The Air Force is kicking decisions on which hypersonic weapon to buy, and how many, down the road at least another year.
The service will not purchase hypersonic missiles in fiscal 2024, said Maj. Gen. Mike Greiner, the service’s deputy assistant secretary for budget. Instead, it will continue research and development on the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, or ARRW, the service’s flagship boost-glide hypersonic vehicle. Greiner said the service’s budget request for fiscal 2024, sent to Congress on Monday, contains $150 million for ARRW R&D.
Alongside the Lockheed Martin-built ARRW, the request has $380 million for R&D on the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile, or HACM, a scramjet-powered hypersonic weapon. The service awarded Raytheon Technologies a $985 million contract in December to continue HACM development.
“It will also be a discussion on a mix of weapons. Both of those are really geared towards two different types of platforms and so I think we'll continue to do that analysis, see these test results and then make a final decision on what mix of hypersonic weapons is right for the Air Force going forward,” Greiner said during a briefing on Monday.
In this 2020 photo, an AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon Instrumented Measurement Vehicle 2 is loaded for a test under the wing of a B-52H Stratofortress at Edwards Air Force Base, California. GIANCARLO CASEM / 412TH TEST WING PUBLIC AFFAIRS
The Navy for the first time has outlined the initial production schedule for its hypersonic missile program, a $3.6 billion dollar buy for 64 rounds over the next five years.
Conventional Prompt Strike is the Pentagon’s upcoming hypersonic weapon being jointly developed by the Navy and Army. The Navy will employ it on Zumwalt-class destroyers and Virginia-class submarines, while the Army will operate a land-based variant.
The details of the Navy’s schedule to produce the all up rounds for the program are outlined in the service’s newly released budget justification documents. The request for fiscal 2024 includes $341 million for the first eight rounds.
The service’s projected schedule for future years, which are subject to change when those budget requests are submitted, include 10 rounds for $440 million in FY25; 11 rounds for $663 million in FY26; 16 rounds for $988 million in FY27; and 19 rounds for $1.1 billion in FY28.
It is not clear as of press time whether the Army will also seek funding in its new budget request for all-up rounds — meaning the round contains the warhead, missile body, container and other necessary components for launch — because the associated justification documents have not yet been made public. An Army spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions from Breaking Defense.
The Navy plans to integrate CPS onto the Zumwalt destroyers in FY25 and onto its submarines around FY29. Despite achieving a variety of “Joint Flight Campaigns” last year, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester recently reported it is too early in the program’s life cycle to assess its overall effectiveness.
Breaking Defense has previously reported the low number of Zumwalt-class destroyers may also pose issues for the Navy during integration due to the ship’s limited availability for testing.
One of the most senior Navy officers overseeing the weapon’s development earlier this month acknowledged to lawmakers the Pentagon had to cancel a recently planned test due to a “battery failure,” USNI News reported.
When asked during a press conference at the Pentagon why the service was proceeding with production despite the testing mishaps, Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, the service’s officer charged with crafting the annual budget request, said the request is “an endorsement of the capability.”
“The point of testing is to learn things. But we have confidence that we’re going to be able to field the system as required and we’ll work with our industrial partners to make sure we stay on track for that — for that production,” he said March 13.
On the Air Force’s end, that service intends to finish its research and development spending on one of its key hypersonic weapons, the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon, in FY24, Breaking Defense reported. The Air Force’s other major program, the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile, will continue research and development through FY28.
The Canadian government is considering the purchase of as many as 16 P-8A surveillance aircraft from U.S. aerospace company Boeing without a competition, despite objections from Quebec-based Bombardier.
On 27 March, Canada announced that Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon is the sole available aircraft that conforms to all operational requirements outlined in the Canadian Multi-Mission Aircraft project, specifically anti-submarine warfare and C4ISR.
“In view of exploring this option in more detail, Canada has submitted a Letter of Request through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program outlining the requirements and requesting an offer,” Public Services and Procurement Canada said in a statement. “These include up to 16 P-8A aircraft and associated equipment and initial servicing, as well as access to intellectual property and technical data.”
The LOR does not commit Ottawa to buying the fleet. A final decision will ultimately rest on affordability, capability offered and advantages to the Canadian industry.
The country has sought a replacement for its CP-140 Aurora fleet for some time. The Lockheed-made aircraft has been in service with the Royal Canadian Air Force since the 1980s and will need to be retired by 2030.
The US Air Force will retire the KC-10A Extender in September 2024, marking the end of 43 years of service for the aerial refueling tanker.
The last KC-10 test bird recently flew its final flight, with the 70th Air Refueling Squadron flying the tanker to its final resting place at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
Lt. Col. Judson Darrow, 349th Operations Group deputy commander at Travis AFB, commented on the overall experience of flying the retired aircraft. “The final flight of #79-1951 was very special to me. It was also my last mission with the 70th ARS and flying the KC-10 before I retire this year,” said Darrow. “I have flown the ‘10’ for 20 years and have been part of the squadron for 17 of those years. To fly the last mission of this amazing aircraft with a great crew from throughout the KC-10 community was a perfect ending to my Air Force career.”
