The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a $339 million contract modification for the production of 48 vehicle sets of M109A7 Self-propelled Howitzer (SPH) and its companion, the M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT) vehicle, and includes post-delivery support and spare parts.
The M109A7 SPH and M992A3 CAT vehicle set is a vital program enhancement for increased combat capability and sustainment of the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs). The program offers enhanced indirect-fire artillery capabilities to the ABCTs with new technologies for power generation and survivability.
The new M109A7 addresses long-term readiness and modernization needs of the M109 self-propelled howitzer family through a critical redesign and production plan that leverages today’s most advanced technology. Its state-of-the-art «digital backbone» and power generation capability provides a more robust, survivable, and responsive indirect fire support capability for ABCT Soldiers. The M109A7 is a significant upgrade over the M109A6 as it enhances reliability, maintainability, performance, responsiveness, lethality, and crew survivability.
The initial contract was awarded in 2017 for low-rate production. This most recent order brings the total number of M109A7 and M992A3 vehicle sets to 204, with a total contract value of $1.5 billion. The award follows the Army’s decision, announced in February, to commence full-rate production of the vehicle.
The Department of Defense successfully tested a hypersonic glide body in a flight experiment conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, March 19 at approximately 10:30 p.m. local time (HST).
The U.S. Navy and U.S. Army jointly executed the launch of a Common Hypersonic Glide Body (C-HGB), which flew at hypersonic speed to a designated impact point.
Concurrently, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment that will inform its ongoing development of systems designed to defend against adversary hypersonic weapons.
Information gathered from this and future experiments will further inform DOD’s hypersonic technology development, and this event is a major milestone towards the department’s goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.
«This test builds on the success we had with Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which our C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at our target distances», said Vice Admiral Johnny R. Wolfe, Director, Navy’s Strategic Systems Programs, which is the lead designer for the C-HGB. «In this test we put additional stresses on the system and it was able to handle them all, due to the phenomenal expertise of our top notch team of individuals from across government, industry and academia. Today we validated our design and are now ready to move to the next phase towards fielding a hypersonic strike capability».
Hypersonic weapons, capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5), are highly maneuverable and operate at varying altitudes. This provides the warfighter with an ability to strike targets hundreds and even thousands of miles away, in a matter of minutes, to defeat a wide range of high-value targets. Delivering hypersonic weapons is one of the department’s highest technical research and engineering priorities.
«This test was a critical step in rapidly delivering operational hypersonic capabilities to our warfighters in support of the National Defense Strategy», said U.S. Army LTG L. Neil Thurgood, Director of Hypersonics, Directed Energy, Space and Rapid Acquisition, whose office is leading the Army’s Long Range Hypersonic Weapon program and joint C-HGB production. «We successfully executed a mission consistent with how we can apply this capability in the future. The joint team did a tremendous job in executing this test, and we will continue to move aggressively to get prototypes to the field».
The C-HGB – when fully fielded – will comprise the weapon’s conventional warhead, guidance system, cabling, and thermal protection shield. The Navy and Army are working closely with industry to develop the C-HGB with Navy as the lead designer, and Army as the lead for production. Each service will use the C-HGB, while developing individual weapon systems and launchers tailored for launch from sea or land.
The similarities in hypersonic weapon design for sea and land variants provide economies of scale for future production as we build the U.S. hypersonics industrial base.
«Hypersonic systems deliver transformational warfighting capability», said Mr. Mike White, Assistant Director, Hypersonics, OUSD Research and Engineering (Modernization). «The glide body tested today is now ready for transition to Army and Navy weapon system development efforts and is one of several applications of hypersonic technology underway across the Department. These capabilities help ensure that our warfighters will maintain the battlefield dominance necessary to deter, and if necessary, defeat any future adversary».
Additionally, MDA is working closely with Army and Navy in sharing data that will inform their development of enhanced capabilities for a layered hypersonic defense to support warfighter need and outpace the adversary threat.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to «Blue Blasters» of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34, landed aboard USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) flight deck marking the 1,000th recovery of a fixed wing aircraft using Ford’s Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) March 19, 2020 at 5:13 p.m.
Minutes later, the crew celebrated a second milestone launching an F/A18 E Super Hornet attached to «Warhawks» of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 from Ford’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) catapults for the 1,000th time.
This significant milestone in the ships’ history began on July 28, 2017 with Ford’s first fixed wing recovery and launch using its first-in-class AAG and EMALS technologies.
