Rise of the Osprey

Bell Helicopter announced the successful demonstration of forward-firing capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. The exercise took place in November 2014 at the United States Army Proving Ground in Yuma, Arizona.

The successful demonstration of forward-firing capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
The successful demonstration of forward-firing capability for the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey

«The forward-firing demonstration was a great success», said Vince Tobin, vice president and program manager for the Bell Boeing V-22. «We’ve shown the V-22 Osprey can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions, and can hit their targets with a high degree of reliability. Congratulations to the team who has worked hard from initial design to completion of this demonstration».

According to representatives of Bell Helicopter, V-22 Osprey is now one of the safest aircraft operated by the Marine Corps. Since its deployment in 2007, the V-22 has achieved outstanding mission success in deployments to Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The Osprey offers operators (U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command) a wide range of mission capability including raids, Casualty Evacuation, Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief, resupply, VIP transport, and theater security cooperation.

«Integrating a forward firing capability to the V-22 Osprey will increase its mission set», Tobin continued. «These weapons, once installed, will provide added firepower and reduce reliance on Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARPs) which are sometimes necessary to supply short range attack rotorcraft in support of V-22 operations. Without the need for FARPs, V-22s can be launched more frequently, and on shorter notice».

Through the end of the third quarter of 2014, Bell Boeing has delivered 242 MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor for the U.S. Marine Corps and 44 CV-22 Osprey for U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). Note also that Bell Helicopter began initial design work on forward fire capability in mid-2013.

Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set
Integrating a forward firing capability to the Osprey will increase its mission set


Description and Purpose

The V-22 Osprey is a joint service multi-role combat aircraft utilizing tiltrotor technology to combine the vertical performance of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed wing aircraft. With its engine nacelles and rotors in vertical position, it can take off, land and hover like a helicopter. Once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed (277 mph, 443 km/h), high-altitude flight (25,000 ft, 7,620 m). This unique combination allows the V-22 Osprey to fill an operational niche no other aircraft can approach.

The V-22 Osprey can carry 24 combat troops (Marines or Special Forces soldiers), or up to 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) of external cargo, at twice the speed of a helicopter. It features a cross-coupled drive system so either engine can power the rotors if one engine fails!

For shipboard compatibility, the rotors fold and the wing rotates to minimize the aircraft’s footprint for storage. The V-22 Osprey is the only vertical lift platform capable of rapid self-deployment to any theater of operation, worldwide.



The U.S. Marine Corps has a current requirement for 360 MV-22s to perform combat assault and assault support missions. The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has a requirement for 50 CV-22s configured for terrain-following, low-level, high-speed flight for long-range special operations.

More than 200 Osprey tiltrotors are currently in operation across 10 Marine Corps and 2 Air Force Special Operations Command Osprey squadrons. The two services have together logged 16 successful combat, humanitarian, ship-based or Special Operations deployments since 2007. The worldwide Osprey fleet has amassed more than 190,000 flight hours, with more than half of those hours logged in the past two years (Source: Boeing).

Safety, survivability and mission efficiency have become hallmarks of the operational fleet. According to Naval Safety Center records, the MV-22 has one of the lowest Class A mishap (in which someone dies or a plane sustains more than $1 million in damage; usually such mishaps are crashes, and all are investigated) rates of any tactical rotorcraft in the Marine Corps during the past decade. Navy flight-hour cost data also show that the Osprey has the lowest cost per seat-mile (cost to transport one person over a distance of one mile) of any U.S. naval transport rotorcraft in each of the last two years.

Marine Corps MV-22s are currently deployed in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting contingency operations, while AFSOC CV-22s are deployed in support of ongoing Special Operations missions.

The V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions
The V-22 can be armed with a variety of forward-facing munitions



Boeing Military Aircraft’s Mobility division is responsible for the fuselage, empennage, and all subsystems, digital avionics, and fly-by-wire flight-control systems. While Boeing partner Bell Helicopter Textron Inc., is responsible for the wing, transmissions, rotor systems, engine installation, and final assembly at its completion facility in Amarillo, Texas.

According to Boeing (as of June 2013), 34 V-22 Ospreys were delivered in 2011 and 39 aircraft were delivered in 2012.


Multiyear Contract Details

The Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey program was awarded a second V-22 Multiyear Procurement (MYPII) contract agreement to provide a total of 99 aircraft for the Marine Corps and Air Force Special Operations Command over five years with a substantial savings to the Department of Defense (DOD) and American taxpayers of nearly $1 billion.

The multiyear proposal will bring the fleet near to the full program of record: 360 MV-22s for the Marines and 50 CV-22s for the Air Force.

It should also be mentioned separately that 48 V-22s for the Navy remain part of the program of 459 but are currently unfunded.


