Northrop Grumman bags $255m MQ-4C Triton production contract
The US Naval Air Systems Command has awarded Northrop Grumman a $255 million contract for the Lot 3 low-rate initial production of three MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft.
The contract will also include trade studies and tooling in support of the Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office.
Work on the contract is expected to be completed by December 2021.
The MQ-4C Triton UAS is an unmanned, unarmed, remotely controlled aircraft employed to enhance maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data collection to the fleet, providing both tactical and strategic mission capabilities as part of the US Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force.
The multiple-sensor unmanned aircraft is 48 feet long with a wingspan of 131 feet. The MQ-4C Triton UAS will conduct operations over water, with most operations occurring over international waters 12 miles or more offshore.
Northrop Grumman delivered the first operational MQ-4C Triton aircraft to the US Navy facility at Point Mugu in November this and was set to deliver a second one by the end of the year.
The first two operational Triton aircraft are scheduled to deploy to Guam in 2018.
just not to forget what's going on now
Congress passed another continuing resolution to keep the government open until Jan. 19, inserting into the bill an additional $4.7 billion in missile defense-related spending but
This year, Fiscal Year 2018, began with a continuing resolution, which was extended just before it expired on Dec. 8. Lawmakers then punted the decision two weeks, and last night Congress again pushed their tough budget decisions down the road by four more weeks.
In addition to extending the CR,
The bill adds nearly $4.7 billion for missile defense-related expenditures, including the McCain and Fitzgerald repair funds – both ships were equipped with ballistic missile defense capabilities and conducted BMD patrols in the Pacific – $1.24 billion for various Defense Department-wide procurement efforts “to detect, defeat, and defend against the use of ballistic missiles,” $1 billion for defense-wide BMD research efforts, $884 million for Army missile procurement, $288 million for Air Force “other” procurement to support BMD, $12 million for Air Force missile procurement, $255 million for Air Force BMD research activities, $60 million for Navy BMD research, $20 million for Army BMD research, $18.8 million for Air Force BMD operations and maintenance activities, $23.7 million for Defense Department-wide BMD O&M activities, and $200 million for construction of a missile field in Alaska.
Aside from those BMD spending lines, under the CR the Defense Department will continue to be limited to 2017 spending levels – meaning no new programs can start and spending levels for individual programs cannot increase – which is bad news for Navy shipbuilding and ship maintenance.
Similarly, the Navy told USNI News on Dec. 8, in the short term, “the Navy believes it can manage the ship maintenance program without canceling any availabilities. If the CR were extended beyond late January 2018, the Navy may delay the induction of 10 ships, which will exacerbate the planned ship maintenance in FY18, and will slip ship availabilities into FY19, further impacting that plan.”
“Using tools such as split-funding contract line items and minimally funding Navy Working Capital Fund activities, the Navy has managed not to defer any availabilities during the current CR period. However, the following FY18 ship availabilities will be considered for schedule slip if the CR were to be extended through six months,” the Navy statement continued, listing at-risk availabilities for: USS Coronado (LCS-4), set to begin maintenance on Dec. 15 in San Diego; USS Port Royal (CG-73), set to begin maintenance on Dec. 22 in Hawaii; USS Princeton (CG-59), set to begin maintenance on Dec. 25 in San Diego; USS San Diego (LPD-22), set to begin maintenance on Dec. 31 in San Diego; USS Carter Hall (LSD-50), set to begin maintenance on Jan. 22 in Norfolk, Va.; USS Oscar Austin (DDG-79), set to begin maintenance on Feb. 2 in Norfolk; USS Vella Gulf (CG-72), set to begin maintenance on Feb. 19 in Norfolk; USS James E. Williams (DDG-95), set to begin maintenance on Feb. 19 in Norfolk; USS Mahan (DDG-72), set to begin maintenance on Feb. 19 in Norfolk; and USS Chafee (DDG-90), set to begin maintenance on Feb. 26 in Hawaii.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement Thursday night criticizing Congress for failing to pass a proper 2018 budget for the military, noting that “as we wait another four weeks in hopes that Congressional leaders negotiate a compromise, the military will work overtime to keep an already dire situation from getting worse. Readiness will continue to decline. Service members will not receive scheduled training. Ship maintenance backlogs will grow. All of this in the face of a world that only gets more dangerous and where threats continue to rise. As competitors like China, Russia, and North Korea continue to rapidly advance their military and modernize their weapons, the U.S. military will wait.
“The additional four week Continuing Resolution will have real consequences for the Department of Defense. It will prevent 48 new starts and 24 production increases. One particularly troublesome example of this is munitions. Earlier this year, military leaders all stressed the need to repair the munitions shortfall. … The extended Continuing Resolution will cause delays to critical weapon systems, as DOD will be unable to award contracts to systems such as the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System or the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile,” McCain’s statement continues.
“In a time when more service members are dying in routine accidents than in combat, and our sailors are working 100-hour weeks, asking the military to wait another four weeks for adequate funding is unacceptable—and it is a dereliction of the first and foremost duty of Congress to provide for the common defense.”
