Acceptance Trials

The U.S. Navy’s newest Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB), Miguel Keith (ESB-5) successfully completed Acceptance Trials on October 11.

USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) completes acceptance trials

The trials were conducted off the coast of southern California after departure from the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (GD-NASSCO) shipyard in San Diego. During the week of trials, the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey conducted comprehensive tests to demonstrate and evaluate the performance of all of the ship’s major systems.

«Our ESBs are bringing tremendous operational capability to our combatant commanders. These ships are supporting a wide variety of mission sets in the 5th and 6th Fleet and more recently have demonstrated their ability to integrate mine countermeasure mission packages», said Captain Scot Searles, Strategic Sealift and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office Ships. «These sea trials demonstrated the high quality of this ship and its readiness to join the fight».

ESBs are highly flexible, modular platforms that are optimized to support a variety of maritime based missions including Special Operations Force and Airborne Mine Counter Measures support operations in addition to humanitarian support and sustainment of traditional military missions.

ESBs include a four-spot flight deck and hangar and a versatile mission deck and are designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support, and command and control assets. ESBs will operate as the component commander requires providing the U.S. Navy fleet with a critical access infrastructure that supports the flexible deployment of forces and supplies.

USNS Miguel Keith (T-ESB-5) is the third platform of the ESB variant, and is scheduled to deliver in early fiscal 2020. GD-NASSCO is also under contract for detail design and construction of ESB-6 and ESB-7, with an option for ESB-8.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and boats and craft.

Whiskey

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, showcased the next generation Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) during a ceremony at its Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, this week.

The Sikorsky HH-60W helicopter at the Development Flight Center in West Palm Beach, Florida (Photo courtesy Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company)

During the event, United States Air Force General James M. Holmes, Commander, Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia (91) described the HH-60W helicopter as critical took for the warfighter.

«I want to say thanks to everyone from Sikorsky for your dedication to your craft, for consistently living up to your mission statement of pioneering flight solutions that bring people home everywhere every time. And that partnership is incredibly valuable to us and the guys on the ground», General Holmes said. «We’re proud to work with you to deliver the most intuitive, precise, technologically advanced systems to our airmen».

Other dignitaries attending the event included Doctor Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and Representative Brian Mast (R-FL) from Florida’s 18th District.

 

Prepared for Production

The achievement of the Milestone C production decision on September 24 launched the contract award known as Low Rate Initial Production for Sikorsky to build 10 CRH helicopters.

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the HH-60G PAVE HAWK, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services.

«The Combat Rescue Helicopter is the new era in Air Force aviation and a pivotal milestone that ties to our company’s legacy of bringing people home», said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. «Sikorsky employees and our nationwide supply chain are ready to begin producing, delivering and supporting this all-new aircraft for the warfighter».

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G.The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M BLACK HAWK, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, hover performance, electrical capacity, avionics, cooling, weapons, cyber-security, environmental and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

«We send in brave men and women who are going to find a way to get the job done», Doctor Roper said. «But they’ll tell you about flying in and not being certain that they could land safely or putting the broad side of their vehicle between a downed pilot and gunfire. When you hear those stories, you realize that we put heroes on these vehicles. We pick up heroes in these vehicles and they deserve every technology advantage we can give them».

 

Training Systems

On Sept. 19, four pilots and four special mission aviators from the U.S. Air Force graduated from the Sikorsky Training Academy’s S-70i Transition Course. As previously qualified HH-60G Pave Hawk crews, the students learned about the unique systems and operating capabilities of the Sikorsky S-70i. During the four-week course, they each spent seven hours using a procedural trainer, 10 hours in a full-motion flight simulator and 10 hours of flight time in the S-70i aircraft.

To ensure mission readiness, Lockheed Martin will deliver a custom-tailored training system consisting of flight simulators, procedural and maintenance trainers and accompanying courseware.

In 2020, Lockheed Martin will train 200 U.S. Air Force and maintenance aircrew students at our Sikorsky Training Academy in Stuart, Fla. utilizing training systems and three newly built HH-60W aircraft. This will provide flight and maintenance training to initial cadre and units allowing the U.S. Air Force to remain vigilant while simultaneously fielding and employing the added capabilities of the HH-60W aircraft.

