Nov 21, 2017 04:57 UTC
The British Royal Navy will formally accept
the first Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier
into its fleet on December 7, following the completion of contractors’ sea trials on the vessel. The announcement was made by new defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, during his first visit to the carrier on November 16. The commissioning will take place at the vessel's home at Portsmouth, and will be inducted into service by Queen Elizabeth II herself.
RN CVF Concept
Britain’s 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) announced a big leap forward for the Royal Navy: plans to replace the current set of 3 Invincible Class 22,000t escort carriers with 2 larger, more capable Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) ships that could operate a more powerful force. These new carriers would be joint-service platforms, operating F-35B aircraft, plus helicopters and UAVs from all 3 services. Roles could include ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance), force projection and logistics support, close air support, anti-submarine/ anti-surface naval warfare, and land attack.
The scale of the CVF effort relative to Britain’s past experiences means that the program structure is rather complex. It has passed through several stages already, and is being run and conducted within an industrial alliance framework. There is also a parallel international framework, involving cooperation with France on its PA2 carrier as a derivative of the CVF design. This DID FOCUS article covers that structure and framework, ongoing developments, and the ships themselves as they move slowly through construction, and eventual fielding.
Continue Reading… »
Nov 09, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Navy has awarded a $22.4 million contract
to BAE Systems to exercise options for post-shakedown availabilities (PSA) for the USS Little Rock and USS Sioux City littoral combat ships (LCS
). Work will be carried out onboard USS Little Rock LCS-9 and USS Sioux City LCS-11 Freedom-class littoral combat ships at BAE's facility in Jacksonville, Fla., with completion scheduled for February 2019. PSA activities are usually carried out to correct deficiencies found during the shakedown cruise or to accomplish other authorised improvements.
Trimaran LCS Design
(click to enlarge)
Exploit simplicity, numbers, the pace of technology development in electronics and robotics, and fast reconfiguration. That was the US Navy’s idea for the low-end backbone of its future surface combatant fleet. Inspired by successful experiments like Denmark’s Standard Flex ships, the US Navy’s $35+ billion “Littoral Combat Ship” program was intended to create a new generation of affordable surface combatants that could operate in dangerous shallow and near-shore environments, while remaining affordable and capable throughout their lifetimes.
It hasn’t worked that way. In practice, the Navy hasn’t been able to reconcile what they wanted with the capabilities needed to perform primary naval missions, or with what could be delivered for the sums available. The LCS program has changed its fundamental acquisition plan 4 times since 2005, and canceled contracts with both competing teams during this period, without escaping any of its fundamental issues. Now, the program looks set to end early. This public-access FOCUS article offer a wealth of research material, alongside looks at the LCS program’s designs, industry teams procurement plans, military controversies, budgets and contracts.
Continue Reading… »
Oct 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
Airbus has selected Spanish defense electronics firm Indra to develop a tactical and integrated procedures simulation trainer
for pilots of the former's new A330 MRTT
aerial refueling tanker. Indra's Integrated Procedures Trainer (IPT) will be connected to the Partial Training system (PTT) used by boom operators to learn how to handle the refueling tube for supplying fuel to the aircraft, and will allow pilots to familiarize themselves with the systems of the A330 MRTT tanker and practice situations impossible to reproduce using a real plane, such as engine failure, aircraft stall and emergency landings. Previous work with Airbus has seen Indra develop simulators for Airbus' commercial A320 and A330 aircraft and Airbus helicopters' H135, H225, H175, H145 and AS350.
Voyager & friends
Back in 2005, Great Britain was considering a public-private partnership to buy, equip, and operate the RAF’s future aerial tanker fleet. The RAF would fly the 14 Airbus A330-MRTT aircraft on operational missions, and receive absolute preferential access to the planes. A private contractor would handle maintenance, receive payment from the RAF on a per-use basis – and operate them as passenger charter or transport aircraft when the RAF didn’t need them.