Captain J.J. «Yank» Cummings, Ford’s commanding officer, explained how the entire Ford crew has worked together over the last few years to reach this achievement.
«I couldn’t be more proud of our crew, their motivation is amazing», said Cummings. «We’ve been working extremely hard to get here today, and to see this 1,000th trap completely validates their efforts and the technology on this warship».
Boasting the Navy’s first major design investment in aircraft carriers since the 1960s, Ford’s AAG and EMALs support greater launch and recovery energy requirements of future air wings, increasing the safety margin over legacy launch and arresting gear found on Nimitz-class carriers.
Lieutenant Scott Gallagher, assigned to VFA 34, has landed on five other carriers, but became a part of Ford’s history with his, and the ship’s 1,000, recovery.
«There are a lot of people who are working night and day to make sure that this ship is ready to go be a warship out in the world», said Gallagher. «To be a part of that; and this deck certification is super cool. Also getting the 1,000th trap helps the ship get one step closer to being the warship that it needs to be».
Captain Joshua Sager, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, explained why his squadron’s integration with the ship’s personnel is important and how their relationship impacts operations.
«It’s great to share this moment in history with Ford. Integration between the air wing and ship’s company is crucial to the everyday success of carrier operations», said Sager. «Completion of the 1,000th catapult and arrestment shows that the ship and her crew have tested and proven the newest technology the Navy has, and together we are ready to meet the operational requirements of our nation».
With 1,000 launches and recoveries complete, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) will continue its flight deck and combat air traffic control certifications in preparation to deliver to the fleet regular flight operations in support of East Coast carrier qualifications.
The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission has successfully completed several months of simulated space environment System level testing in the NASA-owned thermal vacuum chamber at Plum Brook Station in Ohio. The tests were conducted in two phases; a 47 day thermal vacuum test and a 14 day electromagnetic compatibility and interference test in ambient conditions which both simulate the conditions the spacecraft will encounter during its voyage to the Moon and back to Earth.
Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exploration at Airbus, said: «Today marked an important milestone for the Artemis I mission to the Moon. We proved to our customers ESA and NASA that the European Service Module, designed and built by our engineers in Bremen – supported by companies in 10 European countries – meets the requirements to withstand the harsh conditions in space. The Artemis programme will land the first woman and next man on the Moon and bring them back safely to Earth, we are proud to contribute to this endeavour with all our know-how, expertise and passion».
The engineering teams from Airbus, the European Space Agency (ESA), Lockheed Martin and NASA are pleased with the results of this crucial test, which proves that the spacecraft is suitable to navigate safely through the extreme conditions that it will experience in space.
Orion will be transported back to the Kennedy Space Center to undergo further testing and prepare the spacecraft for integration with the Space Launch System rocket, beginning the next era of exploration.
ESA’s European Service Module built by Airbus under an ESA contract, will provide propulsion, power, air and water for the astronauts, as well as thermal control of the entire spacecraft. Artemis I will travel around the Moon and back to Earth. Airbus in Bremen is already building the second Orion Service Module for Artemis II, where astronauts will fly to the Moon and back to Earth for the first time.
About the European Service Module (ESM)
More than 20,000 parts and components will be installed in the ESM, from electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support materials for the astronauts, as well as approximately 12 kilometres/7.46 miles of cables. The first service module, which just finished the thermal-vacuum testing, was delivered to NASA in November 2018. The second service module is currently being integrated and tested by Airbus in Bremen.
During the development and construction of the ESM, Airbus has drawn on its experience as prime contractor for ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which provided the crew on board the International Space Station with regular deliveries of test equipment, spare parts, food, air, water and fuel.
The ESM is cylindrical in shape and about four meters in diameter and height. It has four solar arrays (19 metres/62.34 feet across when unfurled) that generate enough energy to power two households. The service module’s 8.6 tonnes/18,960 lbs. of fuel can power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters. The ESM weighs a total of just over 13 tonnes/28,660 lbs. In addition to its function as the main propulsion system for the Orion spacecraft, the ESM will be responsible for orbital manoeuvring and position control. It also provides the crew with the central elements of life support such as water and oxygen, and regulates thermal control while it is docked to the crew module. Furthermore, the service module can be used to carry additional payload(s).
