11 août 2020 | International, Aérospatial

After a hard-fought competition, ULA and SpaceX to remain military’s rocket launch providers


WASHINGTON — United Launch Alliance and SpaceX have won the Space Force’s next-generation rocket contract, locking the two companies in as the Defense Department’s launch providers of choice for the foreseeable future.

ULA — a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing — was awarded $337 million, while SpaceX will be getting $316 million for phase two of the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program, the Pentagon announced Aug. 7. They beat out Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman.

Phase 2 of the NSSL program is the U.S. military’s vehicle for ordering launch services from fiscal year 2022 to 2027. ULA is slated to get 60 percent of the manifest, with SpaceX getting the remainder.

“We don’t think this is the last round of innovation that we’re going to see,” Will Roper, the Air Force’s acquisition executive, told reporters during an Aug. 7 roundtable. “Although we’re excited for the next five years, we’re looking ahead to ‘Phase 3’ five years from now and wondering what new leap-ahead, lower-cost technologies might be on the forefront to make assured access to space not just assured, but cheaper.”

The award pays for the first three missions in 2022, which include two ULA launches and one for SpaceX. All are classified, Roper said.

There is no ceiling on the number of launches that the Pentagon can order in Phase 2, but Roper expects about 32 missions. Funding for those missions will be distributed in future task orders.

The NSSL Phase 2 award moves the U.S. military one step closer to eliminating its dependence on the Russian RD-180 engine, which is used in ULA’s Atlas V rocket. The Defense Department has until 2022 to stop RD-180 procurement, and Roper said he was confident was on “a low risk path” to ensure it will meet that deadline.

For the Phase 2 SpaceX offered the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy, which are both certified and in use. ULA proposed a new rocket, the Vulcan Centaur, which is under development and expected to make its maiden flight in 2021.

“Vulcan Centaur is the right choice for critical national security space missions and was purpose built to meet all of the requirements of our nation’s space launch needs,” said Tory Bruno, ULA’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman were also in the process of creating new launch systems under a 2018 agreement with the Space and Missile Systems Center. That organization will now work with those companies on how to best halt the government’s involvement in that development, Roper said.

“We will tie off the [launch service agreement] contracts as soon as we can, at a point that makes sense,” he said. “We want to make sure that work that’s in flux, that we’re able to document what the vendors have done. Where the government has rights to the data and the work, we want to make sure we retain them.”

Unless the companies protest the contract award, the next opportunity for Northrop, Blue Origin or other challengers to compete for national security launches is NSSL Phase 3, but the department’s approach and timeline for that effort is still being determined.

“If funding were available for a Phase 3 launch service agreement, there’s no prohibition on how early we could start Phase 3,” said Roper, who added that studies have shown “some strategic benefits for doing that sooner rather than later.”


Sur le même sujet

  • AeroVironment Receives $45 Million Raven B Unmanned Aircraft Systems Contract Award for U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigades

    20 août 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    AeroVironment Receives $45 Million Raven B Unmanned Aircraft Systems Contract Award for U.S. Army Security Force Assistance Brigades

    SIMI VALLEY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems for both defense and commercial applications, today announced it received a firm fixed-price contract award on July 25, 2019 valued at $45,190,881 for RQ-11B Raven® small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and initial spares packages. AeroVironment received the contract award from the United States Army for its Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFAB). Delivery is anticipated by January 2020. The SFAB are specialized units with the core mission to conduct training, advising, assisting, enabling and accompanying operations with allied and partner nations. “Raven is the most widely deployed small unmanned aircraft system in the United States Department of Defense’s fleet,” said Rick Pedigo, vice president, sales and business development for AeroVironment. “Our family of small unmanned aircraft systems supports all U.S. military services and more than 45 allied nations. Every day, AeroVironment small UAS provide the actionable intelligence our customers need to proceed with certainty.” In a report published by the United States Army on July 24, 2019, Sgt. Jordan Aguiar, a cavalry scout assigned to Alpha Troop of the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry Regiment, said the Raven is more agile and less detectable than larger and more costly unmanned aircraft. Soldiers use it to conduct battlefield reconnaissance and provide their units with a greater level of security. Sgt. Foluke Marsh added, “If you need to have eyes on a target, or eyes on a convoy to make sure everything is safe, it’s good to send out the Raven instead of risking someone getting hurt or killed.” AeroVironment’s Raven is a fully man-portable, hand-launched small unmanned aircraft system designed for land-based operations. First adopted by the U.S. Army in 2005, Raven is now used by more than 25 countries across the globe. Weighing just over four pounds, with a wingspan of 4.5 feet and with a flying range of 10 kilometers, it is the most prolific small unmanned aircraft system deployed across the U.S. Department of Defense. The Raven system provides operators with real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, delivering color or infrared video and still imagery to its operator via a hand-held ground control unit and to remote viewing stations, and uses a GPS system for pre-programmed or manual navigation. About AeroVironment Small UAS The RQ-11B Raven®, RQ-12A Wasp® and RQ-20A/B Puma™ comprise AeroVironment’s Family of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Operating with a common ground control system (GCS), this Family of Systems provides increased capability to the warfighter that can give ground commanders the option of selecting the appropriate aircraft based on the type of mission to be performed. This increased capability has the potential to provide significant force protection and force multiplication benefits to small tactical units and security personnel. AeroVironment provides logistics services worldwide to ensure a consistently high level of operational readiness. AeroVironment has delivered thousands of new and replacement small unmanned air vehicles to customers within the United States and to more than 45 allied governments. About AeroVironment, Inc. AeroVironment (NASDAQ:AVAV) provides customers with more actionable intelligence so they can proceed with certainty. Based in California, AeroVironment is a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems and tactical missile systems, and serves defense, government, and commercial customers. For more information visit www.avinc.com. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190819005153/en/