The actual replacement at this time is the MQ9 Reaper. Which is the son of the Predator you might say as the two are very similar in layout but the Reaper has a far heavier mission payload then the Predator. Predator was after all originally not meant to do what it ended up doing and was a real feather weight that packed a punch. I mean it only weighted half a ton empty. It's loaded weight is that of most compact cars.
... and now I read related (but vague) USNI News NAVSEA: FY 2019 Navy Budget Request Will Include More Shipbuilding, Life Extensions to Help Grow Fleet
source:The upcoming Fiscal Year 2019 budget request will begin to reveal the Navy’s plans for building up the fleet – both through new shipbuilding investments and through a plan to keep current surface ships in service longer, the head of Naval Sea Systems Command told USNI News in an interview.
Reaching 355 ships, the requirement laid out by the Navy in December 2016, “is a primary focus of the Navy,” NAVSEA Commander Vice Adm. Tom Moore told USNI News.
“We’re having ongoing discussions about how we’re going to do this. I think you’ll see the budget that comes out for ‘19 is going to significantly add to shipbuilding, and you’ll see that we’re leaning forward on the looking at what we can do to SLEP (service life extension program) some ships and also make the necessary investments in the shipyards. It’s really an integrated plan,” Moore said in a Dec. 18 interview at Washington Navy Yard.
Moore said the Navy began studying what it would take to build to 355 ships when President Donald Trump was elected and expressed early support for that larger fleet. New construction alone would take into the 2040s, Moore said, which doesn’t help the Navy address urgent needs around the globe today. He said the service has spent the last six months studying SLEPs for current surface ships, as well as other options, and said a SLEP for some destroyers and amphibious ships is “technically feasible.”
“Both the secretary of the Navy and the [chief of naval operations] are very interested in a program that would extend the service life of the DDGs in particular. It has great interest from the Hill as well. I think we’ve come through the technical hurdles and it’s just at this point, like everything else, it’s balancing everything else we want to get done in the budget. But I think, like I said, when the ‘19 budget comes out I think you’ll see some things that will tell you we’re ready to make an initial investment in some of these ships to keep them around a little bit longer,” Moore said.
“Without getting way too far in front of Navy leadership here, it’s got to be part of our overall strategy to get to 355. It’s the only way you can get there – instead of getting there in 30 years, it’s the only way you can get there in say maybe 10 to 15 years. So I think that’s something we really want to go look at.”
He said the 2016 force structure assessment laid out not just the 355-ship figure but also a breakdown of how many of each type of ship the Navy will need going forward, so the SLEP needs to keep the right ships around. Moore said destroyers and attack submarines are two key parts of the fleet the Navy needs to grow – with DDGs being a good candidate for the SLEP but SSNs relying on new construction to increase their numbers.
As for the specifics of which hulls would be kept in the fleet for how many years beyond their planned decommissioning date, Moore said it would largely depend on their major docking availability schedule.
“If the funds were available, what we’d like to do is, how long we keep the ship would be dependent on when their next major docking availability is. We know once you put it in a major docking availability you can pretty much keep them for eight to 12 more years,” the vice admiral said.
“If the next major docking availability is five years in the past, then maybe we don’t keep them quite as long. I think we’ll use the docking, when they dock next and when we want to make that investment, as kind of the snap of the chalk line as to how far we would keep the platforms. We’ve walked through that, hull by hull, for all the DDGS and all the amphibious ships, so we know pretty well on a hull-by-hull basis how long we could keep each of the ships. You could always keep them longer, but you’re balancing how long do you want to keep them versus how much it’s going to cost. So if you’re willing to make the investment of the docking availability, the cost over the next eight to 10 years is relatively inexpensive compared to buying a new one.”
In terms of the capability those DDGs would bring to the fleet, “as long as the combat system can be relevant, there’s no technical reason not to keep them around. And we know today the DDGs, the combat system comes with Baseline 9 and vertical launch and open architecture, they’re out there doing amazing missions today,” Moore said.
Moore said in the interview that the FY 2019 budget would support this SLEP effort as well as new construction, noting that “without getting too much out in front, from what I’ve seen there’s a strong emphasis on shipbuilding and it’s clear where the administration is, it’s clear where the secretary of the Navy is. I think you’ll see we’re progressing down the path we’d like to get on. It’s always a challenge with competing demands on the budget, and the competing demands in this town, all the other things we’d like to get done. I think the Navy continues to make a compelling case why we need more ships. … I think you’ll see ‘19 will be better in terms of the number of ships we’re building.”
Lastly, Moore said that if the Navy takes steps to increase the size of the fleet, it will become even more important to recapitalize the public naval shipyards to support a great demand for ship repair and maintenance.
The Navy will submit to Congress in February a plan to overhaul the four public yards. Moore said the plan looks at spending about $10 billion over 20 years to optimize the layout of the yards for modern ships, upgrade equipment, replace aging drydocks and in some cases build new and larger drydocks for ships such as the Virginia-class submarine with the Virginia Payload Module addition that would not fit in existing drydocks.