General Characteristics

Propulsion     Two Rolls-Royce AE1107C; 6,150 shp (4,586 kW) each

Length         Fuselage: 57.3 ft (17.48.20 m); Stowed: 63.0 ft (19.20 m)

Width          Rotors turning: 84.6 ft (25.78 m); Stowed: 18.4 ft (5.61 m)

Height   Nacelles vertical: 22.1 ft (6.73 m); Stabilizer: 17.9 ft (5.46 m)

Rotor Diameter                   38.1 ft (11.6 m)

Vertical Takeoff Max Gross Weight             52,600 lbs (23,859 kg)

Max Cruise Speed              Sea Level (SL): 280 kts (277 mph, 443 km/h)

Ceiling                                       25,000 ft (7,620 m)

Mission Radius                     600 nm (1112 km) – MV-22 Blk B with 24 troops, ramp mounted weapon system, SL STD, 15 min loiter time

Cockpit – crew seats         2 MV/3 CV

Load                                            24 troops (seated), 32 troops (floor loaded); up to 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg) of internal cargo or 15,000 pounds (6,804 kg) of external cargo


MV-22B Osprey (VTOL/STOL transport)(http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/mv-22b-osprey.html)


CV-22B Osprey (U.S. Special Operations Command – USSOCOM)(http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/cv-22b-osprey.html)


Ocean Eagle

As we know, the Independence-class of Littoral Combat Ships, built for the United States Navy, is the high-speed trimaran vessel. Austal’s team determined that the trimaran hull form offered significant passenger comfort and stability advantages over both a catamaran and a monohull. Although the trimaran hull increases the total surface area, it is still able to reach sustainable speeds of about 50 knots (93 km/h, 58 mph), with a range of 10,000 nautical miles (19,000 km; 12,000 mi). (http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/2014/11/ independence-class-lcs.html)

The Ocean Eagle 43 is designed for surveillance missions and maritime response
The Ocean Eagle 43 is designed for surveillance missions and maritime response

A French shipyard Constructions Mécaniques de Normandie (CMN, located in Cherbourg) decided to repeat the success of its American competitors. CMN has been working on a very innovative design, adopting a trimaran hull, designed with a world expert on this architecture. More precisely, there are two projects: Ocean Eagle 43 and Ocean Eagle 43 MH.


Ocean Eagle 43

This conceptual ship is an ocean patrol trimaran combining a very slender hull with two small floats enabling the required stability. This combination, according to the French shipbuilders, reduces the fuel expenditure, increases speed and autonomy, while insuring a good level of comfort even in moderate to rough sea conditions.

Ocean Eagle 43
Ocean Eagle 43


Main Characteristics

Length Overall:                                        43.60 m

Beam Overall:                                           15.70 m

Maximum draught:                                1.60 m

Maximum speed:                                     30 Kts (56 km/h)

Range at 18 Kts (33 km/h):                3000 Nautical Miles (5556 km)

Range at 12 Kts (22 km/h):                5000 Nautical Miles (9260 km)

Crew:                                                              13 persons

Fuel:                                                                 21 m3

Fresh water:                                                2.0 m3

Hull & Superstructure:                          Composite Materials

Classification:                                             Bureau Veritas



  • Sea policing and State action at sea;
  • Fight against piracy, trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration;
  • Surveillance of exclusive economic and fishing zones;
  • Monitoring of marine environment;
  • Protection of vulnerable vessels and offshore installations and escort of convoys;
  • Defence against asymmetric threats, speedboats and the boarding of terrorists;
  • Safety at sea;
  • Search And Rescue (SAR).

Ocean Eagle 43 can also be adapted for side scan sonar operation, special operations support, surveying and coastal oceanography.

Ocean Eagle 43, concept
Ocean Eagle 43, concept


Performance and Competitive Features:

  • Very high fuel economy: 238 nautical miles travelled at 15 knots with only 1 ton of fuel (nearly 50 miles for a mono-hull Offshore Patrol Vessel  at the same speed);
  • Large modularity adapted to the full range of maritime surveillance tasks;
  • High reliability and straightforward maintenance;
  • An excellent ratio of (surface area covered + performance)/operational costs;
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capabilities increasing largely the line of sight.


Typical Mission Systems:

  • 20 mm remote-controlled gun-turret;
  • Electro-optical observation system;
  • Two 12.7 mm side gun;
  • Radio direction finder;
  • C2 system;
  • Rotary UAV.
Ocean Eagle with rotary UAV
Ocean Eagle with rotary UAV


Main Equipment & Auxiliaries:

  • 7 m outboard RHIB (Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat) mounted on the stern ramp for policing intervention, transshipments or naval special ops
  • 2 main generators
  • 4 diesel engines
  • 2 CPP (Controllable Pitch Propellers)



Ocean Eagle 43 MH

This vessel is the mine hunting version of the Ocean Eagle 43. The mine warfare-operating mode is based on the use of autonomous or remote operated vehicles embarked on the Ocean Eagle 43 MH playing the Mother Ship role. Operations are done at safe distance from the trimaran vessel. Detection of the Mines at long range improves the safety for the Mother Ship, assures the integrity of the crew and ensures the success of the mission.

Ocean Eagle 43 MH
Ocean Eagle 43 MH


Main Characteristics

Length Overall:                                    43.60 m

Beam Overall:                                       15.70 m

Maximum draught:                             2.00 m

Maximum speed:                                 19 Knots (35 km/h)

Mine hunting speed:                           between 0 to 8 Knots (15 km/h)

Range at 14 Kts (26 km/h):             2500 Nautical Miles (4630 km)

Crew:                                                           15

Fuel:                                                             18 m3

Fresh water:                                            2 m3

Hull & Superstructure:                      Composite Materials

Classification Bureau:                        Veritas



  • Detection and treatment of naval mines;
  • Deployment of the Mine Warfare equipment Autonomous Underwater Vehicles and Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (AUV and UUV);
  • Support to Mine Warfare diver operations;
  • Sea policing and State action at sea;
  • Fight against piracy, trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration;
  • Defense against asymmetric threats, speedboats and the boarding of terrorists.
Ocean Eagle 43 MH, concept
Ocean Eagle 43 MH, concept


Performance and Competitive Features:

  • Low Magnetic and Acoustic Signature;
  • Very high fuel economy compare to existing mine-hunting vessels;
  • High reliability and straightforward maintenance;
  • An excellent ratio of (surface area covered + performance)/operational costs.


