Patria has delivered the first modernized Hamina class missile boat FNS Tornio to the Finnish Defence Forces. In the Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) project four vessels will be overhauled and modernized, and all the new capabilities will be in use in the Finnish Navy during 2021. Patria acts as the prime contractor, designer and the lead system integrator.
The goal of the Mid-Life Upgrade project is to secure the service life of the vessels until 2030’s and to extend the vessels’ independent operation time. The project will also develop the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and the surface defence capabilities with new features.
Modernization work include:
A BAE Systems Bofors 40 Mk4 40-mm main gun (replacing the 57-mm Mk3);
Leonardo has announced the maiden flight of its new Falco Xplorer drone aircraft. Falco Xplorer S/N0001 took off from Trapani Air Force base on January 15, cruised over the Gulf of Trapani in a dedicated fly zone, for around 60 minutes and then returned to base, landing safely. The maiden flight is a significant milestone which has been achieved through technical and engineering support, at the test flight planning stages and with other related activities, by the Italian Air Force Test Flight Centre. The Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS), which combines endurance of over 24 hours with a max payload of 350 kg/772 lbs., will now embark on a series of flight campaigns which will assess the aircraft’s full range of capabilities including its integrated sensor system. These campaigns will also certify the Falco Xplorer against NATO’s airworthiness Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4671, dramatically expanding the territory over which it can operate.
The Falco Xplorer was first unveiled at last year’s Paris Air Show. It has been designed to offer persistent, multi-sensor strategic surveillance to military and civil customers and can be procured as either an integrated system or as a fully-managed information-superiority service, flown and operated by Leonardo. With a maximum take-off weight of 1.3 tons and an operating ceiling above 24,000 feet/7,315 meters, the aircraft is an affordable and potent option for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).
Previous Falco variants have been chosen by the United Nations and Frontex, the European border and coastguard agency. The Falco Xplorer design draws on feedback from these and other Falco customers. It features a powerful sensor suite, which includes the Company’s Gabbiano T-80 multi-mode surveillance radar, its SAGE electronic intelligence system, an automatic identification system for maritime missions and an Electro-Optical (EO) turret. An optional hyperspectral sensor will allow the Falco Xplorer to monitor pollution and agricultural development. The native satellite link capability allows for beyond-line-of-sight operations, while its open system architecture means that third-party sensors can be easily integrated. Not subject to International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restrictions and meeting the criteria for Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) class II, Falco Xplorer is readily exportable around the world.
The Falco Xplorer is designed by Leonardo, from the aircraft to its sensor suite, mission system and ground control station, making the company a ‘one-stop-shop’ for unmanned capabilities. Advantages of this approach include the ability to offer competitive pricing and the ability to draw on knowledge and experience from across the business to tailor a Falco Xplorer package to the precise needs of customers, whether in terms of technology or commercial arrangements.
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Gremlins program has completed the first flight test of its X-61A vehicle. The test in late November at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah included one captive-carry mission aboard a C-130A Hercules and an airborne launch and free flight lasting just over an hour-and-a-half.
The goal for this third phase of the Gremlins program is completion of a full-scale technology demonstration series featuring the air recovery of multiple, low-cost, reusable Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), or «Gremlins». Safety, reliability, and affordability are the key objectives for the system, which would launch groups of UASs from multiple types of military aircraft while out of range from adversary defenses. Once Gremlins complete their mission, the transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours.
The team met all objectives of the test in November, including gathering data on operation and performance, air and ground-based command and control systems, and flight termination. A parachute anomaly occurred in a recovery sequence that is specific to the test series and not part of the operational plan. The incident resulted in the loss of the test vehicle, one of five in the program. Four vehicles remain operational and available for the test series, which will continue in 2020.
«The vehicle performed well, giving us confidence we are on the right path and can expect success in our follow-on efforts», said Scott Wierzbanowski, the program manager for Gremlins in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. «We got a closer look at vehicle performance for launch, rate capture, engine start, and transition to free flight. We had simulated the performance on the ground, and have now fully tested them in the air. We also demonstrated a variety of vehicle maneuvers that helped validate our aerodynamic data».
The next step for the program is a full evaluation of the test data, as well as to understand any issues related to the failure for the main parachute to deploy. The team anticipates the second flight test at Dugway in the spring 2020 timeframe to remain on track.
The C-130 Hercules is the demonstration platform for the Gremlins program, but Wierzbanowski says the Services could easily modify the system for another transport aircraft or other major weapons system. Gremlins also can incorporate several types of sensors up to 150 pounds/68 kg, and easily integrate technologies to address different types of stakeholders and missions.
The U.S. Air Force designated the Gremlins air vehicle as X-61A in August in recognition of the technical challenges associated with the program.
A Dynetics-led team is the performer for the Phase 3 demonstration series.
For the first time, Boeing and the U.S. Navy flew an F/A-18 Super Hornet equipped with an Infrared Search & Track (IRST) Block II pod in late 2019. IRST Block II is a critical component of the Block III Super Hornet. The Block III conversion will include enhanced network capability, longer range with conformal fuel tanks, an advanced cockpit system, signature improvements and an enhanced communication system. The updates are expected to keep the F/A-18 Super Hornet in active service for decades to come.
