Benevolent Dragon

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 cost of the Soryu-class submarine was estimated at $540 million
The cost of the Soryu-class submarine was estimated at $540 million

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.

2 × 3-inch underwater countermeasure launcher tubes for launching of Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADCs)
2 × 3-inch underwater countermeasure launcher tubes for launching of Acoustic Device Countermeasures (ADCs)

 

Specifications

Length overall 275.6 feet/84 m
Breadth 30 feet/9.1 m
Depth 33.8 feet/10.3 m
Displacement 2,950 tonnes
Submerged Displacement 4,100 tonnes
Main engine Diesel-Stirling-electric, one shaft
Maximum output 6,000 kW/8,000 PS
Maximum speed 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Complement about 65
Armament and other equipment Torpedo tubes, snorkel, submarine sonar system, etc.
6 × HU-606 21-inch/533-mm torpedo tubes with 30 reloads for: 1) Type 89 torpedo; 2) Harpoon missiles; 3) Mines
6 × HU-606 21-inch/533-mm torpedo tubes with 30 reloads for: 1) Type 89 torpedo; 2) Harpoon missiles; 3) Mines

Tanker First Flight

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.

Boeing’s second KC-46 Pegasus tanker (EMD-4) takes off from Paine Field in Everett on its first flight. The tanker landed later at Boeing Field in Seattle and will initially be used to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting (Photo credit: Gail Hanusa, Boeing)
Boeing’s second KC-46 Pegasus tanker (EMD-4) takes off from Paine Field in Everett on its first flight. The tanker landed later at Boeing Field in Seattle and will initially be used to test mission system avionics and exterior lighting (Photo credit: Gail Hanusa, Boeing)

«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.

Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)
Boeing and U.S. Air Force crews complete the KC-46A Pegasus tanker’s first refueling flight following takeoff from Boeing Field in Seattle. The Boeing/Air Force test team aboard the KC-46 offloaded 1,600 pounds/726 kg of fuel to an F-16 fighter (Photo credit: Paul Weatherman, Boeing)

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs/275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 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
Fuel Capacity 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
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

 

Long-range strike

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.

A 9th Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, begins its 15-hour flight to the Alaskan Yukon Range February 23, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)
A 9th Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, begins its 15-hour flight to the Alaskan Yukon Range February 23, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)

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».

Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group load an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in a B-1B Lancer February 21, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)
Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group load an inert Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, in a B-1B Lancer February 21, 2016, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)

 

General characteristics

Primary function long-range, multi-role, heavy bomber
Contractor Boeing, North America (formerly Rockwell International, North American Aircraft); offensive avionics, Boeing Military Airplane; defensive avionics, EDO Corporation
Power plant 4 × General Electric F101-GE-102 turbofan engine with afterburner
Thrust 30,780 lbf/13,962 kgf/136.92 kN with afterburner, per engine
Wingspan 137 feet/41.8 m extended forward
79 feet/24.1 m swept aft
Length 146 feet/44.5 m
Height 34 feet/10.4 m
Weight approximately 190,000 lbs/86,183 kg
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 477,000 lbs/216,634 kg
Fuel capacity 265,274 lbs/120,326 kg
Payload 75,000 lbs/34,019 kg
Speed Mach 1.2/900 mph/1,448 km/h at sea level
Range intercontinental
Ceiling more than 30,000 feet/9,144 m
Armament 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
30 cluster munitions (CBU-87, -89, -97) or 30 Wind-Corrected Munitions Dispensers (CBU-103, -104, -105)
up to 24 2,000-pound/907-kg GBU-31 or 15 500-pound/227-kg GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions
up to 24 AGM-158A Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSM)
15 GBU-54 Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions
Crew four (aircraft commander, copilot, and two combat systems officers)
Unit cost $317 million
Initial Operating Capability (IOC) October 1986
Inventory active force, 62 (test, 2); ANG, 0; Reserve, 0
Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group prep a B-1B Lancer’s bomb bay for a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile February 21, 2016, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)
Airmen assigned to the 7th Maintenance Group prep a B-1B Lancer’s bomb bay for a Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile February 21, 2016, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, during a B-1 Combat Mission Effectiveness Exercise (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Austin Mayfield/Released)

X-Plane Phase 2

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 Vertical Take-Off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to provide innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and develop and integrate novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities
DARPA’s Vertical Take-Off and Landing Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to provide innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies and develop and integrate novel subsystems to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruising flight capabilities

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.

