Commandos of the future could be sent into battle from a new class of assault ships under plans being considered by the Naval Service.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced investment in a concept and development phase for the vessels – called littoral strike ships.
It represents part of the Navy’s vision for the future of amphibious warfare, alongside plans for the future of the Royal Marines.
These ships would form the backbone of a littoral strike group, a scalable force made up of different elements of the fleet and the future commando force.
They would each be forward deployed, permanently away from UK shores, to exert global influence on behalf of the UK government.
Major General Charlie Stickland, Commandant General Royal Marines, said: «This announcement to accelerate the concept and assessment stages of future littoral strike ships brings us one step closer to realising our ambitions for the future commando force».
The work announced by the Secretary of State will now look at how and when the Ministry of Defence could deliver the ships into future service.
What are littoral strike ships?
Littoral strike ships are vessels which can command an assault force from anywhere in the world – carrying everything from helicopters and fast boats to underwater automated vehicles and huge numbers of troops.
They are designed to be able to get in close to land – with ‘littoral’ literally meaning the part of the sea which is closest to the shore.
Under plans being looked at by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, these assault ships would be forward deployed permanently away from the UK.
They would therefore give the UK government greater options in terms of working with our allies around the world but also allow the flexibility to deal with a crisis anywhere in the world.
The ships would need to be versatile enough to handle a range of different missions in all types of environments, and they would also be able to work as part of a larger strike group.
Key to their success are the Royal Marines, remade as the future commando force and enhanced with their own cutting-edge technology – and the ability to be more lethal, agile and far-reaching than ever before.
The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation a $59 million contract for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the Embedded Global Positioning System (GPS)/Inertial Navigation System (INS)-Modernization, or EGI-M, technology.
The approval to proceed to the EMD phase follows the Department of Defense’s Milestone B approval in October 2018. During the EMD phase, Northrop Grumman will develop the critical hardware and software design for the EGI-M, build hardware for integration and qualification, generate safety and civil certification documentation, qualify the new EGI-M systems to rigorous military standards, and build production units for platform testing.
Based upon modular and truly open systems architecture, the EGI-M system will support the rapid insertion of new capabilities and adaptability based on unique platform requirements. Additionally, the modernized navigation system will incorporate new generation GPS receivers, which will be capable to securely and accurately transmit the new military signals for space (M-Code). The EGI-M will be integrated into multiple platforms across all of the services and exportable versions will be developed for international customers. The lead platforms for EGI-M are F-22 Raptor and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
«This EMD award brings us an important step closer to fielding a modernized navigation system that provides accurate positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) information, even when GPS is denied», said Dean Ebert, vice president, navigation and positioning systems, Northrop Grumman. «Northrop Grumman is dedicated to ensuring the safety and mission success of our warfighters by providing a resilient assured PNT solution that will allow service members to fly, fight and win in any environment».
EGI-M technology is designed for compatibility with current systems on legacy aircraft, allowing ease of integration and rapid adoption of new capabilities. EGI-M will also comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen air traffic control requirements that aircraft flying at higher altitudes be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS‑B) Out by January 2020. ADS-B Out transmits information about an aircraft’s altitude, speed and location to ground stations and to other equipped aircraft in the vicinity.
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Spacecraft Element (SCE) successfully completed acoustic and sine vibration testing at Northrop Grumman Corporation in Redondo Beach.
Acoustic and sine vibration testing validates the structural design and verifies the mechanical workmanship and integrity of the actual flight SCE by subjecting it to simulated rigors of the launch environment.
«Mission success remains our focus for Webb, a first of its kind space telescope», said Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman. «Successful environmental testing of the SCE builds further confidence in its structural design integrity, built to withstand the stresses of launch».
The SCE was subjected to acoustic noise levels of 140.7 decibels (damage to hearing starts at 85dB while speakers at a concert can be as loud as 120dB or more), which simulated the high noise levels generated from rocket engines and turbulent air flow at high Mach speeds during launch. Vibration testing simulates the vibration and shaking Webb will experience during launch. During testing, the SCE was attached to a large electrodynamic shaker, vibrating it along three orthogonal axes. This back-and-forth or «sinusoidal» vibration was applied by starting at a low, subsonic frequency of 5 hertz (cycles per second) and «sweeping» up to a medium frequency of 100 hertz in the course of just over one minute. Ultimately, the SCE was subjected to protoflight vibration levels required to simulate a rocket launch experience. Testing on the ground assures that Webb can successfully withstand the rigors of its journey to space.