BAE Systems has been awarded a contract from Lockheed Martin to design and manufacture next-generation infrared seekers for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system, providing critical targeting technology that helps protect the U.S. and its allies from ballistic missiles. The sensor design work will improve the missile defense system’s ability to neutralize more threats and improve its manufacturability.
«The THAAD seeker is a key product in our precision munitions portfolio that’s recognized for its proven intercept capabilities. It demonstrates our ability to deliver advanced targeting and guidance systems for critical precision munitions», said Barry Yeadon, THAAD program director at BAE Systems. «This award is a testament to our ongoing success with the program, and enables us to advance our proven design and take the program into the future in support of the Missile Defense Agency’s mission».
The THAAD weapon system intercepts hostile ballistic missiles with kinetic force during their final, or terminal, phase of flight. BAE Systems’ seeker provides infrared imagery that guides interceptors to their intended targets, destroying enemy warheads inside or outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The company has been developing and producing missile defense seeker technology for more than four decades, and has delivered more than 500 THAAD seekers to date.
THAAD is an integral part of the MDA’s mission to field an integrated, layered, ballistic missile defense system. Its high-altitude intercept capability mitigates the effects of enemy weapons before they reach the ground, and its non-explosive kinetic impact minimizes the risk of detonation. THAAD is a highly effective system for addressing ballistic missile threats.
BAE Systems’ THAAD seekers are assembled, integrated, and tested at the company’s facilities in Nashua, New Hampshire and Endicott, New York. Portions of the design work for the next-generation seeker technology will be conducted in Huntsville, Alabama, where the company is actively hiring and building a state-of-the-art facility. The THAAD seeker program provides an opportunity for engineers to join a cutting-edge design program at its early stages in the Rocket City.
Raytheon Company completed the first round of testing of the first partially populated radar antenna array for the U.S. Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, or LTAMDS. The milestone comes less than five months after the U.S. Army selected Raytheon to build LTAMDS, a next-generation radar that will defeat advanced threats like hypersonic weapons.
«Concluding these initial tests brings Raytheon one step closer to putting LTAMDS into the hands of service members», said Tom Laliberty, vice president of Integrated Air and Missile Defense at Raytheon’s Integrated Defense Systems business. «Raytheon and our supplier partners continue to make the right investments in people, technology and manufacturing capability to ensure we meet the U.S. Army’s Urgent Materiel Release».
The testing consisted of calibrating LTAMDS primary antenna array in an indoor, climate controlled test range, and evaluating its performance against simulated targets. With testing complete, the array is being mounted on a precision-machined enclosure for integration and further evaluation. It will then commence testing at an outdoor range against real-world targets.
LTAMDS consists of a primary antenna array on the front of the radar, and two secondary arrays on the rear. The radar antennas work together to enable operators to simultaneously detect and engage multiple threats from any direction, ensuring there are no blind spots on the battlefield. LTAMDS’ primary array is roughly the same size as the Patriot radar array, but provides more than twice Patriot’s performance. While it is designed for the U.S. Army’s Integrated Air and Missile Defense system, LTAMDS will also be able to preserve previous Patriot investments.
Raytheon is working closely with hundreds of suppliers across 42 states, including a core team playing a strategic role in building the LTAMDS solution. They are:
The U.S. government has cleared Raytheon Company to sell the Coyote Block 2 counter-drone weapon to approved allied nations as part of the Howler counter-drone system.
In 2019, the U.S. Army deployed Howler, a combination of the Ku-band Radio Frequency System and Coyote Block 1, into the battlefield. The high-speed, highly maneuverable Block 2 is designed to use Raytheon’s KuRFS multi-mission radar as its fire control source.
«Delivering this enhanced version of the combat-proven Coyote strengthens our allies’ defenses against enemy drones», said Sam Deneke, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. «Block 2 is fast, effective and protects troops on the battlefield».
Raytheon recently completed developmental, operational and customer acceptance testing on the Coyote Block 2 variant. Powered by a jet engine, the new weapon can be launched from the ground to destroy drones and other aerial threats.
«The KuRFS radar gives soldiers unprecedented vision of individual drones», said Bryan Rosselli, vice president of Raytheon Mission Systems and Sensors. «The ability to quickly and clearly detect, track and discriminate the threat leads to positive identification, and makes the Coyote all the more precise in its ability to intercept drones».
Raytheon expects to achieve full-rate production of Coyote Block 2 in 2020.
Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on March 17, 2020 that its Ingalls Shipbuilding division completed the third and final round of sea trials for Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119).
«DDG-119 just completed a very successful sea trial demonstrating shipboard systems to ensure the future delivery of another quality, state-of-the-art surface combatant», Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias said. «From the start of fabrication to final sea trials, our shipbuilders have continuously demonstrated remarkable proficiency and craftsmanship in building Delbert D. Black and in preparing the ship for service in the world’s greatest Navy».
USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) is the first ship named in honor of U.S. Navy veteran Delbert D. Black, who served as a gunner’s mate and was aboard the battleship USS Maryland (BB-46) during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Ingalls has delivered 31 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy. The shipyard currently has four DDGs under construction, including USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG-121), USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) and USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125), the U.S. Navy’s first Flight III destroyer.
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are highly capable, multi-mission ships and can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States military strategy. Guided missile destroyers are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.
510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline
59 feet/18 m
30.5 feet/9.3 m
Displacement – Full Load
9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
SPY-1D Phased Array Radar (Lockheed Martin)/AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (Raytheon Company) and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Bell Textron Inc., a Textron Inc. company, has been selected as a project agreement holder for the Competitive Demonstration and Risk Reduction (CD&RR) effort as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. Under the agreement Bell will deliver a refined V-280 Valor design, with supporting technical documentation, that builds on the data captured during the more than two years and 170 hours of flight testing under the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration (JMR TD) program to inform the FLRAA program of record.
«Bell and Team Valor are excited to continue working on a system that has proven its ability to bring exceptional capabilities to warfighters», said Mitch Snyder, president and CEO at Bell. «The JMR TD and V-280 show that rapid maturation of new technology is possible with a solid government-industry partnership fueled by our talented and innovative workforce. We look forward to the FLRAA competition».
This contract follows the successful U.S. Army led JMR TD program. As part of that program, Bell managed collaboration with the twelve leading companies that make up Team Valor to enable rapid production, systems integration, and deliberate program schedule to validate the V-280’s flight capabilities and operational relevance. The V-280 achieved all program goals, demonstrating its speed by flying above 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h and demonstrating low speed agility attitude quickness per ADS-33F-PRF. These characteristics are important to inform FLRAA program requirements to ensure the program will help warfighters meet the challenges of future multi-domain fights.
«This is an important milestone in the history of Bell and Army aviation. We are honored to be part of it», said Keith Flail, vice president, Advanced Vertical Lift Systems at Bell. «The next phase is an opportunity for this team to build on the success of the last six years and continue to bring the proof that we can provide transformative capabilities to our Army in line with their stated goal of 2030».
The V-280 Valor was developed in support of the government Future Vertical Lift (FVL) program, the Army’s number three modernization priority area. The FLRAA program is meant to produce a medium-lift utility rotorcraft replacement with transformational speed, power, and maneuverability, at a sustainable cost, to active duty and reserve aviation units.
Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy moved one step closer to integrating a laser weapon system onto an Arleigh Burke destroyer after successfully conducting a Critical Design Review (CDR) for the High Energy Laser with Integrated Optical-dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) system.
«Our adversaries are rapidly developing sophisticated weapons and the threats to the U.S. Navy’s fleet are getting more challenging», said Hamid Salim, vice president, Advanced Product Solutions at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. «Our warfighters need this capability and capacity now to effectively counter threats such as unmanned aerial systems and fast attack vessels».
This year, HELIOS will undergo system integration in Moorestown, New Jersey – the home of Aegis Combat System development for 50 years. The HELIOS system will then be tested at the Wallops Island Navy land-based test site which will significantly reduce program risk before being delivered to a shipyard for integration into an Arleigh Burke destroyer next year. In addition to being built into the ship’s structure, HELIOS will become an integrated component of the ship’s Aegis combat system.
«HELIOS will provide an additional layer of protection for the fleet – deep magazine, low cost per kill, speed of light delivery, and precision response. Additional HELIOS systems will accelerate the warfighter learning curve, provide risk reduction for future laser weapon system increments and provide a stronger demand signal to the supply base», said Brendan Scanlon, HELIOS program director, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems.
Lockheed Martin has more than 40 years of experience developing laser weapon systems. HELIOS leverages technology building blocks from internal research and development projects that continue to advance the U.S. Navy’s goal to field laser weapon systems aboard surface ships.