U.S. Vehicle Modernization Programs Should Continue Despite Budget Pressures

8408212129_6e55470d16The U.S. military is facing a struggle with its budget over the next 5 year based on current plans. It is winding down its commitment in Afghanistan and facing the effects of debt ceiling limitations and sequestration. At the same time it needs to reset itself after 12 years of commitment in South West Asia and the Middle East. This means force structures will be changed and equipment repaired and rebuilt. There will also need to be investment in certain new programs and capability to continue technical improvement to the forces overall.

Sequestration was implemented for 2013 but had minimal affect on the actual execution of the budge and mission. People were furloughed; some programs didn’t do all their planned development but generally plans were accomplished. The Congress has yet to pass a 2014 budget but the versions that passed the whole House and voted out of Senate Committee assume there will be no sequestration in 2014 and fully fund the President’s request. That assumes some deal being made where either sequestration is cancelled or cuts are made to other parts of the budget.

The recent talk of fighting in Syria by U.S. Navy and Air Forces only has reinforced the view of many in Congress that the defense budget cannot be cut.Vehicle down

There are several core modernization programs in the U.S. that should continue. These include the biggest of them all, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and for the Army, the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).

The GCV will replace the M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the JLTV the ubiquitous HUMVEE. Both programs are following similar paths where they will pay to develop prototypes from vendors to test and then choose one or more for production and entry into service. This was the successful concept used to buy the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP)-ATV used in Afghanistan. That concept was won by Oshkosh (OSK) with their MRAP-AT vehicle.

The JLTV is reaching a point where the 3 teams vying for the contract have sent in their prototypes for testing. These are Lockheed Martin (LMT), AM General and Oshkosh. The GCV is still earlier in the program and is working to reach that stage with 2 competitors, General Dynamics (GD) and BAE Systems (BAE), one are working to meet their solutions. Both programs have substantial budgets supporting these development efforts in FY13 and planned for 2014.

The two programs biggest struggle, like many Americans, is with weight. To meet the protection requirements demanded of fending off mines and IED’s while facing a variety of direct and indirect fire threats lead to all discussed designs being very heavy. Both the JLTV and GCV had programs before them that had to be ended and reevaluated due to the total weight of the proposed solutions. The initial JLTV concepts were weighing 18-20 tons and the GCV over 80, or in the class of Main Battle Tanks (MBT).

The solution discussed for both programs are to use add on armor depending on the level of threat. This means in most situations not all of it would be carried improving weight and performance. In high threat areas more would be bolted on with affects on capabilities. In all situations the maximum armament would still be carried while protection would vary. This does though increase the overall cost of the vehicle and the programs at a time when budget dollars are going to be scrutinized and spread very thin.

In the past when the Pentagon faced a similar budget crunch programs in development would see delays as their annual budgets will be decreased. Production quantities will be reduced and spread over more years shifting cost to the “out year” budget and delaying full entry into service. In extreme cases outright cancellation of the project has occurred.

These two systems are critical to the overall upgrade of the U.S. military ground forces. The HUMVEE and M2 are both originally 30 year designs. They have received constant upgrades especially in the last 10 years due to the changed threat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The HUMVEE, especially, has seen more and more armor added and improved weapon and tactical communication systems added.

Their fates are also tied to the removal of the MRAP from service. The MRAP’s were a quick reaction to a specific threat and public outcry over casualties from the IED and mines. They were never meant to be battlefield vehicles and the armor protection requirements for these programs show why. The U.S. is resetting their MRAP force of several different designs and models and trying to fit them into their standard organization and doctrine. Most likely they will be eliminated from these and used only in extreme depending on the threat.

These programs are expected to continue with the possibility of seeing delays and lengthening of schedules. They are critical to the continuing U.S. armored vehicle capability as there are few other systems coming. The Army has proposed shutting down their M1 production facility for several years due to overcapacity and demand. Congress has fought that and will most likely not allow it but it indicates the budgetary situation. If the JLTV and GCV are cancelled or extremely delayed the U.S. could lose industrial base and capability that would affect future modernization efforts down the road.

Photos of the M2 and HUMVEES courtesy of DVIDSHUB flickr photostream.

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EUROFIGHTER: Five year support contract signed — Press Release

EUROFIGHTER: Five year support contract signed

Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH has today signed a major contract with NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) to support the fleet of Typhoon jets across the four Eurofighter core nations: Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.

The five-year support contract is part of a new contract suite agreed with the nations which includes integrated mechanisms for continuing development work on the aircraft and will replace a number of legacy contracts whilst extending the terms for a longer period. The agreement demonstrates a commitment by all parties in achieving continued efficiencies on the programme; long-term support for the sustainability of aircraft covering all three production tranches and future enhancements and upgrades of the platform.

The new contract will focus on performance and affordability and will ensure a range of support services to the Typhoon users. The contract will also help to sustain European aerospace engineering, capability and jobs.

