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Airbus A330 MRTT

Airbus Defence and Space has been selected by the French Ministry of Defence to supply 12 A330 MRTT new generation air-to-air refuelling aircraft for the French Air Force. The first delivery is foreseen for 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and then at a rate of one or two per year.

The contract agreed between the French procurement agency, la Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), and Airbus Defence and Space is now ready for the official award. The contract covers the development and qualification of the specific French configuration as well as the associated support and training systems, such as spares, ground support equipment, training devices and five years of in-service support from first delivery.

France’s choice of the A330 MRTT makes it the sixth nation to order the type following Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom which have ordered a total of 34 aircraft. In addition, India and Qatar have selected the MRTT and are in the final stages of contractual negotiations for six and two aircraft respectively. A total of 22 aircraft are currently in service and the aircraft has been battle-proven in recent coalition actions.

The A330 MRTT has won every major tanker aircraft procurement competition outside the USA since it has entered the market.

Airbus Defence and Space Executive Vice President Military Aircraft, Domingo Ureña Raso said: “The French Air Force has enormous experience in the field of air-to-air refuelling. It knows the factors which are critical to success and its selection of the A330 MRTT is a real honour for us. In addition it is a long-standing operator of our transport aircraft and as always we are particularly proud in gaining the further confidence of an existing customer.”

In French service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and can be configured in a variety of layouts carrying up to 271 passengers as well as medevac arrangements including the French MORPHEE intensive care module carrying up to ten patients as well as 88 passengers.

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Captor E-Scan Radar

As the system integrator, the contract will represent an order value of £365 million to BAE Systems. This will give Eurofighter Typhoon one of the most advanced radar systems in the world providing a wider field of regard than any other combat aircraft. Other benefits include increased detection and tracking ranges, advanced air-to-surface capability and enhanced electronic protection measures.

An upgraded BAE Systems Eurofighter Typhoon development aircraft has already undergone a series of modifications as part of ongoing Captor E-Scan development.  The aircraft flew for the first time with Captor E-Scan fitted in July this year and will continue both ground testing and flight trials.

Martin Taylor, Managing Director, Combat Air at BAE Systems said: “This is a major step forward in the development of Typhoon. From the outset, the aircraft was built with capability enhancement in mind and this step is proof that we are developing Typhoon to keep it relevant for today and for the future. Typhoon has become the backbone of a number of air forces and with the potential for further development it will be meeting the needs of modern warfare for decades to come.”

Eurofighter Typhoon is already regarded as one of the world’s leading swing-role combat aircraft and the addition of Captor E-Scan radar will further enhance its capabilities and desirability in the International market.

BAE Systems will now work with its Eurofighter partners to achieve the in-service requirements of each Typhoon customer. This will include retro-fitting to existing Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 aircraft where required.

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The 200th Romeo Helicopter To The U.S. Navy

The U.S. Navy received its 200th submarine-hunting MH-60R “Romeo” helicopter from Lockheed Martin following a patch signing with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Seven-Two (HSM-72). The cornerstone of the U.S. Navy’s anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, MH-60R helicopters have flown more than 250,000 hours in operation with the Fleet, providing increased surveillance and situational awareness.

“We are proud to continue supporting the U.S. Navy by delivering a multi-role aircraft with a game-changing sensor suite that shifts the advantage from the submarine to the helicopter,” said Dan Spoor, vice president of Aviation and Unmanned Systems for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “As surface and submarine warfare becomes increasingly complex, the MH-60R’s capabilities are unmatched in identifying, locating, tracking and prosecuting these threats.”

Manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp and provided with advanced mission systems and sensors by Lockheed Martin, the MH-60R employs a modular design, which refers to the ability to modify weapon systems to match specific mission requirements. The modularity gives this single platform the agility to provide greater surveillance and flexibility to the Fleet, tailored for the mission. Aboard the MH-60R, sensor data is integrated into actionable information for the three-member crew. The mission systems compile data from onboard and offboard sensors to create an integrated picture that enhances decision-making.

Secondary missions include search and rescue, vertical replenishment, naval surface fire support, logistics support, personnel transport, medical evacuation, and very high frequency, ultra high frequency link communication relay.

