Monthly Archives: February 2013

By morning of March 1, 2013 as mandatory budget cuts will take effect, the US DOD will enter a ruthless, potentially devastating cycle of budget cutting that will be further exacerbated with the planned cutbacks mandated by the sequester. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Pentagon leaders said today the planned cuts could continue and affect military preparedness, readiness and acquisitions for years to come.

The combination of sequestration in fiscal year (FY) 2013 reduced discretionary budget caps in FY 2014-2021, and a possible year-long continuing resolution (CR) are creating a ‘perfect storm’ that have already brought the military acquisition and the whole defense marketplace to a standstill.

These cuts impact almost all programs – large or small, driving potential layoffs of hundreds of thousands in the military and defense industries in the US. “We will have to address a revised defense strategy based on a post-sequester budget environment.” Lt Gen. Charles R. Davis, USAF Military Deputy, Office of the
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) told the Committee, “This will require tough strategic choices to ensure the Air Force balances competing requirements across our enduring contributions – Air and Space Superiority; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; Rapid Global Mobility; Global Strike; Command and Control.”

The reduction of about $8 billion in Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2013 investment accounts due to sequestration are also far reaching – with impacts to naval aviation, ground-warfare systems, strike weapons, research and development, shipbuilding and the associated support, training, and outfitting required for current and future readiness. Vice Admiral Allen G. Myers, USN Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Integration of Capabilities and Resources (N8), U.S. Navy said the Navy’s $7.8 billion dollar sequestration investment reduction would potentially impact over 100,000 private sector jobs across the nation considering direct and indirect impacts to the economy.

Defense Industrial Base to Suffer the Most

According to Lt. General James O. Barclay III, Deputy Chief of Staff Army G-8, if the planned measures will take place, the Army is looking at FY 2013 budget cut of $12 billion, of which half will be cut in operations and maintenance, mostly form the active forces. The cuts will affect the careers of quarter million civilians across all Army levels. Additional $6 billion in cuts will be taken from procurement and construction, research, development and testing. General Barclay said these cuts would be applied equally across over 400 Army programs, causing ripple effects throughout the US industrial base, impacting over 300 companies in 40 states. “The impacts to the industrial base grow in magnitude as the reductions cascade down through the network of companies that support each program,” Barclay explained.

The industrial base that supports the US military will suffer a major blow, its consequences are yet unknown. Delayed weapon system production and cancelled maintenance and repair will immediately impact aircraft, missile, and land system manufacturers and our military industrial supplier base. “The projected loss of work in Fiscal Year 2013 alone will further stress smaller businesses that provide supplies and services to major manufacturers which have already been negatively impacted due to the general downward trend in defense spending.“ said Vice Admiral Allen G. Myers, USN, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Integration of Capabilities and Resources. “Assuming a nine-percent sequestration reduction for the March 1 and March 27, we project industry contract awards will be reduced by approximately $6.7 Billion Fiscal Year 2013.” Myers said.

According to Adm. Myers, many small businesses, which are often the sole source for aircraft, missile, and land-system components, may be driven to shut down if meaningful disruptions to planned workload occur. “Once these companies, their engineers and skilled workers move on to other work, they are hard and sometimes impossible to reconstitute, even if our national security requires it. With many weapon systems already at minimum sustaining rates and extended production runs, we are continually faced with the challenges of parts obsolescence that will be further exacerbated by sequestration and year-long CR disruptions.”

Myers added that it is not known how many suppliers have already decided, or plan to exit the defense market due to business base uncertainties driven by frequent CR, sequestration, and the prospect of nine years of continuing budget uncertainty. “When suppliers determine that they can no longer rely on future work, or conclude that the regulatory and contractual environment is unavailing to a reasonably predictable business base, they will adapt and may turn to other economic sectors.” Myers added.

“Despite our extreme disappointment that sequestration was not averted, we are by no means giving up the fight” Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion C. Blakey said after first steps implementing $85 billion budget cuts (about half in defense spending) took effect this morning. “On March 27, the Continuing Resolution for funding federal agencies through the current fiscal year will expire.  This is the next major opportunity for Congress and President Obama to halt the crisis that our industry has highlighted for nearly two years.  We urge our elected leaders to use this period to put a stop to the damage that sequestration is doing to our country” Blakey added.

