The Latest Word On Trends And Developments In Aerospace And Defense

Hagel Travels. During his six-day Middle Eastern trip, starting on April 20, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will address arms deals with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, a senior defense official says. The United States has approved requests from Israel for V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft–which have never been sold to another country–as well as KC-135 refueling tankers, advanced radar for Israeli jet fighters, and anti-radiation missiles, according to American Forces Press Service. U.S. foreign-military financing to Israel this year totaled $3.1 billion, the highest amount ever, a senior defense official speaking on background tells Pentagon reporters April 19. During the defense secretary’s trip, the UAE is expected to move forward with buying 25 of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Block 60 Desert Falcon fighters, in a sale valued at $425 billion, AFPS reports. Also, the first of the 84 F-15 tactical fighters Saudi Arabia agreed to purchase in 2011, in a $29.4 billion deal, have been produced and are undergoing flight testing, the official notes.

Hill Happenings. The FY ‘14 Pentagon budget posture hearings continue this week. Highlights include hearings on the Army’s budget request by the SASC Tuesday and then HASC Thursday, and on the Navy’s FY ’14 spending plan by the SAC-D Wednesday and SASC Thursday. The HASC Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee will hold a hearing Tuesday on unmanned aircraft, and the SASC Airland subpanel will look at tactical aircraft programs Wednesday. The HASC Seapower subcommittee is planning a meeting Wednesday on Navy and Air Force acquisition programs, and the HASC Tactical Air subpanel scheduled a hearing Friday on Army modernization programs. The HAC-D also plans to convene Thursday on U.S. Africa Command, but the hearing will be closed to the public. 

Greetings, Singapore. The USS Freedom, the first Littoral Combat Ship, arrived in Singapore last week on its first major overseas stationing. The LCS-1 pulled into the Southeast Asian nation on Thursday for an eight-month basing the Navy hopes to use to evaluate the ship in an extended operational setting to inform decisions on future missions and requirements. The Freedom departed its San Diego homeport on March 1 and made port calls to Hawaii, Guam and the Philippines along the way. “We plan on spending most of our time here in Southeast Asia – this will be Freedom‘s neighborhood for the next eight months,” Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, the ship’s commanding officer, says. “We are eager to get out and about, work with other regional navies and share best practices during exercises, port visits and maritime security operations.” The ship is due to participate in the upcoming International Maritime Defense Exhibition and Conference (IMDEX) in Singapore, and join in exercises with other navies.

More LCS. The Freedom’s follow-on ship, the USS Fort Worth (LCS-3), recently completed successful final contract trials and has returned to Naval Station San Diego, according to the Navy. The Fort Worth is the second of the Freedom variant of the LCS class. The other variant is based on the USS Independence (LCS-2). The LCS-3 underwent the testing overseen by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). The four-day trial included main propulsion full powering, maneuvering testing, combat systems air and surface detect-to-engage scenarios, 57mm gun firing exercises, and launch and recovery of the 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boat. The Navy took delivery of the Fort Worth last year.

Christening. The Navy was to christen the third of its Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV) during a ceremony in Mobile, Ala., on Saturday. The future USNS Millinocket is part of a class of catamaran vessels designed to ferry personnel, equipment and supplies through in-theater operations. The Navy plans to build 10 JHSVs, less than half than was originally planned, at Austal USA in Mobile. The JHSVs are capable of transporting 600 short tons 1,200 nautical miles at an average speed of 35 knots and can operate in austere ports and waterways, providing U.S. forces added mobility and flexibility, according to the Navy. The first JHSV, the USNS Spearhead, delivered to Military Sealift Command in December.

BAE DC Boss. Frank Ruggiero, a former senior State Department official who joined BAE last year as vice president for international government relations, is taking the top job in the Washington office. He replaces Erin Moseley, who became president of BAE’s Support Solutions division earlier this year. Before moving to BAE, Ruggiero spent over 20 years in various government job, the most recent as a top deputy to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

P&W F117. Pratt & Whitney completes production install F117 engine deliveries for the Air Force, according to a company statement. Pratt & Whitney spokesman Shawn Watson says in an email production install engines are the engines that get installed on aircraft once they leave the company’s production facility, as opposed to production spare engines. The engines were recently shipped to Triumph Aerostructures in Dallas for nacelle installation and will now ship to Boeing’s final C-17 assembly facility in Long Beach, Calif., to be installed in the 223rd Air Force C-17, completing the program of record. Pratt & Whitney will continue delivering spare F117 engines to the Air Force and production install engines to international customers, including India’s order for 10 C-17s. Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp.