In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded the Phase 2 contract for VTOL X-Plane to Aurora Flight Sciences
In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded the Phase 2 contract for VTOL X-Plane to Aurora Flight Sciences

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».

VTOL X-Plane Phase 2 Concept Video

 

Christening of Washington

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.

Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN-787), christening the submarine named for the Evergreen State. Washington will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding (Photo by John Whalen/HII)
Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, smashed a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow of Virginia-class submarine Washington (SSN-787), christening the submarine named for the Evergreen State. Washington will be the seventh Virginia-class submarine to be delivered by Newport News Shipbuilding (Photo by John Whalen/HII)

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».

About 2,000 people attended the christening of the Virginia-class submarine Washington (Photo by Ricky Thompson/HII)
About 2,000 people attended the christening of the Virginia-class submarine Washington (Photo by Ricky Thompson/HII)

 

General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G(*) nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.0584 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.3632 m
Displacement Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 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
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

(*) – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories

Secretary Mabus highlighted the award of 10 Virginia-class submarines in the Block IV contract
Secretary Mabus highlighted the award of 10 Virginia-class submarines in the Block IV contract

 

Nuclear Submarine Lineup

 

Block I

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-774 Virginia EB 8-16-03 10-23-04 Portsmouth, New Hampshire
SSN-775 Texas NNS 7-31-05 9-9-06 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-776 Hawaii EB 6-19-06 5-5-07 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
SSN-777 North Carolina NNS 4-21-07 5-3-08 Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

EB – Electric Boat, Groton, Connecticut

NNS – Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia

SSN – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered

Nearly 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have worked on USS Washington (SSN-787). The submarine is on track to be delivered in 2016
Nearly 4,000 Newport News shipbuilders have worked on USS Washington (SSN-787). The submarine is on track to be delivered in 2016

 

Block II

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-778 New Hampshire EB 6-21-08 10-25-08 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-779 New Mexico NNS 12-13-08 11-21-09 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-780 Missouri EB 12-5-09 7-31-10 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-781 California NNS 11-6-10 10-29-11 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-782 Mississippi EB 12-3-11 6-2-12 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-783 Minnesota NNS 10-27-12 9-7-13 Norfolk, Virginia
The ship's crest of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)
The ship’s crest of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (U.S. Navy graphic/Released)

 

Block III

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-784 North Dakota EB 11-2-13 10-25-14 Groton, Connecticut
SSN-785 John Warner NNS 09-06-14 08-01-15 Norfolk, Virginia
SSN-786 Illinois EB 10-10-15
SSN-787 Washington NNS 03-05-16
SSN-788 Colorado EB Under Construction
SSN-789 Indiana NNS Under Construction
SSN-790 South Dakota EB On Order
SSN-791 Delaware NNS On Order
The first description of a U.S. warship christening is that of Constitution, «Old Ironsides», at Boston on October 21, 1797. As the ship slipped into the water, the sponsor, Captain James Sever, broke a bottle of Madeira over the bowsprit
The first description of a U.S. warship christening is that of Constitution, «Old Ironsides», at Boston on October 21, 1797. As the ship slipped into the water, the sponsor, Captain James Sever, broke a bottle of Madeira over the bowsprit

 

