The program to provide new VIP helicopters for the U.S. president has taken a step forward with first flight of an “operational pilot-production example” of the Lockheed Martin VH-71. The three-engine helicopter, which is based on the AgustaWestland AW101 (born as the European Helicopter Industries EH 101), had its maiden flight at the AgustaWestland factory in Yeovil, England, on September 23.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a protest by Lockheed Martin over the U.S. Navy’s selection of the Northrop Grumman RQ-4N Global Hawk UAV for the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) contract. The ruling allows Northrop to proceed with the $2.3 billion system design and development phase of BAMS.
Lockheed Martin has opened its missiles and fire control support center in Gilbert, Arizona, combining support functions and resources that were formerly located in two facilities in Mesa, Arizona. The 39,000-sq-ft facility supports special electro-optical repair, modification and test activity for the modernized target acquisition designation sight/pilot night vision sensor known as Arrowhead.
Lockheed Martin has selected GE Aviation to supply the open systems avionics solution for the Block 7.0 communications/navigation/identification for the C-130J flight deck avionics system. The contract has an estimated value of more than $30 million over the life of the program, excluding production. It involves more than 230 aircraft operated by the U.S. Air Force and other international air forces.
According to Unison Industries, its new dual direct spark ignition system (DDSI) successfully lit the Pratt & Whitney RL 10A-4-2 engine on the Lockheed Martin Atlas V Expendable Launch Vehicle’s Centaur upper stage. Launching from Cape Canaveral on August 21, the Centaur’s first RL 10A-4-2 main engine started after the separation of the first stage after just four-and-a-half minutes.
Production of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules has been assured for many years to come, thanks to the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (SOC). The unit has ordered a new version, designated HC/MC-130J, to replace its existing fleet of HC-130s and MC-130s used for combat search and rescue and special forces operations. Last week, Lockheed Martin received a contract for the first six aircraft, with another eight to follow soon.
The U.S. Navy’s choice of Northrop Grumman to provide the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) platform, using a new version of the Global Hawk UAV designated RQ-4N, has prompted a protest from competitor Lockheed Martin. According to Lockheed Martin, its bid was less than Northrop Grumman’s $1.1 billion proposal. Lockheed bid the Mariner UAV based on the Predator B, in cooperation with General Atomics.
Honeywell last month announced it has signed a collaborative agreement with Lockheed Martin Air Traffic Management in Rockville, Md., to jointly compete for an FAA contract for local-area augmentation system (LAAS) hardware and support. The FAA is expected this month to award a contract for the initial production and installation of LAAS ground stations at six airports, with an option for 15 to 40 more per year over the next five years.
Iridium last month said it has reached agreements with three companies to develop the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, called Iridium Next. Lockheed Martin, Space Systems Loral and Thales Alenia Space will develop design concepts, review critical engineering and evaluate performance and capabilities. Iridium said it will select two additional partners for detailed system development.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) will cost much more than currently predicted, and the expected cost per flight hour already exceeds that of the F-16, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).