Airborne Laser Shoots Down 1st Ballistic Target

An infrared image shows the Airborne Laser Test Bed destroying a ballistic target using a high energy laser. (photo : MDA)

The Boeing Airborne Laser Testbed successfully shot down a Scud missile-like target at 2044 PST off the California coast, a landmark achievement in the $6 billion programme's 16-year history.

The ALTB, a
747-400 freighter modified with a 1MW-class chemical laser and a 1.5m telescope mounted on the nose, used onboard sensors to acquire the short-range ballistic target shortly after launch from an offshore, mobile platform, the Missile Defense Agency says in a press release.

Shown here is a surrogate of the first fully-integrated flight turret ball for the Airborne Laser program, being prepared for end-to-end Beam Control/Fire Control system integrated testing at Lockheed Martin (photo : Lockheed Martin)

The ALTB then fired a low-energy laser to measure atmospheric disturbances and make corrections. Finally, the ALTB fired the high-energy laser, which destroyed the ballistic missile within two minutes of target launch.

The test marked the first attempt by the ALTB to shoot-down a ballistic missile powered by liquid fuel.

The MDA has not revealed the speed of the target missile or its range from the ALTB.

Boeing released a press release describing the event as a "breakthrough with incredible potential".

"We look forward to conducting additional research and development to explore what this unique directed-energy system can do," says Greg Hyslop, vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems.

The Department of Defense, however, last year re-classified the Airborne Laser from a development programme to a testbed effort, and withdrew funds to build a second flight test aircraft based on the 747-8.

A schematic of the ABL's mounted mirror turret (photo : Boeing)

In 2009, MDA and Boeing officials said they planned to continue a series of intercept tests through the end of 2010 in an effort to reduce risk and expand the envelope of the ALTB's operations.

The programme has been criticized over its 16-year history as being an expensive and technically problematic solution to the task of intercepting ballistic missiles during the boost phase.

The MDA originally planned to destroy the first ballistic target in 2005, but schedule delays postponed the event for nearly five years.

Boeing is the lead contractor for ABL, but Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin also provide major systems. The ABL is comprised of a chemical oxygen iodine laser, or COIL, as the weapon. The telescope is mounted in a bulbous nose assembly weighing 5,443kg (12,000lb).

U.S. Navy SEALs Receive New Airlock Mini-Sub

S-301 mini submarine (photo : MSubs)

The U.S. Special Operations Command wants to replace the standard "wet" Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) with a new and enlarged pocket submarine; a mini-sub with a proper pressure hull and an airlock would allow attacking frogmen to travel dry to their target.

The U.S. Navy SEALs are to get a new and enlarged pocket submarine which will allow them to travel most of the way to an objective inside in the dry and then exit through an airlock before swimming on for their final approach.

Lewis Page writes that the SEALs and comparable elite forces such as the British SBS have long used “wet” Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs) to approach an objective below the waves, allowing them to move faster and further than an unaided frogman can. With a normal SDV, the trooper is not inside a pressure hull — he is immersed in the surrounding water. This can be a problem, as hours spent unmoving in cold water can sap the strength of even the strongest soldier. Hence the desire for a mini-sub with a proper pressure hull and an airlock, allowing attacking frogmen to travel dry.
ASDS-Advanced Swimmer Delivery System (photo : ndia)

For many years, the SEALs were known to be working on this via the so-called
Advanced Swimmer Delivery System (ASDS). Pages notes that the prototype ASDS was dogged by technical snags and never reached an acceptable standard of performance. It was also harshly criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The final blow for the ASDS came when it caught fire while stored ashore and was gutted. This left the SEALs reliant on their trusty 1970s-vintage open-water Mark 8 SDVs. Tthere was also a Mark 9, capable of firing torpedoes, but this was retired in the 1990s. In any event, the Mark 9 seems to have been intended for torpedoing ships at anchor or in harbor).

Page writes that following the ASDS disaster it appeared that the U.S. special-operations community would henceforth content itself with a new replacement open-to-the-sea SDV, somewhat modernized, under the name
Shallow Water Combat Submersible, but this is not the case.

This week the U.S. Special Operations Command announced it intends next month to lease an S301 submersible from Virginia company Submergence Group, which also offers a two-man research sub. The S301 is to be delivered to the SEAL units at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, formerly the home of the ill-fated ASDS, and will “be used by field units for doctrinal, operational, and organizational purposes” — with “operational” being the most interesting word.

Submergence Group themselves are fairly
tight-lipped about their S301’s performance, but they do specify that it can carry two pilots and 6 swimmers — or underwater robots, inflatable boats, etc. The SEALs also state that in their opinion the S301 is a “lock out” boat capable of unloading the six passengers in a single airlock cycle. They also believe that it can cruise at better than 5 knots and travel at least 10 nautical miles on a single li-ion battery charge.
SDV-Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (photo : TheRegister)

Page writes that one of the most critical factors affecting the design of the SDVs and then ASDS was the fact that the short-ranging battery minisubs are carried into range of their objectives aboard full-size U.S. Navy nuclear submarines. With the SDV, a large “Dry Deck Shelter” airlock hangar is fitted to the sub’s hull to hold the minisub and allow its crew of SEALs to board.

The ASDS was too large to fit into a cramped hangar, and was intended to dock with the sub directly: it was this which proved its downfall, as it tended to suffer serious damage if the carrying sub went at all fast.

“Whether the S301 is intended to operate from a mothership is unclear,” Page writes. It seems to be significantly bigger than an SDV, so dry-hangar operations are probably out: on the other hand there is no indication of its being able to mate with a full-size sub’s escape hatch. It seems likely that the S301 will move over long distances by other means, probably using a surface support ship.

The U.S. Navy’s
SSGN underwater special-ops motherships —Ohio class ICBM subs stripped of their nukes following arms-reduction treaties, and refitted with conventional cruise missiles plus accommodation for a force of frogman-commandos - will probably have to rub along with SDVs for a while yet.

Boeing to Offer F-35-Like Cockpit Display for Super Hornet

F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-35 Lightning II (photo : USAF)

Boeing plans to offer an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet with large-area cockpit displays similar to the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as the company pursues new foreign sales from Canada to Japan.

The cockpit upgrade for the Super Hornet is intended to equalise one of the perceived advantages offered by the F-35's multifunction, touchscreen display, which measures 8 x 20in (20 x 51cm).

Boeing has evaluated a display with the same dimensions as the F-35, but found that pilots have preferred a larger 11 x 19in screen, says F/A-18E/F programme manager Mike Gibbons.

The single display can be configured to digitally mimic the Super Hornet's existing cockpit layout, or allow pilots to overlay data from several sources on to a single screen, Gibbons says. The displays can be integrated into both seats for the F/A-18F.

The technology remains in developmental form, but can be integrated in time to meet the timelines for any future sales in foreign markets, he says. Boeing is evaluating bids from undisclosed suppliers to manufacture the displays.

The US Navy, however, has already rejected Boeing's overtures to retrofit the display on its fleet. Although Boeing believes the upgrade would reduce lifecycle maintenance costs, the service does not want to operate two different display technologies at the same time, Gibbons says.