The U.S. Navy is projected to acquire 291 MH-60R helicopters. The Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky team has also delivered five of 24 aircraft to the Royal Australian Navy and began production for the Royal Danish Navy, which will acquire nine aircraft.

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Lynx-Wildcat bai

Sagem (Safran) announced today a contract with long-standing partner MBDA to develop and produce the infrared seeker for the upcoming light antiship missile, the ANL/Sea Venom, a joint French-British program launched within the scope of the Lancaster House treaty signed in November 2010.

Developed by MBDA, this new-generation tactical missile will be deployed by a number of different helicopters, including the Royal Navy’s AW159 Wildcat, and the French navy’s Panther Marine and NH90. It will replace current missiles such as the Sea Skua and AS15TT.Sagem, as prime contractor for the ANL/Sea Venom seeker, also chose the British company Selex ES Ltd to participate in its development and production.Sagem’s seeker for the ANL/Sea Venom is based on uncooled detectors. Operating in demanding environments, the seeker will support the acquisition and tracking of surface targets (fast landing craft, light combat vessels) and land targets.

The seeker will send back images to the aircraft’s cockpit, contributing to the flexibility of the ANL/Sea Venom missile and its different firing modes: man over the loop (MOTL), with the possibility of changing the assigned target during the missile’s flight; or choosing a precise impact point (fire & forget, with lock-on before firing or during the flight, etc.).

Sagem is contributing breakthrough uncooled infrared technologies to the ANL/Sea Venom program, based on optronic systems developed for the FELIN soldier modernization system and MMP medium-range missile programs. A long-standing partner to MBDA, Sagem developed and produces the infrared seekers for the Mica IR (infrared), Mistral and MMP missiles.

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BAE Systems To Upgrade U.S. Army

Work on the contract will extend the M88 production line within the Combat Vehicle Industrial Base through 2016.“This contract provides enhanced capabilities for America’s soldiers and will help preserve the defense industrial base by retaining critical employees and unique skill sets,” said Adam Zarfoss, director of Artillery and Recovery Systems at BAE Systems. “The HERCULES is a significant upgrade over its predecessor and is essential to fulfill successful recovery missions.”

The fleet of Army Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) vehicles is getting heavier, making it increasingly important that the recovery fleet is upgraded to support them. With its 70,000 pound boom, the HERCULES is able to hoist and tow twice the weight of its predecessor, the M88A1. The HERCULES, which provides recovery support to soldiers in the field, is the only vehicle able to recover the M1 Abrams tank and the heaviest mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) variants in a combat environment.

The upgrade work will begin immediately and will be performed primarily by the existing workforce at BAE Systems in York, Pennsylvania, with additional work performed at Anniston Army Depot and BAE Systems’ Aiken, South Carolina, facility. The contract continues the U.S. Army’s program to pure-fleet its M88s to the HERCULES variant. To date, BAE Systems has converted nearly 650 U.S. Army M88 vehicles to the HERCULES configuration.

The M88 plays a critical role in the company’s efforts to maintain the Combat Vehicle Industrial Base by supporting a team of highly skilled professionals and protecting the affordability of the Army’s combat vehicles. BAE Systems is responsible for four of the five U.S. Army ABCT vehicles, including the Bradley and the M88. The support of Congress and the Army to protect these vital capabilities through the M88 upgrades helps to sustain the workforce at BAE Systems’ facilities and ensures that they will be available for future programs.

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The delivery of the STING, an engineering variant of the CV90 vehicles, is the latest milestone for the program.“We have been working extremely closely with BAE Systems Hägglunds over the course of 26 months with this comprehensive contract,” said Colonel Ragnar Wennevik, Programme Manager Norwegian Defence Logistics Organization Land Systems. “Over the past six months, BAE Systems has delivered two of the five planned variants of the Norwegian CV90 fleet in a timely manner.”

We were awarded the contract in June 2012 to upgrade and deliver a total of 144 CV90 vehicles to the Norwegian Army. The first CV90 IFV, an infantry fighting variant, was delivered in February of this year.

