helicopter, Sikorsky has been on the auction block for a while now, with a foreign buyer a href=”,Authorised=false.html?”>more likely as the Pentagon would likely not allow much more consolidation in the US helicopter market. Mexico recently requested three of the company’s UH-60M transport helicopters.

  • As part of the Marine Corps’ F-35B trials currently taking place aboard USS Wasp, a F135 engine has been flown onto the ship to assess the aircraft’s ability to be repaired at sea. The engine uses a modular design to facilitate the swapping out of components, with this also making the entire engine transportable by a single MV-22 Osprey.

  • General Atomics was awarded a production contract for eight additional MQ-9 Reaper Block 5 UAVs on Wednesday, with this $72.1 million contract following a similar $279.1 million order for 24 of the aircraft last month.


  • Russia is reportedly seeking to develop a tracked version of its Pantsir anti-air system for use in the Arctic. The Defense Ministry has stated that it intends to possess a self-sufficient Arctic force by 2018, with the Kremlin becoming increasingly assertive in the region over recent months.

  • Boeing has delivered the second of four upgraded AWACS aircraft to the French Air Force, with this resulting in the French fleet achieving Initial Operating Capability. The first of the four was delivered last July, with Boeing awarded the $323.9 million contract in January 2010.

  • The French Navy has also successfully fired [French] the Missile de Croisière Naval aboard the lead FREMM frigate, the Aquitaine. Five FREMM frigates are scheduled to be delivered to the French Navy by 2019, with eight having been ordered to date. The French recently offered the Missile de Croisière Naval to Poland to equip its future fleet of submarines.

  • One of the Mistral LHDs originally destined for Russia departed St. Nazaire on Wednesday for a third set of sea trials. The Sébastopol is one of two Mistrals at the heart of a diplomatic spat between Paris and Moscow, with negotiations having begun earlier this week.

Middle East

  • Israel has requested 14,500 JDAM tail kits in a potential sale worth $1.9 billion. Israel previously ordered 3,000 upgraded JDAM kits in November last year, with these upgrades for the ultra-tightly coupled (UTC) capability, with that delivery set for November 2016.

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi travelled to Russia on Wednesday, reportedly to seek additional arms to fight IS. Iraq has bought significant quantities of Russian hardware in recent years, with the US also sending significant quantities to the beleaguered state. Al-Abadi is due to meet Putin on Thursday.


  • India’s publicly-owned Hindustan Shipyard Ltd is reportedly seeking to partner with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries to construct warships for the Indian Navy. The warships potentially covered in the agreement include submarines and destroyers. HHI assembled South Korea’s Type-214 submarines and KDX-III AEGIS destroyers.

  • India’s indigenous Astra missile reportedly missed out on a test scheduled for Monday owing to a technical problem with the SU-30MKI assigned to launch the missile. This news came alongside the crash of a Flanker on Tuesday, with this the third such crash involving the Russian-manufactured fighter in five years, raising concerns over reliability. The Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missile conducted a successful test last month, the latest in a series of live-firings.

  • Singapore will equip the last of its Formidable-class frigates with French manufacturer Thales’ STIR 1.2 EO Mk2 radar and electro-optical tracking system. The system also equips the Royal Navy of Oman’s Al-Ofouq-class patrol vessels.

Today’s Video

  • A JDAM destroying an artillery position…

Categories: News

JDAM: A GPS-INS Add-on Adds Accuracy to Airstrikes

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 03:03
B-2 drops JDAM
(click to view full)

Precision bombing has been a significant military goal since the invention of the Norden bomb sight in the 1920s, but its application remained elusive. Over 30 years later, in Vietnam, the destruction of a single target could require 300 bombs, which meant sending an appropriate number of fighters or bombers into harm’s way to deliver them. Even the 1991 Desert Storm war with Iraq featured unguided munitions for the most part. The USAF some laser and TV-guided weapons like Paveway bombs and Maverick missiles, but they were very expensive, and only effective in good weather. If precision bombing was finally to become a reality throughout the Air Force, a new approach would be needed. The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) became that alternative, an engine of military transformation that was also a model of procurement transformation.

DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This DID FOCUS Article looks at the transformational history of the JDAM GPS-guided bomb program, the ongoing efforts to bring its capabilities up to and beyond the level of dual-mode guidance kits like Israel’s Spice and Raytheon’s Enhanced Paveway, and the contracts issued under the JDAM program since its inception.[updated]

JDAM: A Timely History of Transformation JDAM family
(click to view full)

JDAM’s core concept goes back several decades. A group of researchers and engineers at Eglin AFB in Florida had been looking at a new way to guide a bomb to its target since the 1980s. This group came up with the idea of using inertial navigation systems (INS), which measure acceleration to compute distance and direction traveled from a known point, in order to guide a device to another pre-plotted point.

After the USAF’s review of the 1991 Desert Storm conflict and its subsequent findings, the technology was ready to be taken off the shelf. By that time, the USA had also built a robust Global Positioning System, with capabilities reserved only for military users. The GPS system itself was capable of unaided accuracy to within about 3 feet, no matter what the weather was like. The reaction times involved in guiding a bomb wouldn’t achieve 3-foot accuracy, and even 3 feet wasn’t quite as accurate as laser-guided weapons. Nor would the initial JDAMs be able to hit moving targets, as laser-guided weapons did. On the other hand, lasers could be blocked by fog, sand, etc., while JDAM’s INS/GPS guidance modes were impervious to weather.

MK80 Bomb Structure

Initial development work showed promise. Unfortunately, that only solved part of the problem. Laser and TV guided precision weapons were expensive. JDAM already had promise as one thing they weren’t: an all-weather weapon. To become more than a niche player, however, it would have to be something else its competition wasn’t: cheap.

A bit of luck helped the program along that path. The stepped up urgency around the JDAM program coincided with some of the 1990s military acquisition reform initiatives, which aimed to reduce the system’s immense bureaucratic weight. JDAM was one of just 7 pilot programs to receive special waivers that sidestepped a number of expensive and time-consuming regulations. The program took full and proper advantage. Roy Handsel, a project manager with the JDAM Squadron:

“Previously, companies dealing with the government were required to provide extensive cost data to justify prices. This complicated and labor intensive information gathering put many small manufacturing shops out of the running for government contracts. But with waivers … small businesses across America could be subcontracted … to produce the subassemblies that make up a JDAM.”

JDAM strike
(click to view full)

By the time they were done, JDAM was a tail kit that could be attached to existing Mk 80 family ‘dumb’ bombs, turning them into affordable precision weapons with a range of up to 15 miles, depending on their altitude and speed at the release point.

The JDAM program was accelerated in 1995, as low-rate initial production was moved up 9 months, to the latter half of FY 1997. All 22 weapons tested during this interval performed successfully, including overall Circular Error Probable (CEP) of 10.3 meters, significantly better than the program’s 13 meter requirement. JDAM was certified as operational capable on the B-2 in July 1997. Limited Initial Operational Capability was achieved on the B-52 in December 1998.

Then came Kosovo, aka. Operation Allied Force in 1999. JDAMs were used from B-2 bombers at rate that nearly equaled manufacturing capacity. Approximately 650 JDAMs, containing approximately 1.4 million pounds of high explosive, were dropped on military and infrastructure targets. The Joint Chiefs of Staff directed rapid acceleration of production, and soon F/A-18 Hornets were also formally authorized as JDAM-capable, with other aircraft certifications following as the program ramped up. The DoD eventually picked McDonnell Douglas to develop 87,000 of these tail kits over the program’s lifetime for the USAF and Navy – at just $18,000 apiece in then-year dollars, instead of the original $40,000 estimate.

(click to view full)

Two years later, as the ruins of the World Trade Center were still smoking, the USAF was ready.

By mid-December 2001, the first 9 weeks of intense air strikes over Afghanistan had consumed about half of the 10,000 or so JDAM kits in inventory. Among the 18,000 munitions expended, half were precision-guided. Fully half of those were JDAMs, and they were put to very creative uses by Special Forces teams on the ground. From Bob Woodward’s book “Bush At War“:

“The Northern Alliance was trying to induce defections from the Taliban itself, but the CIA could come in and offer cash. The agency’s hand would often be hidden as the negotiations began — $10,000 for this sub-commander and his dozens of fighters, $50,000 for this bigger commander and his hundreds of fighters. In one case, $50,000 was offered to a commander to defect. Let me think about it, the commander said. So the Special Forces A-team directed a J-DAM precision bomb right outside the commander’s headquarters. The next day, they called the commander back. How about $40,000? He accepted.”

The JDAM kits’ price rose slightly with inflation etc. to about $30,000 each, but FY 2010 figures indicate a drop back to about $25,000. Their bargain basement price and proven performance have made JDAM a standout on both the battlefield and the procurement field. Pentagon documents give an official figure of less than 5 meters CEP (50% of bombs fall within 5m of target) when GPS is available, and less than 20 meters CEP using inertial navigation if GPS is absent or jammed.

As JDAM’s success gathers steam, the transformation it brought has spread beyond its associated programs. American weapons like the AGM-154 JSOW long-range glide bomb/cruise missile have incorporated aspects of JDAM technology, and the JDAM concept – whether implemented via Navstar GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, or other systems – can be expected to be a standard feature of future weapons around the world. China’s Lei Shi 6 glide bomb, France’s rocket-boosted AASM, Russia’s KAB-500S-E, South Africa’s Umbani/ Al-Tariq, and other foreign products are already competing directly with JDAM. In the dual-guidance LJDAM’s market segments, Sagem’s AASM, RAFAEL’s GPS/IIR Spice, and Raytheon/Lockheed enhanced Paveway variants have created an even more competitive environment.

JDAM: Program & Variants

According to Boeing, by 2012 over 230,000 JDAM kits had been bought by the USA and “more than 26″ allied countries. Conversations with Boeing, and DID research, indicate that the following platforms have been integrated to use JDAMs:

(click to view full)

Boeing would not confirm integrations beyond US military platforms, except to state that JDAMs have also been integrated with “earlier” F-16 and F/A-18 variants, and that that all F-15E Strike Eagle family variants are JDAM compatible. This includes the new stealth-enhanced F-15SE.


By early 2002, the Boeing JDAM production facility in St. Charles, MO was working 3 shifts around the clock; Boeing ramped up deliveries from 750 a month during winter 2001, to 2,000 per month in October 2002, and 2,800 per month by August 2003. Production was expected to increase to 5,000 per month with the addition of a new assembly line, and the need to replenish stocks drawn down by war on the Afghan and Iraqi fronts kept demand high. US orders have tailed off sharply, but JDAM’s popularity around the world ensures that the line won’t be closing any time soon. US budgetary requests have included both regular buys, and supplemental/”OCO” purchases to replenish wartime use:

In addition to Boeing, the core JDAM production team includes:

DID doesn’t cover the GFE items as part of this article; obviously, both items have applications that reach far beyond JDAM. The Joint Programmable Fuze System has a variable delay setting that may be programmed manually or from the cockpit, giving their attached bombs good versatility against a range of targets.

JDAM: Variants (click to view full)

The tail kit + a Mk.80 family weapon creates a JDAM. If a nose kit is added, other targeting modes like laser guidance can be added. To extend range, a wing kit can be attached to the main bomb body. Mixing and matching Mk.80 bomb bodies with the tail kit, plus some combination of optional nose or wing kits creates the full range of JDAM models. Completed JDAM weapons have designations that primarily reflect the size of the base bomb.

Sub-designations exist to distinguish USAF from USMC/USN weapons, but DID has left those out for simplicity. The big difference? Naval variants are “thermally protected,” which means they use explosives that are less likely to detonate if the ship they’re on is hit.

with JDAM-ERs
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As the chart above shows, JDAM’s spreading popularity means is creating demands for new variants and add-ons, official or otherwise. While there’s no co-marketing agreement in place, European firm MBDA is already touting its own “Diamondback” kit as a potential add-on; Diamondback equips the Small Diameter Bomb, and was originally tested in 2000 with full JDAM versions.

In an odd turn of fate, JDAM’s popularity is even causing it to lose its “alternative” status, and emulate the very laser-guided weapons it was intended to supplant.

The LJDAM (Laser JDAM) kit adds a DSU-38 or DSU-40 laser guidance module to the standard JDAM INS/GPS kit. The combination improves accuracy to 1m CEP or less. It also allows the weapon to target moving objects, using GPS/INS to get the weapon into the vicinity, and laser guidance for the final strike. This combination creates a more versatile and standardized weapon set, and gives aircraft on station an option that lets them hit transient “pop up” targets of opportunity, without having to be within laser sighting range themselves. In exchange, of course, LJDAM costs more. LJDAM’s 1st combat use came in Iraq, in August 2008.

The closely related US Navy Direct Attack Moving Target Capability (DAMTC) weapon was first delivered in October 2008. It’s very similar to LJDAM, with some maneuvering enhancements, explosive materials optimized for naval use, and a few minor configuration changes.

SDB, in attack mode
(click to view full)

The 250 pound GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb program is a direct outgrowth of JDAM technology. It incorporates a more streamlined bomb shape and pop-out wings. These modifications give it a longer glide range, as well as performance against hardened targets equivalent to a 2,000 pound conventional bomb. The difference is an aircraft that can carry 8 GBU-39s in place of a single 2,000 pound GBU-31 bomb, dramatically expanding its capabilities.

JDAM: Contracts and Key Events JDAMs into B-1B:
Libya 2011
(click to view full)

Unless otherwise specified, contracts are awarded by The Headquarters 308th Armament Systems Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. Unless otherwise specified, contracts are issued to Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St Louis, MO.

DID doesn’t cover Joint Programmable Fuze contracts here. They are used in JDAM variants, offering variable detonation delay settings that may be programmed manually or from the cockpit, but they’re also used in other weapons.

FY 2014 – 2015

(click to view full) Boom!
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May 21/15: Israel has requested 14,500 JDAM tail kits in a potential sale worth $1.9 billion. Israel previously ordered 3,000 upgraded JDAM kits in November last year, with these upgrades for the ultra-tightly coupled (UTC) capability, with that delivery set for November 2016.

March 2/15: New wing kits extend range, get new designation. Australia tests new wing kits called the JDAM ER (standing for extended range), tripling range from 24 miles to 72 miles. They were launched out of F/A-18s. The RAAF will purchase the kits later in 2015 pending additional certification tests.

Nov 24/14: Israel. Israel is buying 3,000 JDAM tail kits with “the ultra-tightly coupled capability,” using a maximum $82.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification. This isn’t Israel’s first buy (q.v. Dec 12/10 request, April 12/13).

Work will be performed at St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete by Nov 30/16. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center at Hill AFB, UT (FA8213-15-D-0002, DO 0001, MOD 02).

Israel: 3,000

July 7/14: Singapore. The US DSCA officially announces Singapore’s export request for JDAM and LJDAM kits, “to sustain its air-to-ground weapons stockpiles and to accommodate training expenditures.” The DSCA explains that beyond building their stocks on Singapore:

“Singapore maintains a large CONUS F-15SG training presence at Mountain Home AFB. A portion of these munitions are anticipated for use at this CONUS training facility, and will enable RSAF pilots to practice using GPS-guided munitions that will further refine their combat capability.”

The JDAMs could also be used by Singapore’s F-16C/Ds. Boeing in St. Louis is the prime contractor, and the estimated cost is $63 million for:

  • 913 KMU-556B/B JDAM kits for Mk-84 2000 lb bombs
  • 100 FMU-152A/B fuzes
  • 300 DSU-40 Precision Laser Guidance Sets
  • Containers, munition trailers, support equipment, spare and repair parts, test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and other forms of support.

Sources: DSCA #14-18, “Singapore – Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) Kits”.

DSCA: Singapore request for JDAM/LJDAM

April 17/14: SAR. The Pentagon releases its Dec 31/13 Selected Acquisitions Report. For JDAM, program cost is going up because they’re ordering more:

“Program costs increased $788.0 million (+12.2%) from $6,441.8 million to $7,229.8 million, due primarily to a quantity increase of 30,758 tailkits from 181,830 to 212,588 (+$712.6 million) and associated schedule and estimating allocations (+$68.0 million).”

Orders up

April 1/14: R&D. A maximum $80 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract covers JDAM technical support for studies and analysis, product improvement, upgrades, integration (including, but not limited to, software integration, aircraft integration, and associated hardware) and testing. Work will be performed in Missouri with an expected completion date of March 31/19.

$4.3 million is committed immediately, using FY14 USAF and USN funding. This is a sole source acquisition by USAF Life Cycle Management Center/EBDK at Eglin AFB, FL (FA8681-14-D-0028).

Feb 27/14: A $49.8 million contract modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract for the full rate production of 3,500 Precision Laser Guidance Set (PLGS) units and 5,000 kits to convert the PLGS units from the DSU-38/B configuration to the DSU-38A/B for the USAF. These are the front ends used in LJDAMs (q.v. April 19/13), and it’s our guess that the key change involves retrofitting tougher sapphire lenses (q.v. Jan 17/13).

All funds are committed, using FY 2014 USAF ammunition budgets. Work will be performed in Fort Worth, TX (57%); St. Charles, MO (17%); Cincinnati, OH (12%); Greenville, SC (5%); Minneapolis, MN (4%); Glen Riddle, PA (3%); Danville, VA (1%); and Georgetown, TX (1%), and is expected to be complete in February 2016. US NAVAIR in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0030).

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The JDAM is included, but only under systems like the F-35 that have been testing it. The MQ-9 continues to have issues:

“DOT&E rescinded the 2009 GBU-38 500-pound JDAM FDE plan in February 2013 due to lack of progress in maturing software capabilities to support an operational evaluation with the current MQ-9 OFPs. AFOTEC will test JDAM during FOT&E of the MQ-9 Increment One system.”

FY 2013

Lot 17 buys; Request and purchase from Israel; Foreign sales; Laser SDB-I; JDAM-ER production partner picked; South Korea competes with their KGGB. F-35A drops JDAM
(click to view full)

June 27/13: Lot 17. A $39.5 million contract option adds 1,601 JDAM tailkits to Lot 17 (q.v. Dec 21/12), split $14.9 million baseline funds plus $24.6 million supplementary (OCO) funds. This brings the total contract to $141.9 million. Pro-rating this cost per tailkit would give us 5,751 for FY 2013, though the American budget for that year is 4,678.

All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2013 Ammunition budgets. Work will be performed at Saint Charles, MO, and is expected to be complete by March 31/15. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/EBDK at Eglin AFB, FL manages the contract (FA8681-13-C-0063, PO 0006).

April 19/13: A $17.7 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for full rate production of Laser JDAM front ends. The total contract involves 1,496 DSU-38/B precision laser guidance sets and appropriate shipping containers for the US Navy (509/ $5.6M/ 31%), USAF (463/ $5.1M/ 29%) and the governments of Saudi Arabia (496/ $6.7M/ 38%) and Japan (28/ $375,970/ 2%). The buy will use Foreign Military Sale funds, as well as FY 2013 USAF and USN ammunition budgets.

Work will be performed in St. Charles, MO, and is expected to be complete in February 2015. US Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0030).

LJDAM: USA, Saudi Arabia, Japan

April 12/13: Israel. A $65.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for 2,701 JDAM tail kits, which would only represent a part of Dec 10/12 DSCA request.

Work will be performed at St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be completed by March 31/15. The contract involves foreign military sales (FMS) to Israel, with the AFLCMC/EBDKI at Eglin AFB, FL acting as Israel’s FMS agent (FA8681-13-C-0093).


March 15/13: FMS. Boeing in St. Louis, MO receives a $99.9 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed-fee and indefinite-quantity/ indefinite-delivery contract for production assets (JDAM kits), spares, repairs and sustainment. The contract involves foreign military sales, but they won’t say to whom.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, until Jan 31/16, using foreign military sales funding. USAF Life Cycle Management Command’s EBDK at Eglin AFB, FL manages this contract, as an agent for its foreign customer (FA8681-13-D-0102).

Purchase – but by whom?

March 13/13: JDAM-ER. The Royal Australian Air Force became Boeing’s first JDAM-ER customer in 2011. Now, Boeing announces that they’ve picked Ferra Engineering in Australia to build the wing kits, after partnering with Hawker de Havilland to create them. The kit is reported to give this 500-pound laser/GPS dual-guidance weapon a range of up to 55 nm/ 102 km, when launched at high speed and altitude. By now, however, this is no longer a unique offering. In September 2012, South Africa’s Denel and the UAE’s Tawazun signed a partnership to take their similar but larger Umbani (“Al-Tariq”) GPS glide bomb concept to market around the globe.

Ferra was Boeing’s 2011 International Supplier of the Year, who also does work for the Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter, and for Boeing’s Commercial Aviation Services group. Boeing.

Jan 17/13: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2012 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The F-22A Raptor’s radar and sensors let it drop JDAMs and SDB-I bombs accurately and reliably, but the MQ-9 Reaper drone remains in limbo with JDAM, and hasn’t resolved and tested the fuzing and weapons envelope discrepancies identified in 2010. Meanwhile, the Laser JDAM’s glass lens covering took a real beating in Afghanistan, to the point that Boeing had to develop a sapphire lens instead.

The Navy’s DAMTC LJDAM gets the most coverage. It benefited from the sapphire lens switch, and reliability was 98%, but 3 operator errors and an unexplained miss knocked it down to 77%. Demonstrated accuracy was 5.8m CEP in self-lasing mode, but buddy lasing tests went poorly. DOT&E think test range and target limitations may be the difference, and isn’t overly concerned. They also cite the high cockpit workload of using LJDAM, but that’s the same problem faced by all laser-guided weapons. Apparently, targeting pod limitations are the common cause.

DOT&E is very critical of the dense wiring inside the DAMTC tail kit, which makes verifying fuze arming and function settings extremely difficult, especially at night. Workarounds are worse than the problem, and they’d like this issue fixed. Since DOT&E declared DAMTC operationally effective and suitable, however, their recommendation doesn’t have a lot of push behind it. It will be up to the US Navy.

Jan 14/13: KGGB competitor. South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) and 20 defense firms, including LIG Nex1, have jointly developed the extended range, 500 pound Korea GPS-Guided Bomb (KGGB) with a 5-year, KRW 40 billion ($378 million) budget. The bombs include GPS/INS guidance and a wing kit, with a claimed range of 100 km at maximum launch altitude and speed. Cost is reportedly KRW 100 million each (about $97,600).

The KGGB is “designed to take out North Korean artillery positions concealed behind mountains.” The weapon’s big question is accuracy, depending on its allowed level of GPS M-code signal access. Then again, if the core problem is the artillery and rockets near Seoul, ground stations could be used to create fantastic GPS precision on top of a civilian signal.

This isn’t a JDAM modification – it’s a JDAM competitor. South Korea’s ADD is talking about using these bombs on old F-5 and F-4 fighters, which implies an integration method that doesn’t require rewiring the planes, or adding MIL-STD-1760 databus technology. That could make the KGGB attractive on the export market. The standard alternatives in the industry are to either rely on pre-programmed targets that are set before takeoff, or use a wireless link and a separate control pad for the pilot. Yonhap News | Chosun Ilbo | Korea Times.

Dec 21/12: Lot 17. A $118 million firm-fixed-price contract to procure JDAM Production Lot 17 Guided Vehicle kits. Work will be performed in St. Charles, MO until March 31/15 (FA8681-13-C-0063)

Dec 19/12: Laser SDB. An $8.9 million firm-fixed price and cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Laser Small Diameter Bombs (LSDB) retrofits, LSDB guided test vehicles, storage/shipping containers; and production, engineering, integration and test support. Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO, and is expected to be complete by Dec 31/13 (FA8656-13-C-0053).

The AFLCMC/PZJ at Eglin Air Force Base, FL is listed as the managing agency, but inquiries are directed to US SOCOM, who do not respond to questions. The is a GBU-53 SDB-II program underway top field a tri-mode GPS/laser/MW radar guided weapon, but a near-term laser retrofit would allow SDB-I capable aircraft and UAVs to begin attacking moving targets. SOCOM’s MQ-9 MALET/Reaper UAVs would be an obvious candidate, since the SDB’s all-weather versatility and precision strike design fit extremely well with SOCOM’s needs. Beyond US SOCOM, the USAF’s high-end F-22A Raptor would probably be the most immediate beneficiary of a Laser SDB.

Laser SDB-I

Dec 10/12: Israel. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Israel’s formal request to buy a variety of JDAM-related items, at an estimated cost of up to $647 million. The request includes 6,900 JDAM tail kits and their associated bombs, whose numbers match exactly. That’s significant, because IMI makes its own JDAM-certified MPR-500 bomb for hardened targets. The exact requests break down as:

  • 1,725 MK-82 500 pound bombs
  • 1,725 KMU-572 tail kits for MK-82s, creating GBU-38s
  • 3,450 MK-84 2,000 pound bombs
  • 3,450 JDAM Anti-Jam KMU-556 tail kits for MK-84s, creating GBU-31s
  • 1,725 BLU-109 2,000 pound “bunker buster” forged casing bombs
  • 1,725 KMU-557 tail kits for BLU-109s, creating the GBU-31v3/B
  • 3,450 GBU-39s: 250 pound Small Diameter Bombs
  • 11,500 FMU-139 Fuses
  • 11,500 FMU-143 Fuses
  • 11,500 FMU-152 Fuses

Plus spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, and other forms of US Government and contractor support. The principal contractors will be:

  • The Boeing Company in St. Charles, MO (JDAMs, SDB-I)
  • General Dynamics in Garland, TX (Bombs)
  • Kaman Dayron in Orlando, FL (Fuzes)
  • ATK in Edina, MI
  • Elwood National Forge Co. in Irvine, PA
  • KDI Precision Products in Cincinnati, OH
  • Lockheed-Martin Missile and Fire Control in Archibald, TN
  • Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ

Israel already has these weapons in inventory, and implementation of this proposed sale won’t require any additional personnel from the USA.

