All posts by Dmitry Shulgin

Air Force Contract

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a $2.3 billion contract for the ninth production lot of 15 KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, expanding its fleet of the world’s most advanced multi-mission aerial refueler. To date, 128 KC-46A Pegasus are on contract with the U.S. Air Force, with 68 delivered and operationally deployed worldwide.

KC-46A Pegasus
Boeing Awarded U.S. Air Force Contract for 15 KC-46A Pegasus Tankers

«The combat-ready KC-46A Pegasus is transforming the role of the tanker for the 21st century», said James Burgess, vice president and KC-46A Pegasus program manager. «We’re proud to work side-by-side with the U.S. Air Force ensuring the KC-46A Pegasus provides unmatched capabilities and continues to evolve for the U.S. and its allies’ global mission needs».

The KC-46A Pegasus delivers crucial fuel and data for the fleet, as well as cargo, personnel and aeromedical transportation for joint force rapid mobility, global reach and agile combat employment.

Last year, the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command approved the KC-46A Pegasus for global operations including combat deployment. The KC-46A Pegasus continues to demonstrate its agile combat employment capabilities, recently completing a 42-hour endurance flight supporting a U.S. Air Force Bomber Task Force mission in the Indo-Pacific region.

During 2022, KC-46A Pegasus aircraft operating in a series of U.S. Air Force global employment exercises in the European theater, Indo-Pacific region and the Middle East performed at a greater than 95% mission capable rate, demonstrating the aircraft’s reliability and combat readiness.

Boeing builds KC-46A Pegasus aircraft on the 767 production line in Everett, Washington, supported by a supplier network of about 37,000 American workers employed by more than 650 businesses throughout more than 40 U.S. states. With Boeing’s in-line production, the KC-46A Pegasus is designed and built as a tanker from day one – not a post-production conversion – making the Pegasus uniquely suited to integrate advanced technology for fleet data connectivity and combat-ready defensive features, as well as new capabilities as the needs of the mission evolve.

Boeing is on contract for 138 KC-46A Pegasus tankers globally. Boeing has delivered two of six KC-46A Pegasus tankers to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), and is on contract for four KC-46A Pegasus tankers for the Israel Air Force (IAF). The expanding global fleet creates commonality and interoperability efficiencies and mission-readiness advantages for the U.S. Air Force and allies.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

 

Weapon Concept

The joint Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and U.S. Air Force Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Concept (HAWC) completed yet another successful flight test. The Lockheed Martin version of the missile, with its Aerojet Rocketdyne scramjet, capped a program that accomplished all of its initial objectives. It was the final flight test for HAWC, which is providing critical data to inform Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) hypersonic technology maturation efforts.

Hypersonic Airbreathing Weapon Concept (HAWC)
Artist’s concept of Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapons Concept (HAWC) vehicle

«This month’s flight added an exclamation point to the most successful hypersonic airbreathing flight test program in U.S. history», said Walter Price, an Air Force deputy for the HAWC program. «The things we’ve learned from HAWC will certainly enhance future U.S. Air Force capabilities».

The Lockheed Martin missile again flew at speeds greater than Mach 5/3,836 mph/6,174 km/h, higher than 60,000 feet/18,288 m, and farther than 300 nautical miles/345 miles/555.6 km. This latest flight demonstrated improved capabilities and performance. The nation’s hypersonic portfolio now has two feasible hypersonic airbreathing missile designs (Lockheed Martin and Raytheon) to improve and mature in the future.

«The HAWC program created a generation of new hypersonic engineers and scientists», said Andrew “Tippy” Knoedler, the HAWC program manager. «HAWC also brought a wealth of data and progress to the airbreathing hypersonic community. The industry teams attacked the challenge of scramjet-powered vehicles in earnest, and we had the grit and luck to make it work».

Even though the HAWC program has executed the final phase of the program, there is still data to analyze and more opportunities to mature the technology. DARPA plans to continue that maturation in the More Opportunities with HAWC (MOHAWC) program by building and flying more vehicles that build upon HAWC’s advances. Those missiles will expand the operating envelope of the scramjet and provide technology on-ramps for future programs of record.

«We had our share of difficulties», said Knoedler. «Through a pandemic, a strained supply chain, and atmospheric rivers, our industry partners forged ahead, mitigating the risks where they could and accepting others. They delivered on their promises, proving the feasibility of the concept».

