USS Billings Damaged | French Gazelle Helo Crashed in North Africa | Germany finishes Evaluation of Mikado Drone
BAE Systems together with Serco Inc. and Scientific Research Corporation each won combined contracts by the US Navy valued at $1.8 billion to support the branch’s shipbuilding programs, including communications and computers systems aboard vessels. The work will be performed aboard new construction aircraft carriers and large deck amphibious ships, including refueling and complex overhaul ships. The programs require integrated work on integrated command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems (C41). This includes logistics, integration, engineering, procurement, fabrication, assembly, test, inspection, zone integration and installation. Throughout the duration of the awarded contracts, the total obligated amount on orders for all of the awarded contracts combined will not exceed $747,097,000. Seventy-three percent of the work will be performed in Newport News, Virginia, 17 percent in Charleston, South Carolina and 10 percent in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Work is expected to be completed by June 2029.
On its way to its new homeport in Florida, the future Freedom Class Littoral Combat Ship USS Billings suffered damage after hitting another vessel in Montreal, Canada on June 24. The ship was awaiting its formal commissioning and the hope is that this incident will not delay its entry into service. The Billings struck the geared bulker Rosaire Desgagnes after it lost control for still unknown reasons. There were no reported injuries to personnel on either ship. There is no word yet about potential damage to the Rosaire Desgagnes. Construction of the future Billings began in 2014 and she was launched in 2017. The Navy officially took delivery of the Billings back in February. Lockheed Martin is the contractor. The ship left the shipyard for Mayport earlier in June. After delivery, new Freedom Class LCSs must sail through the Great Lakes and up the St. Lawrence Seaway in order to get out into the Atlantic Ocean and then make their way to their future homeports.
Middle East & Africa
Jane’s reports that a French Gazelle helicopter crashed while flying near the border of Mali and Niger under the auspices of Operation ‘Barkhane’. The incident occurred in mid-June. All three personnel onboard were reportedly immediately rescued. After a controlled crash landing, the two pilots were extracted by being strapped to the landing gear of an Airbus Tiger attack helicopter. The third person, a special forces soldier, destroyed the damaged Gazelle before being exfiltrated in another helicopter. Operation Barkhane is an insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region that started in August 2014. It consists of a 3,000-strong French Force.
The Russian defense ministry confirmed the purchase of 76 Su-57 multirole fighter jets under a contract with Sukhoi Company at the Army 2019 Forum. The jets will be supplied by 2028. Already in May, president Putin said that Russia planned to purchase 76 SU-57s instead of 16 by 2028 without increasing the price. The Sukhoi Su-57 is the country’s first indigenously designed and built fifth-generation stealth fighter jet. It can destroy all air, ground, and water surface targets.
Germany finished evaluating the Mikado (Mikoraufklärungsdrohne) UAV. The quadrocopter is powered by four brush and gearless electric motors. When disassembled, Mikado can be stored together with the ground station and the operating unit in a special backpack and transported by a soldier. The system includes batteries that allow up to six flights. The drone is used for reconnaissance in the local area to locate objects, identify and provide an optimal situation image. The Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support tasked the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Aircraft and Aeronautical Equipment with the evaluation of the quadcopter’s characteristics, carrying out the assessment at the Feilenmoos test site in May 2019 in cooperation with the Air Force Center of Aerospace Medicine. The system underwent a special reconnaissance-mission, during which it had to find and identify different targets in the visual and infrared spectrum. Based on the results of this initial test, further tests will be performed.
South Korea has finished development of a 120 mm self-propelled mortar system that has been integrated into an M113 tracked armored personnel carrier (APC). The self-propelled system, development of which began in March 2014, has successfully met all the requirements set by the South Korean military following final tests and evaluations. According to the Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA), final tests and evaluations confirmed that the new system met all the military requirements and is to replace aging 107-mm mortars. Developed for the Republic of Korea Army by several South Korean companies under $35.7 million, the integrated mortar system has a strike range 2.3 times that of the aging M30 107 mm rifled mortar it is expected to replace.
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