Israel request

FY 2012

VFMA-122, Kandahar
(click for full picture)

July 16/12: DAMTC/LJDAM. A $22.8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification exercises an option for 2,384 US Navy Direct Attack Moving Target (DAMTC, Laser JDAM variant) weapons, including shipping containers.

Work will be performed in St. Charles, MO, and is expected to be complete in February 2014. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year, on Sept 30/12. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages this contract (N00019-10-C-0030)

July 10/12: Australia’s JDAM-ER. Australia’s government announces that their Enhanced JDAM has completed its 1st round of testing, and provides details regarding this variant.

Australia’s JDAM-ER will have the Extended Range wing kit that boost range to over 40 miles, developed as part of a Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program by Australia’s DSTO and Boeing. That kit is likely to be available for international sale through the newly established Australian Military Sales Office.

Australia’s final bombs will actually be more like LJDAM-ERs, with dual-mode laser/GPS guidance, and a warhead designed for low collateral damage. The program began on Oct 19/05, with a contract for Australia’s “AIR 5409 Bomb Improvement Program.” Australian DoD | Boeing.

May 14-16/12: LJDAMs from B-1B. B-1 Lancer aircrews from Ellsworth AFB, SD employ GBU-54 Laser JDAMs against moving targets during the Combat Hammer exercise, from May 14 – 16. It’s the 1st operational release from this type of aircraft. USAF.


May 10/12: A $24 million cost-plus-fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract for indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity for JDAM technical support, to include non-warranty induction and repair, annual software updates, mission planning support, studies, and analysis.

Work will be performed in St. Louis, MO by Dec 31/13. The AAC/EBDK at Eglin AFB, FL is the contracting activity (FA8681-05-D-0277, PO 0025).

March 12/12: DAMTC/ LJDAM. A $12.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification, exercising an option for 1,116 DAMTC laser/GPS guidance kits and appropriate shipping containers, plus 640 hours of production engineering and logistics support services. This is NAVAIR’s 3rd Low Rate Initial Production order for its Direct Attack Moving Target Capability (DAMTC).

Work will be performed in St. Charles, MO, and deliveries are expected to be complete in February 2013. This contract is managed by US Naval Air Systems Command, in Patuxent River, MD (N00019-10-C-0030). See also Boeing release.

Feb 14/12: Lot 16. Boeing receives an $111.4 million “predominantly firm-fixed-price contract” for 4,844 JDAMs. Work will be performed in St. Charles, MO, and is expected to be complete by May 2014 (FA8681-12-C-0160, PO 0002). When asked, Boeing said that:

“In 2011, the U.S. Air Force announced contract awards totaling $180 million for nearly 7,500 Lot 15 JDAM tail kits. Boeing received a $126 million contract from the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 30, 2011, and [this contract, too], for approximately 10,000 JDAM tail kits for Lot 16. Deliveries for these [Lot 16] tail kits will begin in May 2013 and continue through May 2014.”

Feb 12/12: MPR-500 JDAM. Israel Military Industries announces [PDF] that their Multi-Purpose Rigid 500-pound bomb has been certified with Boeing for use with the JDAM kit. It has more penetrating power and less fragmentation than the conventional Mk.82.

Israeli variant

Feb 3/12: Polish request. The US DSCA announces Poland’s official request for F-16 weapons, as well as a 5 year fleet support contract that includes associated equipment, parts, and training. The entire contract set could be worth up to $447 million, and includes up to “200 GBU-54 (2000 lb) Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) Bombs”. Which doesn’t make sense, because the GBU-54 is a 500 pound weapon. What Boeing could say, was that:

“The GBU-56 Laser JDAM [DID: q.v. Sept 28/10 entry] includes the 2,000-pound MK-84 warhead and has been developed by Boeing. Final certification flight testing is planned by the USAF on behalf of our international customers and is expected to be completed within the next 12-18 months… you’ll need to contact the Dept. of Defense or DCMA for clarification on whether they meant GBU-54 or GBU-56.”

See “2012-02: Poland Requests F-16 Weapons, Support” for full coverage.

Poland & the GBU-56

Jan 30/12: An $8.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for another 700 precision laser guidance set kits. The US Air Force will receive them, and subsequent releases reveal that they’ll be used to maintain GBU-54 Laser JDAM inventory levels.

Work will be performed in Haifa, Israel (37%); Fort Worth, TX (32%); and St. Charles, MO (31%), and is expected to be complete in August 2012. $1.3 million will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. US Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD manages the contract (N00019-10-C-0030).

Dec 2/11: Lot 16. A $125.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for Production Lot 16: 4,977 JDAM Guided Vehicle tail kits of various types. This is actually a contract option, but it’s exercised as a separate contract. Work will be performed at St. Charles, MO, and is expected to be completed May 31/14 (FA8681-12-C-0160).

See also Boeing release, which states that a full-rate production decision on the Laser JDAM sensors is expected in “early 2012.”

Nov 30/11: UAE request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] the UAE’s official request to buy 4,900 JDAM kits for up to $304 million, which breaks out as:

  • 304 GBU-54 Laser JDAM kits for 500 pound bombs, with 304 DSU-40 Laser Sensors
  • 3,000 GBU-38v1 JDAM GPS/INS kits and BLU-111 500 pound bombs
  • 1,000 GBU-31v1 JDAM GPS/INS kits and BLU-117 2,000 pound bombs
  • 600 GBU-31v3 JDAM GPS/INS kits and BLU-109 2,000 pound Hard Target Penetrator bombs
  • 4 BDU-50C inert bombs
  • Plus fuzes, weapons integration, munitions trainers, personnel training and training equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, and other US government and contractor support.

The weapons are explicitly slated for the UAE’s F-16E/F Block 60 fleet, which may be slated to grow soon, and are designed to “help the UAE AF&AD become one of the most capable air forces in the region, thereby serving U.S. interests by deterring regional aggression. These munitions will be used to complement the normal war-readiness reserve stockpile of munitions and provide munitions for routine training requirements.”

UAE request

FY 2011

LJDAM production. Poland, UAE. Tornado ASSTA 3 test
(click to view full)

Aug 31/11: A $14.4 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 602 JDAMs, type unspecified (FA8681-11-C-0111, PO 0004).

May 16/11: Lot 15. Boeing in St. Louis, MO received a $9.3 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 389 MK-82 SAASM/AJ JDAMs under production Lot 15. In English, those are 500 pound JDAM bomb kits, with improved jamming resistance (FA8681-11-C-0111, PO 0003).

May 2/11: Lot 15. A Boeing release refers to:

“The U.S. Air Force announced a $92 million contract for more than 4,000 Lot 15 JDAM kits on March 14. This follows an $88 million contract awarded Jan. 14 for the first 3,500 tail kits in the same lot.”

The award does not list on DefenseLINK for March 14/11 or surrounding days, though the Jan 14/11 award is present and listed below.

May 2/11: LJDAM/DAMTC. US NAVAIR announces that the Navy’s Direct Attack Moving Target Capability (Laser JDAM) has successfully completed the 18th integrated test.

That was supposed to be the final test, but during the testing process, DAMTC made a configuration change to replace the current glass window with one made of sapphire, in order to improve resistance to weather and the elements. To ensure the change doesn’t create problems, 3 additional regression tests were added in July 2011. Operational testing is expected to begin in late summer 2011, with DAMTC slated to reach formal Initial Operating Capability on all F/A-18 family and AV-8B Harrier fighters by late winter 2012. Meanwhile, the weapons are already being used on the front lines.

March 16/11: LJDAM. An $8 million firm-fixed-price contract modification covers first article testing and 700 Low Rate Initial Production laser JDAM retrofit kits, as well as accompanying technical data. The Pentagon’s wording was very unclear, but a Boeing representative said:

“This contract is for the laser sensor kits that can be added to a conventional Mk 82 500-lb JDAM, which turns it into a [GBU-54] Laser JDAM. The sensor allows a conventional JDAM to have the flexibility to prosecute moving targets, relocatable targets and even maritime targets.”

This is LJDAM’s 1st major production order. Work will be performed in St. Charles, MO, and is expected to be complete in March 2012 (N00019-10-C-0030). See also Boeing release.

1st LJDAM production order

Feb 8/11: F-15K integration. The Chosun Ilbo quotes the South Korean ROKAF, who says it has integrated the 2,000 pound GBU-31 JDAM with its KF-16 fighters, as well as its F-15K “Slam Eagles.” After developing the software, the ROKAF successfully carried out 3 tests, and finished pilot training at the end of January 2011.

The report also mentions wing kits, which are absent from normal JDAMs – but not from the 2,000 pound JDAM Extended Range kit, which was being developed by Boeing and South Korea.

KF-16, F-15K… and JDAM-ER?

Feb 7/11: Tornado integration. EADS Cassidian discusses ongoing upgrades of German Luftwaffe Tornado strike/wild weasel aircraft to the ASSTA 3 (Avionics Software System Tornado Ada) standard. Adding Link-16 shared battlespace awareness via MIDS Low Volume Terminals are a key part of that upgrade, which also includes the latest generation radios, a digital video and voice recorder (DVDR), and the dual-guidance Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (LJDAM).

LJDAM integration and launch behavior was verified during test flights in Vidsel, Sweden, in September 2010. In January 2011, Cassidian in Manching, Germany began the flight testing of a Tornado with an ASSTA 3 hardware and software configuration approximating that of series production. As of early February 2011, EADS Cassidian has already started to upgrade the first series aircraft in Manching, and deliveries are scheduled to start in mid-2012.

LJDAM on Tornado

Jan 14/11: Lot 15. An $88 million contract for 3,500 JDAM “Guided Vehicle kits”, or about $25,000 per kit. At this time, the entire amount has been committed (FA8681-11-C-0111).

FY 2010

Lot 14. Singapore. LJDAM vs. Truck
(click for full picture)

Sept 28/10: LJDAM GBU-56. Boeing announces successful tests of the 2,000 pound MK-84 bomb with a Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (Laser JDAM) kit. The tests took place in July 2010 at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. The first 2 of 7 planned tests were dropped from a USAF F-16 test aircraft, flying sub-sonic at 30,000 feet.

An existing JDAM becomes a Laser JDAM with the installation of the Precision Laser Guidance Set (PLGS). The MK-84 PLGS uses the same laser sensor as the 500-pound MK-82’s Laser JDAM kit, which has already been fielded as the GBU-54 with the USAF, US Navy, and internationally.

March 8/10: Lot 14. A $148.7 million contract for 6,565 JDAM guided vehicle kits, under production Lot 14. At this time, all funds have been committed (FA8681-10-C-0072, P00003).

This is the 3rd procurement of a 6-year contract that Boeing received in January 2008. The modification increases the overall value of this phase from $72 million to $229 million, and the overall agreement now has a potential total value of $1.3 billion with deliveries extending through 2015, if all options are exercised. See also Boeing release.

March 2/10: LJDAM/ DAMTC. Boeing announces an $11.4 million contract to supply Laser JDAMs for the U.S. Navy’s Direct Attack Moving Target Capability (DAMTC) initiative. The initial contract calls for the delivery of 23 smart bombs for testing and evaluation, and is expected to lead to a production contract in 2011. With follow-on options, total DAMTC deliveries could reach 11,000 units, and the total contract value could exceed $91 million.

The Navy already operates Laser JDAMs, as well as Lockheed Martin’s similar DMLGB kit, and Raytheon’s Paveway offerings which can include the dual-mode Paveway Plus. Boeing Weapons VP Debbie Rub says that their winning DAMTC offering will improve the Laser JDAM’s moving and maneuvering capability, in order to make it more useful against fast and/or maneuvering targets.

Nov 16/09: Singapore request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Singapore’s official request for JDAM and LJDAM kits, plus support equipment, repair and return, tools and test equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, and other related support. The estimated cost is $40 million, and the request includes:

  • 670 KMU-572B/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) Guidance Kits. These fit on 500 pound Mk82 bombs to create GBU-32 JDAMs, and the “B/B” means they include pin-lock actuators and SAASM (Selective Availability/Anti-Spoofing Module) capability.

  • 670 DSU-38/B Precision Laser Guidance kits, to turn GBU-32 JDAMs into GBU-54v1/B LJDAMs. The Precision Laser Guidance Set consists of the LDSU-38 laser Seeker itself, and a wire harness fixed under the bomb body to connect the DSU-38/B with the JDAM guidance tailkit. For some reason, the DSCA announced this element twice.

  • 670 KMU-572B/B Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) Guidance Kits for 500 pound GBU-28Bv1/B Paveway-II laser-guided bombs.

Singapore already has JDAM guidance kits in its inventory, and will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government and contractor representatives to Singapore.

Singapore request

Oct 28/09: Lot 14. A $72 million contract for Lot XIV JDAM production: 2,925 JDAM Guided Vehicle kits that are attached to the tails of ordinary 500 – 2,000 pound bombs, giving them inertial navigation system and GPS-based guidance (FA8681-10-C-0072).

Oct 8/09: LJDAM exports. Boeing announces Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contracts to provide Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) to 2 unnamed international customers, as part of Aug 17/09’s $98 million contract. The weapons are scheduled for delivery in 2010. Dan Jaspering, Boeing director of Direct Attack Programs, adds that “There are more than 20 countries that have JDAM, and we expect many of them will adopt Laser JDAM within the next few years.”

Other recent developments include a recent Block 08 update to the weapon system’s software, to improve Laser JDAM’s effectiveness against targets that are turning, accelerating or decelerating. Boeing has completed 2 successful maneuvering target missions with the Block 08 software, which is expected to be fielded in 2010.

LJDAM orders

FY 2009

Lot 14. JDAM-ER. LJDAM test from A-10C
(click for full picture)

Aug 17/09: LJDAM. A $98 million cost plus fixed-fee contract to provide production of the Laser JDAM, and integration onto “various Foreign Military Sales aircraft platforms” throughout the life of the contract. At this time no funds have been obligated, which means funds will be spent as orders and tasks come in. The 680th ARSSG/PK at Eglin AFB, FL manages the contract (FA8681-09-D-0065).

Feb 27/09: GBU-31 JDAM-ER. Boeing signs an agreement with Times Aerospace Korea, LLC (TAK) to jointly develop a wing assembly that will create an 2,000 pound JDAM Extended Range (JDAM-ER) variant.

Under the teaming arrangement for this 40-month development program, Boeing and TAK will co-develop, test, and field a JDAM-ER wing kit to convert the 2,000-pound GBU-31 JDAM into a JDAM-ER. Boeing will provide support to help TAK improve its aerospace capabilities, including preparations for production of the JDAM ER wing assembly. Once development and flight tests are successful, TAK would become Boeing’s primary supplier of wing assemblies for all 2,000 pound JDAM-ERs sold around the world. Boeing’s release adds that as of March 31/09, “the baseline JDAM has been sold to the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy, as well as to 22 international customers.”

POSTSCRIPT: Boeing later tells DID that: “TAK management changes resulted in funding challenges and the co-development contract was mutually terminated. However, in March 2012, Boeing selected a development partner to complete the design…”

Dev: 2000 lb. JDAM-ER

Dec 12/08: Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Air Force is considering JDAM-ER kits, one version of which is under development by Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force. Their 500 pound JDAM-ER collaboration is expected to enter Australian service in 2010.

Dec 5/08: Lot 13. A firm fixed price, $106.9 million contract for Lot XIII JDAM production: 4,372 Joint Direct Attack Munition Guided Vehicle kits, for delivery in 2010 and 2011. At this time, the entire amount has been committed (FA8681-09-C-0057). See also Boeing release.

This appears to be a higher number of JDAMs than the official FY 2009 budget request.

Nov 25/08: JDAM-ER. Boeing announces that its Joint Direct Attack Munition Extended Range (JDAM ER) successfully completed testing with HUG-upgraded Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18s in August 2008, exceeding the RAAF’s range and accuracy requirements. Work at the Woomera Test Facility in South Australia was led by the Australian DoD, with support from Boeing. In addition to the firm’s prime integrator role, Boeing subsidiary Hawker de Havilland is the developer of the 500-pound JDAM ER’s wing kits.

Boeing’s JDAM-ER program manager Kevin Holt says that he expects JDAM-ER to move from the flight demonstration phase into Low Rate Initial Production beginning in calendar year 2010. That would turn out to be premature, with testing still ongoing in 2012.

Nov 14/08: LJDAM & A-10C. The USAF announces that an upgraded USAF A-10C has dropped the GBU-54 LJDAM in a successful test. The next step is operational testing to develop tactics and techniques for employing the weapon. If those tests continue to go well, Eglin AFB’s test team may have their feedback as early as January. The goal is to have the LJDAM/A-10C combination deployed on the front lines by early 2009.


Nov 7/08: LJDAM to USN. NAVAIR delivers the first GBU-54 Laser JDAM to the fleet. (See May 18/07 entry). Additional flight tests and clearance activities on the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet are expected to begin later in 2008.

The USN also has the DMLGB program underway, in which Lockheed Martin is converting about 7,000 stockpiled laser-only Paveway guidance kits to dual laser/GPS-INS guidance.NAVAIR | Boeing release.

FY 2008

Germany, South Korea, UAE. F-22A drops JDAM
(click to view full)

Sept 17/08: #200,000. Boeing delivers the 200,000th JDAM tailkit to the USAF, just 10 years after JDAM guidance tailkit deliveries to the United States and allied countries began.

Boeing’s release adds that it is currently under contract to build an additional 11,670 JDAM tailkits for the United States and its allies in the coming years, with additional quantities in the planning stages.


Sept 15/08: LJDAM & B-52H. Airmen at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), LA, load a Boeing Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (LJDAM) onto a B-52H aircraft for a demonstration flight. It was the first time the LJDAM had been carried and delivered from a B-52H. Boeing photo release.


July 24/08: Germany orders LJDAM. Boeing announces that it has signed a contract with Germany for 500 lb. Laser JDAM kits, plus integration support to add them to that country’s Tornado aircraft. This is the first international sale of the LJDAM weapon system. Oddly, it was completed as a mere commercial contract, rather than a foreign military sale of weapons; as such, there is no disclosure requirement regarding costs or numbers.

Delivery of the kits is expected to begin in mid-2009, and the unknown order includes options for unspecified additional kits in 2009.

1st L-JDAM export

June 20/08: South Korean request. South Korea is requesting additional air-air missiles and precision attack weapons for its F-15Ks: 280 JDAM tail kits, 2 load/build trainers; plus AIM-120-C7 AMRAAMs, AGM-54G Mavericks, Paveway II/IIIs, and chaff. Read “South Korea Buying Weapons for its new F-15Ks.”

South Korea request

May 30/08: An $8.6 million contract modification for 300 JDAM High Data Rate Compact Telemetry Units, which are used to gather real-time JDAM weapon data during testing. This procurement also includes 100 HCTM Adapter Kits in support of Test and Integration activities. At this time all funds have been obligated (FA8681-07-C-0002 P00004).

Jan 10/08: Lot 12. A firm-fixed price contract for $115.6 million for 4,907 JDAM Lot 12 Guided Vehicle kits for existing 500, 1000, 2000 pound bombs. At this time all funds have been obligated. The 678 ARSS/PK at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8681-08-C-0001).

Jan 3/08: UAE request. The US DSCA announces the United Arab Emirates’ formal request for 200 GBU-31 JDAM tail kits, as part of a larger weapons request that also includes 224 of the Mk84 2,000 pound bombs they fit to. See full DID coverage.

UAE request

FY 2007

Lot 11. Israel. F-16I “Soufa”
(click to view full)

Aug 3/07: Israel request. The US DSCA announces [PDF] a formal weapons request from Israel that includes 10,000 JDAM kits. The request does not specify which bomb body sizes the tail kits are for, and the rest of the request involves bomb bodies and Paveway laser or laser/GPS kits.

See “Israel Looks to Replenish Bomb Stocks” for full coverage.

Israel request

May 29/07: IGAS anti-jam. Successful completion of developmental flight testing for the JDAM’s forthcoming Integrated GPS Anti-Jam System (IGAS) at the U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, CA. IGAS uses digital signal processing to significantly reduce the impact of GPS jamming.

During the program, testers released five weapons from a U.S. Navy F/A-18 under various mission and GPS jamming scenarios. All five weapons acquired and maintained their GPS coordinates while flying to their targets. Boeing will complete IGAS development in 2007, with deliveries planned to begin in 2008. Boeing release.

May 18/07: LJDAM. A $28.8 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide for Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (LJDAM) Precision Laser Guidance Set (PLGS), quantity of 600 (400 USAF, 200 USN) “In response to a compelling and urgent operational need…”

This effort also involves the management, engineering and logistics support necessary for production qualification and performance verification of the non-development PLGS. At this time, $2.8 million have been obligated. Work will be complete June 2009. The Headquarters Air to Ground Munitions Systems Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8681-07-C-0209). Boeing June 9/07 release.

March 19/07: JDAM-ER. Flying at 20,000 feet over the Woomera Prohibited Area in South Australia, a RAAF F/A-18B released a pair of 500-pound Mk82 JDAM Extended Range (JDAM-ER) weapons and scored a direct hit on their respective targets. The JDAM-ER uses Australian-designed and built modular wing kit developed by Hawker de Havilland, based on technology licensed by Australia Defence Science & Technology Organization. The ER wing kit provides more than three times the range of a baseline JDAM (i.e. over 45 miles) and is designed to be installed in the field as an addition to existing JDAM weapons.

The AIR 5425 JDAM ER test program is a joint effort with the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation, Hawker de Havilland Aerospace Pty. Ltd., and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. The test team conducted the technology demonstration under the Australian Capability Technology Demonstrator Program, managed by the Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), but the design will be exportable to Boeing’s 16 international JDAM customers, some of whom have shown interest in this variant. MBDA’s Diamond Back wing kit is also designed to extend the range of JDAM weapons, and is used on the 250 pound Small Diameter Bomb variant. Boeing release.

Feb 6/07: Lot 11. A $20.6 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for another 784 JDAM production lot 11 Guided Vehicle kits. At this time, total funds have been obligated; work will be complete March 2009 (FA8681-07-C-0002/P00001).

Nov 14/06: Lot 11. A $296 million firm-fixed-price with cost reimbursement contract for 12,889 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) Lot 11 Guided Vehicle (GV) kits. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Solicitations began July 2006, negotiations were complete November 2006, and work will be complete March 2009 (FA8681-07-C-0002).

FY 2006

Lot 10. Pakistan, Norway.

JDAM: loading
(click to view full)

Sept 8/06: An $8.2 million firm-fixed-price contract modification for 287 JDAM High Data Rate Compact Telemetry Units (HCTMs). The JDAM HCTMs are flight test instrumentation hardware, which is used to gather real-time JDAM weapon data during testing. Work will be complete September 2008 (FA8681-06-C-0058/P00004).

June 30/06: LJDAM. A 500 pound Joint Direct Attack Munition with a laser guidance add-on (LJDAM) bomb scores a direct hit from 4 miles away, when dropped by a U.S. Air Force F-16 flying at 20,000 feet over Eglin AFB, FL. Just to make things interesting, the target Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) was moving at 25 mph.

Boeing will complete its development of the 500-pound LJDAM in 2006. Initial production deliveries are planned to begin as early as 2007, giving it a weapon with capabilities similar to Israel’s existing Spice. A previous May 2005 test had also been successful. Boeing release.

June 30/06: Lot 10. A $28 million firm-fixed-price with a cost-reimbursement contract modification for an additional 1,288 lot 10 JDAM guided vehicle kits. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Negotiations were complete in June 2006, and work will be complete March 2008 (FA8681-06-C-0058/P00002).

June 28/06: Pakistan request. Pakistan requests 500 JDAM kits as part of a proposed $5.1 billion deal for F-16 C/Ds (Block 50/52), F-16 fleet upgrades, and weapons. Pakistan eventually buys all of those F-16s and upgrades. Read “$5.1B Proposed in Sales, Upgrades, Weapons for Pakistan’s F-16s” for full coverage.

Pakistan request

June 12/06: JDAM & F-22. The F-22 Combined Test Force team of The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, and the US Air Force successfully tested the F-22’s precision strike capabilities at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The F-22 flew at a speed of Mach 1.5 at 50,000 feet, released a 1,000 pound JDAM from a range of 24 nautical miles to destroy a ground target.

Note the extended range. The drop tested the Raptor’s Launch Acceptability Region (LAR) supersonic algorithm, developed by a Boeing collaboration of F-22, Phantom Works and JDAM engineers. It defines the area in the sky from which the pilot can release a weapon to successfully attack the desired target, factoring in navigation, weather, target and weapon information. Not to mention that range-boosting supersonic speed. See Boeing release.

