Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) delivered the «Jinryu» (Benevolent Dragon) submarine to the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) on March 7 in a ceremony held at the MHI Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works’ No.3 pier in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture. The «Jinryu» (SS-507) is the seventh Soryu-class submarine supplied to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and the fourth built by MHI. MHI also built the first Soryu-class submarine, and has produced a total of 26 submarines at the MHI Kobe Shipyard over the last 70 years.
The delivery ceremony was attended by a number of MOD officials including State Minister of Defense Kenji Wakamiya, JMSDF Chief of Staff Tomohisa Takei, and Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency Commissioner Hideaki Watanabe. MHI was represented by Hisakazu Mizutani, Executive Vice President of MHI and President & CEO of MHI Integrated Defense & Space Systems.
Soryu-class submarines are the world’s largest conventionally powered submarines. They have an excellent operational track record and are equipped with state-of-the art technologies, including Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems that enable them to remain fully submerged for long periods of time, and advanced stealth technologies that make them extremely difficult to detect.
275.6 feet/84 m
30 feet/9.1 m
33.8 feet/10.3 m
Diesel-Stirling-electric, one shaft
6,000 kW/8,000 PS
20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Armament and other equipment
Torpedo tubes, snorkel, submarine sonar system, etc.
The Boeing test team successfully completed the first flight of the program’s second KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft on March 2, taking off from Paine Field and landing later at Boeing Field in Seattle. During the flight, Boeing test pilots performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems.
«Adding a second tanker to the flight test program is very important as we move into the next phase of testing», said Colonel John Newberry, U.S. Air Force KC-46 System program manager. «The team will initially use the aircraft to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting. Later, it will share the air refueling effort with the first KC-46».
The Boeing team now will conduct a post-flight inspection and calibrate instrumentation prior to the next series of flights. As part of the overall flight test program, the KC-46 Pegasus will demonstrate it can refuel 18 different aircraft. The second tanker will help share the test load and receiver certification.
Boeing was awarded a contract in 2011 to design and develop the U.S. Air Force’s next-generation tanker aircraft and is building four test aircraft – two are currently configured as 767-2Cs and two as KC-46A Pegasus tankers.
Engineering & Manufacturing and Development-1 (EMD-1), a 767-2C test aircraft, has completed more than 260 flight test hours to date since its first flight in December 2014. EMD-2, the program’s first KC-46A Pegasus tanker, made its maiden flight September 25, 2015 and has now completed more than 180 flight test hours. EMD-3, a 767-2C, will begin flight testing later this year.
The KC-46A Pegasus is a multirole tanker Boeing is building for the U.S. Air Force that can refuel all allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures and can carry passengers, cargo and patients. Overall, Boeing plans to build 179 KC-46 Pegasus aircraft for the U.S. Air Force.
Aerial refueling and airlift
The Boeing Company
2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
415,000 lbs/188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight
310,000 lbs/140,614 kg
212,299 lbs/96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load
207,672 lbs/94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity
65,000 lbs/29,484 kg
360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
43,100 feet/13,137 m
7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
18 pallet positions
15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment
After more than a decade of performing precision strike operations in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility, the B-1 Lancers have returned home. While U.S. and coalition aircraft step in to continue the air campaign in Iraq and Syria, where B-1s from Dyess and Ellsworth Air Force Bases (AFBs) delivered devastating blows to Daesh forces, the Lancers are stateside, completing the largest fleet sustainment block upgrade in the program’s history.
The 7th Bomb Wing is wasting no time putting those upgrades to work, recently executing a short-notice, long-range strike exercise to successfully demonstrate, for the first time, the U.S. Air Force’s ability to deploy Block 16 B-1s during a 15-hour flight to the Yukon Range in Alaska.
«This exercise proved that the B-1 fleet is now capable of deploying and employing Block 16 aircraft to provide a global strike presence within hours of being tasked», according to Captain Ryan Stillwell, wing weapons officer, adding that the Block 16 modifications allow the aircraft to perform more efficiently and effectively than ever before.