The new cockpit display made its public debut at the Navy League exhibit hall in early May. Boeing also showed off the new technology in Ottawa in early June at the CANSEC conference and exhibition.

Boeing plans to offer the F/A-18E/F for Canada's requirement to replace its ageing CF-18 fleet later this decade. Canada has invested $150 million to participate in the F-35 development programme, but plans to stage a competition for the procurement contract.

Meanwhile, Boeing is also offering the Super Hornet to buyers in Brazil, Denmark, India, Japan and Kuwait.

The F/A-18E/F's first international buyer, Australia, has no plans to order the upgraded cockpit, having already received the first five of its 24 two-seat aircraft.

New EFV Prototype Tests at Camp Pendleton

Operators from Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch in the latest prototype Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, System Development and Demonstration-2, demonstrate its high speed water maneuverability off the coast of Camp Del Mar Aug. 17. Camp Pendleton (all photos : USMC)

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --- Approaching a black dot on the GPS system, a squawk of radio static is followed by "this is command, approaching buoy alpha." The vehicle commander replies with an affirming "roger command," and a powerful roar erupts off to the left of Col. Keith Moore's rigid-hulled inflatable boat, more commonly known as a RHIB.

The newest variant of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle throttles all 2,700 horsepower and lifts out of the glassy water gliding like a jet ski.

Although the EFV program manager's RHIB has no problem keeping up with the 30 mph speed of the 78,000-pound EFV, it is a breathtaking advancement from its venerable predecessor, the Amphibious Assault Vehicle, which comparatively crawls at 9 mph in water.

Moore is observing a demonstration of the newest prototype, EFV Personnel Variant, System Development and Demonstration-2, at the Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch (AVTB) at Camp Del Mar. The temperate climate, rigid terrain, and access to 17 miles of coastline and live-fire ranges, makes Camp Pendleton an ideal test bed for amphibious vehicles.

"We can debark from ship, land on the beach, maneuver through the training areas and [conduct live fire] without interruption," says Sgt. Tom Bauras, a test operator and one of the vehicle crew members in the demonstration. "That's why it makes sense to have the test branch here."

Bauras noted that in addition to Camp Pendleton, his team has also tested the EFV at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, as well as DoD facilities in Alaska and Hawaii, ensuring that Marines can employ the vehicle in any clime and place.

The vehicles are subjected to a list of prescribed tests designed to stress the EFV in every aspect according to Maj. Shaun Doheney, deputy director of the test branch.

Throughout the developmental testing, Marines, program managers and engineers from General Dynamics Land Systems, the main contractor, collaborate on necessary improvement to the prototypes. To date, more than 400 engineering design improvements have been implemented since AVTB became involved with testing the first EFV prototype in 2003.

Test operators like Bauras contributed to the vehicles’ overall development and improvement such as the addition of a whale-tail exhaust system. The new exhaust system disperses heat down and outward from the vehicle, instead of straight upward, reducing the heat signature of the vehicle.

The AVTB is staffed by 53 Marines and 25 civilians who are currently conducting testing on eight EFVs manufactured in Lima, Ohio.

The EFV is expected to enter limited production in 2012 and the Marine Corps has planned to field 573 vehicles by 2026 according to the EFV Program Office in Woodbridge, Va.

Dating back to the Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT), the AVTB at Camp Pendleton has been able to subject amphibious vehicles to the various rigors of Western installations and training ranges since 1946.

Missile-Detecting Infrared Pod has been Developed for UAV

Airborne Infrared (photo : Aviation Week)

MDA Eyes Missile-Detecting Infrared Pod

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — In its efforts to develop an unmanned aerial system capable of detecting boosting ballistic missiles, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency is focusing on a sensor pod that could fly on existing UAVs, rather than a new, integrated UAV design, according to MDA Director Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly.

MDA’s interest in an Airborne Infrared (ABIR) system carried by a UAV intensified last year. General Atomics Reapers, with the Raytheon MTS-B electro-optical/IR/full-motion video sensor, have proven the ability to detect and track a boosting missile from greater than 1,000 km. (621 mi.) with “remarkable resolution,” O’Reilly told reporters at this week’s Space and Missile Defense Conference here.

MDA is doing the groundwork to see what qualities an objective sensor would need and how the data would be integrated into the larger sensor cueing and command and control architecture. The ultimate goal is to link all sensors and shooters into a networked system.

A specific ABIR fleet of UAVs is cost prohibitive, so now the focus is on designing the pod, which could be flown on an Air Force system such as Reaper, O’Reilly says. Global Hawk also could be an option.

“An infrared seeker has limited ability to discriminate at that range, but it has great ability to track. So … it relieves the X-band radars from doing some of the long-range searching,” for threats, O’Reilly says. “It is much more cost-effective to build a pod that you can just attach to any remotely piloted vehicle” rather than focusing on designing the ABIR capability into a platform.

Using a UAV-carried ABIR pod, MDA hopes to capture precise tracking data of a ballistic missile in the boost phase and provide targeting-quality data to the Aegis system; ultimately, it could help facilitate intercept of threats shortly after they reach apogee.

The first ABIR test that allowed for a Reaper to view a target took place in the spring of 2009, and each major MDA flight test since December has allowed for their participation.

Boeing Induct First C-130 Avionics Modernization Program

C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (photo : Boeing)

1st Boeing C-130 AMP Low-Rate Initial Production Aircraft Inducted at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center

ST. LOUIS, – The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] today announced the induction of the first C-130 aircraft slated to receive the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) upgrade at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga. This is the first of 20 aircraft to be upgraded during low-rate initial production (LRIP).

“Warner Robins is ready to receive the C-130 and begin installing the AMP kits,” said Tommy Jackson, C-130 AMP deputy program manager for the U.S. Air Force. “Our team has been trained by Boeing, and we are excited to get the first of many aircraft through our line and upgraded.”

Air Force workers at Robins will install glass cockpits that include a head-up display; six flat-panel, full-color displays; and night-vision capability in 10 of the 20 LRIP aircraft. Warner Robins will receive its second C-130 for AMP modification in October.

“The C-130 AMP is production-ready,” said Mahesh Reddy, C-130 AMP program manager for Boeing. “Today marks a very important day for the warfighter. Boeing and the Air Force are one step closer to delivering a fleet of C-130 AMP aircraft.”

Boeing will begin its portion of the installations in early 2012 at its San Antonio facility.


See Also :

C-130 Avionics Modernization Program

The C-130 AMP was initiated to modernize, standardize and reduce total ownership costs for the United States Air Force C-130 fleet, including specialized versions in service with the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It consolidates 13 Mission Design Series into one common core avionics suite with five mission families: One for Combat Delivery, which constitutes the majority of the C-130 fleet, and four for the unique Special Operations mission requirements.

The central element of Boeing's AMP configuration is Communication, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management compliance, without which the C-130 fleet would be prohibited from certain worldwide air-navigation routes. An upgraded, common fleet offers dramatic life cycle cost benefits including greater reliability, simplified fleet-wide training, and a flexible architecture designed to reduce crew size and accommodate future technology insertion.

