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  • ADS Show : Thales avance sur la maintenance prédictive

    28 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    ADS Show : Thales avance sur la maintenance prédictive

    Par Emmanuel Huberdeau Thales présente au salon ADS Show un outil expérimental pour la maintenance prédictive. Depuis plusieurs mois, les équipes de Thales développent un outils expérimental de maintenance prédictive destiné à anticiper les pannes et les réparations sur les systèmes électroniques. Ce système de maintenance prédictive se nourrit de données récoltées par les utilisateurs, les responsable des réparations et les industriels. Un algorithme calcul ensuite les probabilités de panne de chaque équipement. L'outil peut ainsi identifier la probabilité qu'un matériel tombe en panne sur une période donnée et anticiper les pannes. L'utilisateur peut ainsi gérer sa flotte en opération en fonction de ces chiffres mais aussi optimiser sa logistique. Plus le volume de données est important plus les résultats de l'outil sont précis. C'est pourquoi Thales cherche a obtenir plus d'informations encore via l'intégration de capteurs dit HUMS capables d'enregistrer les paramètres liés à chaque équipements. Thales annonce être le premier industriel a développer des outils de maintenance prédictive pour des systèmes électroniques. Pour mener ses expérimentations, Thales s'est basé sur des équipements embarqués sur le Rafale. Les essais ont démontré une capacité du système à prévoir huit pannes sur dix. Les expérimentations ayant porté leurs fruits, Thales prévoit désormais de présenter mi 2019 un système industrialisé. Celui-ci pourra alors servir de base pour développer une interface homme-machine adaptée aux besoins des militaires français. Outre le Rafale, Thales pense pouvoir appliquer son outils de maintenance prédictive dans un premier temps à l'ATL2 et à l'hélicoptère Tigre.

  • U.S. Army Awards AM General $51.3 Million Contract For High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles

    28 septembre 2018 | International, Terrestre

    U.S. Army Awards AM General $51.3 Million Contract For High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles

    SOUTH BEND, Ind., September 26, 2018 – Global vehicle solutions provider, AM General, has been awarded a $51.3 million contract to recapitalize High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) for the U.S. Army. The company will utilize its longstanding and proven Public Private Partnership (PPP) program with the Red River Army Depot (RRAD) to deliver mission-capable, like-new M1152 and M1165 HMMWV variants. “We recognize the value of a modernized vehicle fleet for the U.S. Army and this contract award is a testament to our commitment for continued innovation and vehicle system improvements to ensure mission readiness for our service men and women,” said Chris Vanslager, AM General Executive Vice President – U.S. Defense. “The HMMWV platform is incredibly nimble and adaptable; over the life of the program, it has received a multitude of improvements.” The current program will recapitalize existing U.S. National Guard assets. Selected vehicles will be disassembled at RRAD, go through a rigorous initial inspection, and modified in accordance with the recapitalization requirements. The recapitalized vehicle bodies will then ship to AM General's Mishawaka Manufacturing Campus, where they will be mated to a new production rolling chassis. The resulting product is a modernized HMMWV with automotive improvements including substantial increase in overall vehicle reliability, improved steering geometry for maneuverability, and increased-capacity 4L85E transmission, improved front mounted HVAC system, addition of Antilock Braking System and Electronic Stability Control, and an improved powertrain cooling system. About AM General AM General designs, engineers, manufactures, supplies and supports specialized vehicles for military and commercial customers worldwide. Through its military business, the company is widely recognized as the world leader in design, engineering, manufacturing and logistics support of Tactical Vehicles, having produced and sustained over 300,000 vehicles in over 70 countries. Through its heritage companies, AM General has over 100 years of experience meeting the changing needs of the defense and automotive industries, supported by its employees at major facilities in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, and a strong supplier base that stretches across 43 states.