The completion of acoustic and sine vibration testing advances Webb’s SCE to its final environmental test, thermal vacuum testing. Post thermal vacuum testing, Webb will return to Northrop’s clean room for full deployment and integration of the Optical Telescope Element/Integrated Science Instrument Module later this year.
The James Webb Space Telescope will be the world’s premier space science observatory of the next decade. Webb will solve mysteries of our solar system, look to distant worlds around other stars, and probe the mysterious structures and the origins of our universe. Webb is an international program led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
A significant milestone has been achieved today with the signing of the Future Submarine Program Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA) by the Commonwealth of Australia (CoA) and Naval Group.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, The Hon. Christopher Pyne, Minister for Defence and Florence Parly, French Minister for the Armed Forces.
The agreement sets out the principles of cooperation between the two partners for the Attack class Submarine Program which will see:
the delivery of 12 regionally superior submarines to Australia with leading edge capabilities;
the delivery of new technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities to Australia, introducing the next phase of Australian sovereignty as a submarine nation;
the creation of thousands of direct and indirect Australian jobs which will positively impact many generations of Australians; and
opportunities and long-term planning certainty for industry, allowing Australian companies involved in the submarine program to invest in the capabilities needed to support their involvement in construction and sustainment activities.
«Naval Group is known for building world-leading, technologically advanced submarines and has built 100 of them for nine different countries», said Herve Guillou, Chairman and CEO, Naval Group. «This agreement with Australia will see Naval Group transfer the «know-how» and «know-why» to Australia to become a sovereign submarine nation. We are very excited about the opportunities that lay ahead of us and are committed to delivering the Future Submarine Program for Australia. We are grateful to the teams from the Commonwealth of Australia and Naval Group who have worked hard to achieve this agreement», said Mr. Guillou.
Since being selected as Australia’s partner for the Attack class Submarine Program in April 2016, a lot has been achieved.
Pre-sizing of the Future Submarine has been completed.
The Feasibility Study phase of the Future Submarine design contract being undertaken in France with the support of Australian engineers has been completed. This involves working closely with the Commonwealth to ensure the Future Submarine meets functionality, scheduling and cost requirements.
The first sod has been turned at the Future Submarine construction yard in Adelaide. Phase 1 of the onsite works will focus on site establishment, earth works and piling for the new facilities with the development to create at least 600 jobs.
The transfer of technology commenced with the relocation of the first group of Australian engineers to France to learn how to carry out the detailed design of the Future Submarines. The next group of engineers will depart for France in March 2019.
Officially opened the Future Submarine Program office in Cherbourg housing Naval Group personnel alongside their Defence and Lockheed Martin Australia colleagues.
Continued to work with education facilities, TAFEs and universities, having forged a collaborative engineering and research Memorandum of Understanding with the University of New South Wales.
Suppliers of the top five pieces of equipment including the main motor, diesel generators, switchboards, batteries and weapons discharge systems have been reviewed and will be announced in 2019.
Continue to maximise the opportunities for Australian Industry involvement in the program, through all phases, without compromising the Commonwealths requirements against capability, cost and schedule.
To date Naval Group has engaged with over 1,100 Australian suppliers through expression of interests, requests for information, supplier visits and industry events to develop a in depth understanding of Australia Industry capability.
169 Australian suppliers have been pre-qualified for the program with Naval Group Australia.
Conducted numerous engagement activities in France and Australia to connect potential European and Australian suppliers.
Released Expressions of Interests and Requests for Information for major equipment and common technologies equipment for the Future Submarine.
Commenced efforts to procure capital equipment related to the Submarine Construction Yard including machining equipment, painting booths, a plate rolling machine, a plasma cutting machine, water jet cutting machine, rotating cradle and a milling machine.
Conducted nine Future Submarine industry briefings across the nation providing Australian companies information on how to become involved in the Future Submarine Program.
Naval Group Australia milestones
Established our headquarters in Keswick, Adelaide.
Expanded the Naval Group Australia team from 15 employees to over 100. By 2028-2029, when production is in full swing, we expect to employ 1,600 people.
Canadian technology, experience and infrastructure proved a winning combination for Canada’s new fleet of surface combatants, as Canada’s Combat Ship Team has been awarded the Canadian Surface Combatant design contract by Irving Shipbuilding. Irving Shipbuilding is the Canadian Surface Combatant prime contractor and will build all 15 ships at Halifax Shipyard.
BAE Systems, CAE, Lockheed Martin Canada, L3 Technologies, MDA and Ultra Electronics partnered as Canada’s Combat Ship Team to offer the Royal Canadian Navy the most advanced and modern warship design, the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, with high-tech platform innovations from prominent Canadian companies. The solution includes the internationally renowned and Canadian-developed combat management system, CMS 330.
