Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin

Indago UAS

Combating counterinsurgency, conducting reconnaissance, collecting information vital to national security, United States Special Forces conduct some of the most sensitive and critical missions.

Lockheed Martin’s latest Indago tethered variant is ready for the battlefield after completing successful flight testing
Lockheed Martin’s latest Indago tethered variant is ready for the battlefield after completing successful flight testing

The people and infrastructure required for these missions also require constant protection through reliable intelligence and surveillance. That’s why Lockheed Martin expanded its Indago portfolio to include a tethered option.

Without the tether, Indago 3 flies for 50-70 minutes and can be carried in a rucksack, leading the group 1 small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) industry in endurance and transportability. For uninterrupted Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), special forces can quickly configure the tether, taking away the need for battery reliance.

«When it comes to unmanned systems and capability, size does matter», said Michael Carlson, Business Development manager for Indago. «We want to make something as important as force and facility protection as simple and effective as possible – the tethered Indago can do that».

Its payloads provide high resolution, daytime, electro-optical imagery capable of reading a license plate from a 1000-foot/305-meter standoff distance. For nighttime, it provides detailed thermal infrared that can identify a person, weapon, and other intelligence, such as warmth of vehicle tracks on the surface. This includes imagery in black hot, white hot, and ironbow, an orange and purple heatmap color scheme.

 

FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS

In addition to its compact folding design and quick setup time, the Indago quadrotor UAS features include:

  • Whisper quiet, rugged, all-weather capability;
  • Configurable failsafe behaviors;
  • Industry-leading image stabilization;
  • Proven Kestrel 3 autopilot;
  • Multiple hot-swappable payload options;
  • Up to 50 minutes flight time with 200-gram/7-ounce payload;
  • Line-of-sight range of 2.5 kilometer/1.55 miles;
  • More than 3-kilometer range using optional long-range antennae kit;
  • A ready to fly weight of 5 lbs. with payload included (2,268 grams);
  • UAV dimensions (L × W × H):
    • Open: 32 × 32 × 7;
    • Folded: 12 × 9 × 6;
  • Operating altitude of 10-500 feet/3-152 m Above Ground Level (AGL) (typical), 18,000 feet/5,486 m Median Sea Level (MSL).

Maiden Flight

According to Defense-Aerospace.com, Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for the Royal Navy’s Crowsnest airborne early warning variant of the AW101 Merlin helicopter, has provided some information about the program, which made its maiden flight on March 28.

Merlin Crowsnest AEW helicopter makes maiden flight
Merlin Crowsnest AEW helicopter makes maiden flight

Crowsnest, the Lockheed Martin-led programme which will provide the Royal Navy with its Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC) platform via a role fit Mission System solution onto the Merlin Mk2, achieved a key milestone on 28 March.

The designated trials aircraft took off from the Leonardo Helicopters facility in Yeovil, at midday, to commence Aero-Mechanical flight trials. This milestone is key to assessing the flight envelope and handling qualities of the aircraft with the external role equipment fitted, and marks the start of a series of flight trials which will take place throughout 2019.

In fact, the aircraft had actually made its first flight several days earlier, and had made several before the official one on March 28. This was still three days earlier than the contractual deadline for first flight, which was March 31.

Lockheed Martin worked closely with industry partners and Ministry of Defence (MOD) to ensure that essential design requirements were met prior to first flight on 28 March 2019. The first flight enables an extended flight test period to expand the flight envelope of the helicopter with the CROWSNEST role equipment installed.

The next key phase of the programme is Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing.

Lockheed Martin is committed to delivering the CROWSNEST capability with its industry partners; dedicated management teams and resources are in place to ensure the programme is delivered successfully.

The next program milestone, set for September 30, is the conclusion of Flight Trial Activity required to support initial Aircrew Training, according to the SRO letter, with aircrew training due to begin by October 10 and the delivery of the Airborne Surveillance & Control Mission Trainer by November 14.

Multi-Mission Helicopters

The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to India of twenty-four (24) MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters for an estimated cost of $2.6 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on April 2, 2019.

MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters
MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopters

The Government of India has requested to buy twenty-four (24) MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters, equipped with the following:

  • thirty (30) APS-153(V) Multi-Mode radars (24 installed, 6 spares);
  • sixty (60) T700-GE-401C engines (48 installed and 12 spares);
  • twenty-four (24) Airborne Low Frequency System (ALFS) (20 installed, 4 spares);
  • thirty (30) AN/AAS-44C(V) Multi-Spectral Targeting System (24 installed, 6 spares);
  • fifty-four (54) Embedded Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems (EGI) with Selective Availability/Anti-Spoofing Module (SAASM) (48 installed, 6 spares);
  • one thousand (1,000) AN/SSQ-36/53/62 sonobuoys;
  • ten (10) AGM-114 Hellfire missiles;
  • five (5) AGM-114 M36-E9 Captive Air Training Missiles (CATM);
  • four (4) AGM-114Q Hellfire Training missiles;
  • thirty-eight (38) Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) rockets;
  • thirty (30) MK 54 torpedoes;
  • twelve (12) M-240D Crew Served guns;
  • twelve (12) GAU-21 Crew Served guns;
  • two (2) Naval Strike Missile Emulators;
  • four (4) Naval Strike Missile Captive Inert Training missiles;
  • one (1) MH-60B/R Excess Defense Article (EDA) USN legacy aircraft.

Also included are:

  • seventy (70) AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Devices;
  • fifty-four (54) AN/ARC-210 RT-1990A(C) radios with COMSEC (48 installed, 6 spares);
  • thirty (30) AN/ARC-220 High Frequency radios (24 installed, 6 spares);
  • thirty (30) AN/APX-123 Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponders (24 installed, 6 spares);
  • spare engine containers;
  • facilities study, design, and construction; spare and repair parts; support and test equipment; communication equipment; ferry support; publications and technical documentation; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.

The total estimated cost is $2.6 billion.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.

The proposed sale will provide India the capability to perform anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare missions along with the ability to perform secondary missions including vertical replenishment, search and rescue, and communications relay. India will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. India will have no difficulty absorbing these helicopters into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The principal contractor will be Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, Owego, New York. The purchaser typically requests offsets. Any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between the purchaser and the contractor.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require the assignment of 20-30 U.S. Government and/or contractor representatives to India.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

Rocket System

Lockheed Martin received a $1.13 billion contract from the U.S. Army for Lot 14 production of Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets and associated equipment.

Lockheed Martin Rocket Launch (PRNewsfoto/Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin Rocket Launch (PRNewsfoto/Lockheed Martin)

The contract calls for the production of more than 9,500 GMLRS Unitary and Alternative-Warhead (AW) rockets, more than 300 Low-Cost Reduced-Range Practice Rockets (RRPRs) and integrated logistics support for the U.S. Army and international customers. Work will be performed at the Lockheed Martin facilities in Camden, Arkansas; Dallas and Lufkin, Texas; and Ocala, Florida, and will be completed by July 2021.

«The demand for GMLRS rounds, both domestically and internationally, continues to remain strong based on the excellent performance of the munition», said Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires and Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «Our primary focus with GMLRS is to continue producing these combat-proven munitions at a rate that meets the demands of our customers».

GMLRS is an all-weather rocket designed for fast deployment that delivers precision strike beyond the reach of most conventional weapons. The GMLRS AW was the first munition developed to service area targets without the effects of unexploded ordinance. GMLRS unitary rockets exceed the required combat reliability rate and are cost-effective. The RRPR allows users to train with realistic, full-motored rockets with limited flight range, making them ideal for smaller testing ranges.

In combat operations, each GMLRS rocket is packaged in an MLRS launch pod and is fired from the Lockheed Martin-produced High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) or M270 family of launchers. GMLRS was established as an international cooperative program.

For more than 40 years, Lockheed Martin has been the leading designer and manufacturer of long-range, surface-to-surface precision strike solutions, providing highly reliable, combat-proven systems like MLRS, HIMARS, Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and GMLRS to domestic and international customers.

Multi-Mission Warship

In a ceremony that formally marks the beginning of a ship’s construction, Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine laid the keel on Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 25, the future USS Marinette. During the ceremony, the ship’s sponsor Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, had her initials welded into the ship’s keel plate.

Lockheed Martin-led team begins construction on Navy's newest Multi-Mission Warship, Littoral Combat Ship 25 (Marinette)
Lockheed Martin-led team begins construction on Navy’s newest Multi-Mission Warship, Littoral Combat Ship 25 (Marinette)

Unique among combat ships, LCS is designed to serve a variety of missions today, and is easily adapted to serve future and evolving missions tomorrow.

  • It is flexible – with 40 percent of the hull easily reconfigurable, LCS is designed to serve today’s missions and can be outfitted with additional and evolved capabilities, including over-the-horizon missiles, and advanced electronic warfare systems and radars.
  • It is lethal – standard equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute.
  • It is fast – capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h.
  • It is automated – with the most efficient staffing of any combat ship.