Block IV

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-792 Vermont EB On Order
SSN-793 Oregon EB On Order
SSN-794 Montana NNS On Order
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover EB On Order
SSN-796 New Jersey NNS On Order
SSN-797 Iowa EB On Order
SSN-798 Massachusetts NNS On Order
SSN-799 Idaho EB On Order
SSN-800 (Unnamed) NNS On Order
SSN-801 Utah EB On Order
The submarine USS John Warner (SSN-785) delivered on June 25, 2015, two and a half months ahead of schedule (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)
The submarine USS John Warner (SSN-785) delivered on June 25, 2015, two and a half months ahead of schedule (Photo by Chris Oxley/HII)

 

Block V

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-802 (Unnamed)
SSN-803 (Unnamed)
SSN-804 (Unnamed)
SSN-805 (Unnamed)
SSN-806 (Unnamed)
SSN-807 (Unnamed)
SSN-808 (Unnamed)
SSN-809 (Unnamed)
SSN-810 (Unnamed)
SSN-811 (Unnamed)
In Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms
In Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms

 

Block VI

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-812 (Unnamed)
SSN-813 (Unnamed)
SSN-814 (Unnamed)
SSN-815 (Unnamed)
SSN-816 (Unnamed)
USS Minnesota (SSN-783) – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered
USS Minnesota (SSN-783) – Attack Submarine, Nuclear-powered

Block VII

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-817 (Unnamed)
SSN-818 (Unnamed)
SSN-819 (Unnamed)
SSN-820 (Unnamed)
SSN-821 (Unnamed)

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.

Christening in Hamburg

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.

Dr. Gabriele Haseloff, wife of the premier of the state of Saxony-Anhalt after which the frigate has been named, performed the christening ceremony
Dr. Gabriele Haseloff, wife of the premier of the state of Saxony-Anhalt after which the frigate has been named, performed the christening ceremony

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.

The third of a total of four 125 class frigates for the German Navy was christened «Sachsen-Anhalt» on March 4 in Hamburg
The third of a total of four 125 class frigates for the German Navy was christened «Sachsen-Anhalt» on March 4 in Hamburg

 

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.

The four 125 class frigates will replace the German Navy's eight (Bremen type) 122 class frigates
The four 125 class frigates will replace the German Navy’s eight (Bremen type) 122 class frigates

 

Technical Data

MAIN DIMENSIONS
Length overall 149 m/489 feet
Beam maximum 18.8 m/61.7 feet
Draught 5.0 m/16.4 feet
Displacement (approximately) 7,100 t
Speed 26 knots/30 mph/48 km/h
Range 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km at a speed of 18 knots/21 mph/33 km/h
PROPULSION PLANT
CODLAG Combined diesel-electric and gas
CPP (Controllable Pitch Propellers) 2
Diesels MTU 20 V 4000 4 × 3,015 kW (total 12.06 MW)
Propulsion Electric Motors 2 × 4.5 MW (total 9 MW)
Gas Turbine GE LM 2500 1 × 20 MW
COMPLEMENT
Crew 120
Supernumerary (Helicopter/Special Forces) 70
HELICOPTER
NHIndustries MH-90 2
BOATS
RHIBs (11-meter length) 4
The F125 has two 21-cell Mk-49 launchers armed with the Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)
The F125 has two 21-cell Mk-49 launchers armed with the Raytheon RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM)

Keel Authentication of
Cutter Kimball

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.

Ship Sponsor Kay Webber Cochran (center) sketches her initials onto the keel plate of the National Security Cutter Kimball (WMSL-756). Also pictured are her husband, Senator Thad Cochran (left), R-Mississippi, and Ingalls Shipbuilding employee Jerry Wesley (right), who welded the initials onto the plate (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
Ship Sponsor Kay Webber Cochran (center) sketches her initials onto the keel plate of the National Security Cutter Kimball (WMSL-756). Also pictured are her husband, Senator Thad Cochran (left), R-Mississippi, and Ingalls Shipbuilding employee Jerry Wesley (right), who welded the initials onto the plate (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

«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».