Typical Mission Systems:

  • Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) equipped with side scan sonar for detection and classification of mines;
  • 6 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) for Mine Identification, Inspection or Disposal;
  • Mine hunting data and mission management system;
  • Diving equipment;
  • 20 mm remote-controlled gun-turret;
  • Electro-optical observation system;
  • Two 12.7 mm side guns;
  • Radio direction finder;
  • Command & Control (C2) System.


Main Equipment & Auxiliaries:

  • Degaussing system;
  • Electric propulsion with 2 collapsible azimuth thrusters for mine-hunting mission;
  • 2 diesel engines with 2 CPP for cruising and naval mission;
  • 3 generating sets;
  • 5 m outboard RHIB.


Sikorsky flies to India

As I mentioned earlier, India is clearly moving away from the Russian arms market. The Indian government decided to mass-produce the new main battle tank Arjun instead of buying Russian T-90. The Indian Air Force announced the French Air Fighter as the preferred bidder in the competition with the Su-30MKI and contracted for 126 Rafales, services, and parts could be worth as much as $20 billion. In fine, the latest P-8I Neptune (Indian version of Boeing P-8 Poseidon) delivery was part of an eight-aircraft contract worth $2.1 billion awarded in January 2009 to replace India’s ageing Russian Tupolev Tu-142Ms.

MH-60S delivery for Thai Navy
MH-60S delivery for Thai Navy

In light of the above, the last post by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. looks like a logical continuation of this clear trend. Namely, India’s Navy has selected Sikorsky to fulfill the service’s Multi-Role Helicopter requirement for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare (ASW/ASuW), among other maritime roles. Negotiations will now begin to procure 16 S-70B Seahawk helicopters, with an option for 8 additional aircraft, along with a complete logistics support and training program (Source: Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.).

«India’s selection of the S-70B helicopter represents a major strategic win for Sikorsky in an important growth market, and positions us well for future opportunities», said Mick Maurer, President of Sikorsky Aircraft. «We look forward to a long-term collaboration with the Indian Government and local industry as we work to bring the Indian Navy the highly advanced multi-role S-70B aircraft».

The proposed Indian Navy S-70B helicopter variant will include avionics and flexible open architecture Weapons Management Systems that integrate an advanced sonar, 360-degree search radar, modern air-to-surface missiles, and torpedoes for the ASW role. A blade and tail fold capability will facilitate shipboard storage.

The new S-70B aircraft will also enhance the Indian Navy’s capabilities to perform non-combat maritime roles, including search and rescue, utility and external cargo lift, surveillance and casualty evacuation.

Sikorsky has fielded increasingly more capable variants of the S-70B helicopter since 1984 for navies that prefer to acquire a modern, fully integrated ASW/ASuW platform direct from the manufacturer. Now operational in 6 countries (in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Latin America), the S-70B platform has a solid reputation for highly reliable shipboard operations and maintenance while operating aboard frigates and larger naval vessels. The S-70B aircraft is part of Sikorsky’s Seahawk helicopter family (including the SH-60 and MH-60 models) that has accumulated almost 4 million flight hours from more than 800 operational aircraft, and is considered one of the safest platforms available.

At the same time, it should be noted that some Navy experts consider this contract as a rather «strange» deal. The fact is that India didn’t procure the latest MH-60R production standard like other navies. Instead, India’s Navy has elected to go for a direct commercial purchase of S-70B helicopters. Thus, India has lost all benefiting from a standard configuration, a larger component and spares pool, and the financial and sustainment advantages of the Foreign Military Sales channel, which has been used for India’s other recent large arms purchases from the US.

I can give as an assumption that India’s Navy is going to use the S-70B platform with flexible open architecture for specific purposes. Based on the Sikorsky S-70B, Indian engineers can create helicopters with original avionics and weapons systems.

Two multi-mission MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters fly in tandem
Two multi-mission MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters fly in tandem


Powerplant and fuel system

Number of Engines:                                 2

Engine Type:                                                T700-GE401C

Maximum Take Off:                                 3,426 shp (2,554 kw)

OEI Shaft horsepower (30 sec):        1,911 shp (1,425 kw)



Maximum Gross Weight:                       21,884 lbs (9,926 kg)

Maximum Cruise Speed:                         146 kts (270 km/h)

HIGE Ceiling:                                                  15,989 ft (4,873 m)

HOGE Ceiling:                                                11,222 ft (3,420 m)

AEO Service Ceiling:                                   11,864 ft (3,616 m)



Cabin Length:                                                   10.8 ft (3.2 m)

Cabin Width:                                                     6.1 ft (1.8 m)

Cabin Height:                                                    4.4 ft (1.3 m)

