UNITED KINGDOM AND NATO
01 Apr 21. Bell touts ‘ideal’ 525 for UK New Medium Helicopter requirement. Bell has described its 525 Relentless has being “an ideal aircraft” for the UK New Medium Helicopter (NMH), telling Janes that it is in constant touch with UK acquisition authorities as the country defines its Puma replacement plans.
Speaking on 1 April a company representative said that Bell’s ‘super-medium’ 525 would be an ideal solution for the United Kingdom with its “superior payload and range performance”, while the company also has in its military portfolio the UH-1Y Venom and the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor it has co-developed with Boeing.
”Our teams are in constant contact with the UK acquisition authority as the United Kingdom continues to define their New Medium Helicopter (NMH) requirements. Bell remains committed to providing the right solution based on those requirements and we are certain our aircraft offer the most capable and versatile performance options,” the representative said, adding that the 525 is on track to be issued its certification by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) later this year.
The 525 designation reportedly stands for 5 blades, 2 engines, 500 n miles. Developed as a commercial platform tailored for offshore oil and gas operations, as well as for corporate, VVIP transport, and parapublic roles, the 525 can carry 16 passengers and/or 1,814 kg of payload out to 500 n miles (926 km; 575 miles) at a cruise speed of 162 kt (300 km/h; 186 mph). Other performance specifications include a service ceiling of 20,000 ft, as well as a hover ceiling of 11,200 ft (in-ground effect)/ 8,600 ft (out of ground effect). (Source: Jane’s)
01 Apr 21. UK Space Agency launches multi-million pound drive to design hospital of the future. The government has invited the UK’s world-leading innovators to help design a new ‘space age’ hospital
The hospital could use technologies and techniques pioneered on missions to Mars or the International Space Station to help treat patients and make life easier for hard-working NHS staff.
Up to £5m of UK Space Agency funding is available to support a joint initiative with the Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services programme. The programme is part of the government’s Health Infrastructure Plan, which includes the provision of 40 new hospitals across England by 2030.
The space-enabled services could be inspired by a whole range of activities and technologies pioneered by the UK’s growing space sector, which currently contributes nearly £15bn to GDP and supports 42,000 jobs. They might include new diagnostic tools, improved logistics by tracing goods or using drones, improving hospital parking or better patient reach using tele-rehabilitation or care.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said, “The UK is a world leader in using space technology and data to tackle the challenges we face on Earth, and this initiative is another example of how one of our most thriving sectors is driving improvements in everyday life. As we build back better from the pandemic, I am confident that UK businesses large and small will come forward to produce some truly awe-inspiring ideas to help design this space-age hospital, support our heroic NHS staff and ultimately save lives.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “This trailblazing collaboration – bringing together exceptional scientists from the UK Space Agency and Hampshire Together – will help us apply space age innovations to building hospitals of the future. The UK is unashamedly pro-tech and these government-backed medical advancements will give our amazing NHS access to some of the most innovative technologies.”
Space is already playing an important role in supporting healthcare. The UK Space Agency has provided funding for projects to help the NHS tackle the Coronavirus pandemic, including electric drones that navigate via satellite-enabled GPS, carrying COVID-19 samples, test-kits and PPE to improve delivery times and free up transport infrastructure.
Health technologies inspired by space technologies have helped provide real-time diagnosis of bowel cancer, developed more compact 3D X-ray machines and improved healthcare in the community through both remote diagnostics and an app targeting people at risk of social isolation and mental health issues.
The Hampshire Together programme is a partnership between a wide range of bodies responsible for the health and wellbeing of the people of north and mid Hampshire, focused on ensuring that any investment is made not just in hospital buildings – but in local people.
Tony Mears, Associate Director of Innovation for the Hampshire Together programme, said, “We are delighted to be working with the UK Space Agency as part of our programme. It opens up new opportunities for us in terms of innovation and technology and shows our commitment to incorporating new ideas into our plans for the future. The UK Space Agency has really helped the NHS to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 and we are excited to see how we can use this innovation-by-nature sector to help provide the best health and care services for people across Hampshire in the future.”
The call for space-inspired ideas is supported by the European Space Agency’s Space Solutions, through their Business Applications programme, in which the UK is the leading investor. The UK continues to be a leading member of ESA, which is independent of the EU, having committed a record investment of £374 million per year in November 2019.
