According to BridgeNews, the Pentagon is seriously considering splitting the award of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), its next-generation fighter aircraft, between the Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. instead of making a single award to one or the other.

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are currently under contract to compete for a single contract to manufacture up to 6000 of the aircraft for several branches of the military, that could be worth more than $200 B. Due to be decided in May 2001, this would be the largest Pentagon contract in history.

Lower overall costs might be expected from a single award. The move to split it rather than keep it exclusive offers the significant benefit of guaranteeing the financial health of both contractors. Given the recent mergers of European defense contractors to strengthen their positions, neither the Pentagon nor the US aerospace industry wants to weaken US companies. The Pentagon is concerned that a single contract would severely weaken the loser and is considering a number of alternative approaches to keeping both involved. One company could act as lead contractor and the other as the principal subcontractor or the companies could compete for various designs and gain partial awards. A third possibility would be for one company to build for the Air Force and the other a separate model for the Navy to serve its particular needs. It's also likely that if a single contract is awarded, the loser would be an important subcontractor.

The US Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded a contract valued at $183 M to Raytheon Co. for a multiyear procurement of the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS) and related support equipment. Under the terms of the contract, Raytheon will deliver 45 Block 1 RAM systems over a five-year period for installation on DD-963, LSD, LPD-17 and CV/CVN ship classes. RAM is a lightweight, quick-reaction, high firepower missile system designed to provide antiship missile defense. The system's dual-mode, autonomous sensing seekers eliminate the need for shipboard support after launch. The GMLS includes a 21-round launcher and below-deck electronics. RAM is co-developed and co-produced under a North Atlantic Treaty Organization cooperative program between the US and German governments.

RAM is presently deployed on approximately 30 US and 35 German ships. More than 60 additional US and German installations are planned on amphibious classes, cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers and fast patrol boats.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has initiated the use of the Multi-sector Oceanic Data Link (MS-ODL) which was developed by the Raytheon Co. and provides electronic air/ground communication service between controllers and aircraft operating over the Atlantic Ocean. The system operates with Future Air Navigation System (FANS)-equipped aircraft. FANS is an international standard for avionics that is compliant with MS-ODL.

The FAA's New York Air Traffic Control Center began initial operations with the MS-ODL early this year. The system permits air traffic controllers to have two-way electronic communications with aircraft equipped with the data link without voice communication with radio operators. The MS-ODL system provides the means to automatically recognize a request from an aircraft for a change in altitude or route, check the request for potential conflicts and compose a reply subject to the controller's approval. Uplinked approvals for flight clearances are automatically loaded into aircraft flight management systems. Following experience with the system in a single New York sector, its use is expected to be expanded to Caribbean sectors later this year and, thereafter, to all of New York's North Atlantic sectors.

Two new "smart weapons" and a new reconnaissance pod recently were certified for use on the F-16. The weapons were developed from lessons learned during the 1991 Gulf War and will significantly enhance the aircraft's combat effectiveness.

The first of these weapons, the Lockheed Martin-produced Wind-corrected Munitions Dispenser, employs an inertial reference system that corrects for actual wind effects during a bomb's fall. The improved capability permits weapons to be delivered more accurately from high altitude. Depending on submunition, the cluster weapon has three versions: CBU-103 (BLU combined effects munitions), CBU-104 (BLU-91/92 mines) and CBU-105 (BLU-108 anti-armor sensor-used weapons). The second smart weapon, the EGBU-27 guided bomb, has an improved 2000-pound "bunker buster" warhead and multisensor guidance. It can be used as a precision laser-guided bomb or, if target coordinates are known, its Global Positioning System/inertial navigation system sensor can be used for guidance as a near-precision, all-weather launch and leave weapon. The new reconnaissance pod is the Theater Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS) built for the Air Force by Lockheed Martin Fairchild Systems. TARS subsystems include a forward oblique framing sensor, a medium-altitude electro-optical sensor, a digital recorder, a sensor controller and an environmental control system. The pod has been certified with a variety of stores combinations permitting the aircraft to perform multiple roles on a single mission.

A new strategic research report from Frost & Sullivan, "US Military Training and Simulation Markets," details the effects new technologies are having on those markets. The report estimates that the total 1999 revenues from the markets exceeded $1 B and forecasts that newly emerging technologies will play a strong role in their continued growth during the next few years.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on distributed mission training (DMT) programs, which involve the development of networked simulation technologies. The DMT programs permit fighter pilots to be trained in a common virtual environment while they are in separate simulators, often in remote sites. The US military hopes to develop similar programs that can be integrated among all three services. The arrangement would permit the three branches of the military to train cooperatively on a given mission in the same realtime synthetic battlespace. Photo rendered imaging is also beginning to find wide application in the military training and simulation markets. Developers will use actual photos and satellite imagery as the basis of simulated images for simulated training. Embedded technologies allow war fighters to conduct simulations in the platform, making training missions much more realistic.

Improved simulation technologies are expected to lead to lower platform and weapon acquisition and research, development, test and evaluation costs. New programs will focus on their use to reduce training costs and ensure interoperability among the services and among existing systems, a key issue in the market for reducing redundancies in development. For additional information contact Rolf Gatlin, Frost & Sullivan (210) 348-1017 or