As part of the contract, Eurofighter’s partner companies: AleniaAermacchi in Italy, BAE Systems in the UK and Cassidian in Germany and Spain will work closely with the local MOD’s and Air Forces to improve the way it delivers a range of support services. This work will provide a strong basis for future support requirements including potential export opportunities.

The contract will help to sustain the thousands of jobs that are supported by the Eurofighter programme across a range of disciplines such as engineering, supply chain and project management and is further confirmation of the role of the Eurofighter programme as catalyst of high-tech aerospace European manufacturing, engineering and technological capabilities. Today, around 100,000 jobs are supported by the programme in the four core nations and the economic impact generated largely off-sets the investments made to develop and manufacture the aircraft.

Enzo Casolini, Eurofighter CEO, said: “This contract is important for the Eurofighter programme but also for the nations and the Air Forces. The contract’s goal is not only to deliver savings to the customer, but also guarantee a better management for the processes involved in the sustainability of the aircraft in-service. This can be considered a massive step in supporting the enhancements programme planned for Eurofighter, which is a fantastic, young platform with plenty of development capability still to be exploited”.

Today Eurofighter is the largest new generation fighter programme in the world with 559 aircraft under production contract, 321 aircraft delivered and in-service with 16 units in six air forces. Based on the number of aircraft in service and the number of customer air forces, this multi-role aircraft can be considered the best coalition fighter available on the market. Eurofighter made its combat debut during Libya operations in 2011 performing in both air-to-air and air-to-ground roles.

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Taiwan Buys Support Vehicles For PATRIOT Missile Systems From BAE Systems

The U.S. Army placed an order with BAE Systems (BAE:LSE) for twenty-four FMTV vehicles. The contract is worth around $5 million. The FMTV will be modified to provide support for Taiwan’s PATRIOT air and missile defense systems.

Taiwan has purchased PATRIOT systems to provide defenses against China’s ballistic missile and air forces. The vehicles will perform a variety of roles for the PATRIOT batteries including cargo and tractors versions.

BAE lost the FMTV contract last year to Oshkosh (OSK). Production will be moving from Sealy, TX to Wisconsin.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/slow_photo/ / CC BY 2.0
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USAF General Officer Assignment

April 9, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 
USAF General Officer Assignment
April 9, 2010

The chief of staff, Air Force announced today the following assignment:

Brig. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward, vice commander, 18th Air Force, Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., to commander, 17th Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Africa, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

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9 billion euro contract for 112 Eurofighter Typhoons signed – Press Release

9 billion euro contract for 112 Eurofighter Typhoons signed

eurofighter-newNETMA (NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency), Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH and EUROJET Turbo GmbH signed today the production contract for a further 112 aircraft, including 241 engines, for the four partner Nations: Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

The Tranche 3.9 billion contract confirms Eurofighter Typhoon as the best selling defence aircraft on the market with 559 units under production contract, including 15 for Austria and 72 for Saudi Arabia.

Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH CEO Enzo Casolini commented: “This is a major achievement in the Eurofighter programme and serves to reaffirm the importance and the independence of the defence sector of the European industry. The agreement, achieved in conjunction with NETMA and the four Nations involved in the programme, will provide the Air Forces with the best asset available to address their requirements for both air-to-air and air-to-ground roles”.
EUROJET Managing Director Hartmut J. Tenter commented: “This is an outstanding success for the EUROJET programme and a clear signal to the international community endorsing the quality of the product. The EJ200 stands for leading-edge technology, including advanced integrated Health Monitoring to deliver class-leading reliability, maintainability and Through Life Cost—the benchmark of excellence”.

NETMA’s General Manager, Lt.Gen. Antonino Altorio remarked that “the capabilities of Tranche 3 aircraft consolidate the already excellent performances of Tranche 1 and 2 aircraft and will enable the Air Forces to carry out primary air defence in NATO missions as well as maintaining air superiority in theatres of operations and, if necessary, providing support in the air-to-ground role. This contract sets the baseline for consequent contracts for logistic support which is fundamental to keeping fleets available while reducing, significantly, the cost of in-service support”.

Today the Eurofighter programme not only represents the largest European industrial programme, supporting 100,000 jobs in 400 companies across Europe, but it is also the most advanced example of technology within the European industry base. It sets the standard in terms of best value for a new generation defence aircraft programme.

With the production of Eurofighter Typhoon, now being confirmed until well into the next decade, the future of the programme is assured and will maintain and develop the current technological capability in Europe, enhancing future export opportunities and giving the four partner Nations a significant return on their investments. Having already secured two export contracts with Austria in 2003 and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2007, Eurofighter Typhoon will continue to follow up all export opportunities.


Eurofighter and Eurojet Turbo consortia and their partner Companies are actively pursuing campaigns in Switzerland, India, Japan, Romania, Greece, Turkey and exploring possible opportunities in South Korea, Bulgaria, Croatia and other Nations.