Programs at Risk

Army procurement programs will experience reductions of roughly nine percent across the board. In his testimony, Gen. Barclay indicated among the programs to be hit immediately is the AH-64E Apache. He said this acquisition is a fixed cost program and reducing quantities means increasing cost due, in part, to fixed costs already incurred in conjunction with planned production this year. Another Army Aviation program to be hit is the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior replacement. The Army also expects at least six month production gap in the MQ-1 Grey Eagle program which could drive cost up. A delay in the acquisition of a new, high definition common sensor payload for the drone will also prevent fielding of essential Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance asset. Barclay also indicated that the cost of the Javelin Missile could also increase by 12 percent, if the Army buys less than the planned 400 units through 2013.

The impact of sequestration in Fiscal Year 2013 would result in a loss of more than $1.0 billion in aircraft production for the US Navy. The reductions will affect the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Bell Huey and Cobra Rotary-Wing Aircraft, Boeing P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye Surveillance Aircraft, and Vertical Take-Off Unmanned Aerial Aircraft (VTUAV), and the Boeing/Insitu Small Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle production lines. Further, the Department would delay the Initial Operating Capability (IOC) of VTUAV Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance in support of Special Operations Forces. Delays are also expected in the Joint Strike Fighter at-sea testing due to postponement of required ship modifications and integration activities.

Similarly, at the Navy, transitioning the Bell-Boeing MV-22 Osprey program into a multi-year procurement will be suspended, resulting in approximately $1.1 billion in additional program cost to deliver the same number of aircraft.

Due to sequestration our weapons and ammo procurement accounts will be reduced by approximately $450 million dollars. Impacts will occur to sea-strike and sea-shield weapons procurement that include a reduction of over 200 air-launched weapons for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat; more than 50 sea-launched weapons, including our front-line, deep-strike land-attack weapons; and nearly all of our ammo and direct attack munitions accounts. “Since many of our weapons programs are already at minimum sustaining rates, further quantity reductions will jeopardize the supplier base and drive higher unit production costs.” Myer said, adding that the Navy plans to further reduce procurement of acoustic device countermeasure systems impacting ship torpedo defense and reduce systems engineering and technical assistance oversight of our Mobile User Objective System (MUOS).

Marine Corps to Suffer ‘Disproportional Impact”

The entirety of the Marine Corps Fiscal Year 2013 ground material modernization investment is only $2.5 billion, comprising 12 percent of the baseline budget. Further reductions in ground investment accounts, although proportional to the other services in terms of a percentage reduction, will have disproportional impact on Marine Corps modernization and readiness, particularly after a decade of increased operational tempo.

“The impending sequestration will cause a cut of over $850 million dollars and delay efforts of multiple ground programs directly impacting delivery of future capabilities. “Lt. General John E. Wissler, USMC, Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources told the committee.

Examples for such cuts include reduced procurement and installation of safety and force protection modification kits on both the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement and Logistics Vehicle System Replacement trucks which will decrease overall fleet capability. Program delays to the Amphibious Combat Vehicle will result in the Marines being required to operate and maintain the already 40-year old Assault Amphibious Vehicle for at least the next decade.

Maintenance and Support Cuts Drive Long Term Damage

Lack of funding will virtually eliminate new depot maintenance orders for the third and fourth quarters of this year, causing further pressure on the suppliers of spare parts and equipment. These cuts will also have impact on the rate of reconditioning and reset of tactical wheeled vehicles, radios and other weapon systems. Disrupting reset programs could have long-term effect of three-to-four years as units are redeployed from Afghanistan. The BAE Systems M-109PIM (artillery modernization program) will also suffer from delays in proceeding to Low-rate Initial Production, scheduled for 2013. The Army expects up to two years delay in the development of the Alternative Warhead for the Guided MLRS rockets. Delays are also expected in the procurement of Mid-Tier Networking Vehicular Radios (MNVR).