RAIDER X

October 14, 2019, Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, introduced RAIDER X, its concept for an agile, lethal and survivable compound coaxial helicopter, specifically designed for securing vertical lift dominance against evolving peer and near-peer threats on the future battlefield. Through the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program, RAIDER X is the out-front platform in the Service’s revolutionary approach for rapid development and delivery of game changing technology and warfighter capabilities, equipped for the most demanding and contested environments. RAIDER X enables the reach, protection and lethality required to remain victorious in future conflicts.

Sikorsky introduced RAIDER X as its entry to the U.S. Army’s Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) prototype competition. RAIDER X draws on Lockheed Martin’s broad expertise in developing innovative systems using the latest digital design and manufacturing techniques (Image courtesy, Sikorsky a Lockheed Martin company)

«RAIDER X converges everything we’ve learned in years of developing, testing and refining X2 Technology and delivers warfighters a dominant, survivable and intelligent system that will excel in tomorrow’s battlespace where aviation overmatch is critical», said Frank St. John, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems. «The X2 Technology family of aircraft is a low-risk solution and is scalable based on our customers’ requirements».

RAIDER X draws on Lockheed Martin’s broad expertise in developing innovative systems using the latest digital design and manufacturing techniques. Sikorsky’s RAIDER X prototype offers:

  • Exceptional Performance: The X2 rigid rotor provides increased performance including; highly responsive maneuverability, enhanced low-speed hover, off-axis hover, and level acceleration and braking. These attributes make us unbeatable at the X.
  • Agile, Digital Design: State-of-the-art digital design and manufacturing is already in use on other Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky production programs such as CH-53K, CH-148 and F-35, and will enable the Army to not only lower the acquisition cost, but enable rapid, affordable upgrades to stay ahead of the evolving threat.
  • Adaptability: Modern Open Systems Architecture (MOSA)-based avionics and mission systems, offering «plug-and-play» options for computing, sensors, survivability and weapons, benefiting lethality and survivability, operational mission tailoring and competitive acquisitions.
  • Sustainable/Maintenance: Designed to decrease aircraft operating costs by utilizing new technologies to shift from routine maintenance and inspections to self-monitoring and condition-based maintenance, which will increase aircraft availability, reduce sustainment footprint forward and enable flexible maintenance operating periods.
  • Growth/Mission Flexibility: Focused on the future and ever evolving threat capabilities, X2 compound coaxial technology provides unmatched potential and growth margin for increased speed, combat radius and payload. This potential and growth margin further enables operational mission flexibility which includes a broader range of aircraft configurations and loadouts to accommodate specific mission requirements.

The nationwide supply team that Sikorsky has comprised to build RAIDER X will join company leaders today to introduce RAIDER X during the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army in Washington, D.C.

«RAIDER X is the culmination of decades of development, and a testament to our innovation and passion for solving our customers’ needs», said Sikorsky President Dan Schultz. «By leveraging the strength of the entire Lockheed Martin Corporation, we will deliver the only solution that gives the U.S. Army the superiority needed to meet its mission requirements».

 

Proven X2 Technology: Scalable, Sustainable, Affordable

With RAIDER X, Sikorsky introduces the latest design in its X2 family of aircraft. To date, X2 aircraft have achieved/demonstrated:

  • Speeds in excess of 250 knots/288 mph/463 km/h;
  • High altitude operations in excess of 9,000 feet/2,743 m;
  • Low-speed and high-speed maneuver envelopes out to 60+ degrees angle of bank;
  • ADS-33B (Aeronautical Design Standard) Level 1 handling qualities with multiple pilots;
  • Flight controls optimization and vibration mitigation.

«The power of X2 is game changing. It combines the best elements of low-speed helicopter performance with the cruise performance of an airplane», said Sikorsky experimental test pilot Bill Fell, a retired Army pilot who has flown nearly every RAIDER test flight. «Every flight we take in our S-97 RAIDER today reduces risk and optimizes our FARA prototype, RAIDER X».

The development of X2 Technology and the RAIDER program has been funded entirely by significant investments by Sikorsky, Lockheed Martin and industry partners.

