22 décembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial

Lockheed Makes $4.4B Bid to Buy Aerojet Rocketdyne


Lockheed Martin has made a $4.4 billion offer to acquire rocket engine maker Aerojet Rocketdyne, the companies announced on Sunday.

Speaking with investors on Monday, Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet said the move to acquire the engine maker was rooted in the future growth of hypersonic weapons and missile defense systems the Pentagon is developing, as well as the growing space business.

In the call, Taiclet and Lockheed CFO Ken Possenriede said the merger had the potential to improve the development of new missile and space systems by allowing engineers across both companies to work closer together.

In naval programs, Aerojet supplies engines for the Navy’s Trident II D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, Raytheon’s Standard Missile-2, SM-3 and SM-6, and the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. Aerojet is also developing a new propulsion system for the MK 54 lightweight torpedo.

The company also supplies engines for Lockheed and Boeing’s joint venture United Launch Alliance. Lockheed’s space division is its third-largest business, accounting for 18 percent of the company’s 2019 earnings, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The merger, expected to close in the middle of next year, will have to clear regulators in the incoming Biden administration and is viewed by analysts as an early test of how the next White House will handle defense industry consolidation.


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  • Austal Expanding Yard In Alabama as It Eyes New Unmanned, Amphibious Shipbuilding Programs

    16 septembre 2020 | International, Naval

    Austal Expanding Yard In Alabama as It Eyes New Unmanned, Amphibious Shipbuilding Programs