A key element of the modifications he pointed out is that the upgrade allows better data sharing between aircrew and aircraft in the sky.
«The Block 16 upgrade results in increased situational awareness in the jets as well as increased reliability in our systems and displays», Stillwell said. «This ties us into the external sensors the rest of the U.S. Air Force and military provide in a more usable way».
This enhanced capability not only aids the crew of the B-1 Lancer, but allows other military assets to be better prepared against enemy threats.
«B-1s are a global deterrence platform in the conventional strike role; we can put bombs on targets anywhere in the world, anytime», Stillwell said. «Block 16 enables that because it increases our situational awareness and it makes us more lethal. We can share target and threat data with other assets, which help us survive and allow us to place our weapons in an accurate location in a quicker timeline against the enemy».
Block 16 has made the B-1 Lancer a complete combat machine, the captain added. «The B-1 is not limited to a certain sortie duration», Stillwell said. «Our B-1s are only limited to crew fatigue, as long as the crew is rested and we get in-air refueling there is no limit to how far our B-1 can go».
An important piece of the exercise was to ensure the Block 16 B-1s are ready for that long-duration mission. «One of the key planning factors was demonstrating the global reach of the B-1», said Lieutenant Colonel Luke Baker, 7th Bomb Wing director of inspections. «We also wanted to demonstrate its global capability with long-range and precision attacks, which allows us to reach out and touch people across the world».
During this exercise the B-1’s three weapons bays were loaded with inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles and Joint Direct Attack Munitions. Both sets of weapons benefit the addition of the Block 16 technology by allowing the weapon systems officers to be more accurate in targeting the enemy.
While exercising a new system successfully was one objective, Stillwell pointed out that this exercise was also critical in ensuring the wing is capable of getting jets and Airmen ready to deploy in a short-notice scenario.
«We did this exercise to exercise the machine that is Dyess Air Force Base, which eventually results in putting bombs on targets», Stillwell said. «We were able to get all six aircraft launched on time. From the maintenance side and operation side they had everything ready before we launched the aircraft».
A successful deployment or exercise ultimately hinges on the skill and dedication of Airmen, and according to the 7th Bomb Wing vice commander, he never doubted they would achieve the targeted goal.
«It doesn’t surprise me that our Airmen were able to accomplish such a large task on such short order, because we have developed a ‘bomber Airmen’ culture, who are ready to defend the nation at any time», Colonel Michael Miller said. «These upgrades just further enhance the ability of our Airmen to do what they do best, which is putting steel on target».
long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber
Boeing, North America (formerly Rockwell International, North American Aircraft); offensive avionics, Boeing Military Airplane; defensive avionics, EDO Corporation
4 × General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner
30,780 lbf/13,962 kgf/136.92 kN with afterburner, per engine
137 feet/41.8 m extended forward
79 feet/24.1 m swept aft
146 feet/44.5 m
34 feet/10.4 m
approximately 190,000 lbs/86,183 kg
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
477,000 lbs/216,634 kg
265,274 lbs/120,326 kg
75,000 lbs/34,019 kg
Mach 1.2/900 mph/1,448 km/h at sea level
more than 30,000 feet/9,144 m
84 500-pound/227-kg Mk-82 or 24 2,000-pound/907-kg Mk-84 general purpose bombs
up to 84 500-pound/227-kg Mk-62 or 8 2,000-pound/907-kg Mk-65 Quick Strike naval mines
For decades, aircraft designers seeking to improve Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) capabilities have endured a substantial set of interrelated challenges. Dozens of attempts have been made to increase top speed without sacrificing range, efficiency or the ability to do useful work, with each effort struggling or failing in one way or another.
DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program aims to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and by developing and integrating novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded the Phase 2 contract for VTOL X-Plane to Aurora Flight Sciences.