A history of reliability and safety. A legacy of industry-leading research and technological achievement. Now meet the future of vertical lift. RAIDER X delivers speed, precision and maneuverability to achieve its mission…at the X

Fighting Vehicle

The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract modification worth up to $269 million for continued production of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV).

U.S. Army extends contract for Bradley Fighting Vehicle upgrades

The award for an additional 168 upgraded Bradley A4 Infantry Fighting Vehicles is part of the Army’s combat vehicle modernization strategy and helps ensure force readiness of the Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT).

The Bradley A4 is equipped with an enhanced powertrain that maximizes mobility and increases engine horsepower, providing rapid movement in reaction to combat or other adverse situations. Wide angle Driver’s Vision Enhancer, improved Force XXI Battle Command Bridge and Below (FBCB2) software integration improves friendly and enemy vehicle identification, enhancing situational awareness. The addition of a High Speed Slip Ring, greater network connectivity and Smart Displays that simultaneously display classified and unclassified information also improve situational awareness.

«The Bradley is one of the most critical vehicles in the Army’s ABCT today because it allows the Army to transport troops to the fight, and provide covering fire to suppress enemy vehicles and troops», said Scott Davis, vice president of combat vehicle programs for BAE Systems. «Upgrading to the A4 configuration provides soldiers with more power to increase their speed and ability to integrate enhanced technology to ensure they maintain the advantage on the battlefield».

Previously awarded funding for initial production of 164 Bradley A4 vehicles allowed BAE Systems to begin production. The award of this option brings the total production funding to $578 million. It includes upgrades and associated spares of two Bradley variants: the M2A4 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the M7A4 Fire Support Team Vehicle.

BAE Systems is a premiere supplier of combat vehicles to the U.S. military and international customers. The company has an extensive manufacturing network across the United States and continues to invest in it. Work on the program will take place at Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, and BAE Systems’ facilities in Aiken, South Carolina; Anniston, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Jose, California; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and York, Pennsylvania.

Nantucket

Lockheed Martin and Fincantieri Marinette Marine marked the beginning of construction on Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) 27, the future USS Nantucket, with a ceremony in Marinette. As part of a ship-building tradition dating back centuries, a shipyard worker welded the initials of Polly Spencer, USS Nantucket (LCS-27) ship sponsor and wife of U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, into the ship’s keel plate. This plate will be affixed to the ship and travel with Nantucket throughout its commissioned life.

A welder authenticates the keel of LCS-27, the future USS Nantucket, by welding the initials of ship sponsor Polly Spencer

«The USS Nantucket will confront many complex challenges», said Richard V. Spencer, the U.S. Secretary of the Navy. «It will confront humanitarian relief all the way to great power competition, drawing on the strength of every weld, every rivet applied by the great people here».

Unique among combat ships, the focused-mission LCS is designed to support mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and surface warfare missions today and is easily adapted to serve future and evolving missions tomorrow. The Freedom-variant LCS is:

  • Flexible – Forty percent of the hull is easily reconfigurable, able to integrate Longbow Hellfire Missiles, 30-mm guns, and manned and unmanned vehicles designed to meet today’s and tomorrow’s missions.
  • Lethal – LCS is standard equipped with Rolling Airframe Missiles (RAM) and a Mark 110 gun, capable of firing 220 rounds per minute.
  • Fast – LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h.
  • Automated – LCS has the most efficient staffing of any combat ship.

«LCS’ built-in flexibility makes it unlike any other Navy ship in the water today», said Joe DePietro, vice president and general manager of Small Combatants and Ship Systems. «LCS can serve a multitude of missions to include surface, anti-submarine and mine countermeasure missions by quickly integrating mission equipment and deploying manned and unmanned aerial, surface or sub-surface vehicles».

USS Nantucket (LCS-27) is the first Navy ship to be named after Nantucket, Massachusetts in more than 150 years. Nantucket has a deep connection to sailing and maritime traditions, serving as a whaling hub in the 1800s and as the home of generations of American sailors since the town’s beginning. The previous USS Nantucket, the first to be named after the island, was commissioned in 1862 to serve during the American Civil War.

