US Military News, Reports, Data, etc.


Tyrant King
Block III Super Hornet upgrades to begin this spring

  • 22 DECEMBER, 2017

The first US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to receive service life modification upgrades will arrive at Boeing’s St. Louis facility next April and will leave with an additional 3,000 flight hours of service life, Boeing’s vice president of F/A-18 programmes tells FlightGlobal.

Unlike the legacy Hornet fleet, the Super Hornet modification will not entail one large replacement such as the centre barrel, says Dan Gillian. Instead, modifications will be distributed across the aircraft with a focus on corrosion, a perennial hurdle for the carrier-based aircraft.

After testing two F/A-18 “learning aircraft,” Boeing found corrosion was well maintained on Super Hornets that fly regularly but cropped up often on aircraft that had been grounded for a while. Boeing will not change materials on the aircraft but plans to use data analytics to predict how the navy should handle varied corrosion issues, Gillian says.

“We think the first 30-ish airplanes that we get our hands will help us dial in our data analytics predictive models to make those unknown things known,” he says. “There will be a lot of learning early in the program, which is one of the reasons the first of those airplanes is going to come to St Louis where we have the core of the engineering team.”

Once the service life modification (SLM) programme is stable, Boeing will add Block III capabilities onto the modified aircraft around 2022, he adds. That package will include conformal fuel tanks, Raytheon APG-63(V)3 radar, Block IV integrated defensive electronic countermeasures and a Block II integrated defensive electronic countermeasures system (IDECM).

Navy pilots will fly a stealthier F/A-18 after the modifications are complete, though the fighter will complement rather than compete with the Lockheed Martin F-35. Besides a fresh coating and painting, Gillian would not elaborate on engine inlet changes that could improve the F/A-18's stealth characteristics.

“Super Hornet is a pretty stealthy airplane today,” Gillian says. “This is low level improvements that are pretty simple to make, buying a little bit of margin, not trying to drastically change the airplane.”

Block III will be initially introduced through new aircraft off the line, followed by the Block II to III conversions, Gillian says. The president’s fiscal year 2018 budget funded 80 Super Hornets over the next five years, with 14 aircraft in FY2018 and 66 new Block III aircraft spread across FY2019 through FY2022.

The FY2018 budget also included about $265 million in research funding to support Block III capabilities including the conformal fuel tanks, advanced cockpit system, IRST21 (infrared search and track) and AESA radar upgrades. Boeing has been developing the advanced cockpit system for more than a year and plans to fly both the ACS and conformal fuel tanks with the navy in 2018, Gillian says. The Block III F/A-18 will also come equipped with Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT). The non-stealthy data-link is already a programme of record of the navy’s E2-D Hawkeye early warning aircraft and Boeing is now focusing on delivering the technology to the EA-18G Growler and Super Hornet, Gillian says.

Boeing has retooled the Block III concept to move away from a configuration that once included an enclosed weapons pod, now favoring a design that would allow the navy to hang a variety of weapons on the aircraft. But Gillian was also careful not to characterize the newest F/A-18 as a bomb truck.

“I think that’s old parlance for the super hornet’s mission,” he says. “I think both of the navy’s next [generation] fighters will play multiple role in air-to-air and air-to-ground but both are networked and survivable.”
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Yesterday at 5:47 PM
Today at 8:44 AM

"In the current bout of brinkmanship in Congress, the Defense Department could end up having to file a proposed budget for 2019 before the defense budget for 2018 is finally passed and signed by President Donald Trump."
Budget Battles Create More Risk for Military: Shanahan
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sorta update:
"Before heading to his estate on Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, the president signed a tax overhaul bill as well as a
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known as a continuing resolution to keep the government running through Jan. 19."
Trump Signs Bill Adding Funds for Missile Defense, Destroyer Fixes
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no I skimmed through Congress Rushes Pentagon $4B for Missile Defense Improvements
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thought I could share here the NavalTechnology article I now read:
Standard Missile-6
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The Standard Missile-6 (SM-6), also known as RIM-174, is a ship-launched anti-air and anti-surface interceptor missile developed by Raytheon Company. The SM-6 is part of Raytheon’s STANDARD missile family, which also includes Standard Missile-1, Standard Missile-2, and Standard Missile-3.

The SM-6 is the first of its kind missile with anti-air, anti-surface, and sea-based terminal defence capabilities, which enable it to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles.

The first SM-6 missile was deployed by the US Navy in December 2013, while approximately 250 SM-6 missiles have been delivered to the US Navy to date.

SM-6 variants
The SM-6 missile is being developed in three variants namely SM-6 Block I, SM-6 Block IA, and SM-6 Dual I.

