The War Report Vol. 7, Feb. 6, 2017

Welcome to The War Report, your Monday morning roundup of articles by James Drew, defense editor at Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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U.S. and Japanese Missile Interceptor Hits Mark

Raytheon Standard Missile 3 Block 2A achieves success in first Missile Defense Agency (MDA) tests in Hawaii.

The 21-in.-diameter Standard Missile-3 being corporately developed by the U.S. and Japan has intercepted its first ballistic missile target in what will likely be noted around the world as a significant step forward in missile shield technology. The test, previously described as a “big deal” by the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, took place at about 10:30 p.m. local time at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii.


Return of Javelin? Stavatti To Enter T-X Competition

As Northrop and Raytheon’s T-X ambitions fall apart, a new candidate has emerged: the Stavatti Aerospace Javelin. The last-minute pitch by the little-known Eagan, Minnesota-based firm was announced by its founder and CEO, Chris Beskar, on Feb. 1.

U.S. Air Force T-X Competition Narrows As Price Takes Precedence

What looked like a crowded playing field is now quickly evaporating, with competitors now whittled down to two confirmed bidders and two wild cards. Who has the inside track for this $16.3 billion opportunity?
The Northrop T-38 Talon’s longevity is a testament to late-1950s engineering and the U.S. Air Force’s aircraft depots, but after 56 years of active service, it is time to move on. The service needs a modern trainer to prepare pilots to fly digital-age fighters and bombers, and after seven years of preparation, it is time for the T-X program to deliver.
Columbus T-38 crashes in Tennessee

Northrop, Raytheon Withdrawal Narrows T-X Playing Field

Northrop, Raytheon bow out of $16 billion trainer competition, leaving a distinct opening for Boeing and Lockheed.

The U.S. Air Force’s $16 billion competition for a modern training aircraft to replace the vintage Northrop T-38 Talon has come down to a cost shoot-out between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, following the exit of Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.


Northrop Walks Away From $16 Billion T-X Competition 

Northrop Grumman has bowed out of the competition for the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation training aircraft.

Another domino has fallen in the U.S. Air Force’s competition for a next-generation training aircraft, with Northrop Grumman bowing out of the competition along with British teammate BAE Systems. The 350-aircraft T-X program is valued at $16 billion, replacing Northrop’s own T-38 Talon, which first flew in 1959.


U.S. Air Force Seeks Five More Fighter Squadrons

The U.S. Air Force wants to grow from 55 fighter squadrons today to 60, with an uptick in enlisted personnel from 317,000 this year to 350,000 over an unspecified period.

The U.S. Air Force is hoping the new Trump administration will make it great again, starting with adding five more fighter squadrons and 33,000 more airmen. That is an increase from 55 fighter squadrons today to 60, and an uptick in enlisted personnel from 317,000 this year to 350,000 over an unspecified period.

USAF Adds Five HH-60W Helicopters To Order 

The U.S. Air Force has flicked the switch on a $203 million contract option with Sikorsky for five additional HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters, or about $41 million per aircraft, bringing the total number on order to nine. The original $1.2 billion contract awarded in June 2014 covers four development aircraft as well as aircrew and maintenance training devices.

SFTM-01 Flight Test

First Intercept Test Of Beefed-Up Standard Missile Imminent

The first intercept test of the Raytheon Standard Missile-3 Block IIA off the coast of Hawaii has been delayed due to poor weather conditions, but will go ahead “in the near future,” the Missile Defense Agency says. Originally planned for October, the intercept test was pushed into early 2017 for unspecified reasons to allow more time for preflight testing to “reduce the risk of anomalies during the flight test.”

Minuteman III launches from Vandenberg

Pentagon To Review Nuclear, Missile Defense Footing

President Donald Trump’s administration has ordered a complete review of the U.S.’s nuclear posture and missile defenses, placing a question mark over the previous Obama administration’s modernization plans as well as the size and configuration of each leg of the nuclear triad.

