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IAF Will Buy 14 Tejas Squadrons, Lowering Costs

By on Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

India’s own fighter, the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), is playing a growing role in protecting Indian airspace. On December 20, when the Tejas was cleared for operational service in the Indian Air Force (IAF), Defence Minister A K Antony declared 200 Tejas fighters would eventually enter combat service. Today, that figure quietly swelled to well above 300, with the government indicating the IAF would have at least 14 Tejas squadrons.

Each IAF combat squadron has 21 fighter aircraft; 14 squadrons add to 294 Tejas fighters. The 21 comprise 16 frontline, single-seat fighters, two twin-seat trainers and three reserve aircraft to make up losses in a war.

In a written statement tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday, Antony’s deputy, Jitendra Singh, stated, “The MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircrafts of the IAF have already been upgraded and currently equip 14 combat squadrons. These aircraft, however, are planned for being phased out over the next few years and will be replaced by the LCA.”

So far, the IAF has committed to inducting only six Tejas squadrons — two squadrons of the current Tejas Mark I, and four squadrons of the improved Tejas Mark II. In addition, the navy plans to buy 40-50 Tejas for its future aircraft carriers.

Since the programme began in 1985, about Rs 7,000 crore have been spent on the Tejas Mark I, which obtained Initial Operational Clearance in December, allowing regular IAF pilots to fly it. By the end of this year, when it obtains Final Operational Clearance, it would have consumed a Budget of Rs 7,965 crore.

An additional Rs 2,432 crore has been allocated for the Tejas Mark II, which takes the total development cost of the IAF variant to Rs 10,397 crore.

Separately, Rs 3,650 crore were sanctioned for developing the naval Tejas, which is ongoing. That means the Aeronautical Development Agency will spend Rs 14,047 crore on the entire Tejas programme, including the IAF, naval and trainer variants.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, which manufactures the Tejas, has quoted Rs 162 crore a fighter as its latest price. Amortising the entire development cost on the envisioned 344 fighters (IAF: 294; Navy: 50), the Tejas would cost Rs 209 crore ($33.5 million) per fighter.

In comparison, the IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighters, bought in the 1980s, are currently being upgraded for $45 million per aircraft. IAF pilots that test-fly the Tejas Mark I find it qualitatively superior to the Mirage 2000.

The heavier Sukhoi-30MKI costs more than Rs 400 crore ($65 million) each. And the Rafale, which is currently being negotiated with Dassault, is pegged at Rs 750-850 crore ($120-140 million) per fighter.

Aerospace expert and historian, Pushpindar Singh, points out that ordering more Tejas would bring down the price further, making it enormously attractive for air forces across the world that are replacing some 3,500 MiG-21, Mirage-III, early model F-16 and F-5 fighters that are completing their service lives.

“With these air forces facing severe budget pressures, the Tejas has only one rival in this market — the JF-17 Thunder, being built by China in partnership with Pakistan. They are marketing the JF-17 aggressively in every global air show, but India is completely ignoring the Tejas’ potential,” said Singh.

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Boeing Partners with US Air Force to Reduce Supply Chain Costs

By on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) have entered into an overarching public-private partnership that will streamline supply chain contracting, saving money and speeding up execution by as much as 10 months.

The partnership – the first of its kind – allows the three Air Force logistics complexes that are under the AFSC to immediately execute implementation agreements with Boeing, reducing administrative costs and increasing efficiency.

“Boeing is proud to lead the way for industry by developing a new, more efficient and affordable way to do business,” said Scott Strode, vice president and general manager of Maintenance, Modifications and Upgrades for Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

In the past, each complex – Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, Ogden Air Logistics Complex and Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex – would enter into an individual partnering agreement with Boeing, a process that took 12 to 16 months to complete.

The enterprise partnering agreement now in place allows the complexes to move directly to executing the details of the agreement, allowing implementation eight to 10 months earlier.

“The new partnering agreement will make our supply chain more agile so we can deliver maximum mission readiness to our customers,” said Ken Shaw, vice president of Supply Chain Management for Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

The agreement covers products and services including software, commodities, new technology implementation and others.

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Joint strike fighter on track, costs coming down, Kendall says

By on Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Indications are that the F-35 joint strike fighter program — the most expensive aviation program in Defense Department history — is on track, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics told a Senate panel here June 19.

Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee this morning, Frank Kendall said the F-35 will be the premier strike aircraft for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

“The department’s and my focus has been on the efforts to control costs on the program, and to achieve a more stable design so that we could increase the production rate to more economical quantities,” Kendall told the senators. “Indications at this time are that these efforts are succeeding.”

The program, begun in President George W. Bush’s administration, is about 90 percent through the development program and 40 percent through flight testing.

