BIW starts constructing the Navy’s last Flight IIA destroyer | Turkey opts for indigenous TF-X engine | Saab’s Gripen E fires Meteor missile
General Dynamics Bath Iron Works is starting the production of the US Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer. The future USS Patrick Gallagher (DDG-127) will be the last vessel in the Flight IIA configuration. “It is exciting to commence construction on what will be the 77th ship of the Arleigh Burke class” said Capt. Casey Moton, DDG 51 class program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “Not only will this ship continue the legacy of enduring warfighting capability, it will carry with it the strength and courage demonstrated by its namesake.” Introduced in 2000, the DDG 51 Flight IIA ships incorporate two hangars for two SH-60B helicopters as well as aircraft facilities. In addition the Gallagher will be fitted with an Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System, making it suitable for Anti-Air Warfare (AAW) missions.
The Navy’s second Zumwalt-class destroyer is currently sailing towards California. The USS Michael Monsoor is making its way towards Coronado where it will be commissioned on January 26, 2019. Bath Iron Works started the ship’s construction in May 2013 with builder’s trials held in December 2017 and January 2018. During the acceptance trials held in February this year the USS Monsoor suffered an engine casualty which required the replacement of its two Rolls Royce MT30 maritime gas turbines. Like the Zumwalt, the Monsoor features a stealthy shape, electric-drive propulsion, new radar and sonar, and powerful guns and missiles. It’s fitted with 80 vertical launch cells for Tomahawk cruise missiles, ESSMs, and Raytheon’s Standard Missiles. Other armament includes a 155mm Advanced Gun System and a MQ-8C Fire Scout. The third ship in the class, USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), is set to be delivered in 2020. Combined, the Navy has spent about $23 billion on research, development and acquisition of the three-ship class.
Middle East & Africa
Turkey finalises an essential step in its TF-X development program. The Turkish Defense Industry Directorate (SSB) signed a framework agreement with TR Motor that enables the domestic production of the future jet’s engine. TR Motor will now join Aselsan and Turkish Aerospace Industries in the fighter jet development program. As SSB chief ?smail Demir notes, “the door remains open for international engine-makers to get involved in the project”. Saying that the main aim in the framework of the TF-X jet project was to develop an indigenous jet engine, Demir told Hurriyet Daily News that TR Motor, a new company, was established a while ago to achieve this target. Both Aselsan and TAI signed a MoU earlier this year. Both companies are developing critical systems for the TF-X, including a national radar, electro-optical systems, mission-control systems and integration of these systems into the future aircraft. The Turkish government has earmarked about $1.2 billion for an initial investment.
Saab confirms that its Gripen E fighter jet successfully fired a Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) for the first time. MBDA’s Meteor missile was conceived as a longer-range competitor to popular weapons like the Russian R77/AA-12, and American AIM-120 AMRAAM. Its ramjet propulsion offers the missile a head-on closing range of 120 km, and full powered performance at Mach 4+ throughout its flight, instead of the standard “burn and coast” approach use by rocket-powered counterparts. Sweden’s JAS-39 Gripen is serving as the Meteor’s main test platform. “The aircraft continues to perform as smoothly as we have seen throughout the whole flight test phase flying with external stores. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming steps in the flight test program, taking us closer and closer to completing weapon integration. Meteor makes Gripen E extremely capable in the air dominance role”, says Robin Nordlander, Saab’s experimental test pilot.
France’s Defense Procurement Agency, DGA, accepts the F3-R-standard variant of the Rafale combat aircraft. The F-3R standard was launched in 2013 and features a range of software enhancements that allow for the integration of the Meteor BVRAAM and SBU-64 smart bombs. The enhancements also improve the jet’s Spectra self-defense system provided by Thales, and give it a new Friend-or-Foe interrogator/transponder with full Mode-5/ Mode-S-compatibility. Diagnostic improvements will make maintenance easier and more cost-effective. Approval from the French DGA was obtained on 31 October, says Dassault. Dassault will shortly begin development of the F4-standard Rafale, having completed initial feasibility studies for the program.
The Royal Navy’s eighth and final ship in the Type 26 acquisition program will be named HMS London. BAE will build the vessels in two batches, with three frigates in the first batch. The contract for the second batch is expected to be signed in 2020. BAE will construct the HMS London at its shipyard in Govan. Key Type 26 design criteria include multi-role versatility, flexibility in adapting to future needs, affordability in both construction and through-life support costs, and exportability. “The Type 26 Frigate is a cutting-edge warship, combining the expertise of the British shipbuilding industry with the excellence of the Royal Navy. These ships will be a force to be reckoned with, there to protect our powerful new carriers and helping keep British interests safe across the world,” said a MoD spokesman.
The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) is currently inducting its first of four Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. The aircraft is stationed at Gimhae Air Base in Busan, South Korea, where it is undergoing acceptance trials. The A330-200 MRTT is a derivative of the Airbus A330, and was designed from the outset to be able to function as an aerial tanker and a transport aircraft at the same time. Airbus won the $1.2 billion contract in 2015. Other competitors included Boeing with its KC-46A and IAI with its B767-300 Multi Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT). It is expected that deliveries of all four A330 MRTTs will be concluded by the end of 2019.
Watch: Getting Dressed in WW1 – British Soldier