Latest updates[?]: Vigor Marine won a 15.3 million contract or a 75 calendar-day shipyard availability for the regular overhaul and dry-docking of USNS Charles Drew (T-AKE 10). Vigor Marine is a commercial repair and modernization subsidiary of Vigor Industrial. The shipyard offers eight drydocks, more than 15,000 feet of pier space and tens of thousands of square feet of superior indoor facilities to serve vessels of nearly any size. The USNS Charles Drew is a Lewis and Clark Class dry cargo ship of the United States Navy, built in 2009. The Navy vessel was delivered to Military Sealift Command on 14 July 2010 and began conducting missions for MSC in spring 2011, mainly operating in the Pacific Ocean. Work will take place in Portland, Oregon. Expected completion will be by May 9, 2020.
Warships get a lot of attention, but without resupply, an impressive-looking fleet becomes a hollow force. The US Navy’s supply and support fleet has been aging, and needed new vessels. T-AKE is part of that effort, and the ships have also found themselves performing “naval diplomacy” roles.
The entire T-AKE dry cargo/ ammunition ship program could have a total value of as much as $6.2 billion, and a size of 14 ships, as the US looks to modernize its supply fleet. How do T-AKE ships fit into US naval operations? What ships do they replace? What’s the tie-in to US civilian industrial capacity? How were environmental standards built into their design? And what contracts have been issued for T-AKE ships to date?
Latest updates[?]: Saab relaunched the HMS Uppland. The Uppland is a Gotland Class Submarine. Two ships of the class now have concluded comprehensive mid-life upgrades. The Swedish Navy’s diesel-electric subs are the world’s first submarines to feature a Stirling engine air-independent propulsion system. This extends their underwater endurance from a few days to weeks. The mid-life upgrades saw the submarines receive an additional 2 meter hull section to accommodate the third generation of the Stirling air-independent propulsion engine and a diver lock-out chamber in addition to combat management and ship management systems upgrades. The updated version of Uppland and her sister ship Gotland are paving the way for the next generation of Swedish air independent propulsion submarines: the Blekinge Class, or A26.
A26 SOF concept
Submarines remain the ultimate maritime insurance policy, which is why so many countries treat the ability to build or design them as a strategic capability. Sweden is trying to recover from a disastrous pair of assumptions in the early 21st century, and preserve both their industrial capabilities and their country’s defenses.
The narrow, shallow Baltic seas present their own special challenges, but Swedish designs have proven themselves very capable. In order to field their next-generation design, however, Sweden may have to do something unusual: partner with other countries…
Morocco’s combat air force currently flies 2 squadrons of old F-5 fighters, and 2 squadrons of only slightly newer Mirage F1s. T-37 light jets serve as high-end trainers. Their neighbor and rival Algeria flies MiG-23s of similar vintage, but the Force Aérienne Algérienne also flies SU-24 Fencer and SU-25 Frogfoot strike aircraft, plus even more modern and capable MiG-29s, and is receiving multi-role SU-30MKAs as part of a multi-billion dollar weapons deal with Russia.
Morocco can’t beat that array. Instead, they’re looking for replacement aircraft and upgrades that will prevent complete overmatch, and provide a measure of security. Initially, they looked to France, but key reversals have handed most of this modernization work to the United States.
Latest updates[?]: Lockheed Martin's Space Fence system has passed an Air Force Critical Design Review, according to a company press release. Passing the CDR now means that the full-scale Space Fence System radar and facilities can be constructed on Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands. Designed to serve as a second-generation space surveillance radar system, the Space Fence will allow the Air Force to track satellites and space debris.
Space Fence concept
Space is big. Objects in space are very dangerous to each other. Countries that intend to launch objects into space need to know what’s out there, in order to avoid disasters like the 2009 collision of 2 orbital satellites. All they need to do is track many thousands of man-made space objects, traveling at about 9 times the speed of a bullet, and residing in a search area that’s 220,000 times the volume of Earth’s oceans.