Schwartz Thinklogical. Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz joins the federal advisory board for Thinklogical LLC, according to a company statement. Thinklogical is a global manufacturer of secure fiber optic video and kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) routing and extension systems. The goal of the company’s federal advisory board is to deepen the company’s relationships with government, military, intelligence and homeland security communities and facilitate product innovation through improved communication of customer requirements. Schwartz joins Arthur Money, chairman of the NSA’s technology advisory board, and Peter Marino, chairman of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) advisory group on the board, according to a company statement. Schwartz retired from the Air Force in 2012 after a 43 year career.

…Schwartz Aurora. Schwartz also joins Aurora Flight Sciences’ board of directors, according to a company statement. Aurora builds and designs aerospace vehicles for commercial and military applications. Aurora in 2012 entered into a contract with Switzerland to provide its Centaur optionally-piloted aircraft (OPA). The Centaur is a four-place, twin-engine intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft that can be flown three ways: Like a normal aviation aircraft; an unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV) or in a hybrid mode as a UAV, but with a crew on board.

MALD-J Contract. The Air Force awards Raytheon an $82 million firm-fixed-price option for Miniature Air Launched Decoy-Jammer (MALD-J) units, according to a company statement. The option is for Lot 6 on the Lot 5 contract for the production and delivery of 202 MALD-J jammers and containers. The contract option also includes a 10-year warranty. MALD is a modular, air-launched and programmable flight vehicle that weighs less than 300 pounds and has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles. MALD duplicates combat flight profiles and signatures of U.S. and allied aircraft. MALD-J adds radar-jamming capability to the basic MALD platform.

Astrium X-Band. Astrium successfully enters into service its Skynet 5D satellite, according to a company statement.  With Skynet 5D entering service, the company says it will soon be able to offer near-global coverage in X-band. Astrium Services has a 15 year contract with Telesat for the exclusive use of the X-band hosted payload located on the Anik G1 satellite, which launched last Tuesday from Baikonur, Kazakhstan and is due to be positioned at 107.3W. It will provide the first commercial X-band coverage across North and Latin America with substantial coverage of the Pacific Ocean reaching out to Hawaii and Eastern Island. Astrium is a division of European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS). Space Systems/Loral (SSL) built Anik G1.

Astro JIB Antennas. Astro Aerospace will provide 48 more self-deploying, monopole JIB antennas for Lockheed Martin’s Global Positioning System (GPS) III satellites thanks to a follow-on contract, according to a Astro Aerospace statement. JIB antennas are available in monopole diameters from one-half-inch to 1.38 inches and any length up to 25 feet. Each antenna stows in a compact 4-inch by 4-inch by 2.5-inch canister.  Astro Aerospace is a division of Northrop Grumman, which has delivered more than 1,000 JIB assemblies for the previous GPS IIF and GPS IIR spacecraft configurations. GPS III is an Air Force program designed to provide worldwide navigational information. The first GPS III satellite is scheduled to join the on-orbit constellation by 2015.

Exelis Anti-Jam. Raytheon awards a contract to ITT Exelis to supply anti-jam GPS antennas to the KC-46 aerial refueling tanker program, according to an ITT Exelis statement. The N79 Controlled Reception Pattern Antenna (CRPA) prevents deliberate jamming and unintentional interference of timing signals when integrated with anti-jam GPS systems. The antenna keeps an aircraft’s GPS system connected in the presence of multiple threats. Boeing is the prime contractor for KC-46. An ITT Exelis spokesman declined to provide additional details.

