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There are a lot of things that SpaceX has done in recent years that are absolutely marvelous. The company has quickly come to dominate the launch services industry with its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy partially reusable rockets. In 2020, the company successfully launched a record 26 times, vastly outpacing any other rocket program, including Chinese and Russian ones. Falcon left other American launch programs in the dust long ago.
The BK.117/145 is a successful joint venture that continues to sell very well for several civil applications. It has a particularly strong EMS presence — just over half of the demand base. Production had been running at a low level — Eurocopter and Kawasaki combined had been building less than one per month until 2007 — but with the 145/C-2 the program has shown signs of a revival. More importantly, it has become one of the lucky platforms to win the great DoD lottery. First, Eurocopter’s decision to develop the C-2/EC 145 version was rewarded by a French Interior Ministry order for 32, the biggest single BK.117 order ever.
The civil government and commercial drone markets are growing rapidly as UAS proves its worth across several different fields.
The United States and Europe are forging ahead with costly new deployments of UAS to protect their borders. China is reshaping the agricultural market with the rapid spread of subsidized UAS technology for spraying and imaging. Traditional aerospace and defense firms are competing to develop new solar-powered systems to provide low-cost internet. Test programs are operating around the world intended to integrate delivery drones into airspace.
There is no slowdown in the number of new satellite systems being announced and developed. Just learned of one called PredaSAR, which is being billed as the world’s largest constellation of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites, with an initial 48 satellites planned.
The SLS program, which began in 2010, is several years behind schedule and by 2021 the cost of developing the rocket will reach close to $19 billion. NASA had expected final cost of the rocket to total just over $17 billion.
Consumer UAS will continue to grow but its most explosive growth is behind it. It is a much more mature market that has lost some of its novelty and technological innovations that will attract buyers are becoming fewer. Still, the market will continue to expand for several more years thanks to new technological developments and a wider range of product offerings. Moreover, there promises to be considerable crossover between the consumer and the commercial UAS markets. Some consumer drones are used for low-end commercial tasks such as real estate.
Lockheed Martin’s AN/FPS-117(V) is a fixed-site version of the tactical AN/TPS-59 air defense surveillance radar. The FPS-117 is deployed mostly in long-range national air defense networks. The AN/TPS-117 and TPS-B34 are transportable air defense radars developed from the FPS-117 and TPS-59, for international sale. In 2001, Lockheed Martin announced it was renaming the TPS-117 as the TPS-77 for international sales.
In January 2019, a new US Air Force commercial/defense consortium-led “prototyping” program was announced with the goal of deciding how to upgrade or replace hundreds of legacy Raytheon AN/ALQ-184 and Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-131 ECM (Electronic Countermeasures) pods and other systems aboard USAF F-16s.
Though once expected to be totally replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35, by 2018 the Air Force planned to keep the single-engined F-16 fleet flying, upgraded, and “relevant” up to 2048. The EW “prototype” program could ultimately lead to a fleet-wide electronic warfare upgrade for more than 900 USAF F-16s – worth as much as $9 billion.