Cabin Area:                                                         65 ft2 (6.0 m2)

Cabin Volume:                                                  299 ft3 (8.5 m3)

The Indian Navy has selected Sikorsky S-70B
The Indian Navy has selected Sikorsky S-70B



Marinized airframe structure for enhanced environmental protection

Multi-functional and durable cabin flooring

2 jettisonable cockpit doors

Single cabin sliding door

Recovery, Assist, Secure and Traverse (RAST) system structural provisions

Aircraft Ship Integrated Secure and Traverse (ASIST) system structural provisions

Automatic main rotor blade fold

Tail pylon fold

Foldable stabilator

Built-in work platforms, engine cowlings and hydraulic deck

External rescue hoist

Environmental control system



Advanced Flight Control System (AFCS) with 4 axis coupled flight director and SAR modes

Four 6×8 inch full color, multi-function mission and flight displays

Advanced Flight Management System

Cockpit voice/flight data recorder

Inertial navigation system

Secure HF & VHF/UHF communication

Satellite communication

Data link

NVG compatibility


Powerplant and fuel system

2 fully marinized T700GE401C engines

Auxiliary power unit

Fuel dump

Sealed tub design

2 external 120-gallon auxiliary fuel tanks


Rotor and drive system

Automatic main rotor blade fold

Dual redundant and isolated flight controls

Rotor brake

Blade de-ice

Rotor and drive system



2 45KVA main generators

35 KVA APU generator

Redundant power distribution

Full suite of interior and exterior NVG compatible lights


MH-60S Knight Hawk (Multimission maritime helicopter) (http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/mh-60s-knight-hawk.html)

Global Combat Ship

As Richard Scott from London (IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly) reported, UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon has confirmed the selection of the strike-length Mark-41 Vertical Launch System (VLS) to meet the Flexible Strike Silo requirement for the Royal Navy’s next-generation Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS).

Type 26 Global Combat Ship
Type 26 Global Combat Ship

As it is planned, each combat ship will be fitted with three eight-cell modules in a silo sited forward of the bridge. Mister Fallon confirmed the decision to install a 24-cell Flexible Strike Silo fitted with Mark-41 launchers in a written response to Rory Stewart MP, chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee. His statement said the VLS infrastructure «will be able to accommodate a range of missiles from long-range strike weapons (such as the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile) to Anti-Ship Missiles and Anti-Submarine Rockets with the weapon payload being reconfigured to meet changing threats and missions». (http://www.parliament.uk/ documents/commons-committees/defence/141009_SoS_re_Type_ 26_Global_Combat_Ship.pdf)

As previously reported by representatives of the company BAE Systems, the GCS will be a highly capable and versatile multi-mission warship designed to support anti-submarine warfare, air defence and general-purpose operations anywhere on the world’s oceans.

With the design and development underpinned by battle proven pedigree of Royal Navy warships, the GCS will be capable of undertaking a wide range of roles from high intensity conflict to humanitarian assistance. It will be capable of operating independently or as a key asset within a task group.

All variants of will share a common acoustically quiet hull and will take full advantage of modular design and open systems architecture to facilitate through-life support and upgrades as new technology develops. This will ensure the GCS remains relevant to future maritime demands and delivers an adaptable design with the ability to accommodate sub-systems to meet individual country needs.

Type 26 Global Combat Ship, design concept only
Type 26 Global Combat Ship, design concept only

The Assessment Phase for the Type 26 programme began in March 2010 and a joint team of more than 650 people from across BAE Systems and wider industry are working with the Ministry of Defence on the engineering of the ship and to prepare proposals to be submitted later this year. The team aims to secure a manufacturing contract that will sustain this long-term national capability by the end of 2014.

As it is expected, the Type 26 will replace the UK’s Type 23 frigates. Under current plans, 13 Type 26 ships will be delivered to the Royal Navy, with manufacturing in Glasgow scheduled to start in 2016. The first vessel is due to enter service as soon as possible after 2020 and the Type 26 class will remain in service until 2060.


Mission capability

Versatility of roles is enabled by the Integrated Mission Bay and Hanger, capable of supporting multiple helicopters, Unmanned Undersea Vehicles, boats, mission loads and disaster relief stores. A launcher can be provided for fixed wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle operation and the Flight Deck is capable of landing a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for transport of embarked forces.

The first vessel is due to enter service as soon as possible after 2020
The first vessel is due to enter service as soon as possible after 2020


Principal Weapons and Sensors

Artisan 3D radar

Sonar 2087

Sea Ceptor anti-air missiles

Medium calibre gun

Mark-41 Vertical Launch System



2 electric motors

4 high-speed diesel generators

Gas turbine direct drive



Accommodation, health and recreation services for 118 crew and 72 embarked forces


Main dimensions

Displacement:                         6000 tonnes

Length:                                         148.5 metres

Maximum beam:                     20 metres



Top speed:                                  26+ knots (48 km/h)

Range:                                           7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km)



Drone wings clipped

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would restrict Navy spending on the Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) program until the completion of a Pentagon review of its entire information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) portfolio and those results were reported back to Congress, as USNI News reported. The Navy’s FY 2015 budget submission included $403 million to further develop the UCLASS program.