A panel of experts, including representatives from the UK Space Agency, Hampshire Together and ESA, will assess the proposals for how space-derived technologies can contribute to the design, development and utilisation of services for any new hospital and its surrounding community.
The successful projects, which could be new ideas, or using technology that already exists in a different way to support healthcare, will then be incorporated in any new facility, as well as the wider health system. Where appropriate, these ideas will also be used to improve services across the area before the construction of any new buildings.
Arnaud Runge, Medical Engineer at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre, said, “In the past but also more recently throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the use of space technologies and satellite data has proven to be an essential driver for innovation in the healthcare sector to address existing and new challenges. We are delighted to extend our fruitful collaboration with the UK Space Agency and NHS in this exciting initiative and demonstrate how space can contribute today to shape the hospital of tomorrow.”
More information on how to apply for the funding: https://business.esa.int/funding/intended-tender/nhs-future-hospitals-initiative (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
26 Mar 21. Leonardo encouraged by UK commitment to new medium-lift helicopter and national industry. Leonardo is encouraged by the UK government’s recent announcements that it is to recapitalise the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) medium-lift helicopter fleet, at the same time as supporting national industry in fulfilling that and other future requirements.
Speaking to Janes and other defence media on 26 March, a senior official from Leonardo Helicopters UK said that the announcements in the Integrated Review and Defence Command Paper over the previous days had boosted the company’s plan to offer a UK-built AW149 solution to the MoD’s requirement to replace the Westland-Aerospatiale SA 330E Puma HC2 and three other unidentified helicopter types.
“I would say how encouraged we are by the announcements that have come out this week, both in the confirmation of a replacement for the Puma and the recapitalisation of the medium fleet, and also very heartened by the focus on UK prosperity and the need to generate that prosperity will now be a key decision point on procurement decision going forward,” Managing Director Leonardo Helicopters UK, Nick Whitney, said. “From a Leonardo perspective with 7,000 jobs in the UK and 3,000 at Yeovil [in southern England], that is all very heartening for us and vitally important. We are sustaining high-end jobs that go hand in hand with having that total; capability to design, develop and build helicopters in the UK – we are the only company that can do that.” (Source: Jane’s)
01 Apr 21. Details emerge on Eurofighter Typhoon offering to Finland. Further details have emerged on the industrial package being offered to Finland for the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is being led by the UK.
During a press briefing on 31 March, the UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said that Finland had been invited to join in the development of the European Common Radar System Mark 2 (ECRS Mk2) Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The UK signed a GBP317mi (USD435m) contract with Leonardo in September, which will give future Typhoon aircraft the ability to undertake electronic attack missions. Rolls-Royce also announced that production of the EJ200 low-bypass turbofan engine for the Eurofighter Typhoon could take place in Finland if the country selects the aircraft for the HX fighter acquisition programme. According to Rolls-Royce director Business Development and Future Programmes Alex Zino, “Eurojet will subcontract Finnish industry to produce the EJ200 engine in Finland, resulting in the majority of the production being conducted in-country. This will be the largest in-country service and supply package provided by Eurojet to date. Finland will also be the only country to have an engine production line outside of the core nations.”“Finnish industry will be supplied with all the required hardware, software, procedures, systems, and techniques over the course of the operational life of the Eurofighter fleet. Our aim is that when operating the Eurofighter in Finland, Finland receives what the RAF [Royal Air Force] receives.” (Source: Jane’s)
30 Mar 21. Three companies make a joint run for Germany’s new air-defense program. German contractors Rheinmetall, Hensoldt and Diehl Defence have teamed up to bid on the country’s envisioned short-range, air-defense program, the companies said Tuesday.
The announcement comes days after defense officials in Berlin announced they had shelved a more comprehensive defensive system against sophisticated ballistic missiles, dubbed TLVS for short, in favor of counter-drone and anti-aircraft weapons at closer ranges.
The German military’s planned lower-tier defense system – abbreviated as LVS NNbS – is meant to intercept aircraft, combat helicopters and cruise missiles. It features Diehl’s Iris-T SL-M missile to be fired out of truck-mounted, vertical launchers, the same type that was eyed as a lower-cost option to the Lockheed Martin interceptor in TLVS, according to a Diehl spokesman.
Also included in the three companies’ offer is a Hensoldt tracking radar, mounted on a separate truck, and a notional armored vehicle that can shoot an air-to-air variant of the Iris-T missile while on the move, the spokesman explained.