The Navy Is Launching a New Littoral Combat Ship—the Last of Its Class
The U.S. Navy’s latest Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is heading to sea.
Lockheed Martin will launch the USS Cleveland (LCS 31) into Wisconsin’s Menominee River on Saturday, April 15. The ship is the 16th and last of a controversial class of vessels that have been plagued by technical snags and doubts over their ability to take part in combat.
Fast and Stealthy
The Cleveland is designed to be stealthy and sneak into areas where other ships can’t go. A littoral combat ship is a type of surface vessel that is designed for operations near shore. It can also perform various missions such as surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and mine countermeasures.
The Department of the Air Force selected the next bases to receive two of its newest fighters.
Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, was selected as the preferred location to host the next F-35A Lightning II squadron and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans and Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, will replace their F-15C/D Eagles with F-15EX Strike Eagles.
The new squadrons will consist of 18 F-35As at Barnes ANGB and 18 F-15EXs each at both Fresno ANGB and NAS JRB New Orleans.
The decision to host the next F-35As and the F-15EXs at their respective bases came after conducting site surveys at each location, assessing the location’s ability to facilitate the mission and infrastructure capacity, while accounting for community support, environmental factors and cost.
Footage of the incident of the Russian Su-35S aircraft and the US MQ-9 Reaper UAV in Syria. The US Air Force released footage of the July 5 incident involving a Russian Su-35S fighter jet and an American MQ-9 Reaper UAV in Syria. According to the US Air Force, the Russian fighter actively maneuvered near the UAV, including the afterburner, used heat traps to change the flight of the US drone. According to Russian media reports, the US MQ-9 Reaper UAV entered the closed area where the Russian-Syrian exercises were held, the Su-35 fighter did not use airborne weapons.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is awarded a $99,528,620 firm-priced-incentive-firm-target undefinitized modification (P00001) to a previously awarded advanced acquisition contract (N0001923C0003).
This modification procures long lead time materials, parts, components, and efforts in support of maintaining on-time production and delivery of 147 Lot 18 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers, and non-U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) participants.
GD NASSCO subsidiary has delivered to the U.S. Navy the second ship in its John Lewis class of fleet replenishment oilers following the completion of acceptance trials with the Board of Inspection and Survey.
Military Sealift Command will operate the USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO 206) to provide diesel fuel, lubricating oil and jet fuel replenishment to Navy ships at sea, Naval Sea Systems Command said Tuesday.
The John Lewis-class ship will support the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force, which provides underway replenishment to U.S. naval ships worldwide.
General Dynamics NASSCO is contracted to build the first six fleet replenishment oilers under the Navy’s T-AO program. Construction of the first oiler commenced in September 2018 and work is underway to build USNS Earl Warren (T-AO 207), the future USNS Robert F. Kennedy (T-AO 208), USNS Lucy Stone (T-AO 209) and USNS Sojourner Truth (T-AO 210).
The Government of Canada has awarded Airbus Defence and Space with a contract for four newly-built Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft (MRTT) and for the conversion of five used A330-200s in a quest to strengthen Canada’s continental defence capabilities. The current contract has an order value of approximately CAD $3 billion or 2.1€ billion (excluding taxes).
Known as the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC), this new fleet of aircraft will replace the ageing CC-150 Polaris (A310 MRTT), operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). The existing A310 fleet is being used to perform air-to-air refuelling operations, military and personnel and cargo airlift, medical evacuations, as well as strategic transport of Government of Canada officials.
“As the world’s most advanced multirole tanker aircraft, the A330 MRTT perfectly matches Canada’s needs to protect its sovereignty as well as to enhance operations both in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) as well as in NATO,” said Mike Schoellhorn, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space. “Canada achieves this enhancement of operations not only by improving interoperability with other allied A330 MRTT customer nations but also due to the aircraft’s technological primacy ahead of the global competition.”
The newly-built A330-200s will be assembled at the A330 aircraft Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France. Scheduled to enter into conversion at A330 MRTT facilities in Getafe, Spain, in mid-2025, the first MRTT will be delivered to the RCAF in 2027.
The US Navy awarded Bath Iron Works a multiyear contract for construction of three Arleigh Burke DDG 51 class ships – one each in fiscal 2023, 2024, and 2026. This contract includes options for engineering change proposals, design budgeting requirements, and post-delivery availabilities on the awarded firm multiyear ships. This contract also includes options for construction of additional DDG 51 class ships, which may be subject to future competition in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract.
Huntington Ingalls also was awarded a multiyear contract for construction of six DDG 51 class ships - one in fiscal 2023, one in fiscal 2024, two in fiscal 2025, one in fiscal 2026, and one in fiscal 2027. This contract includes options for engineering change proposals, design budgeting requirements, and post-delivery availabilities on the awarded firm multiyear ships. This contract includes options for construction of additional DDG 51 class ships, which may be subject to future competition in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract.
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