X-47B UCAS. First Flight at Pax River, July 2012
X-47B UCAS. First Flight at Pax River, July 2012

As it is expected, the bill will have passed both the Senate and the House. This fateful document also directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report to Congress on how the Navy decided on the most recently stated set of requirements for UCLASS through the prism of the emerging anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) threats the military has touted as a dangerous limitation to U.S. forces and future capabilities of a carrier strike group (CSG) in 2030.

In this regard, it is worth noting the following point: the FY 2017 budget submission will include the study, which will require the Navy to outline its plan for how the UCLASS would work with the Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, the F-35C Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and the planned next generation F/A-XX naval fighter.

Congressman Randy Forbes at HASC-led press conference
Congressman Randy Forbes at HASC-led press conference

«I am very encouraged by the conference outcome on the UCLASS program. The OSD study… will not just force a second look at requirements for this platform, but also take a broader look at our plans for the carrier air wing in the 2030 time period», Congressman J. Randy Forbes (4th district of Virginia), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee told USNI News. «We need to be measuring these programs twice and cutting only once when it comes to important new investments that we will be relying on to project power in the contested environments of the future».

The report will also require the Navy to provide an UCLASS acquisition strategy, program costs and schedule information to Congress. By the way, USNI News reporter Sam LaGrone argues that the UCLASS program inside the Navy is called the RAQ-25.

The service has pitched an UCLASS with an emphasis on surveillance and light strike in the last two years – a change from a stealthy UAV capable of penetrating strikes with a payload equivalent to the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

«The Navy may have made an appropriate set of trade-offs between costs and capabilities in deriving a set of requirements for UCLASS, but those trade-offs should be evaluated in the context of the overall CSG capability, not on the basis of individual capabilities of weapons systems or an unconstrained budget», according to a report from the bill.

An earlier House report found, «disproportionate emphasis in the requirements on unrefueled endurance to enable continuous intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to the carrier strike group, would result in an aircraft with too little survivability and too small an internal weapons payload capability». As an example, UCAV X-47B can carry up to 4,500 lbs/2,040 kg payload in contrast with F-35C – 18,000 lbs/8,160 kg total weapons payload.

Finally, we should note that four American companies – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Atomics – have all won early contracts to develop the UCLASS concept and were expected to respond to the final request for proposal. The US Navy expects to field UCLASS by 2020.


The UCAS-D team moved the X-47B UCAS by elevator from the hangar bay to the flight deck
The UCAS-D team moved the X-47B UCAS by elevator from the hangar bay to the flight deck

X-47B Specifications

Wingspan:                                                    62.1 ft/18.9 m

Folded Wingspan:                                   30.9 ft/9.4 m

Length:                                                          38.2 ft/11.6 m

Height:                                                           10.4 ft/3.2 m

Wheelbase:                                                 13.9 ft/4.2 m

Altitude:                                                        >40,000 ft/12,192 m

Range:                                                            >2,100 nm/3,889 km

Max Gross Takeoff Weight:              44,000 lbs/19,958 kg

Twin Internal Weapons Bay:            4,500 lbs/2,040 kg

Top Speed:                                                   High Subsonic

Powerplant:                                                Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220U



 X-47B (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle – UCAV)(http://usnavalaircraft.blogspot.ru/2014/11/x-47b.html)

Under the scheme «3-2-1»

The U.S. Navy deployed its third Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), USS Fort Worth, on a 16-month journey to Southeast Asia for an expedition that will build upon the success of USS Freedom’s 2013 voyage. The new ship will operate from Singapore, the Navy announced.

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3)

The U.S. Navy has said that while deployed, the ship will visit more ports, collaborate with more navies and expand LCS capabilities including the MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. USS Fort Worth departed from his homeport Naval Station San Diego (California) on November 17 and is due back in March 2016.

The ship’s Commander, Kendall Bridgewater, was enthusiastic about the upcoming mission and expressed his confidence in recent interviews with media who were invited to tour the ship prior to deployment. «The LCS is a fast ship with a shallow draft, which allows it to go into ports other Navy ships can’t access», Bridgewater said. «We can go in and engage with a lot more partners and allies», he said.

Along with an expansion of operations from the 2013 deployment, Fort Worth will be the first LCS to test the Navy’s so-called «3-2-1» deployment scheme. In fact, such a scheme of service is a classic shift work. Specifically, three crews will each take a four-month rotation on two LCS ships, one deployed and one in port. The idea of this scheme is to minimize crew fatigue and maximize the utility of a forward deployed ship. The service plans to have USS Fort Worth deployed for a total of 16 months.

USS Forth Worth embarked with a detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35 that will operate both a MH-60R Seahawk manned helicopter and a MQ-8B Fire Scout rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The ship, which has traveled more than 40,000 nautical miles, is the second LCS built by the Lockheed Martin-led industry team, which includes Marinette Marine Corporation (MMC) and Gibbs & Cox. Forth Worth was delivered to the Navy in 2012, two months ahead of schedule.