F-22 supersonic drop

June 1/06: Integration. Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas Corp. in St Louis, MO received a $70 million cost-plus fixed-fee and firm-fixed-price contract. This indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity basic contract is for aircraft integration with the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon system. The Air Force can issue delivery orders totaling up to the maximum amount indicated above. Solicitations began January 2006, negotiations were complete in May 2006, and work will be complete April 2011. The Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract. (FA8681-06-D-0021). As a reminder, the current US Air Force JDAM Fact Sheet notes that:

“JDAM is currently compatible with B-1B, B-2A, B-52H, F-15E, F-14A/B/D, F/A-18E/F, F-16C/D, F/A-22 and F/A-18C/D aircraft. Follow-on integration efforts are currently underway or planned to evaluate compatibility with the A-10, F-117, AV-8B, S-3, Joint Strike Fighter, and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

April 18/06: Super Hornet Hand-off. Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Demonstrates Network Capability in Multiple JDAM Drop. Boeing has successfully demonstrated the capability of an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to provide targeting coordinates to other aircraft using the Raytheon APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar system.

During the test at the Naval Air Weapons Center at China Lake, Calif., an AESA-equipped F/A-18F created a long-range, high resolution synthetic aperture radar map and designated 4 closely-spaced stationary targets. The aircraft then data-linked 2 target designations to non-AESA equipped Super Hornets, which successfully delivered 4 JDAMs (2,000 lb.) “within lethal distance.” The targeting Super Hornet then used the AESA to provide highly detailed bomb damage assessments to confirm the hits. Boeing release.

March 3/06: Lot 10. A $240.6 million firm fixed price with cost reimbursement type for alternate disputes resolution contract for 10,000 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) Lot 10 Guided Vehicle (GV) kits. At this time, total funds have been obligated. Solicitations began in November 2005, negotiations were complete in March 2006, and work will be complete March 2008. The Headquarters Air to Ground Munitions Systems Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8681-06-C-0058).

Feb 20/06: Norway order. Boeing reaches an agreement with Norway to provide the JDAM system to the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) F-16s. The contract includes JDAM guidance kits, F-16 weapon system integration and operational support.

Boeing says that Norway is the 5th member of the European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) to select JDAM, and the 14th international customer. Boeing has produced more than 140,000 JDAM guidance kits from 1998 to February 2006, for the USA and for 14 international customers. Boeing release.


Feb 13/06: Support. A $45 million time and material, firm-fixed-price and cost-plus fixed-fee contract for technical support for the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapon system until the end of 2010. This includes non-warranty inductions and repair, annual software updates, mission planning support and studies/analysis. The Air Force can issue delivery orders totaling up to the maximum amount indicated above, but doesn’t have to spend the full amount. Solicitations began October 2005, negotiations were complete December 2005, and work will be complete by December 2010. The Headquarters Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8681-05-D-0277)

Nov 1/05: GPS. Harris Corporation, best known for its success in the tactical radio market, announced that it has been awarded an $18.2 million follow-on contract by Boeing Integrated Defense Systems to provide Anti-Jam Global Positioning System (AJ GPS) modules for Boeing’s Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) program that turns conventional bombs into smart bombs.

The initial development contract was valued at approximately $3.9 million, bringing the total value of the program for Harris to more than $21 million since 2003. Full production and future options could increase the program’s value for Harris to more than $50 million by 2008.

Oct 25/05: Greece request. Greece requests 6 JDAMs as part of its F-16 C/D (Block 50/52) sale and weapons package. Greece would go on to buy those F-16s.

Greece request

Oct 19/05: JDAM-ER. Australia picks Boeing to provide the JDAM for the AIR 5409 Bomb Improvement Program. The contract covers Australia’s upgraded F/A-18A aircraft, and includes JDAM guidance kits, F/A-18 weapon system integration, and operational support. Numbers and figures were not disclosed. Boeing release.

Dev: Australia’s JDAM-ER

FY 2002 – 2005

Lot 8. HART. Singapore. F-15E: 5 targets
(click to view full)

Sept 20/05: HART Test. A low-cost, UHF network-capable weapon data link from Harris Corporation provided target updates in the successful demonstration of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet’s ability to engage moving land targets with Boeing’s JDAM at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California. The inert weapon was delivered within two meters of the moving target, a radio-controlled panel-side truck. The 2-way link also demonstrated the ability of the weapon data link to transmit real-time weapon status back to the host F/A-18 aircraft during the JDAM’s free fall.

Harris’ Falcon II radio from its RF Communications Division and Improved Data Modem technology from Innovative Concepts, Inc. were used to create the two ends of the data linkage from aircraft to JDAM. See the Oct 21/03 entry for more background. Harris release.

Aug 23/05: Singapore. Singapore notifies the USA that it wants 150 JDAM kits as part of a $741 million complementary weapons order to go with its F-15SG Strike Eagles. The F-15SG order is finalized with a contract on Dec 13/06, clearing the way for the complementary weapon purchases.

Read “F-15E Strike Eagle Taking Off With Singapore Contract?” for full coverage.

Singapore request

Dec 2/04: #100,000. Boeing delivers the 100,000th JDAM Tail Kit. The original production estimate had been 87,000 JDAMs for the entire program.


March 01/04: Lot 8 & integration. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems announces 2 key JDAM contracts worth $857 million total.

The first contract, worth $642 million, is for more than 32,000 JDAM Lot 8 guidance kits for the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The kits will convert existing 500, 1000 and 2000-pound unguided free-fall bombs into cost-effective and capable air-to-surface “smart” weapons. The JDAM kits will be delivered by February 2006.

The second contract, worth $215 million, is a 5-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract for future integration of JDAM (and JDAM derivative weapons) on various foreign military sales aircraft. The first order issued on the contract was valued at $1 million. At the time, Boeing had 7 active international customers; integration is scheduled for completion by December 2008. Boeing release.

Oct 21/03: HART. Boeing announces a $121 million undefinitized contract for system development and demonstration of the Hornet Autonomous Real-time Targeting (HART) system. HART adds a precision guidance capability to Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) that enables aircrews to designate targets and deploy JDAM based on aircraft sensors, rather than depending on pre-planned coordinates or uploads.

HART builds on a previous DAMASK effort, and also aims to provide a production imaging seeker for the JDAM, which incorporates the capability to download an image from the aircraft’s targeting pod. It can also work with other sensors, as Boeing advertises that the aircraft’s AN/APG-79 AESA radar can be used to acquire and designate a target, and transfer a reference SAR radar image of the target to the JDAM. After release, the weapon compares the reference image to that in its sensor’s field of view, guiding it to the point designated in the target scene. The HART guidance kit includes an infrared sensor, a processor, and image-matching software.

Plans call for a low rate initial production decision on HART in late 2006, with initial operational capability expected in December 2007. Boeing would expect to produce approximately 600 units during Long Range Initial Production (LRIP) 1. Follow on production contracts would bring the total kits produced to 6000 through 2011. Boeing release.


Sept 13/02: Boeing announces a $378 million contract for an additional 18,840 JDAM kits by the JDAM Joint Program Office. The new contract is for a mix of GBU-31 (2,000 lb. warhead) kits and GBU-32 (1,000 lb. warhead) kits for both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy to be delivered between October 2002 and March 2004.

The new contract will require Boeing to deliver kits to both the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy at a production rate of 2,800 kits per month by August 2003. In response, Boeing is expanding its production facility in St. Charles, MO. Boeing release.

May 14/02: An F-15E Strike Eagle releases 5 JDAMs at 5 different targets in a single drop. Boeing.

FY 1996 – 2001

Full rate production. 1st export: Israel. JDAM drawing

July 18/01: Alenia team-up. Boeing Company and Alenia Marconi Systems announce a teaming agreement under which Alenia will market JDAM throughout much of Europe and the Middle East. It may also assemble JDAMs and derivative weapons that its customers purchase commercially, rather than through the U.S. foreign military sales program.

Alenia eventually became MBDA as a result of Europe’s government-driven mergers. By 2012, the partnership was no longer operational. Boeing release.

April 04/01: Boeing announces a $235 million contract for the production of 11,054 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) kits. Boeing will deliver 10,382 JDAM kits to the U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Navy will receive 672 kits and has an option for an additional 1,150. The contract includes a $25 million option for an additional 1,150 kits. The U.S. Air Force Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, FL is the contracting agency.

The award follows the Milestone III decision by the Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Board earlier in April 2001, allowing the program to enter full-rate production.

Milestone III/ FRP

Sept 29/2000: 500 pound JDAM. Boeing announces a $45 million award to engineer, manufacture and develop (EMD) a version of the JDAM for 500 pound Mk80 bombs. The weapon will be integrated in to the F-16, F/A-18, and B-2 bombers during the EMD period. Work is scheduled to be completed by the Boeing weapons facility in St. Charles, MO by December 2002.

500 lb. JDAM

June 1/2000: Israeli integration. First International JDAM Sale: Boeing to Integrate Weapon on Israeli F-16 Aircraft. Boeing release.

1st export

April 28/2000: McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Berkeley, MO received a $5.65 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract to provide for incorporation of Pin-Lock Tail Actuator System technology into the production effort for 8,163 Joint Direct Attack Munition kits. The Pin-Lock Tail Actuator System provides a more durable and accurate method of maneuvering the tail fins of the JDAM than the existing Friction Brake technology. Contract completion date was 31 March 2001.

Feb 24/2000: LRIP-4. A $162 million award for production of 7,247 JDAMs for the USAF, and 916 for the U.S. Navy. LRIP began in the spring of 1997; this is the 4th lot of low-rate initial production JDAM kits, and a decision on full-rate production is expected later in 2000. To this point, Boeing has received orders for approximately 16,000 kits of the 87,000 that the U.S. government has plans to procure.

Production of Lot 4 will begin in March 2001, and ramp up to a rate of 700 kits per month in the Boeing weapons facility in St. Charles, MO. Production is scheduled to run through February 2002. Boeing release.

April 2/99: LRIP-3. A $50.5 million face value increase to a firm-fixed-price contract to provide for low rate initial production of 2,527 Joint Direct Attack Munition kits. The work was complete by January 2001.

June 24/98: 1st JDAM delivered. Boeing Delivers First JDAM.


April 30/97: LRIP-1. The USAF announced the decision to initiate low-rate initial production (LRIP) of JDAM, with the first production lot of 937 JDAM kits. MDC release.

Production begins

Oct 24/96: JDAM Guided Flight Tests Begin.

Additional Readings & Sources JDAM Family


  • DID – France’s AASM Precision-Guided Bombs. Uses a rocket booster to extend range, and comes in GPS, GPS/IIR, and GPS/laser variants.

  • Mectron – Armamentos Intelligentes. The Brazilian firm’s products include ACAUAN GPS/INS guidance kits.

  • DID – The US Navy’s DMLGB Program. Lockheed Martin product, separate from Boeing’s DAMTC naval Laser JDAM.

  • LIG Nex1 – KGGB. The South Korean firm’s strap-on glide-bomb kit creates an extended range GPS/INS weapon.

  • RAF – Enhanced Paveway (II/III). Raytheon’s Laser/GPS in 1,000 and 2,000 pound weapons.

  • DID – Paveway IV: British Dual-Guidance Bomb. A Raytheon UK Laser/GPS, just 500 pounds. The USA tried to block its exports to the Middle East in favor of American options, but eventually had to give in.

News & Views

Categories: News

France Upgrading Their E-3F AWACS

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 00:42
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The French Armee de l’Air is upgrading its E-3F AWACS radar aircraft, in a $460 million program.

The E-3 Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft is based on a militarized version of the Boeing 707-320B. It remains the world’s most widely used large-jet AWACS platform, in service with the USAF, Britain, France, NATO, and Saudi Arabia. Over the years, the world’s E-3 fleet has required improvements to keep its radars and electronics current with advances in technology. France received its 4 E-3F aircraft between 1991-1992, and undertook its own RSIP improvement program from 2002-2006. Now, they’ve set their E-3F fleet’s upgrade path to Block 40/45 capability. Which is being delivered at last, after the US government suddenly attempted to get in the way…

The AWACS Upgrade E-3F in
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The E-3 Block 40/45 is the most current variant – and the largest enhancement in the history of the U.S. Air Force’s E-3 AWACS fleet.

It includes new, open-architecture mission computing hardware and software, which shifts from mainframe-based computing to a set of networked servers and modern displays. This will provide the computing horsepower to automate some existing tasks, such as Automatic Air Tasking Orders and Airspace Coordination Order updates. It also makes future upgrades easier. Corresponding software/hardware upgrades replace existing buttons and switches with a point-and-click interface and drop-down menus. Upgraded radar equipment will be complemented by “multisource integration capability” that provides a coherent single picture from the radar, ESM emission detectors, Link-16, and other sources, providing a single picture view for detecting and identifying targets. Improved navigation and communications systems round out the upgrades, and may give some E-3s the ability to operate in less restricted airspace around the world.

Airworthiness testing of the USAF’s Block 40/45 upgrades began in June 2006, mission system testing began in April 2007, and testing finished in September 2008. Depending on government funding profiles, the Block 40/45 upgrades will be installed on the entire USAF fleet of 32 E-3 AWACS by 2016 – 2017. Nor is the USA alone. Britain is determining and inserting upgrades as part of its $1.2 billion through life maintenance program, NATO is in the middle of its own $1.32 billion mid-life upgrade, and the Saudis are making RSIP improvements.

Now France has formally contracted for its own Block 40/45 improvements. Each national AWACS baseline is slightly different, and so each Block upgrade set will differ slightly. Beyond the standard Block upgrades, French E-3Fs will add upgraded Identification Friend or Foe Interrogation, including Mode S and Mode 5 capability. Mode 5 IFF uses a much improved algorithm, and other performance improvements include encryption, range, and civil compatibility. It also adds “lethal interrogation” as a must-respond last chance, and has the ability to distinguish individual aircraft even when they’re close together. The further addition of Mode S assigns a discrete response ‘squawk’ which is unique to that aircraft. Together, they improve combat identification, and enable unrestricted flight in civilian airspace.

The overall French program is $466 million: $440 million for the contract, plus a $26 million reserve. Boeing’s share is $324 million. Air France Industries was to begin installing the enhancements at its Le Bourget Airport facility near Paris in 2012, but it took until June 2013 due to US government delays. The entire fleet was scheduled to complete this upgrade in Q3 2015.

Contracts and Key Events 2012 – 2014

US bureaucratic bungling gets in the way; 1st plane in, 1st modified plane comes out. E-3F MLU: Done!
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July 31/14: Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $17.9 million firm-fixed-price, incentive-firm modification for E-3F enhancements, covering full Mode 5 and Mode S-FAA radar capabilities for incorporation into the French Air Force mission and ground system suite. All funds are committed immediately, and the total cumulative face value of the contract is now $378.5 million.

Work will be performed in Seattle, WA and is expected to be complete by June 30/17. USAF Life Cycle Management Center in Hanscom AFB, MA manages the contract (F19628-01-D-0016, DO 0067 Modification 25).

July 22/14: Delivery. Boeing formally delivers the 1st E-3F mid-life upgrade, following ground and flight tests at Avord Air Force Base and qualification by France’s DGA procurement agency. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing Delivers Upgraded French AWACS Aircraft”.

1st re-delivery

Feb 17/14: 1st complete. Boeing’s team has successfully completed the 1st of 4 Mid-Life Upgrades to France’s E-3F fleet. While this 1st E-3F+ aircraft undergoes ground and flight tests at Avord Air Base, the others will follow their upgrade rotation through AFI KLM E&M’s facility at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. The DGA expects to validate the upgrade and deliver this 1st E-3F to the Armee de l’Air later in 2014. Sources: Boeing, “Boeing and Air France Industries Successfully Complete Major Modification of French AWACS Aircraft”.

June 17/13: 1st in. Boeing opens the 50th Paris Air show by announcing that subcontractor Air France Industries has begun upgrading the 1st E-3F’s electrical, mechanical and structural systems and mission hardware at its Le Bourget facility. Which is conveniently, the location for the air show.

The upgrades were supposed to begin in 2012, but US government foul-ups (vid. Sept 24/12 entry) delayed the program. Boeing.

April 19/13: Re-baselined. Boeing IDS in Seattle, WA receives an $11.4 million firm-fixed-price, fixed-price-incentive-firm, cost-plus-fixed-fee re-baseline of the French mid-life upgrade delivery order 67 schedule, “due to impacts of the partial stop work order issued June 19, 2012.”

The total cumulative face value of the contract is now $354.1 million. Work will be performed at Seattle, WA, and is now expected to be completed by Dec 31/15. The USAF Life Cycle Management Center/HBSKI at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA manages the contract (F19628-01-D-0016, DO 067 Modification 4).

Sept 24/12: US delays. Defense News covers France’s problems upgrading its E-3F AWACS fleet, thanks to bureaucratic bungling on the American side of the table. The problem is that the Pentagon ordered Boeing to stop work on the upgrade, because they needed to hold a review regarding technologies that might be too sensitive for export. Boeing already had staff in Paris, who need to be kept but cannot work. Overall costs: another $5 million.

The US government wants France to pay the extra $5 million. France already spent $10 million on a 2009 risk reduction study that looked at engineering and technologies, and the Pentagon didn’t make an issue of anything at that time. France says, not unreasonably, that if the Pentagon’s serial mistakes caused the problem, and they are the ones managing the program under Foreign Military Sale rules, then the Pentagon can pay for the extra costs. One French official made the blunt statement: “The credibility of FMS is in play.”

So is the schedule. Thanks to these delays, upgrades won’t start until mid-2013, a year late. That could make it tough to meet France’s Q3 2015 deadline.

2006 – 2011

DSCA request; Upgrade contracts; Through-life support contract. E-3F AWACS
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Oct 7/11: Separate upgrade. Air France Industries completes a EUR 50 million DGA contract from 2008, which brings their E-3Fs up to current ICAO civil aviation standards. Some communications upgrades, including satellite communications, were also added. France’s 4 E-3Fs received this preliminary upgrade between early 2010 and autumn 2011, and are all back in service now. French DGA.

Full Block 40/45 upgrades will begin in 2012, under a separate contract.

Sept 12/11: Air France and the French MdlD’s SIMMAD Aircraft Through Life Support Organization have renewed the through-life support contract for France’s fleet of 4 E-3F AWACS aircraft. This 5-year deal increment runs to Sept 1/16. Air France KLM won’t disclose costs, but says:

“Through life support covers the complete array of AWACS engineering support services… technical and documentary support for the aircraft and its mission-specific systems, painting, and heavy maintenance concurrently with Mid-Life Upgrade work, maintaining the related engineering resources, and providing IT and logistics support services. Two related projects will also by continued under the terms of the contract, namely the digitization of all technical documentation, and the integration of airworthiness monitoring into the AWACS computer systems.”

Through-Life Support continued

Jan 7/11: Air France Industries and KLM Engineering & Maintenance, which joined forces following the Air France/ KLM merger, announce a contract with Boeing Defense, Space & Security to install the E-3F’s modification kits.

The work will begin in 2012 in the AFI facility at Le Bourget, outside Paris, and will end when the 4th and last aircraft has been refitted. A team from Boeing will be on-hand throughout the program to oversee operations. AFI KLM E&M

Installation contract

Aug 20/10: Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems in Baltimore, MD receives a $9.8 million contract which will replace narrow band klystron power amplifiers with wide band klystron power amplifiers in Saudi Arabian and French E-3 AWACS fleets. At this time, all funds have been committed by the Electronic Systems Center’s HBSKI at Hanscom AFB, MA (FA8704-10-C-0007).

Jan 22/10: Boeing in Seattle, WA receives a $323.9 million contract “which will provide the French airborne warning and control system mid-life upgrade.” At this time, the entire amount has been obligated by the 551 IA/PKA at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA (F19628-01-D-0016/DO 0067).

France will be the first country outside the USA to field Block 40/45 E-3 AWACS aircraft. See also Boeing release | Hanscom AFB Integrator Magazine.

E-3F upgrade contract

Sept 26/08: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] France’s request to upgrade 4 E-3F Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) Aircraft with Block 40/45 Mission Computing, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP) Interface, and Mode 5/S Identification Friend or Foe (IFF). In addition, this proposed sale will include related spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, integration, personnel training and equipment, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $400 million.

France will use this upgrade to maintain full interoperability and interchangeability with U.S. and other NATO coalition partners, and will have no difficulty absorbing the additional AWACS aircraft into its armed forces. Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Seattle, WA will be the prime contractor, but implementation of this proposed sale will not require the assignment of any U.S. Government and contractor representatives to France.

DSCA request:

March 2006: Study. A risk reduction study identifies risks associated with the upgrade and transition. Source.

2004: Study. France decides to look at upgrading their E-3Fs from Block 30/35. They contracted with Hanscom AFB’s Electronic Systems Center to perform a feasibility study to identify what would be the new French AWACS mid-life upgrade for mission computing and air battle management.

The study was performed to compare the U.S. Block 40/45 system and the NATO mid-term system. After the study, the French concluded they wanted to pursue the U.S. Block 40/45, with French-specific requirements added/ retained. Source.

Late 1990s: France’s E-3F fleet receives upgrades such as electronic support measures that can detect and backtrack incoming radar beams and other electromagnetic emissions, a passive listening and detection system, and a radar system improvement program, which enhanced the capability to detect and track aircraft and missiles. This brings them to roughly Block 30/35 equivalent. Source.

Upgrade to Block 30/35

Additional Readings

Categories: News

Airbus Warns A400M Customers on Turboprop Controllers after Crash | ‘Three Dealer’ Bid Re-evaluation Decision Appealed | X-37Bs to Launch

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 01:49

  • The Marine Corps has begun testing its F-35Bs aboard USS Wasp (LHD-1), with these tests set to last two weeks. Six of the aircraft are being tested for specific abilities as part of Operational Testing (OT-1); these include digital interoperability between aircraft and ship systems, something particularly sensitive given the aircraft’s recent software problems. The USMC decided to push ahead regardless of 2B software issues, with the intention of hitting IOC in July.

  • Raytheon has further complicated the Air Force’s $1 billion 3DERLL radar program by appealing a federal judge’s decision last week to allow the Air Force to re-evaluate bids. The company previously filed a lawsuit when the Air Force tried to re-open the competition as a result of challenges by competitors Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.

  • The Air Force is planning on launching two X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles into orbit on Wednesday, which will see the testing of a plasma-based propulsion system previously reported here. This will be the fourth X-37 mission, with the mission also testing materials for NASA. The the third mission lasted 674 days, with no information on how long this latest will last.

  • The Navy has laid down the keel of SSN 789 at Huntington Ingalls Industries. The Virginia-class fast attack sub is the newest of the class, following on the tails of the Colorado, which was laid-down in March. This new boat – the sixteenth – will be named the Indiana. Navy leader have been pushing for the Virginia-class to possess more firepower.

  • On Tuesday the Army awarded LockheedMartin a $30 million modification to convert 200 ATM-114Q-6 Hellfire training missiles to ground-attack missiles (AGM-114R-9B-1), with the work set to last two years. Also on Tuesday the Navy awarded Whiting Turner Contract Co a $30.3 million contract to construct a power and propulsion high bay test facility at Philadelphia Navy Yard. The work is expected to run until November next year.

  • The aircraft of the Navy’s Naval Air Arm in one graphic.


  • Airbus has ordered software checks on the A400M aircraft following the crash of one of the aircraft earlier this month during a test flight. The company announced that it has released a notice to A400M customers asking them to inspect the aircraft’s Electronic Control Unit, which help control its Europrop International TP400-D6 turboprop engines. Europe’s largest defense project, the aircraft has been grounded by many users following the crash which killed four people. The aircraft has been ordered by eight nations.

  • Russia will close [Russian] NATO’s supply line through its territory to Afghanistan. The rationale given is the end of provisions given under UN Security Council Resolution 1386, which cleared international troops to operate in the country, with this resolution expiring at the end of 2014. Although the number of NATO troops operating in the country is reduced from the number at the peak of the conflict and the use of Russia’s Ulyanovsk as a transit hub has subsided considerably, this closure will complicate the logistical resupply of the thousands of troops and support personnel remaining. The principle supply line is now through Pakistan. Russia threatened to close the supply line before in 2011, in an attempt to pressure NATO to limit its missile defense coverage.


  • On Tuesday the Australian Defense Ministry announced a $61.4 million contract with Harris Corporation’s Australian subsidiary for tactical radio support, which will see the company maintaining 15,000 radios previously sold through various follow-on contracts in addition to an original 2010, $112 million contract.

  • India is planning on deploying its SU-30MKI fighters to Britain later year, with a potential deployment to the US pencilled in for next year. The fighters will be accompanied by Il-78 refuelers, with the jets scheduled to take part in joint exercises with the Royal Air Force in July and August. If they head to the US, the Flankers may take part in the Air Force’s Red Flag exercise.

  • However, one of the Indian Air Force’s Flanker fleet went down on Tuesday, with the pilots ejecting safely. The Indian fleet of SU-30MKIs has been plagued with reliability issues, with the entire fleet grounded in October last year following a similar crash.

Today’s Video

  • Jumping out of a CH-47…

Categories: News

France, Germany and Italy Pit Industry Champions Together For New UAV | Boeing: Ours Should Have Lasers | South Koreans Deny Lockheed Meetings Held on THAAD

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 03:29

  • Boeing Phantom Work’s President wants to put solid-state lasers on the company’s Phantom Eye developmental UAV. Darryl Davis stated that the UAV could operate at stratospheric heights with the lasers used for intelligence gathering and potentially missile defense. However, that would depend on significantly increased funding for the immature technology – something which doesn’t appear to be happening in the short term.

  • On Monday, Raytheon was awarded a $7 million contract modification in support of the UAE’s Patriot systems, with this totaling 138 man-months of work. The GCC member state first procured the systems in 2008, with the country operating the PAC-3 variant.