Boeing Secured $2 Billion KC-46 Tanker Contract

Boeing has received a $2.1 billion contract for 15 more KC-46 Pegasus tankers, in a positive end to an otherwise turbulent week for the company. It is the most sizable KC-46 order to date, bringing the total number of production aircraft on contract to 34, not including the four development and test models.

U.S. Air Force’s T-X Playing Field Shrinking Fast

The U.S. Air Force’s once-crowded $16 billion T-X trainer competition is beginning to look more and more like a price shootout between Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Trump’s Naval Buildup To Boost Raytheon’s Radar Business

The Trump administration’s drive toward a 350-ship U.S. Navy bodes well for Raytheon’s integrated defense systems business, with two next-generation air surveillance radars under development for U.S. destroyers, aircraft carriers and amphibious warships.

Kratos’ Swarming Combat UAVs Take Flight

California-based Kratos Defense, a rising star of the high-performance unmanned combat aircraft segment, will show off its autonomous combat UAV during a military exercise later this year, company President and CEO Eric DeMarco says. Derived from the Kratos BQM-167A subscale aerial target drone, the armed, highly maneuverable, 1,400 nm-range aircraft will participate in the exercise under a $12.6 million Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental contract awarded last October.


MIRV Option Seen As Crucial To Next Nuke 

As the U.S. Air Forces presses ahead with development of a next-generation nuclear missile, a new report says the service must retain the capability of adding multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles, or MIRVs, if the strategic balance shifts.

Trump Defense Plan Seen As Chance To Signal U.S. Strength

The Trump administration’s first long-range defense spending plan covering fiscal years 2018-22 is a “critical opportunity” to signal U.S. strength and resolve as well as reassure wary allies, members of leading Washington think tanks told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 24.

U.S. Navy Orders Raytheon SM-6s With Anti-Ship Mod 

Raytheon’s Standard Missile-6 plant in Huntsville, Alabama, has secured its fourth full-rate production contract after an eventful 2016 that saw the supersonic, multi-mission missile link up with the Lockheed Martin F-35 as well as destroy a decommissioned warship and medium-range ballistic missile.

Sunset Raptor

President Donald Trump was spared heavy rain when he took the oath of office on Jan. 20, but poor weather thwarted what would have been the first military flyover for a presidential inauguration in 68 years.


Harpoon-ER Upgrade Is Boeing’s Go-To For U.S. Navy Competition

The U.S. Navy’s competition for an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile to arm its Littoral Combat Ship/Frigate warships will soon get underway, as Boeing readies its double-range Harpoon for flight testing at the Point Mugu sea range in California. The crucial launch from an F/A-18 Super Hornet will take place in the coming months under a memorandum of understanding with U.S. Naval Air Systems Command.


U.S. Air Force Missile Warning Satellite Lifts Off 

The third of six U.S. Air Force missile warning satellites intended for geosynchronous Earth orbit has successfully lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard United Launch Alliance’s RD-180-powered Atlas V rocket.

Boeing Readies Harpoon-ER For Navy Missile Competition 

The U.S. Navy’s competition for an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile to arm its Littoral Combat Ship/Frigate warships will soon get underway, as Boeing readies its double-range Harpoon for flight testing at the Point Mugu sea range in California.
JSTARS Airmen achieve 1M hours of flight time

Who Is Vying For Key U.S. Air Force Business?

The U.S. Air Force handed the titans of America’s military aerospace industry plenty of homework over the holidays, launching two multibillion dollar competitions in the final week of December. As they toast the New Year, industry teams vying for the $6.9 billion J-Stars and $16.3 billion T-X development contracts have been combing over thousands of pages of dry, technical information attached to the requests for proposals, released on Dec. 28 and 30, respectively.

U.S. Air Force Guided Nuclear Bomb Flight Testing Ramps Up

The U.S. Air Force and Boeing are making progress in their development of a guidance kit for the B61-12 nuclear bomb.

The U.S. Air Force will soon begin qualification testing of its B61-12 guided thermonuclear bomb, just as President-elect Donald Trump pledges to strengthen Washington’s nuclear arsenal in response to Russia’s modernization plans.

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