«Just when we thought it had all been done before, the Aurora team found room for invention – truly new elements of engineering and technology that show enormous promise for demonstration on actual flight vehicles», said Ashish Bagai, DARPA program manager. «This is an extremely novel approach», Bagai said of the selected design. «It will be very challenging to demonstrate, but it has the potential to move the technology needle the farthest and provide some of the greatest spinoff opportunities for other vertical flight and aviation products».
VTOL X-Plane seeks to develop a technology demonstrator that could:
Achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 knot/345 mph/555 km/h to 400 knot/460 mph/740 km/h;
Raise aircraft hover efficiency from 60 percent to at least 75 percent;
Present a more favorable cruise lift-to-drag ratio of at least 10, up from 5-6;
Carry a useful load of at least 40 percent of the vehicle’s projected gross weight of 10,000-12,000 pounds/4,536-5,443 kg.
Aurora’s Phase 2 design for VTOL X-Plane envisions an unmanned aircraft with two large rear wings and two smaller front canards – short winglets mounted near the nose of the aircraft. A turboshaft engine – one used in V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft – mounted in the fuselage would provide 3 megawatts (4,000 horsepower) of electrical power, the equivalent of an average commercial wind turbine. The engine would drive 24 ducted fans, nine integrated into each wing and three inside each canard. Both the wings and the canards would rotate to direct fan thrust as needed: rearward for forward flight, downward for hovering and at angles during transition between the two.
The design envisions an aircraft that could fly fast and far, hover when needed and accomplish diverse missions without the need for prepared landing areas. While the technology demonstrator would be unmanned, the technologies that VTOL X-Plane intends to develop could apply equally well to manned aircraft. The program has the goal of performing flight tests in the 2018 timeframe.
Aurora’s unique design is only possible through advances in technology over the past 60 years, in fields such as air vehicle and aeromechanics design and testing, adaptive and reconfigurable control systems, and highly integrated designs. It would also be impossible with the classical mechanical drive systems used in today’s vertical lift aircraft, Bagai said.
The Phase 2 design addresses in innovative ways many longstanding technical obstacles, the biggest of which is that the design characteristics that enable good hovering capabilities are completely different from those that enable fast forward flight. Among the revolutionary design advances to be incorporated in the technology demonstrator:
Electric power generation and distribution systems to enable multiple fans and transmission-agnostic air vehicle designs;
Modularized, cellular aerodynamic wing design with integrated propulsion to enable the wings to perform efficiently in forward flight, hover and when transitioning between them;
Overactuated flight control systems that could change the thrust of each fan to increase maneuverability and efficiency.
«This VTOL X-plane won’t be in volume production in the next few years but is important for the future capabilities it could enable», Bagai said. «Imagine electric aircraft that are more quiet, fuel-efficient and adaptable and are capable of runway-independent operations. We want to open up whole new design and mission spaces freed from prior constraints, and enable new VTOL aircraft systems and subsystems».
On March 5, 2016 Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division celebrated the christening of the future USS Washington (SSN-787), the 14th Virginia-class submarine.
Ship sponsor Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine, dipped in the waters of Washington’s Puget Sound, across the bow to mark the christening of the submarine named for the Evergreen State.
«It seems amazing that only a year and a half ago we were laying the keel», Elisabeth said. «It is a testament to the work at Newport News and Electric Boat that we are back here so soon to christen the newest member of the fleet».
Secretary Mabus served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. Other ceremony participants included Representative Randy Forbes, Republican Party, Virginia; Representative Bobby Scott, Democratic Party, Virginia; Admiral James Caldwell, director, U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program; Vice Admiral Joseph Tofalo, commander of Submarine Forces, Submarine Forces Atlantic and Allied Submarine Command; Matt Mulherin, president, Newport News Shipbuilding; and Jeffrey Geiger, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat.
Secretary Mabus highlighted the award of 10 Virginia-class submarines in the Block IV contract, the largest shipbuilding contract in U.S. Navy history, and the cost savings associated with it.