Under the CV90 contract to Norway, we will deliver five vehicle variants, including 74 infantry fighting, 21 reconnaissance, 15 command, 16 engineering, 16 multi-role and two driver training vehicles. The multi-role vehicles are designed to undertake different functions, including mortar carrier and logistics roles.

Norwegian Industry is playing a major role. One partner is Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, which leads a team of Thales and Vinghøg. Another partner is Ritek AS from Levanger responsible for production of the  engineering vehicle.

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As U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan winds down, a workhorse electronic protection system that helps helicopter aircrews survive attacks from shoulder-fired weapons, prepares to be redeployed to other regions. For the last five years, the Advanced Threat Infrared Countermeasures (ATIRCM) system has protected helicopters and their crews in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The threat of ground-based explosives made the use of helicopters for troop and equipment transportation in this region standard operating procedure.

The ATIRCM system was developed as the result of a partnership between the U.S. Army and our company to counter the omnipresent threat of shoulder-fired weapons known as ManPortable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS). These heat-seeking missiles home in on the infrared energy generated by the heat of an aircraft’s engine, making helicopters ideal targets. ATIRCM was designed as the countering component of an integrated suite which includes, its “eyes”, the Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) which can cue either ATIRCM’s laser response or the other component of the integrated suite, a flare dispenser.

To assure that troops were not vulnerable to these heat-seeking missiles during their time in the Middle East, ATIRCM was deployed on mission critical helicopters. The ATIRCM system is an electronic device installed on the helicopter that tracks an incoming missile, and then shines laser light into the missile’s “eyes”, effectively blinding its guidance and preventing it from homing in on the aircraft.

Colonel John (Russ) Leaphart, (recently retired) Army program manager for Aircraft Survivability Equipment under whose leadership the ATIRCM system emerged as a benchmark for reliability, said during his tenure that, “the ATIRCM system’s performance is an achievement that we can all be proud of in our commitment to giving our warfighters the best survivability equipment available.”

Arming helicopter crews with a protection system containing sensitive optical components that can provide high reliability in the harsh, low-altitude, military environment is no easy task, but the ATIRCM system has surpassed all Army expectations. The technology has achieved a level of reliability that gives aircrews the confidence to know that whenever they take off, they can count on the protection designed to help them accomplish their missions and return safely. The latest numbers show the reliability of ATIRCM to be 1,110 hours, which is the mean time between mission affecting failures, surpasses the Army requirement several times over.

“We’ve been consistently investing in this technology and continuously improving its reliability. With the latest plans that the ATIRCM system will be in the field until at least 2023, we know the significance of continuing to fund the types of technology that make for easy capability upgrades,” said Terry Crimmins, vice president and general manager of BAE System’s Survivability and Targeting Systems.

A major part of our company investment has been in a program internally known as Boldstroke, which became the foundation of our Common Infrared Countermeasure (CIRCM) offering – a lighter, even more advanced version of the ATIRCM system. The CIRCM system uses the same high power combat-proven laser technology as ATIRCM, but in a smaller package.

With the pervasive threat of MANPADS to allied forces in all regions of the world, technology like the ATIRCM system will continue to be an essential element of aircraft survivability. The ATIRCM system has demonstrated that it can answer the call in times of urgent need and will be there the next time it is called upon to help bring troops home safely.

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The improvements to the Full Flight Mission Simulator’s (FFMS) Visual Display System (VDS) mean the Australian Tiger simulator now has the highest levels of ‘out of the window’ realism of any Tiger FFMS in the world.

Working closely with prime contractor Airbus Group Australia Pacific and Australian Army Aviation, Thales successfully completed the complex upgrade of the dual-dome simulator ahead of schedule in order to minimise simulator downtime.

The latest generation BARCO F35 projectors and a new PC-based Image Generators were both added and seamlessly integrated into the existing host computers and visual display platform, providing the crews with 240-degrees vertical by 85-degrees horizontal field of view.

In the final stage of the upgrade, the FFMS passed its Recurrent Fidelity Check, which is required to maintain CASA FSD-1 Level 5 (Level D equivalent) accreditation. This is the highest achievable level, and allows the Australian Army to conduct cost-effective training in the safety of the simulator.

