Launch Failure Won’t Be a Long-Term Setback for SpaceX

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

SpaceX Falcon

SpaceX Falcon

On June 27, a SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying a Dragon cargo spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) broke apart shortly after launch. The launch vehicle lifted off at 10:21 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral launch site.

The Dragon capsule, the seventh launched under NASA’s Cargo Resupply Services (CRS) contract, was carrying supplies to the ISS, including food, scientific equipment, and station hardware. One of the more important pieces of equipment being carried was the International Docking Adaptor-1 (IDA-1), part of a universal docking system being developed by NASA so more companies can take part in ISS operations. The Dragon also carried eight CubeSats for Planet Labs. Continue reading

Cost, Politics Prove Decisive Factors in Royal Thai Navy’s Submarine Selection

Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst, Forecast International.

Yuan class diesel-electric submarine

Yuan class diesel-electric submarine

As part of its effort to resurrect a submarine capability after 64 years of dormancy, the Royal Thai Navy has selected a Chinese proposal to provide three submarines at a cost of THB12 billion ($355 million). The Chinese proposal was one of six offers, with the others coming from France, Germany, Russia, South Korea and Sweden. A majority of the 17-member submarine procurement committee appointed by the RTN voted in favor of the Chinese bid, with the remainder split between the bids from Germany and South Korea. In the end, the Chinese-built option was deemed the best value for the money and downselected as the preferred candidate. Continue reading

Embraer Well Positioned with Broad Product Line as Markets Recover

by Richard Pettibone, Aerospace & Defense Companies Analyst, Forecast International.

Embraer E-Jet E-2

Embraer E-Jet E-2

With the Great Recession pretty much over, Embraer now finds itself stronger both financially and product line-wise. The company celebrated a record backlog of $20.9 billion in 2014, and deliveries have also gained strength. Continue reading

In the Future, the MQ-4C Triton Will Use Radar to Autonomously Avoid Crashing

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

MQ-4C Triton (Source: U.S. Navy)

MQ-4C Triton (Source: U.S. Navy)

Under the terms of a $39.1 million modification to a pre-existing contract, Northrop Grumman will continue the process of remedying the MQ-4C Triton’s troubled sense-and-avoid, air-to-air radar subsystem.  The radar, once operable, will allow the unmanned aerial vehicle to autonomously sense and avoid other aerial objects, giving the platform true “drone” capabilities. Continue reading

Is This the End of Gearing?

by Stuart Slade, Warships Analyst, Forecast International.

Main Reduction Gearing

Main Reduction Gearing

Within a period of 20 years, dating from around 1960, when the first production gas turbine-powered ships entered service, to the early 1980s, marine gas turbines effectively destroyed the century-old steam turbine industry. This process involved not just the substitution of gas turbines for the existing combination of boilers and steam turbines, but also extensive changes to the logistics and support systems that had grown up around steam. Gas turbines required a lighter grade of fuel to run the most efficiently, and the processes by which they are maintained are completely different. The net effect was that, once the switch to gas turbines was made, going back was impossible. The marine steam turbine industry was dead. Continue reading

MDA Tops List of Commercial Communications Satellite Manufacturers

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

An artist's rendition of the Optus 10 satellite. Based on the Space Systems/Loral (SSL) LS-1300 platform.

An artist’s rendition of the Optus 10 satellite. Based on the Space Systems/Loral (SSL) LS-1300 platform.

Over the next 10 years, the top five commercial communications satellite manufacturers will be MDA, Airbus Defence and Space, Boeing, Thales, and Lockheed Martin. The companies are ranked based on forecast value of production of their satellite products between 2015 and 2024. Although it is recognized that other companies act as subcontractors, this list is determined by estimating revenues of the prime contractors in the commercial communications satellite industry. Continue reading

L-3 WESCAM’s MX-Series to Equip Airbus Helicopters’ H225M and H145M

By Andrew Dardine, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Airbus Helicopters H225M will utilize the M-X Series

Airbus Helicopters H225M will utilize the M-X Series

L-3 WESCAM announced at the Paris Air Show that variants of the company’s MX-Series had been selected by Airbus Helicopters as the targeting systems for its Generic Weapon Systems program. The systems will be key components of Airbus H225M and H145M helicopters, enabling these aircraft to engage in anti-submarine warfare, tactical troop transport, search-and-rescue, and medevac missions, as well as being employed for special operations. Continue reading

Sweden to Receive First ASW-Configured NH90 in the Fall

by Dan Darling, International Military Markets Analyst,  Forecast International.

NH Industries NH90

NH Industries NH90

On the eve of the opening of the 2015 Paris Air Show, Sweden’s defense procurement head Lena Erixon announced that the country would receive its first anti-submarine warfare (ASW) NH90 helicopter in the fall. Erixon made the announcement at the Swedish Air Force fan club event in Paris on June 14, while Swedish air chief Maj. Gen. Micael Byden noted that what had originally been pitched as a turnkey program in 2007 remains under development and has raised concerns within the service. Continue reading

A Proposed Super Tucano Sale to Lebanon Exposes Wider ALE-47 ECM Sales Opportunities

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Embraer A-29 Super Tucano

Embraer A-29 Super Tucano

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency recently announced the State Department’s approval to sell six Embraer A-29 Super Tucano aircraft to Lebanon. Aiding the plane’s close air support role would be the ALE-47 countermeasures dispensing system, which would protect the aircraft from enemy fire.  BAE Systems (the ALE-47 manufacturer most likely to be involved in this contract), under the terms of the potential contract, would supply eight of the ECM units, with six installed in the Super Tucanos and the other two serving as spares.  The contract, however, has not yet been signed. Continue reading

Bombardier Says Flight Test Results Bear Out CSeries’ Promise

By Ray Jaworowski, Senior Aerospace Analyst, Forecast International.

Bombardier CSeries

Bombardier CSeries

Fresh off a corporate reshuffle, Bombardier’s new management team is utilizing this year’s Paris Air Show as a high-visibility platform to show the world that flight testing of its all-new CSeries commercial airliner is displaying performance results that are better than had been initially targeted by the company.  Bombardier says that flight testing has indicated that both the CS100 and CS300 variants are exceeding their original targets for fuel burn, payload, range, and airfield performance.  For instance, Bombardier notes that the CSeries is delivering an improvement of more than 20 percent in fuel burn compared to current in-production aircraft in its class. Continue reading