«Many things have allowed us to bring the cost down», Mabus said. «So many efficiencies by these shipyards. By giving them stability – by Congress allowing us to do this 10-ship buy at the same time so they can make the investments, employ the skilled workers, buy the materials that they need to build not just one submarine, but all 10 – it’s good for our shipbuilders, it’s good for the shipbuilding industry, it’s good for America’s Navy, and it’s good for America».
USS Washington (SSN-787) will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine delivered by Newport News. Construction began in September 2011, marking the beginning of the two-submarines-per-year build plan between Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat.
«Today’s ceremony marks a new chapter in the life of this submarine, which embodies years of hard work by a team committed to continuous improvement and extending its record of deliveries ahead of schedule and under budget», Geiger said. «Largely because of the Virginia-class program’s success, we are in the midst of a sustained period of increased submarine production».
Nearly 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have worked on USS Washington (SSN-787). The submarine is on track to be delivered in 2016.
«Here at the shipyard, we’re celebrating our 130 years in business», Mulherin said. «We’ve been christening ships throughout our history, with more than 800 such ships built here. For more than a century, we’ve christened ships. The pride, patriotism and attention to every little detail is something that has been passed down from generation to generation. We are extremely proud to be a part of that tradition because we know we aren’t just celebrating a christening today, we are also celebrating the men and women who built this magnificent submarine and those who will serve aboard her».
General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
October 3, 2004
One GE PWR S9G(*) nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
377 feet/114.8 m
33 feet/10.0584 m
34 feet/10.3632 m
Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
800+ feet/244+ m
132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles
12 individual VLS (Vertical Launch System) tubes or two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes
4 torpedo tubes
MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)
(*) – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories
Nuclear Submarine Lineup
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut
NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
SSN – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered
SSN-778 New Hampshire
SSN-779 New Mexico
SSN-784 North Dakota
SSN-785 John Warner
SSN-790 South Dakota
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover
SSN-796 New Jersey
Watch an awesome time-lapse video of the rollout, flooding and launch of Virginia-class submarine USS Washington (SSN-787) at Newport News Shipbuilding. It’s four days of work compressed into less than two minutes.
The third of a total of four 125 class frigates for the German Navy was christened «Sachsen-Anhalt» on March 4 at the Hamburg site of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Following the christening of the first two frigates «Baden-Württemberg» in December 2013 and «Nordrhein-Westfalen» in April 2015 this is a further important milestone in the shipbuilding program for this frigate class. Dr. Gabriele Haseloff, wife of the premier of the state of Saxony-Anhalt after which the frigate has been named, performed the christening ceremony in the presence of high-level representatives from government, the German Navy and the companies involved.
The frigate «Sachsen-Anhalt» is scheduled to be handed over to the German defense procurement agency BAAINBw in early 2019. Commissioning and in-port trials of the first F125 frigate, the «Baden-Württemberg», have now advanced to the stage where sea trials can commence as planned in spring this year. Handover of the «Baden-Württemberg» to the BAAINBw is scheduled for mid-2017. The contract for the F125 program is worth around two billion euros in total.
Dr. Hans Christoph Atzpodien, member of the Management Board of ThyssenKrupp’s Industrial Solutions business area and chairman of the supervisory board of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems: «The F125 frigate class is a completely new type of ship. With numerous innovations and a multiple-crew strategy it is a further showcase for the leading engineering expertise of German naval shipbuilding».
The ARGE F125 consortium which was awarded the contract to build four F125 class ships for the German Navy in 2007 comprises ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems as the lead company and Fr. Lürssen Werft in Bremen. The pre-fitted bow sections are being manufactured at the Fr. Lürssen Werft shipyards in Bremen and Wolgast. Construction of the stern sections, the joining of the two sections and further fitting out is being carried out at Blohm+Voss Shipyards in Hamburg.