While USS Fort Worth conducts its mission in Southeast Asia, the industry team continues to build Freedom-variant LCSs at MMC in Marinette, Wisconsin, with six under construction:

USS Freedom (LCS-1) – commissioned 2008 – San Diego

USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) – commissioned 2012 – San Diego

USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) – commissioned 2015

USS Detroit (LCS-7)

USS Little Rock (LCS-9)

USS Sioux City (LCS-11)

USS Witchta (LCS-13)

USS Billings (LCS-15)

USS Indianapolis (LCS-17)

Ship Design Features
Ship Design Features

Ship Design Specifications

Hull:                                                   Advanced semiplaning steel monohull

Length Overall:                           118.6 meters (389 feet)

Beam Overall:                              17.5 meters (57 feet)

Draft:                                                 4.1 meters (13.5 feet)

Full Load Displacement:        Approximately 3,200 metric tons

Top Speed:                                     Greater than 40 knots

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

Hangar Space:                              Two H-60 helos or one H-60 helo and three 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, Rolling Airframe Missile, medium caliber gun, EO/IR gunfire control system and decoy launching system


MH-60R Seahawk
MH-60R Seahawk

MH-60R Seahawk Specifications


Operating length                      64.83 ft/19.76 m

Operating width                       53.66 ft/16.35 m

Operating height                      16.70 ft/5.10 m

Folded length                              41.05 ft/12.51 m

Folded width                               11.00 ft/3.35 m

Folded height                              12.92 ft/3.94 m

Main rotor diameter               53.66 ft/16.35 m

Tail rotor diameter                  11.00 ft/3.35 m

Airframe Characteristics

Mission gross weight (Surface Warfare, SUW)        21,290 lb/9,657 kg

Maximum takeoff gross weight                              23,500 lb/10,681.82 kg

Engines                                           (2) T700-GE-401C

Mission endurance (SUW)  3.30 hours

Dash speed                                  140 kts/259 km/h

Weapons                                      Anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, 50 cal. guns

Auxiliary fuel                              Up to two external tanks


LCS 3 Builder’s Trials

Freedom Class LCS (Littoral Combat Ship)(http://navyarm.blogspot.ru/2014/11/freedom-class-lcs.html)

New «Scout» for the fleet

Northrop Grumman Corporation (NOC) has delivered the first operational MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the U.S. Navy, reported defense-aerospace.com. The new VTUAV (Vertical Takeoff and landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) system will be used by ship-based commanders to improve the Navy’s intelligence-gathering capabilities.

Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout sits on the tarmac at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. (Photo by Northrop Grumman)
Northrop Grumman MQ-8C Fire Scout sits on the tarmac at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu. (Photo by Northrop Grumman)

The MQ-8C Fire Scout is a fully autonomous, four-blade, single-engine unmanned helicopter. Like the MQ-8B, it will carry an array of reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition (RSTA) sensors to support warfighters’ demands for enhanced situational awareness.

The new Fire Scout supports both maritime and land-based missions, taking off and landing on aviation-capable warships, and at prepared and unprepared landing zones in proximity to ground troops. It has also been designed to operate with nearly any type of future or current military standards-based control segment, communicating as easily with shipboard controllers using the Navy’s Tactical Control Station as field commanders using the U.S. Army’s universal ground control station.

As you can see from the specifications, the new VTUAV 4,7 ft longer (with blades folded), 1,2 ft taller, 1,6 ft wider and 2850 lbs heavier than the old MQ-8B Fire Scout Vehicle.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout provides the U.S. Navy with an increased range by over 30%, twice the endurance and an increased payload capacity over the existing MQ-8B variant. Under a risk reduction and cost-savings approach, the unmanned systems architecture developed and matured for the MQ-8B is re-used in a Bell 407 helicopter to support a special operations requirement for a ship-based unmanned system, says Northrop Grumman.

The Bell 407 is a mature commercial helicopter with more than 1,000 airframes produced and over 3 million flight hours. Combined with the maturity of Northrop Grumman’s unmanned systems architecture, the MQ-8C Fire Scout uses available technology and equipment to deliver a more capable system to the Navy.

«The test program will run through the summer as we expect these aircraft to be ready for operations by year’s end», said George Vardoulakis, vice president for medium range tactical systems with Northrop Grumman.

The MQ-8C’s first shipboard flight tests aboard the USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) will be conducted this winter. The Navy will then assess the advanced system for operational use.

NOC is under contract to build 19 MQ-8C Fire Scouts, including two test aircraft. The US Navy plans to purchase 70 aircraft total.

An MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) in July 2013.
An MQ-8B Fire Scout aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) in July 2013.

MQ-8B Fire Scout Specifications

Fuselage Length (with Dual Payload Nose)           23.95 ft (7.3 m)

Fuselage Width                                                                      6.20 ft (1.9 m)

Fuselage Length (with Blades Folded Forward) 30.03 ft (9.2 m)

Rotor Diameter                                                                      27.50 ft (8.4 m)

Height (Top of Tail Antenna)                                          9.71 ft (2.9 m)

Gross Weight                                                                           3,150 lbs (1428.8 kg)

Engine                                          Rolls Royce 250-C20W Turboshaft Engine

Speed                                                                                      115+ Knots (213 km/h)

Ceiling                                                                                          20,000 ft (6.1 km)


Total Flight Time with Baseline Payload                 8+ Hrs

Total Flight Time with EO/IR + Radar                       7+ Hrs

Total Flight Time with Maximum Payload              5+ Hrs


EO/IR/LRF/Mine Detector/Comm Relay/Maritime Radar


Artist conception of MQ-8C Fire Scout
Artist conception of MQ-8C Fire Scout

MQ-8С Fire Scout Specifications

Length                                                                    41.4 ft (12.6 m)