The US Air Force Materiel Command’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts leads the USA’s Space Fence project. It’s intended to improve space situational awareness by tracking more and smaller objects, while replacing legacy systems in the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) as they retire. With a total anticipated value of around $6.1 billion over its lifetime, Space Fence will deliver a system of 2-3 geographically dispersed ground-based radars to provide timely assessment of space objects, events, and debris. International cooperation will supplement it, as part of overall Space Situational Awareness efforts. Failure is not an option. Or is it?
With the 2011 Dubai Airshow in full swing, the biggest question on site is: what’s happening to the UAE’s planned fighter deal? The United Arab Emirates’ interest in up to 60 Dassault Rafale fighters has seen years of negotiations, and the 2011 show was expected to be the clincher.
Instead, it has opened the door to Eurofighter GmbH, even as Boeing admits to giving classified technical briefings centered on its F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15 Strike Eagle families. Unlike Eurofighter, Boeing hasn’t received an RFP, but other reports suggest that the UAE may be about to reduce its planned new jet order and buy more of its unique Lockheed Martin F-16E/F Block 60s, regardless of what happens next. The bombshell hit at Dubai’s 2011 air show.
ATK recently announced a $77 million, 3-year contract, exercising an option to develop and qualify the USA’s new 120mm tank-killing round for use in the U.S. Army’s M1A2 SEP Abrams tanks. The M829E4 is called the Advanced Kinetic Energy round, and belongs to a class known as APFSDS-T: Armor Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Discarding Sabot with Tracer. As the picture shows, the shell casing releases a penetrator sabot dart, which flies at extreme velocity to punch through enemy tank armor. The tracer element makes it easy to see the round in flight.
While manufacturers like Rheinmetall use tungsten alloys for the APFSDS dart, American rounds use alloys of similarly-dense depleted uranium (DU)…
Leon Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee that his main objective as the new Defense Secretary will be to ensure that the United States continues to have the best trained, best equipped and strongest military in the world. Despite the Department of Defense’ efforts to cut $400 billion as part of deficit reduction measures Panetta also stressed to the Committee the United States does not need to choose between strong fiscal discipline and a strong national defense. Instead the challenge lies in designing budgets that eliminate wasteful spending while protecting those core elements deemed vital to national security.
The US Army awarded a total of $8.6 million in performance-based task orders for environmental remediation services at Army facilities in the United States and Puerto Rico.
The Army has two environment remediation programs for active/operating Army installations – the Installation Restoration Program (IRP) and the Military Munitions Response Program (MMRP). The IRP is a program to identify, investigate and clean up hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants resulting from past US Department of Defense (DoD) operations and activities. The MMRP addresses the safety, health, and environmental issues caused by past DoD munitions-related activities. Congress established the MMRP to address unexploded ordnance, discarded military munitions and munitions constituents located at sites on other than operational ranges.
The recent Army task orders are for both types of remediation programs…
The global proliferation of advanced, ultra-quiet diesel electric submarines has prompted a number of responses around the globe, from initial-stage efforts to mimic a shark’s senses in the USA, to the most obvious route of using more powerful active sonars. In Western countries, concerns have been expressed that these sonars may disorient or scare marine mammals, leading to decompression sickness or disruption of their biological sonar navigation systems. This has led to (unsuccessful) lawsuits aimed at curtailing submarine exercises by Western navies.
In December 2007, USN Rear Adm. Lawrence S. Rice, director of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness, discussed some of the measures that are being taken to investigate the issue, and also mitigate any possible effects. In January 2008, a court battle erupted over undersea training off the coast of San Diego, CA, throwing the issue back into the limelight and potentially crippling Navy training before a dangerous deployment to the Persian Gulf. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ follow-on ruling was predictable, but in November 2008, the US Supreme Court issued its ruling.
In light of that favorable ruling, a settlement has now been reached on the Navy’s terms. The Navy has just been given permission to conduct exercises near Hawaii, and this, too, is likely to end up in court, along with its planned training near Florida. Meanwhile, the US Navy continues to fund marine mammal research – which may begin to include UUVs and/or USVs…