Mjölner

BAE Systems has received a contract modification from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to build 20 additional CV90 mortar vehicles. The approximately $30 million contract has been awarded to the BAE Systems Swedish joint venture HB Utveckling AB, which combines BAE Systems’ Hägglunds and Bofors manufacturing capabilities. Production will be performed at BAE Systems Hägglunds in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.

CV90 Mjölner
This new order for 20 additional CV90 mortar systems for the Swedish Army brings the total fleet to 80 vehicles, planned to be in service by 2025

«This new contract modification for additional mortar vehicles ensures that soldiers will benefit from this critical capability in the near future», said Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, managing director of BAE Systems Hägglunds. «We look forward to continuing to support the Swedish Army’s efforts to modernize and increase its combat power».

The original contract for 40 CV90 Mjölner systems was awarded in 2016, and deliveries of the systems started in 2019 and were completed on time in 2020. In February 2022, FMV awarded the first follow-on contract for 20 additional systems, as well as the upgrade of the 40 systems already in service, to bring them all to the same standard by integrating the Swedish Army’s new Command, Control, Communications, Computers & Intelligence (C4I) Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Mark system. Both FMV and BAE Systems have heralded this program as a benchmark for collaborative development.

Once the contract modification deliveries are completed in 2025, the Swedish Army will operate 80 CV90 mortar vehicles in its fleet. The vehicles, known as Granatkastarpansarbandvagn 90, provide critical indirect firepower capabilities in the mechanized brigades.

There are approximately 1,300 CV90s, in multiple variants, in service with Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. The vehicle has a combat-proven track record and is designed to accommodate future growth to meet evolving missions. More recently, both Slovakia and the Czech Republic have selected CV90 to replace their legacy infantry fighting vehicle fleets.

Carl Levin

The Navy accepted delivery of the future guided missile destroyer USS Carl M. Levin (DDG-120) from General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, January 26.

USS Carl M. Levin (DDG-120)
Navy Accepts Delivery of Future USS Carl Levin (DDG-120)

Delivery represents the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder to the U.S. Navy. Prior to delivery, the ship conducted a series of at-sea and pier-side trials to demonstrate its materiel and operational readiness.

«Delivery of this ship will provide critical capacity to our surface fleet today and well into the future», said Captain Seth Miller, DDG-51 program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «All who serve aboard DDG-120 will be a reflection of Senator Carl M. Levin’s commitment to our Nation through service».

A Flight IIA destroyer, DDG-120 is equipped with the latest Aegis Combat System. The Aegis Combat System provides large area defense coverage against air and ballistic missile targets, and also delivers superior processing of complex sensor data to allow for quick-reaction decision making, high firepower, and improved electronic warfare capability against a variety of threats.

The shipyard is also in production on future destroyers USS John Basilone (DDG-122), USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124), USS Patrick Gallagher (DDG-127), USS Louis H. Wilson Jr. (DDG-126), USS William Charette (DDG-130), and USS Quentin Walsh (DDG-132).

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.

 

Ship Characteristics

Length Overall 510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline 59 feet/18 m
Draft 31 feet/9.5 m
Displacement – Full Load 9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
Power Plant 4 General Electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
Speed in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h
Range 4,400 NM/8,149 km at 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Crew 380 total: 32 Officers, 27 CPO (Chief Petty Officer), 321 OEM
Surveillance 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
Electronics/Countermeasures 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
Aircraft 2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Armament 2 Mark-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) with 96 Standard, Vertical Launch ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) & Tomahawk ASM (Air-to-Surface Missile)/LAM (Loitering Attack Missile); 5-in (127-mm)/54 (62) Mark-45 gun; 2 (1) CIWS (Close-In Weapon System); 2 Mark-32 triple 324-mm torpedo tubes for Mark-46 or Mark-50 ASW torpedos

 

Guided Missile Destroyers Lineup

 

Flight IIA: Technology Insertion

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-116 Thomas Hudner GDBIW 04-23-17 12-01-18 Mayport, Florida
DDG-117 Paul Ignatius HIIIS 11-12-16 07-27-19 Mayport, Florida
DDG-118 Daniel Inouye GDBIW 10-27-19 12-08-21 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-119 Delbert D. Black HIIIS 09-08-17 09-26-20 Mayport, Florida
DDG-120 Carl M. Levin GDBIW 05-16-21 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-121 Frank E. Peterson Jr. HIIIS 07-13-18 05-14-22 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
DDG-122 John Basilone GDBIW 06-12-22
DDG-123 Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee HIIIS 01-27-20
DDG-124 Harvey C. Barnum Jr. GDBIW
DDG-127 Patrick Gallagher GDBIW

 

F-16 Block 70

Lockheed Martin on January 24, 2023 announced the successful first flight of the F-16 Block 70 at its Greenville, South Carolina site.