«I have been given a very special honor in being the sponsor of the future USS Nantucket. I am happy she is being built here in Marinette, Wisconsin, which has an impressive history of shipbuilding», said Polly Spencer, LCS-27 sponsor. «Thank you to all the talented people who are bringing this ship to life… it is going to be an amazing journey that I am thrilled to be on».

USS Nantucket (LCS-27) will be the 14th Freedom-variant LCS and will join a class of more than 30 ships. It is one of six ships in various stages of construction and test at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard.

«We are very excited to begin construction of the future USS Nantucket», said Jan Allman, CEO of Fincantieri Marinette Marine. «Our men and women are proud to put their efforts into giving the Navy versatile ships to keep our country and its interests safe».

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016 11-17-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016 01-12-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017 08-03-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016 04-18-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017 12-15-2018
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21) 02-22-2018 06-15-2019
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23) 08-14-2018
USS Marinette (LCS-25) 03-27-2019
USS Nantucket (LCS-27) 10-09-2019
USS Beloit (LCS-29)
USS Cleveland (LCS-31)

 

Belharra frigates

According to ekathimerini.com, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos on Thursday (October 10) expressed Greece’s willingness to launch talks for the acquisition of two new navy frigates in talks with his French counterpart Florence Parly in Paris.

Greece signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) to buy two Belharra frigates similar to those that Naval Group is building for the French Navy. If the deal goes through, Greece will become the frigate’s first export customer (NG image)

The ministers signed a statement of intent for the acquisition by the Hellenic Navy of two frigates, Panagiotopoulos said, adding that there was «a long way to go» before an agreement is reached on the required «technical aspects» of the vessels.

Another point of discussion was some pending issues relating to the maintenance of French Mirage fighter jets, he said.

The two ministers also discussed Turkey’s offensive in Syria and developments in the eastern Mediterranean where Turkey continues its illegal prospecting for hydrocarbons in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone.

In comments to reporters after his meeting with Parly, Panagiotopoulos referred to French and Italian vessels in the area, saying that they served to underline the presence of the European Union and its objections to Turkey’s continuing transgressions in Cyprus’ waters.

JMR TD program

The U.S. Army is looking to improve its aviation technology and recently called upon the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) – National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC) at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, to advance this effort.

Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant Helicopter Achieves First Flight
The Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 DEFIANT is shown during its first flight in March. The military helicopter, being developed for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator program, was tested earlier this year at the AEDC National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California (Courtesy photo)

Engineers from Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and The Boeing Company, in partnership with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center Army Aviation Development Directorate, recently conducted a series of tests at NFAC to support the development of the SB>1 DEFIANT, a military helicopter being developed for the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program.

The goal of this wind tunnel test was to validate the aerodynamic performance and flight mechanics of Sikorsky’s X2 Technology aircraft. These configurations, which are being utilized on the SB>1 DEFIANT, include a lift-offset coaxial rotor system, composite fuselage and rear-mounted pusher propulsor that provides increased speed.

The SB>1 DEFIANT, which made its first flight in March, is a technology demonstrator for a medium-lift utility helicopter. Future uses of this type of air vehicle could include attack and assault, troop transport or medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).

The testing was conducted throughout the first half of 2019 and concluded in mid-June. To accomplish the tests, a 1/5 scale model of the SB>1 DEFIANT airframe with powered coaxial main rotors was placed in the NFAC 40- by 80-foot/12.2- by 24.4-meter wind tunnel.

Measurements included forces and moments on the various components, as well as fuselage, empennage and blade surface pressures.

David Wang, NFAC test engineer, said the recent tests expanded on data collected from a JMR wind tunnel entry conducted at NFAC in 2016 by gathering data at faster speed ranges.

«From the NFAC perspective, the wind tunnel test was successful», Wang said. «The test customer was able to collect performance and handling qualities data for their subscale model up to their maximum design flight speed».

Data collected during the recent tests is undergoing review and analysis. It is unknown at this time if there will be future testing of the SB>1 DEFIANT model at NFAC.

The full-scale SB>1 DEFIANT flight demonstrator is currently undergoing ground and flight tests at Sikorsky’s flight test facility. According to the Sikorsky-Boeing JMR Team, data from SB>1 DEFIANT will help the Army develop requirements for new utility helicopters expected to enter service in the early 2030s.