Boeing is expected to provide the AMP modifications and upgrades to 222 USAF C-130 transport aircraft.

The C-130 AMP
-Modern Digital Glass Cockpit featuring six 6x8 Multi-Function Displays (MFDs), pilot and co-pilot wide field of view Head Up Displays (HUDs), two Communication and Navigation Control Panels (CNCPs), and Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) compliance,
-Open System Architecture that is both modular and net ready. This permits reduction in crew size through elimination of the navigator, while allowing for the addition of future capabilities,
-Performance Based Contractor Logistics Support that employs Integrated Vehicle Health Management; establishing a fleet-wide integrated training approach and implementing a common spares base. Boeing's support approach makes the C-130 fleet more available and more affordable to operate,
-Prepares the C-130 for another 30 years of service - Boeing's AMP ensures the affordable long-term combat relevance of today s C-130 fleet.

Kharkiv Aviation Plant Delivers An-74 TK300 Aircraft to Laos

An-74 TK300 of the Laos Air Force (photo : Airliners)

The state-run Kharkiv aviation plant delivered an An-74 TK300 aircraft to Laos last week, Interfax-Ukraine learned at the enterprise.

The plant assembled the aircraft under a contract signed in 2005. Laos is already operating An-74 supplied to the country earlier.

The An-74 TK300 aircraft was designed on the basis of An-74 and can carry 10 tonnes of cargo or 52 passengers. This year, Kharkiv plant is to construct three An-74 in the frames of the contracts with Libya, Laos and Egypt. The Antonov An-74 is used by the military and civil airlines in 20 countries.

Together with foreign partners, the An-74 designer - Antonov Design Bureau - is working to modernize the aircraft.

China Exports One Green Z-9A Helicopter to Laos

Z-9A for Laos (photo : China Defense Mashup)

Beijing— This serial number B-529L Z-9A helicopter is manufactured by HAIG (Harbin Aircraft Industry (Group) Co., Ltd) for Laos’ Air Force. Most of these photos are pictured when this helicopters transferring from Yunnan Xishuangbanna Airport. But some photo in winter background were photoed in the HAIG testing airport in Hai’erbin, Heilongjiang Province.

China will totally export 6 Z-9A to Laos, which sends pilots to drive helicopters from Chinese airports, 2 Z-9A have been delivered to Laos on June 14th, 2008.

Boeing Applies to Export F-15SE to South Korea

Boeing F-15SE Silent Eagle (photo : Boeing)

Boeing has applied for an export licence to brief South Korea on sensitive details of a stealthier version of the F-15E that is within a few months of its first flight.

The US government approved an export policy in the second quarter for the
F-15SE Silent Eagle after Boeing submitted details of its radar cross-section about six months earlier, says Brad Jones, Boeing programme director for F-15 development programmes.

The export policy allows Boeing to request an export licence for specific customers, with South Korea as the first in queue, Jones says. The F-15SE is competing against the
Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for a contract in South Korea.

Boeing has backed down from previous statements comparing the frontal-aspect radar cross-section of the F-15SE to an international release standard for the F-35.

However, Jones confirms that Boeing's original briefing chart - claiming the F-15SE provides frontal-aspect stealth offered by fifth-generation fighters - remains accurate.

Boeing unveiled the F-15SE in March 2009. The redesign adds conformal weapons bays, stealth techniques, fly-by-wire and canted tails to the F-15E configuration, providing a "first-day-of-war" stealth capability.

Lockheed and F-35 programme officials, however, have criticised Boeing's assertions that the F-15SE offers equivalent front-aspect stealth as the JSF, and denied that an international release standard exists for F-35 stealth characteristics.

Boeing plans to conduct three flights of the F-15SE in the third quarter, including one missile shot from the newly added conformal weapons bay.

South Korea Deploys Long Range Missiles

Hyunmoo surface to surface missile (photo : Hani)

A year ago, South Korean media were reporting about government sources leaking news that a new cruise missile, with a range of 1,000 kilometers, was in production. Now the leaks indicate that the missile was actually deployed earlier this year. The missile, called Hyunmoo 3, was first reported three years ago. The latest leaks describe the Hyunmoo 3C missile as having a range of 1,500 kilometers, and being deployed along the North Korean border, aimed at ballistic missile, nuclear weapons and other strategic targets to the north.

For the last 30 years, the United States has been discouraging South Korea from developing long range ballistic and cruise missiles. Despite the U.S. refusal to help, South Korea developed a 180 kilometer range ballistic missile (Hyunmoo 1), and a 300 kilometer one (Hyunmoo 2) in the 1980s. Both are about 13 meters/40 feet long and weigh 4-5 tons. South Korea belongs to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and thus agrees not to build ballistic missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers. Hyunmoo 1 and 2 used a design based on that of the U.S. Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missile, which South Korea used for many years.

Cruise missiles are simpler technology, and apparently the Hyunmoo 3 is made entirely with South Korean developed components. Like the Tomahawk, Hyunmoo 3 appears to be about 6 meters/19 feet long, weighs 1.5 tons, has a half ton warhead and is launched from hidden (in the hills facing North Korea), and probably fortified, containers. North Korea has about 600 ballistic missiles aimed at South Korea.

Four years ago, South Korea announced that it had developed a cruise missile, the "Cheon Ryong," that was similar to the American Tomahawk, but with a 500 kilometer range and a half ton warhead. This was not unexpected. The U.S. had to apply a lot of pressure on South Korea in the 1990s, to stop production of ballistic missiles. The South Koreans eventually backed off on this, despite the hundreds of ballistic missiles North Korea had built, and aimed at them. But the shift in policy wasn't completely because of American pressure. The South Koreans realized that cruise missiles would be cheaper, and just as effective, as ballistic missiles. South Korea had the technology to build good cruise missiles, and a lot of them. Not a lot of details were released on the "Cheon Ryong," but it was small enough to be fired from a torpedo tube. That means a six meter long missile, with a diameter of about 500mm, and weighing about 1.2 tons. Such a missile could be built for about $1-2 million each, which enables you to build about five cruise missiles for the price of one ballistic missile.

Of course, the main reason for using ballistic missiles is because they are difficult to intercept. In theory, a cruise missile is detectable, and as vulnerable as an aircraft. But in practice, South Korea has long had the technology, and capability, to build a cruise missile that can fly low (under 66 meters/200 feet) and avoid detection by radar. South Korean knows a lot about the North Korean air defense system, which is decidedly low tech (although quite massive) compared to what South Korea has. Actually, the low tech aspect (lots of human spotters and elderly anti-aircraft guns) is the biggest danger the cruise missiles will face heading north. But the South Koreans know that, and the cruise missiles can carry cluster bomb payloads for attacking the anti-aircraft guns that cannot be flown around. Still, while the cruise missiles may be able to avoid anti-aircraft missiles, it's going to have a harder time with all those bullets. But a cruise missile can be more accurate than a ballistic missile, and come in at different angles. That will be useful in taking out the many underground bunkers up north, or at least the entrances.

