The world according to Shephard: Week 2
Army means business
The US Army has been conducting helicopter business swiftly this week beginning with its decision to push forward with the purchase of 35 new Airbus UH-7A Lakota’s and subsequently followed by a ‘sources sought’ call to industry for 120 Boeing AH-6is.
In the first case the service has acknowledged that as a result of Airbus owning the H145 technical data package, industry respondents will be expected to address how the UH-7A Lakota platform will be produced ‘without having this data available and without incurring significant additional costs’.
AH-6i developments are slightly less advanced than the Lakota programme, with the army’s 9 January RfI explicitly indicating that information received from industry would be for planning purposes only. As is convention, the army is yet to publicly disclose any customer(s) details at this juncture but Jordan did express interest in the type eight years ago, while the Saudi Arabian National Guard are the first export customers of the light attack helicopter.
Sound of S-64E Aircrane echo to ripple through forest
Stealing the headlines on the civil helicopter front was Erickson who secured an order for two new S-64E Aircranes by the Korea Forest Service. The pair of aircraft are in addition to a separate S-64E Aircrane order which is currently under construction and due to be delivered in Q3 2018.
Raytheon dealt radar contract blow
The dismissal of three protest bids from Raytheon by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has left Northrop Grumman in pole position to become the radar subcontractor for the US Air Force’s JSTARS Recap programme, reports Alice Budge. Despite technical detail about the radar design submitted by Northrop Grumman being limited, the company has claimed its subsystem performed well during pre-EMD programme testing, particularly with respect to demonstrating mission system interoperability at maximum data rates.
Surface Navy 2018 focuses on Tomahawk talk
If Raytheon is still reeling from the radar contract decision it will be comforted by the Trump administration’s exploration of loosening the reins on foreign military sales (FMS). The industry heavyweight remains eager to convince Washington that selling Tomahawk cruise missiles to American allies is key to maintaining production line productivity.
The Royal Navy is the only current Tomahawk FMS customer but Shephard’s newly appointed American Editor, Ashley Roque, reports that Raytheon indicated to journalists during the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium that various nations are requesting the weapon, with the new Block IV configuration enabling them to ‘sell on an FMS capacity’.
Staying with Surface Navy 2018 stories, US based Orbital ATK has outlined its intention to develop an attack capability to down small UAS within 10km. The company has been quick to promote its anti-UAS Defence System, with ground forces being the company’s target market. Discussions have also taken place between Orbital and the US Air Force and Marine Corps on the matter of fielding the AUDS on mounted platforms.
USMC ACV 1.1 programme heats up
Stepping ashore – so to speak – and moving to land warfare news, the USMC’s ACV 1.1 programme is making progress with bids now submitted by industry for initial low-rate production. After SAIC and BAE Systems delivered 16 prototypes for the development and testing phase both companies are now competing for their 8×8 vehicle designs to be down-selected in June for initial production.
New details of ASI’s CFTD programme uncovered
Rounding off this week’s news is military training and simulation affairs. Trevor Nash has taken up the story of further details emerging from the CH-53E Sea Stallion Containerised Flight Training Device (CFTD) programme won by Tampa-based Aero Simulation Inc (ASI). On the subject of the new information that has been uncovered he writes, ‘As far as the visual system is concerned, the new device and upgraded CFTD will be fitted with the Aechelon PC-Nova image generator and Christie Matrix StIM projectors.’