F-16 Block 70
F-16 Block 70 first flight

The flight occurred January 24 at 9:17 a.m. ET, with Lockheed Martin test pilots Dwayne «Pro» Opella and Monessa «Siren» Balzhiser at the helm. Total flight time was approximately 50 minutes and included airworthiness checks, such as engine, flight control and fuel system checks, as well as basic aircraft handling.

«Today’s successful flight is a testament of the hard work, dedication and commitment to our customers and their missions», said OJ Sanchez, vice president, Integrated Fighter Group, which includes the F-16 program. «This milestone demonstrates Lockheed Martin’s commitment to advancing this program and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced 21st Century Security capabilities to the warfighter».

This F-16 Block 70 jet is the first of 16 jets to be delivered to Bahrain. Six countries have selected Block 70/72 aircraft. In addition to the current official backlog of 128 jets to-date to be built in Greenville, Jordan last year signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for eight jets and last week signed an additional LOA for four more jets. Lockheed Martin has received a contract to begin Jordan’s long-lead activities. Bulgaria has also signed an LOA for an additional eight jets for its fleet. Once these are finalized, the backlog will increase to 148.

«Lockheed Martin is fully committed to delivering quality platforms for our customers’ critical missions, and I am so proud of our talented team in Greenville», said Danya Trent, F-16 Vice President and Site Lead in Greenville. «This is the culmination of significant development, design, digital engineering, supply chain and production line advances to an already proven platform that will continue to deliver decades of service in support of customers’ national security».

F-16 Block 70/72
F-16 Block 70 first flight against the sky

 

About the F-16

The F-16 is a strategic and valuable choice for many customers around the world seeking advanced, 4th generation fighter aircraft capabilities, regional and worldwide partnerships, and affordable lifecycle costs. More than 3,000 F-16s are operating today in 25 countries. The F-16 has flown an estimated 19.5 million flight hours and at least 13 million sorties. Today’s latest version, the Block 70/72, offers unparalleled capabilities and will be flown by at least five countries beginning in the mid-2020s.

GV22-0020 F-16 Bahrain EB1 First Flight 20230125 V2 from LM Aero Multimedia on Vimeo.

Christening of Earl Warren

General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) christened the future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO-207), the third ship for the U.S. Navy’s John Lewis-class fleet oiler program, on January 21, 2023. Secretary of the U.S. Navy (SECNAV) Carlos Del Toro, served as the principal speaker at the ceremony, in addition to remarks from NASSCO and U.S. Navy representatives. Following brief remarks, the ship’s sponsor, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, christened the ship with the traditional champagne bottle break alongside the hull.

USNS Earl Warren (T-AO-207)
The future USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207) Christening Ceremony

«Along with its namesake, this majestic vessel will be instrumental in shaping the future of our nation. The shipbuilders of NASSCO are proud to have ensured Earl Warren’s legacy will live on in this ship», said David Carver, president of General Dynamics NASSCO. «On behalf of the 48-hundred employees of General Dynamics NASSCO, I am proud to present the USNS Earl Warren for christening to our sponsor the Supreme Court Justice, Elena Kagan».

The ship honors Earl Warren, 14th Chief Justice of the United States of the Supreme Court. During his 16 years as Chief Justice, a period of time when the Supreme Court was known as the “Warren Court”, civil rights and civil liberties were dramatically expanded, marking this period as one of the most important periods in the history of American constitutional law.

«Indeed, the ship’s motto could not be more appropriate: ‘I Will Find a Way or I Will Make One,’» said Del Toro. «That’s exactly what a young Earl Warren did when he overcame obstacles to joining the Army during the First World War, and that’s what he continued to do in the fight for equality, democracy, and social justice throughout his life».

