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04 Jul 19. USAF seeks information on non-satcom beyond line-of-sight communications. Key Points:
- The US Air Force seeks information on beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) communication technologies that are not satellite communication (satcom)
- The Pentagon is concerned about how to communicate BLOS if satcom is unavailable in war
The US Air Force (USAF) seeks information from industry regarding non-satellite-based beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) communications.
The request for information (RFI), reissued on 1 July on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website, specifically seeks technical information on the current state-of-the-art and the future development potential for non-satellite communications high frequency global communications system (HFGCS) (satcom) BLOS technologies such as tropospheric scatter (troposcatter), high frequency (HF), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) relays, passive reflector systems, and others. Further, it seeks information about current and planned development initiatives, technology maturity, fabrication methods, availability, schedule, and cost of such materials for potential use in anticipated military applications.
The USAF is interested in systems that would provide the best redundancy to satcom systems in performance characteristics. These systems may include well-known systems such as troposcatter and HF but also lesser-known systems including passive scatter systems such as aircraft and meteor burst scatter, or an entirely novel idea of achieving BLOS communications.
Troposcatter technology uses particles that make up the earth’s atmosphere as a reflector for microwave radio signals. Those signals are aimed just above the horizon in the direction of a receiver station. As they pass through the troposphere, some of the energy is scattered back toward earth, allowing the receiver station to pick up the signal, according to Raytheon.
Responses are due by 29 July. In responses, the USAF wants to learn more about new technologies that would decrease maintenance cost fivefold, have a 50% increase in average time between failure, a 100% increase in part failure prediction accuracy, and a 25% increase in reuse. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
02 Jul 19. United Technologies’ F-35 Engines Chronically Late, Pentagon Says. United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney unit is chronically late delivering engines for the Pentagon’s costliest program, the F-35, raising questions about whether the company is ready for a surge to full-rate production scheduled for next year.
Pratt remains under a previously unreported “Corrective Action Request” from the Defense Contract Management Agency that cites “poor delivery performance” on its current batch of engines for the fighter jet, including for the most complicated version used by the Marine Corps and the U.K. for vertical takeoffs and landings.
The agency’s action is likely to be watched not only by the Pentagon and international buyers of the F-35 but also by shareholders and investors assessing United Technologies’ planned merger with Raytheon Co., which would fortify the combined company’s standing as one of the top U.S. defense contractors. The F-35 engines would be one of the new company’s top revenue producers.
The company, which is the sole supplier of engines for the fighter built by Lockheed Martin Corp., must demonstrate by year-end that it has delivered on promised improvements to solve the problems that led to the agency’s formal request in December, spokesman Mark Woodbury said in a statement outlining the issues.
The $428bn F-35 program is scheduled for approval next year to enter full-rate production, the most lucrative phase of a weapons program for contractors. The decision is contingent on an assessment during the aircraft’s current round of intensive combat testing that it’s effective and can be maintained.
Of the $428 bn, as much as $66bn is to be spent on at least 2,470 engines — designated the F135 — for U.S. jets, including $53.4bn in procurement, according to the Defense Department’s latest Selected Acquisition Report on the F-35.
Pentagon budget documents indicate the engine program is valued at about $2bn annually for Pratt, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Douglas Rothacker.
John Thomas, a spokesman for Pratt, said in an emailed statement that “we take seriously our responsibility to meet F135 production commitments. The corrective action plan submitted earlier this year lays out how we are doing that. Over the past year, we have invested more than $200m for additional capacity, and currently have over 100 Pratt & Whitney employees deployed to our supplier facilities in support of production obligations.”
Pratt & Whitney President Bob Leduc underscored the engine’s revenue potential to analysts June 17 at the Paris Air Show.
“So another way to think about the F135 is a year ago we made about eight engines a month,” he said. “Right now we are between 13 and 14 engines a month. But when you think about the F135, it’s 16 engines a month for the next 30 years. There will be over 4,000 of these airplanes when it’s all said and done,” including foreign sales.
The primary issues resulting in late engine deliveries “have been related to supply-chain capacity, material shortages” and production issues, according to the contract management agency.
“Engine test failures due to high vibrations and foreign object debris continues to plague” production, the agency said in an internal quarterly assessment for January through March. Deliveries of the Marine Corps model engines “have been consistently late,” it said.
As of early June, Pratt & Whitney was contractually required to deliver 108 engines in the latest production contract, the program’s 11th. Of the 90 delivered, 88 were “late by an average of 40 days,” Woodbury said in his statement. The Pentagon is close to finalizing the award of the 12th and largest F-35 contract to date with Lockheed and Pratt.
The current delays add to Pratt & Whitney’s spotty track record. Even as deliveries increased to 81 in 2018 from 48 in 2012, 86% of those were delivered late, up from 48% in late 2017, according to an April report from the Government Accountability Office.