Width                                                                     7.8 ft (2.4 m)

Blades Folded Hangar                  7.8 x 34.7 x 10.9 ft (2.4 x 10.6 x 3.3 m)

Height                                                                    10.9 ft (3.3 m)

Rotor Diameter                                                 35 ft (10.7 m)

Gross Takeoff Weight                                   6,000 lbs (2721.5 kg)

Engine                                                                     Rolls-Royce 250-C47B        with Full Authority Digital Electronic Control


Speed                                                           140 knots (max) (259 km/h)

Operational Ceiling                             17,000 ft (5.1 km)

Maximum Endurance                         14 hrs

Maximum Payload (Internal)         1,000 lbs (453,6 kg)

Typical Payload                                      600 lbs (272 kg) (11 hrs endurance)

Maximum Sling Load                          2,650 lbs (1202 kg)


Ula retires

The Ula-class submarines are among the most silent and maneuverable subs in the world. This, in combination with their relatively small size (length: 59 m; beam: 5.4 m; draft: 4.6 m), makes them very difficult to detect from surface vessels and quite ideal for operations in coastal areas. Therefore it is not surprising that these diesel-electric submarines are regarded as both the most effective and cost-effective weapons in the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN).

HNoMS Ula (S300)
HNoMS Ula (S300)

However, it must be noted that six Ula-class submarines were commissioned between 1989 and 1992, designed for a service life of thirty years. These submarines are insufficient to meet future, high-tech threats. As defense-aerospace.com reported, Norway’s future submarine capability has been studied since 2007. The studies have been conducted in two phases, both with thorough external quality reviews before being presented. The Norwegian Government has now taken a conceptual decision on future submarine capability.

«Submarines are a vital capability in the Norwegian Armed Forces, and have a major impact on our overall defence capability. Together with combat aircraft and Special Operations Forces (SOF), submarines are among the armed forces’ most important capabilities. Hence, it is very important that we now have established that the acquisition of new submarines will form the basis for further project work. This decision makes it possible for us to maintain a credible submarine capability», says Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

He also noted that that the ability to operate covertly, which is so vital for the submarine’s relevance, will be significantly better for a new watercrafts than what is achievable through service life extension of the current fleet. This is due to lower acoustic signatures and a better hydrodynamic design.

It is a substantial task that awaits the project organization. Part of the work will be to evaluate potential cooperation with other countries in terms of procurement, training and maintenance. A partnership can contribute to economies of scale and a robust solution throughout the life of the submarines. I guess the Norwegian Government will cooperate with Germany, as it was while Ula-class submarines were assembled in Germany by Thyssen Nordseewerke, Emden. By the way, in Germany the Ula-design submarines are known as the U-Boot-Klasse 210.

The decision only entails that the project moves into a new phase – the project definition phase. No investment decisions have so far been taken. By the end of 2016, a recommendation on the future submarine capability will be presented. Thereafter, pending the Governments decision, an investment proposal will be presented to Norwegian Parliament. This will enable the delivery of new submarines to the Norwegian Navy starting from the mid 2020’s. Thus, the Ula-class must be kept operational for additionally five years (!) in order to maintain a continuous submarine capability until a replacement is operational. Studies, carried out by the Ministry of Defence, show that it would have been very costly and impractical to extend the service life beyond this.

The total investment cost of this major project depends on the number of submarines and the weapons inventory. Of course, we are talking about diesel-electric watercrafts. Norway cannot afford to build and maintain nuclear-powered submarines.

«I emphasize that we have not decided the final level of ambition for this project or the number of submarines. This is something I will give my recommendation on when the project is presented in 2016», says the Minister of Defence.

Diesel-electric submarine
Diesel-electric submarine

Farewell to Russia

During the Cold War (or, more precisely, «during the First Cold War», as my friend says) India has worked closely with the Russian military-industrial complex. However, in the beginning of the XXI century, this old friendship cracked.

INS Vikramaditya
INS Vikramaditya

First of all, after Russian aircraft carrier Baku was deactivated in 1996 (it was too expensive to operate on a post-Cold War budget), Russia and India signed a deal for the sale of the ship. Baku was free, while India would pay $800 million for the upgrade and refit of the ship, as well as an additional $1 billion for the aircraft and weapons systems.

The announced delivery date for INS Vikramaditya was 2008; however, India finally agreed to pay an additional $1.2 billion for the project – more than doubling the original cost. Furthermore, in July 2008, it was reported that Russia wanted to increase the price by $2 billion, blaming unexpected cost overruns on the deteriorated condition of the aircraft carrier and citing a «market price» for a new ship of $3-4 billion. On 17 September 2012, malfunctions were detected during sea trials. According to official Russian report, seven out of eight steam boilers of the propulsion machinery were out of order! Because of this, the deadline of the hand over this ship to the Indian Navy was postponed again until October 2013, and INS Vikramaditya was formally commissioned only on November 16, 2013. In May 2014, the carrier was declared operationally deployed along with its embarked air group.