  • Raytheon announced on Monday the Small Diameter Bomb II has achieved Milestone C, with the SDB II now set for Low Rate Initial Production. The Milestone C achievement is the result of eleven flight tests, including two live-firings. The bomb’s System Verification Review slipped last year, a result of two failed tests, with the bomb initially scheduled to enter LRIP in January 2014 [p. 117].


  • The Defense Ministers of three European states signed a Declaration of Intent on Monday for a two-year Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV definition study. Germany, Italy and France are funding the collaborative work between Dassault, Airbus and Finmeccanica, which will form the basis of a decision in two years time on whether to begin development of the system. Airbus, Dassault and Alenia Aermacchi are likely to compete for production contracts if this green light is given.

  • The European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency also announced on Monday that the launch of the DeSIRE II project, which is intended to use satellite communications to integrate remotely-piloted aircraft into civilian airspace. The $3 million contract with Telespazio is using a Piaggio Aero P.1HH Hammerhead UAV as a flying testbed, with a consortium of European firms working on the project,including Telespazio, e-GEOS, Selex ES, Piaggio Aero, ViaSat, Skyguide and Aedel Aerospace.

  • Following the selection in April of the Airbus H225M Caracal by the Polish Defense Ministry for its tri-service helicopter modernization requirement, the helicopter is now confirmed to be undergoing evaluation and verification against Poland’s requirement set. Photos have emerged from Powidz 33rd Transport Aviation Base showing the helicopter undergoing testing to evaluate 32 requirements set by the Defense Ministry’s Armament Inspectorate.

  • With rumors having circulated for some time now regarding the French-Russian Mistral issue, the French Ambassador to Russia reportedly announced on Monday that the two sides are engaged in discussions on how best to resolve the situation. The French are unlikely to go ahead with the deal, which would see two of the LHDs delivered to the Russian Navy, instead most likely seeking to repay what the Russians have invested in the contract. This will most likely be a disputed, messy affair forecast to last at least several weeks.

  • Poland has released a tender for one million non-ricocheting bullets. The 5.56 x 45mm rounds are destined for GROM Special Forces units, with the tender scheduled to conclude between July and November.


  • South Korea’s Defense Ministry has stated that the country is THAAD system, while US Secretary of State John Kerry again hinted at a possible deployment of US THAAD systems to the country. The issue of ballistic missile defense in South Korea has become increasingly politicized in recent weeks, with China vehemently opposing the stationing of THAAD in the country, despite the North recently conducting missile launch tests.

  • Indian firms are pushing for a greater slice of the M777 contract pie awarded last week. The prospect of a much larger order than the 145-gun contract – potentially reaching around a thousand guns if the Indian Army replaces all its current legacy systems – would be boost to the Indian defense industry, with manufacturer BAE System likely to increase the Indian work share of a larger future contract.

  • An Australian pilot has flown a Royal Australian Air Force F-35A for the first time, with the country a Tier 3 partner in the program.


  • Airbus is reportedly talking with the South African Air Force regarding the firm’s C-296, A400M and A330MRTT aircraft. The SAAF C-130BZ fleet is currently highly inefficient, with around a third of its fleet operational at any given time. The country previously cancelled an order for eight A400M transporters in 2009. A joint procurement of A330 MRTT tankers is expected by three European states (Poland, Norway and the Netherlands) soon, to complement the aircraft’s six international customers.

Today’s Video

  • Small Diameter Bomb II, introduced by the Smithsonian…

Categories: News

M777: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Howitzer

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 01:58
M777: dragon’s breath
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The M777 ultra-lightweight towed 155mm howitzer has an integrated digital fire control system, and can fire all existing 155mm projectiles. Nothing new there. What is new is the fact that this 9,700 pound howitzer saves over 6,000 pounds of weight by making extensive use of titanium and advanced aluminum alloys, allowing it to be carried by Marine Corps MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft or medium helicopters, and/or airdropped by C-130 aircraft. The new gun is a joint program between the US Army and Marine Corps to replace existing 155mm M198s, and will perform fire support for U.S. Marine Air Ground Task Forces and U.S. Army Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.

Britain is the USA’s M777 LWH co-development partner, but Canada became the first country to field it in combat, thanks to an emergency buy before their 2006 “Operation Archer” deployment to Afghanistan. Customers now include the US Army & USMC, Australia, and Canada – but not Britain.

M777: Capabilities and Upgrades M777 parts
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The M777 offers significant advances in 2 areas. One is obviously weight.

Weight matters. The M777’s weight and profile allows 2 M777 howitzers to be fitted into a C-130 Hercules tactical transport, instead of just one equivalent-caliber M198. Previous howitzers could be lifted by heavy helicopters like the CH-47 Chinook or CH-53E Super Stallion, but the M777 expands those options to include carriage under a V-22 Osprey, or a medium class helicopter like the EH101.

Weight has increased slightly over the initial specification, but this is largely attributable to over 2,000 design changes from the original shoot-off specification to today’s gun. Run-flat tires added over 100 pounds, while a cradle assembly that went from 400 components to 5 main castings trades some added weight for significantly improved maintenance and reliability.

The gun remains stable when firing, despite its light weight, by being out of balance. The barrel is mounted low and forward, which keeps the gun from overturning. Even so, these are not the gun’s most significant features.

M777: bulls-eye
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There’s also a front-line payoff to the new howitzer. Rate of fire is 4-8 rounds per minute in bursts, or 2 rounds per minute sustained fire.

When using previous generations of artillery, units like the US Marines had to communicate with the fire direction center through radio, and use iron sights to aim at targets. The M777 is equipped with iron sights as a backup, but the military doesn’t expect those sights to see much use outside of training. Modern artillery has features like data distribution systems, self location via INS and/or GPS, automatic or assisted gun-laying, and other add-ons that automate the process of receiving fire orders and acting on them. Coordinates can be usually transmitted digitally from tactical air controllers, UAVs, or other platforms, and the M777’s own display can be used to send text messages to other cannoneers.

These advances improve efficiency, and survivability. Instead of being forced to cluster together near communications nodes, artillery pieces can be spread out over a larger area, with each gun executing “shoot and scoot” tactics using the M777’s fast 2-3 minute set-up and displacement times. This compares to its predecessor the M198, which has a 6.5 minute emplacement time and 10.5 minute displacement time.

The key to this capability is called Towed Artillery Digitization (TAD). General Dynamics ATP’s TAD includes sensors like the integrated muzzle velocimeter, vehicle motion sensor, and ammunition inventory capability; mission computer with on-board ballistic computation and Joint Variable Message messaging format capabilities; GPS receiver which works with the Inertial Navigation System and motion sensor to provide self-location within 10m and gun pointing within 1 mil RMS azimuth and 0.5 mil elevation.

The M777-A1 version used the TAD Block 1 set. Communications and other key features like self-location are present, but it uses manual target entry instead of direct digital transmission from tactical air controllers, UAVs, or other platforms.

The M777-A2 incorporates more advanced TAD capabilities, including a software update that enables the howitzer to program and fire the M982 Excalibur GPS-guided shell. That shell improves the gun’s maximum range from 30km/ 18 miles to 40km/ 24 miles, with official accuracy on target to within 10 meters, and unofficial reports of about half that figure. The M777-A2 is the version issued to all U.S. Army and USMC units, and previously-equipped M777-A1 howitzer units are receiving a software upgrade to bring their systems to A2 standard.

Canadian M777s are currently equipped to fire the Excalibur shell, but use their own LINAPS fire control system.

On the foreign export front, Australia has joined Canada as a buyer, and Denmark, India, Oman, Thailand, and Saudi Arabia have all reportedly shown interest.

M777: Program M777: Chinook pick-up
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The M777 was originally a trilateral program involving the USA, Britain, and Italy, with a Memorandum of Understanding signed in March 1999. Italy ended up backing out of the development program due to budget issues, leaving the USA and UK to fund development efforts.

Within the USA, the US Marines funded development of the weapon, while the US Army funded development of the Towed Artillery Digitization system. The M777 is currently managed by US Army Program Executive Office (PEO) Ammunition in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, under “Project Manager Towed Artillery Systems”. Before January 2011, it had been managed by PEO Ground Combat Systems in Warren, MI, under “PM Lightweight 155″; the latest restructuring placed the US Army’s artillery tubes, ammunition, propellants, and associated aiming hardware & software under the same organization.

BAE Systems Global Combat Systems’ facility at Barrow-in-Furness is responsible for M777 prime contract management, including direct customer liaison, control of the trans-Atlantic supply chains, engineering design authority, and manufacturing and assembly of the complex titanium structures and associated recoil components. Final integration and test of the weapon system is undertaken at BAE’s Hattiesburg, MS plant.

Ironically, M777 development partner Britain has yet to buy any. Indeed, the first use of M777 howitzers in combat came from a country who hadn’t even been involved in the development partnership. Canadian forces in Afghanistan found the howitzer’s weight and range to be just what they needed, and an emergency buy led to fast fielding. While they aren’t a national program partner, the US and Canada took steps in the 1950s to create a North American defense industry, and so some Canadian firms were already involved in the program when Canada made its initial purchase.

M777 Industrial participants include:

  • US Army Light Weight 155mm Joint Program office: program management (Picatinny Arsenal, NJ)
  • BAE Systems: Prime Contractor, Elevating Mass & Cradle Assembly, (Barrow-in-Furness, England and final assembly Hattiesburg, MS)
  • General Dynamics: Digital fire control (Burlington, VT)
  • General Dynamics Canada: Mission computer software and displays (Ottawa, ON, Canada)
  • Howmet Castings: Upper carriage (Whitehall, MI)
  • Hydro-Mill Co.: Body assembly (Chatsworth, CA)
  • Mitchell Canada: Aluminum castings (St. Laurent, PQ, Canada)
  • Precision Castparts Corp.: Lower carriage (Portland, OR)
  • RTI International Metals: Titanium (Niles, OH)
  • Seiler Instrument: OFC (St. Louis, MO)
  • Wegman USA: Elevating Gear (Lynchburg, VA)
  • Watervliet Arsenal: Cannon assembly (Watervliet, NY)
  • Selex Galileo: LINAPS gun management system, see PDF (Edinburgh, UK – Canadian orders)

Canada was the 1st country to field the M777 in combat, firing them in Afghanistan in February 2006.

The US Army’s 2nd Battalion 11th Field Artillery Regiment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii was equipped with M777A1 howitzers in January 2007, but were converted to the A2 version later in 2007 and used the guns in Iraq. As of July 2007, initial units also included both the 11th Marine Regiment and the 10th Marine Regiment; they had received the M777A2 version. The 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Bragg, NC; and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team fielded the M777A2 for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Deliveries and fielding continued from there.

As of October 2012, total orders stood at 1,090 guns for the US Army, US Marines, Australia, and Canada.

M777: Contracts and Key Events FY 2013-2015

Australia; India. ADF M777
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May 19/15: India. Indian firms are pushing for a greater slice of the M777 contract pie awarded last week. The prospect of a much larger order than the 145-gun contract – potentially reaching around a thousand guns if the Indian Army replaces all its current legacy systems – would be boost to the Indian defense industry, with manufacturer BAE System likely to increase the Indian work share of a larger future contract.

Feb 25/14: M777. With elections looming, India’s Ministry of Defence clears a whole series of defense projects, worth up to INR 130 billion. The M777 isn’t among them:

“The M-777 howitzer contract, which is a direct government-to-government deal under the US foreign military sales programme, has been hanging fire since January 2010. Due to the long delay, the American Defence Security Cooperation Agency has hiked the cost of the M-777 deal from the earlier $ 647 million to $885 million now. The Army wants these 155mm/39-calibre howitzers since they can be swiftly deployed in high-altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh by helicopters and aircraft to counter China.”

China has been seizing Indian territory again in this high-altitude region, but apparently that isn’t urgent enough to prompt action. Thermal imagers and light machine guns are useful, but they aren’t going to change the situation anywhere. Sources: Times of India, “Decision on four key defence deals put off”.

Aug 7/13: India. The US DSCA publishes [PDF] an official follow-on export request from India for 145 M777 guns, under modified terms compared to the Jan 26/10 request, which is superseded by this one.

The Indian guns will use the same Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems (LINAPS) equipment as Canada’s M777s, and the estimated cost for the guns plus warranty, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, training, and other US government and contractor support has risen from $647 – $885 million.

The other item that has changed is the acknowledgement of a 30% industrial offsets contract, in conformance to India’s official Defense Procurement Procedure (DPP). That has to be part of a negotiated contract, which can be signed within 30 days of this notice.

The principal contractors haven’t changed: BAE of Hattiesburg, MS; Watervliet Arsenal of Watervliet, NY; Seiler Instrument Company of St Louis, MO; Triumph Actuation Systems of Bloomfield, CT; Taylor Devices of North Tonawanda, NY; Hutchinson Industries of Trenton, NJ; and Selex in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. Likewise, implementation of this proposed sale will still require annual trips to India involving up to 8 U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, training, and in-country trials, over a period of approximately 2 years.

DSCA: India Request, Revised

Aug 3/13: India. Negotiations are still underway in India. So what’s new? According to the Business Standard, the expected price is now INR 40 billion due to the falling rupee, and the industrial offsets issue is almost resolved. If India can manage to finalize the sale, the Mountain Strike Corps that they announced in July 2013 would receive the 145 guns.

The key seems to be offsets. The initial DSCA announcement (q.v. Jan 26/10) didn’t include offsets, but BAE sees the potential to equip artillery regiments in up to 7 more Indian corps, given deployment patterns and India’s mountainous borders. As such, they’ve accepted a standard 30% offset liability of about $195 million. About $58.5 million can be discharged by transferring technology, as India badly needs to field bi-modular charge systems (BMCS) for artillery. If they hadn’t blacklisted Denel and Israel Military Industries, they’d have BMCS already. The rest will reportedly be discharged by manufacturing some components in India, including work for “future artillery gun” and “future naval gun” programs.

India’s challenge is to break with its general practice and place a timely order. BAE’s Mississippi plant is being kept active in anticipation of an Indian order, but if India dithers much, the price will rise sharply to pay production line restart costs. On the other hand, early execution could see India field the new gun by early 2014. India’s Business Standard.

Feb 6/13: India. India Strategic quotes Chief of the Army Staff Gen Bikram Singh as saying that “whatever the reasons earlier [for delaying the M777 purchase], there would be no delay now.” India has held its firing trials, asked for some changes, and verified that BAE has made them. The Maintainability Evaluation is done, and negotiations are now focused on the price of 145 of the 155mm/ 39 caliber guns, plus a support package.

India’s 2004 buy of counter-fire artillery radars in 2004 reportedly omitted support considerations, and they don’t want to have to go through that problem again. India Strategic writes:

“Senior officers of the Army are confident that the acquisition of M-777 will not go beyond 2013, and if there is a delay, it would not be beyond the coming fiscal year April 2013-March 2014. That is, a delay of not more than three months beyond 2013.”

Oct 16/12: Australia. The Australian government had approved another 2 artillery batteries of Lightweight Towed Howitzers, comprising 19 M777A2s, for A$ 70 million (about $72 million). In response to queries, BAE confirms that the actual contract still has to go through a Foreign military Sale case.

They will be a substitute for the self-propelled howitzers the Army had initially included under its LAND 17 Phase 1C program, and “Government will consider additional support and facilities costs associated with this acquisition later in the 2012-13 Financial Year.” Australia DoD | DID’s LAND 17 Spotlight.

FY 2011 – 2012

Saudi Arabia. USA. Alaska cold trial
(click to view full)

July 17/12: Sub-contractors. Finmeccanica’s DRS Tactical Systems in Melbourne, FL receives a $22 million firm-fixed-price contract for ongoing design, development and integration services in support of the M777A2 digital fire control system.

Work will be performed in Melbourne, FL with an estimated completion date of July 13/17. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with 6 bids received by Army Contracting Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-12-D-0088).

May 11/12: India. CNN-IBN reports that India’s MoD has cleared a Rs 3000 crore deal to buy 145 of BAE’s M777 ultra-light 155mm howitzers, as a government-to-government deal through US Foreign Military Sale channels. They’re careful to note that this isn’t a contract yet, which may explain the absence of any announcement from BAE. At current conversion rates, the deal would be worth around $557 million, but exchange rates may change when and if negotiations produce an actual contract. Read “Murky Competitions for Indian Howitzer Orders May End Soon… Or Not” for the whole sorry story.

Oct 4/11: +70. BAE announces that the US military has placed a $134 million order for 70 more M777 howitzers, “to begin equipping the U.S. Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs).”

This is almost certainly the M777A2 variant, and the order takes the production to a total of 1,071 guns. The manufacturing line has enough orders at present to run until October 2013, with additional orders expected from the USA, and potential orders from customers like India and Saudi Arabia waiting in the wings.

USA – 70

Sept 19/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Saudi Arabia’s formal request for up to $886 million of equipment to augment the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s existing light artillery capabilities. The Royal Saudi Land Forces already have towed 155mm and 105mm howitzers and support vehicles and systems, but the 54 105mm M119A2 systems and 36 M777A2s would be an upgrade over the Royal Saudi Land Forces’ existing M102 105mm guns. The Saudis are also looking to buy C3 systems, artillery locating radars, and Humvees as part of this buy.

DSCA: Saudi request

May 18/11: In “India’s consolation prize to US,” The Times of India reports that India is close to an M777 buy, pursued as government-to-government Foreign Military Sale. The Times of India reports that:

“…the Army has dispatched a team to the US to carry out quality assurance assessments of maintenance and other technical specifications of M777… Once the team returns, “it wouldn’t take much time to conclude the deal”, sources said, adding that a June-end deadline was being looked at. He also hinted that this order too could go up, now that the government is expected to approve Army’s recommendation to raise a dedicated mountain strike corps for China border.”

Feb 22/11: +46. BAE Systems announces that an American order for 46 more M777 howitzers brings the total number of M777 guns ordered so far to 1001. The firm is still producing weapons for Canada and Australia, and is also “responding to a range of enquiries.”

USA – 46

Jan 20/11: Program shifted. US Army Acquisition Executive Malcolm O’Neill approves the immediate transfer of the Program Manager Lightweight 155 office from US Army Program Executive Office (PEO) Ground Combat Systems in Warren, MI, to US Army PEO Ammunition in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ. O’Neill also approves the immediate renaming of “PM Program Manager Lightweight 155″ to “Project Manager Towed Artillery Systems.”

The M777 was 1 of 6 programs shifted in the restructuring, which places the Army’s artillery propellant, fuses, primers, munitions and now guns at the same place. US Army.

FY 2009 – 2010

Australia, Canada, India, USA. M777 in Afghanistan
(click to view full)

July 19/10: +93. BAE systems announces 3 contracts related to its M777 howitzers. For starters, the US Army and U.S. Marine Corps are buying another 58 guns.

Australia is buying 35 guns as US Foreign Military Sales (FMS), under the ADF’s LAND 17 program. The order makes Australia the 3rd M777 customer, after the USA and Canada, and the program’s total budget is A$ 493 million (q.v. Oct 20/09).

The 3rd order is an USD $18 million support package with Canada, for their 37 ordered M777 guns (q.v. May 28/09). The contract covers the supply of spares and engineering support. The firm adds:

“The U.S. government is currently discussing the provision of 145 systems to India as well as several other countries. In parallel, BAE Systems is responding to requests for information from a large number of countries wishing to expand their indirect fire capability.”

USA, Australia, Canada – 93 TL.

Jan 26/10: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces [PDF] India’s formal request to buy 145 M777 155mm Light-Weight Towed Howitzers with Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems (LINAPS), warranties, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, and U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance and support.

The estimated cost is $647 million, but a DSCA announcement is not a contract. In this case, it may not even be an intended sale. Read “Murky Competition for $2B India Howitzer Order May End Soon… Or Not” for more.

DSCA: India request

Oct 20/09: Australia’s Defence Minister John Faulkner announces that BAE Systems’ M777 has won the towed portion of Australia’s LAND 17 competition, whose total value is placed at A$ 493 million.

Phase 1 will provide the Army with 35 M777A2 guns, equipping 4 batteries of towed 155mm howitzers. An earlier DSCA request specified up to 57 systems, which allows Australia to order more guns later if it decides that’s necessary.

July 21/09: +62. BAE announces that the U.S, Department of Defense has ordered 62 more M777 howitzers under its existing contract, in a delivery order worth GBP 71 million/ $117 million.

May 28/09: +38. BAE Systems announces 3 more M777 contracts, worth a total of $118 million.

The USA is buying 38 guns for the Marine Corps and Army. A $3 million contract will RESET 33 U.S. howitzers returning from operations in Afghanistan to like-new condition. And Canada is acquiring 25 more M777s, to add to the 12 it already has in service. According to BAE, these 63 additional howitzers bring their order total to date to exactly 800 guns.

USA – 100

April 16/09: #500. BAE systems delivers the 500th M777 howitzer to the US military. In the BAE Systems release, Artillery Programmes Director Ian McMillan says that:

“M777 follows two other Anglo-U.S. weapon success stories – the 105mm Light Gun and the 81mm mortar are both British BAE Systems designs which have been adopted by the U.S.”

A report in the British North West Evening Mail added that:

“The substantial and complex cradle and saddle is made in Barrow and shipped out at the rate of 14 a month… Mr McMillan said with the main US order running out in less than two years, BAE would be looking for M777 orders from more countries, and for other projects to keep the Barrow factory busy… However BAE revealed yesterday it is expecting at orders for at least 150 more M77s from the US, Canada and Australia combined. They will be built by the same plants in Barrow and the US and would stretch work to 2012.”

#500 delivered

FY 2007 – 2008

Australia, Canada. The business end at
Camp Taji, Iraq
(click to view full)

Aug 14/08: +43. BAE Systems has received additional orders from the U.S. Department of Defense for 43 more M777 lightweight towed howitzers.

The GBP 42.8 million ($85.6 million) contract brings the number of M777s ordered by the US military to 719, and brings the total value of M777 orders in 2008 to GBP 147 million ($294 million). BAE release | NW Evening Mail, UK | Hattiesburg American, MS.

USA – 43

July 17/08: Australian request. The US DSCA announces [PDF format] Australia’s official request for 57 of BAE Systems’ M777A2 howitzers, 57 of ITT’s AN/VRC-91F Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS), plus integration services, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is USD$ 248 million.

Note that a DSCA request is not a contract, merely a step that’s required for export approval.

DSCA: Australia request

June 19/08: Canadian follow-on. The US DSCA announces [PDF] Canada’s official request for 37 additional M777 howitzers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements.

The estimated cost is $114 million (about C$ 116 million). The prime contractors will be BAE Land Systems in Hattiesburg, MS and Alcoa business Howmet Castings in Whitehall, Michigan. See also Jan 9/08 entry re: the Canadian MERX Letter of Intent, which sets out a timeline for the process: Statements of Interest and Qualification are to be received by the end of 2008, RFP issued in early 2009, and a contract awarded in autumn 2009.

DSCA: Canada request

April 1/08: +87. BAE Systems announces a new $176 million order from the U.S. Department of Defense for 87 additional M777A2 155mm towed howitzers. The order adds to the 589 M777A2 howitzers already on order for the U.S. armed forces, of which more than 300 have been delivered. The 155mm towed howitzers purchased under this contract will be delivered in 2010. BAE Systems release.

USA – 87

March 2008: M777 + Excalibur for Canada. The new M982 Excalibur precision-guided projectile is cleared for use by the Canadian Forces’ M777 guns in Afghanistan. Source.

Feb 25/08: Combat. Soldiers of Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment, fires the USA’s first 155 mm global positioning system-guided Excalibur artillery round in Afghanistan. The round was fired from an M777A2 howitzer in Kunar Province, and reportedly hit its target. DVIDS story.

Jan 9/08: Canada. The Canadian government issued a request for Letters of Interest (LOIs) for 34 new 155mm Light Weight Towed Howitzers. The M777 is the current incumbent, and Canada must have exercised an option because the solicitation states that “The CF has 12 M777 LWTH howitzers currently in-service.”

Those guns have performed very well, making the M777 the favorite to win. The contract is expected in late 2009. MERX LOI notice, Ref# PW-$$RA-002-16420, Solicitation# W8476-08PM01/A.

Canada – 12 TL. now, LoI for more

Jan 2/08: Combat. The US military announces that The Soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s Battery B, “Banditos,” 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team became the first US Army unit to fire the 155 mm M777A2 Light Weight Howitzer in Iraq. DVIDS story.

Banditos M777A2
fires Excalibur
(click to view full)

December 2007: Combat. Commanders in the US Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team’s Task Force Bayonet receive M777A2 lightweight 155 mm Howitzers. CH-47 Chinook helicopters flew in the new M777A2s to various forward operating bases the last 2 weeks of December.

Dec 23/07: USMC. The USMC reveals that the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, Japan received its first M777 Lightweight Howitzers recently on Camp Hansen as part of a Marine Corps-wide artillery upgrade. Field artillery cannoneers with L Battery, arriving from Twentynine Palms, CA inspected the M777s before accepting the new guns from the Camp Pendleton, CA- based E Battery, 2nd Bn., 11th Marines, 1st MarDiv.

June 2007: Combat. The USMC’s 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit says that Marines from Bravo Battery 1st Battalion, 11th Marines are making history as the first American unit to use the new M777A1 Howitzer in combat, though the Canadians beat the to the punch overall. The 13th MEU is deployed to Anbar province in western Iraq.

March 20/07: Australia. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and BAE Systems Australia team for LAND 17. KMW will offer the PzH-2000 to the team, while BAE Systems Australia adds their M777 ultra-lightweight howitzers to the partnership, for a combination towed/ self propelled solution. LAND 17 is Australia’s program to replace its 105mm howitzers with modern equipment.