    Megan Eckstein Austal USA is expanding the capacity and capability of its Alabama shipyard, doubling down on investing in its future in a way reminiscent of 2009, just before it won the block buy of Littoral Combat Ships that secured the yard a spot in the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base. The Mobile yard this month closed on the purchase of a ship repair facility formerly owned by World Marine of Alabama, an indirect subsidiary of Modern American Recycling and Repair Services of Alabama. It includes a 20,000-ton Panamax-class floating dry dock, 100,000 square feet of covered repair facilities and 15 acres of waterfront property along the Mobile River and Gulf of Mexico, according to a company statement. Shipyard President Craig Perciavalle told USNI News this week that the expansion fits in with its desires to continue building aluminum ships and to expand into building steel ships – manned or unmanned – as well as a desire to take on more repair work for the Navy and other customers. “We feel we’re putting ourselves, and we’ve put ourselves, in a very good place to continue to provide very capable but lower-cost ships to the Navy,” he said of the yard that today builds Independence-variant LCSs and Expeditionary Fast Transit (EPF) ships. “I have had some discussions with [Defense Secretary Mark] Esper, we are encouraged by the plan for, the need and the requirement for 355 ships or more maybe. And I think there’s plenty of opportunities for us to help the Navy grow the fleet, and we’re putting ourselves in a very good position to help the Navy do that long-term.” The yard expansion gives Austal ownership of a dry dock it was leasing to launch its ships into the Mobile River, eliminating any schedule problems the yard had to worry about in the past if its desired timeline didn’t match up with the dry dock’s availability to be leased. “We’ll just have complete control over it, and then we can have the priority for the dry dock be supporting our business, first and foremost,” Perciavalle said. He added that the rest of the facility, on the other side of the river and just south of Austal’s property, could be refurbished or upgraded in the future to support ship construction or repair activities as needed, giving Austal some flexibility as its future workload becomes clearer. Many in the Navy and industry have expressed concern about Austal’s future, with the company’s LCS construction coming to an end in a couple years – four ships are in construction at Austal and four more are in pre-construction – and its future with the EPF program still uncertain, as the Navy and Congress haven’t made any firm decisions about continuing the hot production line to build an ambulance ship variant of the hull. Austal competed to build the Navy’s FFG(X) frigate program and lost, leaving many wondering what would happen to the yard, its workforce and its suppliers. Perciavalle said he’s not worried about the yard’s future. “It’s no secret that we’re focused on the unmanned side of the business, we think there’s obviously plenty of opportunities there and we’re going to, hopefully – our plan is to be a major player in that side of the market,” he said. Austal is one of six companies selected to conduct industry studies on the Navy’s Large Unmanned Surface Vessel, and Austal also participated in the LUSV precursor by converting a vessel to an unmanned ship through the Pentagon’s Overlord USV prototype effort. “We are encouraged by discussions around additional EPFs going forward. EPF-15 has been in and out of the budget, and the latest discussions show that there might be some opportunities for that to get back in. I think it’s no secret that we’ve been looking at expeditionary medical ships that have been discussed, and we feel we’re in a pretty good place to support those needs to the Navy,” he continued, with the Congress this current fiscal year appropriating money to give EPF-14 a greater medical capability. “And then from a steel shipbuilding perspective, there’s certainly opportunities from that medium-sized type vessel: [Light Amphibious Warship] is one that we’ve been participating in. We have participated in some of the industry studies on [the Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Cutter]. And without getting into much more detail beyond that, there’s opportunities that exist across the board that we’re going to continue to look at and to pursue. “ Asked by USNI News if the range of work – from unmanned vessels to amphibious ships to Military Sealift Command support ships to Coast Guard cutters – spurred Austal to take a leap of faith and expand the shipyard now, Perciavalle