Navy Successfully Conducts First SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar BMD Test
The U.S. Navy successfully conducted a flight test March 15 with the AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) off the west coast of Hawaii, Naval Sea Systems Command announced in a March 30 release.
During a flight test designated Vigilant Hunter, the AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR searched for, detected and maintained track on a short-range ballistic missile target launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai. This is the first in a series of ballistic missile defense flight tests planned for the AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR.
“This marked a historic moment for the Navy. It’s the first time a ballistic missile target was tracked by a wideband digital beamforming radar,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Seiko Okano, major program manager for Above Water Sensors, Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems. “This radar will revolutionize the future of the U.S. Navy and is bringing a capability our Nation needs today.”
Based on preliminary data, the test met its primary objectives. Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the test.
The culmination of over a decade of rigorous engineering and testing effort in advanced radar technology, AN/SPY-6(V) AMDR is being designed for the DDG 51 Flight III destroyer to provide the U.S. Navy with state-of-the-art technology for Integrated Air and Missile Defense.
The nation's top military official in the Middle East on Wednesday said Iran is one of the greatest threats to the U.S. today and has increased its "destabilizing role" in the region.
"I believe that Iran is operating in what I call a gray zone," Commander of the U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel, told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony Wednesday. "And it's an area between normal competition between states — and it's just short of open conflict."
The general said Iran is exploiting this area in a variety of different ways, through things such as "lethal aid facilitation," the use of "surrogate forces" and cyber activities, among other things. He also believes Iran poses "the greatest long-term threat to stability" in the entire region.
U.S. Central Command is responsible for U.S. security interests in an area stretching from the Persian Gulf region into Central Asia. It includes more than 80,000 soldiers on land, sea and air as well as the ongoing campaign to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or ISIS) as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"We need to look at opportunities where we can disrupt [Iran] through military means or other means their activities," he said. "We need to look at opportunities where we can expose and hold them accountable for the things that they are doing."
Votel said he gets regular reports on Iran's use of boats to harass U.S. military and others in international waters off its coast, with around 300 incidents in the past year alone. Some, he said, could be considered "unprofessional" or "unsafe."
"We are paying extraordinarily close attention to this, but I feel very confident in our ability to protect ourselves and to continue to pursue our missions," he said.
That said, the general conceded, "Iran has a role in the region. I want to be clear that we think differently about the people of Iran than we think about the leadership of Iran — the Revolutionary Council that runs Iran. Our concern is not with the people of Iran, it is with their revolutionary government."
Meanwhile, the CentCom commander also responded to questions about reports the U.S.-led coalition air strikes against ISIS fighters contributed to the
"We are doing everything humanly possible to prevent these kind of events and incidents from occurring as a result of our operations," said the general.
Marcus Yam | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images
A man points towards the fighting as they walk through an area that was affected by a reported coalition air strike in the al-Jadida neighborhood of Mosul, Nineveh Province, on March 24, 2017.
The U.S. military is assessing and conducting an initial review of the Mosul circumstances, Votel said. U.S. officials visited the Mosul incident site Tuesday to gather both "additional evidence and perspective on the situation," he added.
He also dismissed reports that the high Mosul casualty count may have been somehow due to a change in administration policies about military activities in civilian areas. "This was a very dynamic situation," Votel said of the airstrike. "So this wasn't a deliberate target or anything else. This was an evolving combat situation."
The general said the military has a standardized process in place on how it looks at such cases and will pull together information from various sources in conducting the Mosul probe. One of the many things he said the investigators will look at is the "intelligence that was provided to the us by the Iraqis."
Even so, he added there's a "fair chance" that the U.S. coalition strike targeting ISIS fighters may have also contributed to the high casualties, echoing a comment made Tuesday by Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the U.S. commander on the ground in Iraq.
A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon.
Votel also reiterated a point made by Townsend that the munitions used in Mosul "should not have created the effects that have been observed," such as the collapse of entire buildings. He said the probe will look at whether "other things contributed to that as well."
"I would just suggest that everyone be cautious," said Rep. Mac Thornberry, the House Armed Services chairman (R-Texas) in opening remarks about the Mosul civilian casualties. "In a dense urban environment there might well be civilian casualties. But we also know for certain that ISIS uses innocent civilians as human shields and that they can arrange civilian deaths to further their misguided narratives."
Elsewhere, the CentComm commander also provided an update on the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"We are at a stalemate right now," he said. "It is generally in favor of the government of Afghanistan. But stalemates have a tendency to decline over time so I think we do have to continue to support this [fight]."
Two missions remain in Afghanistan — the military's counter-terrorism mission and NATO mission to train, advise and assist Afghanistan's military forces, Votel said. The counter-terrorism mission is "going pretty well," although the NATO mission is one where "we ought to consider looking at our objectives here and how we continue to support that mission going forward," he said.
WHEN REPEAT WHEN THE NAVY GETS ITS SECRETARY?
now the same name is inside
Navy Looks to Restore P-8A Procurement to 117 Aircraft
The Navy is trying to restore its program of record for the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to 117 aircraft by 2018, the Navy’s program manager said.