March 18/07: Excalibur 155mm. Excalibur 155mm GPS-guided shells complete final testing by the US military. An order is placed soon afterward. DID coverage.

FY 2005 – 2006

LRIP then FRP. Canada. Canadian M777s
(click to view full)

May 15/06: Canada. StrategyPage:

“When discussing relationships with local tribal leaders, Canadian commanders have sometimes had an M777 put a shell in a nearby field or hill side, on command, to demonstrate what the Canadians have at their disposal. Afghans understand that sort of thing. U.S. Marines and British troops have also used the M777 in Afghanistan.”

See also the Canadian Forces’ movie clip report about the M777 in Afghanistan, featuring CF Major Steve Gallagher.

March 9/06: Canada. SELEX Sensors and Airborne Systems of Edinburgh, UK, working together with BAE Systems Land Systems, has secured a contract with the Canadian Department of National Defense (DND) for 6 LINAPS (Laser INertial Automatic Pointing System) Gun Management Systems (GMS), plus spares, for their M777 Howitzers. The systems were deployed to Afghanistan until late fall 2006, however.

The DGMS is integrated with the Indirect Fire Control Computer System (IFCCS) and the Raytheon MicroLight digital radio to provide a digital link from the Command Post to the guns, self-positioning and boresighting, etc. Finmeccanica Inc News blog | Space Daily | See also follow-on Canadian DND release | DND Video.

Feb 20/06: Canada in combat. The Canadian Forces fire their M777s for the first time in combat near Gumbad, 60 kilometres northeast of the city of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Illumination rounds are used to turn the tables on a night attack with RPGs.

It’s the 1st combat firing of the M777. National Post.

1st combat use

M777 arrives
(click to view full)

Dec 2/05: Canada. The 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery conducts an inaugural firing of the first 155mm, M777 towed howitzers delivered to the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND). BAE release.

Nov 26/05: Canada takes delivery of its first M777 howitzers. DND:

“Major Paul Payne, Chief Instructor in Gunnery at the Field Artillery School in Gagetown says “With the equipment we’ve been using until now, it would sometimes take up to 8 minutes after receiving a fire-mission request to have effective rounds hitting the target. With a digitized Triple 7 effective fire can be achieved in under 2 minutes.”

November 2005: Canada. As part of its preparations for Operation Archer in Afghanistan, the Canadian Forces orders 6 BAE Systems M777 Lightweight towed howitzers with precision-guided Excalibur 155mm shells and digitized fire control systems (C$ 70 million). The howitzers are to arrive by February 2006, and Excalibur shells by May 2006. See “Canada Purchases $200M in Equipment for Operation ARCHER in Afghanistan

Canada – 6

Oct 2005: USMC 3/11 Mike battery returns from their second deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom, mostly in infantry roles, to begin training on the M777. USMC release.

August 2005: 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, is firing the M777 Howitzer at USMC Camp Pendleton for the first time. USMC release.

May 2005: The cannoneers of Kilo and Lima Batteries, 11th Marine Regiment, are the US Marine Corps first 2 artillery batteries to field and fire the M777.

In December 2005, however, 3/11 Kilo Battery are scheduled to deploy to Okinawa, Japan, as part of the Unit Deployment Program. Okinawa does not have the M777, so Kilo Battery begins fielding their older M198s to refresh their skills. US Marine Corps.

(click to view full)

March 24/05: +495. Following additional system development, BAE Systems announces an $834 million dollar contract for full-rate production of the M777A1 155mm howitzer. Under the production contract, issued by the Joint Program Office in Picatinny, NJ, BAE Systems will manufacture 495 howitzers between 2005-2009. The howitzer is assembled at BAE Systems’ integration facility in Hattiesburg, MS, and incorporates components manufactured in 10 states and the U.K.

production – 495

Dec 2/02: +94. The U.S. Marine Corps has awarded a $135 million contract to BAE SYSTEMS for low rate initial production (LRIP) of the M777 lightweight 155mm howitzer. Under the initial phase of the LRIP contract, BAE SYSTEMS will manufacture 94 howitzers for the Marine Corps over the next 2 years. Initial deliveries will begin in February 2004 from the company’s Hattiesburg, MS facility. Approximately 70% of the M777 is manufactured in the USA, as BAE SYSTEMS has assembled an industrial team that includes 9 suppliers located in 9 states. Business Wire..

production – 94

Additional Readings & Sources

Categories: News

Moving Target: Raytheon’s GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb II

Tue, 05/19/2015 - 00:07
GBU-53/B, aka. SDB-II
(click to view full)

The 250 pound GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb gives American fighters the ability to carry more high-precision GPS-guided glide bombs, without sacrificing punching power against fortified targets. The initial award to Boeing was controversial, and the Darlene Druyun corruption scandal ultimately forced a re-compete of the Increment II development program. Whereas the initial GBU-39 SDB-I offered GPS-guided accuracy in a small and streamlined package, the goal of the GBU-53 SDB-II competition was a bomb that could hit moving targets in any weather, using a combination of guidance modes.

For the SDB-II competition, Boeing found itself allied with Lockheed Martin, its key opponent for the initial SDB-I contract. Its main competitor this time was Raytheon, whose SDB-II bid team found itself sharing its tri-mode seeker technology with a separate Boeing team, as they compete together for the tri-service JAGM missile award against… Lockheed Martin. So, is Raytheon’s win of the SDB-II competition also good news for its main competitor? It’s certainly good news for Raytheon, who wins a program that could be worth over $5 billion.

Raytheon’s GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb SDB-II: cutaway
(click to view full)

Raytheon’s GBU-53/B SDB-II is 7″ in diameter around the tri-mode (laser, IIR, radar) seeker, with a clamshell protective door that comes off when the bomb is dropped. A GPS receiver adds a 4th targeting mode. The bomb tapers to about 6″ diameter beyond the pop-out wings, and is about 69.5″ long. The wings remain swept back when deployed, and are about 66″ across with a 5 degree anhedral slope. The bomb weighs about 200 pounds, and all of these dimensions are important when trying to ensure that the US Marines’ F-35B, with its cut-down internal weapon bays, can still carry 4 of them per bay.

The US Navy is developing a Joint Miniature Munitions BRU to address internal F-35 carriage, and SDB-II also fits on BRU-61 external bomb racks. No word yet on whether the JMM BRU will also fit in the USAF’s F-22A, which is also slated to deploy this weapon.

Range is expected to be up to 40 nautical miles when launched at altitude, thanks to a high lift-to-drag ratio in the design. Since SDB-II is an unpowered glide bomb, its actual range will always depend on launching altitude and circumstances. An F-22A would be able to extend that range significantly by launching at supercruise speeds of Mach 1.5, for instance, as long as the bomb proves safe and stable at those launch speeds.

SDB-II’s Attack Modes: Seekers & Sequences SDB-Is on F-15E
(click to view larger)

Once a target is picked by the pilot, initial communication and GPS coordinates are transmitted between the aircraft and the SDB-II bomb using the Universal Armament Interface (UAI) messaging protocol, which was designed to make integration of new weapons easier. The post-launch datalink will be Rockwell Collins’ TacNet, a 2-way, dual band link that enters the network quickly using encrypted UHF radio frequencies from the ground or secure Link-16 from the launching aircraft, and provides both weapon and target status to the shooter. TacNet’s datalink software is programmable if other frequencies/waveforms need to added in future, and Raytheon cites a message speed of 38 messages per minute as further evidence of the system’s ability to keep pace with future needs. Link-16 makes the weapon part of a much larger system, and gives SDB-II the ability to be dropped by one platform and then targeted or re-targeted by another. The bomb can also be sent an abort command, if necessary. If the link is lost, the bomb will continue with its mission, using its own on-board seekers.

Raytheon’s SDB-II contender uses a close precursor of the tri-mode seeker technology featured in the joint Raytheon/Boeing bid for the JAGM missile, which adds some refinements. The SDB-II uses jam-resistant GPS/INS targeting like Boeing’s GBU-39 SDB-I, but its added seeker features 3 modes of operation: semi-active laser, millimeter-wave radar, and uncooled imaging infrared. By combining these 3 modes, the GBU-53 can have excellent performance against a variety of target types, under any weather conditions, while making it much more difficult to use countermeasures or decoys successfully:

GBU-53 uses IIR/MMW
click for video

Semi-active laser guidance. This is standard for a wide range of missiles and rockets, and offers the best on-target accuracy and assurance, especially in urban environments. Its flip side is problematic performance through heavy fog, sandstorms, etc. That’s where GPS/INS guidance to a specified coordinate, and the next 2 fire-and-forget modes, come in.

Millimeter wave radar will operate through any weather. It’s especially good at distinguishing metal targets and noting movement, and is used in weapons like AGM-114 Hellfire Longbow missiles to give them “fire and forget” capability. These days, most people probably hear the term and think of airport scanners.

Imaging infrared (IIR) This was adapted from the much larger AGM-154 JSOW glide bomb, and uses high-resolution thermal scans to create a target picture. It also helps with target identification, and offers better performance against some kinds of targets like humans. By using an uncooled IIR seeker, the bomb lowers both its cost and its maintenance requirements. The uncooled seeker also allows snap-attacks against targets that present themselves quickly, since the it doesn’t need any time to cool down before it begins to work.

GBU-53 uses laser
click for video

Once launched, the SDB-II relies on a sophisticated package of internal computing and algorithms that are designed to get the most out of its tri-mode sensors, and make the process of launch and targeting as simple and flexible as possible for the pilot. The GPS/INS system or datalink messages guide the bomb toward the target during the initial search phase, while the tri-mode seeker gathers initial data. A revisit phase combines information from all of its sensor modes to classify targets. That’s especially useful because the SDB-II can be told to prioritize certain types of targets, for example by distinguishing between tracked and wheeled vehicles, or by giving laser “painted” targets priority.

SDB-II warhead test
(click to view full)

Different targets require different warhead types, which is why the GBU-53 contains a warhead from General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems that delivers shaped charge, blast and fragmentation effects all at once. A scored blast and fragmentation warhead makes it deadly against buildings and people as well.

This warhead was actually redesigned mid-way through the development phase, as the USAF added a requirement to destroy main battle tanks. That initial hardship became a positive experience, as the redesign actually ended up shrinking Team Raytheon’s bomb’s size, and improving its manufacturing costs.

SDB-II: The Program

As of 2013, the Boeing SDB-I/ GBU-39 Small Diameter Bob program was finished production at 12,300 weapons, and 2,000 BRU-61 bomb racks. Another 350 specialized Focused Lethality Munitions use carbon fiber bodies to deliver more near-field blast and less collateral damage; their last order was in FY 2012. Going forward, SDB-II is expected to be the default buy.

The overall program target for SDB-II is about 17,000 weapons over about 11 years: 12,000 bombs for the USAF, and 5,000 for the US Navy. Initial fielding will take place on USAF F-15E Strike Eagles, and F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, even though the USMC and US Navy’s F-35B/C Block 4s are technically the program’s 2nd “threshold aircraft. Software development issues are likely to push F-35 fielding to 2022 or later in practice. Planned candidates for future fielding include F-16, F-22A, and F-35A multi-role fighters; B-52, B-1B, and stealth B-2A bombers; and MQ-9 Reaper drones.

Special Operations Command is even considering it for their AC-130 gunships, though they aren’t an official “objective” platform just yet. SDB-II was also supposed to equip the USAF’s A-10C close support planes, but the Pentagon is battling Congress to cancel the program.

The GBU-53 may also feature integration with other fighters, if the bombs are sold abroad. Raytheon isn’t in discussions with any foreign buyers yet, and doesn’t foresee the US government releasing the weapon for export discussions and sales before Low-Rate Initial Production begins in late 2014.

SDB-II schedule, 2010
(click to view full)

The SDB II Program is currently a $450.8 million Fixed Price Incentive Firm-type Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract. F-15E integration is being accomplished by Boeing in St. Louis, MO through the F-15 Development Systems Program Office using Air Force SDB II funding. The F-35B and F-35C aircraft integration contract will be awarded to Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, TX by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter JPO using Department of the Navy SDB II funding.

Elements of the SDB-II design have been tested, but putting the entire weapon together with its carrying aircraft and declaring the combination ready for fielding is still a development effort. Although many military development efforts are “cost-plus” (contractor’s costs plus an agreed percentage), the US military issued the SDB-II EMD Phase development contract as a fixed-price contract with incentives. The targeted flyaway cost per unit during Full Rate Production was $FY05 62-81k, but that doesn’t include amortized development costs; just the bomb, container, and shipping. Current Pentagon documents indicate that $FY19 100-125k per unit is likely.

Right now, the key challenge is making it through the development process successfully. The program is progressing well, but in FY 2011 it hit a funding shortfall from Congress that has crimped its progress. Past and projected budgets include:

Raytheon’s Industrial Approach

Before it won the SDB-II development contract in 2010, Raytheon had secured firm-fixed price quotes in for 90% of required materials from its suppliers, and conducted detailed planning for whole program that includes reservations for setbacks and project margins. These are necessary steps for any fixed-price development program, but this is a good illustration of the fact that it’s often the work done before contracts are signed that determines a program’s fate.

In terms of the industrial team, Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ will be the final assembly center, with key items and assemblies coming in from several supply-chain partners:

  • General Dynamics OTS: Fuze and dual-mode shaped charge blast/fragmentation warhead.
  • Klune Industries: Overbody.
  • Rockwell Collins: TacNet dual-band (Link-16, UHF), 2-way datalink.
  • Raytheon Dene at NAPI, NM: Aft section.
  • Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ: Tri-mode seeker.
  • The program also uses Goodrich and Cobham to make the bomb’s deployment mechanisms, and Celestica will be manufacturing circuit cards.

Raytheon executives said that they took a somewhat different supply-chain approach to the SDB-II, picking suppliers early and then working directly with them to improve productivity at every step. While Raytheon prototyped their final assembly line, and began using lean production techniques to reduce the amount of “touch labor” and improve productivity, they brought in suppliers to do the same thing. For instance, Celestica engineers were embedded with the team, in order to run their own producibility tools on circuit card designs and refine them to improve yield and costs. Rockwell Collins, who makes the datalink, did the same thing. This is not uncommon in general manufacturing, but defense manufacturing has traditionally been more stovepiped.

Within Raytheon itself, another key industrial choice involved the uncooled infrared seeker. As noted above, uncooled infrared has lower performance than cooled infrared designs, in exchange for snap-attack capability, better reliability, and lower production and maintenance costs. If Raytheon wanted to use this aproach, they would have to begin early, and take a risk. Their engineers worked to adapt the IIR seeker in their 2,000 pound AGM-154 JSOW as a starting point, and they did eventually produce a version that fit SDB-II, was cheaper to manufacture, and more than met government requirements.

Raytheon’s initial team during development will be about 300, but this is expected to drop below 50 for production phase – in part because Raytheon has already used lean techniques, and focused from the beginning on creating a design that was simpler to manufacture.

Minimum Sustaining Rate for production is just 30 weapons/ month, with normal production at 117 and maximum surge production rising to 250/ month. Projected American buys through FY 2019 never top 140/month, which should leave plenty of room for export orders.

Contracts and Key Events FY 2012 – 2014

Cheaper than expected – but F-35 lateness could endanger that; F-35 is biggest risk; Phase 1 testing done; GAO Report. The biggest risk
(click to view full)

Oct 28/14: JMM. Raytheon Technical Services LLC in Indianapolis, IN a sole-source $35 million indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for F-35 integration of the Joint Miniature Munitions Bomb Rack Unit (JMM BRU), including integration and life cycle technical support throughout the technology development and engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD); and EMD F-15 flight test and production phases.

Work will be performed at Indianapolis, IN and is expected to be complete by Aug 31/21. USAF Life Cycle Management Center at Eglin AFB, FL manages the contract (FA8672-15-D-0054).

June 26/14: Testing. Raytheon and the USAF have concluded a series of SDB-II GTV flight tests using the IIR/MMW seeker, culminating in direct hits on stationary land targets. Those can be harder to hit than moving targets, which naturally stand out more against fixed object ground clutter.

The GTVs are full GBU-53 rounds, but with telemetery in place of the warhead. Raytheon says that there have been other Guided Test Vehicle shots between October 2013 and this announcement, including moving target shots, as part of the testing program. Live-fire shots with full warheads are expected in August or September 2014. Sources: Raytheon, “Small Diameter Bomb II nears end of development phase”.

April 16/14: Exports. The Pentagon releases is next set of Selected Acquisition Reports, which includes a reference to exports:

“SDB II is a Defense Exportability Features (DEF) pilot program and meetings were held on January 15, 2014 with the DEF Program Office, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics), Office of the Director, International Cooperation and Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS). The Program Office is working with RMS to incorporate a Phase II approach for implementing design changes to support exportability requirements. The Program Office briefed the Tri-Service Committee on January 16, 2014 and a favorable decision memorandum was received on February 4, 2014.”

March 31/14: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2013, plus time to compile and publish. Our program dashboard has been updated accordingly. SDB-II still has good looking cost figures and a stable design, with 11/12 sub-system (all but the seeker) passing qualification testing. Bad news? There are a couple of flaws that need to be fixed, and its schedule is out of margin.

The System Verification Review has slipped 7 months to August 2014, due in part to 2 test failures (cover stuck on seeker, navigation error). They’ve also found a leak in the warhead case, and seeker encoders that died under vibration testing. The seeker encoders have a fix ready by the time the GAO report closed, but not the case leak. Meanwhile, the program resumed testing again in October 2013, and the 3 tests since went well. They need 11 total successful flight tests to pass Milestone C into low-rate production, including 2 live fire events. It amounts to 7 successful flight tests remaining over 5 months.

March 4-11/14: FY15 Budget/ R&D. The US military slowly files its budget documents, detailing planned spending from FY 2014 – 2019. The “flyaway” cost per SDB-II is expected to hover around $242,000 in FY 2014, but costs are expected to drop to around $125,000 by FY 2018. Totals are reflected in the chart above. The reports also call attention to the development of an new internal bomb rack for the Navy, which is considered to be part of the program’s overall R&D:

“The Joint Miniature Munitions Bomb Rack Unit (JMM BRU) is an Air Force (AF) led ACAT III program. It is required for the Department of the Navy’s (DoN) carriage of the SDB II weapon in the internal bay of the F-35B and F-35C…. The BRU-61/A, currently in production in the AF, does not meet the needs to operate with SDB II within the F-35 internal bay in the DoN environment. The JMM BRU, designated BRU-61A/A, fills the capability gap….”

No US Navy buy totals are given in the detailed budget justifications, but the Budget Briefing contains the expected figures for FY 2017 – 2019; which indicates that the USN will be buying SDB-II at the USAF’s flyaway cost. This USAF budget justification excerpt is also relevant:

“As a result of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) (F-35) programs restructure, SDB II integration was moved from the JSF Operational Flight Plan (OFP) Block 3 to Block 4. IOC is FY2020.”

The program office hasn’t officially changed the date, in other words. F-35 OFP Block 3F operating software might be ready by 2020, but the Norwegians have been told to plan for 2022 – 2024 as the window for actual fielding of F-35s with operational Block 4 software, and hence Kongsberg’s new JSM anti-ship missile.

Jan 28/14: DOT&E Testing Report. The Pentagon releases the FY 2013 Annual Report from its Office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E). The SDB-II is included in passing:

“This project addresses the inaccuracies in engineering models to predict sympathetic detonation of solid rocket propellant when subjected to non?reactive fragments and shaped charge threats. The Air Force 780th Test Squadron tested the ability of the small diameter bomb [DID: SDB-II in the labeled picture] warhead to detonate 122 mm rocket motors. The test results were compared with predictions from Sandia National Laboratories’ Combined Hydro and Radiation Transport Diffusion Hydrocode by Applied Research Associates. Analysis is ongoing, and is expected to enable further development of concepts and methodologies for enhanced vulnerability, lethality, and survivability in the area of insensitive munitions and non-reactive materials.”

Oct 29/13: Testing resumes. Raytheon announces that the USAF has concluded its series of test flights with the SDB-II GTV, using the bomb’s Imaging Infrared and Milimeter-Wave Radar guidance and culminating in “direct hits on targets moving at operationally representative speeds.” Next? System Verification Review and a Milestone C decision, which is behind schedule.

This is actually the 1st set of tests following a 6-month testing moratorium, which was prompted by seeker cover and navigation failures in previous tests. The firm says that the USAF has invested over $700 million in the program so far. Sources: Raytheon, Oct 29/13 release.

March 28/13: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs“. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. Overall, SDB-II is a stable design with maturing technologies. It successfully completed a test in its most difficult Immediate Attack sub-mode, but another test failed when the front sensor’s protective dome cover refused to come off.

They’re working on that urgently, as more delays to the Milestone C/ LRIP (Low-Rate Initial Production) decision risk re-negotiation of the Pentagon’s LRIP-1 through LRIP-5 production contract years. If so, it would raise costs that had come in substantially under budget. Meanwhile, Raytheon will build 50 GTV bombs for testing and live fire before beginning Low-Rate Initial Production, which is expected to involve a whopping 40% of planned GBU-53 lifetime orders (math says about 6,800 bombs).

Unfortunately, SDB-II/ GBU-53 has been affected by the F-35’s lateness, which has forced postponement of SDB-II’s Full Rate Production decision by another 2 years, to 2020. The GPS-only SDB-I will now integrated with the F-35 2 years ahead of the SDB-II, and so will other weapons with more sensitive thermal and vibration requirements. That will help the Pentagon discover whether the F-35s conform to their design documents, or whether weapon changes will be required in several weapon types including the GBU-53. Meanwhile, SDB-II will deploy aboard the F-15E.

Jan 22/13: Testing. Raytheon touts a successful fit check of the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II in the F-35A, with 4 GBU-53s loaded alongside an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. Essentially, the 4 SDB-IIs replace one 2,000 pound JDAM.

The weapons seemed to have adequate space, though flight testing will be needed to be sure. The F-35B will be a more challenging test, because its internal bay is smaller.

July 17/12: Testing. An F-15E Strike Eagle flying over White Sands Missile Range, NM launches a GBU-53/B, which successfully engages and hits a moving target using its tri-mode seeker’s IIR and radar sensors. Raytheon.

March 30/12: GAO Report. The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” for 2012, which include the GBU-53. Overall, the GAO sees good progress, with 97% of design drawings releasable by the 2011 Critical Design Review, and serious efforts to achieve manufacturing maturity before production. As with any early stage EMD program, however, risks remain. The biggest may be Congressional management of weapons procurement:

“A postdesign review identified several risks related to weapon effectiveness verification, target classification, seeker reliability, and JSF [F-35B/C Block 4] integration. The program office is working to address each of these risks… However, the program’s biggest risk – integration with the JSF – will not be resolved until after [low-rate initial] production begins… The SDB II program office is managing a $53 million funding shortfall in fiscal year 2011, which could have programmatic and contractual implications. The SDB II contract is an incrementally funded, fixed-price incentive contract, and program officials stated that the funding shortfall could mean that the next part of the work will have to be deferred or the contract will need to be renegotiated or terminated.”

March 30/12: SAR shows success. The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 31/11 includes the SDB-II, and validates many of Raytheon’s releases:

“Small Diameter Bomb Increment II (SDB II) – Program costs decreased $994.1 million (-19.1%) from $5,206.6 million to $4,212.5 million, due primarily to a decrease in the estimate to reflect actual contract pricing (-$994.3 million).”

That’s 23.6% less than the baseline estimate, a very impressive achievement for any weapons program.

Good contract

Nov 16/11: Testing. Raytheon says that things are going very well for the SDB-II’s warhead, and the entire program is on cost and ahead of schedule:

“After building the test warheads on the production line, engineers put the warheads through an accelerated conditioning regime equivalent to 500 flight hours and 20 years of aging in a bunker, followed by live detonation testing… [It] performed at twice what was required…”

Nov 8/11: Industrial. Raytheon announces that its engineers have used design changes and other improvement approaches to cut the time for building SDB-II uncooled tri-mode seekers almost in half, from more than 75 hours to 40 hours. This is part of Raytheon’s efforts to meet their promised prices.

FY 2010 – 2011

Raytheon wins; Program baseline set; Early industrial work & tests. SDB-II test pod
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Aug 16/11: Industrial. Raytheon announces that they’ve built their 5th GBU-53 tri-mode seeker in its new automated factory, which is dedicated to tri-mode seekers. That specialization may be helpful to other programs as well. Tom White, Raytheon’s SDB II program director, says that:

“Building integrated tri-mode seekers is much more complicated than just putting together three unrelated sensors, and our fifth build proves Raytheon is the only company with the technical expertise to manufacture [them]… We’re meeting predicted component build times, and as we continue to mature the program, we will find other efficiencies and cost savings we will pass on to the customer.”

Aug 8/11: Testing. Raytheon says that a series of laboratory tests on the SDB-II’s tri-mode seeker “demonstrated that it exceeds anticipated performance parameters.” Good job.

July 28/11: Support. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a maximum $70 million firm-fixed-price contract to provide Small Diameter Bomb II technical support. The AAC/EBMK at Eglin Air Force Base, FL manages the contracts (FA8672-11-D-0107).

April 4/11: CDR. Raytheon announces that the SDB II program completed a USAF critical design review (CDR), clearing the way for the weapon to begin captive flight testing later in 2011.