Kendall said he anticipates being able to complete the development effort within the planned cost and schedule.

“However, we may need to make some adjustments as events unfold,” he added. “On the whole, however, the F-35 design today is much more stable than it was two or three years ago.”

Production of the aircraft was in real jeopardy in 2011 amid uncertainty in how design issues would be solved, the undersecretary said.

“The F-35 is one of the most concurrent programs I have ever seen, meaning that there is a high degree of overlap between the development phase and the production phase of the program,” he said.

Kendall said he believes those questions have been answered, and he told the committee he will review the program later this year to decide whether to increase the production rate significantly in 2015, as is currently planned.

“At this point, I am cautiously optimistic that we will be able to do so,” he said.

Costs per aircraft are coming down, Kendall said. “Since 2010, production costs have been stable and are coming down, … roughly consistent with our estimates,” he said. “We have been tightening the terms of production contracts.”

The aircraft builder, Lockheed-Martin, is required to share costs associated with design changes due to concurrency, and the Defense Department is negotiating the next two buys.

“In these lots, and all future lots, Lockheed will bear all of the risks of overruns,” Kendall said. “At this point we have a solid understanding of the production costs, and believe that they are under control.”

The undersecretary said he believes sustainment costs represent the greatest opportunity to reduce life cycle costs of the F-35 going forward.

“We are now focused on ways to introduce competition, and to take creative steps to lower those costs as well,” he said. “The bottom line is that since 2010, we have been making steady progress to complete development, stabilize the design, and control costs.”

Much remains to be done with the program, and surprises may still happen, Kendall acknowledged, but he added that he is “cautiously optimistic that we will be able to increase production to more economical rates beginning in 2015 as planned.”

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NRC Reports Shocking Support Costs for Army Air Defenses

By on Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Last week the federal government’s prestigious National Research Council released a report on ballistic missile defense that will inform policymaker decisions on funding options.

One facet of its findings is already making headlines: the astronomical support costs of the Army’s Patriot Advanced Capability Three (PAC-3) system. Patriot is the service’s primary surface-to-air missile and radar system for intercepting shorter-range ballistic missiles, and PAC-3 is the latest version.

That’s an important defensive capability as potential adversaries from Hezbollah to China to Iran acquire ever-larger arsenals of tactical ballistic missiles. However, the research council’s findings indicate that the 20-year cost of keeping the PAC-3 system fielded could approach a quarter trillion dollars. Even grizzled veterans of Cold War weapons debates like me find that price-tag stunningly high. After all, it’s only one weapon system, and the calculation doesn’t even include the cost of planes needed to airlift PAC-3 to overseas sites or research expenditures required to keep the system operationally relevant.

Here’s how the total was arrived at. Each Patriot battalion consists of four missile and radar batteries that individually cost $184-202 million per year to operate and support. Thus, the annual cost of a full battalion is $735-809 million. The Army has 15 such battalions, so the annual cost to operate and support the entire program, both at home and abroad, is $11-12 billion. Multiply those amounts by 20 years of operations, and you get to the staggering total of $220-240 billion. And like I said, that doesn’t include the cost of airlift to foreign air zones, which is covered by the Air Force budget, or R&D, which is funded outside the Army’s operations and support budget.

These oversized numbers will inevitably lead Congress and Pentagon policymakers to take another look at why the Army canceled a planned successor to Patriot last year. Called the Medium Extended Air Defense System, or MEADS, it would have provided a lighter, more capable system whose development was largely funded by allies.

The Army’s decision was driven by budget constraints and a belief that overhead threats were emerging more slowly than expected, but little thought seems to have been given to the huge support costs of the current system over the next 20 years.

The Obama Administration’s Pentagon team has spent much of the last four years trying to find cheaper ways of meeting U.S. security needs. Army air defenses seem like a place where more study is needed. Why should the Army kill the acquisition of a more capable air and missile defense system when the entire cost can be covered within a few years by retiring its pricey predecessor?

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Enhanced T56 Engine Could save Billions in C-130H Operating Costs

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The US Air Force began testing a C-130H Hercules  tactical transport aircraft powered by an enhanced T-56 engine. According to the manufacturer, Rolls-Royce, the Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement is designed to deliver fuel savings and reliability improvements, resulting in improved life cycle costs. The first C-130H test aircraft began flying recently at the US Edwards Air Force Base, CA. The Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement program is expected to enable the USAF to continue to operate its C-130H fleet until 2040, and a USAF analysis estimated its long-term savings from the Series 3.5 enhancements could reach $2 Billion.

The T56-A13 Series 3.5 improvements reduce fuel consumption by 7.9 percent, improve hot day performance by increasing maximum engine torque limit to 48 degrees celsius and improve turbine life by reducing inlet temperature by 82 degrees celsius.