“The three companies aim to provide a national, low-risk solution that will be quickly available thanks to the use of commercially available systems and system components,” read a joint statement by the contractors.
The companies played up their strictly German arrangement, arguing jobs and know-how would remain local if the team were picked for the program.
It is still unclear how the defense ministry will approach the competition, and whether there is money for it in the first place.
Tobias Lindner, the Green Party’s point man in parliament on defense issues, last week criticized Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer for failing to push urgently needed weapon programs to completion, including a mobile air-defense system for protecting deployed formations.
“It is telling that a new short-range, air-defense system is not included in budget plans, even though it would cost only a fraction of TLVS,” reads a statement Lindner released when defense leaders announced a new emphasis on shorter-range threats. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
26 Mar 21. German MoD presents GBAD proposal to Bundestag. The German Ministry of Defence (MoD) presented its technical proposal for ground-based air defence (GBAD) to the Bundestag, the federal parliament, on 23 March. The ministry said in a press release the same day that the first step would be to upgrade its Patriot air defence system starting in 2023 to retain existing missile defence capabilities for the rest of the decade.
In addition, in a second step no later than 2026, new anti-air and anti-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities will be developed through the initial qualification of a Nah- und Nächstbereichsschutz (short- and very short-range air defence, NNbS) system that will replace the Wiesel 2 Ozelot light air defence system, which the German MoD described as “outdated [and] qualitatively and quantitatively inadequate”.
The ministry identified a high potential for European co-operation on this project. In addition to Germany’s existing air defence co-operation with the Netherlands through Project Apollo, the MoD pointed to the possibility of co-operating with other EU and NATO countries to promote the development of European anti-air and counter-UAV capabilities. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Mar 21. Kongsberg continues F-35 production participation and prepares surplus F-16s for sale. F-35 Lot 15 to Lot 17 production will include components from Kongsberg. Lockheed Martin orders Kongsberg components for Lot 15-Lot 17 production F-35s. Meanwhile, Kongsberg’s MRO division is preparing at least two ex-Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s for resale.
Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace on 25 March announced a NOK1.7bn ($200m) deal with Lockheed Martin for involvement in Lot 15 to Lot 17 production of the F-35 Lightning II multirole combat aircraft.
The deal covers delivery of rudders, vertical leading edges and main landing gear closeout panels for more than 500 aircraft.
Terje Bråthen, EVP of aerostructures at Kongsberg, said that ‘this contract secures work for the next four years, as well as positioning us for continued participation in future production lots’.
Meanwhile, Kongsberg Aviation Maintenance Services (KAMS) is maintaining and preparing for sale surplus Norwegian F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, under a contract from the Norwegian Defence Material Agency.
The deal, worth an undisclosed amount, covers two F-16s with the option to overhaul up to three more. If that option is exercised, work on the contract will be completed by the end of 2021.
‘The aircraft will be made ready for sale to new owners, and the Norwegian Defence Material Agency expects to achieve commercial re-sale agreements for the upgraded aircraft,’ KAMS announced on 24 March.
Jonny Otterlei, technical director at the Norwegian Defence Material Agency, said: ‘Several nations will be selling their F-16 aircraft in the near future. Our market surveys show it’s a good idea to create an attractive offer as regards the aircraft’s quality and remaining flight time.’
According to Shephard Defence Insight, Norway procured a total of 74 F-16A/B Block 1, 5, 10 and 15 aircraft, including two attrition replacement platforms, between 1980 and 1989 as one of the initial NATO customers.
All 57 aircraft in the Royal Norwegian Air Force inventory have been upgraded in an MLU and will remain in service until F-35s gradually replace them by 2024. (Source: Google/Shephard)
29 Mar 21. US Navy seeks contractor support for CORIAN C-UAS component of SkyTracker system. NAWCAD WOLF Combat Integration & Identification Systems (CI&IDS) division has a requirement for contractor services to provide mission critical sustainment support for the CORIAN Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS), a part of the SkyTracker Technology Suite, at existing CONUS and OCONUS Government locations. The requirement entails providing sustainment support to include engineering, program management and technical support services to support the sustainment of the CORIAN systems at existing Government sites.
Sustainment of the systems includes, but not limited to, maintainability and deployment upgrades of operational systems, reconfiguration of installed systems, training, system maintenance, and hardware repairs.