said, “this is something that Austal’s done in the past, so been there done that. We leaned into the facility that we have today, committing much of those funds before (LCS) block buys were even awarded back in the ‘09 and 2010 time period. We have seen where the Navy looks like they’re going, and we’re leaning into those requirements going forward. There seems to be opportunities both on the steel ship side of things as well as aluminum, and we’re going to leverage our strength and what we’ve been able to do from an aluminum perspective, and take those same strengths and transition adding the steel capabilities.” “So yeah, it’s pretty interesting times, it’s pretty exciting. We’ve proven in the past that we’re pretty darn good at building lots of ships in a relatively short period of time. I think we’ve delivered 23 surface ships to the Navy over the last just over seven and a half years,” he continued. “We believe there’s value in that for the Navy and trying to expand to 355 in a reasonable timeframe, and I think leveraging the industrial base that we have here in Mobile is going to be important to the Navy’s ability to do that.” In addition to the physical expansion of the yard through the recent acquisition, Austal and the Defense Department are spending $100 million to bring a steel shipbuilding capability to the yard that today only builds aluminum ships. DoD offered its half under the Defense Production Act Title III (DPA) Agreement “to maintain, protect, and expand critical domestic shipbuilding and maintenance capacity,” according to a DoD announcement. The money, appropriated as part of the coronavirus pandemic relief bill passed by Congress in the spring, will not only help the Navy industrial base but will “accelerat[e] pandemic recovery efforts in the Gulf Coast region” by supporting the economy. Perciavalle said the yard decided to match the contract with its own $50 million investment in the steel shipbuilding capability. Perciavalle said another growth area for Austal is likely to be ship repair, though the Navy has not made its intentions public yet. Austal is somewhat challenged in that every single LCS it has built is stationed in San Diego, which is a Panama Canal transit away. The San Diego ship repair industrial base is under pressure to keep up with the Navy’s growing surface ship maintenance and modernization needs, and although Austal has a support office in San Diego and can contribute to pier-side work at the naval base, it cannot take on maintenance availabilities on its own yet. “The Navy’s aware of our interest in expanding our service business, and I think given the fact that they’re looking for increased capacity in that regard, I think it’s welcome,” he said. “And then we’ll just see how things go both here in Mobile, obviously continuing to support efforts on the West Coast, and then in Singapore,” where Austal has an office to support forward-deployed LCSs operating in the Indo-Pacific region. USNI News previously reported that Austal was trying to conduct some LCS work in Mobile after sea trials and ship delivery, but before the ships headed through the canal and onto San Diego. Perciavalle said that has continued, but that the ships are coming out of the yard with very little work waiting to be done during the post-shakedown availability. He said he hopes the Navy and the yard can find a way to bring more repair work to Mobile, to ease the strain in San Diego and to fully leverage the dry dock the yard now owns. Additionally, while his focus is maintaining the ships that Austal built, Perciavalle said “the sky is the limit” in terms of the yard taking on repair and modernization work for Military Sealift Command ships, Coast Guard ships or commercial vessels. “The facility has been in the past supporting various markets and will continue to do that going forward,” he said of the newly purchased property that also includes deep-water berthing space for in-water repairs in addition to the dry dock for out-of-water repairs. He noted that the team operating out of Singapore had contributed to the success of overlapping USS Montgomery (LCS-8) and USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) deployments there and that Austal planned to maintain or grow its presence in Singapore. “Our game plan is there will be at least two ships there going forward, we are fully prepared to support having two ships in Singapore or more,” as well as sending flyaway teams or setting up offices anywhere else the Navy chooses to hub the LCSs or EPFs around the globe. https://news.usni.org/2020/09/15/austal-expanding-yard-in-alabama-as-it-eyes-new-unmanned-amphibious-shipbuilding-programs