Nov 15/10: SAR Baseline. The Pentagon releases its Selected Acquisition Report for the September 2010 reporting period. With respect to SDB-II, the total expected program cost is listed as $5.21 billion, if it continues through planned production:

“This was the initial SAR following Milestone B approval authorizing the program to enter the engineering manufacturing and development (EMD) phase in August 2010. The EMD phase contract was awarded to Raytheon Missile Systems for $450.8 million. [The gating decision for] Low Rate Initial Production (Milestone C) is planned for August 2013.”

Program baseline

Nov 2/10: Sub-contractors. Rockwell Collins announces what Raytheon had already confirmed: its TacNet datalink will be part of the GBU-53.

Rockwell Collins’ TacNet data link system is a small form factor, dual-channel, 2 waveform terminal that enables in-flight target updates, retargeting, weapon handover coordination, bomb hit assessments and better cooperation with other networked platforms.

Aug 9/10: Contract. Raytheon Missile Systems in Tucson, AZ receives a $450.8 million contract to cover the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb Increment II program’s engineering and manufacturing development phase. Delivery is expected to begin in 2013, with a required availability date in late 2014.

At first, the SDB-II will be integrated on the USAF’s F-15E Strike Eagles, the US Marines’ F-35B, and the US Navy’s F-35C aircraft. The F-35Bs should just be entering service by 2013, but the F-35Cs aren’t expected to enter service until after SDB-II deliveries begin. Raytheon Missile Systems president says that their design “fully meets the load-out requirements for all versions of the fifth generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s internal weapon bays.” SDB-II integration is also expected to extend to other USAF and US Navy aircraft and UAVs over time. At this time, $23.5 million has been committed by the Miniature Munitions AAC/EBMK at Eglin AFB, FL (FA8672-10-C-0002).

During the fly-off’s technical demonstration program, Raytheon had to prove that its compact tri-mode seeker could seamlessly transition between guidance modes, and demonstrate claimed performance and reliability. Raytheon says that their GBU/53-B seeker flew 26 missions in 21 days, without a single hardware failure. Raytheon.

Raytheon wins EMD Phase

FY 2009 and Earlier

Protest derails; New early-phase awards; Big design changes. SDB-I: separated.
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2008: Design shifts. Mid way through the 38-month risk reduction program, Team Raytheon is faced with challenges on 2 fronts. One challenge was the need to carry 8 SDB-II bombs in the cut-down internal bomb bay of the F-35B STOVL (Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) fighter. That meant the weapon had to become shorter, always a challenge when space is at a premium. The second challenge came from the USAF, which wanted a weapon that could disable main battle tanks. That meant the blast & fragmentation warhead the team had begun with wasn’t going to work.

In response, GD OTS started work on an innovative ‘multi-effects’ warhead. It would use a shaped charge plasma jet to kill tanks, and a scored case design improved fragmentation effects to the point that USAF engineers reportedly dubbed it “the shredder.” Meanwhile, seeker electronics had to be repackaged in a way that provided a clear path for the plasma jet. As it happens, the warhead and seeker changes allowed the bomb to become shorter, and the seeker changes made it easier and cheaper to manufacture. Raytheon would go on to win the competition. Aviation Week.

April 17/06: Contracts. The Headquarters Air-To-Ground Munitions Systems Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, FL awards 2 cost-plus fixed-fee R&D contracts under the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) Increment II, 42-month Risk Reduction Phase. The purpose of the Risk Reduction phase is to define and validate a system concept that meets the performance requirements outlined in the SDB II System Performance Specification. Successful tests with modified JDAM recently, and weapons like Israel’s Spice GPS/INS/EO “scene-matching” bombs, strongly indicate that success is possible. Solicitations began December 2005, negotiations were complete in March 2006, and work will be complete in October 2009. The 2 winners will be competing for selection in 42 months as the prime contractor for the SDB II program, which has a potential value of $1.3-1.7 billion.

Boeing subsidiary McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, MO receives a $145.8 million contract (FA8681-06-C-0151). This is actually a Boeing/Lockheed venture as of October 2005; prime contractor Boeing will supply the weapon and data link system, while principal supplier Lockheed Martin provides the multi-mode seeker that lets it hit moving targets. That leaves Boeing’s original Small Diameter Bomb partner, Northrop-Grumman, out in the cold.

Raytheon Co. in Tucson, AZ received its own $145.8 million contract (FA8681-06-C-0152), and is competing on its own.

Risk Reduction Phase

Feb 18/05: GAO protest. The Congressional Government Accountability Office (GAO) sustains Lockheed Martin’s protest. It finds that Darlene Druyun had played a role in the bid process that led to changes in the bomb’s technical requirements, and the deletion of related evaluation criteria. The GAO recommends a re-opened competitive procurement for the program’s $1.7 billion second phase, which had previously been awarded to Boeing and Northrop-Grumman along with SDB-I.

In September 2005, the USAF decided to re-open the Small Diameter Bomb Increment II competition. Increment II was originally awarded to Boeing and Northrop-Grumman as part of the overall SDB award.

Protest sustained

Additional Readings

DID thanks Raytheon Missile Systems, including SDB-II Deputy Program Director Murali Krishnan and Jeff White of Air Warfare Systems, for their assistance. Any errors are our own damn fault.

Categories: News

Report: Germany to Select MEADS | Long Range Strike Bomber Decision To Be Quick | Russia Courts Peru for T-55 Upgrades

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 02:24

  • The Air Force is reportedly set to award a contract for the next-generation Long Range Strike Bomber “within one to two months”. The competition between Northrop Grumman and a Lockheed Martin/Boeing team will lead to a program valued at between $44 and $55 billion, with this equating to between 80 and 100 bombers. The LRS-B program will realign from from Air Combat Command to Air Force Global Strike Command from October.

  • General Electric and Pratt & Whitney were both awarded $105 million modifications on Friday to cover a potential contract award for the Adaptive Engine Technology Development order, with the Air Force also reportedly looking to open future competition for F-35 upgrades.

  • The Navy announced Friday that it has achieved Initial Operating Capability with the Block II Rolling Airframe Missile aboard the USS Arlington (LPD 24). The joint program with Germany was recently included as part of a $1.6 billion overhaul package by the US Navy intended to provide improved protection to carriers and amphibious ships.

  • In other Navy news, the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) has been successfully “no-load” tested on CVN-78. The system – manufactured by General Atomics – uses electricity as a propulsion system, as opposed to current steam-based catapults. The new system will offer improved performance, reduced stress on aircraft and other benefits. EMALS will be complemented by the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) – also manufactured by General Atomics – with this system seeing schedule delays and reportedly likely to miss its March 31st deadline next year.

  • On Friday, 21 firms were awarded a $7.9 billion IDIQ contract for Network-Centric Solutions-2 (NETCENTS-2) network operations and infrastructure solutions, with an initial period of 3 years.

  • Peru and Russia are reportedly in talks regarding potential modernization of the South American state’s approximately 200 T-55 main battle tanks. With previous reports suggesting that the Russians would be willing to sell the more advanced T-90S to the Peruvians, the reports regarding the T-55s also stated that Peru is not considering any new procurement contracts.


  • The German Defense Ministry has reportedly selected the MEADS system as a replacement for its existing Patriots. The Defense Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the reports circulating in German media, with an official decision expected to be announced in June. MEADS – Medium Extended Air Defense System – has been jointly developed by Lockheed Martin and MBDA, with funding received from three partner nations; the US, Germany and Italy. If the system has been selected over competitor Raytheon – who are offering upgrades to the in-service Patriots – then this would be a much-needed boost to the MEADS consortium, which urgently needs a buyer having failed to impress the US Army owing to cost and schedule overruns.

  • Latvia has installed a NATO air defense system to improve air surveillance over the Baltic states. The TPS-77, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is a mobile Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), with the new system set to complement two existing systems currently in operation in order to monitor the entirety of Latvia’s eastern border. Those were ordered in 2007.

  • Turkey is reportedly looking to equip its domestically-produced UAVs with indigenous Bozok missiles, set for serial production by Tubitak SAGE. The Turkish Aerospace Industries Anka UAV is the most likely candidate for the new missiles.


  • India’s fourth Komrota-class ASW corvette is set to be launched on Tuesday, with the INS Kavaratti the last of the Indian Navy’s Project 28 ships. The ships – built by Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers (GRSE) – have been designed to succeed the Kora-class. Russia also recently unveiled a new destroyer design – the Project 23560E Shkval destroyer.

Today’s Video

  • The Anka UAV in action…

Categories: News

Beyond Patriot? The Multinational MEADS Air Defense Program

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 01:00
MEADS: air view
(click to view full)

The Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program aimed to replace Patriot missiles in the United States, the older Hawk system in Germany, and Italy’s even older Nike Hercules missiles. MEADS will be designed to kill enemy aircraft, cruise missiles and UAVs within its reach, while providing next-generation point defense capabilities against ballistic missiles. MBDA’s SAMP/T project would be its main competitor, but MEADS aims to offer improved mobility and wider compatibility with other air defense systems, in order to create a linchpin for its customers’ next-generation air defense arrays.

The German government finally gave their clearance in April 2005, and in June 2005 MEADS International (MI) formally signed a contract worth approximately $3.4 billion to design and develop the tri-national MEADS system. In February 2011, however, events began to signal the likely end of the program. Since then, the US Administration has been battling with Congress where there is little support for a continued American participation.

MEADS: The System MEADS concept
click for video

MEADS was intended to match up against foreseeable enemy aircraft over the next 30 years, as well as stealthier and/or supersonic cruise missiles, UAVs, and even ballistic missiles. The system will incorporate its own 3-radar set, along with networked communications for use as either a stand-alone system, or a component of larger air defense clusters that include other missiles.

The core vehicle for the US MEADS program appears to be the USA’s FMTV 6×6 trucks. These 5-ton capacity vehicles will carry the radars, containerized Tactical Operations Center (TOC), launcher, and reload packs. FMTVs can be carried in C-130 aircraft, and MEADS International has already tested some of the prototype systems for fit. Italian and German test vehicles have used their own national truck brands, and the Germans in particular appear to leaning to larger vehicles.

During the MEADS SDD phase, MEADS International was asked finalize designs for equipment and complete their integration into the system. The system’s 6 major equipment items are:

US TOC, ItAF launcher
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[1] Netted and distributed Battle Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (BMC4I) Tactical Operations Center (TOC). The 3-workstation TOC shelter is a joint project of EADS, Lockheed Martin, and MBDA. It can be carried by 3 different trucks to meet national preferences, and adapter systems could probably be built to widen the number of compatible wheeled and/or tracked vehicles.

[2] Two 360-degree, Multifunction Fire Control Radars (MFCRs). The X-band MFCR employs active phased array technology, using transmit/receive modules developed in Germany. It also incorporates advanced identification-friend-or-foe (IFF) sensors with improved capabilities. As a point of comparison, the G-band AN/MPQ-65 radar used in the PATRIOT Config-3 system has a 120 degree field for horizontal coverage, narrowing to 90 degrees for engagement. Raytheon has begun studies toward a rotating 360-degree version, but MEADS has one now.

[3] Surveillance radar. These “Low Frequency Sensor” UHF radars will have self-diagnostic capability, to ease the extra maintenance load caused by replacing 1 MPQ-53/65 Patriot radar with 3 improved MEADS radars.

[4] Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) certified missile round based on the current PAC-3 missile, augmented by Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) technologies that will give it greater range, and possibly greater performance.

[5] Light weight launcher, mounted on a truck with a built-in winch to auto-load the missile packs.

[6] Reloader truck.

MEADS components
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Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 MSE is still a hit-to-kill missile, with upgraded batteries, an 11-inch dual-pulse solid fuel rocket motor, a thermally hardened front end, a enlarged fins and better control surfaces to improve maneuverability, upgraded guidance software. The desired end result is a longer range missile that is more agile, and able to counter both tactical ballistic missiles and more conventional threats. It’s also being designed to cost less than existing PAC-3 missiles, and time will tell if it succeeds.

The missile has survived MEADS’ demise, and US Army budget documents indicate that production will begin in FY 2014. It will be added to existing PATRIOT batteries, and current plans call for 1,680 missiles to be produced.

MEADS: Mobility and Employment Harpy UAV’s dive attack
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As attack drones like Israel’s anti-radar Harpy long-loiter UAV, loitering precision missiles, and improved anti-radar missiles like the Italo-American AGM-88E AARGM come into service, air defense assets will also find themselves needing to use “switch-on/ switch-off” and “shoot and scoot” tactics to survive. This was certainly the pattern used by one successful battery in Serbia which not only survived the NATO air campaign, but used its 1970s-era SA-3 missiles to down an American F-117 stealth fighter. The idea is to have MEADS elements or other air defense systems “plug and fight,” joining in or breaking off from a common-picture air defense network as needed, in order to protect or reposition themselves.

Existing Patriot systems have some mobility to provide this kind of self-protection, but they aren’t really designed to maneuver with attacking US forces. Indeed, during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, the Patriot system’s heavy HEMTT trucks and other large equipment found themselves hard-pressed to keep up with the US military’s rate of advance.

Early C-130 test
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MEADS would be better than that, but it isn’t really a forward air defense system for mobile units. It was originally envisioned to be transportable by C-130 or equivalent medium transport aircraft, able to roll off the transport and begin operations very shortly thereafter. At present, most elements are designed to be compatible with the USA’s 5-ton capacity FMTV 6×6 trucks; depending on their final weight, FMTV-mounted MEADS components may even be transportable as underslung loads on medium-heavy helicopters like the CH-47 Chinook, CH-53 Super Stallion, and the notional Franco-German Heavy-Lift Helicopter. Even the container-sized Tactical Operations Center (TOC) is being designed to be able to drive on and drive off the C-130, or serve as an underslung load on CH-47/ CH-53 class helicopters.

Cutting set-up time and adding air-transportability should help MEADS improve on the Patriot system’s deployability into theater, and mobility within it. Even so, MEADS will retain mobility limitations of its own, due to the terrain limits inherent in all trucks. German forces will have options like their short-range LeFlaSys armored vehicle system for full front-line mobility, while US forward units on the move may end up relying on equally short range Stinger-based systems like hand-held FIM-92 missiles, Avenger Hummers, LAV-II ADs, or Bradley M6 Linebackers for short-range air defense. Note that a number of Bradley M6 and Hummer Avenger systems have been converted out of the air defense role, weakening US forward-based air defense options.

MEADS is designed to operate behind those forward defense systems, and its broader goal was an open architecture system that can plug into broader defensive systems, working with shorter-range systems like the USA’s SLAMRAAM/CLAWS vehicle-mounted AMRAAMs, Italy’s Spada 2000, etc.; with wider surveillance systems like the JLENS tethered blimps; and with longer range theater-defense systems like the Lockheed/ Raytheon/ Northrop-Grumman THAAD, IAI/Boeing’s Arrow-2, or even Raytheon’s naval SM-3 missiles, connected to a common view of the battlefield via Co-operative Engagement Capability. That open architecture’s first big test, will be much simpler, however: integrating a vertical launch version of the European IRIS-T short-range air-to-air missile alongside the longer-range, radar-guided PAC-3 MSE.

click for video

MEADS International claims that this emphasis on open architecture, plug-and-fight system capabilities in MEADS’ requirements has led to a MEADS Tactical Operations Center (TOC) that can support other MEADS stations, or even other air defense systems. Normal operations require only 2 of the 3 workstations, leaving an additional seat that lets the MEADS TOC be used as a wider task force level TOC, complete with German, Italian, U.S, and NATO command and control functionality. Germany planned to use this capability to integrate MEADS with ground-launched IRIS-T short range infrared guided missiles.

Lockheed Martin is even touting the MEADS BMC4I TOC as a key component of the US Army’s competition for an IBCS system that would integrate all anti-aircraft defenses in a sector.

MEADS: The Program MEADS fire unit
(click to see whole)

In September 2004, the NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) awarded MI a Design & Development letter contract valued at approximately $2.0 billion + EUR 1.4 billion (about $3.7 billion total at the time). Because Germany hadn’t signed yet, the initial letter contract involved preliminary funding to proceed on a “limited basis,” under the authority of the American-Italian MEADS Design and Development Memorandum of Understanding. Germany’s acceptance and signature in April 2005 enabled NAMEADSMA to sign the full MEADS D&D risk-reduction contract.

The MEADS venture is being led by Lockheed Martin Corp. and includes MBDA Italia, French-German aerospace firm EADS and Germany’s MBDA-LFK (LenkFlugKorpersysteme). Together, these companies have focused an international engineering team in Orlando to develop systems and technologies for the MEADS program. Development work was allocated in accordance with national funding: USA 58%, Germany 25%, and Italy 17%.

  • Lockheed Martin: Orlando, FL; Dallas, TX; Huntsville, AL; and Syracuse, NY.

  • MBDA-LFK: BMC4I control suite, launcher, Surveillance Radar; and Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) elements at plants around Munich, Germany.

  • MBDA’s Italian operating company MBDA Italia will perform work on the BMC4I, MFCR, and launcher/reloader elements in Rome, Italy.

(click to view full)

The original 1990s plan for MEADS was for production by 2007, but the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding resulted in a late start, and envisioned System Design & Development until 2014. The US Army intended to see benefits before that 9-year period was over, revising its MEADS acquisition strategy to combine management, development, and fielding of both the MEADS and PATRIOT systems. Under this spiral development approach, the Patriot/PAC-3 system would evolve toward MEADS through the early introduction of the MEADS Major End Items (MEI).

Key milestones for MEADS included a systems requirements review, followed by subsystem and system-level preliminary design reviews from about February 2007 to August 2007. Subsystem critical design reviews (CDR) were finished in 2009, followed by a system-level CDR that finished in 2010. A series of 9 flight-tests were planned from 2011 – 2013, and deployment was scheduled for 2018.

That won’t happen in the USA. By 2009, the US Army had examined its budgets, and declared that it didn’t want the system. They also added a long string of extra requirements, involving expensive integration with back-end command and control systems. The US Missile Defense Agency might have picked MEADS up instead, but by 2011, MEADS production date with all the new requirements had slipped to 2018 at the earliest, and the Pentagon had reservations about MEADS ability to meet even that. The program’s cost estimate was around $4.2 billion, and revised estimates threatened to push it even higher. In response, the USA moved toward ending the program at the end of the Design and Development MoU. Later in 2011, Germany also announced that it would stop at the end of the MoU, as part of their ongoing budget austerity program.

Lockheed Martin has pinned some hopes on its eventual revival if tests go well, and they have. Germany and Italy are reconsidering a European Follow-On Program (EFOP), and interest from Japan may yet help to save MEADS. Russia has also provided considerable assistance, by reigniting an atmosphere of threat and crisis in Europe, and China has done the same in Asia. Their inadvertent cooperation may yet prove to be as pivotal to MEADS as the USA’s.

If Not MEADS, What? Aster-30 launch
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In MEADS’ absence, the US Army intends to continue relying on its existing PATRIOT batteries, with some system upgrades and the new PAC-3 MSE missile. The MEADS LFS surveillance radar, developed under a separate contract with Lockheed Martin, may be the next PATRIOT addition.

Germany and Italy would have several options, if they wish to continue air defense modernization. MEADS will finish its reconfigured development program, but it will do so with key technologies unfinished.

One option would be to finish MEADS and buy it. Drumming up export interest elsewhere is critical, and they’ve reportedly received some interest in via Poland’s WISLA national air and missile defense program, and from Japan.

Italy would like to field a single MEADS battery around Rome, as the best point defense system they can afford. Or, they could simply delete the requirement for a MEADS battery, and rely on their high-end modern SAMP/T Aster-30 systems, which are BMD-capable against short range missiles.

NASAMS launch
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Germany has several options of its own. One possibility would be to take the same approach as the USA, and upgrade their existing PATRIOT batteries. They’re already in talks to do so, and would like to add some MEADS technologies, just as the USA is doing. If they do, the BMC4I command system and links to IRIS-T SL/SLS missile launchers are likely to join whatever systems the USA integrates with PATRIOT.

If Germany wanted to reach for more range than MEADS, and better ballistic missile defense than PATRIOT, they could buy EuroSAM/MBDA’s SAMP/T systems of their own as a new customer. Adding Germany to create a customer core of France, Germany and Italy would improve export prospects in Europe and abroad, while offering useful industrial spinoffs as the system becomes the core of Europe’s missile defense. SAMP/T’s down side is its high cost, a potentially fatal problem given the Euro-zone’s fiscal woes and Germany’s budget austerity. On the other hand, Iran’s continued development of longer-range missiles and nuclear weapons is likely to continue ratcheting up the pressure for European missile defense. If Europe decides not to rely wholly on America’s “phased adaptive approach” of off-continent THAAD systems and land-based SM-3 missiles, SAMP/T would be the logical choice.

Another option for Germany would be to sacrifice ballistic missile defense capability, and field less expensive replacement systems like the AIM-120 AMRAAM-based NASAMS from Kongsberg and Raytheon, already employed by Dutch, Norwegian, and Spanish forces within NATO. NASAMS already employs the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile used by the Italian and German air forces. It can be supplemented with short-range, radar-independent missiles like the IRIS-T SL which Germany intended to add to MEADS, or NASDAMS can extend its overall range by adding the RIM-162 ESSM that serves on German ships. To date, however, NASMS installations have been fixed sites. Mobility is possible, but some work would be required.

Contracts & Key Events

Beyond 2011, PAC-3 MSE related contracts are covered under DID’s general PATRIOT program coverage, as the missile gears up for production beginning in FY 2014. This article will only cover new MSE contracts in the context of MEADS purchases.

FY 2014-2015

Odds improving in Polish competition; Twin-kill test; IFF Mode 5 certification. Test preview
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May 18/15: The German Defense Ministry has reportedly selected the MEADS system as a replacement for its existing Patriots. The Defense Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied the reports circulating in German media, with an official decision expected to be announced in June. MEADS – Medium Extended Air Defense System – has been jointly developed by Lockheed Martin and MBDA, with funding received from three partner nations; the US, Germany and Italy. If the system has been selected over competitor Raytheon – who are offering upgrades to the in-service Patriots – then this would be a much-needed boost to the MEADS consortium, which urgently needs a buyer having failed to impress the US Army owing to cost and schedule overruns.

June 30/14: Poland. Poland’s MON announces the Wisla program’s finalists: Raytheon, and EuroSAM. Poland won’t become part of the MEADS program, nor will it buy Israel’s David’s Sling. The 2-stage technical dialogue led Poland to conclude that they required an operational system, and valued prior integration into NATO systems. Accordingly, MEADS and David’s Sling failed to qualify. Sources: Poland MON, “Kolejny etap realizacji programu Wisla zakonczony”.

Loss in Poland

June 16/14: Germany. MBDA Deutschland spokesman Wolfram Lautner says that Germany is considering MEADS adoption, even if it means going it alone on a EUR 2.5 – 3.5 billion program. A decision is expected by the end of 2014:

“The money would be spent on aligning MEADS with German standards and adapting it to fire the Iris-T missile, and it would start to go operational by 2018-19…. There is a requirement, and an RFP could be issued either to MEADS or for an updated version of the Patriot system Germany operates…. After that, there will be a negotiated contract and parliament will decide since the cost will exceed [the legal threshold of EUR] 25 million.”

Sources: Defense News, “Germany Could Spend €3 Billion To Get MEADS Going”.

May 21/14: IFF certification. MEADS gets full Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) certification from the United States Department of Defense International AIMS (Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System, Identification Friend or Foe, Mark XII/Mark XIIA, Systems) Program Office. The certified IFF system is used in both MEADS radar types: the UHF Surveillance Radar, and the X-band Multifunction Fire Control Radar.

Mode 5 is NATO’s most secure IFF mode, and certification is a big deal to European NATO countries who might wish to go forward with MEADS. Sources: MBDA, “MEADS System Gains Full Certification For Identifying Friend Or Foe Aircraft”.

IFF Mode 5 cert.

May 14/14: Poland. The USA has reportedly used export clearance to block Israel’s David’s Sling system from WISLA consideration, and France’s continued willingness to sell Russia amphibious assault helicopter carriers is hurting them. Which leaves a strong likelihood that WISLA will be American-made.

At the same time, Lockheed Martin’s Marty Coyne told Reuters that the US government had “supported the MEADS bid by giving Lockheed permission to offer producing its baseline PAC-3 missiles in Poland, and to help Polish industry set up production of its own long-range missile.” If the winner is MEADS, that would mean either a PAC-3 downgrade within the more advanced MEADS system, or full local production of the PAC-3 MSE, which is the USA most advanced air defense missile. Read “Alone, If Necessary: The Shield of Poland” for full coverage.

Nov 6/13: Twin-kill. MEADS testing provides an impressive swan song, as the system destroys a circling QF-4 Phantom drone to the south, while simultaneously nailing a Lance tactical ballistic missile coming in from the north at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The test used 3 PAC-3 MSE missiles, as planned, using semi-automatic mode to direct 2 missiles at the Lance and 1 at the QF-4.

The deployed system included all MEADS elements: The two 360-degree radars for Surveillance (UHF-band) and Multifunction Fire Control (X-Band), the Battle Manager, and a pair of launchers in the Italian and German configurations. Now it’s up to the USA to decide if it wants to add key MEADS technologies like the UHF VSR to PATRIOT, while Italy, Germany, and other potential buyers need to decide whether they want to buy the entire system. Sources: Lockheed Martin, Nov 6/13 release.