The longer range of the Hyunmoo 3C enables it to hit any target in North Korea, and is apparently intended to knock out transportation and supply targets deep inside North Korea. With a range of 1,500 kilometers, the missile could also hit targets in China and Russia.

Flaws in K21 Design Confirmed

K-21's amphibious system (all photos : militaryphotos)

Critical flaws in the design of the K21 amphibious infantry fighting vehicle have been found following an investigation of the up-to-date vehicle, one of which sank during a river-crossing exercise July 29, an official at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Wednesday.

A soldier died when the 25-ton vehicle sank. This was the second time that a K21 has sunk since the vehicle entered service last November after 10 years of development.

According to investigators, a pump in the vehicle doesn’t work at its maximum river crossing speed of 7.8 kilometers per hour. The pump is supposed to displace 175 liters of water.

When the vehicle moves at this speed, the pressure inside the engine compartment goes down, and the motor of the pump starts to work. However, it was found that the water was not being removed properly, the official said.

“We plan to look into the design problems with the K21 more thoroughly by the end of next month,” he said. “The final results of the investigation will be announced then.”

The co-developers of the K21 ― the Agency for Defense Development and Doosan DST ― will recall the vehicles once the alleged problems are confirmed, said the official.

The K21 has often been referred to as a key export item in the coming years. Doosan DST and DAPA have said the vehicle offers better firepower, mobility and survivability than the U.S. Army's M2A3 and Russia's BMP-3.

The $3.4 million vehicle is cheaper than the U.S.-built Bradley and German Puma IFV with full options, whose per-unit prices are estimated at between $4 million and $4.5 million, according to Doosan.

The K21 IFV has a 750-horsepower turbo-diesel engine and 40mm auto cannon designed to shoot down slow-moving helicopters and aircraft. It has digital communication, GPS receivers and inter-vehicle digital links.

The vehicle can travel as fast as 70 kilometers per hour on paved roads, and crosses rivers with the help of a Water Jet Propulsion System, according to an Army release.

The South Korean Army plans to acquire about 450 K21s over the next decade.

Turkey Could Join Korea’s KF-X Fighter Program

KFX-single engine version (image : kdn)

Turkey has shown a strong interest in joining Korea’s KF-X fighter development plan, after having already won investment from Indonesia, a chief of the military's aircraft programs said.

Maj. Gen. Choi Cha-kyu, director general of the aircraft program bureau at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), said during a forum here Tuesday that Ankara is seriously considering participating in the KF-X program to replace its 180 older F-16 aircraft by 2020.

“Turkey’s air force operates about 180 F-16 aircraft, and there will be a requirement to replace the older fighters with newer ones by 2020,” the two-star Air Force general said. “Once on board, Turkey is expected to bear the same amount of development costs as Indonesia.”

Cha said the KF-X, which was initiated in 2002 but postponed due to financial and technological problems, will start next year with the consent of budget authorities.

Industry sources say Turkey’s participation in the KF-X project could result in a barter deal. Ankara wants Seoul to consider its T-129 helicopter, under development for the Turkish Army, as a candidate for the AH-X heavy attack helicopter acquisition program.

KFX-double engine version (photo : chosun)

The KF-X program calls for developing an indigenous fighter similar to the latest F-16 by 2022 with financial support from foreign nations or defense companies.

About 120 KF-Xs would be built initially and more than 130 aircraft would be produced additionally after the first-phase models reach operational capability.

Korea will foot 60 percent of the KF-X development costs worth some 5 trillion won ($4.2 billion), with the balance to come from other governments or corporate partners in a “risk sharing” attempt.

Under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed on July 15, Indonesia agreed to bear 20 percent of the bill and buy about 50 KF-X planes when mass production begins.

The production costs after the development phase are estimated to be about 6 trillion won.

Korea is seeking to receive relevant technology transfers from U.S. and European aerospace firms. Possible corporate partners include Boeing and Lockheed Martin of the United States, the European defense group EADS and Sweden’s Saab.

The original proposal for the KF-X was to develop a fifth-generation stealth fighter, something that is in between the Dassault Rafale or Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35.

Amid controversy over the feasibility of the original plan, the DAPA commissioned a second study in April last year to the Weapons Systems Concept Development and Application Research Center of Konkuk University.

The center then recommended a plan to develop an F-16 type aircraft fitted with the AESA radar, an electronic warfare suite and data link systems fit for a network-centric environment.

The think tank also recommended the jet to have a combat radius about 1.5 times that of the F-16, an airframe life span 1.34 times longer than that of the F-16 and better avionics than that of the F-16 Block 50.

Among other required capabilities are a thrust of 50,000 pounds, provided by either one or two engines, super-velocity intercept and supercruise capabilities, and the ability to hit targets in the air, on land and at sea.

South Korea to Integrate Textron Defense Systems' Sensor Fuzed Weapon with FA-50 Aircraft

A much improved version of the standard cluster bomb, the sensor fuzed weapon (formally the CBU-97) uses "smart" bomblets to spread destruction across battlefields with precise strikes on multiple enemy targets. The CBU-97 is actually a bomb-like canister (above, inset) containing 10 cylindrical canisters (called "submunitions") that each hold four "smart" hockey puck-shaped "skeet" bomblets, giving a total of 40 bomblets per weapon.

As shown in the diagram above, just after the main canister is released, its skin opens ("A" on the diagram), deploying the 10 submunitions each with its own parachute. At a preset altitude, the parachutes are jettisoned (B) and rockets in the submunition canisters (C) lift them up and then spin to disperse the skeet bomblets (D). Infrared sensors in the bomblets then search for targets that are taken out with small powerful warheads (E). (image : DiscoveryChannel)

WILMINGTON, Mass., --Textron Defense Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, announced today that the Republic of Korea Air Force has chosen Textron Defense Systems' Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW) for integration onto the Korea Aerospace Industries FA-50 light combat aircraft. Through a foreign military sale led by the Eglin Air Force Base Air Armament Center and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration of South Korea, Textron Defense Systems expects to begin providing inert integration rounds starting in 2010.

"SFW's precision and reliability are valuable assets that can help ensure the security of the Korean Peninsula and greater Pacific Region," says Senior Vice President and General Manager Mark Catizone of Textron Defense Systems. "The integration of our SFW smart area weapon onto the highly capable FA-50 aircraft is an important first step toward system purchases in the future."

Textron Defense Systems' SFW accurately detects and defeats a wide range of moving and stationary land and maritime target threats -- from heavy armored battle tanks and soft-skinned vehicles to maritime threats -- over a wide area with minimal collateral damage and no hazardous unexploded ordnance. In fact, SFW has been verified by the U.S. government to achieve greater than 99 percent reliability during its flight test program, which includes thousands of tests in various conditions.

SFW contains Textron Defense Systems' BLU-108 submunition and smart Skeet(TM) warheads equipped with dual-mode passive infrared and active laser sensors. If a Skeet warhead does not detect a valid target over its lofted trajectory, one of its three safety modes will activate. The first two modes enable the Skeet to self destruct after eight seconds from launch or within a 50-foot (approximately 15-meter) altitude above the ground. The Skeet's third feature is a self-neutralizing time-out device that will yield the warhead inert within minutes of hitting the ground. These built-in, redundant self-destruct logic and self-neutralization features are key elements that distinguish SFW from legacy munitions.

