Tag Archives: Lockheed Martin

LCS to get Laser Zapper

Artist’s rendering of Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS system. The company picked up a $150 million contract to develop it for the Navy in 2018 to include a high-energy laser system for use against drones and small boats, a long-range ISR capability, and a counter-UAS dazzler capability. The version company’s LLD for use on the LCS is undoubtedly smaller but likely with the same attributes. Credit: Lockheed Martin

From DoD:

Lockheed Martin Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is awarded a $22,436,852 letter contract for the integration, demonstration, testing and operation of the Layered Laser Defense (LLD) weapon system prototype onboard a Navy littoral combat ship while that vessel is underway. Work will be performed in Moorestown, New Jersey (30%); Baltimore, Maryland (25%); Sunnyvale, California (12%); Woodinville, Washington (10%); Manassas, Virginia (5%); Dallas, Texas (15%); San Diego, California (2%); and Santa Cruz, California (1%). Key areas of work to be performed include development of a prototype structure and enclosure to protect the LLD from ships motion and maritime environment in a mission module format; system integration and test with government-furnished equipment; platform integration and system operational verification and test; systems engineering; test planning; data collection and analysis support; and operational demonstration. Work is expected to be complete by July 2021.

The total cumulative value of this contract is $22,436,852. The base period is $22,436,852 and no options are proposed. The action will be incrementally funded with an initial obligation of $11,218,426 utilizing fiscal 2019 research, development, and test and evaluation (Defense-wide) funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under N00014-20-S-B001, “Long Range Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science & Technology.” Since proposals are received throughout the year under the long-range BAA, the number of proposals received in response to the solicitation is unknown. The Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (N00014-20-C-1003).

A more LCS-like laser system from Lockheed-Martin is their Advanced Test High Energy Asset (ATHENA) device recently tested by the Air Force to splash drones at Fort Sill.

The radar track was provided to airmen who operated ATHENA via cues from the C2, then ATHENA’s beam director slewed, acquired, tracked and defeated the drone with a high-energy laser.

The ATHENA system shown here destroyed multiple drones in a real-world demonstration for the Air Force. Could it be coming to an LCS near you?

Staying frosty on Lake Michigan

As noted this week in a release from Lockheed-Martin:

Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 19, the future USS St. Louis, completed Acceptance Trials in Lake Michigan. Now that trials are complete, the ship will undergo final outfitting and fine-tuning before delivery. LCS 19 is the tenth Freedom-variant LCS designed and built by the Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT)-led industry team and is slated for delivery to the Navy early next year.

But going beyond that, the images of the ship on trials in Lake Mick are epic.

LCS 19 (St. Louis) completed Acceptance Trials in Lake Michigan.

LCS 19 (St. Louis) Acceptance Trials. December 2019. Photographed by Lockheed Martin

LCS 19 (St. Louis) Acceptance Trials. December 2019. Photographed by Lockheed Martin

LCS 19 (St. Louis) Acceptance Trials. December 2019. Photographed by Lockheed Martin

No matter what St. Louis goes on to do in her career, you can bet warship nerds will still be clicking “save as” on these far into the future.

NASA is funding a Supersonic X-Plane that is quiet

So Lockheed has been selected by NASA to build a prototype tech demo X-plane capable of what is termed “Low-Boom Flight” to be the precursor to an American Concord with 21st Century tech, and to tell you the truth, it is badass.

The presser:

NASA awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) Skunk Works® a contract to design, build and flight test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator, an X-plane designed to make supersonic passenger air travel a reality.

“It is super exciting to be back designing and flying X-planes at this scale,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics. “Our long tradition of solving the technical barriers of supersonic flight to benefit everyone continues.”

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works will build a full-scale experimental aircraft, known as an X-plane, of its preliminary design developed under NASA’s Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) effort. The X-plane will help NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning commercial supersonic travel over land.

“We’re honored to continue our partnership with NASA to enable a new generation of supersonic travel,” said Peter Iosifidis, Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator program manager, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “We look forward to applying the extensive work completed under QueSST to the design, build and flight test of the X-plane, providing NASA with a demonstrator to make supersonic commercial travel possible for passengers around the globe.”

Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and NASA have partnered for more than a decade to enable the next generation of commercial supersonic aircraft. NASA awarded Lockheed Martin Skunk Works a contract in February 2016 for the preliminary design of the supersonic X-plane flight demonstrator.

The aircraft will be built at the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works facility in Palmdale, California, and will conduct its first flight in 2021


In other news, Skunk Works is also busy on the purpose-built MQ-25 unmanned tanker concept for the Navy, which IMHO should have included an armed variant, but hey…if it stops F18s from being wasted as buddy fuelers, it’s a win

Gripen operational cost lowest of all western fighters: Jane’s

Gripen operational cost lowest of all western fighters: Jane’s

The study conducted by IHS Jane’s Aerospace and Defense Consulting, compared the operational costs of the Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-16, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 aircraft.

The operational cost of the Swedish Saab Gripen aircraft is the lowest among a flightline of modern fighters, confirmed a White Paper submitted by the respected international defense publishing group IHS Jane’s, in response to a study commissioned by Saab.

The paper says that in terms of ‘fuel used, pre-flight preparation and repair, and scheduled airfield-level maintenance together with associated personnel costs’, “The Saab Gripen is the least expensive of the aircraft under study in terms of cost per flight hour (CPFH).”