A previous Department of Defense (DOD) study concluded that upgrades to the aging DOD rotary wing aviation fleet would not provide the capabilities required for future operations. Significant improvement in several attributes of fleet aircraft, such as speed, payload, range, survivability and vertical lift are required to meet future needs. It was determined this improvement could be achieved through application of new technologies and designs.

To accomplish its goal, the Army has been executing a Science & Technology (S&T) effort to mitigate risk associated with maturity of critical technologies, feasibility of desired capabilities and cost of a technical solution. An aspect of this effort is the air vehicle development associated with the JMR TD program.

JMR TD is the alignment of Army Aviation’s S&T with the Future Vertical Lift initiative, which seeks to develop a new family of system to modernize and replace the government’s current fleet of rotorcraft. According to the Army, the intent of the JMR TD is to mitigate risk for the Future Vertical Lift program through means that include the testing of advanced technologies and efficient vehicle configurations.

NFAC, managed and operated by AEDC, is the largest wind tunnel complex in the world. It consists of both the 40- by 80-foot/12.2- by 24.4-meter and 80- by 120- foot/24.4- by 36.6-meter wind tunnels. These tunnels, which share a common drive system, are primarily used for aerodynamic and acoustic tests of rotorcraft and fixed wing, powered-lift Vertical and/or Short Take-Off and Landing (V/STOL) aircraft and developing advanced technologies for these vehicles.

Both subscale and full-scale models are tested at NFAC. The speed range of the 40- by 80-foot/12.2- by 24.4-meter wind tunnel test section is continuously variable from 0 to 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h, while the speed range in the 80- by 120-foot/24.4- by 36.6-meter wind tunnel section is continuously variable from 0 to 100 knots/115 mph/185 km/h.

Indian Rafale

October 8th, 2019, Eric Trappier, Dassault Aviation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, hosted the handover ceremony of the first Indian Air Force Rafale in Mérignac, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale final assembly facility. The event was placed under the high patronage of the Honourable Shri Rajnath Singh, Minister of Defence of India and the Honourable Ms. Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces of France.

Ceremony held in Dassault Aviation Mérignac facility on October 8th, 2019, in the frame of the celebrations of Air Force Day

The ceremony, 3 years after the signature of the contract in 2016 for the acquisition of 36 Rafale to equip the Indian Air Force, marks the concretization of the strategic relationship between India and France and the celebration of the history of mutual trust between India and Dassault Aviation for more than 65 years.

The handover of the first IAF Rafale, materializes the determination of the French Authorities to fulfill the expectations and needs of the Government of India to comfort India’s protection and sovereignty and illustrates the exemplary cooperation between Dassault Aviation and the Indian Air Force, one of the most remarkable partner Dassault Aviation’s has ever worked with.

The setup of the Dassault Reliance JV (DRAL) production facility in Nagpur as well as the significant support of  the educational and scientific policy of the Indian Government through the establishing of an engineering center in Pune, the creation of the «Dassault Skill Academy» and the implementation of a vocational training programme «Aeronautical Structure and Equipment Fitter», demonstrate Dassault Aviation full commitment to the «Make in India» and «Skill India» initiatives in building the foundations for a national aerospace and defence ecosystem to become a worldwide reference of the sector.

Supported by Dassault Aviation partners, Thales already present in Nagpur, Safran to inaugurate its facility in Hyderabad as well as the French aeronautics and defence community among which twenty companies are already settled in India, this approach will mutually benefit both Indian and French industries and will contribute to guaranty both countries to meet tomorrow’s aeronautical challenges.

«I am particularly honored to host this ceremony today as India is part of Dassault Aviation’s DNA. The long and trustful relationship we share is an undeniable success and underpins my determination of establishing for the long term Dassault Aviation in India. We stand alongside the Indian Air Force since 1953, we are totally committed to fulfill its requirements for the decades to come and to be part of India’s ambitious vision for the future», has declared Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

Minehunting sonar

Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully operated the AQS-24 minehunting sonar at depths greater than 400 feet/122 m during system testing off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Northrop Grumman successfully tests AQS-24 Deep Tow

Embarked on the M/V Richard Becker, the Northrop Grumman test team demonstrated reliable AQS-24 system operations with excellent sonar performance at all tested depths, while using the system to classify bottom objects of interest.