The Series 3.5 Engine Enhancement has already demonstrated greater than 8 percent fuel burn improvement in ground tests, using proven technologies from other Rolls-Royce commercial and military engines, including new blade and vane materials and advanced turbine airfoil aerodynamic designs. The Series 3.5 will also improve performance in ‘hot and high’ conditions.

Tom Bell, Rolls-Royce, President, Customer Business – Defense, said, “We look forward to carrying out flight tests to confirm what we have already demonstrated in the test cell – significant savings in fuel costs, improved reliability and performance. Rolls-Royce has invested to help the US Air Force and other operators around the world meet their goal of reducing fuel costs, while also extending the life of the C-130 fleet and potentially saving billions of dollars.”

The improvements

The engine improvements can be accomplished as part of a conventional engine overhaul, and do not require any aircraft or engine control system modifications. Each C-130 aircraft has four Rolls-Royce T56 engines, with approximately 220 C-130H models eligible for upgrades.

The Series 3.5 program will help the Air Force to achieve its goal of reducing consumption of aviation fuel by 10 percent by 2015.

C130H engine test

A C-130H takes off from Edwards Sept. 14 with an enhanced Rolls-Royce engine. (U.S. Air Force photo by Edward Cannon)

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New Standalone Launching System Significantly Reduces Weapons Integration Costs

By on Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Lockheed Martin has demonstrated the latest variant of its new launching system that maximizes the use of existing hardware and electronics to reduce the integration costs of weapons by more than 50 percent.

During a May 5 test at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera Test Range in South Australia, the new Extensible Launching System (ExLS) standalone variant successfully fired two Nulka Offboard Countermeasure missile decoy test rounds. One decoy was provided by the U.S. Navy and the other by the Nulka designer and manufacturer BAE Systems Australia.

Developed in just 10 months, the new ExLS variant offers an alternative for vertically launched weapons on surface ships that aren’t equipped with a vertical launching system (VLS), such as a MK 41 or MK 57. The ExLS standalone variant is ideally suited for smaller vessel classes.

Installed below deck, the new launcher significantly reduces the integration costs for individual weapons by serving as an adapter between the canister of a missile or munition and its qualified electronics, and the ship’s existing weapons system.

“As initially envisioned, Lockheed Martin’s original ExLS worked with ships equipped with either MK 41 or MK 57 Vertical Launch Systems, and we saw an opportunity expand the capability,” said Colleen Arthur, director of Integrated Defense Systems for Lockheed Martin’s Mission System and Sensors business.

“With new standalone ExLS configuration, ships do not have to be equipped with a larger vertical launching system and can quickly and affordably adapt to different types of munitions.”

The test in Australia also successfully demonstrated the system’s Nulka munition adapter – a unique feature that enables the missile decoy to quickly and cost-effectively be inserted into ExLS. Adapters can also be developed for other missiles and munitions.

Work on the ExLS standalone launcher is done at Lockheed Martin’s Baltimore, Md., facility.

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Afghan war costs $300 million a day: Pentagon

Loading ... Loading …By Agence France-Presse on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will allow for a reduced US defense budget in 2012 but the war in Afghanistan stll costs the United States close to 300 million dollars a day.

Under the Pentagon’s proposed budget, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will drop to $117.8 billion for fiscal year 2012, a reduction of 41.5 billion from the previous year.

As the US war effort winds down in Iraq, the budget sets aside $10.6 billion for “Operation New Dawn,” with the remaining 50,000 US troops there due to withdraw by the end of 2011.

Spending for the Afghan mission calls for $107.3 billion, down slightly from the last budget, which requested $113.5 billion.

President Barack Obama has vowed to start a withdrawal in July of the roughly 97,000 troops now in Afghanistan.

The budget released Monday offered no insight into the scale of the planned drawdown, with the Pentagon’s budget document assuming an average of 98,250 troops on the ground by the end of 2012.

Gates said the Pentagon had “decided to budget conservatively” as it was too soon to predict how many troops would be withdrawn after July.

“But that’s not to say that we will have 98,000 troops at the end of FY 2012. In fact it’s a lead pipe cinch we won’t.”

The budget for Afghanistan and Iraq includes $79.2 billion for operations, $10.1 billion to counter the threat posed by homemade bombs — the main killer of NATO-led troops in the war.

Some $11.9 billion is devoted to repairing and replacing equipment lost or damaged and $12.8 billion for training and arming Afghan security forces, who are supposed to gradually take over security duties between now and 2015.

By October, the United States and NATO plans to expand the Afghan army to 172,000 soldiers and the police to 134,000 police.


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