Thursday, 31 October 2019

Lockheed, Pentagon Strike $34B Deal for 478 F-35s

RAF F-35B - Matt Cardy-Getty Images

Lockheed, Pentagon Strike $34B Deal for 478 F-35s – GovCon Wire

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and the Department of Defense have finalized a $34B contract for the company to produce and deliver 478 F-35 Lightning II fighter jets for lots 12 through 14 in support of U.S. service branches, allies and foreign military sales clients.

Lockheed said Tuesday the latest agreement reduces the price of the F-35A variant to less than $80M per unit in both 13th and 14th batches, reflecting a 12.8 percent cost reduction from lot 11.

The contract covers the production of 291 jets for U.S. military branches, 127 units for allies and 60 aircraft for FMS customers and reaches an average of 12.7 percent cost reduction across all three F-35 variants from lot 11 to 14.

"With the F-35A unit cost now below $80 million in Lot 13, we were able to exceed our long-standing cost reduction commitment one year earlier than planned,” said Greg Ulmer, vice president and general manager of Lockheed’s F-35 program.

Ellen Lord, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment at DoD and a 2019 Wash100 award winner, said in a statement issued Tuesday the agreement with Lockheed includes 149 F-35s for lot 12, 160 units for lot 13 and 169 aircraft for lot 14.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, F-35 program executive officer, said the contract includes 351 of the F-35A variant, 86 of F-35B model and 41 of the F-35C variant.

"With this award we see from a production perspective the most dramatic rate increases in the production line are now behind us," Fick said. "This dramatic production rate increase has proven to be challenging for the supply chain, but the comparatively minor quantity changes across lots 12 through 14 should give it some breathing room as we move forward."

Pratt & Whitney Wins $5.7B F135 Engine Contract
Pratt & Whitney Gets $2.2B Modification on F-35 Engine Production, Delivery Contract
Lockheed Gets $353M IDIQ Modification for F-35 Helmet Display Procurement
Lockheed Martin Continues Advanced EOTS Development
F-35 combat readiness still in doubt

Great image of the third JF-17B prototype

BAE Gets $120M Modification on USMC Amphibious Combat Vehicle Production Contract


BAE Gets $120M Modification on USMC Amphibious Combat Vehicle Production Contract – GovCon Wire

BAE Systems will produce 30 amphibious combat vehicles for the U.S. Marine Corps under a three-year, $119.9M contract modification.

The service branch issued the modification to exercise options for three contract line item numbers covering production and fielding services, depot support equipment and support costs, the Department of Defense said Tuesday.

USMC selected the team of BAE and Iveco Defence Systems in 2018 to build ACVs under contract worth potentially $1.2B.

The Pentagon expects work under the exercised options to finish by January 2022.

Turkish Aerospace to Develop ‘T629’ Armed or Attack Helicopter

Turkish Aerospace to Develop ‘T629’ Armed or Attack Helicopter

Turkish Aerospace’s General Manager and CEO, Temel Kotil, revealed that the company will develop a six-ton attack or armed helicopter – designated T629 – that will fill the gap between the five-ton T129 ATAK and the forthcoming 10-ton ATAK II heavy attack helicopter.

In an interview with GBP Aerospace and Defence, Kotil stated, “The designs have been finalised and we plan to carry out the first flight of this new helicopter in about a year.”

Kotil did not disclose the technical specifications of the T629.

Separately, Kotil also confirmed that Turkish Aerospace’s six-ton utility helicopter, the T625 Gökbey, which flew for the first time in September 2018, is undergoing certification trials in Turkey.

Deliveries of the new helicopter are expected to start in 2021. Its current iteration is powered by two CTS-800-4A turboshaft engines, which are the same type currently powering the T129 ATAK attack helicopter.

He also commented on Turkey’s next-generation fighter, the TF-X. Currently, Turkish Aerospace is working to roll-out the TF-X prototype in 2023, and in turn, conduct a maiden test flight in 2025.

Notes & Comments:

It is unclear exactly what kind of attack helicopter Turkish Aerospace is developing in the T629.

The nomenclature suggests that the T629 will be derived from the T625, but the -9 number indicates a connection to the T129 ATAK. Interestingly, in a speech in October 2017, Ismail Demir, the President of Defence Industries (SSB) stated that Turkish Aerospace will develop a six-ton attack helicopter using the same transmission, gear box, and rotors of the T625 (Anadolu Agency).

