In the decades-long quest to develop reusable aircraft that can reach hypersonic speeds – Mach 5 (approximately 3,300 miles per hour/5,300 kilometers per hour) and above – engineers have grappled with two intertwined, seemingly intractable challenges. The top speed of traditional jet-turbine engines maxes out at roughly Mach 2.5, while hypersonic engines such as scramjets cannot provide effective thrust at speeds much below Mach 3.5. This gap in capability means that any air-breathing hypersonic vehicles developed today would use disposable rockets for one-time boosts up to operating speed, limiting the vehicles’ usefulness.
To help remove these constraints and lay the framework for routine hypersonic flight with reusable vehicles, DARPA has launched its Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program. AFRE seeks to develop and demonstrate a new aircraft propulsion system that could operate over the full range of speeds required from low-speed takeoff through hypersonic flight.
«Instead of designing an entirely new kind of engine, we’re envisioning an inventive hybrid system that would combine and improve upon the best of off-the-shelf turbine and ramjet/scramjet technologies», said Christopher Clay, DARPA program manager. «This won’t be the first time that ambitious engineers will attempt to combine turbine and ramjet technologies. But with recent advances in manufacturing methods, modeling, and other disciplines, we believe this potentially groundbreaking achievement may finally be within reach».
AFRE aims to explore a Turbine-Based Combined Cycle (TBCC) engine concept, which would use a turbine engine for low-speed operations and a dual-mode ramjet – which would work efficiently whether the air flowing through it is subsonic (as in a ramjet) or supersonic (as in a scramjet) – for high-speed operations. The two components of the hybrid engine would share a common forward-facing air intake and rear-facing exhaust nozzle to release thrust.
AFRE aims to develop critical technologies and culminate in ground-based testing of a full-scale, integrated technology demonstration system. If that testing is successful, further development of the AFRE technology would require flight testing in a potential follow-on demonstration program.
Systems that operate at hypersonic speeds offer the potential for military operations from longer ranges with shorter response times and enhanced effectiveness compared to current military systems. Such systems could provide significant payoff for future U.S. operations, particularly as adversaries’ capabilities advance.
Austal Limited (Austal) is pleased to announce the U.S. Navy has accepted delivery of USNS Carson City (EPF-7) from Austal USA, during a ceremony held aboard the ship at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, USA on 24 June.
This is the second vessel delivered by Austal USA to the U.S. Navy this month.
Austal Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Singleton said the delivery of the latest Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF) is further evidence of Austal USA’s success in efficient, modern shipbuilding and expertise in modular manufacturing.
«Our hard working, highly skilled workforce continues to deliver on this important program, which is redefining naval capability and exceeding stakeholder expectations around the globe».
Three additional EPF remain under construction in Mobile as part of a 10-ship, US$1.6 billion block-buy contract from the U.S. Navy. The future USNS Yuma (EPF-8) will be christened later this summer and will launch soon after, while modules for the City of Bismarck (EPF-9) are under construction in Austal’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF). The first aluminium was cut for Burlington (EPF-10) earlier this month and module construction has begun in the MMF.
Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
103 m/337.9 feet
28.5 m/93.5 feet
Hull draft (maximum)
3.83 m/12.57 feet
Area (with tie-downs)
1,863 m2/20,053 feet2
4.75 m/15.6 feet
26.2 m/86.0 feet
ISO TEU (Twenty Equivalent Units) Stations
6 Interface Panels
Galley and Messing
4 × MTU 20V8000 M71L Diesel Engines 4 × 9.1 MW
4 × ZF 60000NR2H Reduction Gears
4 × Wartsila WLD 1400 SR
35 knots/40 mph/65 km/h @ 90% MCR with 635 mt (700 st) payload
43 knots/50 mph/80 km/h without payload
Maximum Transit Range
1,200 NM/1,381 miles/2,222 km
5,600 NM/6,444 miles/10,371 km
NAVAIR Level 1 Class 2 Certified Flight Deck for one helicopter
Centreline parking area for one helicopter
NAVAIR Level 1 class 4 Type 2 Certified VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment)
Helicopter Control Station
Active Ride Control
Foils: 3.24 m2/34.9 feet2 each, forward on inboard sides of demi-hulls
Austal Limited (Austal) is pleased to announce the future USS Montgomery (LCS-8) has been delivered to the U.S. Navy, during a ceremony held aboard the ship at Austal USA’s shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, USA on 23 June.