The four 125 class frigates will replace the German Navy’s eight (Bremen type) 122 class frigates. The ships were developed specially for current and future deployment scenarios for the German Navy. In addition to the traditional tasks of national and alliance defense, the 125 class frigates are designed for conflict prevention, crisis management and intervention/stabilization operations in the international arena. The ships are capable of remaining at sea for 24 months and thus represent the first realization of the intensive use concept, i.e. significantly increased availability in the deployment region. This capability is supported by a smaller crew and a multiple-crew strategy which permits a complete change of crew during deployment.
Class 125 Frigate
The Blohm+Voss Class 125 stabilisation frigate, now under construction for the German Navy, is especially designed for sustained littoral presence for the stabilisation of crisis regions.
The ship has enhanced Command and Control, boat, helicopter and shore bombardment capabilities for the support of Special Forces amphibious operations. In particular, four large, fast Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), 50 Special Forces, and two 20-feet/6-meter containers may be embarked.
The ship has palletised cargo routes for efficient replenishment and rapid operational disembarkation. Incorporating all of the tough survivability features of its predecessors, the Blohm+Voss Classes 123 and 124, the Blohm+Voss Class 125 introduces the «twoisland» concept, whereby critical Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (C3I), sensors and effectors are split between separated superstructure «islands» forward and aft, allowing the ship to continue to fight even after severe damage.
As a world-first in frigate logistic support, the Blohm+Voss Class 125 logistic engineering has been specially tailored for the ship to remain on station in a distant theatre of operations for up to two years without base or dockyard maintenance. In this concept, the crew is rotated while the ship remains in theatre.
149 m/489 feet
18.8 m/61.7 feet
5.0 m/16.4 feet
26 knots/30 mph/48 km/h
4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km at a speed of 18 knots/21 mph/33 km/h
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division authenticated the keel for the company’s seventh U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter, USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756), on March 4, 2016.
«Kimball, like her sister ships, is being built to the highest-quality standards with outstanding cost and schedule performance, and the NSC team is energized to make this one the best yet», said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. «The National Security Cutter is the most technologically advanced ship in the Coast Guard fleet. And the ships are truly making a difference – from outstanding performance at Rim of the Pacific exercises to the continuous record-breaking drug interdictions – the NSCs are truly making America safer. It is our honor and privilege to be building these fine ships».
The ship is named in honor of Sumner Kimball, who organized and directed the U.S. Life Saving Service and was a pioneer in organizing all of the different facilities associated with the service into what eventually would become the U.S. Coast Guard.
Admiral Paul Zukunft, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, was the ceremony’s keynote speaker. «I especially want to thank the shipbuilders because what you do today truly matters», he said. «These National Security Cutters are helping disrupt a flow of crime. Last night, the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf (WMSL-750) seized its third self-propelled semi-submersible, interdicting over six tons of cocaine. That’s why we want Kimball to get to sea as soon as possible, and I know when this ship is ready, she will be ready to answer all bells».
Kay Webber Cochran, wife of Senator Thad Cochran, R-Mississippi, is the ship sponsor and had her initials welded onto a steel plate to signify the keel had been «truly and fairly laid».
«To all of the outstanding folks who work so hard on these impressive National Security Cutters – the engineers, the welders, the machinists, the metal workers, the electricians and more – your excellent work is recognized internationally», Mrs. Cochran said. «Your service and pride in workmanship are the reason why Mississippi has such a long-storied shipbuilding tradition of which we are so very proud».
After its worldwide debut at Heli-Expo in 2015, Airbus Helicopters is now launching the commercialisation of the H160 with letters of intent available for potential customers. «The public response to the H160 has been fantastic and we have started discussions with customers for different mission configurations for the H160», explained Guillaume Faury, President and CEO of Airbus Helicopters. «Development is now moving forward with two prototypes flying and a third one being built, meaning that we will soon be able to confirm the aircraft’s performance details that are essential to our customers», he added.