Bringing together a pan-Canadian team, the six companies have a uniquely skilled workforce and supply chain that are ready to begin work on the program today. Canada’s Combat Ship team employs a combined 9,000 Canadians in 40 facilities from coast to coast and engages a Canadian supply chain of more than 4,000 small and medium sized enterprises. The team also secured several additional partners, including Rolls-Royce with its Canadian-designed and manufactured Mission Bay Handling System that will enable adaptability for the ships’ operations.
The Type 26 Global Combat Ship is a globally deployable multi-role warship that meets the distinctive mission requirements of the Royal Canadian Navy. It is enhanced with the team’s collective Canadian naval expertise in combat system design, integration, training, logistics and program management. Purposely designed for high-end anti-submarine warfare and capable of performing a variety of missions around the world, the Type 26 is acoustically quiet, versatile, highly survivable, and allows for significant growth margins for future modernization.
Canada’s Combat Ship Team will deliver lasting economic benefits to Canadian industry through $17 billion in value proposition commitments in innovation across Canada’s priority areas, including $2 billion in supplier development, $2 billion in research and development, and $200 million in advanced manufacturing.
All of this contributes to a strong Canadian team – Canada’s Home Team – ready to begin work on day one as promised.
Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on January 8, 2019, that it has been awarded a $232.7 million delivery order from the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) to recapitalize vehicles in the Army’s Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTV) fleet.
Under the contract, Oshkosh will recapitalize a total of 407 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT) and Palletized Load System (PLS) trucks as well as manufacture 601 new PLS trailers.
The HEMTT and PLS have been in the Army’s fleet since 1981 and 1990 respectively, and Oshkosh has been performing recapitalization services on these vehicles since 1995.
«As the backbone of the U.S. Army’s resupply and distribution system, the HEMTT and PLS vehicles are heavily relied on to carry munitions and other critical supplies across all types of terrains and in all types of environments», said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and Marine Corps Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «We are proud that the U.S. Army has trusted Oshkosh to provide this cost-effective recapitalization service for over 2 decades», Williams continued. «As the original equipment manufacturer, we know these vehicles inside and out, and we are in the best position to quickly return them to field operations in like-new condition».
Through recapitalization, vehicles are stripped to the frame rails, rebuilt to the latest configuration and returned to the fleet in zero-mile, zero-hour condition with the same technology, safety features, bumper-to-bumper warranty and life cycle cost advantage of a new vehicle.
In total, Oshkosh has recapitalized over 12,500 HEMTTs and 3,000 PLS trucks since 1995.
Northrop Grumman Corporation has successfully completed the development of the AQS-24C and delivered the first two systems to the U.S. Navy. The AQS-24C upgrade adds an in-stride volume search capability to the AQS-24B.
The AQS-24C builds on the AQS-24B that was introduced to the fleet in 2017, which has continued to excel in naval operations from both the MH-53E Super Stallion helicopter and the Mine Hunting Unit Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MHU USV) platforms. The newly developed AQS-24C systems recently completed shipboard contractor testing and government helicopter testing on the MH-53E Super Stallion platform. Achieving this development milestone has resulted in the start of production to meet the fleet generated requirement for increased mine hunting capability.
«The AQS-24C is a cost-effective upgrade to an existing system, providing long range volume search mine hunting while minimizing development costs and providing great value to the U.S. Navy customer», said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. «This new capability will keep sailors out of harm’s way and shorten the mine clearance timeline».
Northrop Grumman is concurrently executing a separate contract for integration of the AQS-24 onto the U.S. Navy’s MHU USV, which will be evaluated for operational use from U.S. Navy surface platforms.
Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in autonomous systems, cyber, Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), space, strike, and logistics and modernization to customers worldwide.
France and Germany have awarded the first-ever contract – a Joint Concept Study (JCS) – to Dassault Aviation and Airbus for the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme. The launch of the JCS was announced by the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, and her German counterpart, Ursula von der Leyen, at a meeting today in Paris.
The decision by both countries represents a milestone to secure European sovereignty and technological leadership in the military aviation sector for the coming decades. Starting date for the two-year study is 20 February 2019.
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, said: «This new step is the cornerstone to ensure tomorrow’s European strategic autonomy. We, as Dassault Aviation, will mobilize our competencies as System Architect and Integrator, to meet the requirements of the Nations and to keep our continent as a world-class leader in the crucial field of Air Combat Systems».