Production of K2 Tank to Start Soon

K2 Black Panther MBT (photo : Korea Times)

The production of the homegrown K2 Black Panther main battle tank will begin soon after a one-year delay due to a problem with the tank’s “power pack” transmission system, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Monday.

A set of field tests have shown that the domestically-built power pack, which is comprised of a 1,500-horsepower, 12-cylinder diesel engine and transmission, is now good to go, a DAPA official said.

“We’ve been informed that all the minor glitches of the K2 power pack have been taken care of and now there are no problems,” the official said. “We’ll sign a production deal with manufacturers concerned as soon as possible.” The advanced battle tank will be operational for use by the Army by the end of next year at the earliest, he said.

Originally, the production of some 390 K2 tanks was scheduled to begin early this year to replace the Army’s K1 tanks and its aging M48 Patton tanks.

Unveiled in 2007, the K2, developed by the state-funded Agency for Defense Development and Hyundai Rotem, is a major defense product to fulfill domestic needs and sales overseas. The K2 technology was exported to Turkey years ago.

The K2 carries a three-person crew supported by an auto-loading system, and a locally-developed 120-millimeter/55-caliber stabilized smoothbore gun. The fully-digitalized vehicle has an electric gun/turret driving system, automatic sensor input and power monitoring and control system.

Its 1,500-horsepower engine can power the tank to 70 kilometers per hour on paved roads and 50 kilometers off-road. It can cross rivers as deep as 4.1 meters, a considerable improvement over the K1 and K1A1, and fire as soon as it resurfaces.

Korea Emerges as Arms Development Powerhouse

Haeseong antiship missile (photo : korea times)

This is the third in a series of articles to mark the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. The Korea Times exclusively interviewed Park Chang-kyu, president of the Agency for Defense Development. -- ED.

Cutting its teeth on component manufacturing and licensed production of U.S. weapons over the past decades, South Korea has emerged as a global arms developer, the head of the nation’s weapons development agency, said.

“Now, we have enough technology to build almost all weapons systems independently or in partnership with foreign countries. The thing is a matter of ideas, not the lack of technology," Park Chang-kyu, president of the Agency for Defense Development (ADD), said in an interview at the ADD headquarters in Daejeon, June 11.

The ADD is responsible for the research, development, testing and evaluation of weapons, defense equipment and related technology. The agency marks their 40th anniversary of its founding in August. Park, 59, took office in May 2008.

“In the past, we focused on locally developing existing foreign weapons systems ranging from rifles to missiles. But that paradigm has changed dramatically in recent years based on practical and creative technologies of our own,” Park said. “For example, we exported the technology of the K2 main battle tank to Turkey even before the tank was mass-produced and began full service. That proved our defense industry could be a new growth engine for the national economy.

K2 Black Panther main battke tank (photo : korea times)

”In 2008, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) signed a $400 million contract with Turkey over the transfer of technology on the K1A1 and K2 Black Panther tanks, both co-developed by the ADD and Hyundai Rotem, a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor. Under the deal, South Korea is to help Turkey develop a main battle tank by 2015 by providing more than 60 percent of the technology required.

The amphibious tank is one of the ADD-built masterpieces, including the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzer co-developed by Samsung Techwin and the KT-1 Woongbi basic trainer jointly built by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).

Other ADD-developed products include the long-range “Hongsangeo” (Red Shark) ship-to-submarine rocket torpedo co-developed by LIG Nex1; the K11 airburst rifle co-built by S&T Daewoo; the K21 infantry fighting vehicle jointly developed by Doosan DST; the “Shingung” (Chiron) shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile co-developed by LIG Nex1; and the Korean Military Satellite Communications System (K-MILSATCOM).

K-11 airburst riffle (photo : korea times)

Of them, the K11 multipurpose rifle has drawn key attention worldwide. Last month, the United Arab Emirates ordered 40 K11 rifles, making it the first foreign customer for the weapon, the first of its kind being operational in the field. The deal is valued at $560,000.

The assault rifle can fire both standard 5.56mm NATO-compatible ammunition and a 20mm high-explosive airburst round, selected by a single trigger.
Under a self-detonation system, the 20mm round from the rifle can trace its target and explode three to four meters above it, and it is also capable of penetrating walls.

Hongsaeo rocket torpedo anti submarine (image : korea times)

“The idea for the Hongsangeo torpedo, for instance, is just outstanding,” Park said. “In the past, researchers would only focus on their own areas, but now the shift of innovation patterns toward technology fusion is a trend underlying all the categories of a techno-paradigm shift.”

“In that context, the Hongsangeo successfully integrates the technology of missile and rocket, which enable the weapon to go beyond the limits of speed and range that exiting torpedoes have,” he added.

The new torpedo can travel more than 20 kilometers in the air before dropping into waters by parachute to track and destroy targets. The rocket is fired from an ADD-built ship-based vertical launch system.

“The current achievements of weapons development are the fruits of our decades-long efforts to develop key technology, and now our defense technology is regarded to be at the level of the world’s top 10,” the ADD president noted. “A sharp increase in defense exports in recent years is proving the trend.

”The government set a goal of reaching $1.5 billion in overseas arms sales this year, up 28 percent from last year’s $1.17 billion. Last year marked a 13-percent increase from 2008’s $1.03 billion.

LIG Nex1 Chiron surface to air missile (photo : LIG)

Key export items included depot level maintenance for submarines, sales of submarine combat systems, wheeled armored vehicles, military communications systems, and spare parts for the KT-1 trainer jets.

Besides the K11 deal with the UAE, negotiations are being actively held on the exports of the K2 to Jordan, those of the K1A1 to Thailand and Indonesia, as well as the sale of the Harbor Underwater Surveillance System (HUSS) to Vietnam, Park said.

Joint development programs During the interview, Park stressed the importance of active international cooperation in arms development, production and testing, which he said would help upgrade the nation’s weapons technology and create new markets abroad.

LOGIR and APKWS guided rocket (image : aerospaceweb)

He referred to the joint development of the Low-Cost Guided Imaging Rocket (LOGIR) by South Korea and the United States as a case in point.

The 60-billion-won project, approved and signed by both sides in 2007, aims to equip the 2.75 inch (70mm) unguided air-to-air or air-to-ground rocket with a precision-guidance system, infrared-ray-image sensor, driving gear and wings.

The weapon is scheduled to begin service by 2014, and the U.S. Navy is expected to buy about 30,000 LOGIRs, according to Park.

A per-unit price of the precision-guided rocket is about $15,000, of which South Korea receives $10,000 and the U.S. $5,000, so that the export of the LOGIR systems after 2014 would reap at least $300 million, he said.

In 2008, South Korea and the United States also agreed to jointly develop a new airborne early warning aircraft to be used in locating heavy mortar and artillery, and assist in counter-attack missions, as part of their joint arms research programs.