The deal became politically controversial, and negotiations on the 27-year, multi-billion pound deal charted new territory for both the government, and for private industry. Which may help to explain why a contract to move ahead on a “Private Financing Initiative” basis had yet to be issued, and procurement had yet to begin, over 7 years after the program began. In March 2008, however, Britain issued the world’s largest-ever Defence Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. This FOCUS Article describes the current British fleet, the aircraft they chose to replace them, how the new fleet will compare, the innovative deal structure they’ve chosen, and ongoing FSTA developments.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 22, 2017 04:59 UTC
The US Air Force's (USAF) newest gunship, the AC-130J Ghostrider
, will be declared operational
later this month. However, the aircraft will not be combat ready for another two years as the USAF Special Operations Command is behind in training operators. The new configuration has taken the refuelling pods out of an existing MC-130J, replacing them with weapons racks outfitted with precision strike packages. Armaments found on the Block 10 AC-130J configuration includes an internal 30mm gun, GPS-guided small diameter bombs and laser-guided missiles that will launch from the rear cargo door, while the Block 20 adds a 105mm cannon and large aircraft infrared countermeasures. Future updates include the addition of wing-mounted Lockheed AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and radio-frequency countermeasures. A number will have the 30mm gun replaced with a high-energy laser.
RAAF C-130J-30, flares
The C-130 Hercules remains one of the longest-running aerospace manufacturing programs of all time. Since 1956, over 40 models and variants have served as the tactical airlift backbone for over 50 nations. The C-130J looks similar, but the number of changes almost makes it a new aircraft. Those changes also created issues; the program has been the focus of a great deal of controversy in America – and even of a full program restructuring in 2006. Some early concerns from critics were put to rest when the C-130J demonstrated in-theater performance on the front lines that was a major improvement over its C-130E/H predecessors. A valid follow-on question might be: does it break the bottleneck limitations that have hobbled a number of multi-billion dollar US Army vehicle development programs?
C-130J customers now include Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, India, Israel, Iraq, Italy, Kuwait, Norway, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Tunisia, and the United States. American C-130J purchases are taking place under both annual budgets and supplemental wartime funding, in order to replace tactical transport and special forces fleets that are flying old aircraft and in dire need of major repairs. This DID FOCUS Article describes the C-130J, examines the bottleneck issue, covers global developments for the C-130J program, and looks at present and emerging competitors.
Continue Reading… »
Sep 19, 2017 04:57 UTC
General Dynamics Land Systems UK has commenced live firing trials
for its AJAX armored vehicle program
. The trials are being held in West Wales, Great Britain, and will last for approximately five months, starting with static firing positions against immobile point targets and gradually progressing to a moving vehicle engaging moving targets. It is armed with the CT 40 autocannon and a coaxial 7.62mm chain gun for lighter targets. Used by both the UK and French armed forces, the CT 40 ustilizes a type of telescoping 40mm ammunition designed to take up less space and reduce the necessary size of the gun. It can fire armor-piercing discarding sabot and high-explosive airburst ammunition out to an effective range of 2500 meters. It has a maximum rate of fire of up to 200 rounds per minute.
Many of Britain’s army vehicles are old and worn, and the necessities of hard service on the battlefield are only accelerating that wear. The multi-billion pound “Future Rapid Effects System” (FRES) aims to recapitalize the core of Britain’s armored vehicle fleet over the next decade or more.
The best one can say is that FRES has gone far better than America’s comparable and canceled “Future Combat System.” That doesn’t mean the rise has been smooth. FRES was spawned by the UK’s withdrawal from the German-Dutch-UK Boxer MRAV modular wheeled APC program, in order to develop a more deployable vehicle that fit Britain’s exact requirements. Those initial requirements were challenging, however, and experience in Iraq and Afghanistan led to decisions that changed an already-late program. So, too, have subsequent budgetary crises…
Continue Reading… »
Aug 28, 2017 04:58 UTC
Advanced construction has commenced on the US Navy's third Gerald R. Ford-class
aircraft carrier by Huntington Ingalls. The firm's Newport News Shipbuilding division started the process
last Thursday with a ceremonial cutting of a 35-ton steel plate of the Enterprise (CVN 80) under an advance-fabrication contract awarded earlier in the year. The Navy expects to make an award for the ship's detail design and construction next year.