Dirk Hoke, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, said: «FCAS is one of the most ambitious European defence programmes of the century. With today’s contract signature, we are finally setting this high-technology programme fully in motion. Both companies are committed to providing the best solutions to our Nations with regard to the New Generation Fighter as well as the systems of systems accompanying it. We are truly excited about having been given this opportunity and appreciate the trust placed in both our companies».
This planned Next Generation Weapons System will consist of a highly capable manned «New Generation Fighter» (NGF) teaming with a set of new and upgraded weapons as well as a set of unmanned systems (Remote Carriers) linked by a Combat Cloud and its Ecosystem embedded in a System-of-Systems FCAS architecture.
The JCS is based on the bi-nationally agreed High Level Common Operational Requirements Document (HLCORD) signed at Berlin Air Show ILA in April 2018 between the Defence Ministers of France and Germany as well as respective national concept studies.
Its aim is to conceptualise the different FCAS capabilities and to pave the way for future design, industrialisation, as well as an estimated full operational capability by 2040. The study will prepare and initiate demonstrator programmes for launch at the Paris Air Show in June 2019.
Raytheon Company’s AN/SPY-6(V)1 air and missile defense radar completed its latest test, exceeding all performance requirements. In the most stressing test to date, the radar searched for, detected, and maintained track on the target as predicted.
«Now in production, AN/SPY-6(V)1 continues to stack up test successes and milestones, proving the maturity of its design and its exceptional capabilities», said U.S. Navy Captain Seiko Okano, Major Program Manager for Above Water Sensors, Program Executive Office Integrated Warfare Systems. «The radar is on track to deliver game-changing integrated air and missile defense technology to the surface fleet through its ability to simultaneously address air and missile defense targets. This will provide an unprecedented level of comprehensive protection to naval forces and assets».
Since its inception in January 2014, the program has met 20 of 20 milestones, ahead of or on schedule. The radar has progressed well through the U.S. Navy’s dedicated AN/SPY-6(V)1 testing program. Currently in production, the radar is on schedule for delivery to the Navy’s first modernized DDG-51 Flight III, the future USS Jack H Lucas (DDG-125), in 2020.
Throughout testing at the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, AN/SPY-6(V)1 has consistently proved its multi-mission capability to extend the battlespace and safeguard the fleet from multiple, simultaneous threats. The radar has now demonstrated its performance against an array of singular and multiple targets of increasing complexity. This includes integrated air and missile defense targets, as well as targets of opportunity, satellites and aircraft.
AN/SPY-6(V)1 provides greater range, increased accuracy, greater resistance to environmental and man-made electronic clutter, higher reliability and sustainability than currently deployed radars. The radar’s demonstrated sensitivity – significantly more than current radars in the U.S. Navy – provides greater coverage for early and accurate detection.
The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of the future USS Billings (LCS-15) during a ceremony at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM), shipyard, Marinette, Wisconsin, February 1.
The future USS Billings (LCS-15) is the 17th Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) to be delivered to the U.S. Navy and the eighth of the Freedom variant to join the fleet. Delivery marks the official transfer of the ship from the shipbuilder, part of a Lockheed Martin-led team, to the U.S. Navy. It is the final milestone prior to commissioning, which is planned for later this year.
«Today marks a significant milestone in the life of the future USS Billings», said LCS program manager Captain Mike Taylor. «I look forward to celebrating the commissioning of this fine ship alongside the crew later this year where she will play an essential role in the new fleet of warships that will carry out our nation’s future maritime strategy».
Several additional Freedom-variant ships are under construction at FMM. The future USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) is preparing for trials this summer. The future USS St. Louis (LCS-19) was christened and launched in December. The future ships USS Minneapolis-Saint Paul (LCS-21), USS Cooperstown (LCS-23), USS Marinette (LCS-25), USS Nantucket (LCS-27) and USS Beloit (LCS-29) are also in various stages of production, with yet-to-be-named LCS-31 awarded last month.
LCS is a highly maneuverable, lethal and adaptable ship designed to support focused mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare missions. The Freedom-variant LCS integrates new technology and capability to affordably support current and future mission capability from deep water to the littorals.
The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Lockheed Martin-led team builds the odd-numbered hulls. The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, (for LCS-6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).
LCS is now the second-largest surface ship class in the U.S. Navy. In 2018, five LCSs were delivered to the fleet, and three are scheduled for delivery in 2019.
Ship Design Specifications
Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
389 feet/118.6 m
57 feet/17.5 m
13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement
Approximately 3,200 metric tons
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
Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
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