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Boeing Moves On Canadian Aircraft, ABL, Polar Satellite, GPS Sat

By | July 10, 2006

      The Boeing Co. [BA] may win Canadian military contracts for more than US$7 billion of helicopters and transport aircraft because competing firms may not qualify for the work.

      As well, Boeing successfully demonstrated the ability of its Airborne Laser (ABL) to track and target a ballistic missile, in ground tests; received a contract to study the payload for a next-generation polar orbiting satellite; and received a contract to build three more GPS satellites.

      In the Canadian contracting issue, Boeing may be the only firm that can meet requirements in acquisition programs for helicopters and transport aircraft.

      Boeing offers Canada its CH-47 Chinook helicopter and C-17 Globemaster transport. Competitors on the helo work are Sikorsky Aircraft, a unit of United Technologies [UTX] offering a variant of the S-92, and Eurocopter, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence and Space [EAD.PA], offering a version of the NH90.

      Rivals for the transport aircraft work are Lockheed Martin [LMT] offering the C-130J Hercules and Airbus Industrie, a unit of EADS, offering the A400M.

      ABL Test

      The ABL is an anti-ballistic-missile system mounted in a Boeing 747-400, an asset that involves a Lockheed laser beam and fire control system and Northrop Grumman [NOC] laser. Boeing reported that during the test at Boeing facilities in Wichita, Kan., the ABL located a simulated boosting ballistic missile target created by a target simulator.

      After using simulated returns from a surrogate target illuminator laser to track the target, the Airborne Laser used simulated returns from a surrogate beacon illuminator laser to compensate for atmospheric turbulence that ABL’s high-energy laser would encounter in its path to a target.

      The equipment used in the test is part of the beam control/fire control system, designed and integrated by Lockheed, and the battle management system, developed by Boeing.

      The ABL program plans to install and test the illuminators later this year. The high-energy laser, which achieved lethal power and run-times in a ground laboratory last December, currently is being refurbished and will be installed in the ABL aircraft next year to prepare for the program’s first missile shoot-down test in 2008.

      Polar Satellite

      Boeing also reported that it received a $1.5 million Air Force study contract to define the next-generation communications payload for a polar-orbiting satellite.

      The proposed Enhanced Polar System (EPS) would provide protected satellite communications for warfighters operating in northern polar regions and fill expected communications gaps in areas not covered by the military’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency and Transformational Satellite Communications systems now in development.

      The study will look at options for producing and delivering two separate protected Extremely High Frequency (EHF) communications payloads with anti-jam and low probability of intercept/detection capability.

      These payloads would be integrated into two separate spacecraft and serve soldiers operating above 65 degrees north latitude.

      The Interim Polar Satellite program uses a modified Boeing-built communications payload, originally slated for the Navy Ultra High Frequency Follow-On satellite system, on a polar-orbiting satellite to provide secure military communications in the Arctic Ocean.

      Under the initial six-month contract, Boeing will define the payload architecture and specifications and deliver a payload system requirements review package to the Air Force Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) Joint Program Office.

      A 14-month Phase II contract option, if exercised, would include delivery of a completed system architecture, a system engineering master plan and a final risk management plan. The second phase study contract has a value of $8 million.

      GPS Satellites

      Finally, the Air Force gave Boeing a $138 million contract option to build three additional Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites under the GPS Block IIF contract.

      The exercised option brings to 12 the number of Block IIF satellites Boeing is building under contract to the military’s NAVSTAR GPS joint program office.

      Boeing expects that the first GPS Block IIF satellite, known as SV-1, will be ready for delivery in 2007.

      The GPS system is a space-based radio positioning system consisting of a constellation of 24 orbiting satellites. GPS provides two levels of service: a standard positioning service for general public business and recreational use and an encoded service that is intended primarily for use by the Department of Defense. GPS IIF satellites will provide enhanced navigation support for both military and civilian users and will include a new dedicated L-5 signal approved by the government for civilian aviation.

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