Newscast: December 10, 2006

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Lockheed Martin F-35 Completes First Ground Taxi Test

The F-35 Lightning II is moving toward the first flight. Last Thursday the JSF started taxy tests, initiating the last series of tests before the fighter jet's first flight. After a series of systems checks at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, F-35 Chief Pilot Jon Beesley advanced the throttle and the F-35 moved out of its hangar to begin taxi tests. The jet then traveled at up to 30 knots (~ 35 m.p.h.) on the runway, testing systems such as brakes and nosewheel steering in advance of first flight. Medium-speed taxi tests of 65 knots (~ 75 m.p.h.) and 80 knots (~ 92 m.p.h.) are planned next, weather permitting. The first Lightning II is powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan, the most powerful engine ever installed in a fighter aircraft.


U.S. Navy Orders a Second trimaran Littoral Combat Ship

Last week the U.S. Navy awarded a $208 million contract option to a Bath Iron Works-led team for the construction of a second high-speed Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) configured with a 127-meter trimaran hull. The vessel is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in July 2009. The first trimaran based LCS Independence (LCS 2), is under construction at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama.


Pakistan To Modify P-3C into AEW Platform

Pakistan is planning to invest $855 million equipping three used P-3 maritime patrol aircraft with the Northrop Grumman Airborne Early Warning Suite designed for the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 Corp. In 2005 Pakistan received eight surplus P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft from U.S. navy surplus, in addition to the two aircraft already operational with the Pakistani Navy. Pakistan plans to modify three of the Orions into AEW aircraft. The Hawkeye 2000 system is designed for operation over water and over land, providing support for both aircraft and surface ships. In recent years Pakistan considered buying a Chinese AEW platform and the Swedish Saab 340 equipped with the Ericsson Ereiye AEW system.


Pakistan to order RF TOW2

Pakistan is also planning to modernize its TOW missiles, fielding radio-frequency TOW 2A to replace current wire-guided TOW (BGM-71) systems. The total order is expected to cost about U.S. $185 million. The order is expected to include 2,769 Radio Frequency (RF) TOW 2A Missiles and 415 RF Bunker Buster Missiles. The order will also include modifications for 121 TOW launchers, introducing the RF guidance system. Some of the missiles are expected to field with Pakistani Army AH-1S Cobra attack helicopters, enabling employment of new tactics, techniques and procedures that have already proven highly effective against terrorists.



B-52 to Modernize AGM-142 Mission Equipment System

Boeing will introduce Alternate Mission Equipment (AME) avionics into existing B-52s, to support the introduction of new systems to support the AGM-142 missile and other guided weapons on board. The AME doubles the size of the current display, which is associated exclusively with the AGM-142. It provides a color monitor, compared to the current black and white, and will enable the B-52 to utilize laser guided weapons in a way that is not available today.

Counter IED Enhancement for TUSK Kits

The U.S. Army added Counter Improvised Explosive Device enhancements for the M1A1 and M1A2 Tank Urban Survivability Kits produced for the Abrams Tanks. The U.S. $11.3 million contract is part of a $59 million package announced this summer.


 

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