According to Adm. Myers, a year-long CR and sequestration will lead to inefficiencies caused by loss of learning; productivity losses; cost increases driven by lengthening schedules; he added that increased burdens on military personnel and lower morale – all translates to reduced readiness. He said the civilian-hiring freeze and overtime restrictions in Naval Shipyards have already caused non-recoverable impacts to the shipyards’ ability to execute many assigned workloads and nuclear submarine availabilities while threatening to impact Docking Planned Incremental Availabilities for the USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) and the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

For the Navy, current CR restrictions and potential sequestration-driven decreases to naval aviation readiness would impact Fleet Replacement Squadrons (FRS), reduce rotary-wing readiness in support of swarming boat defense, airborne mine counter-measures and antisubmarine warfare, and cancel aircraft and engine depot inductions in the 3rd/4th quarter of Fiscal Year 2013. Depot cancellations jeopardize planned aircraft modernization, mission system software capability improvements, fatigue-life management, depot support, and our flight hour program Across the Department of Navy, there will be a total of 327 aircraft and over 1,200 engine modules that will miss induction in the 3rd/4th quarter of Fiscal Year 2013 due to CR and sequestration, with several years required to recover the backlog. If the forecast impacts were to occur, we would not be able to recover in a timely manner, even if funding were restored.

In the near-term, these cuts will drive maintenance and training programs that will have effect in the future. Long-term, the fiscal challenges will constrain the Navy’s ability to invest in future capability and capacity, “If a strict year-long CR and sequestration occur, we will not be able to afford in the future the Navy and Marine Corps we have today” Myers concluded.

Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated the ability of its DAGR laser guided rocket to launch from a ground vehicle during a series of flight tests at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. During the test, DAGR and two unguided Hydra 70 rockets were launched from a pedestal launcher mounted in the bed of a Lockheed Martin prototype Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). DAGR locked onto the laser spot two seconds after launch, flew 5 km down range and impacted the target within 1 meter of the laser spot. The unguided Hydra 70 rockets were launched down the center of the range, and flew 521 and 2,600 meters, respectively.

The company has conducted 40 DAGR flight tests demonstrating target engagement ranges of 1 to 5.1 kilometers. DAGR has been launched from multiple HELLFIRE-equipped rotary-wing platforms, including the AH-64D Apache, AH-6 Little Bird and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior.

“DAGR delivers a high-precision defensive capability to the surface combat arena when paired with the pedestal launcher and a mobile ground platform like the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV),” said Ken Musculus, director of close combat systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

DAGR missile launched from JLTV prototype. Photo: Lockheed Martin

DAGR missile launched from JLTV prototype. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The pedestal launcher used for the test features four M299 launcher rails, associated cables and electronics, providing full compatibility with HELLFIRE II and DAGR missiles. The ground/vehicle-mounted pedestal launcher was used in three guided flight tests and five flights in total. DAGR’s rail-mounted canister attaches to the pedestal launch rails as it would on a standard HELLFIRE launcher designed for aircraft.

DAGR incorporates proven HELLFIRE II laser homing seeker into a 2.75-inch/70 millimeter guidance kit that integrates seamlessly with legacy Hydra-70 rockets. The result is a laser-guided missile that puts a 10-pound warhead within one meter of the laser spot, defeating high-value, non-armored or lightly-armored targets while minimizing collateral damage. DAGR’s lock-on-before launch mode ensures the missile identifies the correct target prior to launch.

The Brazilian Air Force is upgrading its E-99 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft. SAAB Defence and security company announced today it has received an order from the Brazilian company Embraer Defense and Security, for the upgrade of the Erieye AEW&C Mission System. The total order amounts to about US$60 million (380 MSEK.)

The contract part of the modernization programme for the Embraer 145 AEW&C, named E-99 (formerly designated R-99A) in the Brazilian Air Force, slated for delivered from 2014 until 2017. The first system for Brazil on the Embraer 145 became operational 2002. Erieye is also operational on ERJ-145 in Mexico and Greece. India has also selected a specially modified configuration of the ERJ-145 platform for its indigenous AEW&C program.

The procurement of three AEW&C aircraft was part of the SIVAM (Sistema de Vigilância da Amazônia) program, deploying AEW&C and remote sensing aircraft over the Amazon region, in an effort to establish law enforcement, environmental protection and fight drug trafficking in the area.

EMB-145_R-99A

Five Embraer 145 (R-99A) Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft plus three aerial surveillance (R-99) aircraft were part of the SIVAM special mission fleet deployed by the Brazilian government to secure the Amazon basin.

    A-29 Super Tucano has won again the USAF LAS contract to supply 20 light attack aircraft to the Afghan Air Force.

