Defense Tech Wire: USAF planes, laser JDAM

U.S. Trident II production occurs the conventional way

While fictional movie character Tony Stark of “Iron Man” fame made it look easy to make a missile-shooting armored exoskeleton while in captivity, in reality missile production is a complicated process requiring many resources. And apparently – per a $236 million U.S. Navy contract – semi-namesake real-life company Charles Stark Draper Laboratories, Inc. is slated to render alteration materials for the Trident II (D5) missile guidance systems’ production (Figure 1). Work will ensue in El Segundo, CA; Clearwater, FL; Cambridge, MA; Pittsfield, MA; and Tarrytown, NY, and is anticipated for fulfillment by September 2016.

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Figure 1: A $236 million U.S. Navy/Charles Stark Draper Laboratories, Inc. contract calls for alteration materials for Trident II (D5) guidance systems’ production. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Benjamin Crossley

sensors to be onboard more military aircraft

The Boeing Company’s Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition (Laser JDAM) sensors will soon find themselves on more U.S. military aircraft, per a $12.5 million U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)/Boeing contract. JDAM is a guidance kit that is “low cost” and transforms “existing unguided freefall bombs into near precision-guided weapons,” according to the Boeing website. JDAM enables moving target, relocatable target, and maritime threat prosecution. The laser sensor added to traditional JDAM is a relatively straightforward option to implement for pilots who have been using conventional JDAM, Boeing reports.

Northrop Grumman to upgrade production pods

The U.S. Air Force’s pods are due for some sprucing up by Northrop Grumman Technical Services, thanks to a recent $52 million pod upgrade program contract. The contract calls for “nonrecurring engineering services for [the] engineering manufacturing development phase,” prototype upgraded pods (4),and modified support equipment sets (2); “low rate initial production support equipment will be a basic contract option manufacturing development phase,” according to the DoD website. Northrop Grumman will also provide anywhere from 1 to 12 equipment kits for production pod support. Work occurs in Warner Robins, Georgia, and completion is anticipated in April 2017. The contracting activity is Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

Test sets ensure USAF planes are in tip-top shape

All USAF aircraft must have their flight control systems tested; thus, a recent $8 million contract between the USAF and Custom Manufacturing & Engineering, Inc. has the latter providing the former with flight control systems test sets that will be utilized by every Air Force program (Figure 2). “The flight control system test set tests, calibrates, and troubleshoots weapons systems equipment with reduced vertical separation minimum,” the DoD website says. The test sets additionally generate static and regulated pilot pressures for use in analyzing pneumatic instruments, auxiliary equipment, and air data systems of the aircraft. Work is slated for completion in Pinellas Park, FL, by April 2018. The contracting activity is Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.

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Figure 2: A recent $8 million USAF contract has Custom Manufacturing & Engineering, Inc. providing flight control systems test sets to be utilized by every USAF program. Pictured: The HH-60G Pave Hawk, U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Sean Mitchell

hardware and software changes coming

Though they might appear identical at first glance, the U.S. Navy granted Lockheed Martin Corp. two different-yet-similar contract modifications on the same day: 1) A $68 million modification for changes to baseline software and hardware configurations for the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter/JSF (Figure 3); the government-requested alterations include short take-off vertical landing () and conventional landing and take-off (USAF) as a modification to an LRIP II contract. Funding comes from the U.S. Navy and USAF. 2) A nearly $46 million F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter contract modification to an LRIP III contract also calls for baseline software and hardware changes, as required by the United Kingdom and the USMC for short take-off vertical landing. Funds are provided by the U.S. Navy and the U.K.

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Figure 3: Two recent contract modifications have Lockheed Martin making baseline software and hardware configuration changes to the JSF under LRIP II and III contracts. U.S. Navy photo of Lightning II JSF test aircraft courtesy of Lockheed Martin

tactical jamming system’s successor gets more mature

A recent $20.5 million Naval Air Systems Command/BAE Systems, Information and Electronic Systems Integration, Inc. contract modification stipulates that BAE renders next-generation jammer-supportive technology maturation. The next-generation jammer is, logically, slated as the successor to the aging tactical jamming system dubbed “ALQ-99.” Efforts under the contract comprise research to enable future airborne electronic attack abilities proffered by an airborne stand-off/mod-escort platform that is tactical-sized. Thus, BAE will give Naval Air Systems Command a Concept Demonstrator (CD) design in addition to the needed mature technology elements that will support design of the Concept Demonstrator. Work takes place in Baltimore, MD; Lansdale, PA; Cincinnati, OH; Melbourne, FL; and Nashua, NH, and is anticipated to be done by April 2013.

spotlighted in contract and modification

The U.S. Army and General Dynamics Land Systems put pen to paper twice on one day, to benefit the venerable Abrams tank. First, a $31 million contract calls for “the procurement of 46 Abrams M1A2 system enhancement package V2 vehicles (Figure 4),” with work slated for Anniston, AL; Scranton, PA; Lima, OH; and Tallahassee, FL, according to the DoD website. Work is anticipated for completion in November 2014. Second, a separate contract modification has General Dynamics Land Systems providing technical services for the Abrams Tank Program. Work is due for completion this December.

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Figure 4: The U.S. Army and General Dynamics Land Systems signed a contract and a modification providing vehicles and technical services for Abrams tanks. M1A2 SEP V2 tanks photo by Mollie Miller, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs, U.S. Army

to develop a health-monitoring system for warfighters

And the (contract) award goes to … Arizona State University (ASU). Specifically, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency recently awarded ASU a Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) contract comprising a 12-month performance base period with a $9 million value in addition to a 36-month $21,500 option. ASU’s mission is to design a fieldable, chip-based, warfighter health-monitoring system prototype that can identify health changes of the warfighter (Figure 5). The goal is early infection detection. The contract’s work will occur at Tempe, AZ.

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Figure 5: ASU will design a fieldable, chip-based, warfighter health-monitoring system prototype per a recent contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cassandra Monroe