  • Japan Could Pick And Choose Components From Tempest

    2 décembre 2019 | International, Aérospatial

    Japan Could Pick And Choose Components From Tempest

    Bradley Perrett Japan says it wants international collaboration in developing its Future Fighter for the 2030s, but it wants to lead the project despite limited experience in fighter development. And it aims at a fighter much larger than any operated by a western European country ; the U.S. is not offering a possible joint project. That seems to leave only the choice of indigenous development, perhaps with help from a foreign technical partner.  Nevertheless, participation in the UK’s Tempest program may also be feasible. The Tempest project—which includes the Royal Air Force, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and MBDA—has a cooperation concept that leaves scope for Japan and other partners to use their own systems, weapons, propulsion and even airframes, says Air Commodore Daniel Storr, head of combat aircraft acquisition at the UK Defense Ministry.  The model described by Storr gives Japan the flexibility to choose the size of its own fighter. Though evidently not an objective, this mix-and-match approach also creates an opportunity for Japan to continue to claim development leadership—but also to save money by sharing systems. The policy goal of running its own fighter program, stated in 2018, has looked like a big obstacle to Japan’s participation in the Tempest or the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) project initiated by France and Germany. But if the Future Fighter shared only some features with Tempest, Japan could reasonably say it was leading its own program. BAE Systems promoted the Tempest program at the DSEI Japan exhibition held in Tokyo fromNov. 18-20. Prospective FCAS prime contractors, such as Airbus, did not show their concept. Storr outlined the flexible model of cooperative development at an exhibition conference, but Japanese speakers at that event did not comment on the prospect of Japan joining Tempest. In a Nov. 1 interview with The Financial Times, newly appointed Defense Minister Taro Kono seemed to play down the possibility of participation in a European program, saying Japan should explore all possibilities but needed to maintain interoperability with U.S. forces. Storr addressed that point, emphasizing that working with the U.S. was a high priority for the UK too. Japan’s alternative to international cooperation is developing a fighter by itself with the technical help of a foreign company. Lockheed Martin is supporting the Korea Aerospace Industries KF-X and BAE is helping the Turkish Aerospace Industries TF-X in such an arrangement. By working with Lockheed Martin, Boeing or Northrop Grumman, Tokyo would partially compensate the U.S. for its expenditures in defending Japan. But the U.S. would gain little from technical support fees, and Japan is already committed to buying 147 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightnings as the aircraft to precede the Future Fighters. The defense ministry has asked for the development of the Future Fighter to be launched in the fiscal year beginning April 2020. It is not clear whether that means mobilizing resources to commence full-scale development or taking some lesser step to firm up the commitment to create the aircraft.  For the past year, the government’s policy has been to launch no later than March 2024. However, Japanese companies, especially fighter builder Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), are pushing for a launch as soon as possible. They want to transfer knowledge to young engineers from the older generation that developed Japan’s last fighter, the MHI F-2, which the Future Fighter will replace. The UK does not want to commit to launching full-scale development of the Tempest before 2025, but its date for entry into service in 2035 meets Japan’s objective, which is sometime in the 2030s. Meanwhile, the FCAS program is aiming at 2040. Sweden and Italy are cooperating with the UK during the current early stage of Tempest research, while Spain has joined France and Germany for FCAS work. Like Storr, BAE has stressed the advantages of partners taking only as much of the Tempest as they want. “There is a range of different partnership models that can be considered,” says Andy Latham, who is working on the program.  “Japan has some great technology that any partner can benefit from. Their avionics industry is pretty effective.” The cooperation concept replaces the standard model, one in which partners spend years negotiating and compromising to define a design that all of them must accept. Instead, according to Storr, they can save time and money by agreeing to disagree—to the extent that each is willing to pay the extra cost of independent development and manufacturing of design elements. The Japanese defense ministry’s studies point to a need for a very big fighter with an empty weight well above 20 metric tons (40,000 lb.), larger than the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Superior endurance and internal weapon capacity are the key factors behind this choice. No western European country has operated a fighter more than about two-thirds as big, but Storr said a large configuration for the Tempest cannot be ruled out. The mockup exhibited at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow was bigger than the F-22. Still, the UK and other European partners might want a much smaller fighter; concept designs that have not been shown are not as big as the mockup. But the concept for cooperation would allow for Japan to devise its own airframe while, for example, using the same engine and some weapons, software and avionics as other partners. The architecture of the software is intended to be open, accepting different programs easily. Tempest researchers will consider which systems and capabilities will go into the fighter and which will be incorporated into the ammunition or an accompanying drone, which could be fully reusable or optionally expendable, Storr says. The FCAS program is taking a similar approach. The Tempest will need great capacity for generating electricity, he says, and the weapon bay should be regarded as a payload bay, perhaps for holding additional fuel that would extend endurance on surveillance missions. The Japanese finance ministry is insisting upon private investment in the Future Fighter program, in part to ensure contractors are fully incentivized to prevent failure. Contractors will be able to make money in civil programs from technology developed for the fighter, says the ministry, which is highly influential but does not have a final say. “Judging from past program examples, it is clear that the Future Fighter program would bring a risk of a budget overrun and schedule slippage, but would also benefit the private sector,” the finance ministry said in an October presentation to the Council on Fiscal Policy, an advisory body. “The government and private sector should invest funds and resources to build a failure-proof framework.” Noting that MHI used technology from the F-2 program in its development and manufacturing of the outer wing boxes of the Boeing 787, the ministry says contractors can expect to gain similar opportunities for civil applications of technology from the Future Fighter program—so they should invest in it. https://aviationweek.com/defense/japan-could-pick-and-choose-components-tempest

  • Airbus Defence and Space : focus sur le nouveau radar Captor E-Scan

    6 juillet 2020 | International, Aérospatial, C4ISR

    Airbus Defence and Space : focus sur le nouveau radar Captor E-Scan

    Air & Cosmos consacre un article aux performances du nouveau radar à balayage électronique Captor E-Scan. Airbus Defence and Space a récemment remporté un contrat pour le développement, la fourniture et l’intégration de 115 radars Eurofighter E-Scan destinés à la flotte allemande et espagnole d’Eurofighter. Ce radar, opérant en bande X, améliore « la portée efficaces des missiles air-air de l’avion et permet une détection et un suivi plus rapides et précis de plusieurs aéronefs en même temps », rappelle le magazine. « Le contrat pour le radar Captor E-Scan est une réalisation majeure pour équiper l’Eurofighter de capteurs qui assurent aujourd’hui la domination de l’avion », a déclaré Dirk Hoke, CEO d’Airbus Defence and Space.  Air & Cosmos du 3 juillet   

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