By Debra ValineApril 10, 2019
Two foreign military sales cases have something in common. Helicopters in both cases are being refurbished and upgraded at a Huntsville, Alabama, facility.
FMS demands on the supply chain help to keep a warm industrial base where U.S. Army demands requirements may be low, which helps both the Army and U.S. allies and partners, according to Aviation and Missile Command's Security Assistance Management Directorate leaders Brian Wood and Jody Sanders.
Science and Engineering Services (SES), LLC, is refurbishing AH-1 Cobra helicopters and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for partner countries. This facility uses the same process and facility to support Air Force UH-60 conversions as well as keeping the demand steady from industry for engine overhauls and CL IX.
One of the cases involving USASAC supports the Royal Jordanian Air Force. The Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) contract value is $77,955,898, which includes a mix of National Funds and Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF). The case also has a foreign military sales component.
Through the DCS contract, the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) will receive a total of 12 upgraded AH-1 Cobra Helicopters. The first two were delivered in November 2018; three were delivered in January. The next shipment of three aircraft will take place in April/May, and the final three are set to deliver to Jordan in June/July.
The FMS cases that support the DCS effort include 140 Hellfire missiles, 12 M310 Launchers and 12 MX-15D WESCAM cameras. The FMS portion adds up to an additional $36,148,267.
The RJAF purchased the Cobras through an FMS case in the late 1980s/early 1990s.
While this current standalone case dates back to the original contract being signed in October 2013, work continues on the sixth amendment to the contract with a seventh amendment in the works.
"In addition to the upgrades to the Cobra helicopters, the DCS contract with SES includes training for four instructor pilots (two classes of two each) and up to 40 maintainers (two classes of up to 20 maintainers each)," said Candice Turner, the USASAC country program manager for Jordan. "The initial maintainer training class was conducted in Jordan in February. The initial instructor pilot class is scheduled to finish March 28, but will likely extend into April. Additional training was not requested on the FMS support cases."
In addition to receiving the upgraded Cobra helicopters, the DCS with SES provides training on how the missile is integrated into the aircraft, methods of engagement and what the crew needs to do to shoot the missile.
According Turner, there is nothing unusual per se about this case; however, due to the FMS ties with the DCS effort, SES and USASAC has had to work closely together on this program in order to ensure this AH-1 Cobra upgrade would be successful for the RJAF.
"The Jordanians are eager for a lot more than SES is authorized to teach," Turner said. "The FMS case does not include training for Hellfire to include operational techniques."
To get the additional training, Jordan would have to request that separately, she said.
The local facility also is upgrading UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for Afghanistan.
"In early 2016 Former Secretary Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, endorsed a plan to recapitalize and modernize the Afghan aviation fleet through the purchase of 159 non-excess UH-60A Black Hawk helicopters from the U.S. Army via the Black Hawk Exchange and Sales Team Program, the proceeds of which are used to fund UH-60M procurement for U.S. Army requirements. The plan also procured other platforms with the intent to end reliance on Russian made Mi-17s," said Giovanni Estrada, country program manager for Afghanistan.
"In December of 2016, over 50 people from around the globe joined the Army Security Assistance Enterprise Team at USASAC in Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, for a week of planning and discussions that kicked off the Aviation Recapitalization work effort for Afghanistan," Estrada said. "When the funds were approved by Congress in early 2017 the FMS process started in full fervor. The FMS case implemented in June and the first four Black Hawk aircraft were made available for training in Afghanistan in October 2017. Since that time a mirage of issues have been worked out from substitutions for parts no longer available or not releasable, to the future configurations of the aircraft which started as hybrids and ending in an Afghan unique version."
To date, 90 Black Hawks have been title transferred to Afghanistan for the Enhanced-Preventive Maintenance Inspection effort; 34 UH-60s have been delivered to the Afghan Air Force. Pilot training classes have been ongoing since October 2017 for both the Aircraft Qualification Training and Mission Qualification Training. By the end of 2019, 53 UH-60 Black Hawks will have been delivered.