News From Washington
Pac-3 Test Packs a Bonus
A recent test of the new and improved Pac-3 PATRIOT interceptor missile at the White Sands Missile Range proved to be more impressive than planned. The $12 M test was designed to gather data and check the missile's ability to detect, track and engage a target. However, the Pac-3 also intercepted and hit the target - a Hera test missile that had been fired six minutes earlier from approximately 175 miles away. The test flight was the first for the onboard radar seeker, which locates the target and feeds information to an onboard processor that determines homing commands. Unlike the original PATRIOT missile, which was used during the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and employed a proximity warhead to destroy its targets, the Pac-3 is a hit-to-kill weapon. The updated version is designed to protect troops by actually hitting enemy ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft.
Tactical Command and Control System Operational in Middle East
Air Force units in Kuwait now have a more capable command and control system that is able to provide total air defense coverage during a conflict, including the planning and execution of theater air operations. Developed by Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, the improved Operations Module has been successfully fielded and fully deployed in the Middle Eastern nation ahead of schedule. The fielding of additional Operations Modules is on schedule for delivery to air control squadrons in Europe and the Republic of Korea. Full deployment is expected to be completed by the fall.
The primary functions of the Operations Module are aircraft control and warning, close air support coordination and control, airspace management, airborne airstrike coordination and control, ground target sensor surveillance and tactical airlift support. When linked to their AN/TPS-75 radars, these deployable command and control centers are capable of forming expeditionary air control squadrons that provide complete flexibility to joint force commanders.
Upgrades to the Modules include the addition of secure voice equipment, improved access to global communications, the capability to electronically receive an air tasking order and the capability to process and exchange data over a Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) network. JTIDS, a jam-resistant, spread spectrum, UHF frequency-hopping system that delivers high capacity, secure data and voice transmission capability, has become the US Defense Department's primary tactical data link. The integration of JTIDS into the Operations Module enhances the system's interoperability and makes it the only system in the Air Force currently able to forward JTIDS data to other tactical data links while providing support to theater operations and delivering sustained, 24-hour airspace surveillance, battle management, and command and control.
Greece to Purchase 50 Additional Lockheed Martin F-16s
Following a long and intense evaluation that included consideration of the Boeing F-15 and several other fighters on the world market, the government of Greece has announced plans to purchase at least 50 more Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft. Greece has already taken delivery of 80 F-16s purchased under previous orders, and will be acquiring an advanced version of the F-16 designated the F-16 Block 50+. (The advanced version includes the latest core avionics and color displays, conformal tanks for extended range and other advanced capabilities.)
The total program, including the aircraft, mission equipment and a support package, is worth approximately $2 B to various suppliers; the value to Lockheed Martin is approximately $1.4 B. Delivery of the new aircraft will begin approximately 24 months after contract signature, which is anticipated to occur later this year following Congressional approval.
More than 3900 F-16 aircraft have been delivered to the air forces of 19 countries. Lockheed Martin has a firm backlog for 130 additional aircraft not including the new sale to Greece and other pending orders. The US Air Force intends to purchase at least 30 additional F-16s over the next several years.
Lockheed Martin Wins $135 M E-2C Radar Contract
Defense Daily reports that Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $135 M contract to supply 22 APS-145 airborne surveillance radars for the US Navy's Northrop Grumman E-2C carrier-based airborne early warning and control aircraft. The contract is the largest order to date for the APS-145 radar and includes options for eight more radar sets and kits for foreign sales that could bring its total value to more than $200 M.
The US Navy, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Israel and France operate the E-2C for airborne surveillance and border patrol. The APS-145 also has been modified for use on the US Customs Service P-3C patrol aircraft and the EC-130J early warning and control aircraft, both also by Lockheed Martin.
Raytheon to Develop JPALS
Raytheon Company has been awarded a $5.8 M Air Force contract to develop the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS), a future multiservice, low visibility landing system that replaces aging systems with a single technology for all services and missions. JPALS is a military variant of the local area augmentation system (LAAS) civil landing system technology that will provide improved low visibility operations in benign and hostile environments and military/civil interoperability. Both the military and civil versions of this technology augment the basic GPS signal, providing precise and reliable landing guidance in a format already familiar to pilots.
During the initial 32-month JPALS program contract phase, Raytheon will develop the system's architecture, validate standards, and build and test prototype ground and avionics systems. Raytheon Systems Company's Integrated Systems Division ATC group in Salt Lake City, UT is leading this project as well as a Federal Aviation Administration/industry partnership program to develop the civil LAAS.
US State Department to Control Satellite Component Sales
Communications Daily reports that the US State Department is moving to control all overseas commercial satellite exports. The US Commerce Department is concerned that a transfer of satellite-related items formerly on the Commerce Control List to the State Department's Munitions Control List could hamper US aerospace companies unnecessarily and overstep the intentions of Congress. The State Department claims that the National Defense Act of 1999 transfers to it the export authority for all satellite components, accessories, attachments and related technical assistance, including, without exception, all launch support activities. Concerns by some in the satellite industry that the State Department would fail to distinguish between friendly nations and those that could pose a security risk when dealing with satellite exports might be alleviated by its International Traffic in Arms Regulations. The primary beneficiary of the turf war between the Commerce and State Departments will be France, the second largest supplier of satellite components.