Contracting organisation: US Navy
Deadline: 7 April 2021
For more information
31 Mar 21. Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company and the U.S. Army have agreed to terms on the execution of the second phase of the Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) contract that was awarded in March 2020 for the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. This new contract is an important milestone and testament to the continued momentum for Army modernization. Bell’s flight-proven V-280 Valor design advances from an aircraft with transformational speed and survivability towards a low-risk weapons system ready to support joint combined arms and maneuver operations around the world.
“This is the next step to a program of record and Bell is proud to closely collaborate with the Army to transition our flight-proven V-280 Valor into a highly-capable and sustainable FLRAA weapons system,” said Keith Flail, executive vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. “Bell and our Team Valor teammates continue to optimize our platform based on research, design, and thorough flight-testing of the aircraft to deliver an outstanding capability for the Army.”
During phase one of the CD&RR, Bell provided detailed iterations on the V-280 design, data to highlight the feasibility of executing the program of record requirements, and executed trade studies using model-based systems engineering. This work will continue under phase two as the Army finalizes requirements for the program of record planned for 2022. Bell has already safely delivered groundbreaking performance and successfully completed a rapid design, build, and test program with the V-280. Since its first flight in 2017, the V-280 team has executed a rigorous flight test program flying more than 200 hours through over 160 individual test flights that delivered critical data to validate Bell’s digital models and performance. As the FLRAA competition moves to a program of record, Bell continues to take a holistic approach to transition the V-280 to a weapons system that ensures exceptional performance and is affordable throughout the lifecycle. From the outset, the Bell V-280 Valor was designed for efficiency—using simplified and inherently reliable designs, adhering to Army Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) requirements, reducing maintenance costs, and increasing reliability. Bell applied digital design and manufacturing technologies, included maintenance as part of the design process, and used emerging commercial processes to bring a comprehensive view of digital models, processing, and analysis. This methodology has reduced programmatic risk, improved lifecycle maintenance and servicing outcomes, increasing program affordability.
“This aircraft is not an engineering science project. The V-280 tiltrotor provides a critical and combat-proven capability needed to maintain our U.S. military’s ability to deter adversaries by radically improving over the current fleet’s speed, range, versatility, and sustainability. Our program has provided evidence that the V-280 is a transformational long-range assault aircraft solution for the Army and we are proud to move forward as a team to continue to mature the weapons system,” said Ryan Ehinger, vice president and program director, FLRAA at Bell.
31 Mar 21. US Army enters final phase of development before kicking off Future Long Range Assault Aircraft program. The U.S. Army has awarded contracts to both Bell and a Sikorsky-Boeing team to continue into a second phase of competitive development and risk reduction as the service prepares to begin its formal program to acquire a future long-range assault aircraft, or FLRAA, by 2030.
Awarded through the Aviation and Missile Technology Consortium, Bell and the Sikorsky-Boeing team will each conduct a preliminary analysis of requirements for Special Operations Command, including for medical evacuation and features that allow for the aircraft’s export to other countries, according to a March 30 Army statement.
At the start of the official program of record for FLRAA in 2022, the Army will choose a winner between the two teams to build prototypes.
The competitive demonstration and risk reduction, or CDRR, phase was set up a year ago to transition technologies from the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration, or JMR-TD, effort to the FLRAA weapons systems design.
The Army awarded contracts to both teams a year ago to continue conducting analysis to refine requirements, conceptual designs and acquisition approaches needed to successfully execute the FLRAA program.
Through the JMR-TD phase and into CDRR, Bell flew its V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft, and the Sikorsky-Boeing team flew its SB-1 Defiant coaxial demonstrator. Defiant had more trouble getting off the ground due to issues in manufacturing its rotor blades, and thus started the JMR-TD phase over a year late, taking off for the first time in March 2019. V-280′s first flight was in December 2017.
In a March 31 statement, Bell said that, through a “rigorous flight test program,” the aircraft has flown more than 200 hours during more than 160 individual test flights that “delivered critical data to validate Bell’s digital models and performance.”
The CDRR will allow the winner to complete preliminary design reviews for both the air vehicle and weapons systems in less than a year after the programmatic contract award, the Army statement noted, “thus advancing the schedule to an earlier decision” to enter into engineering and manufacturing development.