Thus, an upgraded lightweight attack helicopter based on the T129, but free of ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) components is plausible. In this case, the T629 would utilize Tusaş Engine Industries’ TS1400 turboshaft engines instead of the LHTEC CTS800-4A.

On the other hand, Turkish Aerospace could develop a militarized variant of the T625. In this case, it may look at adapting the platform for special mission and develop something similar to the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat. At sea, the T629 could potentially work as an anti-submarine warfare (ASW), search-and-rescue, and anti-ship warfare (AShW) asset like the Wildcat or Lynx. Over land, it could support the ATAK and ATAK 2 as a reconnaissance/scouting, light transport, and other utility roles.

That said, should Turkish Aerospace develop an AW159-like helicopter through the T625, the notion of an ITAR-free ATAK is still possible. The threat of US interference could weigh negatively on current and future ATAK prospects. Moreover, Turkey invested in acquiring the technology to manufacture the T129 locally; it can extend that investment with an upgraded, ITAR-free variant and market that as a lower-cost option in parallel to the heavier ATAK-2.

Göksel Yıldırım @twitter

Turkey is building a new attack helo. Here are the weapons that will arm it.

T129 Attack Helicopter: Details

We're working hard to transition our advanced Compass Call electronic warfare system

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Newport News Shipbuilding Division Delivers Virginia-Class Submarine Delaware (SSN 791) to US Navy

U.S. Navy

Newport News Shipbuilding Division Delivers Virginia-Class S

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (NYSE:HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division on Friday delivered the newest fast-attack submarine to the U.S. Navy.

Delaware (SSN 791), which successfully completed sea trials earlier this month, is the ninth Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by Newport News and the 18th built as part of the teaming agreement with General Dynamics Electric Boat.

“Like the last two submarines we delivered to the Navy, Delaware has received some of the highest quality scores since the Virginia-class program began,” said Dave Bolcar, Newport News’ vice president of submarine construction. “Our team of shipbuilders continues to perform at a high level, and nothing makes us prouder than delivering one of the most mission-ready submarines to the fleet.”

The submarine is the second ship to be named for the country’s first state, the first being the dreadnought battleship USS Delaware (BB 28), which was delivered by Newport News in 1910.

More than 10,000 shipbuilders from Newport News and Electric Boat have participated in Delaware’s construction since the work began in September 2013. The submarine was christened by Jill Biden, the former Second Lady of the United States and the ship’s sponsor, during a ceremony in October 2018.

The future USS Delaware (SSN 791) will be commissioned next year.

Source: Huntington Ingalls Industries
Date: Oct 28, 2019

Navy, Shipbuilders Working On Final Details Of Block V Virginia-Class Submarine Deal
Huntington Ingalls Completes Initial Sea Trials of Virginia-Class Submarine Delaware
Delaware has its day: Newest Navy submarine named in honor of the First State

Virginia class attack submarine: Details

U.S. military orders 114 new F-35 combat jet aircraft and integrated sensor packages in $7 billion order

U.S. military orders 114 new F-35 combat jet aircraft and integrated sensor packages in $7 billion order

The F-35 combat jet aircraft with its advanced sensors and avionics is designed for ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. and allied military air forces are ordering 114 new lot-13 F-35 fighter-bomber jet aircraft of various configurations from Lockheed Martin Corp. under terms of a $7 billion order announced Monday.

The F-35 with its advanced avionics is a fifth-generation single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole jet fighter-bomber designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions. It is one of the most advanced combat jets in the world.

Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. -- the organization handling F-35 aviation technology procurement for all military forces -- are ordering conventional and vertical takeoff and landing versions, as well as carrier versions of the F-35 combat jet from the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics segment in Fort Worth, Texas.

The order involves 83 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jet aircraft for operation from conventional long runways; 22 F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) jet aircraft for operation from small ships and unimproved runways; and nine F-35C reinforced aircraft with folding wings for aircraft carrier operations.

Related: Stealth of F-35 strengthens alliances and worries potential foes as plane seen as direct threat to Iran

The order is for 48 F-35As aircraft and sensor packages for the U.S. Air Force; 15 F-35As for the government of Australia; 12 F-35As for the government of Norway; eight F-35As for the government of Italy; 20 F-35Bs for the U.S. Marine Corps; two F-35Bs for Italy; and nine F-35Cs for the U.S. Navy.

