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AC-130Air Force Special Operations Command’s top officer said he wanted to explore the possibility of adding a laser or directed energy weapon to the AC-130J Ghostrider.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, head of AFSOC, told a crowd at NDIA’s SO/LIC conference in Washington D.C. on Tuesday that he thought the technology was mature enough to install a laser weapon onto the AC-130J gunship.

The Air Force has already decided it will mount a 105mm cannon onto the newest variant of the gunship after the Air Force chose to limit the W-model to smart bombs and the 30mm cannon. Heithold explained that the 105mm cannon was needed because it was more accurate and cheaper than firing the Small Diameter Bombs. [Continue reading…]

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New AmpbThe Navy is getting ready to take the next step in its ongoing competition to build a new amphibious assault ship for the service, officials said.

Called the LX( R ), the new amphib will replace the Navy’s existing fleet of LSD 41/49 dock landing ships in the 2020s and 2030s, said Navy spokesman Matthew Leonard.

“LX( R ) will be a versatile, cost-effective amphibious ship — a success story in balancing cost and requirements while delivering key capabilities. Competition will play a prominent role in the LX( R ) acquisition strategy,” he said.

The Navy plans to award the detail design and construction contract for the lead ship by fiscal year 2020 with delivery planned for fiscal year 2026, Leonard added. [Continue reading…]

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Start-up rocket-maker Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX and headed by billionaire Elon Musk, has agreed to drop its lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force after the service pledged to open more satellite launches to competition.

The company based near Los Angeles sued the service last year for the chance to compete in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle, or EELV program. The acquisition effort launches military and spy satellites atop Atlas and Delta rockets made by a joint venture between defense giants Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. [Continue reading…]

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CRH-141124-F-ZU869-001The Air Force plans to conduct the first test flight of its new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter in 2019 as a step toward fielding an operational aircraft in 2021 and reaching full-rate production by 2023, service officials said.

The new helicopter, called CRH, will be engineered to perform high-risk medical evacuations and other rescue and recovery missions. In total, the service plans to acquire 112 new CRH personnel recovery helicopters. [Continue reading…]

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F-35C Lightning IIThe Navy and Lockheed Martin are planning to demonstrate a beyond-the-horizon anti-ship missile detection and defense technology using an F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The system, referred to as Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air, or NIFC-CA, uses Aegis radar, an airborne sensor and SM-6 missile to find, track and destroy approaching threats such as cruise missiles at ranges well beyond the typical radar horizon, Navy officials said. [Continue reading…]

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