«The AQS-24 minehunting system performed superbly at tow depths up to and beyond 400 feet/122 m», said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. «This latest internal research and development effort underscores our commitment to provide the most innovative, affordable and operationally-proven capabilities to meet the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mine Countermeasures Mission (MCM) package requirements and future expeditionary MCM needs».

Earlier this year, Northrop Grumman demonstrated an autonomy upgrade path for the AQS-24’s minehunting system by integrating and successfully testing the company’s image exploitation suite, incorporating state-of-the-art machine learning for Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) using multiple ATR algorithms. Following this successful demonstration, the U.S. Navy plans to incorporate this new capability into existing AQS-24 minehunting systems.

The success of Deep Tow is now followed by the recently commenced in-water testing of Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24 system on the Navy’s MCM Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City. This is in preparation for user operated evaluation system testing aboard the LCS in 2020. The AQS-24’s newly doubled depth capability is planned for integration and test with the MCM USV system.

These major enhancements to the U.S. Navy’s only operational mine hunting towed sonar – running deeper, automatically detecting and reporting targets, and providing the transition to the LCS MCM USV – increases the operational effectiveness of the AQS-24 system while providing the warfighter with an unprecedented capability that affordably meets operational needs and provides a proven path for continued integration of state-of-the-art technology.

Doubles the current AQS-24 program of record depth performance metric

Lithuanian NASAMS

In the end of September specialists of the Lithuanian Air Force began tests of the NASAMS medium-range air defence system made for the Lithuanian Air Force at the Kongsberg factory in Norway. Components of the weaponry system produced specifically for the Lithuanian Air Force will be first tested at the factor and then put to field trials when the air defence systems are brought to Lithuania.

Lithuania has begun testing two batteries of NASAMS medium-range air-defense missiles it ordered for 110 million euros in 2017; Lithuania’s system uses second-hand launchers from the Norwegian army and new AMRAAM missiles from the US (LT MoD photo)

The trials will assess technical and tactical conformity of NASAMS components to the determined weaponry specification. The tests will run until February 2020 and test all the NASAMS components – missile launchers, radars, electro-optical sensors, components of integration with the RBS70 short-range air defence systems, communication, and control components, and vehicles.

The NASAMS medium-range air defence system is planned to be delivered to Lithuania by the end of 2020.

Once the systems are delivered, specialist operator training will begin at the Lithuanian Air Force Air Defence Battalion.

The contract for procuring the NSAMS mid-range air defence system for the Lithuanian Air Force was signed by the Ministry of National Defence and Norway’s Kongsberg NASAMS manufacturer on 26 October 2017.

For the sum of EUR 110 million, equipment for two air defence batteries and logistical maintenance package, as well as training for operators and maintenance personnel of the system are bought from Norwegian NASAMS manufacturer Kongsberg.

Upon the completion of the project, Lithuania will have acquired a complete and integrated medium range air defence capability.

«Protected airspace is one of the main conditions necessary for deployment of allies into the region in case of necessity», Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says. «NASAMS is an assembled and integrated medium-range air defence capability we needed and did not have till present. This procurement partly fills one of the biggest gaps in national defence – airspace protection».

The system procured by Lithuania is new, except for the launchers that are pre-used by the Norwegian Armed Forces and currently upgraded to manufacturer’s parameters. The systems procured from Norway use U.S.-made AMRAAM aircraft defence missiles capable of destroying aircraft and missiles of an adversary several tens of kilometres away. All the equipment is planned to be fully delivered to Lithuania, personnel trained, and all the components integrated into a system capable of completing air defence tasks: monitor and control air space, issue warning to ground-based units about air threats, and to destroy targets if necessary.

The MoD Work Group analysed mid-range air defence systems available on the market to implement the NASAMS procurement project. Potential procurements were assessed according to such criteria as efficiency, compatibility with systems of NATO allies, maintenance and repair cost, times of delivery, etc. NASAMS was selected as the closest choice to the requirement and criteria formulated.

Lithuanian Air Force experts begin testing NASAMS medium-range air defence system