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F-35B Aircraft BF-1 and BF-4

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program continued a steady path of flight test milestones in August, including weapons separation, software compatibility and flight hours, all demonstrating program maturity.

“The test milestones are a direct result of the detailed planning, coordination and execution between various government teams and the integrated test force,” said J.D. McFarlan, Lockheed Martin’s Vice President for F-35 Test & Verification. “Every testing milestone demonstrates the development of the F-35 in successive steps toward enabling the U.S. Marine Corps to attain its F-35B Initial Operational Capacity (IOC) next year.”

F-35A aircraft AF-1 accomplished its 400th flight during a successful GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) aircraft separation test on Aug. 13 at Edwards Air Force Base, California.  This was the first GBU-31 Mark-84 (2,000-pound guided munition) separation demonstration from the F-35.  Previous GBU-31 separations were with the BLU-109 (Bomb Live Unit) bomb body.

F-35B aircraft BF-1 and BF-4 completed “Mode 4” formation testing on Aug 9th, as required for Block 2B software capability. “In Mode 4 operations, the STOVL Propulsion System is engaged, the lift fan, roll post nozzle, and three-bearing-swivel nozzle are operating, and all propulsion system doors and inlets are open.  Flight testing validated the F-35B Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant’s ability to operate well in this configuration during formation flight which supports operations around the ship; a key milestone for the F-35B path to IOC,” McFarlan said.

F-35B aircraft BF-3 completed the 2B software fleet release weapon separation requirements for the F-35B with two successful AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) Air Vehicle Instrumented (AAVI) separation flights on consecutive days, Aug. 14 and 15.  The AIM-120 radar-guided missiles were launched over the Atlantic Test Range. “2B software fleet release is critical to the warfighter because it delivers the first combat capability to our most dominant 5th generation platform. Weapons employment is one the most critical combat capabilities.  This culminates years of dedicated work that proves safe separation in 2B configurations and provides this capability and confidence to our customers,” McFarlan said.

Along with the testing milestones, to date, the overall System Development and Demonstration (SDD) F-35A test fleet surpassed its 4,000th flight hour on Aug. 14 and in total, the F-35 Fleet has surpassed 19,500 flight hours, with more than 8,000 hours in SDD aircraft. F-35A aircraft AF-1 achieved its 400th flight milestone on Aug. 13; F-35A aircraft AF-4 surpassed 500 flight hours, Aug. 11 and F-35C aircraft CF-2 achieved 300 flights on Aug. 14.

The F-35 Lightning II, a 5th generation fighter, combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II and F-16 Fighting Falcon for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries. Following the U.S. Marine Corps’ planned 2015 IOC, the U.S. Air Force and Navy intend to attain IOC in 2016 and 2018, respectively.

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High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM)

Raytheon Company and the U.S. Air Force successfully flight tested an upgraded High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM). The HARM Control Section Modification (HCSM) is more precise and accurate, which reduces potential collateral damage.

During this test mission, an F-16 aircraft fired an HCSM, AGM-88F, against an emitter located outside of a zone of exclusion, which contained a similar radiating emitter. The HCSM used its new global positioning system (GPS)/inertial measurement unit (IMU) capability and successfully impacted the correct target. Another HCSM test mission is needed to determine if HCSM is ready for deployment to the U.S. Air Force.

“Raytheon’s HCSM offers the warfighter enhanced capabilities at an affordable price, providing best value for suppression of enemy air defense weapon options,” said Mike Jarrett, vice president of Raytheon Air Warfare Systems.

The Air Force awarded Raytheon the HCSM contract in 2012. The missile was recently cleared for full rate production.

About HARM and HCSM

The AGM-88 High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile is a key battlefield element to suppress or destroy surface-to-air missile radars, early warning radars, and radar-directed air defense artillery systems. HARMs have made hostile airspaces worldwide safer for U.S. and allied warfighters. The missile resides in the inventories of eight countries.

  • More than 4,000 HARMs have been employed in combat.
  • HCSM adds GPS/IMU navigation accuracy, giving HARM the ability to engage time-critical targets.
  • HCSM has new features that allow it to engage a wide range of modern SAMs, are resistant to counter-HARM tactics, and reduces the risk of fratricide or collateral damage.