    28 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial


    Supply Chain Competition Continues to Reduce Cost and Enhance Capability FORT WORTH, Texas, Sept. 27, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has selected Harris Corporation (NYSE: HRS) to develop and deliver the next generation Integrated Core Processor (ICP) for the F-35 fighter jet. The Lockheed Martin-led competition within the F-35 supply chain will significantly reduce cost and enhance capability. The F-35's ICP acts as the brains of the F-35, processing data for the aircraft's communications, sensors, electronic warfare, guidance and control, cockpit and helmet displays. "We are aggressively pursuing cost reduction across the F-35 enterprise and, after conducting a thorough review and robust competition, we're confident the next generation Integrated Core Processor will reduce costs and deliver transformational capabilities for the warfighter," said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. "The next generation Integrated Core Processor for the F-35 will have positive benefits for all customers in terms of life cycle cost, capability, reliability and more." The new Integrated Core Processor is a key element of the planned "Technology Refresh 3" modernization that takes advantage of fast evolving computing power to ensure the advanced F-35 remains ahead of evolving threats. Additional elements in the tech refresh include the Panoramic Cockpit Display Electronic Unit and Aircraft Memory System, which were also recompeted and awarded to Harrislast year. Reduce Costs, Increased Performance The Harris-built ICP will be integrated into F-35 aircraft starting with Lot 15 aircraft, expected to begin deliveries in 2023. The next generation ICP system is targeted to generate the following results compared to the current system: 75 percent reduction in unit cost 25 times increase in computing power to support planned capability enhancements Greater software stability, higher reliability, and increased diagnostics resulting in lower sustainment costs An Open System Architecture to enable the flexibility to add, upgrade and update future capabilities "The new F-35 ICP will pave the way for system scalability well into the future," said Ed Zoiss, president, Harris Electronic Systems. "Open systems are the future of avionics and Harris has invested substantial R&D to deliver more affordable and higher performance solutions than would have been possible using proprietary technology." Supply Chain Optimization The ICP selection comes on the heels of Lockheed Martin's selection of Raytheon for the Next Gen Distributed Aperture System, which will reduce lifecycle costs by more than $3 billion, enhance reliability and increased capability. "With production ramping up and the operational fleet growing fast, we are looking at every layer of our global supply chain to find opportunities to increase capacity, reduce production and sustainment costs, improve parts reliability and enhance capabilities," said Ulmer. In addition to competition, the company is transitioning several F-35 suppliers to longer term Performance Based Logistics contracts to enhance parts availability and reduce sustainment costs. Previously under annual contracts, the new 5-year PBLs allow each supplier to make longer term investments and actions to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. With radar evading stealth technology, advanced sensors, enhanced weapons capacity, supersonic speed and superior range, the F-35 is the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft ever built. More than a fighter jet, the F-35's ability to collect, analyze and share data is a powerful force multiplier enhancing all airborne, surface and ground-based assets in the battlespace and enabling men and women in uniform to execute their mission and come home safe. For additional information, visit About Lockheed Martin Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. This year the company received three Edison Awards for ground-breaking innovations in autonomy, satellite technology and directed energy. About Harris Corporation Harris Corporation is a leading technology innovator, solving customers' toughest mission-critical challenges by providing solutions that connect, inform and protect. Harris supports government and commercial customers in more than 100 countries and has approximately $6 billion in annual revenue. The company is organized into three business segments: Communication Systems, Space and Intelligence Systems, and Electronic Systems. Learn more at SOURCE Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company


