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what a story!
Aug 24, 2016
Sunday at 5:07 PM
here's the twist: CNO: New Stingray drone will be a tanker
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now Skunk Works Head: Latest Navy MQ-25A Requirements Pushing Competitors to Redesign Offers
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The Navy’s latest revised list of requirements for its carrier-based unmanned aerial tanker will likely push all four competitors to redesign their bids, the head of Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Work division said on Tuesday.

The Navy’s latest direction for the MQ-25A Stingray would further minimize information, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) requirements for the airframe and further reduce strike as a mission, Rob Weiss, the head of the company’s internal aviation research and development arm, said at Lockheed Martin’s annual media day.

“The Navy came out with these requirements perhaps in the last six to eight months, and they still haven’t given us the final system requirements document – that should be coming any day – with specifically what they want this tanker to do,” Weiss said.
“From our viewpoint, the requirements, as they are currently unfolding, are going to require a new design from all of the competitors. It’s now very tanker-focused. We’re looking at what those requirements are, there will probably be a follow-up capability – some ISR it could do and potentially some strike – but it’s very much focused on tanking.”

Along with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and Boeing are competing for the first operational carrier-based unmanned aerial vehicle.

As part of his presentation, Weiss teased an image of Lockheed Martin concept that showed a view of a wing with an aerial refueling tank hanging from a pylon and trailing a probe-and-drogue fuel line to an F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Currently, the Navy refuels its carrier aircraft with its Super Hornet fleet. The tanking mission accounts from anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of Super Hornet sorties, further exacerbating the ongoing tactical aviation shortfalls in the service.

That demand – in part – is pushing the Navy to get a tanking UAV into service as soon as possible rather than creating a more multi-mission platform, USNI News understands.

“If the requirements were about penetrating ISR in contested airspace – be it ISR or strike – you would need an airplane that looks different than the concept you’ve got up there with pylons and so forth doing tanking,” he said.

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, Weiss suggested the Navy pursue a more stealthy tailless flying wing design that could be adapted to higher-end missions later.

“If you start with a vehicle shape that will allow it to penetrate into a contested environment, you can get a low-cost tanking capability upfront without putting all the capability into that vehicle. … You can do it at low cost but stay on that same path to use that vehicle design to operate in a penetrating environment,” Weiss said in 2016.

Later last year, Commander of Naval Air Forces Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker said industry was struggling with designs that could blend the requirements of an ISR platform and a tanker. The Air Boss said the two missions lent themselves to two different types of platforms.

A primarily-ISR UAV would be a high-endurance platform that would “probably not carry a lot of fuel, have a large wingspan,” to be an efficient platform,
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.
“If you’re going to be a tanker at range, you’re obliviously going to have to be able to carry a fair amount of fuel internal to the platform. … That drives the different design for those two. So the industry is working on an analysis of where that sweet spot is to do both of those missions.”

However, based on Weiss’s comments, the Navy’s latest revision to the requirements seem to push all the competitors to a wing-body-tail design for Stingray rather than the flying wing concept both Lockheed and Northrop were thought to be developing for the MQ-25A program.

“The requirements have been defined to be a tanker, so you really don’t want to go with a tailless design if your primary requirement is associated tanking,” he said.

General Atomics and Boeing both have proposed wing-body-tail for their MQ-25A proposal in the past, USNI News understands.

Following a draft Request for Proposal issued last year directly to the four competitors, the Navy is expected to issue the final RFP this summer, with an expected contract award in 2018, Weiss said.

The MQ-25A is the Navy’s follow-up program to the service’s Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) UAV program that developed an aircraft primarily for ISR. However, the program was restructured following a 2015 Office of Secretary of Defense review led by Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work, and it became a tanking-first concept that became MQ-25A.

While the four competitors are developing the airframe, the Navy is developing the ground control station and the data link packages for the MQ-25A that remain largely unchanged from the UCLASS program.
 