An earlier decision “will provide more time for detailed design, building and testing of prototype air vehicles,” the statement read.
“The award of these agreements is a significant milestone for FLRAA,” Brig. Gen. Rob Barrie, the Army’s program executive officer for aviation, said in the statement. “CD&RR Phase II accelerates digital engineering design work to the subsystem level and mitigates industrial base workforce risk while maintaining competition.”
Through the CDRR, “Army leaders have had the ability to make early, informed decisions ensuring FLRAA capabilities are not only affordable, but that they meet Multi-Domain Operations requirements while delivering on an aggressive schedule that does not sacrifice rigor for speed,” he added.
The first phase of the CDRR focused on tackling a laundry list of technologies identified through an independent technology readiness assessment conducted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Some of those technologies included the powertrain, drivetrain and control laws of the aircraft.
The CDRR is also designed to allow the Army to work on the integration of its mission systems.
“Crucial to the success of FLRAA’s objectives is the deliberate integration of a Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) into its requirements, acquisition and sustainment strategy,” the statement said. “MOSA is a critical enabler for improving lifecycle affordability, directly aligning with Army Aviation objectives to achieve sustained affordability and deliver continuous capability upgrades against future threats.”
The Army is also seeking to field a future attack reconnaissance aircraft in a nearly parallel timeline with FLRAA as part of a future vertical lift ecosystem that will include air-launched effects capable of being used in a multidomain environment with dramatically increased speed and range. (Source: Defense News)
30 Mar 21. Navy’s Plans Call For New Drones To Shoot, Spy, Jam. “I can clearly — in my mind — envision a way to say ‘fly a defensive combat spread, shoot on this target,’ and I will squeeze the trigger or I will enable that unmanned platform to shoot the designated target,” Rear Adm. Gregory Harris says.
Navy now aims to have 60% of its carrier air wing comprise unmanned aircraft as it replaces F-18s.
The Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) effort, a joint effort between the Navy and Air Force, is still in its early stages, but the admiral in charge of the Navy’s air wing said today he would like to see a 60/40 mix of unmanned to manned aircraft to replace the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and electronic attack EA-18G Growlers.
“In the next probably two to three years, we’ll have a better idea whether replacement for the F-18 E and F will be manned or unmanned,” Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, director of the Navy’s Air Warfare Division, said at a Navy League event this morning. The service will initially try for a 40/60 unmanned to manned aircraft mix, leading to the 60/40 ratio as time goes on.
Harris’ comments support an estimate recently floated by Vice Adm. James Kilby, head of the Navy’s warfighting requirements and capabilities office, who told the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month he thinks the Navy “could get upwards of 40 percent of the aircraft in an air wing that are unmanned and then transition beyond that.”
Last year, the Navy said it would close out the Super Hornet production line after 2021 to instead fund the Navy’s NGAD program, a move which puts some pressure on the service to get their plans in order.
“We truly see NGAD as more than just a single aircraft,” Harris said. “We believe that as manned/unmanned teaming comes online, we will integrate those aspects” into a more refined acquisition plan.
“As we look at it right now, the Next-Gen Air Dominance is a family of systems, which has as its centerpiece the F/A-XX – which may or may not be manned – platform. It’s the fixed-wing portion of the Next-Gen Air Dominance family of systems.”
A major part of the effort will involve Boeing’s MQ-25 Stingray refueling drone, which is separate from the NGAD effort, but will work alongside those aircraft. The Navy has been slowly shepherding the Stingray along through its design and development process. The USS Carl Vinson — the first carrier to be modernized to fly the F-35 for the Navy — has also been modified to allow it to operate the MQ-25.
In addition to refueling fighters, the Stingray is likely to serve as an extra sensing node in the sky, pushing data back and forth between crewed and autonomous surface vessels and giving the Navy and Marine Corps a new intelligence gathering asset. As a tanker, it will also extend the range of the Navy’s carrier-based aircraft by hundreds of miles.
Some of the work on the Vinson involved establishing an Unmanned Aviation Warfare Center on the ship, along with new network infrastructure and command and control equipment.
Harris suggested that the unmanned portion of the future air wing could be anything from an air-to-air platform that can conduct electronic warfare missions to an advanced early warning platform to replace the E-2D surveillance aircraft at some point in the future.