Asked whether the contract management agency has confidence Pratt will be ready for a full-production decision, Woodbury said the agency is monitoring milestones in Pratt’s corrective action plan and needs to see progress before making that judgment.
The agency’s assessment said that in light of Pratt & Whitney’s track record it believes the company “will encounter issues keeping up with demand for any future low-rate and full-rate production contract” that increases quantities. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
01 Jul 19. US Army seeks range of DroneDefender C-UAS equipment. The US Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, on behalf of Counter, Rocket, Artillery, Mortar Project Directorate, requires the procurement of the following in support of Foreign Military Sales Case: 7U-B-UAA.
- 40 each DroneDefender V1lF Systems (P/N: B-DD-021-LFE10)
- 40 each DroneDefender Test Pucks (P/N: B-DD-TP1)
- 40 each DroneDefender V1LF Training DVDs (P/N: B-DD-TP-021)
- 13 each DroneDefender V1LF Field Service Kits (P/N: B-DD-FSK-021-LFE10)
Solicitation Number: W31P4Q-19-R-0084
Deadline for responses: 12 July 2019
Responsible agency: US Department of the Army
01 Jul 19. Karem, Northrop, Raytheon team for Army’s future attack recon helo competition. Karem Aircraft has forged a team with Northrop Grumman and Raytheon to compete in the Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) competition, according to a July 1 company statement.
Karem was one of five companies awarded a prototyping development contract in April. While details are scant as to how each company will contribute to the overall design, due in January or February of 2020, the teaming announcement says the three companies together “will apply decades of combined knowledge, skills and abilities to bring the best of vehicle and systems technologies and processes to the first aircraft within the Future Vertical Lift family of systems.”
Karem is bringing its “unique active variable speed rotor technologies,” which have been developed over the last 10 years through collaboration with the Army, to the teaming effort.
The company’s experience “will be augmented with Northrop Grumman’s manned and autonomous military aircraft development, system integration, production and support expertise and Raytheon’s systems architecture, mission equipment and weapons capabilities,” the company statement adds.
While Karem competed to be one of two teams selected to build a flying aircraft for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD), it was not selected. Instead, the Army awarded it a smaller technology development contract to continue to refine its unique technology.
The JMR TD program will inform a Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program of record to replace UH-60 Black Hawks and AH-64 Apache helicopters. The JMR TD program is not a head-to-head competition between the Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant coaxial helicopter and the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft, but will inform the FLRAA program.
Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team have each built a JMR TD aircraft which is flying in that program. AVX Aircraft Co. also received a smaller technology development contract similar to Karem’s award.
The Karem-Northrop-Raytheon team will compete with an AVX-L-3 Communications Integrated Systems team, Bell, Boeing and Lockheed Martin-owned Sikorsky to provide design plans to the Army for FARA. The Army will choose just two teams to advance to build a flyable prototype, much like it did for the JMR TD program — except this time, one of those aircraft will be chosen for production.
The Army has set an ambitious schedule for FARA, with plans to fly prototypes in 2023. A production decision could happen in 2028, but the service is looking at any way possible to speed up that timeline.
Truncating the timelines for both FLRAA and FARA has been on the table for many years and the service continues to assess any way possible to bring the aircraft online faster.
With the advent of the new Army Futures Command — focused on six major modernization priorities, of which FVL is third — the service is moving faster on prototyping capability to ultimately procure major weapon systems at a somewhat unprecedented speed. Through the AFC and the use of contracting mechanisms like OTAs, the Army has found a way to compress parts of the acquisition process that previously took three-to-five years into periods of time often amounting to less than a year.
FARA is intended to fill a critical capability gap currently being addressed by the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter teamed with Shadow unmanned aircraft, following the retirement of the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters. The service has tried and failed three times to fill the gap with an aircraft. (Source: Defense News)
REST OF THE WORLD
04 Jul 19. India increases approvals for defence industrial licences. The Indian government has pointed to an increase in the number of defence industrial licences that it has awarded local companies to support their expanded involvement in defence manufacturing. Shripad Naik, Minister of State for Defence, said in a parliamentary reply on 3 July that up until March 2019 the government had issued a total of 439 licences to 264 local companies. This represents an increase over the 379 licences issued to 230 local firms announced in July 2018. Statistics published in March by the government’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) showed that about half the licences awarded to local industry were issued between 2001 – the year in which India’s private sector was permitted to enter the defence sector – and 2014. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 Jul 19. World’s largest combat jet deal underway as India starts process. India moved a step closer to inviting bids for the purchase of 114 fighter jets, currently the world’s largest deal in play, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to boost the capability of the country’s armed forces and replace an aging combat aircraft fleet.
