US Army Lets Long Range Advanced Surveillance Systems Contract

DRS Technologies has received a contract to provide Long Range Advance Scout Surveillance Systems (LRAS3) for the US Army's High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles. The $8.7 M contract was awarded by Raytheon System Company's Electronic Systems operation in McKinney, TX and provides additional funding and added scope to the LRAS3 program. Work for the contract will be done at the company's DRS Optronics unit in Palm Bay, FL.

The long range multi-sensor LRS3 provides real-time detection, recognition, identification and pinpointing of distant target locations for the US Army's Scout vehicles. It bridges the gap between systems now in the field and the Future Scout and Cavalry System, and enables heavy battalion and regimental scouts to conduct 24-hour reconnaissance and surveillance missions while remaining outside the acquisition and engagement range of threats. Usually deployed on the M1114 HMMWV in a mounted configuration, it can also be used on tripodes during dismounted missions. The system provides precise target location by employing Second Generation Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), a global positioning system interferometer, a laser range finder and a television camera.

The M1114 HMMWV Scouts are frequently deployed to assist heavy battalion missions in remote areas with rough terrain and difficult conditions where agility is a primary requirement for supporting multi-pronged strategies during ground conflicts. The vehicles provide light, tactical, mobile platforms for command and control, special purpose shelter carriers and special purpose weapons.

US Firms Face European Challenge as Fighter Market Enters Transitional Period

A new report from Forecast International/DMS, "The World Market for Fighter/Attack/Jet Trainer Aircraft -- 2001-2010," finds, that while the next generation of combat aircraft is moving into production, timetable slippages have afforded manufacturers of current designs opportunities to lobby for attrition buys from their own governments and to offer their products on the international market.

The Boeing F-15 is cited as the most obvious beneficiary of these developments. The report notes that although the program appeared to be in its final stages a year ago, the US Air Force has ordered 10 more with FY00-01 funds, Saudi Arabia wants another 24 and Korea's airforce would like to use the F-15 to fill its F-X new fighter requirement. Another small USAF F-15 buy is expected since the F-22, its intended replacement, failed to achieve all the milestones required for a Low Rate Initial Production decision in December 2000.

Forecast International expects the market to gain momentum during the next 10 years and forecasts a total production of 3,500 aircraft in the class valued at $124 B in the 2001-2010 period. Boeing is expected to lead the field with deliveries of 600+ aircraft worth $27.6 B. The Eurofighter consortium is expected to take second place with sales of $21 B and the Lockheed/Boeing's F-22 is expected to account for sales of $16.5 B.

At this time, the US Air Force is still buying small numbers of F-16s from Lockheed Martin, the company is promoting the aircraft in international competitions and its current backlog stands at more than 230 units. The selection of the final contractor (or contractors) for the Joint Strike Fighter is due in late 2001. The Eurofighter Typhoon is in production and Greece has committed to up to 90 aircraft. Dassault Aviation has delivered the first Rafale Ms to France, it reports interest from several other nations and will deliver the initial Rafale Bs to France in mid-decade. Saab has a 28-unit order from South Africa for its JAS Grippen and is selling it aggressively to some eastern European and Latin American prospects. The T/A-50 advanced trainer designed by Samsung in collaboration with Lockheed Fort Worth is scheduled to fly in 2002.

The report expects that Boeing and Lockheed will face very stiff competition from a European industry offering its Eurofighters, Rafales and Grippens. It also expects that if its cost and performance targets can be met, the Joint Strike Fighter will be very difficult to beat. For additional information, contact: Bill Dane, Forecast International (203) 426-0800, ext. 146.

Next Decade US Defense Electronics Market to Rank With the Best

Another new report from Forecast international/DMS, "Overview of the US Defense Electronics Market," forecasts that the next 10 years will be the decade of production and procurement in that market. Considering current production alone, defense electronics is predicted to generate nearly $128 B in sales during the coming 10 years.

The study notes that ships, aircraft and vehicles are becoming too expensive to simply replace and increased emphasis will be placed on upgrading existing systems to extend their operational lives. The concept is much like when a PC starts to get outdated, it is usually quicker and cheaper to upgrade key components than go out and buy a new system. The study finds that many of the "next-generation" defense electronics systems developed in the 1990s are now being built and deployed. With their production runs expected to continue until at least 2015, the US defense electronics segment will be the healthiest and most profitable of the entire US defense market.

Procurement is forecast to rise to $13.5 B in 2005 as the newest versions of military electronics equipment begin their deployments. The market is forecast to peak in 2006 and 2007 and decline thereafter to a level of approximately $10.9 B in 2010. After 2010, emphasis and funds will shift from production to the research and development required for "future technology" systems. For additional information, contact: Richard Sterk, Forecast International (203) 426-0800.

Tactical Air Control Party Equipment Modernized

Technology acquired by the US Air Force Electronics Systems Center, Hanscom AFB has the potential for increasing the effectiveness of the Air Force's Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP).

The TACP, typically a two-man airman team, works in an Army ground unit directing close air support firepower toward enemy targets on the ground. The TACP modernization program involves four main products, a dismounted multi-band radio, a laser range finder, a computer software suite and a vehicle-mounted package radio.

The dismounted radio, the Manpack, is a multi-band, multimode radio covering VHF, UHF and UHF SATCOM communications bands. The unit is also compatible with the single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System used by the Army. The Manpack takes the current three radios and combines those into one. Last year, 221 Harris PRC-117F Manpack Radios were delivered to TACP units. A contract for an additional 561 radios has been let and the first 230 units are scheduled for delivery by July 2001. The radio upgrade has cost a bit more than $10 M. The new Mark VII Eyesafe Laser Range Finder, which looks like a regular pair of binoculars, also enhances TACP capability by replacing previous range estimates with precision coordinate information. When someone looks through the range finder, it emits a laser beam onto the target, which bounces back and provides the exact coordinates. Litton Laser Systems will build 184 units at a cost of $9 M and deliver the first of these in March 2002. Paper maps will be replaced with continuously-updated computer generated displays that will indicate the user's location, will display enemy coordinates using data from the range finder and will track incoming aircraft. A prototype hand-held computer will be evaluated for the application. The entire dismounted systems package, computer, radio and range finder will fit into a single rucksack. Systems are scheduled to be fully deployed by December of next year.