“Having an unmanned platform out there as an adjunct missile carrier, I see as not a step too far, too soon,” Harris said. “An unmanned system with missiles I can clearly — in my mind — envision a way to say ‘fly a defensive combat spread, shoot on this target,’ and I will squeeze the trigger or I will enable that unmanned platform to shoot the designated target. That doesn’t stretch beyond my realm of imagination.”
Navy CNO Adm. Mike Gilday has said he wants the next-generation carrier fighter in service in the 2030s, but the decisions that will need to be made first, as the Navy slowly begins integrating F-35s onto the flight decks of its aging carrier fleet, point to years of development before any large-scale marriage between manned and unmanned aircraft can operate together at sea. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
29 Mar 21. With a second frigate yard competition on the horizon, Austal USA moves to add steel shipbuilding. Austal USA has broken ground on a steel production line in Mobile, Ala., as the Navy winds down its aluminum-hulled shipbuilding programs and plans on larger numbers of smaller ships.
The company, a subsidiary of the Australia-based Austal, makes the Navy’s expeditionary fast transport and the Independence-class littoral combat ship. The company will be ready to start building steel hulls by next April, an upgrade that is expected to position it for future competitions.
“As demand for the greater and larger Navy and Coast Guard fleets grows, Austal USA is investing to meet those changing requirements,” Rusty Murdaugh, the company’s interim president, said in a statement on Friday. “We’re investing in our people, we’re investing in our processes and we’re investing in our facilities and capabilities.”
The groundbreaking comes amid new shipbuilding opportunities. A new small surface combatant and unmanned surface vessels are in development.
The expansion is at least in part funded by a $50m government grant under the CARES Act, part of a Trump administration push to expand shipbuilding. The company said at the time it would likely match the total investment.
Adding steel shipbuilding capability, Austal puts itself in line to potentially become the second shipyard constructing the new Constellation-class frigate. In a final shipbuilding plan pushed in the waning days of the administration, President Trump’s Office of Management and Budget advocated for accelerating the frigate program and adding a second yard.
In April 2020, Fincanieri beat Austal USA, Huntington Ingalls Industries in Mississippi and General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine to design the ship and construct the first vessel at Marinette Marine shipyard in Wisconsin, with options for up to nine others.
The Navy’s 30-year plan calls for a “follow yard” in fiscal 2023 to increase production of the Constellation class to three ships and to four ships by fiscal 2025.
The Navy is also developing a class of large unmanned surface vessels designed to be an external missile magazine for manned ships, boosting the missile capacity of more limited ships such as the 32-missile cell Constellation-class frigate awarded last year to Fincantieri.
In February, incoming Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told lawmakers in her confirmation that shipbuilding plans would be reviewed by the Biden administration, but specifically pointed to increasing the number of small surface combatants as an idea that interested her.
“This is logical, this is a commitment to the future, that Austal is not vacating the U.S. Navy market after the LCS is done ― and I wouldn’t expect them to,” said Byron Callan, a defense and aerospace analyst with Capital Alpha Partners. (Source: Google/Defense News)
29 Mar 21. STRIKEWERX, AFWERX initiate challenge to develop B-52 aerial refuelling trainer. The US Air Force programme AFWERX and Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)’s STRIKEWERX have initiated a challenge event to develop a B-52 aerial refuelling trainer. The US Air Force programme AFWERX and Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC)’s STRIKEWERX have initiated a challenge event to develop a B-52 aerial refuelling trainer.
This event, which aims to allow pilots to quickly learn air refuelling in the B-52 bomber, will bring together the best industry and academia solutions that will develop a trainer.
AFGSC’s innovation hub STRIKEWERX is aiding the command’s efforts to build an advanced training capability.
AFGSC chief scientist Dr Donna Senft said: “The B-52 Aerial Refuelling Trainer represents a completely new approach to flight simulators, pushing the envelope for realism and educational efficiency while retaining the low cost of AR/VR flight training.”
The challenge has already started on 16 March and will remain open for submission of industry solutions until 13 April.
In June, the showcase event for ‘selected industry solutions’ will take place.
STRIKEWERX director Russ Mathers explained: “This challenge brings together virtual reality, physical components the pilots can touch and get feedback from, biometric sensors such as eye tracking, and artificial intelligence to replace an in-person instructor pilot that provides a complete solution for training pilots.”
According to AFGSC, the challenge is aimed at solving four parts including the human-machine interface (KMI), which is the ‘replication of control on the flight deck’ and an ‘automated virtual instructor’ to allow self-practice for students.