Jeff Head

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what a story!
Aug 24, 2016

now Skunk Works Head: Latest Navy MQ-25A Requirements Pushing Competitors to Redesign Offers
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IMHO, is it still ridiculous to take what was going to be a stealthy, unmanned patrol/strike aircraft, of which a single F-35C could control three of them, and replace that very significant capability whah had already qulaified for carrier take off and landing, with an unmanned tanker.

Crazy Obamainess strikes again.

He's gone now and we need wiser heads to gt things back on course.
 
this is interesting:
Navy LRASM Missile Set for Non-VLS Tube-Style Launcher Tests in 2017
The Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), scheduled for its first flight later this year in its air-launched mode, also will go through launch tests from an alternative shipboard launcher for ships not equipped with the Mk41 or Mk57 vertical-launch systems.

Lockheed Martin is proceeding with development of a tube-launcher, similar in design to the launchers for Harpoon anti-ship missiles used on Flight I Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and deployed this year on the littoral combat ship USS Coronado, in order to give the Navy more options for distributing lethality across more ship types and be in position for the competition for the over-the-horizon missile for the new frigate design.

The tube launcher will be tested at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico during the third quarter of 2017, Chris Mang, vice president for strategy and business development for Tactical Missiles and Combat Maneuver Systems, told reporters March 21. The company has invested $20 million in development of the launcher.

The AGM-158C LRASM is a derivative of the Air Force’s Joint Air-to-Surface Strike Missile-Extended Range and is being fielded first as an air-launched cruise missile. The LRASM currently is in integration and testing. The first launch is scheduled from an Air Force B-1B bomber by the end of 2017.

Mang noted that the LRASM is a term used by Lockheed Martin, but officially in the Navy it is known as Increment 1 of the Offensive Anti-Surface Weapon (OASuW) program. The LRASM is first being deployed on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter. Mang predicted it eventually will be deployed on the F-35 Lightning II strike fighter as well.

Mang said that testing is complete for LRASM launch from a Mk41 VLS, with launch being conducted from the test ship ex-USS Paul Foster.

“I think naval aviation is ready to move out” with LRASM. Mang said, noting that he believed that the surface-launched version was not yet a procurement program because “I believe they’re waiting to see the missile fly.”

Mang said that Lockheed Martin also has invested in the concept of the LRASM being launched from a Virginia-class Virginia Payload Module being designed for the Block V of the submarine class. Each tube of the module could accommodate six LRASMs. He said three tests are required for submarine launch and Lockheed Martin has completed the first of the tests in conjunction with Northrop Grumman.

“We have a roadmap [for development of LRASM submarine deployment], but the surface Navy tends to be the preponderance [of a requirement for an OASuW],” he said.
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Mar 14, 2017
Saturday at 10:21 AM

related:
Marines’ CH-53K King Stallion Set to Become World’s Most Expensive Helicopter

source is DoDBuzz
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while Marine Corps Wants Foreign Buyer to Curb CH-53K Cost
The top officer of the
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said he’s pleased with how development of the service’s new CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter is progressing, but concerned about the aircraft’s
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and looking for ways to mitigate the sticker shock.

One of those might be finding other nations interested in making their own purchase, he said.

“Obviously, we’re concerned about the cost point,” Commandant Gen. Robert Neller told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. “We’re focused right now on the performance, and it’s meeting all its dates, and it’s flown more than 400 hours. But the price is an issue.”

Earlier this month, Rep. Niki Tsongas, a Massachusetts Democrat, revealed during a congressional hearing that early unit costs for the Lockheed Martin-made
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were projected to rise some 22 percent above the baseline estimate, or up to $122 million per copy.

While the Corps’ head of Programs and Resources, Lt. Gen. Gary Thomas, noted that the unit cost is set to drop below $89 million per chopper when they enter full-rate production sometime between 2019-2022, the early price point would put King Stallion costs on par with the fifth-generation
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.

Even when the cost goes down, the CH-53K is likely to remain the most expensive helicopter in the world.

Neller said he hadn’t been approached by any Pentagon personnel with concerns about a Nunn-McCurdy breach, an acquisition policy that requires defense programs to be terminated if they increase more than 25 percent above baseline objective unless the secretary of defense certifies that the program is essential to national security.

