Farnborough news updates

There’s been a dearth of actual news by US military contractors at the Farnborough, but I’ll post here a couple of the few new announcements for you today. Both articles will be appearing in next week’s Flight International magazine. Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, check the “Why I love Farnborough” blog I posted earlier this week.



Three USprimes team up to challenge Boeing, Raytheon in missile market

Stephen Trimble

Three USdefence contractors are teaming up to beat Boeing and Raytheon to design thenext premier air-launched missile.

Alliant Techsystems (ATK), Lockheed Martin and NorthropGrumman will jointly pursue development of a dual-role weapon that can replaceboth the Raytheon AIM-120 advanced medium range air to air missile (AMRAAM),and the AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missile (HARM).

The precise role of the new team members is currentlyundecided. But ATK’s background is propulsion and integration, while Lockheedand Northrop bring sensor, airframe and integration skills to the team.

“The formal structure isn’t so formal right now,” said R.D.(Ron) Abbott, executive vice president for Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Controldivision.

The new team will likely eventually compete for an emergingUSAF acquisition programme called the dual-role air dominance missile (DRADM).

Last year, both Lockheed and Raytheon lost an earlytechnology development contract preceding the DRADM competition. Instead, theUSAF awarded the contract to Boeing, which has leveraged its background inmissile defense weapons and air-to-ground weapons.

Although the ATK/Lockheed/Northrop team has no formalleader, the announcement was staged at the Lockheed chalet at the FarnboroughAir Show. Abbott was joined on the stage by Jack Cronin, president of ATKMssion Systems and Jim Pitts, president of Northrop’s Eectronic Systemsdivision.

Asked directly about the team’s intentions about DRADM,however, all three executives declined to name the programme specifically as apotential target. 

Raytheon, meanwhile, declined to comment directly, but gaveno hint that it will simply cede its monopoly on the AMRAAM and HARM market tothe new competitors.

“Raytheon has been an innovator in this space for decadesand will continue to do so for decades to come,” the company says.




USNapproves $150 million upgrade package for future P-8A fleet

StephenTrimble

 

Five yearsbefore the US Navy P-8A enters service, the US Navy already has approved aroughly $150 million package of upgrades for the anti-submarine patrol fleet.

Boeingreceived a contract earlier this month to launch studies supporting the P-8A’sspiral 1 upgrade that should enter service in 2015, or two years after thefirst squadron becomes operational.

Ironically,the spiral 1 upgrade is intended to bring the P-8A mission system up to thesame standard of the aging Lockheed P-3C Orion that it will be replacing.

The P-8Aneeds to “catch up” to the P-3C by 2013 because its systems were frozen in2004, while the P-3C fleet is continuing to be upgraded, said Neal Rothback,the USN P-8A programme’s deputy integrated product team leader. The P-8A andthe P-3C share a common maritime surveillance radar.

Moreupgrades to add capability are also still being considered, but are not yetpart of the approved spiral 1 package.

Forexample, the USN is provisioning the P-8A to carry the Raytheon littoralsurveillance radar system (LSRS), Rothback said, although funding to integratethe underbelly-mounted sensor has not been approved.

The LSRShas recently been fielded with a small group of P-3Cs. It allows the Orions toperform a function comparable to the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint-STARS, addinga weapons-targeting function and a maritime search mode.

Inaddition, the USN also is considering adding funds to develop a high-altitudeoperating capability, which would include a new air-launched torpedo, datalinks and high-altitude dropsondes, Rothback said.

Last week,Lockheed Martin officials said that the USN planned to launch the high-altitudeweapons concept within a month.

Rothbackconfirmed that the USN has started to develop the required technologies, buthas not yet approved adding funds to integrate the high-altitude capability forthe P-8A.

The Spiral1 package would be followed by a second batch of upgrades in 2017, or two yearslater.

“We’relooking for every two to three years to add new capability,” he said.

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2 Responses to Farnborough news updates

  1. Stephen Trimble 21 July, 2008 at 11:23 pm #

    I assume you mean the LM/NG/ATK announcement. I absolutely agree. It could be a couple of different reasons. They lost out on on the original DRADM technology maturity awards to Boeing, so they may feel a little sheepish about making an announcement like this now. But it also makes me wonder if there’s something out there other than DRADM that they are aware of, but don’t want to or are not allowed to talk about it. I know it doesn’t come from the US Navy. They have been quite clear that they think the USAF is almost silly for trying to spend so much money to replace two perfectly good missiles.

  2. Karlo 26 July, 2008 at 11:53 pm #

    Is not the F-35 slated to carry an airborne laser weapon system which will shoot down both aircraft and missiles once fully developed. In the same way that manned combat aircraft are gradually being superceded, so missiles will start to be replaced by directed energy weapons.

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