The order also provides for air system diminishing manufacturing sources integration, software data loads, critical safety items, red gear, non-recurring engineering, recurring engineering, and the Joint Strike Fighter Airborne Data Emulator.

The F-35 is designed to replace U.S. F-16, A-10, F/A-18, and AV-8B tactical fighter and attack aircraft. Lockheed Martin has been developing the F-35 since 2001.

The single-seat F-35 military jet is 50.5 feet long, has 35-foot wingspan, and is 14 feet tall. It has one Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan engine that can produce as much as 43,100 pounds of thrust.

Related: Battle of 4th- and 5th-generation jet fighters: Lockheed Martin, F-35, are waging war on Boeing F-15EX

The aircraft can fly as fast as Mach 1.6, can fly as high as 50,000 feet, and has a range of 1,200 miles. It has one 25-millimeter Gatling gun and can carry a variety of advanced air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, smart bombs, and conventional bombs.

The F-35's avionics includes the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81 AESA radar; Lockheed Martin AAQ-40 electro-optical targeting system (EOTS); Northrop Grumman AN/AAQ-37 distributed aperture system (DAS) missile warning system; BAE Systems AN/ASQ-239 electronic warfare (EW) suite; and Northrop Grumman AN/ASQ-242 communications and navigation system.

The plane's navigation and communications include the Harris Corp. Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL); Link 16 data link; single-channel ground and airborne radio system (SINCGARS); IFF interrogator and transponder; HAVE QUICK radio; AM, VHF, UHF AM, and UHF FM radio systems; GUARD survival radio; radar altimeter; tactical air navigation (TACAN); instrument landing system for conventional runways and aircraft carriers; the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS); and the TADIL-J tactical digital information link with Joint-Variable-Message-Format (JVMF) communications.

F-35 pilots wear a helmet-mounted display that enables them simply to look at a target to shoot weapons, rather than pointing the entire aircraft at the target. The orientation of the pilot's head provides missile seeker heads with targeting information.

Related: F-35 air-to-air missiles can now hit two unmanned aircraft at once -- changing air combat

The combat aircraft -- one of the most expensive military weapon systems in history -- is designed to perform ground attack, aerial reconnaissance, and air defense missions. Last July the first squadron was declared ready for deployment. U.S. military leaders say they plan to buy 2,457 aircraft.

The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical air power of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Deliveries of the F-35 for the U.S. military are scheduled to be completed in 2037.

On this order Lockheed Martin and its partners will do the work on this contract in Fort Worth, Texas; El Segundo and San Diego, Calif.; Warton, England; Cameri, Italy; Orlando, Fla.; Nashua, N.H.; Nagoya, Japan; Baltimore; and locations outside the continental U.S., and should be finished by March 2023.

Pratt & Whitney Wins $5.7B F135 Engine Contract
Pratt & Whitney Gets $2.2B Modification on F-35 Engine Production, Delivery Contract
Lockheed Gets $353M IDIQ Modification for F-35 Helmet Display Procurement
Lockheed Martin Continues Advanced EOTS Development
F-35 combat readiness still in doubt

Is the F-35’s air superiority a myth?

Asia Times | Is the F-35’s air superiority a myth? | Article

Analysts say in a close battle, Iran’s decade-old fighter jets could hold their own against the USAF’s fifth generation F-35s

America has declared war on Iran … you climb into the F-35 stealth fighter with confidence, ready to do battle.

Within minutes, you find yourself over the target, fighting an Iranian air force operating with some of the oldest active fighters in the world.

Now you’re in a dogfight. The most advanced fifth-generation fighter in the world, the so-called “flying computer” capable of entering an airspace without being detected, against a four-decade old jet fighter.

Suddenly, you find out that you’re at a distinct disadvantage. In air-to-air maneuvers, you are being matched, pound for pound. Your heart is beating, because you may die, you may be shot out of the sky. What do you do then?

Recent testing shows that this exact scenario could actually happen. Hard to believe, but an official report explaining the stealth fighter’s limitations with an F-16 fighter, have revealed its limitations, National Interest reported.

The Iranians with their four-decade-old F-4s, F-5s and F-14s might not seem to have a chance against the Americans flying arguably the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft.

For one, the F-35, while new, isn’t necessarily a stellar aerial performer. In 2015 someone associated with the F-35 test effort leaked an official report explaining the stealth fighter’s shortcomings, the National Interest report said.