    28 septembre 2018 | International, Naval


    Construction will begin in first half of 2019 WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2018 – The U.S. Navy awarded the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) team a fixed price incentive fee contract to build an additional Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). LCS 29 will be built in Marinette, Wisconsin, at FMM, the Midwest's only naval shipyard, and is the 15th Freedom-variant LCS ordered by the U.S. Navy to date. The team will leverage capital investment and improvement in the shipyard and efficiencies created with serial production to maintain high quality at an affordable cost. "We are excited to continue our partnership with the U.S. Navy and FMM to build and deliver increasingly capable ships to the fleet,” said Joe DePietro, vice president, Lockheed Martin Small Combatants and Ship Systems. "With the Freedom-variant in serial production, we continue to enhance efficiency, incorporate capability while maintaining ship and program affordability." Since the LCS program's inception, Freedom-variant LCS production has injected hundreds of millions of dollars into local economies throughout the Midwest. The program supports thousands of direct and indirect jobs throughout the United States, including more than 7,500 in Michigan and Wisconsin alone. The Lockheed Martin and FMM team is in full-rate production of the Freedom-variant, and has delivered seven ships to the U.S. Navy to date, including two this year – the future USS Sioux City and the future USS Wichita. There are seven ships in various stages of construction at Fincantieri Marinette Marine. Lockheed Martin's Freedom-variant LCS is highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable. Originally designed to support focused missions such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare, the team continues to evolve capabilities based on rigorous Navy operational testing; sailor feedback and multiple successful fleet deployments. The Freedom-variant LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littorals. For additional information, visit: About Lockheed Martin Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 100,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. This year the company received three Edison Awards for ground-breaking innovations in autonomy, satellite technology and directed energy. About Fincantieri Marinette Marine Fincantieri is the leading western shipbuilder with a rich history dating back more than 230 years, and a track record of building more than 7,000 ships. Fincantieri Marine Group is the American subsidiary of Fincantieri, and operates three Great Lakes Shipyards: Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, and Fincantieri ACE Marine. Fincantieri Marine Group's more than 2,100 steelworkers, craftsman, engineers and technicians in the United States specialize in the design, construction and maintenance of merchant ships and government vessels, including for the United States Navy and Coast Guard. About Gibbs & Cox Gibbs & Cox, the nation's leading independent maritime solutions firm specializing in naval architecture, marine engineering and design, is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. The company, founded in 1929, has provided designs for nearly 80 percent of the current U.S. Navy surface combatant fleet; approaching 7,000 naval and commercial ships have been built to Gibbs & Cox designs.

  • Russia plans to arm its most advanced fighter with new hypersonic air-to-air missiles meant to cripple the F-35 stealth fighter

    28 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    Russia plans to arm its most advanced fighter with new hypersonic air-to-air missiles meant to cripple the F-35 stealth fighter

    Ryan Pickrell Russia's most advanced fighter jet, the Sukhoi Su-57, will reportedly carry the hypersonic R-37M long-range air-to-air missile, a new weapon with the ability to strike targets hundreds of miles away. The Chinese are developing similar systems for their fighter jets. These weapons, assuming US rivals can take them from testing to deployment, could pose a threat to rear support aircraft such as early warning and aerial refueling aircraft, key force multipliers for American jets like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. Russia reportedly plans to arm its most advanced fighter jet with a powerful hypersonic air-to-air missile that can take aim at aircraft nearly two hundred miles away, making them a potential threat to critical US air assets. The Su-57 multipurpose fighter jet, a fifth-generation stealth fighter built for air superiority and complex attack operations that is still in development, will be armed with the new R-37M, an upgraded version of an older long-range air-to-air missile, Russia Today reported Thursday, citing defense officials. The Russian Ministry of Defense is reportedly close to completing testing for this weapon, the development of which began after the turn of the century. With a reported operational range of 186 to 248 miles and a top speed of Mach 6 (4,500 mph), the R-37M is designed to eliminate rear support aircraft, critical force multipliers such as early warning and aerial refueling aircraft. Russia asserts that the missile possesses an active-seeker homing system that allows it to target fighter jets during the terminal phase of flight. While Russia initially intended to see the weapon carried by the MiG-31 interceptors, these missiles are now expected to become the primary weapons of the fourth-generation Su-30s and Su-35s, as well as the next-generation Su-57s. The weapon's specifications were modified to meet these demands. The Russians are also apparently developing another very long-range air-to-air missile — the KS-172, a two-stage missile with a range said to be in excess of the R-37M's capabilities, although the latter is reportedly much closer to deployment. China, another US competitor, is also reportedly developing advanced long-range air-to-air missiles that could be carried by the reportedly fifth-generation J-20 stealth fighter. The China Dailyreported in January 2017 that photos of a J-11B from the Red Sword 2016 combat drills appeared to show a new beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile. "China has developed a new missile that can hit high-value targets such as early-warning planes and aerial refueling aircraft, which stay far from conflict zones," the state-run media outlet reported, citing Fu Qianshao, an equipment researcher with the People's Liberation Army Air Force. Slow, vulnerable rear-support aircraft improve the overall effectiveness of key front-line fighter units, such as America's F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, which just conducted its first combat mission. The best strategy to deal with this kind of advanced system is to "send a super-maneuverable fighter jet with very-long-range missiles to destroy those high-value targets, which are 'eyes' of enemy jets," Fu told the China Daily, calling the suspected development of this type of weapon a "major breakthrough." The missiles being developed by US rivals reportedly have a greater range than the American AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), giving them a potential edge over US military aircraft. The Russian Su-57 is expected to enter service in 2019, although the Russian military is currently investing more heavily in fourth-generation fighters like the MiG-29SMT Fulcrum and Su-35S Flanker E, which meet the country's air combat needs for the time being. Russia canceled plans for the mass production of the Su-57 in July after a string of development problems. There is some evidence the aircraft may have been active in Syria earlier this year, but the plane remains unready for combat at this time. Military analyst Michael Kofman previously told Business Insider that the Su-57 is "a poor man's stealth aircraft," adding that it doesn't quite stack up to the F-35 or F-22.