«LCS brings something really special to the Navy. There is no other class of ship that delivers this level of flexibility for future missions», said Joe DePietro, vice president and general manager of Small Combatants and Ship Systems. «LCS is minimally manned, so the U.S. Navy can efficiently project presence around the world. It really is a remarkable ship, and our team is so proud to begin construction on the future USS Marinette for the Navy».

USS Marinette (LCS-25) will be the first U.S. Navy ship to bear the name Marinette, and is named to recognize the town’s significant contributions to Navy shipbuilding. Fincantieri Marinette Marine began operations in 1942 to provide U.S. ships for World War II. Marinette is the birthplace of Lockheed Martin’s Freedom-variant LCS, which Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine have partnered to produce for more than 16 years. Each day, more than 1,500 residents of Marinette, Wisconsin and Menominee, Michigan, enter the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard to build LCS.

«We are thrilled to build the future USS Marinette. As shipbuilders, we transform flat panels of steel into warships, and feel so much pride in the craftsmanship required to do this important work. It is an honor to be able to do that for the ship named after our hometown», said Jan Allman, president and CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine. «The Navy selected an incredible woman to sponsor our ship. Governor Jennifer Granholm represents a large number of our workforce coming from Michigan, and she has been an avid supporter of the LCS program since its inception».

USS Marinette (LCS-25) will be the 13th Freedom-variant LCS, and will join a class of more than 30 ships. She is one of seven ships in various stages of construction and test at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard.

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016 11-17-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016 01-12-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017 Mayport, Florida
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016 04-18-2018
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017 12-15-2018
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21) 02-22-2018
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23) 08-14-2018
USS Marinette (LCS-25) 03-27-2019
USS Nantucket (LCS-27)
USS Beloit (LCS-29)
LCS-31

 

Combat King II

Lockheed Martin delivered the first of four HC-130J Combat King II aircraft on March 21, 2019, to representatives from the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing (RQW).

The first HC-130J Commando II assigned to the N.Y. Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing departs Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia, where all C-130s are built (Lockheed Martin photo by Todd R. McQueen)
The first HC-130J Commando II assigned to the N.Y. Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing departs Lockheed Martin’s facility in Marietta, Georgia, where all C-130s are built (Lockheed Martin photo by Todd R. McQueen)

This HC-130J Combat King II will be operated by the 102nd Rescue Squadron (RQS) at Francis S. Grabreski Air National Guard Base, New York. The 102nd RQS, which is part of the 106th Rescue Wing (RQW), currently operates a legacy fleet of HC-130P/N variant Combat King I aircraft, which will be replaced by four new HC-130Js. The squadron will use its HC-130Js to refuel the New York Air National Guard’s 101st RQS HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, which were manufactured by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky business in Stratford, Connecticut.

Like others in the U.S. Air Force Rescue community, the 106th RQW lives by the motto, «That Others May Live», which reflects its mission of supporting combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. Crews from the 106th RQW rely on HC-130s to extend the range of combat search and rescue helicopters by providing air refueling in hostile or contested airspace. Other mission capabilities include performing tactical delivery of pararescue teams, small bundles, zodiac watercraft or four-wheel drive all-terrain vehicles; and providing direct assistance to survivors in advance of a recovery vehicle.

«The HC-130 Hercules aircraft has been an essential part of the 106th’s Rescue Wing’s fleet for many decades, supporting these brave Airmen in meeting their mission requirements time and time again», said Ray Burick, vice president of Domestic Programs for Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions line of business. «The Lockheed Martin team is proud to provide the N.Y. Air National Guard with new HC-130Js that deliver increased power, capability and performance to support their crews in doing what they do best: saving lives and protecting the people they serve».

The HC-130J is the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force and Air National Guard. The HC-130J supports missions in adverse weather and geographic environments, including reaching austere locations. The HC-130J is also tasked for airdrop, airland, and helicopter air-to-air refueling and forward-area ground refueling missions. It also supports humanitarian aid operations, disaster response, security cooperation/aviation advisory, emergency aeromedical evacuation and noncombatant evacuation operations.

The HC-130J is one of eight production variants of the C-130J Super Hercules, the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. With 400+ aircraft delivered, the C-130J is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations. The global Super Hercules fleet has more than 1.9 million flight hours of experience supporting almost any mission requirement — any time, any place.

The U.S. government operates the largest C-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery continues the U.S. government’s transition to the C-130J as the common platform across Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Marine Corps. The Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command currently operate a mixed fleet of C-130J and older Hercules aircraft.

