26 avril 2019 | International, Aérospatial

Troubled Lockheed Helicopter Needs New Review, Inhofe Tells Pentagon


The Pentagon needs to undertake another review of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s $31 billion CH-53K heavy lift helicopter program amid continuing technical problems and delays, according to the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Republican Senator James Inhofe said the importance of the CH-53K King Stallion to the Marine Corps means that a “comprehensive, independent update” on the long-delayed program is overdue. Inhofe's role leading the committee that authorizes defense spending means his request will almost certainly be heeded.

“We need to get it right, and this report should give us a current assessment and reestablish a baseline for the program to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely,” Inhofe said in a statement to Bloomberg News. The senator cited concern that the chopper “is more than a year behind schedule and has over 100 outstanding deficiencies that still require resolution.”

Full story: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-25/troubled-lockheed-copter-needs-new-review-inhofe-tells-pentagon

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  • OMFV: Army Wants Smaller Crew, More Automation

    20 juillet 2020 | International, Terrestre

    OMFV: Army Wants Smaller Crew, More Automation

    The draft RFP for the Bradley replacement, out today, also opens the possibility for a government design team to compete with private industry. By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.on July 17, 2020 at 1:51 PM WASHINGTON: The Army is giving industry a lot of freedom in their designs for its future armored troop transport, letting them pick the gun, weight, number of passengers and more. But there's one big exception. While the current M2 Bradley has three crew members – commander, gunner, and driver – a draft Request For Proposals released today says that its future replacement, the OMFV, must be able to fight with two. Fewer humans means more automation. It's an ambitious goal, especially for a program the Army already had to reboot and start over once. The other fascinating wrinkle in the RFP is that the Army reserves the right to form its own design team and let it compete against the private-sector contractors. This government design team would be independent of any Army command to avoid conflicts of interest. If the Army does submit its own design, that would be a major departure from longstanding Pentagon practice. But the Army has invested heavily in technologies from 50mm cannon to automated targeting algorithms to engines, so it's not impossible for a government team to put all that government intellectual property together into a complete design. The Army has embraced automation from the beginning of the Bradley replacement program, and that's been consistent before and after January's decision to reboot. OMFV's very name, Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, refers to the service's desire to have the option to operate the vehicle, in some situations, by remote control – eventually. But an unmanned mode remains an aspiration for future upgrades, not a hard-and-fast requirement for the initial version of the vehicle scheduled to enter service in 2028. By contrast, the two-person crew is one of the few hard-and-fast requirements in the draft RFP released this morning. It's all the more remarkable because there few such requirements in the RFP or its extensive technical annexes (which are not public). Instead, in most cases, the Army lays out the broad performance characteristics it desires and gives industry a lot of leeway in how to achieve them. That's a deliberate departure from traditional weapons programs, which lay out a long and detailed list of technical requirements. But the Army tried that prescriptive approach on OMFV and it didn't work. Last year, in its first attempt to build the OMFV, the Army insisted that industry build – at its own expense – a prototype light enough that you could fit two on an Air Force C-17 transport, yet it had to be tough enough to survive a fight with Russian mechanized units in Eastern Europe. Only one company, General Dynamics, even tried to deliver a vehicle built to that specification and the Army decided they didn't succeed. So the Army started over. It decided heavy armor was more important than air transportability, so it dropped the requirement to fit two OMFVs on a single C-17; now it'll be satisfied if a C-17 can carry one. In fact, it decided rigid technical requirements were a bad idea in general because it limited industry's opportunity to offer ingenious new solutions to the Army's problems, so the service replaced them wherever it could with broadly defined goals called characteristics. And yet the new draft RFP does include a strict and technologically ambitious requirement: the two-person crew. Now, since the OMFV is a transport, it'll have more people aboard much of the time, and when an infantry squad is embarked, one of them will have access to the vehicle's sensors and be able to assist the crew. But when the passengers get out to fight on foot, there'll just be two people left to operate the vehicle. A two-person crew isn't just a departure from the Bradley. This is a departure from best practice in armored vehicle design dating back to World War II. In 1940, when Germany invaded France, the French actually had more tanks, including some much better armed and armored than most German machines. But a lot of the French tanks had two-man crews. There was a driver, seated in the hull, and a single harried soldier in the turret who had to spot the enemy, aim the gun, and load the ammunition. By contrast, most German tanks split those tasks among three men – a commander, a gunner, and a loader – which meant they consistently outmaneuvered and outfought the overburdened French tankers. A lot of modern vehicles don't need a loader, because a mechanical feed reloads automatically. But in everything from the Bradley to Soviet tanks, the minimum crew is three: driver, gunner, and commander. That way the driver can focus on the terrain ahead, the gunner can focus on the target currently in his sights, and the commander can watch for danger in all directions. A two-person crew can't split tasks that way, risking cognitive overload – which means a greater risk that no one spots a threat until it's too late. So how do fighter jets and combat helicopters survive, since most of them have one or two crew at most? The answer is extensive training and expensive technology. If the Army wants a two-person crew in its OMFV, the crew compartment may have to look less like a Bradley and more like an Apache gunship, with weapons automatically pointing wherever the operator looks. The Army's even developing a robotic targeting assistant called ATLAS, which spots potential targets on its sensors, decides the biggest threat and automatically brings the gun to bear – but only fires if a human operator gives the order. Now, industry does not have to solve these problems right away. The current document is a draft Request For Proposals, meaning that the Army is seeking feedback from interested companies. If enough potential competitors say the two-man crew is too hard, the Army might drop that requirement. The current schedule gives the Army about nine months, until April 2021, to come out with the final RFP, and only then do companies have to submit their preliminary concepts for the vehicle. The Army will pick several companies to develop “initial digital designs” – detailed computer models of the proposed vehicle – and then refine those designs. Physical prototypes won't enter testing until 2025, with the winning design entering production in 2027 for delivery to combat units the next year. https://breakingdefense.com/2020/07/omfv-army-wants-smaller-crew-more-automation/