All tests finished

October 21/13: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces another successful test at White Sands, NM using the MFCR radar. Whereas the 1st test in April consisted of the (easy) tracking of a small aircraft, this time the result is more significant as the target was a 20 ft Lance tactical ballistic missile (TBM). Next month there is a final, more momentous test scheduled to wrap up 2013, which will combine the interception of a TBM with an air-breathing target. Source: Lockheed Martin, “MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar Tracks Tactical Ballistic Missile for First Time.”

FY 2013

Germany and Italy pursue EFOP follow-on, may have partners; MEADS cruise missile test is a kill; PAC-3 MSE missile aces high-low intercept test, MEADS wants its last test to be harder. Test launch #1
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June 19/13: Testing. During NATO’s Joint Project Optic Windmill (JPOW) exercises in May-June 2013, a MEADS tactical battle management command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (BMC4I) tested its ability to operate with other NATO systems. That’s important, because Germany, Italy, and others would need to use MEADS with NATO’s overarching command and control systems, in order to be most effective against ballistic missiles.

It was something of a lab test, and also somewhat limited. MEADS demonstrated the ability to transmit, receive and process Link 16 messages, as well as “other elements of threat engagement and target intercept.” It needs Link 16 and full threat engagement and target intercept data sharing. Lockheed Martin.

June 18/13: Testing & Future Plans. After the successful high-low test of PAC-3 MSE missiles mounted on a PATRIOT system (q.v. June 7/13), MEADS wants to use the same kind of challenging test for its last scheduled full-system test, with the 2 targets arriving almost simultaneously and 120 degrees apart, and 2 launchers participating together. That’s outside the PATRIOT’s capabilities, but proving MEADS this way means that the added cruise missile drone and accompanying test changes need to be funded. Which means they have to ask the USA, Germany, and Italy.

The Europeans may be interested in paying, even if the USA isn’t really sure what it wants to do with MEADS. That kind of demonstration would help their European Follow-on Program (EFOP) get traction with partners like Poland, and talks to lay out an EFOP plan are expected this fall. As things stand, it looks like the Europeans will get the BMC4I control centers to form the core of any further testing and development, a fire-control radar each, and 2 launchers. The United States really wants the surveillance radar. Aviation Week |

June 16/13: Germany. Raytheon’s VP of Integrated Air and Missile Defense, Sanjay Kapoor, tells Bloomberg that Germany is discussing an upgrade of its own PATRIOT systems, and wants to incorporate elements of MEADS after spending all that R&D money. Bloomberg.

June 7/13: MSE Splash 2. The improved PAC-3 MSE aces a big test at White Sands Missile Range, NM, killing both a tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target and a cruise missile. The missile is fired as part of a PATRIOT system, as opposed to its more advanced MEADS counterparts.

The TBM was assigned 2 ripple-fired missiles, but the 1st hit so #2 self-destructed. Missile #3 took out the BQM-74 jet-powered target drone. Preliminary data indicates that all test objectives were achieved. Lockheed Martin | Raytheon.

May 15/13: Export interest. Aviation week quotes Italian National Armaments Director Lt. Gen. Claudio Debertolis, and Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control EVP Rick Edwards, to confirm that 2 new nations are interested in MEADS. One of them is Poland, and the other is said to be Japan.

Poland is in the process of building a national air and missile defense system, and MEADS offers them a very strong air defense system with a BMD point defense option. Beyond its performance premium over PATRIOT, MEADS can also offer workshare benefits from early involvement.

Lt. Gen. Claudio Debertolis adds that Italy would like to deploy a single MEADS battery around Rome, as the most capable BMD solution that Italy can afford, given its poor fiscal situation. When one counts MBDA’s Aster-30 missiles deployed by Italian Horizon Class ships and SAMP/T army units, Rome could have a 2 layer BMD system. Aviation Week.

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. MEADS gets no FY 2014 funding, as expected. The $400.9 million budgeted in FY 2013 is designed to finish development, and meet all contractual obligations.

PAC-3 MSE missile production would begin with a budget of $540.5 million, covering 56 missiles plus long-lead time items for FY 2015’s 72 missiles. DID budget coverage.

April 9/13: Testing. MEADS tests continue under the development program, and Lockheed Martin continues to highlight progress in hopes of drumming up interest. During a recent test that tracked a small test aircraft near Syracuse, NY, MEADS’ UHF Low-Frequency Sensor radar succeeded in cueing its companion MFCR X-band fire-control radar, via the MEADS Battle Manager.

It’s a very basic test. Upcoming tests in a NATO exercise, and firing test #2 at White Sands missile range, will be much more significant. Lockheed Martin.

March 28/13: The US GAO tables its “Assessments of Selected Weapon Programs” for 2013. Which is actually a review for 2012, plus time to compile and publish. With respect to the “Patriot/Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) Combined Aggregate Program (CAP) Fire Unit,” the report pegs funding from all parties through FY 2013 at $3.3255 billion, including $781.9 million from the Pentagon during FY 2012 and 2013.

Development of the system support vehicle, MEADS network radio, and reloader has been cut, focusing efforts on the 360-degree MFCR fire control radar; near-vertical launcher; and battle management system. Program officials cite all 3 as having met or exceeded predicted performance. So, which technologies are likely to find their way into other programs, other than the PAC-3 MSE missile? The volume search radar is cited as the leading candidate, followed by the near-vertical launcher, and the cooling technology used for its rotating phased array radars.

The system’s final test in late 2013 will involve a ballistic missile, against a MEADS system that accompanies the MFCR with a low-cost (just 50% of T/R arrays) version of the surveillance/ volume search radar design.

March 26/13: Politics. MEADS survives another Senate vote, with $381 million included in the Continuing Resolution to finish development. It’s the usual argument: the contention that cancellation would cost as much as finishing funding, while eliminating all of the associated jobs early and preventing the Army from picking up some MEADS technologies for future use.

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste adds an interesting wrinkle, leaking a confidential Pentagon report that says it might not have to pay termination costs. It cites the 2005 MoU clause that makes MEADS activities subject to “the availability of funds appropriated for such purposes.” If Congress cuts off funding, does that mean the Army can exit the program with no penalty? Sen. Kelly Ayotte [R-NH] led the charge to reapportion MEADS funding to pay for operations and maintenance. Sens. Chuck Schumer [D-NY-LMCO], Senate Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski [D-MD], and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV] worked to keep Ayotte’s amendments from ever coming to the floor, believing that if they did, they’d probably pass.

In response, Sen. Ayotte has placed a hold on Alan Estevez’s nomination to be the next Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. She contends that MEADS was funded even though the NDAA prohibits such MEADS funding, via a provision that prevents the Pentagon from funding systems that won’t ever reach the battlefield. Sen. Ayotte in New Hampshire Sentinel Source | CNB News | Defense News Intercepts.

Jan 29/13: Italy & Germany letter. The German and Italian defense ministries send a formal letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, pressing the USA to continue MEADS funding through development. Excerpts:

“The results of the Design and Development (D&D) phase of the MEADS program remain vital for both Germany and Italy as they will be the basis for our future Air and Missile Defense System Architecture…. If the US does not fulfill its funding commitment for 2013, Germany and Italy would need to interpret this as a unilateral withdrawal. Under the terms of the MoU, Germany and Italy expect formal notification of the US intent to withdraw…. In a first estimate the current US position results in an economic damage to Germany and Italy of more than 400 Mio. US$…. In addition, there are wider implication of the US withdrawing or breaking the MoU and this would set a bad precedent for future transatlantic cooperation in principle.”


Nov 29/12: Intercept. A partial MEADS configuration with a networked MEADS battle manager, a lightweight launcher firing the PAC-3 MSE, and a 360-degree MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) intercept and kill an MQM-107 target drone simulating a cruise missile.

This is MEADS’ 1st intercept test; a 2nd is planned for late 2013. Lockheed Martin | MEADS, incl. more photos etc.

Cruise missile intercept

FY 2012

MEADS: ground view
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Aug 21/12: US Army Brig. Gen. Ole Knudson, Program Executive Officer Missiles and Space, said during a conference that the surveillance radar is the piece of MEADS most worth salvaging. The Army has already turned the PAC-3 MSE missile into its own program, so perhaps he means “the next piece of MEADS most worth salvaging.” AviationWeek.

July 2012: Difficult funding. So far this fiscal year, reviving support in the US Congress for the program has been rocky. The Administration asked for $400M in its February budget request. In response, the House voted a bill that would prohibit obligating or expending funds for MEADS. Later the Senate Armed Services Committee concurred. In its statement of policy [PDF] issued in June in response to the House NDAA FY13 bill, the OMB wrote that it:

“strongly objects to the Committee’s decision to omit funding for MEADS. If the Congress does not appropriate the funding in the FY 2013 Budget request, there is a high likelihood that this action would be perceived by our partners, Italy and Germany, as breaking our commitment under the Memorandum of Understanding. This could harm our relationship with our Allies on a much broader basis, including future multinational cooperative projects. It also could prevent the completion of the agreed Proof of Concept activities, which would provide data archiving, analysis of testing, and software development necessary to harvest technology from U.S. and partner investments in MEADS.

SecDef Panetta wrote to SAC Chairman Inouye to ask for his support. That seemed to help as the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee maintained $380M for MEADS funding in its markup. However, given far from universal support in the Senate and opposition in the House, this will be hard to push through the eventual bill, whenever that happens given the likelihood of a Continuing Resolution in the fall. Scenarios to terminate MEADS were already floated in a CBO report on deficit reduction [PDF] and by the Pentagon (see Feb 14/11 entry) in early 2011.

July 9/12: MSS-M. Lockheed Martin deploys an 18-wheeler rig with its MEADS System Stimulator – Mobile (MSS-M) to White Sands Missile Range, NM. Its’s a way of reducing costs, and lowering risks, both of which are critical to a program whose funding is running down, with no buyer in sight.

Without MSS-M, they’d be limited to hardware-in-the-loop simulations in a laboratory environment. With it, they can do the same work in the field, running simulations and checking performance by the same live systems that will be used in firing tests. They will be very busy as the first MEADS target intercept test, scheduled for later in 2012, approaches. Lockheed Martin.

June 12/12: Testing. The 1st MEADS power and communications unit hass finished acceptance testing in Germany. The truck-mounted power and communications unit provides power for the MEADS fire control and surveillance radars. It includes a diesel-powered generation unit. A separate commercial power interface unit permits radar operation using commercial power (50 Hertz/60 Hertz). Lockheed Martin.

April 19/12: Testing. The 1st MEADS X-band Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) has begun system-level testing with a MEADS battle manager and launcher at Pratica di Mare AFB near Rome, Italy. Lockheed Martin.

Feb 22/12: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that they’ve begun integration testing on the 3rd completed MEADS battle manager at its facility in Huntsville, AL. This one will be used as part of the ballistic missile intercept test planned for 2013 at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The other 2 are already supporting system testing at Pratica di Mare AFB, Italy and Orlando, FL.

Nov 17/11: The 1st full MEADS firing test successfully engages an “over the shoulder” target approaching from behind at White Sands Missile Range, NM. The test used the PAC-3 MSE missile, lightweight launcher and BMC4I battle manager, and the nature of the test required a unique sideways maneuver from the missile. Since the threat was not an actual target drone, the missile’s self destruct was triggered at the end. Lockheed Martin.

1st full firing test

Nov 10/11: Testing. In a simulated test at at Pratica di Mare, Italy, the MEADS BMC4I battle manager demonstrates the “plug and fight” concept, including attaching and detaching the launcher from the MEADS plug-and-fight network; configuring and initializing the MEADS launcher and simulated sensors; performing track management functions, threat assessment and identification; and transmitting a valid launch command to the launcher.

NAMEADSMA General Manager Gregory Kee adds that “Because of its advanced capabilities, there is international interest in MEADS.” Technicaly, that’s already true, due to its program structure. The question is whether there’s interest from an outside country with the funds to integrate MEADS into an existing air defense command-and-control framework, conduct further tests, and begin manufacturing. MEADS’ current publicity campaign is partly designed to help it find that buyer – if that buyer exists. Lockheed Martin.

Nov 3/11: The National Armaments Directors of Germany, Italy and the United States approve a amendment that lays out the rest of the MEADS System Development & Demonstration contract, which ends in 2014. Lockheed Martin will say only that MEADS “remains within the funding limit authorized… in the 2004 MEADS [MoU].” Testing will include engagement using remote tracks, plug-and-fight capabilities for MEADS components, the system’s netted/distributed operation, and interoperability through Link 16. In addition:

Fall 2011 will see a launcher missile characterization test, demonstrating MEADS’ 360 degree capability with an over-the-shoulder launch of a PAC-3 MSE missile, against a target approaching from behind.

Late 2012 will see an intercept flight test against an air-breathing (as opposed to rocket powered) threat.

Late 2013 will see a sensor test, followed by the grand finale: a tactical ballistic missile intercept test. Lockheed Martin.

Revised MEADS program

Nov 1/11: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $16.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract modification to cover PAC-3 MSE follow-on flight tests.

Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX; Chelmsford, MA; Camden, AR; Huntsville, AL; Pinellas, FL; Vergennes, VT; Hollister, CA; Torrance, CA; and Wichita, KS; with an estimated completion date of Dec 31/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received (W31P4Q-07-G-0001).

Oct 24/11: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that a MEADS launcher has arrived at White Sands Missile Range, NM, after system integration testing, to begin live fire testing. While PAC-3 MSE missiles have been fired before, it was done from existing launcher systems.

Integration and checkout tests are continuing in preparation for a November flight test, where the MEADS system will demonstrate an unprecedented over-the-shoulder launch of a PAC-3 MSE missile, against a simulated target that attacks from behind.

Oct 21/11: Deutschland raus. Germany changes its mind about termination, as it continues to cut its already weak defense sector. Under the new plan, Germany will also pull out of MEADS, and will cut its Patriot systems in half from 29 to 14.

This move virtually ensures the end of MEADS. If Italy also decides to pull the plug, as now seems likely, there will be no termination costs to fellow partners for shuttering the program. Depending on how they choose to go about closing things down, however, there may be termination costs to the contractors. Aviation Week.

Germany out

Oct 17/11: MICS. Lockheed Martin announces the early delivery of MEADS’ intra-fire unit communications kits for the MEADS Internal Communications Subsystem (MICS).

MICS provides secure communications between the MEADS sensors, launchers and battle managers across a high-speed internet protocol network. That network can have MEADS elements removed and added with no delay, and can be expanded to include other elements using a “plug-and-fight” architecture.

Oct 12/11: Battle Manager. MEADS International announces that they’ve begun integration testing on the first completed MEADS battle manager system (BMC4I TOC), which provides overall control and configuration of MEADS intended “plug and fight” system. The Battle Manager, mounted on back of an FMTV truck, completed acceptance testing in May 2011 at MBDA in Fusaro, Italy, and arrived at the MEADS Verification Facility in Orlando, FL in July 2011.

The Florida facility is putting the new system through its paces using the MEADS system stimulator, in preparation for a system live-fire in November at White Sands Missile Range, NM. In these simulated scenarios, the MEADS battle manager will configure the other major end items and receive Surveillance Radar tracks for simulated threats, cue the Multifunction Fire Control Radar, send launch commands, and complete interceptor launches and target intercepts.

FY 2011

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Sept 13/11: Lockheed Martin announces that MEADS’ Integrated Launcher Electronics System (ILES) has successfully executed a simulated missile launch, as they prepare for MEADS first major live-fire test in November at White Sands Missile Range, NM.

Aug 16/11: Battle manager. MEADS’ Battle Management Command, Control, Communications and Computers and Intelligence (BMC4I) “battle manager” successfully completes its software design review in Huntsville, AL. Lockheed Martin.

July 21/11: Unhappy partners. Italy and Germany are rattling cages in the USA, in response to FY 2012 budget committee votes. Germany is saying that they won’t agree to joint termination, while Italy’s undersecretary for defense, Guido Crosetto, sends a letter to the Pentagon saying:

“I expect that the U.S. DOD will put in place all the necessary actions to ensure that U.S. Congress will provide the required funds to complete the Meads development and meet our mutually agreed commitments within the limits… [otherwise] the U.S. shall then be required to bear all the resulting contract modifications and cancellation costs up to the total financial contribution established.”

Given the likely size of those contract penalties, that really does sound like an offer the USA can’t refuse. Bloomberg.

July 5/11: At least we’re secure. MEADS International wins its 3rd James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award. It’s presented by the U.S. Defense Security Service (DSS), who has responsibility for more than 13,000 cleared contractor facilities, during the National Classification Management Society’s Annual Seminar in New Orleans, LA.

Less than 1% are considered for Cogswell recognition, but MEADS International also won in 2000, and in 2007. Their 2011 Cogswell Award includes recognition for 7 consecutive years of Superior security ratings. Lockheed Martin.

June 21/11: Revised objectives. The National Armaments Directors of Germany, Italy and the United States have approved a revised set of MEADS development objectives, including 2 intercept flight tests by 2014. To support final system integration and flight test activities, MI has taken ownership of facilities at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Lockheed Martin.

June 15/11: Zero-out? Bloomberg reports that some members of the US Senate Armed Services committee are looking to zero-out MEADS funding in the FY 2012 budget. That happens the day after the US House Appropriations Committee approves a 2012 defense-spending draft that cuts $149.5 million from MEADS’ FY 2012 budget, and the SASC would go on to remove the MEADS’ request entirely.

The Pentagon has proposed funding MEADS development, due in part to MEADS’ termination costs. It remains to be seen whether that becomes a factor in debate.

May 4/11: PAC-3 MSE. Raytheon’s Patriot system successfully test fires Lockheed Martin’s PAC-3 MSE at White Sands Missile Range, NM. This is another step forward for MEADS development program. It also shows that the missile can be incorporated into existing Patriot systems, as an upgrade that stops short of full MEADS capabilities. Raytheon.

March 2011: Testing. The 2nd MEADS Launcher Platform Group (LPG) completes formal acceptance testing in Dello, Italy, after demonstrating capabilities including automatic upload/offload, switch from emplacement to mobile configuration, and detachment of components from the MAN truck carrier to allow helicopter transport.

Following integration with an Integrated Launcher Electronics System, Launcher Power System and Internal Communication System (MICS), the completed launcher will begin system-level integration with other MEADS elements, then begin flight tests at White Sands Missile Range, NM later in 2011. Lockheed Martin.

March 21/11: DOD Buzz reports from AIAA’s annual missile defense conference that MEADS may have bought itself the time it needs to survive, as the participants work to complete development instead of paying termination fees:

“Lockheed Martin believes there is a good chance the US will recommit to the tri-nation MEADS missile defense program, driven by its smaller manpower requirements, ease of transport and higher [8x – 10x higher] reliability. And Germany and Italian officials told a senior Lockheed official that they remain committed to MEADS and other countries may well join the program sometime in the next two years. Mike Trotsky, Lockheed’s vice president air and missile defense systems, told reporters during that adding more countries could substantially lower the price of American participation…”

April 15/11: The Pentagon’s Selected Acquisitions Report ending Dec 30/10 includes the “Patriot/Medium Extended Air Defense System Combined Aggregate Program (MEADS CAP) Fire Unit – Program”:

“…costs decreased $18,661.8 million (-85.0 percent) from $21,965.3 million to $3,303.5 million, due primarily to the Department’s decision to remove the production funding for the fire unit from the program and modify the design and development phase to continue as a proof of concept effort ending in fiscal 2014.”

SAR – termination

March 21/11: Testing. Lockheed Martin announces that a MEADS launcher and accompanying BMC4I Tactical Operations Center (TOC) have entered system test and integration at Pratica di Mare Air Force Base in Italy. Later additions of the Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) and a MEADS System Stimulator will enable demonstration of the full MEADS system in simulated engagements of live target aircraft. After pre-integration at Pratica di Mare, the MEADS system will complete integration at White Sands Missile Range, NM, and begin flight testing in 2012.

March 3/11: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $7 million incremental-funding, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to eliminate obsolete materials in the PAC-3 and PAC-3 MSE solid rocket motor, in support of the United States and Taiwan.

Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX, with an estimated completion date of June 30/14. One bid was solicited with one bid received (W31P4Q-07-G-0001).

March 2/11: BMD firing test. Lockheed Martin announces that a PAC-3 MSE missile successfully intercepted a “threat representative” tactical ballistic missile target at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Richard McDaniel, director of PAC-3 Missile Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control:

“We continue to test the PAC-3 MSE Missile at higher altitudes and against more challenging targets, and it continues to meet expectations…”

Feb 16/11: Germany wobbles. Media reports confirm that Germany will not pursue MEADS beyond the development phase. A Feb 15/11 letter from the Germany defense ministry to its parliamentary budget committee was leaked to Reuters, and it reportedly states that:

“With the closing of the planned development of MEADS … between the United States, Germany and Italy,… a realisation or acquisition of MEADS will not be carried out in the foreseeable future…”

That doesn’t mean an immediate pullout. Announcements of the kind the Pentagon just made only happen after long and close consultation with partners, and agreement behind the scenes on what to do. All 3 countries will almost certainly be financing MEADS development instead of paying termination costs, before going their separate ways. Reuters.

Feb 16/11: Pentagon program suicide? DoD Buzz has a take on MEADS from Frank Cevasco. While a senior Pentagon official at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Cevasco and co. pushed a future extended air defense program, which eventually became MEADS. His thoughts on what followed:

“I was told that doesn’t make sense [to want to replace Patriot units 1:1] as a MEADS fire unit has substantially greater geographic coverage than Patriot [but the Army did]. I agree there would be additional costs associated with integrating MEADS with a separate Army command and control system, a requirement that was levied on the program unilaterally by Army about two years ago. Moreover, a portion of the cost overruns and schedule slippages can be attributed to the Army and DoD technology disclosure community who refused to allow the MEADS industry team to share key technology. The matter was resolved but only after intervention by senior OSD officials and the passage of considerable time; and, time is money with major weapons system development programs… Army has done its best from the every beginning to sabotage the program, preferring to develop a US-only solution funded by the US (with funds provided by the good fairy).”

Feb 15/11: Germany. German lawmakers are pushing to follow the US lead and drop MEADS, but so far, Germany seems to be taking the same position as the US. Which isn’t really surprising, since the American decision would have been discussed extensively before it was made public. Opposition is coming from the Free Democrats and Greens, both minor players. The cost of continuing existing MoU commitments is about EUR 250 million for Germany, while the cost of cancellation is currently unknown. Bloomberg reports that:

“Germany will continue its commitments for the development phase of the project, according to a Defense Ministry official who declined to be identified in line with government rules. The official wouldn’t comment when asked about the government’s intentions beyond the development phase.”

Feb 14/11: Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale tells a budget briefing that the USA will fund MEADS up to its $4 billion cap and into FY 2013. After that?

“Yes, our proposal would be that we would invest no more U.S. funds in MEADS after 2013, fiscal year ’13. We will – we will let the program run out under its current plan so we don’t incur any termination liability. But we wouldn’t spend money beyond there. And we would try to harvest some of the technology, and we may use that in other programs, and our partners may go forward with some MEADS. But it is not our plan to do so.”

At present, the USA is committed to spending another $804 million under the current MEADS MoU. With MEADS behind on cost and schedule targets, a recent restructuring proposal would have reportedly added another 30+ months (to the existing 110 month development period) and another $974 million – $1.16 billion of American funding to the program. The Pentagon estimates that another $800 million would be needed to certify MEADS and integrate it into existing US air defense systems. In addition, MEADS lateness meant that the USA would have to spending more money than they had planned on new Patriot missiles and system modernization. That burden, on top of existing MEADS overruns and fielding costs, is what pushed the Pentagon to the breaking point with MEADS. Hence the current proposal, which will spend the committed $804 million or so on MEADS development instead of termination costs, produce prototypes and limited integration, and look to incorporate anything promising into existing systems.

The odds that Italy or Germany would pick up the system are poor, given Germany’s ongoing disarmament and austerity program, and Italy’s slow-motion budget crisis. The FY 2013 date is significant for the USA, however, as it leaves the next Presidential administration the option of deciding to keep MEADS going. Hale briefing transcript | Pentagon’s MEADs Fact Sheet [PDF] | Bloomberg | DoD Buzz | Gannett’s Army Times | Reuters.

US backing out

Feb 14/11: US Budget. The Pentagon unveils the official FY 2012 budget request, which amounts to $570.5 million for MEADS components.

$406.6 million would be dedicated to MEADS development, down from $467.1 million requested in FY 2011, and $571.0 appropriated in FY 2010.

The FY 2012 request also includes $163.9 million in PAC-3 MSE missile work ($89M RDT&E, $75M procurement), up from FY 2011’s request for $62.5 million.

Jan 31/11: Radar. Lockheed Martin announces that the MEADS Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) subteam at LFK in Germany completed integration of the antenna array in 2010, clearing the way for assembly-level testing of the Transceiver Group. Coolant pressure testing was completed, and cooling distribution was demonstrated at the slip ring and antenna rotary joint. Final rotation tests at both 15 and 30 rpm were successfully completed.

The X-band MEADS MFCR has not yet begun full system tests at Pratica di Mare air force base in Italy. The program is now completing final build, integration and test activities, hopefully leading to flight tests involving all system elements at White Sands Missile Range in 2012. If, that is, the program survives.

Jan 4/11: Passed but frozen. The FY 2011 US defense “budget” is passed in a very odd way, but it has a provision in it that’s specific to MEADS. About 75%, or $350.2 million of the approved $467 million annual funding, is frozen until a firm decision is made to either continue or cancel the program. There were also requirements in the Senate’s S.3454 bill, Sec. 233 around decisions by Germany and Italy regarding funding and production, and a variety of certifications and cost estimates. But the final bill passed was H.R. 5136.