  • Navy Awards Ingalls 6 Destroyers, Bath Iron Works 4 in Multiyear Deal; Ingalls to Build Both 2018 Ships

    28 septembre 2018 | International, Naval

    Navy Awards Ingalls 6 Destroyers, Bath Iron Works 4 in Multiyear Deal; Ingalls to Build Both 2018 Ships

    By: Megan Eckstein The Navy awarded six of its next Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to Ingalls Shipbuilding and four to General Dynamics Bath Iron Works, in a combined $9-billion purchase right at the end of the fiscal year. The two companies had been competing for work in a five-year multiyear procurement (MYP) deal that would cover at least 10 Flight III destroyers. The contracts span Fiscals Years 2018 – which ends on Sunday – through 2022. “These contract awards are further evidence of the Navy's continued delivery of lethal capacity to the nation with a sense of urgency while ensuring best value for the taxpayer,” Navy acquisition chief James Geurts said in a Navy news release. “The Navy saved $700 million for these 10 ships by using multiyear procurement contracts rather than a single year contracting approach. We also have options for an additional five DDG 51s to enable us to continue to accelerate delivery of the outstanding DDG 51 Flight III capabilities to our Naval force. We executed this competition on a quick timeline that reflects the urgency in which the Navy and our industry partners are operating to ensure we meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy.” Ingalls Industries' contract is worth $5.1 billion and covers two ships in FY 2018 and one a year in FY 2019 through 2022. It also includes options for additional ships, which may be subject to a future competition with BIW. Bath Iron Works' contract is valued at $3.9 billion and covers one ship a year in 2019 through 2022 – and none in the short-term in 2018. According to the Navy statement, “each shipbuilder's contract contains options for additional ships in FY18/19/20/21/22, providing the Navy and/or Congress flexibility to increase DDG 51 build rates above the 10 MYP ships in the Navy's FY 2018 budget request, if appropriated.” Lawmakers in the House and Senate armed services committees have pushed for faster acquisition of the destroyers, and in the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act they authorized the Navy to enter into a multiyear procurement contract with the two builders for as many as 15 destroyers – three a year, compared to the previous shipbuilding rate of two a year. The lawmakers on the appropriations committees only provided money to buy two ships in 2018, but they did fund three DDGs in the 2019 spending bill, which the Senate passed last week and the House passed this week. It is unclear if that third ship in FY 2019 would have to be competitively awarded or if the Navy would be allowed to select a shipyard based on schedule, performance or other factors – the contract announcement notes the options “may” be subject to a competitive process. Program officials had been mum during the competition on their acquisition strategy and how to handle options for additional ships. All the ships covered under this pair of contracts is for the Flight III configuration, which is built around the powerful AN/SPY-6(v) Air and Missile Defense Radar. “This procurement will efficiently provide Integrated Air and Missile Defense capability for our future fleet while strengthening our critical shipbuilding and defense industrial base,” DDG-51 program manager Capt. Casey Moton said in the news release. “The Navy is proud to be working alongside the dedicated shipbuilders at BIW and Ingalls to continue to deliver these warships to the fleet.” Moton told USNI News in a December 2017 interview that the contracts would be structured in such a way that additional ships – beyond the previous two-a-year rate – could be added easily if the Navy deemed it a priority in its spending request or if lawmakers wanted to add in more funding. With this contract award, the two shipyards – who, for a time after the production line had restarted remained neck-and-neck on contract awards and deliveries – will further diverge. Ingalls Shipbuilding was awarded a contract in June 2017 to begin work on its first Flight III ship, DDG-125. Two months later, Bath Iron Works was awarded a contract that would have the yard build DDG-126 with a Flight III configuration but DDG-127 in the older Flight IIA design, like the rest of the ships in the previous multiyear procurement contract. Though Navy and congressional officials would not comment while the competition was occurring, Bath Iron Works had been challenged to balance the Arleigh Burke-class program and the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer program. Keeping DDG-127 – which Congress incrementally funded in FY 2016 and 2016 – at the Flight IIA design would help ease the yard into Flight III production. The yard will not be building any new destroyers in FY 2018, according to the contract announcement, whereas Ingalls will take on two Flight III ships.

