U.S. Air Force Awards Hypersonic Weapon Contract as Pentagon Continues Broader Development Efforts

by Shaun McDougall, Military Markets AnalystForecast International.

High-Temperature Structures Concept Image
Source: Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin has been awarded a contract worth up to $480 million for the conduct of a Critical Design Review and to provide test and production readiness support for the U.S. Air Force’s Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW, pronounced “Arrow”), one of the service’s ongoing hypersonic weapon development efforts.  The Air Force is obligating $5 million at time of award.  Contract work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, and is expected to be completed by November 30, 2021.     Continue reading

USAF Awards Rocket Engine Development Contracts

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Atlas V liftoff (Credit: ULA)

Atlas V liftoff (Credit: ULA)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded two new contracts, worth a combined $161.9 million, as part of its effort to develop a replacement for the RD-180 rocket engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne was awarded $115.3 million to continue development of its oxygen/kerosene-fueled AR-1 booster engine, while United Launch Alliance (ULA) was awarded $46.6 million to continue work on the Blue Origin’s liquefied natural gas-fueled BE-4. ULA will also use funding to work on the Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES).[i] Continue reading

Northrop Grumman Outlook Strengthens with LRS-B Win

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

Long Range Strike-Bomber Concept. Source: Northrop Grumman

Long Range Strike-Bomber Concept. Source: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman secured its position as a military aircraft producer when the U.S. Air Force selected it to produce the next-generation Long Range Strike-Bomber.

At a time when sales have been slowly sliding, the program win breathes new life into the country’s fifth largest defense contractor. Prior to this, the company was ably managing the slowdown in defense spending. The firm embarked on a strategy that entailed increasing program performance, aggressively pursuing new business, reducing cost structures, and aligning its portfolio to match customer spending priorities. Continue reading

Fifth and Sixth SBIRS Satellites Get an Update

by Bill Ostrove, Space Systems Analyst, Forecast International.

Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS)

Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS)

The U.S. Air Force’s fifth and sixth Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) reconnaissance satellites will be based on updated versions of Lockheed Martin’s A2100 platform. The contract modification was signed on June 9 following negotiations between the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center and Lockheed Martin Space Systems. The effort will modernize the geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) spacecraft for the fifth and sixth satellites at no additional cost to the $1 billion bulk-purchase contract originally awarded in June 2014.
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EISS & ASIP Endure, in Turbulent Air

by Zachary Hofer, Forecast International. 

RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk (Source: Northrop Grumman)

RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk (Source: Northrop Grumman)

The EISS and ASQ-230 ASIP are living in tumultuous times. Northrop Grumman’s Enhanced Integrated Sensor Suite (EISS) and ASQ-230 Airborne Signals Intelligence Payload (ASIP) make up the two primary electronics systems on board the U.S. Air Force’s RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle (UAV). They are expensive and they require constant RDT&E funding in order to stay relevant. While the EISS has the benefit of being fitted to international-spec Block 30s, the ASQ-230 ASIP, containing far more sensitive intelligence technologies, has been deleted globally. The ASIP does hold one advantage over the EISS, however, in that it has also been specified for another, even more rarified application: the U-2 spy plane.

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Operational Awareness Technology – A $215 Million USAF Project to Improve Threat Intelligence

by Greg Giaquinto, Forecast International.

The U.S. Air Force’s Operational Awareness Technology project is a multifaceted effort that will continue to be supported by the defense budget even in the face of pressures to lower costs. FI is projecting that the Air Force will allocate around $215 million toward this project over the next 10 years, with some $39 million to be spent from FY15 through FY16 alone. Driving these expenditures is the Air Force’s push for a network-centric, collaborative intelligence analysis capability.

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