Arjun MBT Mk-II
Arjun MBT Mk-II

Secondly, in 1996 the Indian government decided to mass-produce the new main battle tank at Indian Ordnance Factory’s production facility in Avadi. The Arjun project experienced serious budget overruns; nevertheless, in March 2010 the Arjun tank was pitted against the T-90 in comparative trials and performed well. The Arjun MBT Mk-II is an advanced third generation main battle tank; it had outclassed the T-90 during the trials.

Thirdly, in February 2011, French Rafales flew demonstrations in India, including air-to-air combat against Su-30MKIs. On January 31, 2012, the Indian Air Force (IAF) announced the Rafale as the preferred bidder in the competition with the Eurofighter Typhoon. The contract for 126 Rafales, services, and parts could be worth as much as $20 billion.

Unfortunately, the deal was stalled from disagreements over the fighter production in India. As per the RFP issued in 2007, the first 18 jets are to be imported and the rest manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). According to the sources, French Dassault was reluctant to stand guarantee for the 108 fighters to be built by HAL as far as liquidity damages and timelines for production are concerned. This, the sources said, is the critical issue that is delaying the final inking.

Dassault Rafale
Dassault Rafale

At last, on December 1, 2014 French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian raised the issue of the multi-billion dollar deal for 126 Rafale combat aircraft during talks with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar who said it would be «resolved in a fast-tracked manner». The Defence Ministry is of the view that the guarantee clause was part of the Air Staff Qualitative Requirements (ASQR) under the RFP that was issued. Dassault had agreed to the ASQR and hence was chosen the winner, the sources maintained.

Dassault Rafale, which would replace India’s Russian-made fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-27 planes, had stood over combat aircraft manufactured by rivals like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. At present, India has only 34 fighter jet squadrons (16-18 planes in each) against the projected need of 45 squadrons.

Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force


Specifications and performance data


Wing span:                                              10.90 m

Length:                                                      15.30 m

Height:                                                       5.30 m



Overall empty weight:                      10 t (22,000 lbs) class

Max. take-off weight:                        24.5 t (54,000 lbs)

Fuel (internal):                                       4.7 t (10,300 lbs)

Fuel (external):                                      up to 6.7 t (14,700 lbs)

External load:                                         9.5 t (21,000 lbs)


Store stations

Total:                                                           14

Heavy-wet:                                                 5



Max. thrust:                                             2 x 7.5 t

Limit load factors:                                -3.2 g/+9 g

Max. speed (high altitude/low):   M = 1.8 (1,912 km/h)/750 knots

Approach speed:                                   less than 120 knots

Landing ground run:                           450 m (1,500 ft) without drag-chute

Service ceiling:                                       15,235 m (50,000 ft)

Diesel submarines return

It is a well-known fact that in the United States Navy as well as in the Royal Navy and French Navy all combatant submarines are nuclear-powered. At the same time as Russia, China and India operate not only nuclear-powered submarines, but also diesel-electric submarines.

Scorpene SSK (above), SMX-Océan (center), Barracuda SSN (below)
Scorpene SSK (above), SMX-Océan (center), Barracuda SSN (below)

There are some sophisticated models among modern diesel-electric submarines. I reckon the most advanced subs of that type are Sōryū-class attack submarines (Japan) and Type 214 class submarines (Germany). Sōryū-class submarines are fitted with air-independent propulsion based on Kockums stirling engines license-built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, allowing them to stay submerged for longer periods of time. Therefore, I am not surprised that Australian officials are leaning towards replacing the Collins-class submarine with Sōryū-class boats bought from Japan.

Apparently, France is going to return to the club of diesel-electric submarines. As naval-technology.com reported, SMX-Océan, a conventionally powered attack submarine design concept, unveiled by DCNS Group, is based on the basic Barracuda-class nuclear submarine layout including weapons, masts and combat system. The SMX-Océan submarine will be a transposition of the Barracuda SSN nuclear powered attack submarine into diesel-electric submarine (SSK). It is expected to enter into French Navy’s service by 2017.

The new multi-role submarine will be suitable for deployment in anti-surface warfare (ASuW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-air warfare (AAW), land attack and even Special Forces missions. Special operations forces (SOF) equipment for 16 divers will be fitted to the sub, as will an internal reserved area, lock out chamber for eight divers, and an external watertight storage. It will also feature a dry dock shelter, hyperbaric chamber, swimmers delivery vehicle, and unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) dock. The SMX-Océan submarine will integrate sensors with manned or unmanned vehicles that provide capability to gather intelligence in four domains including air, surface, under the sea and on the land. It will be capable of launching UUVs and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs).

With up to three months’ endurance, an SMX-Océan could cross the Atlantic six times without surfacing. DCNS teams have developed and combined a number of innovations including a high-performance air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using second-generation fuel cells for submerged endurance of up to three weeks (21 days). With a total of 34 weapons including torpedoes, mines, anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles and anti-air missiles, the SMX-Océan’s firepower will be unprecedented for an SSK. The SMX-Océan concept design also includes vertical launchers to provide a salvo capability for cruise missile strikes on land targets.

SMX-Océan conventionally powered attack submarine
SMX-Océan conventionally powered attack submarine


Technical data

Length:                                                             100 m (330ft)

Height:                                                             15.5 m

Beam:                                                               8.8 m (28.9ft)

Surface displacement:                            4,750 t

Maximum diving depth:                         350 m

Maximum speed, submerged:            20 kts

Range:                                                               18,000 nmi at 10 kts speed