Perseverance Pays Off for Sierra Nevada Corp in CRS Win, Putting Company in Strong Position

By Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Sierra Nevada Corp's  Dream Chaser

Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser

After a nearly two-year-long search, in January 2016 NASA announced the winners of its second round of Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts. Two of the winners, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, already had contracts under the first CRS program, making their wins entirely unsurprising. Although not considered a favorite in the competition, Sierra Nevada Corp (SNC) also won an award. Continue reading

Bulgaria’s Ever-Elusive Fighter Acquisition Reaches Crunch Time

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

Bulgarian MiG-29s are slated for phase out.

Bulgarian MiG-29s are slated for phase out.

Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry continues to press for new combat aircraft to replace the Bulgarian Air Force’s Soviet-vintage MiG-29 Fulcrum fleet. Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev told local media on January 13 that if a contract is signed by year-end 2016, the new fighter fleet could be brought into service within a three-and-a-half-year timeframe. Continue reading

Alcoa to Split Soon, Intensifying Focus on Aerospace

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

New Alcoa spin-off will focus on aerospace. Source: Alcoa

New Alcoa spin-off will focus on aerospace. Source: Alcoa

Alcoa’s strategy of expanding its operations in downstream markets has reached its zenith with the announcement that the company will split in two by mid-2016.

Over the past few years, Alcoa has been building up its aerospace business via acquisitions in order to capture a greater share of this booming market. Traditionally, the company has focused on its upstream businesses, primarily aluminum and alumina. However, with a glut in aluminum markets brought on by increased Chinese exports, the company decided to break its operations into two publicly traded corporations. Alcoa’s traditional business, which also includes better-performing bauxite and alumina, will retain the Alcoa name. The new “value-add” company has yet to be named. Continue reading

Hungary Swims against NATO Tide, Seeks Russian Helicopters

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

Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter.

Mi-24 Hind attack helicopter.

As tensions between Moscow and the West persist nearly two years after Moscow’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, the trend among Eastern European nations that are members of the NATO Alliance has been to move away from Russian-sourced military hardware. Most of these former Warsaw Pact states are seeking to retire their aging and obsolete Soviet-vintage equipment and replace such materiel with NATO-standard, Western-produced hardware. Continue reading

EA-18G and F-35 Drive Demand for Key Electronic Warfare Simulator Program

By Andrew Dardine, Electronic Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

A Pair of U.S. Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. Source: U.S. Air Force

A Pair of U.S. Air Force F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. Source: U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Navy’s EW Simulator Development program will receive steady funding over the next several years. For 2016, $30.6 million will be spent on the effort that advances training technologies for the EA-18G Growler and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. For 2017, $25.5 million has been allocated for the program.

The EA-18G and F-35 will be produced in growing numbers over the next several years. These platforms will require constant testing and evaluation to ensure that their electronic warfare systems will be able to protect the aircraft from both current and future threats.

The EW Simulator Development program develops simulation facilities and approaches that will allow planners to evaluate the effectiveness of EW systems in real-world engagement situations and to introduce modern, effective systems into naval aviation.

Current and emerging EW systems that directly benefit from the EW Simulator Development effort include the ALR-67 radar warning receiver, the ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures suite, and the Next Generation Jammer, among many others.

Based on an estimated projection of the FY16 U.S. defense budget, $209 million will likely be spent on the program through 2025.


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USAF Kicks Off Prime Contractor Search for $4.9 Billion GPS III Program

By Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

GPS III.

GPS III.  Source – U.S. Air Force.

The U.S. Air Force has started an effort to build next-generation GPS (GPS III) spacecraft. The USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) on January 8 to begin a Production Readiness Feasibility Assessment to study how prepared companies are for the manufacture of additional GPS III spacecraft that will follow the first 10 spacecraft that Lockheed Martin is building. Continue reading

Serbia and the Endless Military Modernization Rumor Mill

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

Flag of Serbia

Flag of Serbia

Reports in Serbian media coming in the wake of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s visit to Belgrade on January 11-12 to discuss intergovernmental trade and economic and technological cooperation between the two countries indicate that Serbia’s government continues to press Moscow for a potential sale of MiG-35 fighters. According to statements by Rogozin, the sale of these combat aircraft would be included in a larger package of military systems, primarily concentrated towards Serbia’s land and air forces. Continue reading

Airbus and Boeing Report December and Full-Year 2015 Commercial Aircraft Orders and Deliveries

Boeing Delivers Record 762 Jets in 2015. Airbus Wins Orders Race.

By J. Kasper Oestergaard, European Correspondent.

Boeing delivered a record 135 787 Dreamliners in 2015 and has announced plans to increase the overall production rate to 12 per month in 2016 and to 14 per month by the end of the decade.  Photo Courtesy: The Boeing Company

Boeing delivered a record 135 787 Dreamliners in 2015 and has announced plans to increase the overall production rate to 12 per month in 2016 and to 14 per month by the end of the decade.
Photo Courtesy: The Boeing Company

Boeing and Airbus delivered 53 and 79 commercial jets in December 2015, respectively, compared to 71 and 61 in November. December deliveries were unusually low for Boeing and unusually high for Airbus, which might indicate some year-end “fiddling” to reach desired 2015 totals. In 2015, Boeing delivered 762 aircraft, ahead of Airbus’ 635. Both Boeing and Airbus beat their 2015 delivery targets of 750-755 and ~630 aircraft, respectively. Boeing saw its lead in the 2015 delivery race be reduced to 127 units, from 153 units in November and 143 units in October. In 2014 and 2013, Boeing delivered a total of 723 and 648 jets, respectively, compared to Airbus’ 629 and 626. Boeing has been able to increase deliveries significantly in recent years, mainly due to the ramp-up in production of the 787 Dreamliner (135 delivered in 2015). Airbus is slowly ramping up deliveries of its A350 XWB and this, combined with a higher A320 production rate of 46 per month from Q2 2016, means that the company will soon begin narrowing the gap in the deliveries race. In December, Airbus delivered four A350s and it has delivered 15 aircraft to date (the first aircraft was delivered in December 2014). The company expects to deliver more than 100 A350s in 2018, when the production rate will hit 10 per month (the current 787 production rate).

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A Milestone for Japan Could Mean Profits in France

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronics Analyst, Forecast International.

ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft. Source - ShinMaywa Industries.

ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft.    Source – ShinMaywa Industries.

With Japan entering the global defense trade, a French electronics company looks like it could reap some benefits. It all hinges, though, on which equipment the deal specifies and if the deal is even executed.

During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s December 12 visit to India, an agreement was reportedly reached. India would purchase 12 ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft to fulfill a maritime search-and-rescue requirement. If executed, the agreement would see at least two of the planes produced in Japan, with the other 10 being produced by a yet-to-be-decided Indian partner. Continue reading

Lockheed’s VUIT In Demand to Assist in Reconnaissance Missions

By Greg Giaquinto, Electronics Analyst, Forecast International.

VUIT System. Source - Lockheed Martin.

VUIT System.   Source – Lockheed Martin.

Access to real-time video is a crucial aspect of reconnaissance operations, providing key battlefield intelligence by identifying adversaries and their assets. As such, sales opportunities abound for Lockheed Martin’s VUIT-2 (Video from Unmanned aircraft for Interoperability Teaming-Level 2) system, which has been available since 2009. This kit-based system enables Apache helicopter aircrews to view streaming video and metadata from unmanned aerial systems (UAS).  The system also gives Apaches the ability to receive video from aircraft equipped with advanced targeting pods (ATPs).    Continue reading