The new aircraft, called the Airborne Warning Surveillance System (AWSS), will be designed as an unmanned aerial vehicle that carries a sensor suite “completely different from any other that exists,” according to sources.

KFX Korean next generation fighter (image : sunyerang)

The planned development of a KF-X fighter jet would also be a successful international cooperation program, said the ADD head.

The KF-X program aims to develop an indigenous fighter aircraft on par with the F-16 Block 50 fitted with a locally- developed Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.

A preliminary development for the KF-X will be conducted between 2011 and 2012 with an investment of 4.4 billion won, and full-scale work will continue until 2021 at an estimated cost of 5 trillion won.

South Korea will foot 60 percent of KF-X development costs and rely on foreign firms to cover the remainder, according to the DAPA.

The ADD has developed radar-evading stealth technology of its own for the past decade and will apply it to the KF-X development to a certain level.

“In order to reduce the risk of development, costs, as well as secure broader export markets and aircraft technology, we aim to develop the KF-X fighter in partnership with foreign manufacturers,” Park said.

Future systems

Based on accrued technologies from past and existing weapons development programs, the ADD is looking to develop high-tech defense systems to be operated in “digitalized battlefields,” Park said.

“Developing unseen weapons, rifles without gunpowder, systems not needed to be operated by soldiers... Simply, that’s the contemporary warfare we’re facing and looking to create in future network-centric battlefields,” he went onto say.

Among the key future programs are combat robots, unmanned warships and submarines, unmanned combat aircrafts and a “killer” satellite system, he said.

The agency is also working toward developing “robobugs,” such as a dragonfly-type micro unmanned aerial vehicle and a spider-type surveillance robot, as well as an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bomb and laser weapons.

Park dismissed worries that future-oriented weapons programs could be hampered by a refocus of arms improvement plans to North Korea’s conventional, asymmetrical threats following the sinking of the Navy warship Cheonan in March.

He said, “It’s true that the North Korean threat has been actualized following the Cheonan incident. But we should not and cannot deter the threat only with conventional weapons.”

“To secure a stronger deterrent against the North’s asymmetrical capability of missiles, long-range artillery and submarines, we should think and act differently and more creatively,” the researcher said.

Developing new technology and weapons would eventually be a fundamental solution to coping with the North’s asymmetrical and irregular warfare tactics, he said.

“The Cheonan incident is a wakeup call to our defense plans. But we don’t have always to defend against existing threats with conventional countermeasures,” Park said. “Infrastructure of state-of-the-art science technology is a must for all spectrums of war, including asymmetrical and irregular warfare.”

Uncertainty Clouds Prospects of Korean Fighter Plans

KFX, the South Korea's new fighter project (all photos : Militaryphotos)
South Korea's efforts to equip its airmen with hundreds of high-tech fighter aircraft, including stealth jets, are apparently being stuck in limbo in the face of budget restraints and uncertainty over candidate planes and the country's fighter procurement methods.

Following the previous two phases of F-X projects for 60 F-15K aircraft built by the U.S. Boeing Company, the country is scheduled to open the bidding process next year for another batch of foreign fighter jets, probably stealth aircraft.

The F-X program is aimed at introducing 120 high-end warplanes by 2020 to replace the aging fighter fleet of F-4 and F-5 planes.
On top of that, the country wants to build and produce indigenous fighters under the KF-X initiative.

The KF-X program aimed at developing a Korean made F-16 type fighter has also been under heated debate over its economic and technical feasibility.

For the F-X III competition, the F-35 Lightening II being developed by Lockheed Martin of the U.S. has often been referred to as a frontrunner because of the ``fifth-generation'' fighter's inherent stealth technology that helps it evade enemy radar detection.

But recent reports over a series of cost overruns and delays related to the F-35 development program have apparently disappointed South Korean procurement officials, dimming its prospects in the F-X III contest.

``There is a lot of uncertainty as to the F-X III and KF-X plans, so I can't even provide the prospects of the fighter acquisition programs,'' a researcher on air force improvement programs at the state-funded Korea Institute Defense Analyses (KIDA) told The Korea Times. ``As for the F-X III, truth be told, the fate of the F-35 program is a key factor in increasing uncertainty.''

F-35 Problems

Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force announced a two-year delay in the production of the F-35 stealth fighter, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The aircraft had been scheduled for use by 2013, but the U.S. Air Force said the aircraft would not be ready until the end of 2015.

Lockheed Martin had been confident that its F-35 would get the upper hand in the third phase of the F-X competition and said South Korea would be able to procure aircraft as early as 2014.

In February, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sacked a key official in charge of the F-35 program over the projected delay and cost overruns.

The Pentagon believes the cost of the F-35 will be more than double the original price. According to the Pentagon's chief weapons buyers, the cost of the aircraft would go from $50 million a jet in 2001 to about $113 million.

Lockheed officials told Korean authorities earlier that the cost for the F-35 would be between $50 million and $63 million each.

The KIDA researcher said he believes South Korea's purchase of F-35 aircraft would be scrapped or delayed for several years later than scheduled. He earlier indicated that adopting an early version of the F-35 could cause operational risks.

The F-35 development program has been underway with nine international contractors and government partnerships, including Britain, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey since 2001. The JSF has three different versions ― A-type for air force operations, B-type for short takeoff and vertical landing for naval and marine missions and C-type for operations with aircraft carriers.

The F-35 is a single-seat, single-engine fighter that can perform close air support, tactical bombing and air defense missions.

More F-15Ks

Boeing is expected to capitalize on the emerging problems with the F-35 when it touts its F-15 Eagle aircraft to the South Korean Air Force.

But the winner of the first and second phase F-X competitions will also face an uphill battle this time to persuade South Korea to buy more of the aircraft, which some critics call a good but older platform.

``Needless to say, the F-15K is one of the best fighter jets in the world,'' an Air Force official said. ``But there is doubt as to whether a fleet of only F-15Ks would be efficient, or if a combination of long-range and stealth aircraft would be better. The Air Force, KIDA, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration and other parties concerned will study this issue more during the year.

''In a move to attract South Korea's fresh attention, Boeing unveiled a new version of the F-15 aircraft, the Silent Eagle, which the aerospace firm says has a ``semi-stealth'' function while retaining the F-15's traditional long-range, large payload capability.

Boeing completed radar-cross-section (RCS) trials for the Silent Eagle prototype last August and September and is looking to its first flight in coming months.

Industry sources, however, say it remains to be seen whether or not the U.S. government will approve the sale of radar stealth technology for the new jet, or how much higher levels of RCS Boeing will offer to meet South Korean requirements.

Joe Song, vice president of Asia-Pacific international business development with Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said during last year's Seoul Air Show that his company would offer a key option to transfer advanced fighter development technologies to South Korea for a homegrown fighter under the KF-X project.

``We're considering connecting the third phase F-X deal to the KF-X program if necessary, given that packaging some related programs, in general, creates a synergy effect,'' he said.

In the KF-X program, South Korea aims to develop and produce between 120 and 250 F-16 type fighters beginning in 2013, with technology support from foreign aerospace companies.