Through June 30/10, the USA has approved spending about $2 billion on the program. So far, MEADS program estimates have grown in cost by about $900 million (to $4.2 billion), and its overall schedule has been delayed by 18 months. Bloomberg.

Dec 13/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin in Grand Prairie, TX receives a $9.1 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to design obsolete materials out of the PAC-3 and MSE solid rocket motor. These sorts of moves can improve performance, but their most important function is to ensure ongoing availability of spares and new-build components.

Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX, with an estimated completion date of Nov 30/13. One bid was solicited and one bid was received. by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command Contracting Center in Huntsville, AL (W31P4Q-07-G-0001).

Nov 9/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Dallas, TX receives a $7.3 million cost-plus-incentive fee contract for PAC-3 MSE contract overrun funding.

Work is to be performed in Dallas, TX (95.74%); Camden, AR (0.25%); and Ocala, FL (4.01%), with an estimated completion date of Feb 29/12. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the U.S. Army’s AMCOM Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164).

Oct 25/10: MICS. Lockheed Martin announces delivery of the first 2 MEADS Message Routing Subsystem units, as essential elements of the MEADS Internal Communications Subsystem (MICS) hardware, which will provide IP-based secure tactical communications between the launcher, surveillance radar and multifunction fire control radar across a high-speed network.

The Message Routing Subsystem supports the networked exchange of command, control and status data between the major components and the Tactical Operations Center.

FY 2010

MEADS elements
(click to see whole)

Sept 30/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Dallas, TX receives an $11.6 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Patriot PAC-3 MSE missile program.

Work is to be performed in Dallas, TX (95.74%), Camden, AZ (0.25%), and Ocala, FL (4.01%), with an estimated completion date of Feb 29/12. One bid was solicited with one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command’s AMCOM Contracting Center at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164).

Sept 22/10: O&S costs. Lockheed Martin touts the MEADS program’s estimate of its required life cycle costs, which has been submitted to the governments of the USA, Germany, and Italy as cash-strapped European governments and the US Missile Defense Agency decide whether to use their funds to put MEADS into production. The assumptions and data used in that estimate aren’t discussed in any depth, but they contend that:

“MEADS will especially reduce operation and support (O&S) costs. Ordinarily, over two-thirds of the total cost of ownership is spent in this area, but MEADS O&S costs are about half [DID: which would be a 37% reduction – unless the absolute total is 37% or more higher than previous systems]. Savings result from features of the MEADS design that include high reliability, automated fault detection, prognostics, two-level maintenance and a reduction in the number of system elements. Additionally, MEADS was shown to defend up to eight times the coverage area with far fewer system assets… [DID: vs. Hawk? Nike Hercules? Patriot? Doesn’t say.]

NAMEADSMA General Manager Gregory Kee said, “The combination of advanced 360-degree sensors, near-vertical launch capability and the improved PAC-3 MSE Missile gives MEADS a far greater defended area. MEADS active phased array, digital beamforming radars make full use of the extended range of the PAC-3 MSE Missile.”

Sept 21/10: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin in Dallas TX receives $6 million in contract overrun funding for the Missile Segment Enhancement program’s cost-plus-incentive-fee contract.

Work will be performed at Dallas, TX; Camden, AZ; and Ocala, FL, and is expected to be complete by Feb 29/12. One bid was solicited, with one received by the US Army Contracting Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164; Serial #1971).

Aug 26/10: CDR. MEADS completes its final Critical Design Review, leaving the United States, Germany and Italy to make decisions about moving on to low-rate production in October 2010. The government-industry team had to demonstrate 1,100 elements of design criteria during 47 separate critical design reviews, and the week of Aug 23/10 featured the final summary critical design review.

The next step will involve the NATO MEADS Management Agency, who will conduct an October 2010 program review during which decisions are expected concerning production rates and sizes during the LRIP and production and sustainment phases. The question is whether MEADS will continue beyond the development phase, and in what form. The US Army no longer wants the system, Germany’s Bundeswehr is in the midst of savage budget cuts, and Italy is finding it difficult to meet its existing budgetary commitments.

Meanwhile, the program’s initial phase continues, and MEADS International is now producing test hardware and prototypes. Current plans call for Practica di Mare AFB, Italy to begin receiving the system’s first battle management and command and control system in late 2010, followed by launcher and fire control radar hardware in early 2011. Surveillance radar integration activities will take place in Cazenovia, NY, before all of the hardware is shipped to White Sands Missile Range, NM for 3 years of flight testing, beginning early in 2012. Space News | Aviation Week | defpro | Lockheed Martin.

Critical Design Review

July 2010: Battle manager. MEADS battle management element demonstrates interoperability with the NATO Air Command and Control System (ACCS) during the Joint Project Optic Windmill (JPOW) test, which used NATO’s Active Layer Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) Integration Test Bed. During Optic Windmill, MEADS systems shared simulation and military communications data, including track reports for different tactical ballistic missile threats. The test represents the 1st time that the MEADS program has been authorized to exchange data outside of its 3 partner nations.

MEADS is designed to work with a wide range of platforms and command and control structures, and NATO interoperability is especially important to Germany and Italy. NATO ACCS is its overarching tactical command and control element for theater missile defense. NATO’s ALTBMD program is tasked with designing a theater missile defense architecture that will include MEADS as a key component.

Lockheed Martin’s Sept 27/10 release says that MEADS system elements are continuing integration and testing at system integration laboratories in the U.S. and Europe, and are on track for flight tests at White Sands Missile Range, NM, starting in 2012.

March 10/10: Army antagonism. The meeting, involving senior Army officers and the US Missile Defense Agency, produces no resolution concerning the potential transfer of MEADS to the US MDA. Instead, senior officials from both organizations reportedly agreed that follow-up questions needed to be answered, and additional analysis was needed first. Defense News.

March 9/10: Army antagonism. The Washington Post reports that the US Army wants to cancel MEADS:

“After several failed attempts, the Army is trying again to cancel a $19 billion missile defense system that the United States is developing in partnership with Italy and Germany… the Army says MEADS has become too expensive, is taking too long to produce and is difficult to manage because any changes in the program require German and Italian approval. “The system will not meet U.S. requirements or address the current and emerging threat without extensive and costly modifications,” an internal Army staff memo concluded last month in recommending the cancellation of MEADS… Officials said a primary reason for sticking with the project is that it would be too expensive to stop. If the Defense Department were to cancel the system now, it would be required to pay $550 million to $1 billion in penalties… [and could] undercut the Pentagon’s relations with Germany and Italy, which need to replace their own aging missile defense systems… The Army is scheduled to decide this week whether it will continue to oversee the development of MEADS or hand over responsibility to the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.”

Feb 1/10: US Budget. The Pentagon releases its FY 2011 budget request, and begin to break out MEADS-related spending from its Patriot programs, instead of aggregating them.

The FY 2011 request is for $467.1 million, down from FY 2010’s $566.2 million budget, but still above FY 2009’s $454.7 million.

Oct 6/09: Foreign crypto. The MEADS program has received approval to use a European cryptographic device to implement SELEX Sistemi Integrati’s Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) in its radars, via a waiver from the U.S. National Security Agency. This makes MEADS the first American system ever to incorporate a foreign cryptographic device.

SELEX’s IFF will be packaged into MEADS’ UHF Surveillance Radar, and its X-Band Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) used for missile targeting. Selection of the SELEX unit means that the MEADS IFF subsystem is available to begin testing this fall at Pratica di Mare AFB near Rome, Italy, ahead of schedule. Lockheed Martin describes SELEX’s products as:

“…more robust than current implementations of U.S. IFF systems…SELEX leads U.S. industry in IFF development because Europe has already adopted new standards for radar operation and civilian aircraft. The U.S. is moving to adopt these standards in the future.”

FY 2009

PAC-3 MSE drawing
(click to view full)

Sept 15/09: T/R acceptance. EADS Defence & Security announces that its transmit/receive (T/R) modules for MEADS’ Multifunction Fire Control Radar (MFCR) have passed all required acceptance tests “with margin,” paving the way for integration into the 1st of 3 planned prototypes. The firm says that it has produced more than 10,000 of these modules already, which are core elements of the MFCR’s AESA radar. During the Design and Development phase, Defence Electronics will produce thousands of additional T/R modules, including the associated control electronics, under a EUR 120 million sub-contract.

These EADS DS T/R modules are the only ones in Europe which are certified in accordance with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard – as is the “Microwave Factory” clean room facility in Ulm, Germany. These modules and technologies are mature, and have already been used in other EADS SMTR family radars, including the TerraSAR space radar, the BUR vehicle-mounted ground and air surveillance radar, and the Eurofighter‘s developmental E-Captor radar. EADS release.

Aug 5/09: Component CDRs. MEADS International announces that they has successfully completed Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) for all major components, clearing the way for production of radars, launchers, tactical operation centers, and reloaders needed for the system.

Under its design and development contract, this clears the way for MEADS International to provide 6 Battle Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Tactical Operations Centers, 4 launchers, 1 reloader, 3 surveillance radars, 3 multifunction fire control radars, and 20 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missile rounds for system tests at White Sands Missile Range, NM.

The next stage is a set of CDRs for the system as a whole, instead of just its individual components. A total of 15 system-level CDR events will be completed in the year ahead, leading to final evaluations of MEADS’ survivability, logistics, safety, integration and test, life cycle cost, and performance. The final system-level CDR event is expected in August 2010, and initial flight tests are planned for 2012.

Feb 2/09: MEADS + IRIS-T. Lockheed Martin announces Germany’s request to add the IRIS-T SL (Surface Launched) as a secondary MEADS missile for German fire units. The request will involve software adaptation to integrate the missile and launcher Via a standardized plug-and-fight data interface, and incorporation of the second missile into existing MEADS simulations. This will be an early test of the system’s open architecture electronics. Incorporating the missiles themselves will not require any redesign of MEADS hardware.

The IRIS-T SL system is based on the concept of the short-range, infrared guided IRIS-T air-to-air missile, adding a larger solid-propellant rocket motor, a data link, and a nose cone for drag reduction. The combination of radar-guided PAC-3 MSE and infrared-guided IRI-T SL missiles would expand MEADS’ options by allowing for engagements even with the tracking radar shut down as a result of command decisions or damage. Competing launchers like Israel’s Spyder-MR (Derby radar-guided and enhanced Python-5 missiles) and France’s MICA-VL (MICA-IR and MICA-RF missiles) employ similar philosophies. Lockheed Martin.

Adding IRIS-T SL

FY 2008

(click to view full)

March 28/08: Lockheed Martin Corp. in Grand Prairie, TX received a $6.7 million cost-plus fixed fee contract finalizing the change order for the CLIN 0002 PAC-3 missile segment enhancement, effort, and making changes to the PAC-3 MSE master test plan. See Jan 16/08 for more.

Work will be performed in Grand Prairie, TX and is expected to be complete by March 31/09. One bid was solicited on July 30/07 by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, AL (DAAH01-03-C-0164).

Feb 18/08: Nav. Northrop Grumman Corporation announces that MBDA Italia chose their navigation and localization system for NATO’s MEADS program within the design and development phase.

Feb 11/08: Lockheed Martin announces that the MEADS project has completed its System Preliminary Design Review (PDR), which tests whether the basic design of MEADS is ready to move forward into detailed design. Over the 6-month period leading to the PDR summary event on December 18, transatlantic review teams attended 27 multi-day design reviews to ensure that the needs of the three3 partner nations are being met.

The MEADS team will now focus on detailed design work for the system, with the Critical Design Review (CDR) scheduled for 2009, leading to initial MEADS flight tests in 2011. Lockheed Martin release.

Preliminary Design Review

Jan 16/08: PAC-3 MSE. Lockheed Martin announces that NATO’s MEADS Management Agency awarded them a $66 million contract to develop the Lockheed Martin PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missile as the baseline interceptor for the tri-national program. The baseline PAC-3 Missile was selected as the primary missile for MEADS when the design and development program began in 2004, but PAC-3 MSE adds additional range and coverage by using larger folding control surfaces, and a more powerful rocket motor designed to boost range by up to 50%, to about 30 km/ 18 miles.

The MEADS Steering Committee, composed of 1 government representative from each of the 3 participating nations, recommended the change following submittal of a study by MEADS International, Inc. that assessed the principal technical, schedule, cost, contract and program implications of integrating the PAC-3 MSE Missile instead. MEADS International Technical Director Claudio Ponzi:

“Changing the baseline interceptor during our Preliminary Design Review keeps risk to a minimum and keeps us on track to provide the three nations with the 21st century air and missile defense system they have requested.”

PAC-3 MSE development

Nov 15/07: Security. For the third consecutive year, MEADS International receives Superior ratings in an annual audit by the U.S. Defense Security Service (DSS). DSS has responsibility for approximately 12,000 cleared contractor facilities, and fewer than 5% demonstrate the top-rated “Superior” performance for an industrial security program. It’s reserved for contractors that consistently and fully implement the requirements of the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual in a documented fashion that provides a superior security posture, compared with other contractors of similar size and complexity.

In announcing the results, DSS team leader Rob Gerardi noted that although MI received a Superior rating in 2006, the inspection team found several improvements to the security program this year. Lockheed Martin release.

FY 2007 and earlier

Aug 14/07: TOC. MEADS International releases more details concerning its Tactical Operations Center (TOC). With a large US Army contract on the horizon for an IBCS system that would integrate all anti-aircraft defenses in a sector, MI President Jim Cravens adds that:

“We have invested years of architectural and conceptual work to meet these requirements via an open, modular set of software that gives MEADS great flexibility to accommodate additional requirements. This flexibility offers the U.S. Army an opportunity to leverage the MEADS Battle Manager functionality as a backbone for its IBCS (common TOC) initiative.”

Lockheed Martin joined Northrop Grumman’s IBCS bid team in April 2007, becoming the 3rd member alongside NGC & Boeing. Their team’s main competitor is Raytheon, who is partnered with General Dynamics as well as Davidson Technologies, IBM, and Teledyne Brown Engineering.

Aug 7/07: Lockheed Martin announces that MEADS recently completed its 2-day Start of System Preliminary Design Review (PDR), which allows the project to continue on to detailed design.

The Start of System PDR marks the end of 33 months of Design and Development effort. It summarized previous Major End Item-level PDRs, including allocated baseline documentation, and addressed a set of operational and performance analyses. The PDF kicks off a series of 29 reviews over the next 4 months, leading to a Summary System PDR in late October 2007. Initial flight tests are still scheduled for 2011.

June 19/07: Security Award. MEADS International announces that The US Defense Security Service (DSS) has announced that MEADS International is one of 30 companies to receive the James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award, the most prestigious honor DSS may bestow on a cleared facility. To be a candidate for the award, a facility must receive a minimum of two consecutive Superior industrial security review ratings and show sustained excellence and innovation in their overall security program, including a security program that goes well beyond basic National Industrial Security Program requirements.

This is MEADS International’s second James S. Cogswell award, and follows implementation of a transatlantic NATO classified network that enables MI’s 7 work locations to collaborate in designing the MEADS system. MEADS International release.

Jan 16/07: Lockheed Martin announces a $3 million contract from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to continue the Air-Launched Hit-to-Kill (ALHTK) initiative, which would enable fighter aircraft to carry and launch Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missiles to intercept hostile ballistic and cruise missiles.

Since a modified PAC-3 is slated to act as the MEADS system missile, and air-defense batteries can share information with fighters via channels like Link 16, the announcement has implications for future MEADS capabilities as well.

Feb 9/06: Management. MEADS International announces 2 changes within its management organization on the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) program, adding a finance director/ treasurer, and a planning manager.

Aug 4/05: Management. MEADS International announces the expansion of its Orlando technical management organization to lead development of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) with a multinational set of appointments. In addition, 3 new positions have been added to the program management Team. See MEADS International release for more details.

June 17/05: MBDA buys LFK. MBDA buys a 100% stake in LFK, which used to be owned jointly by EADS and MBDA.

June 1/05: MEADS International Signs $3.4 Billion Design and Development Contract. The D&D contract extends the period of performance of a previous letter contract that was awarded to MI by the NATO MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) in September 2004. Lockheed Martin release.

Final SDD contract

April 20/05: Germany approves involvement in MEADS missile. This clears the way for the signing of the full development contract.

September 2004: NATO’s MEADS Management Agency (NAMEADSMA) awards MEADS International a letter contract valued in then-year terms at approximately $2.0 billion plus EUR 1.4 billion euros to design and develop the system, with an initial period of performance for which the overall maximum financial ceiling was approximately $54.5 million plus EUR 54.8 million.

Initial SDD contract

Additional Readings The Program

Background: MEADS Components

Background: Related Systems

DID FOCUS Article – THAAD: Reach Out and Touch Ballistic Missiles. A ground-based complement to MEADS that offers the next step up in range.

News & Views

Categories: News

The ADVENT of a Better Jet Engine?

Mon, 05/18/2015 - 00:58
PW F119: Power!
(click to view full)

The Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) program aims “to develop and demonstrate inlet, engine, exhaust nozzle, and integrated thermal management technologies that enable optimized propulsion system performance over a broad range of altitude and flight velocity.” That sounds boring, but what if we put it like this:

ADVENT aims to produce a revolution in jet engine design. Imagine the jet equivalent of a car engine that could give you Formula One performance or sub-compact mileage as required. ADVENT-equipped aircraft would have extra-long range, but be able to switch quickly to high-speed power maneuvers and still be comparatively efficient. The new engine design will use adaptive fan blades and engine cores to generate high thrust when needed, and optimize fuel efficiency when cruising or loitering, in order to combine the best characteristics of high-performance and fuel-efficient jet engines.

That certainly sounds much more exciting. Now, ADVENT also sounds very real – because the program is under way, with over $600 million in contracts to 4 different vendors… and 2 big losers.

GE Aviation won up to $325 million in additional funds in January 2015 to work on an adaptive cycle engine under phase three of the Versatile affordable advanced turbine engines (VAATE) program that preceded ADVENT.

In April, the Air Force also awarded a $325 million IDIQ contract to engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney for the Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines (VAATE) engine’s Phase III stage.


GE90: Efficient!
(click to view full)

Project ADVENT is a actually the flagship effort under the Versatile, Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines Program, or VAATE. Managed by the Propulsion Directorate, VAATE’s goal is to increase turbine engine affordability tenfold while improving performance.

The VAATE program, structured around 4 focus areas, emphasizes specific themes important to achieving the affordability goal. The Durability Focus Area aims to develop, design, and test protocols to prevent component failure, increase life, enhance reparability, and perhaps improve performance. The Versatile Core Focus Area, will develop technologies for a multi-use, 4000-hour, maintenance-friendly engine core (compressor, combustor, and turbine). The third area, the Intelligent Engine Focus Area, will develop and integrate technologies that provide durable, adaptive, damage-tolerant engine health and life management features. Finally, engine-airframe integration technologies are key in attaining the significant cost and weight reductions required in order to achieve the VAATE tenfold goal.

The smaller Highly Efficient Embedded Turbine Engine (HEETE) program is a parallel and related effort, aiming to prove that a “quantum leap” in high-pressure compressor systems is possible. If that 3-year project proves successful, the AFRL would seek to integrate HEETE’s more advanced compressor systems into VAATE, incorporating these advances into the new engine cores developed under the ADVENT project.

The DefenseLNIK contract announcements states that:

“The ADVENT program will demonstrate integration technologies to Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4-5 and engine technologies to TRL-6 in a large thrust class, with emphasis on multi-design point demonstration of significant advancements in thrust, fuel efficiency, development cost, production cost and maintenance cost characteristics over baseline engines.”

Technology Readiness Level 4-5 means lab tests where basic technological components are integrated to establish that the pieces will work together (TRL 4), with reasonably realistic supporting elements so that the technology can be tested in a simulated environment (TRL 5). Examples include ‘high fidelity’ laboratory integration of components. TRL 6 is a major step up, and involves a working prototype that can be tested in a relevant environment.

As for “significant advancements in… development cost, production cost and maintenance cost characteristics,” that will probably happen, but not in the way the USAF was thinking. Barring significant successes on ADVENT’s other fronts, variable engines are likely to be more complex to develop, may see higher production costs due to material requirements for higher temperature tolerances, and may also involve higher maintenance costs if the result is more moving parts. On the flip side, greater engine standardization might be possible, which may provide some maintenance savings.

VAATE seeks to transcend all of these limitations, but research programs rarely hit all of their goals. Even if all of the negative predictions above held true, however, an ADVENT-type engine would definitely save money on operating costs, while offering higher performance. This would still be worth the extra purchase investment for many airlines, and for some power generation applications as well. Those are considerable benefits all by themselves, and the Air Force’s need for extra power in life-or-death situations would make them the most obvious customer of all.

Contracts & Key Events

Smart Engines
(click to view full)

Unless otherwise specified, the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contracts.

May 18/15: General Electric and Pratt & Whitney were both awarded $105 million modifications on Friday to cover a potential contract award for the Adaptive Engine Technology Development order, with the Air Force also reportedly looking to open future competition for F-35 upgrades.

GE Aviation won up to $325 million in additional funds in January 2015 to work on an adaptive cycle engine under phase three of the Versatile affordable advanced turbine engines (VAATE) program that preceded ADVENT.

In April, the Air Force also awarded a $325 million IDIQ contract to engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney for the Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines (VAATE) engine’s Phase III stage.

Oct 18/09: Rolls-Royce North American Technologies, Inc. announces its selection to proceed with Phase II of ADVENT development. Next steps will include the integration of a variety of advanced technologies, component testing and development of a technology demonstrator core and engine. See also: Britain’s Times.

Oct 1/07: The AFRL rejected bids by United Technologies subsidiary Pratt & Whitney and by Honeywell to win the so-called Highly Efficient Embedded Turbine Engine (HEETE) contracts, one month after P&W was the sole losing bidder for the AFRL’s Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) program. Flight International explains the implications:

“P&W’s loss of both ADVENT and HEETE means it must devote internal research and development funds to keep pace with its rivals after production of its latest generation fighter engine – the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s F135 – runs its course… The HEETE project is necessary because the commercial technology stops short of the military’s requirements for next-generation compressor systems, with the contract aiming to prove that a “quantum leap” in high-pressure compressor systems is possible. If the three-year project proves successful, the AFRL would seek to integrate HEETE’s more advanced compressor systems into the new engine cores developed under the ADVENT project.”

Sept 27/07: Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Sector of El Segundo, CA received an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for $40 million. The objective of the ADVENT program is to develop and demonstrate inlet, engine, exhaust nozzle, and integrated thermal management technologies that enable optimized propulsion system performance over a broad range of altitude and flight velocity.

The ADVENT program will demonstrate integration technologies to TRL 4-5 [components tested] and engine technologies to TRL-6 [prototype] in a large thrust class (25,000 lbs.) with emphasis on multi-design point demonstration of significant advancements in thrust, fuel efficiency, development cost, production cost and maintenance cost characteristics over baseline engines. At this time $1,000 has been obligated (FA8650-07-D-2800).

Sept 25/07: The US Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded a total of $35.6 million in cost-share contracts to Rolls Royce-North American Technologies Inc., and General Electric Co. to begin developing a game-changing class of engines, known as Highly Efficient Embedded Turbine Engines (HEETE). Rolls Royce will be receiving $19.6 million in its portion of the contracts while General Electric will receive $16 million. Rolls Royce and GE will conduct high-pressure and high-temperature rig tests on the compression systems that are critical to the HEETE concept. Development work will be conducted at Rolls Royce’s Liberty Works facilities in Indianapolis, IN; and at General Electric’s Evendale, OH, facility. Rolls Royce release.

HEETE is a technology development program that pursues high temperature, high pressure ratio compressor technologies and their related thermal management features. While HEETE is currently focused on an advanced compressor demonstration, the goal is to define the next generation engine architecture for subsonic missions. This also involves active flow control inlets and exhausts, with a focus on 20,000-35,000 pound thrust class. There were also losers. Flight International adds:

“The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) announced on 25 September awarding contracts to General Electric and Rolls-Royce… However, the AFRL rejected bids by Pratt and Honeywell to win the so-called Highly Efficient Embedded Turbine Engine (HEETE) contracts.”

Sept 21/07:Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company-Fort Worth of Fort Worth, TX received an indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity, cost-reimbursement contract for $40 million (maximum) for the ADVENT program. The emphasis will be on multi-design point demonstration of significant advancements in thrust, fuel efficiency, development cost, production cost and maintenance cost characteristics over baseline engines. It covers demonstration of integration technologies to TRL 4-5 and engine technologies to TRL-6 in a large thrust class (25,000 lbs.). At this time $1,000 has been obligated (FA8650-07-D2798).

Aug 27/07: General Electric Aircraft Engines in Cincinnati, OH received a cost-sharing ADVENT contract for $231.2 million. At this time, $129,140 has been obligated. Solicitations began in March 2007, negotiations were completed in August 2007, and work will be complete in September 2012 (FA8650-07-C-2802).

The AFRL explained to DID that this award was originally announced at the same time as the Rolls Royce award, on Aug 15/07. In reality, however, it hadn’t been finalized yet. Hence the repeat announcement. We’ve revised the date accordingly.

Aug 15/07: Rolls-Royce Corp. in Indianapolis, IN received a cost-sharing ADVENT contract for $296.3 million. At this time, $98,770 has been obligated. Solicitations began in March 2007, negotiations were completed in August 2007, and work will be complete in September 2012 (FA8650-07-C-2803). Rolls Royce release.

Additional Readings & Sources

Categories: News