General Dynamics NASSCO was awarded with a contract to design and build the first six ships, T-AO-205 – T-AO-210, by the U.S. Navy for the next generation of fleet oilers, the John Lewis-class in 2016. In 2022, the U.S. Navy awarded NASSCO with a contract modification for the construction of two additional John Lewis-class fleet oilers (T-AO-211 and 212), with the option for the U.S. Navy to procure an additional oiler, T-AO-213 which was included in the 2023 defense budget.

In addition to the christening of this ship, two ships in the T-AO class fleet oiler program for the U.S. Navy – the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO-208) and the future USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO-209), – are currently under construction. The second ship, the future USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206) will be delivered to the U.S. Navy later this year. The lead ship, the USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205) was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2022.

The 742-foot-long/226-meter-long oilers are designed to transfer fuel to U.S. Navy carrier strike group ships operating at sea and have the capacity to carry 157,000 barrels of oil, a significant dry cargo capacity, aviation capability and up to a speed of 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h.

High-Power Microwave

Epirus has landed a contract from the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office for prototypes of its Leonidas High-Power Microwave (HPM) system that can kill drones by zapping their electronics.

Leonidas HPM
Leonidas high-power microwave system (Image courtesy of Epirus)

The award, announced by the company Monday, January 23 2023, comes as the U.S. military is on the hunt for new capabilities to address the growing threat from adversaries’ Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).

The Leonidas system will support the Army’s Indirect Fire Protection Capability-High-Power Microwave Program.

«As part of the Other Transaction Authority, Epirus collaborates with the Rapid Capabilities & Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) to rapidly deliver several prototype systems of Leonidas for $66.1 million in 2023 with options to acquire additional support services. Epirus plans to deliver and support prototypes of integrated HPM capability and, as part of the contract’s design, work with the RCCTO to transition Leonidas into a future program of record after successful demonstration of the prototypes», according to a company press release.

The Pentagon is keen on directed energy weapons for counter-UAV missions because they are less expensive to operate than more traditional air-defense systems that fire missiles – also known as “kinetic” interceptors” – and can engage more targets because they have deeper magazines and don’t require reloading.

«Time and time again, we’ve seen that current air defense systems are ill-equipped to tackle the threat of autonomous drone swarms. This contract with the RCCTO brings new counter-swarm capability to the UAS fight with our cost-effective, modular and upgradable Leonidas systems», Epirus CEO Ken Bedingfield said in a statement. «As the threat environment continues to evolve, so, too, will our capabilities, ensuring the U.S. Army is equipped with effective countermeasures to near-term and over-the-horizon electronic threats for decades to come».

The Leonidas «counter-electronics system» has «demonstrated lethality against a broad range of UAS and electronic systems and achieved swarm defeat at multiple U.S. Government-sponsored test events, outperforming six down-selected systems», per the release.

The latest iteration was unveiled in April 2022.

The Defense Department’s Joint Counter-Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Office (JCO) conducted demonstrations of several high-power microwave weapons at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, last spring.

«The Epirus system was able to defeat targets in the range that is normally associated with what is currently in the field and has the promise to be a little bit more effective in the future», Michael DiGennaro, head of the test team for the JCO’s acquisition and resourcing division, told reporters after the event concluded.

Leonidas is equipped with solid-state Gallium Nitride (GaN) power amplifiers. Artificial intelligence-enabled GaN semiconductors enable high levels of power density without special cooling tech, according to Epirus.

«The system is frequency agile and rapidly fires a barrage of unique waveforms to exploit the specific frequencies that UAS targets are most susceptible to. This enables tactically relevant counter-swarm ranges beyond small arms fire, even against diverse swarms», according to a product datasheet.

Epirus is touting the weapon’s accuracy and targeting flexibility aided by “digital beamforming.”

«Digital beamforming enables pinpoint accuracy so that operators disable threats … and nothing else», according to the datasheet, which says the technology can enable «programmable no-fly zones» where enemy drones can be targeted but friendly UAS can operate unscathed.

The system can be mounted on vehicles – including Army Strykers – or towed, and the weapon can be used “within minutes” after powering up. It also includes line-replaceable amplifier modules that can be serviced or replaced in under eight minutes, according to Epirus.

