Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit
The Harvest HAWK (Hercules Airborne Weapons Kit) is a modular weapons/sensor kit designed for the KC-130J aircraft, consisting of a fire-control console located in the aircraft's cargo compartment, an AN/AAQ-30 target sight system (TTS) with infrared, electro-optic sensors, and a TV camera. Munitions consist of a launcher for 4 HELLFIRE missiles and a 10-shot Griffin missile launcher in the cargo compartment. Harvest HAWK also provides surveillance to disrupt improvised explosive device emplacements. The system's television monitors provide detailed ground images, allowing operators to engage targets with laser-guided munitions with pinpoint accuracy. The system is capable of hitting time-sensitive, as well as stationary targets. When fitted to the KC-130J aircraft, missiles are mounted on a wing pylon on the left side of the aircraft, as well as rear stations. This allows the aircraft to mount a refueling pod on the right side of the aircraft to continue to perform a limited mid-air refueling function.
To fight more effectively in the demanding operational environment in Afghanistan, Marines on the ground turned to Naval Aviation for a precise weapon that could be fielded as rapidly as possible and deliver persistent presence, intelligence, and high-volume fire. Responding to a mission requirement in record time, Naval Aviation integrated the Harvest Airborne Weapons Kit (HAWK) with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and weapon systems that allowed KC-130J Super Hercules to provide close air support while taking advantage of the aircraft's ability to stay on station for up to 3 hours. The modular nature of the kit allowed the KC-130J aircraft to continue to be used in a variety of other roles, including aerial resupply, battlefield illumination, and troop and cargo transport in southwestern Afghanistan.
The resulting system was developed as 4 individual "capabilities" in order to get systems into the field as fast as possible. The roll-on/roll-off sensor suite and fire control equipment is referred to as Harvest HAWK Capability I. The Capability I sensor suite is designed to be modular, either being mounted to the rear or below the left inboard fuel tank. The AN/AAQ-30 TTS, common to Harvest HAWK, the UH-1Y, and the AH-1Z, was selected over the L-3/Wescam MX-15 during development.
The weapons components of the system were broken into 3 additional capabilities. A left pylon mounted missile component was Capability II, a gun component was Capability III, and a rear mounted missile system was Capability IV. The 30mm Mk 44 Mod 0 cannon was tested in response to the Capability III requirement, but the US Marine Corps decided against the weapon, reportedly due to limited accuracy. As of 2012, no weapon for Capability III had been selected. The Capability II component was tested and fielded with both the HELLFIRE missile, using the M299 launcher, but was also planned to include the DAGR and/or APKWS/APKWS II weapon. Testing for Capability IV included testing of both the GBU-44/B Viper Strike and Griffin missiles (the initial Griffin A was actually an unpowered glide bomb). The Griffin weapon was fielded as a Capability IV component, using first a 10-round launcher fitted to the KC-130J aircraft's cargo ramp, referred to as "Gunslinger." This was later replaced in late 2011 with a 10-round launcher that could be fitted in the rear paratroop door, referred to as the "Derringer Door," which prevented the aircraft from having to open the cargo compartment to launch the weapons.
Harvest HAWK deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in October 2010 with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352). The system saw its first combat on 4 November 2010, supporting Marines in Sangin, Afghanistan. One HELLFIRE missile was fired and 5 enemy insurgents were killed, with no civilian casualties or property damage during the firefight.
In early 2011, Harvest HAWK was the weapon of choice to neutralize insurgents in Marjah, Afghanistan where civilian casualties and property damage were major concerns. By August 2011, Harvest HAWK systems had fired 42 Hellfire and 11 Griffin missiles, flown more than 1,300 flight hours, and spotted 11 roadside bombs.
On 30 September 2011, the US Department of Defense announced that Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company of Marietta, Georgia was being awarded a $21,299,587 modification to a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00019-09-C-0053) for the procurement of 2 additional Harvest Hawk capabilities I and II kits for the Marine Corps KC-130J aircraft. Work would be performed in Palmdale, California and was expected to be completed in December 2010. Contract funds in the amount of $21,299,587 would expire at the end of the fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Maryland was the contracting activity.
On 14 May 2012, the Department of Defense announced that Lockheed Martin Corporation of Marietta, Georgia was being awarded an $18,433,384 firm-fixed-price contract for the manufacture and testing of three Harvest Hercules Airborne Weapons Kits (HAWK) for installation onboard Marine Corps KC-130J aircraft. In addition, this contract provided for the modification of 7 KC-130J aircraft for installation of the Harvest HAWKs. Work would be performed in Palmdale, California (90 percent), and Marietta, Georgia (10 percent), and was expected to be completed in June 2014. Contract funds in the amount of $18,433,384 would expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to 10 U.S.C. 2304(c)(1). The Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River, Maryland was the contracting activity.
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