The fifth U.S. Coast Guard NSC, James (WMSL 754), has successfully completed acceptance trials in early May 2015. The Ingalls-built NSC spent two full days in the Gulf of Mexico proving the ship’s systems (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
The fifth U.S. Coast Guard NSC, James (WMSL 754), has successfully completed acceptance trials in early May 2015. The Ingalls-built NSC spent two full days in the Gulf of Mexico proving the ship’s systems (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

 

Facts

Displacement 4,500 long tons
Length 418 feet/127 m
Beam 54 feet/16 m
Speed 28 knots/32 mph/52 km/h
Range 12,000 NM/13,809 miles/22,224 km
Endurance 60 days
Crew 120
Equipped with Mk-110 57-mm turret mounted gun
6 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber machine guns
3D air search radar
2 level 1, class 1 aircraft hangers
A stern launch ramp for mission boats
The National Security Cutter is the first new design for the service in 20 years, and features enhanced capabilities that will allow the eight-ship class to replace 12 aging high-endurance cutters that have been in service for 40 years
The National Security Cutter is the first new design for the service in 20 years, and features enhanced capabilities that will allow the eight-ship class to replace 12 aging high-endurance cutters that have been in service for 40 years

 

Ship list

Ship Hull Number Laid down Launched Commissioned
Bertholf WMSL-750 03-29-2005 09-29-2006 08-04-2008
Waesche WMSL-751 09-11-2006 07-12-2008 05-07-2010
Stratton WMSL-752 07-20-2009 07-23-2010 03-31-2012
Hamilton WMSL-753 09-05-2012 08-10-2013 12-06-2014
James WMSL-754 05-17-2013 05-03-2014 08-08-2015
Munro WMSL-755 10-07-2013 09-12-2015  
Kimball WMSL-756 03-04-2016    
Midgett WMSL-757      

 

H160 ready
to the market

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.

Airbus Helicopters ready to sign letters of intent for the H160
Airbus Helicopters ready to sign letters of intent for the H160

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.

Development, industrialization and customer support on track for 2018 entry into service
Development, industrialization and customer support on track for 2018 entry into service

Artful fires torpedo

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».

HMS Artful (S121), Astute-class attack submarine
HMS Artful (S121), Astute-class attack submarine

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.

The Royal Navy’s latest and most advanced Astute class submarine, Artful, has test fired her first torpedo using a new Common Combat System designed and integrated by our Submarines business
The Royal Navy’s latest and most advanced Astute class submarine, Artful, has test fired her first torpedo using a new Common Combat System designed and integrated by our Submarines business

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.

The seven Astute class nuclear powered submarines (SSNs) will have the capability to circumnavigate the globe without surfacing, limited only by their food storage capacity. Able to deploy rapidly, they are powered by a nuclear reactor that can run for their 25 year lifespan without refuelling
The seven Astute class nuclear powered submarines (SSNs) will have the capability to circumnavigate the globe without surfacing, limited only by their food storage capacity. Able to deploy rapidly, they are powered by a nuclear reactor that can run for their 25 year lifespan without refuelling

Next-Gen Predator

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/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range is highly modular and is configured easily with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements
Predator B/MQ-9 Reaper Extended Range is highly modular and is configured easily with a variety of payloads to meet mission requirements

«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.

 

FEATURES

  • 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)
Certifiable Predator B will be designed to survive bird and lightning strikes
Certifiable Predator B will be designed to survive bird and lightning strikes

 

CHARACTERISTICS

Wing Span 79 feet/24 m
Length 36 feet/11 m
Powerplant Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engine
Maximum Gross Take-off Weight (MGTOW) 10,500 lbs/4,763 kg
Fuel Capacity 3,900 lbs/1,769 kg
Payload Capacity 850 lbs int./386 kg
3,000 lbs ext./1,361 kg
Payloads 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
Communications relay
Power 11.0 kW/45.0 kVA (Block 5) (redundant)
Maximum Altitude 50,000 feet/15,240 m
Maximum Endurance 40+ hr
Max Air Speed 200 KTAS/230 mph/370 km/h