  • How will Lebanon grow its Navy? | Actionable Intelligence

    8 juillet 2021 | International, Naval

    How will Lebanon grow its Navy? | Actionable Intelligence

    Defense News Middle East correspondent Agnes Al-Helou discusses Lebanon's plan to grow its navy.

  • Russia, U.S. Are In a Military Exoskeleton Race

    4 septembre 2018 | International, Terrestre, C4ISR

    Russia, U.S. Are In a Military Exoskeleton Race

    By Patrick Tucker A look at the Iron Man-like dreams and power-starved realities of dueling technology programs. The Russian suit, Ratnik-3, is an imposing web of hexagonal armor plates, black webbing, and small joint motors called actuators. Oleg Faustov, an engineer working with weapons maker TsNiiTochMash, told Russian media outlet TASS this week that the government had already tested a prototype. “It really enhances a serviceman’s physical abilities. For example, the tester was able to shoot from a machine-gun only with one hand and accurately hit targets,” he said at Russia’s recent Army-2018 weapons show. As part of the Army-2018 publicity push, the makers of the suit also made vague and unverifiable claims that it had seen actual combat, according to Sam Bendett, an associate research analyst at CNA and a fellow in Russia studies at the American Foreign Policy Council. “It was interesting that the Russian announcement during Army-2018 stated that the exoskeleton was ‘tested in combat,’ though without any specific details. It’s likely that it was tried in Syria, though the press and media did not cover that development,” he said. While the statement came from the suit’s maker, Bendett said he assumes the claim “had to be approved by the state given the combat claims.” The suit is supposed be officially released in 2025. In addition to an almost comically Black Manta-esque helmet, the Ratnik-3 features “40 life-saving elements,” Russian media says. In many ways, it  resembles some of the more recent concept images of the TALOS suit that U.S. Special Operations Forces Command, or SOCOM, is attempting to develop. In both, all those bells and whistles seem to be an obstacle to the suit reaching full utility. Both the Ratnik-3 and TALOS efforts seem constrained by available power. “There are issues with the battery and energy sources for this exoskeleton, as Russia—along with other nations working on this—are trying to create  a compact energy source that would allow the soldiers to act independent of any stationary or vehicle-borne sources of energy,” Bendett said. Even Russian media have noted the suit’s power constraints, noting that a battery life of less than four hours isn’t super practical for a day of marching. A forthcoming series of reports from the Center for New American Security, or CNA, takes a deep dive into the issue of soldier augmentation and reaches a similar conclusion. “The current state of technology still does not have sufficient power to manage the intense load-carrying capacity that the SOCOM TALOS suit concept requires…and development is needed before full-body exoskeletons will be feasible for infantry combat away from a reliable power source. Still, these advances represent a major step forward in the necessary technology for dismounted soldier exoskeletons,” notes the report. While size and power constraints are hindering the realization of militaries’ most ambitious Iron Man dreams, more modest exoskeleton suits are moving closer to real-world use. The U.S.Army is experimenting with two exoskeleton designs at the Natick Soldier Systems Center in Massachusetts. These won’t protect soldiers from enemy fire but they will help soldiers carry more stuff for longer. And they’ll likely be on the battlefield far sooner.   “Exoskeletons with more modest goals, such as lower-body exoskeletons that are designed simply to increase mobility, reduce energy expenditure, and reduce musculoskeletal injuries, may show more promise in the near-term,” according to the CNAS report. The larger of the two is the ONYX from Lockheed Martin. At a Pentagon event in May, Defense One caught up with Keith Maxwell, a product manager from Lockheed Martin, who described the results of initial tests in November, 2016. “We did an evaluation with some soldiers. They were doing 185-pound squats with the barbell. At the beginning of the day, fresh, Johnny comes in and does 26 reps at 185, puts it down. hat’s as many as he can do. We put this on; over the course of the day, he’s doing casualty evacuations, carrying people up five flights of stairs and down, going through subterranean tunnels. At the end of the day, we put him back in the gym, ask him, ‘How many squats can you do?’ He knocks out 72.” Full article: https://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2018/09/russia-us-are-military-exoskeleton-race/150956/

Toutes les nouvelles