Carrying out twenty percent more flight hours per month than previous developments at the same stage thanks to the System Helicopter 0 & Dynamic Helicopter 0 ground test facilities, the first prototype (PT1) has logged around 100 hours. The second prototype (PT2), that took off on 27 January, 2016 has started performance flight tests with Turbomeca’s Arrano engine. The third prototype (PT3) will join its fellow aircraft in 2017 and will essentially be employed to develop the different mission configurations, testing cabin interiors and optionals that will be available to customers.
At this year’s Heli-Expo, Airbus Helicopters is showing the H160 in a digital format, highlighting its inherent multi-role capacities. A dedicated virtual reality corner will allow future customers to visualize the H160 in different seating configurations for oil and gas missions, public services operations (such as medevac and law enforcement) and emergency medical services.
The H160 will pioneer a brand new industrial model, improving competitiveness and customer satisfaction with the final assembly being performed in 18 weeks instead of 36 for the previous generation. Having partnered with Latécoère Services for a state of the art integrated final assembly line for which the first station will be implemented at the end of 2016, the H160 is gearing up to its serial production. This automated moving flow line will be comprised of two production lines, each equipped with several workstations capable of assembling the different H160 configurations.
Airbus Helicopters associated key operators to the EASA-led (European Aviation Safety Agency) Maintenance Steering Group (MSG-3) process so that all inspection or maintenance requirements have been questioned, all intervals have been challenged, and the resulting maintenance schedule will significantly reduce the maintenance burden and improves aircraft availability. The H160 will be as simple to maintain as a light twin helicopter.
The H160 support and services strategy relies on the digital continuity development process implemented from the beginning of the program. Digital servicing enables a seamless management of operators’ evolving business whether it is airworthiness, maintenance, material management, or training. The H160 will implement a paperless multi-support philosophy, enabling a quick and accurate information exchange and allowing our customers to make decisions faster. With the recent signature of the full-flight simulator partnership with Thales and Helisim, Airbus Helicopters also wants to ensure best in class safety from entry into service for its future customers.
HMS Artful (S121) test fires first torpedo using new UK-made advanced Combat System. The firing tested the BAE Systems designed Common Combat System (CCS) on board, which functions as the digital «brain» of the boat controlling its «eyes», «ears» and «nervous system».
Using the torpedo test, the cutting-edge system was able to interpret sonar readings, and then attack a moving target with a practice weapon.
The CCS, completed ahead of time so it was ready for the third rather than fourth Astute submarine, uses the latest technology to collect and process huge amounts of data from sensors such as sonar, providing key information to help inform important Command decisions.
The system is so advanced it can even process information fed back from the world-leading Sonar 2076, which allows the Royal Navy to detect and track the quietest of adversaries.
Developed through the Astute Build Programme, the Common Combat System is a collaborative industry effort.
Managed through a £50 million contract with BAE Systems, the CCS hosts sonar processing capability developed by Thales UK, and was also worked on by global hardware provider Dell; Poole-based systems designers Aish Technologies; and cloud computing company VMWare, which employs UK workers in Staines-upon-Thames and Milton Keynes.
Installation work is being undertaken by BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness and Babcock Marine at HMNB Devonport and HMNB Faslane. In total, CCS is sustaining around 146 jobs across the UK.
The next generation Command and Control System will be integrated onto every Astute and Vanguard-class submarine currently in service, and fitted to every new Astute-class submarine coming into service in the future, ensuring consistency right across the fleet. The system will also be used on board the Royal Navy’s next generation of nuclear submarines.
Artful is the first of the Royal Navy’s submarine to get the new Command and Control System – the system will be rolled out across all Vanguard and current and future Astute-class submarines.
Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said: «This Command and Control System, designed as part of an innovative partnership between Defence and UK industry, will allow British submarines to adapt more quickly to changing mission requirements, making operations even safer and more efficient. It is a next generation system, both highly capable and cost-effective, which can be installed right across the Royal Navy’s submarine fleets, thereby guaranteeing the best capability for the Royal Navy and the best value for money for the taxpayer. It is also yet another example of how our £178 billion investment in equipment is giving our Armed Forces the best possible kit».