TrustComm Reorganizes. TrustComm Inc. completes its reorganization under new ownership, according to a company statement. TrustComm will keep the company name after being acquired by the U.S.-based investor group Global Secure Networks (GSN). The GSN investor group is led by Bob Roe, who has served as TrustComm’s CEO since March 2012. TrustComm has deployed a wide range of managed satellite networking solutions to many government agencies and commercial enterprises since 1999.  TrustComm recently opened its new corporate headquarters with a fully redundant secure teleport and network operations center (S-NOC) in Stafford, Va.

15,000 Delivered. Oshkosh Defense delivers the 15,000th of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles to the Army and National Guard, setting records in quality and delivery, the company says. Since the 2010 contract award, Oshkosh has delivered more than 21,000 FMTV trucks and trailers. “The FMTV program is exemplary of the quality and value that Oshkosh provides to our military customers across all of our operations,” says John Bryant, senior vice president of Defense Programs for Oshkosh Defense.  Oshkosh is actively pursuing opportunities for its FMTV with U.S. allies and coalition partners around the world. To date, the company has received foreign military sales (FMS) orders from three international militaries.

Ceremonies. On Sunday, Virginia Beach was scheduled to commemorate the tragic wreck of the Norwegian sailing vessel Dictator at the Norwegian Lady statue. The Dictator, home ported in Moss, Norway and carrying  lumber for England, foundered in late March, 1891. The captain’s wife, young son and six other crew members died in the wreck. The ship’s figurehead, the original “Norwegian Lady,” washed up on the beach and for decades served as a landmark in the sand. The statue, which looks east across the sea toward Norway, was erected in 1962 in remembrance of the wreck, as a tribute to all those who have lost their lives at sea and as a symbol of friendship between the sister cities of Moss and Virginia Beach. This year the Norwegian Army’s King’s Guard, 120 marchers and musicians strong, were expected to perform their internationally renowned drill routine.

Heading To Huntsville. AUSA plans its 2014 AUSA Winter Symposium and Exposition for Huntsville, Ala., after 14 years in Ft. Lauderdale. In February, Raleigh, N.C., jumped the gun, with information that the annual event was heading there on the city’s website, but April 18, AUSA made its final decision–for Huntsville. In 2014, Army Material Command, headquartered at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, is the featured command for the symposium. AUSA President Gordon Sullivan, retired Army Chief of Staff, says, “Locating our 2014 symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, with its close proximity to AMC headquarters, will allow us to maximize military, civilian and industry attendance during this period of constrained budgets and limited resources. This is a superb opportunity for their professional development and remains very cost effective.”

Successful Last Trial. Airbus Military and MBDA say they successfully demonstrated the release of an instrumented Marte MK2/S anti-ship inert missile installed under the wing of the C295 maritime patrol aircraft. This flight was the last of a series of trials performed in a joint Airbus Military-MBDA collaboration to validate the aerodynamic integration of Marte on C295, its handling qualities and performance tests.  The weapons installation under the wings provides new operational capabilities to the C295 MPA so the aircraft can perform new missions. In the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) role, the C295 is already in-service carrying the Mk46 torpedo. The Marte Mk2/S is already integrated on the AW-101 and the NFH (Naval NH90) helicopters in service with the Italian Navy and integration activities for the Marte ER on the Eurofighter Typhoon are under way.

It Had To Come. Airbus, supported by EADS Innovation Works, opens the first “stealthy building” at the Toulouse Airbus site attached to Blagnac Airport. EADS and Airbus built the C65 hangar at the airport by equipping the building with specially shaped aluminum panels. These panels prevent the building from disrupting the airport’s Instrument Landing System (ILS), which allows aircraft to land in reduced visibility conditions. The large façades of buildings are a problem for aircraft landing systems as they reflect incoming radio waves across the runway, much like a mirror, the company says. Such perturbations would cause aircraft to deviate from the runway centerline. It is not feasible to apply conventional stealth technology to absorb the incoming waves since this would be prohibitively expensive. Instead, the solution uses diffraction to redirect the waves away from the runway. Using ELISE, an advanced ILS simulation tool developed by Airbus Engineering, EADS Innovation Works and the French Civil Aviation University ENAC could demonstrate it would only be necessary to treat the top 10 meters of the building, leading to a cheaper solution.