June's top stories: Northrop $10bn B-2 upgrade, Sikorsky $1.3bn deal

USAF awarded $9.9bn B-2 modernisation and sustainment contract to Northrop, Sikorsky secured $1.3bn search and rescue helicopter development deal and Lockheed received $1.86bn contract to complete two more GEO satellites for US. Airforce-technology.com wraps-up the key headlines from June.


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USAF awards $9.9bn B-2 modernisation and sustainment contract to Northrop

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems was awarded a $9.9bn contract to support the modernisation and sustainment of the US Air Force's (USAF) B-2 Spirit stealth bomber aircraft.

The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) flexible acquisition sustainment team (FAST) II contract covers B-2 enhancements, sustainment logistics elements, including sustaining engineering, software maintenance and support equipment.

The contract commits 2014 research, development, test and evaluation funds amounting to $6.35m at time of award on delivery order 0001 for common very low frequency receiver increment 1 (CVR INC 1).

US awards $1.3bn search and rescue helicopter development deal to Sikorsky

The US Air Force was awarded a $1.28bn contract to Sikorsky Aircraft to develop and supply four new CRH-60 combat search-and-rescue helicopters.

The company, a subsidiary of United Technologies, will develop the helicopter on the UH-60M Black Hawk model.

The new helicopter will replace a previous Sikorsky product HH-60G Pave Hawk as the air force's combat rescue helicopter.

The air force is planning to procure 112 aircraft under the programme that has a potential value of approximately $7.9bn.

Lockheed gets $1.86bn contract to complete two more GEO satellites for US

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Lockheed Martin received a $1.86bn contract from the US Air Force to complete the production of the fifth and sixth space-based infrared system (SBIRS) geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) satellites.

The satellites also support missile defence, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness.

Lockheed Martin Overhead Persistent Infrared mission area vice-president Jeffrey Smith said the SBIRS satellites provide capabilities critical to US national defence.

"This contract is the third part of a thoughtful acquisition strategy aimed at further reducing cost and cycle time for GEO-5 and GEO-6, while still providing exceptional data to the warfighter," Smith said.

US suspends F-35A operations after fire mishap at Eglin base

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The US Air Force (USAF) suspended flight operations of all F-35A aircraft following a fire mishap involving one of the fighters at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) in Florida, US.

One of the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing caught fire in the aft end while taking off on a training flight; the pilot aborted the take off and escaped unhurt.

The US Department of Defense temporarily grounded the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) fleet earlier this month for inspections following an oil leak on a US Marine Corps F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona.

US lower house blocks A-10 and KC-10 retirement

The US House of Representatives blocked the retirement of the air force's A-10 Thunderbolt II close-combat support aircraft fleet and Boeing KC-10 Extender refuelling tanker.

The House voted against the retirement as part of the $570bn defence appropriations bill that was passed with a vote of 340-73.

The original budget proposal by the White House recommended the retirement of A-10, Lockheed Martin U-2 and the Bell Helicopter OH-58D; the first two have been voted to be retained while the Bell helicopter will be retired, reported Flight Global.

Iraq seeks US help in airstrikes on ISIL insurgency

The Iraq Government requested US airstrikes in order to combat ongoing violence led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Answering questions at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee's defence subcommittee, US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman army general Martin Dempsey confirmed that Iraq has requested US airstrikes against the Sunni insurgents.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Department of Defense is providing various options to US President Barack Obama, but any US military intervention in Iraq, including airstrikes, would require 'clear objectives'.

UK MoD unveils first RAF CH-47 Mark 6 Chinook helicopter

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) unveiled the first CH-47 Mark 6 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Odiham in Hampshire, UK.

Around 14 Mk6 Chinook helicopters were ordered by the MoD along with a five-year support package from Boeing under a £1bn deal in August 2011, to help enhance the RAF's existing heavy-lift helicopter capability.

After unveiling the helicopter, UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the new helicopters will provide a significant uplift in helicopter capability by operating as the battlefield workhorse of the RAF, and supporting the UK army on the front line in future.

Iraq receives first F-16 aircraft from Lockheed

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The Iraqi Air Force (IQAF) received its first F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Lockheed Martin during a ceremony at the latter's facility in Fort Worth, Texas, US.

A total of 36 F-16 C/D Block 52 fighters were ordered by Iraq from Lockheed in September 2011 and October 2012, to help rebuild its air force.

The newly delivered aircraft is armed with four AIM-9L/M heat-seeking air-to-air missiles, two AGM-65 Maverick missiles, as well as a Lockheed-built AAQ-33 Sniper targeting pod, reported Flightglobal.

RQ-4 Global Hawk UAS conducts first flight in UK

The US Air Force's (USAF) RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) has completed its first operational flight in UK airspace.

The UAS flew from an air base in the Mediterranean and across several European countries, including the UK, as part of a Nato trial, code-named Unified Vision 2014, to aid the development of the Nato alliance ground surveillance (AGS) system.

UK Joint Forces Command capability director and Ministry of Defence unmanned air systems spokesman air vice marshal Phil Osborn said the trial would help in the development of the Nato AGS system and the future airspace integration of RPAS.

UK joins AEHF communications satellite network

The UK officially joined the US, Canada and the Netherlands in using the Lockheed Martin-produced Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) protected communications satellite system.

The first connection was made by the UK in Febraury this year and since then testing has been conducted with both shore variants of the Navy Multiband Terminal (NMT) at Colerne Airfield, Wiltshire and the NMT ship variant from Telemetry & Command Station in Oakhanger, Hampshire.

Lockheed Martin Protected Communication Systems vice-president Mark Calassa said: "AEHF is a keystone in global security. It is the only system that can provide highly-protected communications, circumventing our adversaries' jammers in most wartime operations."