First Flight

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant helicopter achieved first flight on March 21, 2019, at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Florida site. This revolutionary aircraft, developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, and Boeing, will help inform the next generation of military helicopters as part of the U.S. Army’s Future Vertical Lift program.

Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant Helicopter Achieves First Flight
Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant Helicopter Achieves First Flight

«Defiant is designed to fly at nearly twice the speed and has twice the range of conventional helicopters while retaining the very best, if not better low-speed and hover performance of conventional helicopters», said Dan Spoor, vice president, Sikorsky Future Vertical Lift. «This design provides for exceptional performance in the objective area, where potential enemy activity places a premium on maneuverability, survivability and flexibility. We are thrilled with the results of today’s flight and look forward to an exciting flight test program».

With its two coaxial main rotors and rear-mounted pusher propulsor, SB>1 Defiant is unlike production rotorcraft available today. It represents a leap forward in technology to achieve the U.S. government’s desire for vast increases in speed and range, while improving maneuverability and survivability in a cost-effective way. SB>1 Defiant aircraft’s use of X2 Technology will allow the Army to penetrate from strategic standoff and exploit gaps created in complex Anti-Access Area Denial systems against near-peer adversaries.

«The design and development of Defiant has revealed the capability advancement that is truly possible for Future Vertical Lift», said David Koopersmith, vice president and general manager, Boeing Vertical Lift. «Clearly, the performance, speed, and agility of Defiant will be a game changer on the battlefield and we look forward to demonstrating for the U.S. Army the tremendous capabilities of this aircraft».

The helicopter is participating in the Army’s Joint Multi-Role-Medium Technology Demonstrator program. Data from SB>1 Defiant will help the Army develop requirements for new utility helicopters expected to enter service in the early 2030s. This flight marks a key milestone for the Sikorsky-Boeing team, and is the culmination of significant design, simulation and test activity to further demonstrate the capability of the X2 Technology.

X2 Technology is scalable to a variety of military missions such as attack and assault, long-range transportation, infiltration and resupply. SB>1 Defiant is the third X2 aircraft in less than 10 years.

The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant helicopter completed its first flight on March 21, 2019

Meteor and Spear

A team of BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and MBDA engineers enhancing the capability of the UK’s fleet of F-35 Lightning II aircraft by commencing work on the integration of next generation weapons.

Work starts integrating next generation Meteor and Spear onto UK F-35 Fleet
Work starts integrating next generation Meteor and Spear onto UK F-35 Fleet

BAE Systems has received an initial funding award from Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the F-35 Lightning II programme, to start integration efforts for MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile and SPEAR precision surface attack missile.

Under this initial package of work BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin will also complete further integration work with MBDA on Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and with Raytheon on Paveway IV, initially integrated in support of delivering Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the UK.

Tom Fillingham, Senior Vice-President – U.S. Programmes of BAE Systems, said: «BAE Systems engineers played a crucial role in supporting the UK to achieve Initial Operating Capability for its F-35 fleet. Now, working alongside our partners including Lockheed Martin and MBDA, we are using our expertise to take that capability even further with advanced weapons systems such as Meteor and SPEAR. We are extremely proud of the critical contribution UK engineers are playing for both the UK and the global F-35 fleet through the development, production and sustainment of the aircraft».

Cliff Waldwyn, Head of Combat Air, Group Business Development of MBDA, said: «This is a significant milestone for the UK Combat Air’s capability. This initial package of work officially commences the integration of Meteor and SPEAR and will enhance the operational capability of the UK’s Lightning Force in the future; it is also a positive step for the wider F-35 enterprise as it adds additional capability choice for international customers. MBDA’s integration team have worked well with our BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin colleagues and we plan to build on this excellent foundation into the future on this follow-on modernisation work».

Last year, a pilot from 17 Squadron, the RAF’s F-35 Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California took to the skies for the first time with UK weapons, including ASRAAM and Paveway IV.

This followed work carried out during the F-35 Lightning II programme’s System Development and Demonstration (SDD) initial testing phase to develop and certify weapons capabilities by an integrated test team. This team includes Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Raytheon and MBDA, working alongside the UK Air Warfare Centre to clear weapons for Operational Testing by Royal Air Force/Royal Navy (RAF/RN) pilots.

NextSTEP Phase II

For long-duration, deep space missions, astronauts will need a highly efficient and reconfigurable space, and Lockheed Martin is researching and designing ways to support those missions. Under a public-private partnership as a part of NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP) Phase II study contract, Lockheed Martin has completed the initial ground prototype for a cislunar habitat that would be compatible with NASA’s Gateway architecture. This habitat will help NASA study and assess the critical capabilities needed to build a sustainable presence around the Moon and support pioneering human exploration in deep space.