But he said he plans to continue working with Lockheed Martin to find ways to reduce costs.

“Obviously, we’re early in the program, and we’re hoping there will be other folks who will come forward, potentially foreign entities that will come forward and want to bring the cost down,” he said. “It’s a concern, and we’re working it.”

A spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, Erin Cox, told Military.com that “several countries” have expressed interest in the King Stallion and its heavy-lift capabilities, but did not specify possible buyers.

“We are confident the CH-53K will meet the needs of future international customers seeking to replace and upgrade their current fleets,” she said.

The King Stallion is set to complete its Milestone C review this month, a key step prior to beginning low-rate initial production. Cox told Military.com earlier this month that the program is on track to hit its developmental milestones.

Ultimately, the Marine Corps plans to purchase 200 King Stallions.
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now I read
Moran: Navy Needs As Much As $150B Extra to ‘Jump-Start’ Path to 355 Ships; Would Buy Mostly DDGs, SSNs, Carriers
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The Navy needs potentially as much as $150 billion over current budget plans to “jump-start” shipbuilding and get on a trajectory for a 355-ship fleet, the vice chief of naval operations said on Wednesday.

The money would add about 30 ships to the fleet beyond current plans, Adm. Bill Moran said.

The exact size of the future fleet doesn’t matter right now, but rather the Navy just needs to start boosting its investment in shipbuilding quickly – which means buying many more Virginia-class attack submarines, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ford-class aircraft carriers in the next few years, he said.

“I’m not here to argue that 355 or 350 is the right number. I’m here to argue that we need to get on that trajectory as fast as we can. And as time goes on you start to figure out whether that number is still valid – 10 years from now, 20 years from now 355 may not be the number,” Moran said today at the annual McAleese/Credit Suisse “Defense Programs” event.
“Our number, give or take, to get to 355, or just to get started in the first seven years, is $150 billion. That’s a lot of money.”

Moran told USNI News following his remarks that dollar figure wasn’t exact but was based on the Navy’s best guess for how much it would cost to immediately begin a fleet buildup. A Navy official told USNI News later that one internal Navy estimate put the cost at about $80 billion over the seven years, whereas a Congressional Research Service estimate was closer to $150 billion.

“When you look at the number that started our 355 trajectory, to jump-start it – in order to jump-start it we think we need to build an additional 29 or 30 ships in the first seven years,” he said.
“When you do all that math, it’s a lot of money that we don’t have. But we were asked to deliver on that, so we’ve passed along what we think it would take. And obviously, any number you give in this environment is going to be sticker shock. So that’s why I say don’t take me literally, all it is is a math equation right now.”

Those 30 ships would mostly come from three ship classes in serial production today.

“We definitely wanted to go after SSNs, DDGs and carriers, to get carriers from a five-year center to a four-year center and even looked at a three-year option. So the numbers I will give to you are reflective of those three priorities, because those are the big impacters in any competition at sea,” he told USNI News.
“Amphibs come later, but I’m talking about initial, what are we building that we can stamp out that are good. We know how to build Virginia-class, we know how to build DDGs.”

Many in the Navy and industry had believed amphibious ships – particularly the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD-17) or the upcoming LX(R) derivative of the LPD design – would be part of the initial ship buildup. Moran, though, said the Navy’s recently drafted plan to get on the 355-ship trajectory “feathered in LX(R)” in later years.

“We definitely wanted to go after SSNs, DDGs and carriers, to get carriers from a five-year center to a four-year center and even looked at a three-year option. So the numbers I will give to you are reflective of those three priorities, because those are the big impacters in any competition at sea,” he told USNI News.
“Amphibs come later, but I’m talking about initial, what are we building that we can stamp out that are good. We know how to build Virginia-class, we know how to build DDGs.”

Many in the Navy and industry had believed amphibious ships – particularly the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock (LPD-17) or the upcoming LX(R) derivative of the LPD design – would be part of the initial ship buildup. Moran, though, said the Navy’s recently drafted plan to get on the 355-ship trajectory “feathered in LX(R)” in later years.
am unsure if it fits
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