The SM-6 Block I variant was initially deployed on-board the
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destroyer, which is built around the aegis combat system. The new variant is powered by a highly sophisticated rocket booster and advanced rocket motors. It has gone through a number of tests and has intercepted a couple of cruise missiles successfully.

The SM-6 Block IA has advanced inbuilt hardware and software systems to overcome the technical glitches involved in the previous variant. It successfully engaged a subsonic cruise missile during a test launch in 2014.

The SM-6 Dual I variant is specifically developed to strike a ballistic missile in the final stages of its flight. It is embedded with dual capability, which enables it to counter both ballistic and cruise missile targets. It will become an integral part of the US Navy’s Sea-Based Terminal programme.

Orders and deliveries of SM-6 missile
The US Navy placed a contract worth $93m with Raytheon for the low-rate initial production (LRIP) of the SM-6 missile in September 2009. The first missile was delivered to the US Navy in April 2011.

In September 2013, Raytheon received a $243m contract to manufacture 89 new SM-6 missiles, enabling the full-rate production of the missile.

Raytheon was awarded a $235m contract by the US Navy to supply the advanced SM-6 missiles and associated spare parts in January 2017. Deliveries of the same are expected to start in 2018. The company’s production centre in Alabama supports the final assembly of SM-6 missiles.

Raytheon secured regulatory approval from the US Department of Defence for exporting SM-6
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to the US partner nations across the globe. The company is expected to receive orders from Australia, South Korea, and Japan.

Development and testing of Standard Missile-6
The Block I variant successfully engaged a cruise missile target during an initial test in 2014. It recorded two successful test flights simultaneously in 2015, demonstrating its ability to intercept targets.

The SM-6 Dual I destroyed a short-range ballistic missile target at sea during a first-of-its-kind test in August 2015. Two missiles were successfully test-fired against a medium-range ballistic missile target at sea in December 2016.

In August 2017, the US Navy test-fired a SM-6 Dual I missile from the aegis combat system. The missile successfully destroyed a ballistic missile in its terminal phase.

After deployment in 2013, the SM-6 underwent rigour tests under the US Navy and secured initial operating capability (IOC) in 2013. It is expected to obtain full operational capability (FOC) in 2018.

Standard Missile-6 design and capabilities
The SM-6 is designed as a surface-to-air missile that can be launched from a MK 41 vertical launch system (VLS) canister of a carrier ship. It is an extended range active missile (ERAM) that uses the sophisticated signal processing and guidance technologies of the AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile).

The SM-6 missile has a length of 6.6m and diameter of 0.5m. It weighs 1,500kg and carries a 64kg blast fragmentation warhead. The interceptor uses semi-active homing and active homing guidance to achieve accurate engagement of the assigned targets.

The SM-6 missile leverages the first stage propulsion system of Mk 72, which was developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne. It also integrates a moveable nozzle thrust vector control (TVC) system.

The second stage of the propulsion system uses Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Mk 104 dual thrust rocket motor (DTRM).
according to DefenseNews Pentagon expects on-time budget for 2019 but Trump’s ‘masterpiece’ will be in 2020
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The Pentagon expects to deliver its fiscal year 2019 budget request to the Hill on time, but a much-awaited defense buildup may not happen until fiscal year 2020, the department’s No. 2 said Thursday.

“I expect the budget to come out on time. That’s the plan that we’re on track to perform to, so that’s early February,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters at the Pentagon. “We’re hoping the ’18 budget comes out before the ’19 budget but we’ll see how that plays out.”

Asked specifically if a continuing resolution through January 19 –
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– would delay getting the budget on time, Shanahan said “I don’t see why it would.”

At the same time, the deputy seemed to temper expectations for the 2019 budget, which industry has expected to include a
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for defense spending.

While FY19 will include a “step up” in the defense budget, FY20 will be the “masterpiece,” Shanahan pledged, in part because of the logistics surrounding the recently released National Security Strategy and its follow-ons, the National Defense Strategy, Ballistic Missile Defense Review and Nuclear Posture Review.

The NDS is expected in January, with the BMDR and NPR to follow in February, around the same time the White House will unveil its FY19 budget request. Because the strategy and review documents were being organized at the same time as the FY19 budget, there simply was not enough time to full incorporate strategic decisions from those studies into the upcoming budget, Shanahan said.

“A big portion of my time in the next twelve months will be to make sure [the FY20 budget] is the masterpiece. It is probably the next biggest step we can take to make sure we can’t unwind the strategy,” he said.

Shanahan declined to give details about what the FY20 budget might look like, aside from reiterating that it will be driven with the NDS “firmly planted on the hill in front of our brains.”