If Silent Eagle's marketing proves to be unsuccessful, Boeing could offer the F-15K variant with improved avionics and radar systems, sources said.

The twin-engine F-15K is capable of air-to-ground, air-to-air and air-to-sea missions day or night, under any weather conditions. It has a 23,000-pound payload and can fly at a maximum speed of Mach 2.3, with a combat radius of 1,800 kilometers. A single aircraft costs around $100 million.

European Option

The European consortium Eurofighter wants to look for an opportunity in South Korea but is still suffering the trauma of a defeat in the F-X I competition in the early 2000s.

European industry officials believe the Rafale built by French aircraft firm Dassault initially received more favorable reviews from the Korean military than Boeing's F-15K, but the Korean government selected the U.S. fighter jet allegedly due to a political consideration.

Eurofighter wants South Korea to join its Eurofighter Typhoon program and says it could offer more lenient technology transfer for the KF-X program.

``Eurofighter apparently has a chance to compete for the F-X III given the two main U.S. competitors are not in a good position now. But the European firm has not been so active in promoting its fighter,'' an official at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said. ``It's up to the European firm and what the company will offer in the competition.

''The Eurofighter Typhoon is Europe's biggest-ever military aviation program with about 700 aircraft under contract with five European nations and Saudi Arabia.

The Typhoon is a twin-engine canard-delta wing multirole fighter. Powered by two Eurojet afterburning turbofans, the stealth aircraft has a maximum speed of Mach 2.0 and can supercruise at up to Mach 1.5 without using afterburners.

The fighter has a maximum range of 3,790 kilometers and can carry a typical payload of two laser-guided bombs, four beyond visual-range air-to-air missiles, four short-range air-to-air missiles and two standoff-range weapons.

South Korea's Utility Helo Makes Maiden Flight

Surion-Korea Utility Helicopter (photo : Chosun)

SEOUL - The first prototype of the Surion utility helicopter, co-developed by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) and Eurocopter, successfully completed its first flight March 10, about seven months after its rollout, South Korea's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced.

The 30-minute flight took place at an air base in Sacheon, some 430 kilometers (about 265 miles) southeast of Seoul, before a crowd of about 160 guests, the agency said in a news release.

Two test pilots and an engineer maneuvered the 8.7-metric-ton aircraft through taxi, hover and hover turns. The helicopter performed a stationary hover at 30 feet, the release said.

"The Surion will be test-flying at an altitude of 2,000 feet and a cruising speed of 140 knots by April," a DAPA spokesman said. "A full-scale flight test will begin in May before initial production in late 2010."

Under the Korea Utility Helicopter (KUH) program that began in 2006, South Korea plans to produce 245 troop-carrying helicopters to replace aging UH-1H and MD 500 helicopters.

In June 2006, KAI and Eurocopter inked a 1.3 trillion-won ($1.1 billion) research-and-development contract, Seoul's biggest arms deal ever with a non-U.S. company. A production contract worth about 4.4 trillion won is expected to be signed around 2011.

The companies plan to set up a joint venture company to market the KUH globally.

The Surion has a top speed of 240 kilometers per hour and can carry two pilots and 11 troops, according to KAI. It can hover at 9,258 feet with a climbing speed of 500 feet per minute and stay in the air well over two hours.

The helicopter also features a four-axis digital automatic flight-control system and a cockpit with multifunctional liquid crystal displays.

Survivability gear includes laser warning receivers, a missile warning system, chaff and flare dispensers, and an electronic warfare system.

S. Korean Navy to Receive New Patrol Aircraft

P-3CK maritime patrol aircraft (photo : KDN)

The Navy will acquire the first three of the eight planned P-3CK maritime patrol aircraft from Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) after a delay of nearly one and a half years due to systems integration and redesign problems.

The last hurdle for their delivery was cleared earlier this month as the U.S. government approved export restrictions on key electronic warfare equipment for the P-3CK, according to KAI and Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) officials.

The P-3CK is one of the new variants of the U.S. P-3 Orion maritime aircraft developed in the 1960s. KAI, South Korea's only aircraft developer, has been in charge of remodeling the older aircraft since 2005.

L-3 Communications Integrated Systems of the United States is a subcontractor that provides system modernization and a service life extension program.

The ceremony to mark the delivery of the three planes will be held at a navy unit in Pohang, about 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. According to the KAI, the remaining planes will be handed over to the Navy by the end of June.

The Navy expects the new fleet of P-3CK aircraft to boost its maritime surveillance and strike capability against North Korean targets to a great extent.
"The P-3CK is capable of conducting various operations on anti-submarine/anti-ship missions, as well as on early warning and information gathering," a Navy official said.

Key upgrades for the P-3CK include a multi-purpose radar capable of detecting fixed and moving targets on the ground, high-definition electro-optical/infrared cameras, digital acoustic analysis equipment and a magnetic anomaly detector, he said.

The aircraft is also armed with Harpoon Block II air-to-ground missiles and a real-time tactical information transmission system interoperable with the KF-16 fighter jet, said the official.

"North Korean coastal artillery and missile launchers could be neutralized by the Harpoon missiles fired from P-3CKs," the official added.

KSS II : South Korea Orders 6 More U-214 AIP Submarines

Type 214 submarine of the RoK Navy (photo : Kadrun)

The German Type 214 was selected by Korea over the French/Spanish Scorpene Class that has been ordered by Chile, India, and Malaysia. Some would argue that U-214s are the most advanced diesel-electric submarines on the market, with an increased diving depth of over 400 meters, an optimized hull and propeller design, ultra-modern internal systems, and an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system that lets the diesel submarine stay submerged for long periods without needing to surface and snorkel air.

South Korea ordered its first 3 KSS-II/ Type 214 boats in 2000, which were assembled by Hyundai Heavy Industries. The Batch 2 order will add 6 more of the 65m, 1,700t boats, effectively doubling the ROKN’s number of modern submarines. The latest development is a $16 million order for Saab electronic systems for the 2nd batch of 214 submarines.

DAPA has selected Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering to build the first boat from Batch 2, and expects to send out another set of tenders for the 5th U-214 boat in 2009.

The KSS-II Batch 2 submarines will include some improvements. HDW’s existing AIP system uses Siemens PEM fuel cells which produce 120 kW per module, and give the submarine an underwater endurance of 2 weeks. This second batch of the Sohn Won-Yil Class will reportedly improve on that system.

On the other hand, Korean newspapers have been reporting high noise levels in previous ships of class, due to propeller shaft problems. Time will tell if Batch 2 submarines manage to fix that issue.

These U214 submarines will join the 3 existing U-209 Chang Bo-go Class boats from the ROKN’s KSS-I program, which were transferred from the German Navy between 1992-1994. The first 2 KSS-II boats of the 1,980 ton U-214 Sohn Won-Yil Class, SS 072 and SS 073, were delivered to the ROK Navy in December 2007 and 2008.

A 1 trillion won KSS-III program is also planned, wherein South Korea would design and manufacture an indigenous 3,000 ton submarine with an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system to supplement its diesels, and Korean submarine combat systems and land attack cruise missiles. The submarines were originally slated for a 2020 introduction, but in May 2009 they were moved back to 2022.