The deal — valued at more than $15bn — has attracted initial offers from global defense majors, including Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Sweden’s Saab AB. At least 85% of production has to be in India, according to an initial document issued more than a year back.
Modernizing the country’s defense forces is critical for Modi, who hardly signed any new major arms deals during his first term, even as twin threats from neighboring China and Pakistan loomed. A Pakistani F-16 jet downed an aging Soviet-era MiG 21 — Indian Air Force’s mainstay — in a dogfight during a military confrontation earlier this year.
The evaluation of initial bids and finalizing the Air Forces’ requirements has begun, junior Defense minister Shripad Naik told lawmakers in parliament. India is also drafting initial documents to purchase tanks and armored vehicles, as well as asking foreign shipbuilders to show interest to manufacture submarines in India, he said.
Naik’s comments came two days after India sought bids for purchasing warships and support vessels for its navy and coast guard as it ramps up security of its maritime border in the Indian Ocean region. Modi’s administration on Monday asked seven shipyards to submit proposals for the construction of six missile warships and other smaller vessels worth 150bn rupees ($2.2bn), the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The Indian Air Force and Navy require as many as 400 single- and double-engine combat aircraft, according to the government.
Boeing is partnering with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Mahindra Defence Systems Ltd. for the fighter jet deal offering its F/A-18. Lockheed will jointly bid with salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group for its F-21 jets, and Saab teamed with billionaire Gautam Adani to offer its Gripen jets.
After scrapping an order with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafale jets worth $11bn in 2015 — a process that took nearly a decade — Modi’s administration bought 36 jets separately. Under the new tender, the winner will have to deliver the first jet within three years of securing the contract. (Source: News Now/https://thepeninsulaqatar.com)
03 Jul 19. Indian MoD invites proposals for procurement of vessels. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for four shipbuilding projects of various vessels for the country’s navy and coastguard. Through these projects, the government intends to boost the domestic shipbuilding industry under the Make in India programme. The RFPs have a combined value of Rs150bn ($2.17bn). The MoD issued an RFP for six next-generation missile vessels (NGMVs) to seven shipyards. The remaining three RFPs have been issued to shortlisted Indian shipyards. These cover the construction of eight fast patrol vessels (FPVs), 12 air cushion vehicles (ACVs) and eight missile/ammunition barges.
The RFP for ACVs also includes the initial requirement of six ACVs for the Indian Army. The ACVs will be used for military and coastal surveillance, as well as civil transportation, disaster management and tourism.
Furthermore, the ministry intends to issue additional RFPs for more shipbuilding projects in the coming months.
The MoD worked in partnership with the Indian Navy and Coast Guard to streamline the process of qualifying the shipyards for the issue of RFPs. The objective behind this exercise is to enable greater participation of Indian shipyards.
In a statement, the MoD said: “This led to rationalisation of guidelines for capacity assessment of shipyards that have been promulgated recently. Rationalisation and promulgation of financial selection criteria have paved the way for issue of RFPs for a large number of shipbuilding projects that have been pending.”
Smaller shipyards will stand to benefit from the process as only those with an average annual turnover of less than Rs5bn ($724.6m) will be able to participate in projects with the anticipated outflow of less than Rs750m ($10.86m) a year. The government has incorporated a provision that allows Indian shipyards to collaborate with foreign players to develop the design of these vessels. (Source: naval-technology.com)
02 Jul 19. New Zealand gives approval for acquisition of new military vehicles. The New Zealand Government has approved two projects to procure high-mobility utility light vehicles and protected vehicle mediums to replace the existing vehicles that have reached the end of their life. The cabinet decision marks the beginning of the first phase of the Protected Mobility project, which is intended to replace the New Zealand Defence Force’s operational Pinzgauer and Unimog vehicles.
New Zealand Defence Minister Ron Mark said: “Vehicles that protect our people when they move around in hostile environments are vital. Our current fleet of vehicles have reached the end of their life and it’s time to replace them.”
The defence ministry is contemplating the procurement of the Polaris MRZR for the Light Vehicles. Polaris MRZR, which is produced by Polaris Industries, is a militarised version of the side-by-side all-terrain vehicle. The vehicle has the capability to carry up to four troops and cargo. Additionally, it can be airlifted by aircraft and helicopters.
Mark noted that the MRZR is expected to replace existing quad bikes and other small vehicles.
The procurement of these vehicles aims to provide greater mobility, safety and versatility to the country’s rapidly deployable mobile forces.
Under the second project, the ministry will seek to buy up to 43 protected vehicle mediums to provide the Army with similar levels of capability and protection delivered by the Bushmaster vehicles to the Special Forces.