“The F-35 was at a distinct energy disadvantage,” an unnamed F-35 test pilot wrote in a scathing five-page brief. “Insufficient pitch rate,” he added. “Energy deficit to the bandit would increase over time.”

The complaints continued. “The flying qualities in the blended region (20 to 26 degrees [angle of attack]) were not intuitive or favorable,” the pilot wrote, adding that there’s no point for an F-35 pilot to get into a sustained, close turning battle with an enemy pilot. “There were not compelling reasons to fight in this region.”

The pilot’s revelations underscore what many observers long have suspected about the F-35. While its radar-evading qualities and high-end sensors might allow it to gain a favorable position for long-range missile shots, in a close fight the F-35 hardly excels. Is its air superiority a myth?

If an Iranian pilot can survive a merge with an F-35 and engage the stealth fighter in a turning dogfight, the Iranian might just bag himself a stealth fighter. It’s worth noting that the Iranian air force flies scores of fighters that excel precisely in that regime, the National Interest report said.

American-made F-5 Tigers, for instance. Former US Navy pilot Francesco Chierici who flew F-5s in the adversary role, offered praise in a 2019 article for The War Zone. “The Tiger was clean, just an AIM-9 and a telemetry pod on the wingtips, and occasionally a centerline fuel tank,” Chierici wrote. “She slipped through the ‘number’ (Mach 1) easily. … The F-5 was a pair of engines and wings. It was so simple …”

According to the report, aerodynamically, the F-5 will always be what we call a category-three fighter, where the F-35 and F-22 are now category-five fighters. Compared to modern jets, it is underpowered, slow and bleeds airspeed badly in a sustained turn, not to mention it has no stealth other than its tiny size.

But with just a few modifications, the F-5 is being turned into a threat plane with a legitimate sting. The newest upgrades include an [electronically-scanned] radar, good [radar-warning] gear, chaff and flares, a jamming pod and a helmet-mounted cueing system for a high off-boresight IR (infrared-guided) missiles.

A Tiger so outfitted can provide Super Hornets and F-35s a legitimate threat, especially in the training environment.

In the words of American jet fighter icon and legend Chuck Yeager, it’s not the metal around the pilot, it is indeed, the pilot — who sees who first. Time and time again, this has proven true in air-to-air battle, whether it was Korea or Vietnam.

Iran indeed has been upgrading its F-5 fleet, although the modifications likely will not include the latest sensors.

Still, all things being equal the F-5 despite its age might still possesses the agility to gain the advantage over an F-35. Again, provided the F-5 pilot survives the merge to a close-in fight, the National Interest report said.

That’s a big assumption. F-35 pilots understand the limitations of their aircraft and certainly would do their best to avoid a dogfight. The Iranians might have to ambush the Americans in order to force the fight to close range. It’s unclear how the Iranians might do so, given the Americans’ huge advantage in sensors and situational awareness.

Groningen intercepts 857 kilos of drugs

HNLMS Groningen - Cees Bustraan

Groningen intercepts 857 kilos of drugs – SeaWaves – the BEST naval news since 1995

October 22, 2019 (Google Translation) – Patrol ship HNLMS Groningen has coordinated a large drug catch in the Caribbean Sea. It involved a total of 857 kilos. The promotion took place on October 1. In the interest of the investigation, the Ministry of Defense only announced this today.

Groningen was on patrol when the crew of a Dash 8 patrol aircraft of the Caribbean Coast Guard pointed to a suspicious boat, a so-called go-fast. The NH90 on-board helicopter of the Groningen was sent to collect more information. The go-fast was eventually forced to stop.

USCGC Mohawk was then quickly on site to take the smugglers and drugs on board. The coordinated action is a good example of good cooperation between the navy, Coast Guard Caribbean and American partners in the fight against drug crime.

Groningen is currently a station ship in the West. Anti-drug operations is one of the main duties of Defense in the Caribbean.

HNLMS Groningen Intercepted 390 Kilos of Cocaine Near Bonaire

Holland class (OPVs): Details

Project 636.3 Volkhov to be Launched in December

Veliky Novgorod - Viter59

Project 636.3 Volkhov to be Launched in December – SeaWaves – the BEST naval news since 1995

October 22, 2019 – The second diesel-electric submarine of Volkhov Project 636.3 for the Pacific Fleet will be launched in December at the Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg. This was announced by the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy (Navy), Admiral Nikolai Evmenov, following a working meeting in the Admiralty, which addressed issues of non-nuclear submarine shipbuilding.