The study, conducted by Edward Hunt, Senior Consultant, at IHS Jane’s Aerospace and Defense Consulting, compared the operational costs of the Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-16, Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault’s Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 aircraft.

“At an estimated $4,700 per hour (2012 USD), the Gripen compares very favorably with the Block 40 / 50 F-16s which are its closest competitor at an estimated $7,000 per hour,” says the report, adding, “The F-35 and twin-engined designs are all significantly more expensive per flight hour owing to their larger size, heavier fuel usage and increased number of airframe and systems parts to be maintained and repaired. IHS Jane’s believes that aircraft unit cost and size is therefore roughly indicative of comparative CPFH.”

In comparison, the figure for the F/A-18 Super Hornet ranged from USD 11000 to USD 24000, depending on degree of operational capability. The figure for the Rafale was USD 16500 per flying hour and number for the Eurofighter Typhoon, derived from British Parliamentary figures and seeming to cover only fuel usage, was USD 8200. But Jane’s estimate of the actual Cost Per Flying Hour for the Eurofighter, keeping in mind supplies and scheduled maintenance raised the figure up to USD 18000.

The cost of operation of the F-35 appears to be in a whole other league. Jane’s cites Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) estimates for the conventional F-35 A, assuming operational service over 30 years with 200 hours per year for each aircraft, to amount to USD 21000 per hour of flight. The paper also sources US Navy projections of the cost of operation of the F-35 B & C variants until the year 2029, which come to USD 31000 per flight hour.

The report says the figures were based on data sourced from the respective operating militaries and governments, disclosed international fighter competition cost figures (Rafale, F-18 E / F, Gripen), manufacturer-stated figures (F-35, Rafale, F-18 E / F, Gripen) and IHS Jane’s estimates for all aircraft.

There are several caveats to this assessment. “Owing to the differing methods of calculating aircraft operating cost per flight hour and the large number of interlinked factors that affect such a calculation, IHS Jane’s believes that any flight hour cost figure can only be regarded as indicative and that there is no single correct answer to such a calculation,” says the report, but adds, “However, we believe that our results are of considerable merit and provide a useful benchmark when considering the costs associated with operating contemporary high performance combat aircraft.”

The report stresses that ‘without access to comprehensive military data over a significant timeframe’ the results ‘can only be regarded as approximate’ and ‘are an average cost across an entire fleet’.

The report says it is most confident about the data and its conclusions on the Gripen, F-16 and the F/A-18 ‘with good primary and secondary source data supported by logical results from our deductive modeling.’

The numbers for the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Rafale are less certain, in comparison, but the report submits that ‘the comparative modeling output appears to confirm IHS Jane’s estimates’ for them.

The report is least sure about the operational cost of the F-35 costs ‘owing to the absence of actual in-service data’. “IHS Jane’s does not feel that the modeled fuel cost figure is representative of likely CPFH costs,” it says.

Besides using primary and secondary sources and their own databases, IHS Jane’s also considered data thrown up by a ‘modelled assessment of relative cost based on fuel usage’. In the absence of a single global standard for calculating cost per flight hour IHS Jane’s arrived upon a list of factors which would determine this cost.

The study took into account, what it called, Basic cost calculations to the exclusion of a set of factors it grouped under the term, Comprehensive cost calculations, to arrive at a figure determined only by the characteristics of individual aircraft rather than complexity of operations, weapons or support elements.

The study ‘determined that the Basic CPFH was the more common value stated and that this was therefore regarded as a more accurate and useful indication of the cost of sortie generation for a particular aircraft’.

The other factors, under the Comprehensive cost calculations, were ‘more usually considered as part of the platform’s capital cost rather than the daily service cost of which the Basic CPFH was felt to be a more useful representation’.

For the purpose of modeling to create a standard or benchmark, the study arrived at the ‘aircrafts’ fuel usage, hence cost, based on a theoretical one hour sortie at max dry thrust’, not ‘necessarily reflective of actual fuel consumption and hence fuel cost of a one hour sortie’.

As is evident, the modeled cost pattern is closest to the derived cost pattern in the case of the Gripen, F-16, Rafale, and Eurofighter. The research and the model digress in the case of the F-35 and the F/A-18.

In the case of the F-35, the study says the different ‘costs arise from the differing power and specific fuel consumptions of the A / C and B models. The B model is the top figure in both cases’. The study says, “The single P&W F-135 engine is relatively fuel efficient for its power, resulting in a lower fuel burn at maximum dry thrust than might be expected.” It adds that, although obviously, ‘accurate CPFH for in-service aircraft does not exist’, ‘the US and Australian forecast costs both suggest it will not offer lower CPFH than current aircraft’, considering ‘the aircraft itself is an extremely sophisticated design carrying a large number of new and unproven onboard systems’.

The report thinks the digression with respect to the Super Hornet is ‘due to the size of the fleet and the experience the US Navy has in operating’ it, compared to the ‘small fleet of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) that has yet to reach Full Operational Capability’. It points out that ‘RAAF CPFH has fallen significantly as familiarity with the aircraft has grown, and is likely to fall further as this continues to improve’.

But the report also says the Super Hornet has ‘relatively high dry thrust ratings while the GE F414 engine is less efficient in specific fuel consumption than the engines of the similar-sized Rafale and EuroFighter aircraft’. And everything else being the same, the F/A-18 E/F ‘engines use more fuel and are hence relatively costly’ compared to the SNECMA or Eurojet engines, even though the US Navy aircraft have a relatively low CPFH.