But he did acknowledge that it will likely feature “many of the bets in terms of innovation and
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will take place,” adding that the technology being considered is “really cool.”
Thursday at 3:47 PM
I've been following here so called B-52 engines replacement story; the last part:
Dec 3, 2017
while Now The Air Force Wants New Engines For Its B-52s That Burn 40 Percent Less Fuel
December 20, 2017
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... and Air Force solidifies options for B-52 engine replacement
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The Air Force has laid out three potential plans for replacing the B-52’s engines, a key step for keeping its oldest bomber in service into the 2050s.

For almost two decades, the Air Force has studied whether and how to replace the B-52’s Pratt & Whitney TF33-PW-103 engines, eight of which have powered each Stratofortress since the 1960s.

Now the clock is counting down for the Air Force to make a decision, as age, obsolescence and diminishing sources for spare parts could make current engines unsustainable as early as 2030, according to slides presented at a Dec. 12 industry day.

The service appears to have settled on broad requirements for the engines.

First, it wants new — not refurbished — systems and intends to maintain an eight-engine configuration on each B-52, knocking out competitors who have floated a four-engine solution. The engines must be able to be integrated without having to significantly rework the B-52’s wings, although the service expects some design changes to structures such as struts and nacelles may be necessary.

Additionally, the service wants improved reliability and at least 20% greater fuel efficiency over the current TF33, while maintaining its takeoff performance and combat ceiling. It also is interested in a new power architecture that could support an increased number of power generators, as well as new digital engine control wiring, the document stated.

While the service has not solidified whether it will move onto a program of record, it has requested “initial seed money” in the 2018 budget and has done market research that could inform a final acquisition strategy. The service is considering three ways of procuring the engines.

First, it could contract with the engine integrator, and have that company choose the engine . Another option is for the Air Force to award contracts to the engine integrator and engine manufacturer in parallel.

It could also move forward with a more complicated two-step plan, where the government would award a contract to an engine integrator and require the engine integrator to work together with potential engine providers on what the service calls an “engine integration approach.” Eventually, engine manufacturers would submit proposals based on that work, and the government would downselect to a single vendor.

After choosing an engine manufacturer and integrator, the Air Force could begin outfitting two B-52 test aircraft with engines as early as fiscal year 2022, according to a notional schedule. From there, it would acquire 74 more engines sets from FY2026 to 2034, enough to equip the entire inventory of 76 B-52s.

Leasing options

Air Force Global Strike Command believes it will need to continue flying the Stratofortress as late as the 2050s, and the platform will be a key testbed for the service’s
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, a new air-launched cruise missile that can be outfitted with either a nuclear or conventional warhead.

Because the Air Force’s budget continues to be constricted, the service had considered using an alternative funding strategy, such as leasing, to procure new engines for the B-52. The service did not discuss potential paths forward during the industry day, but in a Dec. 2 interview with Defense News, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, the service’s top uniformed acquisition official, said the service is still considering its options.

“We’re going to look at is there some kind of a lease that we can do. Do we want to continue to just buy? What are all those strategies we went to do and what’s the most economical way and most effective way to modernize to get the mission done?” he said.

Historically speaking, the Air Force has little experience using alternative funding agreements to procure aircraft engines, he added. “If we go down this path, it would be a new approach. it would be different.”

The industry day was attended by B-52 prime contractor Boeing, who will likely be vying for the systems integrator position. Also in attendance were the three engine primes most likely to compete for the contract — Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce and GE Aviation — and a number of other industry participants, including Northrop Grumman, United Technologies Corp. and Safran USA, which makes turbofan engines and engine components.

Pratt & Whitney has historically promoted an overhaul of its TF34 as a lower-cost alternative to new engines. However, the company could put forward a new engine if the service makes that a requirement, Matthew Bromberg, Pratt & Whitney’s military engines business, told Defense News in September.

Meanwhile, Rolls Royce has already tapped its BR725, a variant of the F130 that powers the E-11 and C-37 aircraft, as a potential offering.
The F35 doesn't have conformal tanks. Conformal tanks are supposed to be less draggy then conventional drop tanks but you are still changing the structure of the fuselage in a manor that is not easily reverted
I meant the aircraft in general; I posted right after I had read AFB's pledge of support for LockMart in
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter News, Videos and pics Thread Today at 2:11 AM
if you hear me

thought it was obvious from 32 minutes ago:
... I have my suspicions?
... which you don't appear to have in F-35 case LOL
and, as I can see, it wasn't LOL
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Tyrant King
I know what you meant but as the FA18E/F is a known quantity Brat was not questioning the Rhino Hornet but the modifications made which are untested. F35 is rapidly moving to the acid test of the program when it would be full operationally deployed.