    A-29 Super Tucano has won again the USAF LAS contract to supply 20 light attack aircraft to the Afghan Air Force.

    US based Sierra Nevada Corp. and Brazilian Embraer Defense and Security will deliver 20 A-29 Super Tucano turboprop powered light air support aircraft to the Afghan Afghan Air Force, under a contract worth US$427 million awarded yesterday by the USAF. The contract also covers associated maintenance and training for the Afghan air force.

    Under this contract, 20 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to operational air bases in Afghanistan beginning in the summer of 2014. Deliveries will continue through 2015 at a rate of two aircraft per month. The A-29 will be equipped for light attack missions, to conduct advanced flight training, surveillance, close air support and air interdiction missions.

    The contract requirements called for a known, predominantly stable design due to austere conditions, the possibility for immediate combat needs and the substantial learning curve of the potential partner nation pilots. Only two aircraft models were considered – the A-29 Super Tucano and AT-6 from Hawker Beechcraft.

    In December 2011 the USAF awarded this contract worth over $355 to Sierra Nevada Corp; however, the Air Force issued a stop-work order in February 2012 and terminated the contract in March 2012 during the Hawker Beechcraft Court of Federal Claims protest and after an internal Air Force investigation turned up documentation deficiencies in the source selection paperwork. As part of the Air Force’s corrective action, a new LAS source selection team was appointed, source selection training was reinforced across the Air Force acquisition community, and oversight alignment and effectiveness was improved. This action has cost the taxpayer extra $72 million. (DEW line has more analysis here)

    The Air Force restarted the LAS acquisition as quickly as possible in order to be responsive to the Afghan requirement and issued an amended request for proposals in May 2012. Apparently, with competitor Hawker Beechcraft crippled under Chapter 11 (from which it emerged earlier this month), Sierra Nevada could have a better understanding of the competitor’s offer thus it could safely up its offer without risking loosing the bid.

    One of the stronger points for Hawker Beechcraft in promoting the AT6 was the positioning of their product as US made. The Brazilian designed aircraft will be built in Jacksonville, Florida. The LAS contract will support more than 1,400 American jobs, reflecting both the large U.S. supplier base – more than 100 companies will supply parts and services for the A-29 Super Tucano – and new jobs that will be created by SNC and EmbraerEmbraer will create new high-tech jobs at its production facility in Jacksonville, adding to the 1,200 people Embraer currently employs in the United States, and new jobs at SNC will add to its U.S. workforce of 2,500 people.

    a-29

    A-29 LAS carrying typical ordnance load for a strike mission, including two 500 lb laser guided bombs and a targeting pod.

    Boeing's liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system completed its second flight Feb. 25. Photo: Boeing

    Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system completed its second flight Feb. 25. Photo: Boeing

    Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system (UAS) completed its second flight Feb. 25. On its second flight the modified drone achieved more than twice the flight duration and altitude, compared to the first flight which lasted only 28 minutes.

    During the flight, at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Phantom Eye climbed above an altitude of 8,000 feet and remained aloft for 66 minutes at a cruising speed of 62 knots before landing. On its first flight the drone, designed for high altitude missions, reached only an altitude of 4,080 feet. Following the first flight, Boeing upgraded the aircraft’s software and hardware, including the landing gear which was damaged on the first landing. On its second flight the modified drone achieved more than twice the flight duration and altitude, compared to the first flight which lasted only 28 minutes. According to the company, the upgrades paid off in the form of a picture-perfect landing. “This flight, in a more demanding high-altitude flight envelope, successfully demonstrated Phantom Eye’s maneuverability, endurance and landing capabilities,” said Drew Mallow, Phantom Eye program manager.

    The Phantom Eye demonstrator is capable of carrying a 450-pound payload while operating for up to four days at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet. The drone is designed to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions for up to four days without refueling. “Today’s combination of geopolitical and economic issues makes Phantom Eye’s capabilities, affordability and flexibility very attractive to our global customers,” said Darryl Davis, Boeing Phantom Works president. “No other system holds the promise of offering on-demand, persistent ISR and communications to any region in the world, rapidly responding to natural disasters and national security issues.”

    Boeing is self-funding development of the environmentally responsible Phantom Eye, which generates only water as a byproduct of its propulsion system.

