The Pentagon announced the award of an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract to Northrop Grumman on June 3 for ongoing modernization and sustainment of the B-2A Spirit bomber. The IDIQ contact comes with a ceiling of $9.9 billion; at the same time, Northrop Grumman is preparing for the possibility of its building the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) that will replace the B-2.
Defense » Military Aircraft
News and issues relating to the defense aerospace business, with emphasis on current/in-use, in-development and prospective programs for manned military aircraft and unmanned combat aircraft vehicles (UCAVs).
The organizers of this week’s ILA Berlin airshow claimed 1,200 exhibitors from 40 countries, and were expecting 200, 000 visitors, including public spectators on the last three days. The show had plenty to offer in the fields of civil aerospace, space and environmental solutions. However, defense exhibitors and attendees at ILA Berlin are mostly focused on German requirements. The problem is, the Germans are not buying anything.
Airbus Defence & Space (D&S), Alenia and Dassault Aviation have proposed a Project Definition (PD) study for a future European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV to the governments of France, Germany and Italy. At the same time, however, Airbus D&S may be working with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to develop what it describes as “bridging solution” for the German armed forces, using the Heron TP. Meanwhile, General Atomics–Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is quietly confident that Germany may join the European “Reaper Club” that already comprises France, Italy and the UK as members.
German aviation and electronic system house ESG has proposed a new Israeli SIGINT aircraft as a replacement for Germany’s cancelled Euro Hawk SIGINT UAV. ESG displayed a large model of IAI-Elta’s conversion of the Bombardier Global 5000 business jet on its stand at the ILA Berlin airshow this week. The Luftwaffe has been told to evaluate five alternatives to the Euro Hawk, but this is the only one that would abandon development of the Integrated Signals Intelligence System (ISIS) SIGINT that Airbus Defence & Space was developing for the Euro Hawk.
Swiss citizens have rejected their government’s plan to buy 22 Saab Gripen E combat aircraft in a referendum. The verdict was not unexpected, since recent opinion polls had shown a majority against the plan, despite its previous approval by the Swiss parliament. However, the “no” vote majority was only 53.4 percent. Under Switzerland’s unique version of democracy, many significant and/or controversial matters of public policy are decided in this way.
MD Helicopters showed off its prototype MD540A armed scout helicopter last week at the Sofex show in Jordan, marking the type’s first appearance outside the U.S. The choice of venue was made to highlight the type’s credentials in an area where its hot-and-high performance is of considerable interest, at a show where its special-forces support capability is highly relevant, and in a country that has a requirement for a new armed helicopter.
Sikorsky Aircraft rolled out the CH-53K, the U.S. Marine Corps’ future heavy lift helicopter, on May 5 at the company’s West Palm Beach, Fla. facility. According to Sikorsky, the mostly composite helicopter–dubbed the “King Stallion”–will fly by year-end, with operational service expected in 2019.
The U.S. Navy on May 7 announced a $1.24 billion contract award to Sikorsky Aircraft to begin engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) of the long-delayed VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program. The EMD contract calls for Sikorsky to modify and deliver six civil-certified S-92s and two trainer simulators by October 2020.
Guided rocket conversion competitors BAE Systems and Raytheon announced new milestones for their respective offerings. BAE’s Advanced Precision Kill Weapon (APKWS) and Raytheon’s Talon laser-guided rocket (LGR) convert standard 2.75-inch Hydra rockets into precision guided munitions by adding a semi-active laser guidance package.
Boeing said that it recently flew its AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter for the first time in production configuration. Flight status moves the program “another step closer to full-scale production,” the manufacturer said on May 1.