USA’s Nimitz Class &
UK’s Invincible Class
Some nations have aircraft carriers. The USA has super-carriers. The French Charles De Gaulle Class nuclear carriers displace about 43,000t. India’s new Vikramaditya/ Admiral Gorshkov Class will have a similar displacement. The future British CVF Queen Elizabeth Class and related French PA2 Project are expected to displace about 65,000t, while the British Invincible Class carriers that participated in the Falklands War weigh in at just 22,000t. Invincible actually compares well to Italy’s excellent new Cavour Class (27,000t), and Spain’s Principe de Asturias Class (17,000t). The USA’s Nimitz Class and CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class, in contrast, fall in the 90,000+ tonne range. Hence their unofficial designation: “super-carriers”. Just one of these ships packs a more potent air force than many nations.
Nimitz Class cutaway
As the successor to the 102,000 ton Nimitz Class super-carriers, the CVN-21 program aimed to increase aircraft sortie generation rates by 20%, increase survivability to better handle future threats, require fewer sailors, and have depot maintenance requirements that could support an increase of up to 25% in operational availability. The combination of a new design nuclear propulsion plant and an improved electric plant are expected to provide 2-3 times the electrical generation capacity of previous carriers, which in turn enables systems like an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS, replacing steam-driven catapults), Advanced Arresting Gear, and integrated combat electronics that will leverage advances in open systems architecture. Other CVN-21 features include an enhanced flight deck, improved weapons handling and aircraft servicing efficiency, and a flexible island arrangement allowing for future technology insertion. This graphic points out many of the key improvements.
DID’s CVN-21 FOCUS Article offers a detailed look at a number of the program’s key innovations, as well as a list of relevant contract awards and events.
Continue Reading… »
Aug 24, 2017 04:59 UTC
A Huntington Ingalls-built Amphibious Transport Dock vessel has completed sea trails
in the Gulf of Mexico. The future USS Portland will be the US Navy's 11th San Antonio-class
when it is commissioned into service next spring. During the trails, conducted by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey and completed last Friday, the vessel underwent dockside checks and demonstrations of major systems while at sea. Included in the testing was the ship's main propulsion engineering and ship control systems, combat and communications systems, damage control, food service and crew support. The crew also underwent a full power run, steering, boat handling and anchoring on the ship, before returning to to Huntington Ingalls' shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Navy will take possession of the ship this fall.
LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious assault support vessels are just entering service with the US Navy, and 11 ships of this class are eventually slated to replace up to 41 previous ships. Much like their smaller predecessors, their mission is to embark, transport, land, and support elements of a US Marine Corps Landing Force. The difference is found in these ships’ size, their cost, and the capabilities and technologies used to perform those missions. Among other additions, this new ship is designed to operate the Marines’ new MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, alongside the standard well decks for hovercraft and amphibious armored personnel carriers.
While its design incorporates notable advances, the number of serious issues encountered in this ship class have been much higher than usual, and more extensive. The New Orleans shipyard to which most of this contract was assigned appears to be part of the problem. Initial ships have been criticized, often, for sub-standard workmanship, and it took 2 1/2 years after the initial ship of class was delivered before any of them could be sent on an operational cruise. Whereupon the USS San Antonio promptly found itself laid up Bahrain, due to oil leaks. It hasn’t been the only ship of its class hurt by serious mechanical issues. Meanwhile, costs are almost twice the originally promised amounts, reaching over $1.6 billion per ship – 2 to 3 times as much as many foreign LPDs like the Rotterdam Class, and more than 10 times as much as Singapore’s 6,600 ton Endurance Class LPD. This article covers the LPD-17 San Antonio Class program, including its technologies, its problems, and ongoing contracts and events.
Continue Reading… »
Jul 27, 2017 04:57 UTC
Leonardo helicopters has been commissioned to provide support
for UK AW159 Wildcat
helicopters. The five-year Wildcat Integrated Support and Training contract, worth $333 million, will see Leonardo provide a range of support and training services for Wildcat variants operated by the Royal Navy and Army and will preserve some 500 jobs at its UK facilities. Navy Wildcats act as the core of the service's aviation capability, tackling ASW roles, force protection, transport and information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance, while the Army variant performs reconnaissance, command and control, force protection, and transport missions.