Furthermore, the challenge also seeks to solve biometrics to provide ‘accurate feedback’ in the training programme and making the model reconfigurable for other aircraft by the ‘swapping out of controls’. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
REST OF THE WORLD
01 Apr 21. Airbus qualified as bidder for Canada’s strategic tanker replacement. Airbus has been qualified by the Government of Canada as a bidder for the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) project, a procurement process launched to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Airbus A310MRTT (CC-150 Polaris) multirole tanker fleet.
The invitation to qualify (ITQ), released at the beginning of 2021, has identified Airbus’ A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft as capable of meeting the project’s requirements which now moves to the next stage of the call for tender. A draft request for proposal (RFP) is expected in Q3 2021.
The STTC program looks to replace the RCAF CC-150 Polaris tanker fleet with a multirole aircraft capable of conducting a wide range of missions including NATO and NORAD operations, ranging from air-to-air refueling to strategic G overnment of Canada transport and aeromedical evacuation.
Simon Jacques, President of Airbus Defence and Space Canada, said: “The A330 MRTT is the only new generation, combat- proven, multirole tanker available. It is certified to operate with the majority of western receivers, including Canada’s current fighters, transport and mission aircraft. With more than 250,000 flight hours in service with 13 nations, including key NATO allies and Five Eyes partners such as Australia and the United Kingdom.”
Active in several Canadian provinces, Airbus has approximately 3,800 employees across the country and sustains more than 23,000 indirect jobs in the aeronautics sector. Airbus works with over 665 suppliers in nine provinces, sourcing $1.8bn CAD from Canadian companies.
All Airbus divisions are present in Canada with commercial aircraft in Mirabel, QC, helicopters in Fort Erie, ON and Defense and Space in Ottawa, ON. Airbus 100% owned subsidiaries, Stelia Aerospace and NAVBLUE also have installations in the country. In addition Air Pro, a joint-venture between Airbus and PAL Aerospace, located in Ottawa, ON, provides in-service support to the FWSAR programme in Canada (Airbus C295 aircraft to RCAF).
31 Mar 21. South Korea reveals more details about plans to buy additional attack helicopters. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) revealed on 31 March more details about the country’s plans to acquire an additional 36 foreign-made attack helicopters for the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA).
The country’s Defense Project Promotion Committee decided that the rotorcraft, which are intended to replace the RoKA’s Bell AH-1S attack helicopters, are to be acquired under the second phase of the ‘Large Attack Helicopter Project’. This programme phase, which has been budgeted at KRW3.17trn (USD2.81bn), is scheduled to begin next year and be completed by 2028.
The new aircraft, which are to be sourced via a competitive bidding process, will supplement the RoKA’s current fleet of 36 AH-64E Apache helicopters, which were acquired from the United States for about USD1.6bn under the first phase of the programme.
The Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed DAPA official as saying, “We will begin procedures to select the exact type of this asset, as well as a company to purchase the attack helicopters,” adding that the budget earmarked for the second phase of the programme “has increased due to inflation and the necessary addition of some equipment and facilities”.
The planned acquisition is motivated by the need for greater air attack capabilities to compensate for the reduction in manpower and the transition of wartime operational command from the US to South Korea, RoKA officials told Janes, adding that the 36 additional rotorcraft would cover “the extended operational range of ground operations”. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Mar 21. Lebanon’s Air Force launches public aircraft bids as part of fleet reorg. Lebanon is selling five Hawker Hunter fighter jets and three Sikorsky-made S-61 helicopters, the Ministry of National Defense announced, calling for interested parties to bid on the used aircraft.
A source with knowledge of the sales process told Defense News on condition of anonymity that three companies have shown interest in the Hawker Hunter jets in particular: British firm Hawker Hunter Aviation as well as U.S.-based companies Airborne Tactical Advantage Company (a subsidiary of Textron Systems) and Lortie Aviation.
The Lebanese Air Force’s Hawker Hunters have been nonoperational since 2010. The country is keeping two of them to be preserved in a local museum.
Companies tend to purchase old aircraft to refurbish them for use as enemy fighters in training.
The commander of the Air Force, Brig. Gen. Ziad Haikal, told Defense News that the sale is part of the service’s effort to reallocate its assets and restructure its fleets to maximize the utility of available resources.
