August 27, 2009, East Camden, Ark. -- The 1,000th Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) (RIM 163) was delivered by Raytheon Missile Systems to the navies of the NATO Sea Sparrow consortium Aug. 25 during a ceremony held at Raytheon's Weapon Integration Center in Camden, Ark.
The ESSM program is an international cooperative effort to develop, produce and maintain a common ship defense capability that meets all NATO Sea Sparrow partner nations' needs.
ESSM is a tail-controlled missile that provides critical performance in situations requiring quick reaction capability, and improves ship self-defense against low-altitude, high-velocity and advanced maneuver anti-ship cruise missiles. ESSM also provides effective defense against surface and low-velocity air threats, and is integrated with seven combat systems and four launching systems.
"ESSM's increased speed coupled with its improved guidance system allows for engagements at extended ranges," said Capt. Mike Anderson, ESSM project manager. "The hallmarks of the missile are its international design, combat system flexibility and performance edge."
The NATO Sea Sparrow consortium is NATO's largest. Countries making up the NATO ESSM consortium are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey and United States.
ESSM is currently deployed in the U.S. Navy and nine international fleets across 20 ship classes. The first ESSM production was delivered to the U.S. Navy by Raytheon in 2002.
NATO Sea Sparrow Program Office management oversight and direction is provided by NATO Sea Sparrow Project Steering Committee which is chaired by Rear Adm. Terry Benedict, Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare Systems (PEO IWS).
PEO IWS is an affiliated Program Executive Office of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which manages surface ship and submarine combat technologies and systems, and coordinates Navy Open Architecture across ship platforms. The United States, through the MOUs, has been designated to procure supplies and services on behalf of the member nations. NAVSEA is the contracting activity.
August 28, 2009 -- A group of active-duty Air Force and Tennessee Air National Guardsmen recently helped restore one of Nigeria's C-130 transport aircraft to flying condition as part of an ongoing military-to-military engagement between 17th Air Force (US Air Forces Africa) and the West African nation.
Lt. Col. David MacKenzie, deputy director of 17th Air Forces plans and programs directorate, visited Nigeria in January along with members from the Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs, Africa Division and the C-130 System Program Office to lay the groundwork for the visit.
From August 16 to 29, he partnered with a team of 12 maintainers from the 118th Airlift Wing in Nashville, Tenn., to help demonstrate and familiarize the Nigerian air force maintainers with evaluating and repairing one of Nigeria's C-130H transport aircraft.
Currently, only one out of eight C-130s is available for service.
"The 118th has done a terrific job in helping us partner with this key African nation to build capacity to support African Union and United Nations peacekeeping transport capabilities," Colonel MacKenzie said. "This is the biggest military-to-military exchange event we've done in 2009, and we couldn't have done it had the 118th not stepped up with not only the maintenance folks but with their own C-130H aircraft and crew providing the transport and Ravens to guard the aircraft."
The mission was primarily to demonstrate propeller and engine change procedures in order to render the C-130 airworthy enough to fly to an aircraft repair depot in Europe for a more extensive overhaul. The Nigerians took advantage of the opportunity to learn as much as they could from the 118th demonstrations.
"The 118th was perfect for this task as they are developing into an international training unit having recently conducted training and visits with the Polish air force and their own growing C-130 fleet," Colonel MacKenzie said.
The Nigerian C-130 fleet dates from the mid-1980s, and has not been upgraded since then. Sergeant West said that this is where the continuity of the Air National Guard really comes in handy.
"There's hardly anyone here with less than 20 years experience," he said. "That means you can always ask one of the guys 'remember when we had a problem like this?' and odds are you've experienced it, either on the military or civilian side. Someone who had only worked on the J-model would be completely lost on this."
Chief Master Sgt. Tony Jeanette, also of the 118th AW, said that their Nigerian hosts have been excellent.
"They welcomed us with open arms, very cordial and polite," he said. "Their problem is that they need some formal training and tools. Without tools, you can't fix anything."
In addition to the 118th AW, the mission drew upon two Air Force international affairs officers, a civilian technician from the new business office and 1st Lt. Dan Wilkenson, an aerospace composites engineer from the 330th Aircraft Sustainment Group at Robbins Air Force Base, Ga. Lieutenant Wilkenson's expertise was critical in setting the stage to render the additional Nigerian C-130 aircraft ready to enter Program Depot Maintenance.
"The biggest challenge we have so far is part and tool availability," Lieutenant Wilkenson said. "If we have to replace something, we pretty much have to can it from another aircraft instead of drawing it from supply, which is a lengthy process." He also noted that there was a shortage of safety equipment and larger tools such as engine stands, making what would otherwise be fairly simple repairs much more complex.
Despite the obstacles, the event has been so successful that the Nigerian chief of air staff initiated talks during the event to repair a second aircraft as soon as possible.
"I'm really glad to be here," Chief Jeanette said. "This has been a good experience for both sides and we hope to come back again when they launch this aircraft to fly to the depot and start work on the second one."
August 23, 2009 -- The IDF moved one step closer to receiving the Iron Dome last week after the Israeli Air Force completed the establishment of the new battalion that will operate the short-range missile defense system.
Last month, the Iron Dome successfully intercepted a number of rockets that mimicked Kassam and short-range Grad-model Katyusha rockets in a series of tests conducted by the Defense Ministry.
The Iron Dome, under development by Rafael Defense Systems, will become operational in the middle of 2010 and will be capable of intercepting short-range Kassam and Katyusha rockets fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, air force officers said on Sunday.
The Iron Dome uses an advanced radar that locates and tracks the rocket that is then intercepted by a kinetic missile interceptor. The first battery that will be deployed along the Gaza border will consist of four launchers, each of which has 20 missiles.
The new battalion is part of the IAF's Air Defense Division. Its commander is Lt.-Col. Shabtai Ben-Boher, who until recently served as commander of a Patriot Missile Battalion. The IAF already operates the Arrow missile system to counter long-range ballistic missiles and Rafael is co-developing David's Sling to counter medium-range rockets in Hizbullah and Syrian hands.
Officers from the battalion have already commenced training with the systems as well as formulating a doctrine for its operation. The soldiers that will join the battalion were chosen from existing Air Defense Division units. The training is being conducted with computer simulators and is currently focusing on the Iron Dome's command-and-control systems, the new radar system and the missile launcher.
"We cannot promise 100 percent hermetic defense," said Col. Zvika, commander of the IAF's Northern Air Defense Division. "But what we can promise is that after years of rocket fire against Gaza-belt communities, there will now be an effective solution."
The IDF has also located positions along the Gaza border that will be used as bases for the system, which includes a launcher and radar system. After it completes the deployment of the system along the Gaza border, the IDF will begin deploying the system along the border with Lebanon.
THE JERUSALEM POST