    Boeing’s liquid hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye unmanned airborne system completed its second flight Feb. 25, 2013

    Following the first flight, Boeing upgraded the aircraft’s software and hardware, including the landing gear. The upgrades paid off in the form of a picture-perfect landing its second flight Feb. 25, 2013

      Arrow-3 launched on its first exoatmospheric test flight today. Photo: IMOD

      Arrow-3 launched on its first exoatmospheric test flight today. Photo: IMOD

      Israel’s Ministry of Defense (IMOD) announced it carried out a successful flight test of the Arrow 3 missile interceptor, the test was conducted under the ‘Arrow’ development program in cooperation with the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The interceptor was launched into space at around 05:52 (GMT), from a coastal military launching pad in central Israel. The missile flew for more than six minutes, testing Arrow 3′s fly-out capabilities at altitudes well over 100 km (considered the lower boundary of space). The test plan did not include an actual intercept therefore, no target was used. The test, originally planned for summer 2012 was postponed for about six months, due to unspecified technical issues.

      IAI's Arrow-3 ballistic missile interceptor was launched today on its first exoatmospheric flight. This image shows a previous test in 2011 that cleared the missile's launcher ejection sequence.

      IAI’s Arrow-3 ballistic missile interceptor was launched today on its first exoatmospheric flight. This image shows a previous test in 2011 that cleared the missile’s launcher ejection sequence.

      The successful test is a major milestone in the development of the Arrow 3 Weapon System and provides further confidence in future Israeli defense capabilities to defeat the developing ballistic missile threat – the IMOD announcement said.

      Arrow 3, the newest addition to the Arrow Weapon System, is the upper tier in the Arrow family of weapons that incorporates the latest technology to combat a continually advancing threat. As it becomes operational, around 2016 Arrow 3 will be able to intercept ballistic missiles with longer ranges than the ones that Arrow 2 can bring down, and it will do so at higher altitudes.

      The Arrow system uses the two-stage Arrow II interceptor to destroy an incoming target with a fragmentation warhead. Arrow 3, also a two-stage interceptor, will be able to destroy an incoming target with an exo-atmospheric kill vehicle providing additional defense capability for evolving threats. Using ‘hit-to-kill’, rather than fragmenting warhead enables the new interceptor to become lighter and more agile platform. Arrow 3 weighs less than half the Arrow-2 weight.

      The test flight successfully demonstrated several new technologies utilized in the Arrow-3 including the two stage rocket engine, a flexible skirt augmenting the stability of the missile in the upper atmosphere, a method that enabled designers to increase the speed of the second stage. The flight also evaluated the new dual pulse propelled kill vehicle and its uniquely designed kill vehicle that allows 90 to 180 degrees tracking of the incoming ballistic missile warhead. According to Riki Ellison, Chairman & Founder of the US Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, these technologies will contribute to lighter, faster interceptor, offering exponential increase in divert capability for a missile defense interceptor applications.

      Both interceptors will be operated from common launch systems, thus reducing the infrastructure and support required for new systems. The new system will require major upgrades of Super Green Pine radar, battle management systems, launchers and communications systems are currently underway as part of the Arrow Mission System 4.1 block upgrade.

      The introduction of Arrow-3 is required as a response to the evolution of the threat of more sophisticated missiles, including those carrying weapons of mass destruction, requires a multi-tier approach to achieve a zero leakage rate. Arrow 2 and 3 are part of the Israeli multi-layer defense system currently being established, to protect the state of Israel against all ballistic threats.

      Israel’s Missile Defense Organization and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency officials conducted the flight test.  The main contractor for the integration and development of the Arrow Weapon System is MLM of the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in conjunction with Boeing.

      arrow_seperation

      Iran is producing the Hazem drone, capable of recce, cargo delivery and attack missions.

      Iran is producing the Hazem drone, capable of recce, cargo delivery and attack missions.

      Iran’s authorities announced today that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have intercepted and downed an ‘alien’ drone during the first day of the ‘Great Prophet 8′ exercise taking place in Southern Iran this week. It is not clear from the announcement whether the event is part of the training program or an actual intercept involving a foreign unmanned system has taken place.