  • Israel orders hundreds of new combat vehicles for special forces

    17 juin 2022 | International, Terrestre

    Israel orders hundreds of new combat vehicles for special forces

    Israel will purchase hundreds of combat vehicles from Israel Aerospace Industries for the country's special forces in a deal worth more than $28 million.

  • Western Military Transport Aircraft Deliveries/ Retirements: 2020-2029

    16 mars 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    Western Military Transport Aircraft Deliveries/ Retirements: 2020-2029

    Aviation Week Network forecasts that over the next decade 888 new, Western-designed aircraft performing military transport missions will be built, while 634 will be retired. This figure includes aircraft of all sizes, everything from four-seat general aviation aircraft ferrying VIPs to the enormous C-5 Galaxy. It also includes aerial refueling tankers that perform transport missions, but not aircraft devoted full time to gunship, C4ISR, or maritime missions. The Lockheed Martin C-130 holds the number one spot for both deliveries and retirements over the forecast. The C-130 will make up 18.4% of deliveries and 34.9% of retirements as the ubiquitous prop transport sees many of its legacy models leaving military service at a more rapid pace than the newest J models enter. The Boeing 767-based KC-46 holds a solid second place in deliveries thanks to the U.S. Air Force's (USAF) planned acquisition of airframes over the next decade, making up 16.8% of the global delivery total. These aircraft are expected to replace the rapidly aging Boeing KC-135 and KC-10s in service with the USAF, which make up the fourth and fifth largest number of retirements. While the United States holds the top two delivery spots, the rest of the top ten is defined by a diverse array of transports from around the world. With over a quarter of transports in service in 2029 still undefined beyond requirements and open competitions, there is ample opportunity for the A400M, CN235/C295, C-27 or others to increase their market share, replacing both legacy western and Soviet-era transports. Source: Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN) 2020 Military Fleet & MRO Forecast. For more information about the 2020 Forecast and other Aviation Week data products, please see: http://pages.aviationweek.com/Forecasts https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/z/western-military-transport-aircraft-deliveries-retirements-2020-2029

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