“The Hawker Hunter aircraft and Sikorsky helicopters have been nonoperational for many years, in the absence of financial resources to maintain them. This public auction will be the first step to restructure the training fleet and fire-fighting capabilities,” he said.
He added that the Air Force has developed a future five-year plan aimed at ensuring the maintenance of equipment, preserving existing capabilities and gradually enhancing its inventory.
“The reinforcement plan depends on doubling the number of light attack A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from six to 12, and [acquiring] MD530F helicopters — six of which are expected to be received by the end of 2021 — in addition to Scan Eagle drones, in such a way that each squadron includes at least 12 aircraft or helicopters of the same type,” Haikal said.
Lebanon operates six A-29 Super Tucano planes that were delivered to the Air Force as a part of a U.S. military aid program. The Lebanese Air Force receives about 30-40 percent of the $50-60m in annual aid.
Regarding the five-year plan, Haikal said he wants to have “the air capabilities that allow [for] protecting the Lebanese airspace from any aggression or violations, [which] remains one of the strategic objectives of the Army and the Air Force. Achieving this objective requires, securing the infrastructure for the available airports, securing a suitable radar and air defense network, in addition to achieving modern air interception aircraft.”
Lebanon lacks the three primary pillars to effectively secure its airspace; a radar network, missile defense systems and fighter jets are a future aspiration, but the economic crisis pervading the country has served as a roadblock.
The Air Force chief said the existing fleet of UH-1H Huey II helicopters will be used to put out fires instead of the Sikorsky helos.
“An alternative to the Hunters, for close-air support missions, are the Super Tucano aircraft, [which] outperform the Hunter jet by being equipped with advanced weapon systems and laser-guided weapons. As for the classification of the Hunter as a jet plane, there is no current alternative for this class in the Air Force,” he said.
He added that the service is eyeing a contract with American firm Air Tractor for an aircraft similar to the AT-802 that can support the county’s firefighting capabilities as well as for spare parts and pilot and technician training. The money made from selling the S-61 helos would go toward that purchase, he explained. He also said the Air Force will seek initial entry training aircraft after selling the Hawker Hunters.
A decree issued by the Council of Ministers of Lebanon states that the returns are to be allocated for the Air Force to procure new aircraft. Such a statement can’t be annulled except by another government decree.
The Lebanese Air Force previously showed interest in the Pakistani Super Mushshak trainers, but it never received a response from Pakistani authorities. Haikal said the Air Force might now buy additional Cessna or Cirrus trainers.
Asked if U.S. military aid to Lebanon might help the Lebanese Air Force restructure its fleet, Haikal said: “The U.S. aid program depends mainly on plans by the Lebanese Army Command. All these plans are updated and regularized annually or when needed. So far, no American aid has been allocated to complete the set plan after implementing the bidding process. It is possible, if necessary, [that the aid could] support the plan in the future.” (Source: Defense News)
28 Mar 21. Lockheed Martin Australia calls for submarine combat system innovation proposals. Lockheed Martin Australia has released a further call for innovation proposals relating to the com bat system of the RAN’s new Attack-class submarines. Photo: Defence.
Lockheed Martin Australia’s Rotary and Missions Systems business, which is prime contractor for the combat system on the RAN’s Attack-class submarines, has issued a new call for innovation proposals related to the submarines. The company has released eight new R&D topics:
- Underwater communications
- Visualization of bioluminescence data
- Above-water laser communications
- Novel recovery approaches for submarine-launched UUVs and UAVs
- Intelligent Mission recording
- Anti-fouling and anti-corrosion treatments
- Visual sensor performance prediction
- Asset maintenance techniques
Lockheed Martin Australia’s purpose is to support and respond to the short- and long-term capability and technology needs of the Attack-class submarine program. Its focus is to generate R&D topics, grow industry capability and enable ongoing research.
The company’s four-step approach is to, first, generate R&D topics; then solicit Expressions of Interest in developing funded White Papers on a specific technology or idea; then fund Ongoing Capability Research; and finally enter a Capability Maturation Phase. Lockheed Martin Australia is looking for responses from industry and academia with the goa of improving the capability of the Attack-class submarines and growing the capabilities of Australian industry.
Additional information can be found on the company’s ICN page: https://gateway.icn.org.au/project/3938/lockheed-martin-australia-future-submarine (Source: http://rumourcontrol.com.au/)