Background information:

Eurofighter Typhoon is the world’s most advanced new generation real multi-role/swing-role combat aircraft available on the market and has been ordered by six nations (Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Austria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). With 559 aircraft under
production contract, it is Europe’s largest military collaborative programme and delivers leadingedge technology, strengthening Europe’s aerospace industry in the global competitive market.
More than 100,000 jobs in 400 companies are secured by the programme. Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH manages the programme on behalf of the Eurofighter Partner Companies: Alenia Finmeccanica, BAE Systems, EADS CASA and EADS Deutschland, Europe’s foremost aerospace companies with a total turnover of approx. 88 billion Euros (2008).

The EUROJET consortium is responsible for the management of development, support and export of the new generation EJ200 engine system, installed in the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft. EUROJET’s shareholders comprise Avio (Italy), ITP (Spain), MTU Aero Engines (Germany) and Rolls-Royce (UK). The EJ200 engine, with its unprecedented performance record combined with multi-role capability and highest availability at low life-cycle costs, is perfectly set to meet the air forces’ demands of today and the future.

NETMA was formed on 1 January 1996 by the merger of two previously separate NATO agencies which had been established to manage Tornado and Eurofighter (EF2000) programmes.

The Agency is responsible to the partner Nations (Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) for all the aspects of the programme covering development, procurement and inservice support of Eurofighter and Tornado aircraft weapon systems. NETMA provides partner Nations with an efficient, effective and coherent management service for these two major international programmes.

High Resolution images of the Eurofighter Typhoon and of the EJ200 can be downloaded from the web sites: www.eurofighter.com/medialibrary and www.eurojet.eu

Photo courtesy of Eurofighter.com.

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The Airbus Military A330 MRTT Has Successfully Performed First Contacts Using A New Generation Of Under-wing Hose And Drogue Refuelling Pods — Press Relase

The Airbus Military A330 MRTT Has Successfully Performed First Contacts Using A New Generation Of Under-wing Hose And Drogue Refuelling Pods

mrtt-oneThe Airbus Military A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) has completed another major milestone performing successfully a series of dry contacts using the new generation Cobham 905E hose and drogue refuelling pods, located under the wings. The receiver aircraft was a Spanish Air Force F/A-18A+ fighter.

The system performed well in hose extension and retraction, and showed good hose response in the contact as well as stability during pre-contact and when connected.

This new refuelling pod is a development of the 907E pod already in service with the Canadian and German air forces on their A310 MRTTs. The pods can each deliver up to 420 US gal/min (1600 litres/min) through a 90 ft (27.4 m) hose, and are controlled from a state-of-the-art Fuel Operator Console located in the cockpit.

“The next steps in the flight test program involve more contacts with the new hose and drogue refuelling pod and the advanced Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), refuelling a variety of receivers that will include French, Portuguese and Spanish small and large receiver aircraft. This flight test phase will lead us to the completion of military certification, and final qualification with our customer” said Miguel Morell, Vice President Airbus Military Derivative Programmes.

The A330 MRTT has been selected by the air forces of Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and was chosen last year by the U.S. Air Force for its recapitalization of the service’s aging tanker fleet.

Media contact:
José María Palomino Communications Airbus Military Tel.: +34 91 585 77 89
Barbara Kracht Communications Airbus Military Tel.: +34 91 585 77 89
Eduardo Galicia Communications Airbus Military Tel.: +34 91 585 77 89

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US Air Force looks to replace C-130E aircraft

The US Air Force has begun talks with Lockheed Martin on executing a multi-year procurement contract for C-130J aircraft. These would replace the Air Forces and other Service’s current inventory of C-130E Hercules. The contract could be for up to 110 aircraft and have a value over time of $6 B. Multi-year procurements must be authorized by Congress and they are typically done for aircraft and other large systems in order to save money over time.

For more see The Guardian’s Business Feed.

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Jesse Jackson editorilizes in favor of Boeing for KC-X

In another demonstration of why moving the headquarters of their company to Chicago was a good idea, Boeing gets Jesse Jackson to publish an editorial in The Washington Times in favor of them winning the KC-X contract. See the essay here. The Air Force is supposed to announce the winner by the end of the month. Read more

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L-3 Awarded Cyber Operations Services Contract by U.S. Air Forces Central Command

December 31, 1969 by · Comment
Filed under: Syndicated Industry News 

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–L-3 Communications (NYSE: LLL) announced today that its STRATIS division has been awarded a five-year contract valued at $152 million to provide information technology and cyber operations support to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command (USAFCENT). This firm-fixed-price, time and materials contract with a period of performance from 2010 to 2015 is a continuation of L-3’s long-term support of USAFCENT’s mission critical cyber operations. Under the contract, L-3 will expa

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