  • Here’s how the Corps could shave about 6 pounds off your body armor

    28 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre

    Here’s how the Corps could shave about 6 pounds off your body armor

    By: Shawn Snow The Corps is in the beginning stages of researching a new, lighter alternative ballistic body armorplate for counterinsurgency style conflicts that is nearly six pounds lighter than the legacy plates. And on Thursday, it held an industry day with 16 companies vying to produce the Corps' latest body armor. The goal is to reduce battlefield fatigue and provide commanders with flexibility on the type of armor protection they decide to carry into combat, according to Keith Pierce, the armor team lead for Infantry Combat Equipment at Marine Corps Systems Command. While the current Enhanced Small Arms Protective, or ESAPI, have been highly effective in saving lives on the battlefield, they weigh nearly a combined 15 pounds, the Corps wants to shave that down to roughly 8.6 pounds for a medium-sized Marine, Pierce said. But don't expect the ESAPI to disappear just yet. The new plates are being crafted for low intensity threat environments like the counterinsurgency style wars that have embroiled American forces for nearly 20 years. While the new plates will “defeat a preponderance of threats” in low intensity conflicts, the ESAPIs will still be “critical in some threat environments,” Pierce explained to Marine Corps Times. But the changes to the new plates are still likely to be minimal. The Corps has decided to keep the same basic shape of the ESAPI, and there's unlikely to be any major changes in materials used to construct the armor plates “The materials for plates haven't had a big tech leap,” Pierce said. “A lot of people are trying to find that next leap.” The Army recently fielded a new plate, but its relatively of the same construction as the ESAPI, according to Pierce. “There may be incremental changes ... like the ceramic improving a little bit,” Pierce explained. But Pierce said he didn't expect any major changes over the next five years. “We are looking at some unique things,” he added. A lot of data and analysis is being pored over, to include assessments of the threat environment by the intelligence community for the construction of the new plates. So far, the Corps has tested a prototype of the lighter plates and found Marines had nearly eight percent faster mobility over the heavier ESAPIs. The new plates — when combined with the new Plate Carrier Gen III system — will reduce a Marine's load burden by a total of eight to 10 pounds, according to Pierce. The Corps expects to award a contract sometime in fiscal 2019 for the lightweight plates, and fielding might kick off in 2020, Pierce said.

  • Is this the Marine Corps' next amphibious combat vehicle?

    28 septembre 2018 | International, Naval, Terrestre

    Is this the Marine Corps' next amphibious combat vehicle?