      In the past two years Iran intercepted several US drones, among them a CIA Lockheed Martin RQ-170 and Boeing/InSitu Scan-Eagle, supporting the US Navy, both were captured virtually intact. Apparently, the Iranian exercise planners have included these scenarios in their plan. “During the opening phase of the ‘Great Prophet 8′ exercise IRGC’s electronic warfare systems detected signals showing that alien drones were trying to enter the country (airspace),” Spokesman of the Wargames General Hamid Sarkheili told reporters on Saturday evening. Sarkheili said the IRGC is now in possession of the pictures taken by the drone and will release them if Okayed by the country’s senior commanders. While the Fars news agency refers to the incident as an actual intercept of a foreign UAS, another agency, PressTV has translated the same news item with a different tone, referring to the drone as a ‘mock spy drone’, understood to be part of the exercise scenario.

      According to Sarkheili drones are extensively used throughout the exercise, he noted that in addition to reconnaissance, UAVs will also be used in attack missions, as ‘suicide drones’, capable of attacking targets in positions difficult for targeting by other weapon systems. Deputy Defense Minister for Industrial and Research Affairs Mohammad Eslami recently confirmed that Iran is developing a ‘strategic UAV’ designed for long-range missions. “We hope to soon unveil new strategic drones which can fly up to 30,000 feet in altitude and 24 hours of nonstop flight.” Eslami said. noting that Iran is already involved in the production and development of 20 different UAS. The new drone could be unveiled in May this year. Sarkheili also confirmed that a new anti-helicopter weapon system, utilizing a shoulder-launched 20mm missile will also be tested. The new weapon can engage helicopters from a distance of 1,400 meters.

      Referring to the operational capabilities of Iranian UAVs, IRGC Air Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, referred to a recent mission of a UAV known as ‘Ayub’ over southern Israel, where the Iranian drone operated by the Iranian-supported, Lebanese-based insurgent organization Hezbollah was sent on a reconnaissance mission over Israel.

      While Israeli authorities acknowledged the UAV had penetrated 60-70 km into their airspace, According to Hajizadeh the drone actually had a 400 km flight in Israeli controlled airspace (probably referring to the route the drone passed from the point it crossed the Israeli Lebanese border over the Mediterranean to the point where it crossed the Israeli coastal line north of the Gaza strip.)

      According to Hajizadeh this was not the first occasion an Iranian drone has flown over Israel, as the drone is equipped with the means to enable it to fly over Israel unnoticed, conduct its mission and return home. Hajizadeh said that on a specific mission in October 2012, code named ‘Operation Hussein Ayub’ the drone was eventually detected and shot down by Israeli F-16s was directed at aerostats deployed in that area. Iran claimed the drone that was shot down in that mission has reached the Dimona Nuclear Research Center in the North Eastern Negev Desert.

      Referring to the operational capabilities of Iranian UAVs, IRGC Air Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, referred to a recent mission of a UAV known as ‘Ayub’ over southern Israel, where the Iranian drone operated by the Iranian-supported, Lebanese-based insurgent organization Hezbollah was sent on a reconnaissance mission over Israel.

      While Israeli authorities acknowledged the UAV had penetrated 60-70 km into their airspace, According to Hajizadeh the drone actually had a 400 km flight in Israeli controlled airspace (probably referring to the route the drone passed from the point it crossed the Israeli Lebanese border over the Mediterranean to the point where it crossed the Israeli coastal line north of the Gaza strip.)

      According to Hajizadeh this was not the first occasion an Iranian drone has flown over Israel, as the drone is equipped with the means to enable it to fly over Israel unnoticed, conduct its mission and return home. Hajizadeh said that on a specific mission in October 2012, code named ‘Operation Hussein Ayub’ the drone was eventually detected and shot down by Israeli F-16s was directed at aerostats deployed in that area. Iran claimed the drone that was shot down in that mission has reached the Dimona Nuclear Research Center in the North Eastern Negev Desert.

      In an interview in December 2012 the Israel Air Force commander Maj. General Amir Eshel acknowledged the IAF is making preparations to intercept larger and smaller drones, which are even harder to identify, than the UAV intercepted over the Negev in October. “It’s not new that we are readying ourselves against this threat,” Eshel said, referring to Hezbollah. “This field is developing and already now it requires us to come up with comprehensive answers.” However, Eshel was short of promising airtight protection. “In defense there is never a rock-hard wall that nothing can breach. The goal is to be prepared for the main and significant [threat] and to disregard the less important. Eshel told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

      The Pacific Ocean theater, showing the two radar stations in Japan, the ballistic trajectories and distances (in Nautical miles) from North Korea to the nearest US territories. Photo based on Google Earth map view.