The Lockheed Martin Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA) Lunar habitat prototype is designed to accommodate a variety of missions around the Moon (Photo courtesy: Lockheed Martin)
The Lockheed Martin Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA) Lunar habitat prototype is designed to accommodate a variety of missions around the Moon (Photo courtesy: Lockheed Martin)

The full-scale prototype, or Habitat Ground Test Article (HGTA), is built inside of a repurposed shuttle-era cargo container, called a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), at Kennedy Space Center. Using rapid prototyping and modern design tools like virtual and augmented reality, the team customized the interior making full use of the entire volume of the module to accommodate a variety of tasks like science missions and personal needs of future astronauts. The team also studied how to apply the advanced, deep space capabilities that are already built in to NASA’s Orion spacecraft. Through additional research and development funding, the NextSTEP team also applied mixed-reality technology to further refine the concept.

«Throughout the design and engineering process of this high-fidelity prototype, we have kept the diversity of missions top-of-mind», said Bill Pratt, Lockheed Martin Space NextSTEP program manager. «By building modularity in from the beginning, our design can support Lunar orbit and surface science missions along with commercial operations, all while accelerating the path to the Moon».

Over the past five months, the team used tools like virtual and augmented reality to simplify and streamline the build-up process. They also applied expertise from Lockheed Martin’s heritage of operating autonomous interplanetary robotic missions, like OSIRIS-REx and InSight, to integrate reliable robotic capabilities in to the design.

«Getting back to the Moon, and eventually Mars, is no small feat, but our team are mission visionaries», said Pratt. «They have worked to apply lessons learned from our experience with deep space robotic missions to this first-of-its-kind spacecraft around the Moon».

The Lockheed Martin team will soon transition the prototype to the NASA NextSTEP team for assessment. During the week of March 25, a team of NASA astronauts will live and work inside the prototype, evaluating the layout and providing feedback.  The NASA test team will also validate the overall design and will be able to evaluate the standards and common interfaces, like the International Docking System Standard (IDSS), and how to apply those systems for long-term missions based at the Lunar Gateway. Once NASA testing has completed, Lockheed Martin will continue to optimize and study the prototype to prepare for other Lunar efforts.

Ghostrider Block 30

The Air Force has received an upgraded version of its Ghostrider gunship.

Air Force Gets First Upgraded Ghostrider Gunship
Air Force Gets First Upgraded Ghostrider Gunship

The 4th Special Operations Squadron, 1st Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, Florida, received its first AC-130J Ghostrider Block 30 gunship this week during a ceremony at Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview, Florida, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) said in a news release on March 8, 2019.

The 4th Special Operations Squadron currently operates and maintains the AC-130U Spooky.

The Block 30 model marks «a major improvement in software and avionics technology» over the original Block 20 software AC-130J, the release states.

«The Ghostrider is the newest and most modernized gunship in existence, fulfilling the same mission sets as the Spooky but with upgraded avionics, navigation systems and a precision strike package that includes trainable 30-mm and 105-mm weapons», according to the release.

The first Block 30 model will remain in a testing-only status for a year before it can deploy for battlefield operations, officials said.

Along with the 105-mm cannon the U-models sport, the AC-130J is equipped with a 30-mm cannon «almost like a sniper rifle. … It’s that precise, it can pretty much hit first shot, first kill», Colonel Tom Palenske, then-commander of 1st Special Operations Wing, told Military.com last May at Hurlburt.

The model achieved initial operational capability in September 2017.

The J-model also has improved turboprop engines, which reduce operational costs with better flight sustainability, the service has said.

It has the ability to launch 250-pound/113-kg, GPS- or laser-guided Small-Diameter Bombs (SDB). The aircraft is expected to carry AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, interchangeable with the SDBs on its wing pylons, AFSOC has said.

Palenske said last year that airmen have been waiting to see the aircraft in action.

«It’s going to be the most lethal, with the most loiter time, probably the most requested weapons system from ground forces in the history of warfare. That’s my prediction», he said.

The fourth-generation J is slated to replace the AC-130H/U/W models, with delivery of the final J-model sometime in 2021, according to the Air Force. The service plans to buy 32 of the aircraft.

Crews expect the J to be deployed in late 2019 or early 2020.

«It’s our big gun truck», Palenske said. «It’s going to have more powerful engines, a more efficient fuel rate. … You can keep the sensors on the bad guys longer … and it’s also going to have AGM-176 Griffin missiles on the back, so you can put 10 missiles on the back of them. It’s going to be awesome», he said.