Future Lynx naval
In 2006, Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland received a GBP 1 billion (about $1.9 billion at 02/07 rates) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for 70 Future Lynx helicopters, and began a new chapter in a long-running success story. The Lynx is an extremely fast helicopter that entered service in the 1970s, and quickly carved out a niche for itself in the global land and naval markets. The base design has evolved into a number of upgrades and versions, which have been been widely exported around the world.
In Britain, Lynx helicopters are used in a number of British Army (AH7 & AH9) and Fleet Air Arm (Mk 8) roles: reconnaissance, attack, casualty evacuation & troop transport, ferrying supplies, anti-submarine operations, and even command post functions. The Future Lynx program reflects that, and British government and industry are both hoping that its versatility will help it keep or improve the Lynx family’s global market share. This is DID’s FOCUS Article for the AW159 Lynx Wildcat Program, describing its technical and industrial features, schedules, related contracts, and exports.
Continue Reading… »
May 22, 2017 04:55 UTC
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been awarded an additional contract
by the Indian government to supply air and defense missile systems for four ships of the Indian navy. Valued at an estimated $630 million, the agreement will include local state-owned firm Bharat Electronics Ltd, who will serve as the main contractor on the project under New Delhi's "Make in India" initiative. The deal follows a $2 billion one signed with IAI last month to supply India's army and navy with missile defense systems. The Barak-8
system is a joint development effort between IAI, India'sDefence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), Israel's Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Elta Systems, and Rafael, while Bharat produce the system's missiles.
Over a development timeline measured in decades, India’s indigenous “Akash” and “Trishul” programs for surface to air missiles have failed to inspire full confidence. Trishul was eventually canceled entirely. Akash had a a long, difficult development period, but seems to have found customer acceptance and a solid niche in the rugged terrain of the northeast. India still needed longer-range advanced SAMs to equip its navy and army, however, and decided to try to duplicate the success of the partnership model that had fielded the excellent Indo-Russian PJ-10 BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
In February 2006, therefore, Israel and India signed a joint development agreement to create a new Barak-NG medium shipborne air defense missile, as an evolution of the Barak-1 system in service with both navies. In July 2007 the counterpart MR-SAM project began moving forward, aiming to develop a medium range SAM for use with India’s land forces. Both missiles would now be called Barak-8. In between, “India to Buy Israeli “SPYDER” Mobile Air Defense System” covered India’s move to begin buying mobile, short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems for its army, based on the Python and Derby air-to-air missiles in service with its air force and naval aircraft. These projects offer India a way forward to address its critical air defense weaknesses, and upgrade “protection of vital and strategic ground assets and area air defence.” This DID FOCUS article will cover the Barak-8 and closely related programs in India, Israel, and beyond.
Continue Reading… »
May 11, 2017 04:58 UTC
Next » Latest updates[?]:
The USMC has received
its first low rate initial production (LRIP) AN/TPS-80 Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (G/ATOR
) system. Developed and produced by Northrop Grumman, five additional systems will be delivered under the terms of the October 2014 contract. G/ATOR will replace five legacy systems operated by the Marines, providing significant improvements in performance when compared with the legacy radar families in each of its modes. The systems take advantage of Northrop's expertise in C4ISR, and includes software loads that optimize the multi-mission capabilities of the radar to perform each mission.
The US military’s long run of unquestioned air superiority has led to shortcuts in mobile land-based air defenses, and the US Marines are no exception. A December 2005 release from Sen. Schumer’s office [D-NY] said that:
“Current radar performance does not meet operational forces requirements… consequences could potentially allow opposing forces to gain air and ground superiority in future operational areas.”
One of the programs in the works to address this gap is the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR mobile radar system. It’s actually the result of fusing 2 programs: the Multi-Role Radar System (MRRS), and Ground Weapons Locator Radar (GWLR) requirements. When the last G/ATOR software upgrade becomes operational, it will replace and consolidate numerous legacy radars, including the AN/TPS-63 air surveillance, AN/MPQ-62 force control, AN/TPS-73 air traffic control, AN/UPS-3 air defense, and AN/TPQ-36/37 artillery tracking & locating radar systems.
Continue Reading… »