The capability allows the applications of several different systems, which previously would have needed their own controls, to be brought together in a single computer environment to save precious space within the submarine’s hull. It also allows the Control Room to be used with greater flexibility.
Director Submarines Support at the MOD’s defence procurement organisation, DE&S, Rear Admiral Keith Beckett said: «The Common Combat System allows the Royal Navy to detect and track the quietest adversaries. It is a huge improvement in terms of resilience and flexibility and we’re at the early stages of exploring the system’s huge potential. The successful development of the system is another example of UK Defence working together with British business and enterprise to deliver world-class and battle-winning submarine capability».
Rear Admiral Submarines, John Weale said: «We are seeing the resurgence of the Submarine Service with the introduction of new submarines, a clear direction and motivated personnel. The Common Combat System in HMS Artful (S121) is a strong demonstration of this and helps to deliver my vision for the Service as the UK’s elite underwater force. The unique fighting power of the Royal Navy’s Submarine force, boat for boat and crew for crew, is second to none».
HMS Artful (S121) is undergoing her first combat capability trials since she was handed over to the Royal Navy in mid-December 2015. These trials will be completed by July 2016, after which Artful will undergo a period of maintenance and training to prepare for operations.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions, announced on February 25 the successful first flight of Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range (ER) Long Wing, retrofitted with improved long-endurance wings with greater internal fuel capacity and additional hard points for carrying external stores. The flight occurred on February 18 at GA-ASI’s Gray Butte Flight Test Facility in Palmdale, California, on a test aircraft.
«Predator B ER’s new 79-foot/24-meter wing span not only boosts the RPA’s endurance and range, but also serves as proof-of-concept for the next-generation Predator B aircraft that will be designed for Type-Certification and airspace integration», said Linden Blue, CEO. «The wing was designed to conform to STANAG 4671 (NATO Airworthiness Standard for RPA systems), and includes lightning and bird strike protection, non-destructive testing, and advanced composite and adhesive materials for extreme environments».
During the flight, Predator B ER Long Wing demonstrated its ability to launch, climb to 7,500 feet/2,286 m (initial flight test altitude), complete basic airworthiness maneuvers, and land without incident. A subsequent test program will be conducted to verify full operational capability.
Developed on Internal Research and Development (IRAD) funds, the new wing span is 13-feet/4 meter longer, increasing the aircraft’s endurance from 27 hours to over 40 hours. Additional improvements include short-field takeoff and landing performance and spoilers on the wings which enable precision automatic landings. The wings also have provisions for leading-edge de-ice and integrated low- and high-band RF antennas. An earlier version of Predator B ER featuring two wing-mounted fuel tanks is currently operational with the U.S. Air Force as MQ-9 Reaper ER.
The long wings are the first components to be produced as part of GA-ASI’s Certifiable Predator B (CPB) development project, which will lead to a certifiable production aircraft in early 2018. Further hardware and software upgrades planned for CPB will include improved structural fatigue and damage tolerance, more robust flight control software, and enhancements allowing operations in adverse weather.
Triple-redundant flight control system
Redundant flight control surfaces
Remotely piloted or fully autonomous
MIL-STD-1760 stores management system
C-Band line-of-sight data link control
Ku-Band beyond line-of-sight/SATCOM data link control
Over 90% system operational availability
C-130 transportable (or self-deploys)
79 feet/24 m
36 feet/11 m
Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine
Maximum Gross Take-off Weight (MGTOW)
10,500 lbs/4,763 kg
3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
850 lbs int./386 kg
3,000 lbs ext./1,361 kg
Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS-B) Electro-Optical/InfraRed (EO/IR)
Lynx Multi-mode Radar
Multi-mode maritime radar
Automated Identification System (AIS)
SIGnals INTelligence (SIGINT)/Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system