      The Pacific Ocean theater, showing the two radar stations in Japan, the ballistic trajectories and distances (in Nautical miles) from North Korea to the nearest US territories. Photo based on Google Earth map view.

      Tokyo and Washington are reportedly planning to install a US early-warning radar system at a coastal base near Kyoto, in Central Japan to bolster defences against the North Korean missile threat. The new site will be the second US X-band radar system to be installed in Japan, after another was set up at the Shariki Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) base, in the Aomori prefecture in northern Japan. Japanese sources have indicated the new Homeland Defense Radar Site will be built in tha Kyogamisaki Air Self-Defence Force base in Kyotango, northwest of Kyoto, on the coast of the Sea of Japan (the East Sea). The location was picked as it was likely that a North Korean missile targeting Guam or Hawaii would fly over western or central parts of Japan. The station in Northern Japan is likely to covers potential North Korean attacks targeting the West Coast of the Continental USA. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama confirmed in their Washington meeting on Friday that the two countries would work together on the radar installation.

      The X-band radar, apparently Raytheon TPY-2 which has been used as a Forward Based X-Band (FBX) Radar and the primary sensor and battle management radar for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAADS). The AN/TPY-2 is capable of tracking all classes of ballistic missiles and identifying small objects at long distances. In the forward-based mode, this radar plays a vital role in the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) by acting as a forward based sensor for the system, detecting ballistic missiles early in their flight and providing precise tracking information for use by the system. Use of multiple sensors provides overlapping sensor coverage, expands the BMDS battle space, and complicates an enemy’s ability to penetrate the defense system. Acquiring targets from extremely long range, the TPY-2 allow US and allied missile-defenses to intercept such missiles from the ground based (THAAD) or sea-based (AEGIS) systems once a ballistic missile has been detected.

      In the terminal mode, the same radar provides surveillance, track, discrimination and fire control support for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system.

      The US Missile defense Agency (MDA) has already produced eight of eleven TPY-2 radras funded. Four are currently forward deployed worldwide. FBX are currently deployed in Turkey, Israel and Japan. A new site was reportedly established last year in Qatar in the persian Gulf. The Japanese site will improve the coverage of the north-eastern pacific which, until now, has been covered by a US-based or sea-based systems.

      The Army Navy/ Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control, or  AN/TPY-2, is a transportable X-band, high-resolution, phasedarray radar designed specifically for ballistic missile defense. In the terminal mode, the same  radar  provides surveillance, track, discrimination  and fire control support for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system.

      The Army Navy/ Transportable Radar Surveillance and Control, or AN/TPY-2, is a transportable X-band, high-resolution, phasedarray radar designed specifically for ballistic missile defense. In the terminal mode, the same radar provides surveillance, track, discrimination and fire control support for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system. Photo: MDA

      This Analysis written by Loren B. Thompson, Ph.D. was first published by the Early Warning Blog, Lexington Institute

      This Analysis is written by Daniel Goure, Ph.D. Early Warning Blog, Lexington Institute

      The market for military goods and services appears to have entered a prolonged downturn. Although the earnings of defense contractors remain strong, revenues have begun to weaken. If demand continues on its current vector, then eventually the softness at the top line will begin impacting the bottom line — meaning earnings.

      The biggest defense companies have adopted a number of strategies to delay that day such as buying back shares, but they can’t do that forever. Thus, if past downturns are any indication, the defense industry is entering a rationalization phase in which the number of players adjusts to reflect a secular decline in demand.

      That raises the question of who will lead sector rationalization — usually referred to as “consolidation.” There are two ways of leading consolidation — by buying and by selling. Companies can’t get bigger through acquisitions unless other companies are willing to get smaller, or disappear entirely. But which company will go first? It certainly isn’t going to be industry-leader Lockheed Martin, which came into being largely because of management’s willingness to go first in the last round of consolidation. That process worked so well that Lockheed Martin is now the best-positioned player in the sector, and thus has the least incentive to entertain major strategic moves. It will continue trimming and shaping its portfolio, but not in big ways.

