The War Report Vol. 9, April 24, 2017

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

Send your questions, comments, corrections or news tips to james.drew@aviationweek.com. For an immediate response, call +1 (202) 704-8852 or +1 (267) 475-5072. For personal correspondence, email james.drew.media@gmail.com.

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Sharp-Shooting Bombs, Missiles Shaping The Modern Battlefield

If one trend has marked the past 25 years of air-to-surface weapons development, it is precision. Since World War II, U.S. airpower has evolved from massive bombardments with unguided bombs to one-shot, one-kill precision. In just the past decade, the U.S. military has almost completely stopped using unguided weapons. Even the 22,000-lb. GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb dropped on an Islamic State group tunnel complex in Afghanistan this month was satellite-guided…

Podcast: Decoding the F-15 Retirement Proposal

With a limited budget and a strategic need for airpower, the U.S. Air Force is weighing its future fighter fleet options. Our editors discuss the idea of retiring National Guard F-15s in favor of upgrading F-16s. We also discuss the F-35A’s training deployment to Europe…

U.S. Navy Further Limits T-45 Flying To 5,000 ft.

The U.S. Navy has further restricted flying in the Boeing T-45C Goshawk to 5,000 ft. maximum altitude and 2-g maneuvers after one instructor pilot reported headaches after performing dynamic flying in the troubled tandem-seat trainer. The new flight restrictions come less than a week after the T-45C resumed flying, following a 12-day “operational pause” implemented by Navy leadership after a spike in hypoxia-like physiological episodes reported by pilots…

Darpa Seeks Future Counter-UAV Tech For Urban Warfare

With dozens of programs springing up to defeat UAV threats, Darpa is trying to avoid “chasing the puck” and instead nurture revolutionary future counter-UAV technologies. Two new programs being launched are Mobile Force Protection (MFP) and Aerial Dragnet. MFP will protect convoys of armored vehicles or boats on the move. Aerial Dragnet will develop and demonstrate a city-wide UAV tracking system in the 10-1,000 ft. altitude range…

Liteye, Orbital ATK Turn Apache Gun Against UAVs

Liteye Systems and Orbital ATK are pairing their technologies to turn the Boeing AH-64 Apache’s 30-mm chaingun against unfriendly UAVs. Capable of firing 200 rounds per minute, the Orbital ATK M230 cannon would be paired on ground vehicles with Liteye Systems’ Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS), which currently takes down unmanned aircraft using a non-lethal radio frequency inhibitor…

USAF Issues Revised Draft RFP For Huey Replacement

The U.S. Air Force says it still hopes to kick off a multibillion-dollar Bell UH-1N Huey replacement competition this summer and decide a winner in 2018 after releasing a second draft request for proposals (RFP) to helicopter manufacturers. The service had wanted to get started in February, but delayed the release of its final RFP to revise its acquisition approach. At the time, it marked summer as the new RFP release date. On April 19, the service released its second draft RFP of the program and announced another industry day in Ohio from May 8-9, but has not altered its revised competition timeline…

‘Eject, Dude’: Pilot Error Blamed For U-2 Trainer Crash

A deadly Lockheed Martin TU-2S crash during a pilot evaluation flight last year has been blamed on pilot error. The accident investigation also highlights just how difficult it is to fly the Cold War-era aircraft, which is slated for retirement. The twin-seat TU-2S crashed into a field in Sutter County, California, on Sept. 20, 2016, killing the instructor pilot…

SB-1 First Flight Delayed; V-280 ‘95% Complete’

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB-1 Defiant will not fly in 2017 as previously planned, with the milestone shifting into “early 2018,” company program officials say. A flying demonstrator for the U.S. Army Joint MultiRole Technology Demonstration program (JMR-TD), the lift-offset coaxial rotorcraft was meant to take flight this fall. Construction of the Defiant has clearly been lagging behind Bell Helicopter’s V-280 Valor, its main rival. But until recently, Sikorsky and Boeing have insisted that the SB-1 would fly by year’s end…

U.S. Nuclear Posture Review Starts Amid Global Friction

The Pentagon has kickstarted the first Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) of the Donald Trump administration amid escalating tensions around the globe. The Obama administration’s 2010 policy review idealized about “a world without nuclear weapons.” But seven years on, escalating tensions with Russia, North Korea, and Iran as well as concerns about China seem to have put this noble goal on the back burner…

Qualification Testing Of B61-12 Nuke Begins At Tonopah

The U.S. government has begun qualification testing of the new B61-12 guided thermonuclear bomb at Nevada’s Tonopah Test Range, marking another significant step toward delivery of the first operational weapon in 2020. The new flight test series began last month, with a Lockheed Martin F-16C dropping an inert B61-12 flight test vehicle at the desert test range…

Boeing Opposes Eagle Retirement Plan

Boeing is speaking out against a controversial proposal by the U.S. Air Force to retire the F-15C Eagle fleet, saying an upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16 is no substitute for its Cold War-era air superiority fighter. The service has floated the idea of retiring all F-15C squadrons in favor of F-16s equipped with active electronically scanned array radars for the homeland defense mission. This would avoid a major structural service life extension of the F-15C, pegged at $30-40 million per airplane for new wings and a remanufactured center fuselage…

Thank you for taking notice! See you again next week.

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