Fire Scout completes sea-mine hunting op | FRA & GER shipbuilders compete over Egyptian corvette deal | Spain buys more NH-90s
Boeing is being tapped to upgrade the Navy’s P-8A Aircrew Training System. The contract modification has a value of $194.5 million and provides for upgrades that are essential to meeting future mission capabilities. Upgrades will also be made to training systems located in Adelaide, Australia. The advanced training system will allow the Navy and RAAF to reduce the time the aircraft is used for training, and thus increases its availability for operations. Work will be performed at multiple locations including Jacksonville, Florida; Whidbey Island, Washington and Dallas, Texas. The contract is scheduled for completion by September 2023.
Northrop Grumman’s MQ-8C Fire Scout qualifies for automated sea mine hunting operations. During the recently held US Navy Advanced Naval Technology Exercise, the unmanned helicopter successfully coordinated with a small robotic surface ship and unmanned submersible, by serving as a communications relay and situational awareness platform. The MQ-8C is an unmanned Bell 407 designed to operate from the Freedom and Independence class LCS, collect surveillance, conduct mine hunting and anti-submarine warfare missions. In the future the drone may be armed with the advanced precision kill weapon system (APKWS), a BAE Systems product that transforms unguided 2.75-inch rockets into a precision-guided round. The Fire Scout completed its initial operational test and evaluation on board the USS Coronado in July.
Middle East & Africa
Reports suggest that the Zambian Air Force (ZAF) is now operating at least one Hermes 450 UAV. The Hermes 450 is produced by Israeli company Elbit and can serve as a dual surveillance/attack drone. The Hermes 450 incorporates a high wing design. The cylindrical shaped fuselage is attached with straight wings. The UAV has about 17-20 hours endurance at up to 18,000 feet altitude, and can carry about 396 pounds of payload.
French shipbuilder Naval Group is competing with German rival ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems over Egypt’s future acquisition of two additional corvettes for its Navy. In 2014 Naval Group landed a deal for the delivery of four Gowind-2500 corvettes of which two have been delivered. The initial contract comes with options for two additional vessels, however it is yet unclear if Naval Group will win the next tender. German competitor TKMS will likely over two of its Meko 200 corvettes, worth $1.2 billion, excluding weapons. However, if TKMS should land the contract, the ships could be equipped with MBDA’s Aster-15 missile.
The Spanish government is determined to buy 23 additional NH-90 transport helicopters. The NH-90TTH is the base variant for land and air forces. It can be outfitted with SOF, MEDEVAC and CSAR kits. The helicopter has been designed to perform operations in extreme weather conditions. It can start up and fly, land, and shut down in winds gusting up to around 65 mp/h without losing rotor control, flying day and night in heavy icing conditions down to temperatures of -22 F and at ranges of up to 300nm. Spain also plans to modernize its fleet of 17 CH-47D Chinooks, updating them to the current F variant.
The South Korean Marine Corps plans to acquire a large transport ship capable of carrying its future F-35Bs and armed UAVs. “We are considering building the LPX (large platform experimental)-type ship capable of carrying aircraft in close cooperation with the Navy,” Marine Corps chief Lt. Gen. Jun Jin-goo said during a press conference on Wednesday. No specifics about the future vessel have been given, however it seems that the Marine Corps wants to secure its own LPX apart from the Dokdo-class ships that are currently in operation or under construction. The Marine Corps wants to enhance its amphibious operations and surveillance capabilities and use robotics and cutting-edge technologies as means to amplify South Korea’s maritime power projection.
Raytheon’s SM-3 Block IB missile is proving itself to be a reliable interceptor. The Japanese Kongo-class destroyer JS Atago (DDG-177) fired the SM-3 during an intercept flight test in cooperation with the US Navy off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii. Block IB missiles are equipped with an advanced 2-color infrared seeker, and a 10-thruster solid throttling divert and attitude control system. This increment allows to defend against medium range missiles and some Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles. This test marks a significant milestone in missile defense cooperation between Japan and the US.
Watch: Japanese Destroyer Successful SM-3 Missile Intercept Test | Aegis BMD