    By: Todd South MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. ― The winner of a contract to develop the Marine Corps new amphibious combat vehicle, the first of its kind in four decades, showcased a potential variant that would give commanders eyes on all areas of the littoral battlefield, on-board drones and targeted hand offs to any ACV in their formations. BAE Systems guided reporters through the interior of the vehicle, on display at this year's Modern Day Marine Expo in Quantico, Virginia, on Tuesday. The variant isn't one that the Marines have yet requested, but John Swift, program director for BAE's amphibious vehicles, said the model was an effort to showcase what's possible with the new vehicle. Marines selected the BAE version earlier this year over SAIC's proposed vehicle. Swift noted that decision keeps BAE as the sole company providing such vehicles to the Corps since 1941. They've got to build 30 vehicles by the end of next summer, Swift said. Those vehicles will then go through testing before modifications and the composition of the fleet is decided. Marines want at least two variants as production begins in the next two years: a turreted assault vehicle and a command and control vehicle. As of now, the Corps' official numbers call for 704 ACVs for the fleet when full rate production begins in 2022. That number is planned to be completed within six years, Swift said. The composition of the fleet is still undecided, so the initial 30 vehicles delivered for testing will be basic platforms. But that was before an announcement reported by Defense News this week that the survivability upgrade contract for the existing AAV fleet of an estimated 392 AAVs was cancelled. The move is in line with larger National Defense Strategy aims to ramp up modernization by prioritizing money for those programs rather than legacy platforms. Marine Corps Program Executive Office for Land Systems spokesman Manny Pacheco told reporters at this week's expo that the early version, or ACV 1.1 outperformed expectations and delivery of the new vehicles would not take much longer than the planned upgrades, which could shorten the calendar. The deliveries were about six months apart, he said. Meaning that the brand-new vehicles would arrives shortly after the upgraded vehicles were planned. Swift and Pacheco said separately that the ACV 1.1 was able to both launch and recover, meaning return to ship. That wasn't an expectation until later versions, which sped up the capability development of the new vehicle, giving the Marines other options in how they would pursue modernizing the fleet. In a question and answer posting about the ACV by the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, officials at the time said they would continue the upgrade program even if the early ACV versions achieved a “self-deployable capability.” The posting noted that the upgraded AAVs will “address capability gaps that need to be closed as soon as possible.” It went on to say that the aged AAV fleet also accounts for one-third of the Corps' lift capacity and “will need to remain operationally effective in the force until their replacements are procured.” Later in production there's also interest in building a recovery ACV, Swift said. The new ACV has a host of differences and capabilities not on the more than 40-year-old AAVs but most immediately noticeable is it is an eight-wheeled vehicle. Gone are the treads of the tracked AAV. When asked about tire performance by reporters, Swift said that in testing the ACV was able to travel another 30 km with three debilitated tires. The same questions and answers list had several reasons for wheels over tracks: Greater mobility in complex, littoral terrain; • Increased IED protection (2X). • Reduced fuel consumption (