IRST Block II is a passive, long-range sensor incorporating infrared and other sensor technologies for highly accurate targeting.
«The IRST Block II gives the F/A-18 Super Hornet improved optics and processing power, significantly improving pilot situational awareness of the entire battle space», said Jennifer Tebo, Boeing Director of F/A-18 Super Hornet Development.
Currently in the risk reduction phase of development, IRST Block II flights on the Super Hornet allow Boeing and the U.S. Navy to collect valuable data on the system before deployment to the fleet. The IRST Block II variant will be delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2021, reaching Initial Operational Capability (IOC) shortly thereafter.
«The IRST Block II sensor gives U.S. Navy fighters extended range and increasing survivability. This technology will help the U.S. Navy maintain its advantage over potential adversaries for many years», said Kenen Nelson, Lockheed Martin Director of Fixed Wing Programs, supplier of the IRST Block II sensor.
The Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) X-60A program recently achieved a key developmental milestone with the completion of integrated vehicle propulsion system verification ground testing.
The X-60A is an air-launched rocket designed for hypersonic flight research. It is being developed by Generation Orbit Launch Services under an AFRL Small Business Innovation Research contract. The goal of the X-60A program is to provide affordable and routine access to relevant hypersonic flight conditions for technology maturation. This test included both cold-flow and hot-fire testing with the Hadley liquid rocket engine developed by Ursa Major Technologies. Flight-like hardware was tested using flight-like operational procedures. The test runs covered full-duration burns, engine gimbaling for thrust vector control, and system throttling.
«This test series was a critical step in reducing risk and gathering necessary system integration data in preparation for our upcoming flight tests», said Barry Hellman, AFRL X-60A program manager. «When we go to flight later this year, we hope to demonstrate the capability of the X-60A to provide affordable access to hypersonic flight conditions, which will position AFRL to deliver an innovative test capability for the Air Force and other DoD organizations».
X-60A is a single-stage liquid rocket primarily designed for hypersonic flight research and is launched from a modified business jet carrier aircraft. It is capable of testing a wide range of hypersonic technologies including airbreathing propulsion, advanced materials and hypersonic vehicle subsystems. The vehicle propulsion system utilizes liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The system is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions above Mach 5.
During the upcoming flight tests based out of Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida, the X-60A will fly at relevant conditions necessary for technology maturation. Data will be collected to validate the overall vehicle design functionality as well as performance predictions.
The German government has announced its intention to select Damen as the main contractor, together with partners Blohm + Voss and Thales, for supplying at least four Multi-Purpose Combat Ship MKS 180 frigates to the German Navy. The Dutch naval shipbuilder is extremely proud of, and satisfied with, the result of the evaluation process announced on 14 January 2020 by the German Government, though of course awaits parliamentary approval in Germany.
The ships will be built at Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg and at other shipyard locations of the North German Lürssen Group. Damen intends to build in this way in order to spend around 80% of the total net investment as added value in Germany. The same applies to the electronic application systems that are supplied by Thales Nederland to its own design. Around 70% of the services will be provided by the German subsidiary of Thales and by other German subcontractors.
With the North German shipyard group Lürssen – parent company of Blohm + Voss – and the Damen Shipyards Group, the partnership is based on two stable family businesses that have been successfully active in marine and commercial shipbuilding for more than 140 years.
The only naval builder in the Netherlands is pleased with this selection to be main contractor in the German project and the division of work between German and Dutch industry. For the Netherlands, it provides national knowledge and expertise. This offers the Dutch Government the option, in the coming Dutch naval construction projects for frigates and submarines, to have these types of strategic programmes devised, engineered, managed and deployed in their own country.
The MKS 180 project contributes to securing the export power and self-creation of both Dutch and German naval construction in the longer term. The project also opens perspectives for the requested European (defence equipment) cooperation.
On 30 December 2019 the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) ordered the Archange airborne strategic intelligence program, comprising three Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X aircraft equipped with the Thales new-generation payload CUGE (universal electronic warfare capability). A contract has been awarded for the first two aircraft.
Dassault Aviation and the dozens of French companies associated with the Falcon programs wish to thank the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the DGA and the French Air Force for their confidence.
The required level of performance of the Archange Falcons necessitates highly complex integration work, something that is at the core of Dassault Aviation and Thales know-how.
«I am very proud and happy with the decision of the Ministry of the Armed Forces. The Archange Falcon will serve the French forces in the same way as the Falcons 10, 200, 50, 2000, 900 and 7X are already doing it», declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation. «The special mission Falcons provide the perfect illustration of the dual competences of Dassault Aviation: our civil aircraft benefit from the cutting-edge technologies developed for our combat aircraft, which in return benefit from the industrial processes deployed for the highly competitive production of the Falcon aircraft».