Mark added: “For this project, defence is working with the Australian Defence Force and related suppliers to examine whether further cooperation on this class of vehicle is the best way forward for New Zealand. I will bring a firm proposal to cabinet next year.”
The defence ministry is looking for vehicles that can perform operational tasks such as troop transport, command and communications, and casualty evacuation.
The government has set aside NZD18.6m ($12.49m) for the procurement of high-mobility utility light vehicles.
The funding will also be used to conduct trials and risk reduction work to support future procurements under the Protected Mobility project.
Mark further stated that the objective of these trials is to test the vehicle performance and see if the vehicles support the country’s Network Enabled Army programme.
The Protected Mobility project, which aims to improve the New Zealand Defence Force’s land mobility capability, will be carried out in three phases. (Source: army-technology.com)
01 Jul 19. ‘Back yourselves’ – Minister calls on businesses to join Hunter Class program. Over 100 Australian suppliers have attended a procurement update on the Hunter Class frigate program, and Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price has called on other local businesses to “back themselves and get involved”.
With the prototyping phase of the project beginning next year, Minister Price said Australian small and medium businesses had an excellent opportunity to get involved in the defence industry.
“More than 800 businesses across Australia and several in New Zealand have already pre-qualified through the Industry Capability Network Gateway to work on the Hunter program,” Minister Price said. “These procurement updates are very important for maximising Australian industry’s involvement in the construction of the nine anti-submarine warfare frigates for the Royal Australian Navy. Events like these help ensure that job opportunities are being created across the country.”
Defence industry businesses that supply minor equipment, material and services can support the first tranche of work, worth an estimated $20m, as part of the $35bn surface combatant acquisition program, the largest in Australia’s history.
“These nine lethal anti-submarine warfare frigates will rely on a highly capable defence industry and Australian Defence Force,” Minister Price said. “The program will create about 4,000 jobs right around Australia and ensure we have a long and prosperous future ahead for our shipbuilding industry.”
The nine Hunter Class frigates will be based on the BAE Systems Type 26 Global Combat Ship currently under construction for the Royal Navy and will replace the eight Anzac Class frigates when they enter service beginning in the late 2020s.
The Hunter Class is billed as an anti-submarine warfare centric vessel delivering an advanced ASW capability to the Royal Australian Navy at a time when 50 per cent of the world’s submarines will be operating in the Indo-Pacific region. (Source: Defence Connect)
27 June 19. Contract Signed with the Russian Ministry of Defense for Delivery of a Batch of Su-57s. On June 27, during the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2019, a state contract was signed between the Ministry of Defense and the Sukhoi Company (as part of the UAC) for the supply of a batch of 5th generation Su-57 fighters. As a result of the execution of the signed contract, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will receive the most advanced multi-purpose fighter of the 5th generation designed to destroy all types of aerial targets at both long-range and in close combat, to destroy enemy ground and surface targets, to overcome air defense systems, monitor airspace at long distances bases, as well as the destruction of the control system of enemy aviation operations.
Earlier in 2018, at the ARMY forum, a contract was signed for the delivery of an initial batch of these latest aviation systems. The first aircraft will be handed over to the customer by the end of the year.
The first flight of the Su-57 took place on January 29, 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.
As part of the work on the creation of the 5th generation aviation system and its components, the production of prototypes of the Su-57 was completed in 2017, which significantly increased the rate of flight tests. Currently 10 protype aircraft are involved in the flight tests.
All components of the Su-57 have been tested, with a positive assessment completed the first stage of state tests. To date, flight performance specifications specified in the tactical and technical specifications, as well as stability and controllability characteristics in the entire range of altitudes and flight speeds of the aircraft, including flight at supercritical angles of attack, have been confirmed. An on-board equipment and an aircraft armament complex with combat use was tested, including during actual hostilities in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Successfully performed refueling in flight: The results of the experimental work allow us to consider the characteristics of the aircraft among the best in its class. The Su-57-2 flying laboratory has begun testing new-generation engine known as “product 30,” with reduced specific fuel consumption and increased thrust, which will subsequently be installed on all production aircraft.
The Su-57 has a number of unique features, combining the functions of a fighter and strike aircraft. This fifth-generation aircraft is equipped with a fundamentally new complex of deeply integrated avionics, with a high level of automation control and intellectual support of the pilot. This greatly increases the combat capabilities of the entire system, reducing the pilot’s workload, which in turn allows him to concentrate on solving combat missions.
The on-board equipment of the aircraft allows it to perform tasks not only autonomously, but also to exchange data in real time both with ground control systems and as part of an aviation group. The aircraft can use a wide range of air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons, providing solutions for fighter and attack missions. The Su-57 has the ability to perform hidden missions, due to its low level of visibility in the radar, infrared and visible range wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum.
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/United Aircraft Corp)
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