“It’s the [Navy] Department’s goal to return to the full program of record,” Capt. Tony Rossi, the maritime patrol reconnaissance aircraft program manager, told reporters March 28.
The current P-8A program of record for the U.S. Navy is 109 aircraft, Rossi said, down from 117 as a result of budget caps over the last few years.
In the Navy’s fiscal 2017 Request for Additional Appropriations, the service requested six additional P-8As, which would accelerate fielding and “start to get us to the 117,” Rossi said.
Boeing had delivered 53 P-8As to the U.S. Navy as of March 28, as well as two to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The total under contract to date is 88, including eight for the RAAF. The RAAF has ordered a total of 12 P-8As.The U.K. Royal Air Force and the Royal Norwegian Air Force are procuring nine and five, respectively. The Indian Navy has received eight P-8I Neptune versions through commercial sales and has ordered four more.
Raytheon radar executes first ballistic missile test
After a series of previous successes, Raytheon’s AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) successfully searched, acquired, and tracked a ballistic missile during the first dedicated ballistic missile defense exercise at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF), the company announced March 31.
Tad Dickenson, Raytheon’s director of the AMDR program, indicated that “all systems were green” and the successes seen at the PMRF are “significant achievements and a testament to the expertise and commitment of this government and Raytheon team.”
The AN/SPY-6 remains on track for delivery to DDG 51 Flight III. After completing several milestones throughout the radar’s advancement, it will transition to low-rate initial production. The AN/SPY-6(V) is the first scalable radar built with radar modular assemblies, also known as radar building blocks, which are standalone radars that can be grouped together to build a radar of any size. Because of this, the radar is capable of increasing battlespace, situational awareness, and reaction time thanks to the greater capacity in range, sensitivity, and discrimination accuracy.
The AMDR will replace SPY-1D radars on new Aegis warships.The scalable sensor – meant to scale up for larger warships with more installed power and down for smaller vessels – is key to the Aegis system’s ability to track and defeat enemy air and ballistic missile targets.
So yesterday I voiced my opinion on the claims push for F15C/D retirement but why is there a case for it?
Center Fuselage Rebuild Could Be F-15C/D Achilles’ Heel
U.S. Air Force considers major F-15C life-extension too costly
Mar 31, 2017
Air Combat Command (ACC) chief Gen. Mike Holmes says it could cost $30-40 million per aircraft to keep the Eagle soaring beyond the late 2020s, including rebuilding the center fuselage section, among other refurbishments. “We’re probably not going to do that,” he tells Aviation Week.
The better answer, he says, is to rapidly begin buying more fighter aircraft, at least 100 per year. That includes ramping up
WANTED: F-15C SUCCESSOR
F-15C role could initially be assumed by AESA-equipped
Penetrating Counter-Air would free up
Air Force mulls “Century Series”-like fighter procurement
OA-X is trailblazer for PCA/F-X acquisition
Service wants to buy 100 fighters per year
The F-15C is operated primarily by the Air National Guard (ANG) in support of the homeland defense mission, capable of intercepting and shooting down adversary fighters, bombers and cruise missiles. ANG Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice sent shockwaves through the F-15 community on March 22 when he admitted to Congress that plans are being hatched to retire the 235-aircraft single-seat F-15C fleet and the twin-seat D-model trainers in favor of Lockheed Martin F-16s upgraded with active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radars.
In December, the Air Force put
The ANG has an urgent operational need to install AESA radars on 72 of its F-16s, delivered in batches of 24 and 48 units depending on acquisition authority and funding beginning in fiscal 2018.
That plan has been talked about for some time, but Rice’s comments before Congress suggest these upgraded F-16s could, without serious capability gaps, fulfill the role now performed by the Eagle. But the F-15C carries eight
The service says the F-15 retirement proposal is just one of many being considered as part of its “planning choices” process for fiscal 2019 that began last fall.
Holmes says the F-15 remains capable, but the cost of rebuilding the center fuselage section will likely be too great.
The F-15 program office at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, which supports the F-15C/D and F-15E Strike Eagle fleets, has been working to keep the type flying through 2045 via capability and structural upgrades, including a wing replacement effort in 2022-28.
Raytheon began upgrading the Eagle’s radar to the APG-63(V)3 AESA configuration in 2010. Last November,
Boeing points out that no formal decision has been taken, and it continues to promote “cost-effective” capability upgrades to the service, but there are capacity concerns, since too few F-22s were purchased before the line was shut down in 2012.
“The F-15C was specifically designed for the air superiority mission,” Boeing says. “It has an undefeated, combat-proven record and has enough service life to continue flying for years to come.”
ACC says it is developing a 30-year aviation plan that extends into the mid-2030s, and these types of force structure proposals are being considered as part of that road map. Holmes says since Operation Desert Storm 25 years ago, the Air Force has been buying too few aircraft, approximately 20 per year, mainly the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35, which took painfully long to deliver and cost too much. The average age of the fighter force is now 27-28 years. The F-22 buy was truncated at 187, compared to the original Cold War request of 750, and the F-35 still is not mature.