In Dec 29/09: Saab in Stockholm, Sweden, announced that it is working with South Korean defense firm LIG Nex1 to supply naval electronic support measure (ESM) system for the South Korean Navy’s 2nd batch of U-214 submarines. The ESM order value is approximately 11 million euro ($16 million). LIG Nex1 will produce Saab’s ESM system for the delivery to Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) for the 2nd batch of U-214 submarines for the South Korean Navy.

Boeing Delivers 1st 737 AEW&C to S. Korea

Boeing 737 AEW&C (photo : AlastairBor)

SEOUL - Boeing Integrated Defense System (IDS) has delivered the first of four planned 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to South Korea for modifications ahead of a final handover to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force next year, procurement and industry officials said Feb. 8.

Under a $1.6 billion contract signed in November 2006, Boeing IDS is to deliver four 737 AEW&C "Peace Eye" aircraft to South Korea by 2012.

The first 737 plane flew from a Boeing facility in Seattle to a Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) facility in Sacheon, some 430 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Feb. 4, officials from the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) and KAI said.

KAI will equip the 737 airplane with Northrop Grumman's L-band Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. The modification work is part of offset deals from the AEW&C contract.

A ceremony to mark the beginning of the modification work here is to be held at the Sacheon facility Feb. 9 with representatives DAPA, KAI and Boeing in attendance.

"After integrating the Northrop Grumman's MESA radar into the plane and several test flights, the early warning aircraft will be delivered to the ROK Air Force next year," a DAPA official said.

ISR Independence

The 737 AEW&C aircraft is a core part in South Korea's pursuit of achieving independent intelligent gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to prepare for the transition of wartime operational control from the U.S. to South Korea in 2012, as the nation heavily relies on U.S. reconnaissance aircraft based in Okinawa, Japan.

In case of an emergency, the Peace Eye aircraft will orchestrate air assets flown by ROK airmen by detecting and identifying airborne objects, determining their coordinates and flight path data, and transferring the information to commanders.
The planes will play the role of an aerial command-and-control center in guiding fighter-interceptors and tactical air force aircraft to combat areas to attack ground targets at low altitudes.

The 737 AEW&C has six common console stations for the mission crew and boasts of its commonality with commercial airline fleets for flexibility and support. The aircraft can fly at a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet and top speed of 340 knots.

The ROK Air Force plans to create a tactical reconnaissance wing led by the 737 AEW&C aircraft by 2012. The wing will have unmanned aerial vehicles, RF-4C surveillance planes, Hawker 800 aircraft and others, according to ROK Air Force officials.

KF-X and AH-X Plan to Start in 2011

Korea's AH-X (photo : KDN)

Fighter, Helicopter Plan to Start in 2011

Plans to locally develop a fighter aircraft and an attack helicopter will start next year.

The plan is part of comprehensive projects to develop the nation’s aerospace industry over the next decade, the Ministry of National Defense said Thursday.

It was approved by an ad hoc committee of the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy.

To develop the military aircraft industry, the government will begin exploratory development of the KF-X fighter and the Korea Attack Helicopter (KAH) next year.

The defense ministry plans to submit an outline of costs for the project to the National Assembly later this year.

Both programs have been stalled for several years due to questions about their economic and technical feasibility.

Korea's KF-X (photo : StrategyCenter)

The government will develop an aircraft on par with the F-16 Block 50 in cooperation with foreign defense firms, according to officials at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA). The KF-X will be armed with up-to-date radar and avionics systems, they said.

DAPA spokesman Kim Young-san said preliminary development for the KF-X will be conducted between 2011 and 2012 with an investment of 4.4 billion won, and full-scale workwill continue until 2021 at a cost of 5 trillion won.

Korea will foot 60 percent of KF-X development costs and will rely on foreign firms to cover the remainder, Kim said.

Among potential foreign bidders for the KF-X effort are Boeing and Eurofighter. Boeing is offering to transfer F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft technology to help build the KF-X, while Eurofighter wants Korea to join its Eurofighter Typhoon program.

The KF-X had originally aimed to produce and market about 120 aircraft stealthier than Dassault’s Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon but not as covert as Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightening II.

Facing technical and budgetary difficulties, the required operational capability for the KF-X has been lowered to that similar to the F-16.

Korea's roadmap for indigenous aircraft (image : invest korea)

The KAH will be a 5 ton light attack helicopter with a seating capacity of six to eight crew members, the spokesman said. Exploratory development will start next year with an estimated budget of 23.2 billion won, he said.

Full-scale development will continue over the next six years with investment of 600 billion won.

Either Korean Air or Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) will develop the KAH with technical assistance from a foreign helicopter maker, the spokesman said.

The selection of a main Korean developer will be made in August.

Sources said Korean Air, a national flag carrier, has the upper hand in the competition, especially since KAI unsuccessfully pushed to develop a medium-heavy attack helicopter based on its Korea Utility Helicopter (KUH), the Surion.

Potential foreign partners for the KAH include AgustaWestland, the U.K.-Italy helicopter maker; Eurocopter, a subsidiary of the European aerospace group EADS; Sikorsky Aircraft; and Boeing.

DAPA plans to purchase foreign heavy attack helicopter under the AH-X program separate from the KAH.

The AH-X effort calls for buying 36 foreign heavy attack helicopters while the KAH program will build about 270 homegrown aircraft.

Both the AH-X and KAH programs are aimed at replacing the Korean Army's aging 500MD TOWs and AH-1Ss. About half of the 500MD TOWs will reach their lifespan of 30 years by 2013, while the AH-1S helicopters have been in operation for more than 16 years.

Vietnam Starts Build Project 12418 "Molnya"

Molnya missile corvette (photo : ttvnol)

Vietnam has started mass production of missile boats Molniya Project 12418 under license purchased from Russia

MOSCOW, (ARMS-TASS) Vietnam has started serial production of 10 missile launches a Molniya Project 12418 under licenses acquired from Russia.
Production commenced in the contract for purchase of 12 boats of this type, the first two of which were built in Rybinsk and transferred to Vietnam in 2007-2008. About this ARMS-Tass learned at the international exhibition "Interpolitech", opened today in the OCE in Moscow.

Currently, the Vietnamese shipyard laid the first boat, currently under construction on the design and technological documents transmitted to the Vietnamese side of the St. Petersburg Central Maritime Design Bureau (IKBB) "Almaz", where a project 12418.

The Russian side is also responsible for the technical supervision of construction and provides all the necessary consultations.

All Vietnamese boat building will be equipped with both domestic and foreign equipment.

As previously reported ARMS-Tass Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS Russia), Mikhail Dmitriev, between Russia and Vietnam is an agreement for licensed production of Russian missile boats, which cost almost reached 1 billion. In addition, in the next few years Vietnam will be delivered two patrol craft "Gepard-3.9", which are built on Zelenodolsk Shipyard.

As emphasized by Mikhail Dmitriev, "Vietnam - a strategic partner of Russia in military-technical sphere, the country is among the top ten states with which Russia has the most large-scale cooperation."