  • US Air Force awards $9B contract to Boeing-Saab for next training jet

    28 septembre 2018 | International, Aérospatial

    US Air Force awards $9B contract to Boeing-Saab for next training jet

    By: Valerie Insinna WASHINGTON — A Boeing-Saab partnership has won a $9.2 billion contract to produce the U.S. Air Force's next-generation training jet. Boeing's award for the T-X trainer program marks the third major victory by the company in about a month, following an $805 million contract to build the Navy's first four MQ-25 unmanned tankers, and a contract worth up to $2.38 billion to manufacture the Air Force's Huey replacement helicopter. The T-X downselect was first reported by Reuters. As the winners of the competition, Boeing and Swedish aerospace firm Saab are set to capture sales of at least 351 training jets to the U.S. Air Force, with possibly more in the international market. The program promises to keep Boeing's tactical aircraft business strong after the F-15 and F/A-18 Super Hornet lines disappear in the next decade. "Today's announcement is the culmination of years of unwavering focus by the Boeing and Saab team,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing's defense business. “It is a direct result of our joint investment in developing a system centered on the unique requirements of the U.S. Air Force. We expect T-X to be a franchise program for much of this century.” The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract will allow the Air Force to buy up to 475 aircraft and 120 simulators, the Air Force said in a Sept. 27 statement, although the current plan is to buy 351 T-X aircraft, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment. The Air Force stated that the T-X program originally was to cost about $19.7 billion, and that Boeing's bid shaved $10 billion off that amount. “This new aircraft will provide the advanced training capabilities we need to increase the lethality and effectiveness of future Air Force pilots,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said in the news release. “Through competition we will save at least $10 billion on the T-X program.” Although the contract could be worth up to $9.2 billion, that sum is by no means a sure thing for Boeing. During a briefing with reporters on Thursday afternoon, Will Roper, the service's acquisition executive, and Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, its top uniformed acquisition official, said the $9.2 billion amount would be obligated to Boeing if the service executes all of options that would allow it to buy more aircraft at a quicker pace, purchasing all 475 planes. Additionally, Boeing assumes the preponderance of the risk with the T-X program, which starts as a fixed-price incentive fee contract, but at the fifth lot will transition to a firm-fixed price structure, Roper and Bunch said. Boeing and Saab's clean-sheet trainer, designed specifically for the Air Force, beat out Leonardo DRS and a Lockheed Martin-Korea Aerospace Industries partnership. Throughout the competition, the Boeing-Saab jet was seen as the front-runner by analysts like Roman Schweizer of Cowen Washington Research Group, who pointed to Boeing's aggressive bidding strategy and ability to absorb financial losses on programs like the KC-46 tanker aircraft. The T-X program is the Air Force's last major aircraft procurement opportunity up for grabs for some time, as the service's contracts for its next-generation fighter, tanker and bomber have already been awarded, as have the last remaining new-start helicopter contracts. As such, the decision could potentially trigger a protest with the Government Accountability Office. But Roper and Bunch pointed to the repeated interaction with industry through the competition, which could shield it from a protest, and lessons learned from previous programs on how to structure a competition. Roper also defended the service's selection of Boeing's design, which was the only proposed aircraft that was not a modified version of an existing plane. “We have a very deliberate process to evaluate risk, cost, and technical factors in the program and so its rigorous because we do have to evaluate things that have variances in them. The team looked at that, rolled up cost benefit, technical factors sand risk, to give best value to the government and overall our assessment was Boeing had a proposal that was best value,” Roper said. Under the initial $813 million award, Boeing will be responsible for delivering five T-X aircraft and seven simulators, with the first simulators arriving at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. According to the T-X request for proposals issued in December 2016, the Air Force will then execute contract options for two batches of low-rate production and eight rounds of full-rate production. The contract also includes ground training systems, mission planning and processing systems, support equipment, and spares. Initial operating capability is planned by the end of fiscal 2024 when the first squadron and its associated simulators are all available for training. Full operational capability is projected for 2034. Beyond the 351-aircraft program of record, analysts have speculated there could be significant international interest in T-X from countries that plan to fly the F-35 fighter jet or from the U.S. Air Force as it considers buying new aggressor aircraft for air-to-air combat training, making the opportunity potentially even more lucrative. Although each of the three competing teams offered very different trainers to the Air Force, they were united by their cooperation with international aircraft manufacturers. Boeing partnered with Saab, which is building the aircraft's aft fuselage and other systems. The team produced two single-engine, twin-tailed prototypes, which were unveiled at Boeing's St. Louis, Missouri, facility to much fanfare in 2016. Saab promised that, should the partnership emerge victorious, it would build a new plant in the United States for its T-X work, although a location has not been announced. Leonardo DRS and Lockheed Martin offered modified versions of existent designs, hoping that a mature aircraft would be more palatable as the U.S. Air Force continues to foresee budgetary challenges in its future. DRS' T-100 is based on the Leonardo M-346 trainer, which is being sold to two F-35 users — Italy and Israel — as well as Singapore. Leonardo initially looked to partner with a big-name U.S. defense prime, first joining with General Dynamics and then, when that teaming agreement fell apart, Raytheon. Ultimately, Leonardo and Raytheon couldn't agree on pricing for the T-100, leading that partnership to also break up in January 2017. After Leonardo DRS was tapped to prime the program, the company announced its intention to do structural subassembly, final assembly and check out of the aircraft stateside at Moton Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, where it would build a new $200 million facility. Lockheed Martin meanwhile joined with Korea Aerospace Industries — a longtime collaborator who manufactured South Korea's version of the F-16 — for a modified version of KAI's T-50. Lockheed said that its T-50A would be built in Greenville, South Carolina, where it also plans to fabricate the F-16 in the future.

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