09 May 17. Lockheed’s Helicopter Seen Costing More, Taking Longer.
Lockheed Martin Corp.’s new King Stallion helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps is likely to cost $144m each, 4 percent more than projected by the service, and be ready to deploy a year later than planned, according to the Pentagon’s cost assessment office. The estimate by the independent cost office is an increase from the Navy program office’s most recent projected “program acquisition unit cost” of $138.5m per copter in a $31 billion program. It’s also a 25 percent increase from the initial goal of about $115m established in late 2005 for the aircraft designed to haul heavy cargo. The Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office also estimates a delay of about a year to May 2020 in the start of rigorous combat testing that must be completed before the aircraft can be approved for full-rate production — the most profitable phase for Lockheed in what’s planned as a 200-aircraft program. The updated estimate was provided in a new report to Congress that was obtained by Bloomberg News. The cost office also estimates that the helicopter won’t achieve its initial combat capability until December 2020, or a year later than the program’s estimate.
‘Lot of Money’
The new cost projection for the King Stallion may become a focus of congressional oversight when the Marine Corps’ fiscal 2018 budget is submitted to Congress. Representative Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts, the top Democrat on a House Armed Services subcommittee that oversees the copter program, already has questioned the King Stallion’s basic cost as “a heck of a lot of money.” (Source: defence-aerospace.com/Bloomberg news)
11 May 17. Leonardo in talks with Turkish industry over possible helicopter collaboration. Leonardo is in discussions with Turkish industry over the proposed future development of a 3-tonne-class helicopter, the Italian company has confirmed to Jane’s. Aselsan, Roketsan, and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) are involved in the discussions, although they do not yet involve the Turkish Defence Industries Undersecretariat (SSM), the country’s state arms procurement body. Leonardo has a history of co-operation with Turkish industry, particularly with helicopters, such as the TAI/AgustaWestland T-129 ATAK attack helicopter. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 May 17. Beyond LCS: US Navy Looks To Foreign Frigates, National Security Cutter. The US Navy is seriously considering derivatives of foreign designs and the Coast Guard’s National Security Cutter for its new frigate, after three years pursuing an upgraded version of its current Littoral Combat Ship. The shift has shaken up the industry, panicking some players, while others quietly reposition:
• Wisconsin’s Marinette Marine, which currently builds the 3,500-ton Freedom variant of the LCS, may instead offer an Americanized version of the FREMM, a 6,000 to 6,700-ton frigate built for the French and Italian navies by Marinette’s parent company, Fincantieri. If so, Marinette would probably part ways with its current prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, and contract directly with the Navy.
• Maine’s Bath Iron Works (owned by General Dynamics) will probably revive a previous partnership with Spanish shipbuilder Navantia, whose 5,900-ton F-100 family has the same Aegis radar and air defense system as American destroyers. That makes it the most sophisticated but also probably the most expensive contender, unless they deliberately downsize the radar to cut cost.
• Mississippi’s Ingalls — whose parent company, HII, also owns Virginia’s massive Newport News — is dusting off proposals to militarize its Legend-class Coast Guard National Security Cutter as a 4,675-ton Patrol Frigate, the smallest and likely the cheapest competitor. Offering the only alternative to LCS that’s invented in America, Ingalls has a definite edge.
• Alabama’s Austal, which builds the 3,100-ton Independence variant of LCS, specializes in building lightweight, hi