      The second-ranked Pentagon contractor, Boeing, is similarly lacking in incentives to buy or sell in a big way. Boeing gets 60% of its revenues from commercial transports and 40% from defense, a mix that insulates it from downturns in either market. But right now the opportunities for growth on the commercial side are much bigger than those on the defense side, so senior management probably doesn’t want to spend billions on becoming even bigger in defense. It would make a lot of sense for Boeing to buy the military-aircraft operations of Northrop Grumman if they become available, but CEO Jim McNerney probably has his sights set on definitively beating Airbus in the jetliner business before upstarts like China become major competitors.

      Raytheon isn’t going to lead sector consolidation because, like Lockheed Martin, it is already well-positioned in the defense marketplace. Its products — radars, missiles, networks — will do well regardless of whether the Pentagon buys new combat systems or upgrades old ones. With CEO Bill Swanson approaching retirement, there is little reason to consider an eleventh-hour course correction in what looks like an unstoppable corporate juggernaut.

      BAE Systems is also unlikely to lead consolidation in the U.S. market because the British-based company is seeking growth in other countries, and its high dividend — a crucial discriminator for investors — soaks up most of the cash that could be used for acquisitions.

      So that leaves two companies in the sector’s first tier that might be candidates to lead consolidation — General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman.

      Those are the companies I think are most likely to make big strategic moves over the next two years. General Dynamics has a history of bold strokes, and newly-minted CEO Phebe Novakovic used her first earnings call to signal that the main focus of her tenure at the top will be shareholder value. That means GD might be a buyer or a seller, depending on which strategy gets shareholders the best results fastest. If Novakovic sees an opportunity to make a killing that can benefit shareholders in a big way, she’ll do it.

      As for Northrop Grumman, CEO Wes Bush has done wonders with the company since taking the helm three years ago. It’s actually performing better in the downturn than it was when demand was headed up. But Bush has to be asking himself where the company goes from here. Each of his three main business units — aerospace, electronics, information — is world class, but they’re locked in competition with similarly-endowed peers. That’s a tough situation in which to sustain the company’s margins, which right now are pretty impressive.

      So Wes Bush might be thinking big about how to reposition his enterprise. The irony is that General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman are headquartered across the street from each other in the same Northern Virginia office park. If I had to guess where defense-sector consolidation was going to kick into high gear first, that’s the zip-code I’d pick.

      Loren B. Thompson, Ph.D.
      Lexington Institute

        Pantsir S1 firing of the 57E6 missile on a test launch

        Pantsir S1 firing of the 57E6 missile on a test launch

        The Brazilian Ministry of Defense will commence negotiations for the procurement of Pantsir-S1 (SA-22) and Igla (SA-18) Very Short Range Air-Defense missiles (VSHORAD). The authorization followed a meeting between the Brazilian Republic president Dilma Rousseff, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev. Brazil plans to buy three Pantsir-S1 batteries (typically 15 units) and two batteries of short-range Igla missiles. Russia has formally presented the systems for the first time during the Brazilian presidential visit in Moscow in December 2012. First deliveries are expected to arrive in Brazil 18 months after the formal contract signature, expected within 3-4 months. Timely delivery of the systems is critical to provide Brazil with the necessary air-defense assets it required to place for the Rio 2016 Olympic games.

        Pantsir-S1 systems produced by the Russian KBP Instrument Design Bureu are known to be in service with the military forces of Russia, Syria and the UAE, which was the launch customer for the system. Few systems have also shown up in Iran. Pantsir-S1 can be employed as a truck-mounted (mobile) short range air defense system or in stationary positions, where the air defense complex is removed from its truck. Each unit is deployed is self-sufficient, with an integral radar, passive electro-optical targeting system, twelve 57E6 short-range air defense missiles and twin-barrel 30mm 2A38M cannon. The missiles have a maximum range of 20 km while the guns can reach 4,000 meters and reach an altitude of 3,000 meters. The system can effectively engage fast and slow aircraft, helicopters, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and some types of guided weapons. Pantsir-S1 systems currently supplied to the UAE are employed with 8×8 MAN trucks, while the versions to be delivered to Brazil are likely to be mounted on locally built trucks.

        Russian Army Pantsir S unit undergoing training

        Russian Army Pantsir S unit undergoing training

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