“To equip the submarine forces of the Pacific Fleet, construction of a series of submarines of project 636.3 continues. The main command of the Russian Navy in the process of construction and testing of these submarines works closely with representatives of the Admiralty Shipyards, the United Shipbuilding Corporation, and the enterprises involved in the cooperation in the construction of nuclear submarines. The result of this interaction is the implementation of new technical solutions for a number of radio-technical weapons systems and submarine life support systems 636.3. The series of boats of this project being built for the Pacific Fleet takes into account the specifics of operation in the Far East, ”said Admiral Nikolai Evmenov.

In turn, the Director General of Admiralty Shipyards JSC, Alexander Buzakov, noted that the Volkhov diesel-electric submarine is undergoing pre-launch preparation on the slipway of the enterprise. Installation work provided for in the design documentation is being completed.

Earlier in the Admiralty, the results of state tests of the first diesel-electric submarine Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (project 636.3), built at the Admiralty Shipyards for the Pacific Fleet, were analyzed. The marine stage of state testing was completed on October 10 in the Baltic Sea. The submarine confirmed all the declared tactical and technical characteristics by completing the test program, including the planned dives. The submarine is currently undergoing an audit, followed by a fine finish. The boat underwent factory trials in August – September 2019.

Monday, 28 October 2019

China develops flying wing-designed stealth transport drone

Defense Update

China develops flying wing-designed stealth transport drone | China - WorldTimes News

Model of the FL-2 long range multipurpose high-subsonic transport drone on display at a military-civilian equipment and technology expo in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, in 2019. Photo: screenshot of WeChat account of Ordnance Industry Science Technology

A Chinese company recently showcased an in-development stealth transport drone that features a hybrid of conventional and flying wing design, which could represent a trend for future large transport planes, analysts said on Sunday.

Developed by Zhong Tian Guide Control Technology Co Ltd, the FL-2 stealth transport drone went on display at a recent military-civilian equipment and technology expo held in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Xi’an-based periodical focused on the national defense industry, reported on Thursday.

The aircraft has a flying wing aerodynamic design similar to the US’ X-47B drone, but also has a pair of conventional V-shaped vertical tails, according to the report. Its fuselage also seems bulkier than other typical flying wing aircraft like the B-2 bomber.

Using two turbofan engines, the FL-2 has a liftoff weight of 22 tons, a ceiling of 15 kilometers, a cruise speed of 600 to 780 kilometers an hour, a max speed of 900 kilometers an hour, a range of 7,000 kilometers and an endurance of 10 hours, the periodical reported.

Developed as a long range multipurpose high-subsonic unmanned transport platform, the FL-2 has multiple cabins for carrying different types of cargo, or it can carry a single larger object, according to publicly available specifications. 

The FL-2 is still in its conceptual design stage, according to the company’s website.

Multiple Chinese flying wing aircraft projects have been running for some time and are beginning to yield results, an anonymous military expert told the Global Times on Sunday.

The GJ-11, Sky Hawk and CH-7 are all flying wing stealth drones, but they focus on reconnaissance and attack, the expert said, noting that applying the technology on a transport plane will not be difficult.

Flying wing usually means the plane has lower drag force while flying and has more space within its cabins, giving the aircraft more load capacity, Ordnance Industry Science Technology said.

The FL-2 can carry six tons of cargo, the report said.

Since the problem of flight control, one of the most challenging issues with a flying wing design, has been solved, this design has become a main concept for future large transport planes, it said, noting that the FL-2 could serve as an important technical demonstrator for China’s next generation transport plane.

Quick Facts on Pakistan’s Next-Gen Fighter Program

J-14 concept -

Quick Facts on Pakistan’s Next-Gen Fighter Program

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) formally started its fifth-generation fighter program (FGFA) in July 2017 as part of Project Azm.

For the PAF, its FGFA program is an attempt to not only acquire a next generation fighter, but to manufacture a high-performance fighter domestically with as little foreign support as possible.

According to the 2017-2018 Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) yearbook, the FGFA went through its first "conceptual design phase."

The FGFA design will go through three more cycles within the conceptual design phase.

Currently, the Air Staff Requirements (ASR) of the Project Azm FGFA are that it should be a twin-engine design with supercruising.