Directed Energy Interceptor

Lockheed Martin achieved first light from the Directed Energy Interceptor for Maneuver Short-Range Air Defense System (DEIMOS) system, which verifies that the laser’s optical performance parameters align with the system design parameters.

DEIMOS
Lockheed Martin Achieves First Light in Latest Laser Lab Demonstration

Lockheed Martin’s 50 kW-class DEIMOS system is a ruggedized, tactical laser weapon system that can be integrated into the Stryker combat vehicle to deliver robust directed energy capability to the U.S. Army’s challenging Maneuver-SHort Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) mission.

«The 50 kW-class laser weapon system brings another critical piece to help ensure the U.S. Army has a layered air defense capability», said Rick Cordaro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Advanced Product Solutions. «DEIMOS has been tailored from our prior laser weapon successes to affordably meet the Army’s larger modernization strategy for air and missile defense and to improve mission success with 21st Century Security solutions».

 

Why It Matters

Lockheed Martin’s DEIMOS first light demonstration is a crucial milestone along the path to helping the Army perform its DE M-SHORAD mission, which is intended to deliver a maneuverable laser system capable of negating unmanned aerial systems, rotary-wing aircraft and rockets, artillery and mortars.

First light measures the expected beam quality of the system while testing end-to-end performance of our game-changing, low-cost Spectral Beam Combination (SBC) architecture. The key benefit of the company’s SBC is that power can be scaled while retaining the excellent beam quality of the individual fiber lasers.

In 2022, Lockheed Martin demonstrated Layered Laser Defense (LLD) capability by defeating two surrogate cruise missiles at tactically relevant ranges. This LLD capability:

  • Shares many common elements with the DEIMOS system architecture, such as allowing for a single operator to engage and destroy SHORAD targets.
  • Can be seamlessly integrated into various platforms.
  • Can fit on tactical platforms such as a Stryker vehicle because it was designed with constraints in terms of Size, Weight and Power (SWaP).

 

What’s Next

Utilizing a philosophy of «build a little, test a little, learn a lot», Lockheed Martin will expand the DEIMOS test program in 2023, culminating with field integration tests in 2024. This thorough approach is designed to reduce risk, to enable soldier touchpoints and to provide proof points of compelling mission capabilities.

The Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) is leading the DE M-SHORAD prototyping effort and is expected to transition the program to the Program Executive Office (PEO) Missiles & Space in 2024.

5,000th «Hawk»

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, on January 20, 2023 delivered its 5,000th «Hawk» variant helicopter, a U.S. Army UH-60M Black Hawk. The iconic aircraft will continue to support medium-lift requirements for the U.S. military and international operators for decades into the future.

UH-60M Black Hawk
Sikorsky marks the delivery of the 5,000th «Hawk» helicopter, a UH-60M (pictured), at its headquarters in Stratford, Connecticut, January 20, 2023 (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

Sikorsky celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

«Sikorsky, as a company, has been forged by the Black Hawk», said Sikorsky President Paul Lemmo. «The Black Hawk and its variants deliver when reliability and performance are nonnegotiable. Hawk aircraft continue to demonstrate their versatility and readiness with the latest technological advancements and ongoing U.S. and global investment in the aircraft».

Customers worldwide depend on the Black Hawk platform and its derivatives, including MH-60R/S maritime operations helicopters, MH-60T multi-mission helicopters, HH-60W rescue helicopters and internationally built S-70 Black Hawks to include the baseline FIREHAWK, which have all proven their versatility and capability across a spectrum of challenging mission sets.

Sikorsky’s highly skilled and experienced workforce manufactures the latest generation of Hawk aircraft built in Stratford, and there is high international demand for the Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk, manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s PZL Mielec facility in Poland. More than 35 international customers operate the Black Hawk thanks to its global support network and continued modernization.

The U.S. Army, the largest Black Hawk operator, noted the key role the aircraft continues to fulfill during military and civil operations around the world, in addition to its significant contribution towards Joint All Domain Operations.

«For more than 40 years the Black Hawk has remarkably supported Soldiers in every major contingency operation the Army has executed», said Colonel Calvin Lane, the utility helicopter project manager for the Program Executive Office Aviation. «Even though the helicopter has been around longer than most of the Soldiers it now supports, the Army plans for it to be in front line service another 40 years and beyond. And everyone who contributes to the delivery of this aircraft in any way, contributes directly to providing combat capability that protects Soldiers and helps the Army accomplish its mission».

