January's top stories: Iron Dome upgraded as USAF CRH programme advances
1 February 2013 Liam Stoker
Bidding troubles will not hold back the US Air Force's combat rescue helicopter programme, while Israel validated enhancements to its Iron Dome missile defence system. Airforce-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from January 2013.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems received a contract modification from the US Air Force for the production of two further Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communication satellite systems.
The AEHF are the next generation of protected military satellite communications satellites designed to deliver enhanced global, survivable, protected communications for US warfighters and its allied militaries, including the UK, Canada and Netherlands.
Lockheed Martin Protected Communications area vice president Mark Calassa was quoted by Defense News as saying in a statement that the contract reaffirms the government's trust in the company's ability in affordable delivery of AEHF satellites to address requirements of strategic and tactical operators worldwide.
The USAF confirmed that it would move ahead with its multibillion dollar combat rescue helicopter programme, despite troubles sourcing bidding companies. Air force spokesman Ed Gulick revealed the intention, but refused to reveal the number of submitted bids.
A request for proposal (RFP) for the $6.8bn CRH programme, which is designed to replace the US military's ageing Sikorsky-built HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter fleet, was floated by the USAF in October 2012.
The CRH programme, a scaled-back version of the air force's previous CSAR-X programme, seeks production and delivery of 112 search and rescue aircraft, for personnel recovery operations in hostile locations, humanitarian missions, civil search and rescue, disaster relief, casualty and medical evacuation and non-combatant evacuation operations.
The UK MoD was reported as being close to ordering a new batch of Brimstone air-to-surface missiles from MBDA, aimed at replenishing stocks used by the RAF during Operation Ellamy in Libya.
Brimstone 2 variants were originally set to enter service in 2012, but due to a 28-month delay the new Brimstone order is set to bridge an inventory gap until such a time that the Brimstone 2 missiles are delivered.
Around 230 Brimstone missiles were launched by RAF GR4 Tornado fighters during the 2011 military intervention in Libya, prompting the MoD to order a new batch of dual mode missiles from MBDA in August of the same year.
The Israel Missile Defence Organization completed a series of pre-planned trials of the upgraded Iron Dome anti-rocket defence system, validating enhancements that are expected to boost the system's capabilities.
A statement by the Israeli Ministry of Defence (IMOD) was cited by Israel National News as saying that the system is also scheduled to undergo further testing in order to validate planned software and hardware improvements and several other features in the future.
Developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with significant funding support from the US, the Iron Dome is a mobile air defence system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and 155mm artillery shells in all weather conditions.
The USAF completed its testing of a flying wireless router, allowing targeting pods installed upon fighter aircraft to serve as communications relays for ground forces.
The router has been designed for Litening and Sniper advanced targeting pods, which are mounted on all legacy fighters.
The software's ability to enable ground forces, having line of sight to the aircraft, to communicate with each other using the remotely operated video enhanced receiver-5 (ROVER-5) was thoroughly validated by 40th FLTS test engineers during the testing.
Data gathered during the testing will be sent to the Precision Attack Systems Program Office by the middle of February 2013, following which the software will return to Eglin AFB for operational testing in anticipation of planned entry into service in 2014.