The tri-jet Falcon 8X is the latest addition to the Falcon range. The business jet version can carry 8 passengers and 3 crew members over a distance of 6,450 NM/7,456 miles/12,000 km. It has digital flight controls which stem directly from Dassault Aviation’s experience acquired with the Mirage 2000 and Rafale. It is equipped with enhanced avionics system (EASY) digital flight deck and the totally unrivalled FalconEye combined vision system (CVS).
Exported to more than 90 countries, the Falcon aircraft are flexible and economic to fly. Their handling qualities, aerodynamics and versatility render them capable of fulfilling missions that go beyond civil aviation standards. They are designed by the design office that also develops the Rafale and nEUROn combat aircraft. Over the last 50 years, Dassault Aviation has customized many Falcons for purposes such as medical evacuation, cargo transport, maritime surveillance, electronic warfare, etc. These multirole aircraft represent about 10% of the Falcon fleet in service across the world.
Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract to develop and demonstrate a Software Programmable Open Mission Systems (OMS) Compliant (SPOC) radio terminal for the U.S. Air Force.
Northrop Grumman’s SPOC solution will provide the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) with an air-to-ground and air-to-air communications capability across four radio frequency waveforms: Link-16 Concurrent Multi-Net-4 (CMN-4), Common Data Link (CDL), Multifunction Advanced Data Link (MADL) and Multi User Objective System (MUOS).
This development defines the Air Force’s next generation radio approach.
«Our solution for SPOC provides a mature hardware and software development kit that allows the Air Force to rapidly develop and prototype innovative communications solutions from any provider on an open architecture networking terminal that can be quickly taken into flight test and production», said Roshan Roeder, vice president, communications, airborne sensors and networks division, Northrop Grumman. «With the Air Force taking responsibility for developing the airborne communications network infrastructure for the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), SPOC radio will allow the Air Force to rapidly develop, test, fly and iterate».
Northrop Grumman’s SPOC open architecture networking terminal offers numerous benefits to the Air Force customer, including opening the F-35 Communications, Navigation and Identification (CNI) system to third-party developers, ownership of Link-16 development, sharing of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information over a common data link, and Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) beyond line of sight capability.
The developmental Light Combat Aircraft (Navy) MK1 achieved an important milestone on 11 January 2020 with the successful Arrested Landing on board the naval aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. The aircraft was piloted by Commodore JA Maolankar who also undertook the maiden Ski Jump Take-Off from the carrier on 12 January 2020.
A Technology Demonstrator, LCA (Navy) has earlier been successfully tested during extensive trials at the Shore Base Test Facility at the Naval Air Station (NAS) at Goa.
With the completion of this feat, the indigenously developed niche technologies specific to deck based fighter operations have been proven which will now pave the way to develop and manufacture the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter for the Indian Navy, which is expected to proudly fly from the aircraft carriers by the year 2026.
This landmark event demonstrates the professional commitment and synergy between various agencies including Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC) and Indian Navy in harnessing the potential of our scientists, engineers and naval flight testing community towards meeting the expectations of the nation.
The keel of the future USS John Basilone (DDG-122) was ceremoniously laid at General Dynamics (GD) Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard, January 10.
Speakers at the ceremony included Captain Seth Miller, DDG-51 class program manager, Diane Hawkins, niece of the ship’s namesake, and the ship’s sponsors, Amy Looney and Ryan Manion.
The ship’s sponsors authenticated the keel by etching their initials into the keel plate, a tradition that symbolically recognizes the joining ofmodular components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.
«It’s an honor to celebrate this milestone with Ms. Looney, Ms. Manion, and members of the Basilone family», said Miller. «Laying the keel for our nation’s 72nd Arleigh Burke destroyer, and building a ship named for a man who embodied the spirit of commitment and strength, this is a truly special occasion».
The ship’s namesake was a United States Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who was killed in action during the Battle of Iwo Jima in WWII. Basilone received the Medal of Honor for heroism displayed in the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, and for conspicuous gallantry displayed in the Battle of Iwo Jima, after he single-handedly destroyed an enemy blockhouse and led a Marine tank under fire safely through a minefield.
Arleigh Burke class destroyers are multi-mission surface combatants that serve as integral assets in global maritime security, engaging in air, undersea, surface, strike and ballistic missile defense, as well as providing increased capabilities in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Command and Control (C2), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW).
As a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS John Basilone (DDG-122) will employ the Aegis Baseline 9 Combat System, which includes Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) capability, delivers quick reaction time, high firepower, and has increased electronic countermeasures capability for Anti-Air Warfare (AAW).
In addition to the USS John Basilone (DDG-122), BIW has four additional Arleigh Burke class destroyers under construction – USS Daniel Inouye (DDG-118), USS Carl M. Levin (DDG-120), USS Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (DDG-124) and USS Patrick Gallagher (DDG-127), as well as the Zumwalt class destroyer USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002). BIW is under contract for an additional six Arleigh Burke class destroyers that will all be constructed in the Flight III configuration with enhanced Air and Missile Defense (AMD) capabilities.
As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft.
510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline
59 feet/18 m
30.5 feet/9.3 m
Displacement – Full Load
9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
SPY-1D Phased Array Radar (Lockheed Martin)/AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (Raytheon Company) and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)