Sikorsky
Sikorsky Delivers 5,000th «Hawk», Highlights Versatility and Future of Iconic Helicopter

 

The Future of the Black Hawk

As U.S. Army Future Vertical Lift (FVL) aircraft are fielded, the Black Hawk will remain the foundational tactical air assault and utility aircraft for the U.S. Army. Modernization efforts that improve Black Hawk availability and reliability by lowering direct operating costs include:

  • A Modular Open Systems Approach allowing rapid integration of emerging technologies to maintain relevance in future operations by increasing reach, survivability, lethality and sustainment;
  • Improved Turbine Engine to increase lift capability and range;
  • Advanced Digital Vehicle Management Systems supporting Degraded Visual Environment and automated operations;
  • Digital tools including predictive analytics that reduce aircraft downtime and maintenance costs.

In February 2022, Lockheed Martin flew its first uninhabited Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV) Sikorsky UH-60A/S-70 Black Hawk testbed helicopter powered by Sikorsky’s MATRIX autonomy technology in collaboration with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Subsequent flights at U.S. Army’s Project Convergence 2022 demonstrated future utility missions for the platform, which shows no signs of relinquishing its preeminent medium-lift capability through continuous innovation and investment.

«We are committed to all H-60 and S-70 operators and look forward to enduring partnerships on the Hawk program in the years to come», added Nathalie Previte, vice president of Army and Air Force Systems at Sikorsky. «It remains our priority to fulfill our customers’ requirements and meet the needs of current and future operational units. With unmatched versatility and global interoperability, Hawk aircraft continue to advance 21st century security».

Amelia Earhart

The sixth Global Positioning System III (GPS III) satellite designed and built by Lockheed Martin has been launched and is propelling to its operational orbit approximately 12,550 miles / 20,197 km above Earth, where it will contribute to the ongoing modernization of the U.S. Space Force’s GPS constellation.

GPS III SV06
GPS III satellite at Lockheed Martin facility outside of Denver, Colorado

GPS III Space Vehicle 06 (GPS III SV06) launched from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:24 a.m. EST on January 18, 2023. About 83 minutes after liftoff, U.S. Space Force and Lockheed Martin engineers at the company’s Denver Launch & Checkout Operations Center confirmed signal acquisition of GPS III SV06 and now have the space vehicle «flying» under their control.

GPS III SV06 is the 25th Military-Code satellite introduced to the constellation. The satellite will provide advanced technology to aide Space Force operators in their mission by providing Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) data to military and civil users worldwide.

«Lockheed Martin is incredibly proud to support the Space Force’s GPS team as it continues to add world-class capabilities that underpin U.S. national security with enhanced performance and accuracy», said Andre Trotter, Lockheed Martin vice president for Navigation Systems. «With the last GPS III satellite complete and ready to launch, production of the first GPS IIIF vehicle is underway».

GPS is a satellite-based radio navigation system that delivers the gold standard in PNT services to America’s military, U.S. allies and civil users. The satellites serve as a crucial technological foundation for internet, financial, transportation and agricultural operations, with more than 4 billion users depending on the PNT signals.

GPS III vehicles provide three times greater accuracy and eight times greater anti-jamming capability over existing satellites in the constellation. To better address mission needs and emerging threats, Lockheed Martin intentionally created GPS III with a modular design, allowing new technology and capabilities to be added in the future.

Lockheed Martin has completed production on its original GPS III SV1-10 contract, with the Space Force declaring SV10 Available for Launch on December 8, 2022. GPS III SV06 will soon join SV01-05 in orbit. GPS III SV07-10 are completed and in storage at the company’s facility waiting for the U.S. Space Force to call them up for launch.

Lockheed Martin is also designing and building the GPS III Follow On (GPS IIIF) for the Space Force, which will feature even more innovative capabilities than its predecessors. GPS IIIF satellites will feature an accuracy-enhancing laser retroreflector array, a new search and rescue payload, a fully digital navigation payload and more next-generation technology. In November 2022, Space Systems Command announced it exercised the third production option valued at approximately $744 million for the procurement of three additional GPS IIIF satellites from Lockheed Martin, meaning the company is now contracted to build SV11-20.