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News & Analysis: November 2008

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USAF Expedites Actionable Information to Dispersed Warfighters

The US Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) is investing $17 million in the development of new means to expedite "actionable information to dispersed members of dismounted ground units". AFRL awarded two cost plus fixed fee contracts worth $7 and $10 million to Lockheed Martin Corp. and Applied Research Associates Inc., to develop the information system which will extend actionable combat information from available sources, as necessary to increase the situational awareness obtained by dispersed members of dismounted units operating on the ground, deep in the battlespace. While the description is vague, it could hint on extending decision support and enhanced cpabilities to operational systems such as the Rover video datalink which is widely used by the Air Force and other servcies. 

Emergency Escape Windows for U.S. Army HMMWVs

BAE Systems will deliver 4,702 Vehicle Emergency Escape (VEE) Window kits under a $17 million contract awarded by the U.S. Army Tank Automotive and Armaments Command. These kits are designed for use on the up-armored M1151 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The patent-pending VEE Window technology enables soldiers to quickly exit the vehicle in the event of an emergency, such as a rollover or accident, by releasing and pushing the front window out in seconds. The company has already delivered some 3,000 VEE kits for M1114 and M1151 vehicles. The windows are adaptable to different tactical up-armored combat vehicles, including the MRAP, FMTV and Marine's MTVR.

Pentagon funds Long-Lead Materials for 4 Additional F-22 Raptors

Reuters news agency reported today that the Pentagon approved the release of $50 million payment to fund long lead items for four additional F-22 Raptor stealth fighters. This amount is part of $140 million approved by congress to sustain long lead supplies for 15 additional aircraft, bringing the total buy to 203. Sofar actual production orders are capped at 183 aircraft, about half of the inventory originally considered for the US Air Force. The current decision will enable Lockheed Martin to maintain continuity through its production line and supply chain, enabling president elect Barack Obama  to take decision on the fate of the program later next year. If the new administration will decide to continue production, the Pentagon is likely to release the remaining $100 to fund long lead material for additional 16 aircraft.

Embraer, Elbit to Upgrade Brazilian Air Force AMX Attack Aircraft

While evaluating its future fighter, the Brazilian Air Force is also sustaining the current force. After completing upgrades of its F-5E/F fighters and AM-X trainers, the air force is set to launch yet another upgrade for its AMX attack aircraft, to be completed by 2014. The prime contractor for the program will be Embraer, which continues its successful cooperation with avionics provider Elbit Systems, (NASDAQ:ESLT). The modernized avionics suite for the AMX will comprise new cockpit displays, an improved central mission computer and new stores management system. New self-protection systems will also be provided by Elbit's EW subsidiary Elisra. Last week (November 10, 2008) Embraer awarded Elbit Systems a $67 million development contract to tailor the new avionics suite for the aircraft. Once production is approved, the companies will enter the production phase, which Elbit estimates to be worth approximately $187 million for the company. The Israeli company will perform the project in cooperation with its wholly-owned Brazilian subsidiary Aeroeletronica S.A. (AEL), located in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

Russian Planned Basing of Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad Could target US Missile defense sites in Poland and Czech Republic

Russia is considering deploying the missiles in the Kaliningrad region, near its Western border with Poland, in an effort to deter the Polish government decision to deploy American missile defense systems on its land. From these positions, Iskander missile systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) could target the entire territory of Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

NP Aerospace Awarded £60 million contract for new Mastiff 2

The UK Ministry of Defense announced a £60million contract award to NP Aerospace, to deliver 170 new generation Mastiff 2 vehicles. The vehicles will be built by NP Aerospace, based on the Mastiff platform (Force Protection 6x6 Cougar). The new model will have improved axles and suspension to cope with the harsh Afghan terrain better and a new driver thermal imager. Improved protection for the crew includes improved armor and blast attenuating seats. The procurement of 170 Mastiffs and 150 Ridgback (Cougar 4x4) vehicles was announced by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in December 2007, as part of over £150 million spending on improving protection for British forces.

U.S. Army Orders 17 Shadow 200 UAV Systems

Last week the U.S. Army ordered 17 new Shadow 200 tactical UAV systems from Army Armaments Incorporated (AAI), under a US$242 million firm/fixed price contract. The systems will be delivered within 18 months. Since late 2007 AAI is operating as part of the Textron Systems group. The current order has been the largest UAV order the group received sofar. The company will also provide support the UAV system's tactical communications data link and airborne control equipment II health & usage monitoring systems, under an extension of a separate contract worth $6 million.