Delivery marks the official transfer of Montgomery from the shipbuilder to the U.S. Navy. It is the final milestone prior to commissioning, which is planned for September 2016 in Mobile, Alabama. USS Montgomery (LCS-8) is the seventh littoral combat ship to be delivered to the U.S. Navy and the fourth of the Independence variant, which is noted for its trimaran hull.
«Today marks a significant milestone in the life of the future USS Montgomery, an exceptional ship which will conduct anti-submarine, surface and mine countermeasures operations around the globe with ever increasing mission package capability», said Captain Tom Anderson, LCS program manager. «I look forward to seeing Montgomery join her sister ships in San Diego this fall and deploy next year».
LCS is a modular, reconfigurable ship, with three types of mission packages including surface warfare, mine countermeasures, and anti-submarine warfare. The LCS class consists of the Freedom variant and Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin (for the odd-numbered hulls, e.g. LCS-1). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA (for LCS-6 and follow-on even-numbered hulls).
The Program Executive Office (PEO) Littoral Combat Ships is responsible for delivering and sustaining littoral mission capabilities to the fleet. Delivering high-quality warfighting assets while balancing affordability and capability is key to supporting the nation’s maritime strategy.
The Independence Variant of the LCS Class
Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
417 feet/127.1 m
103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum)
14.8 feet/4.5 m
PAYLOAD AND CAPACITIES
Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load
Mission Bay Volume
118,403 feet3/11,000 m3
Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Surface Warfare (SUW)
Mine Warfare (MIW)
2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
4 × Wartsila steerable
40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Survival in Sea State 8
>21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery
Twin boom extending crane
Internal elevator to hanger
Sea State 4
FLIGHT DECK AND HANGER
Flight deck dimensions
2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53 or multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs/VTUAVs)
Lockheed Martin on June 23 announced the Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion successfully completed an external lift of a 27,000 pound/12,247 kg payload at Sikorsky’s Development Flight Test Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The aircraft executed an «Out of Ground Effect» (OGE) external load test at 100 feet/30.5 m above the ground while performing hover maneuvers to demonstrate its excellent control authority in this flight regime. An OGE load is the most stressful of lift conditions for a helicopter from a power required standpoint. OGE is defined as an altitude greater than the helicopter’s main rotor diameter (79 feet/24 m in the King Stallion’s case) where power demand greatly increases due to loss of the benefit of ground effect.
«This 27,000 pound/12,247 kg external lift is yet another key milestone for the program», said Doctor Michael Torok, Sikorsky Vice President, CH-53K Programs. «The King Stallion achieved this external lift with ease, and we are on track to successfully complete the initial operational assessment this year».
Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is developing the CH-53K King Stallion heavy lift helicopter for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Sikorsky CH-53K has already achieved speeds exceeding 140 knots/161 mph/259 km/h, and a third Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopter has joined the flight test program thereby accelerating the pace to full aircraft maturity and production. The first two aircraft have already verified the King Stallion’s capabilities well in excess of the predecessor Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion. A fourth King Stallion is currently in final preparation for flight status and on track to join the flight test program this summer.
«Lifting 27,000 pounds/12,247 kg in OGE conditions is another key milestone for the program, which further confirms our confidence in the design and performance of the aircraft», said Colonel Hank Vanderborght, U.S. Marine Corps Program Manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters Program. «This is the most strenuous condition we had to demonstrate from a performance standpoint prior to achieving Milestone ’C’ and entering production».
The King Stallion will carry a 27,000 pound/12,247 kg external load over 110 nautical miles/126.6 miles/203.7 km at 91.5°F/33°C at an altitude of 3,000 feet/914.4 m – a U.S. Navy operational requirement for «high hot» conditions. The Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion helicopter will provide unmatched heavy lift capability with reduced logistics footprint and reduced support costs over its entire life cycle.
CH-53K pilots can execute heavy lift missions more effectively and safely in day/night and all weather with the King Stallion’s modern glass cockpit. Fly-by-wire flight controls reduce pilot workload for all heavy lift missions including external loads, maritime operations, and operation in degraded visual environments. With more than triple the payload capability of the predecessor CH-53E, the King Stallion’s increased capability can accommodate a range of payloads from an internally loaded High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) up to three independent external loads at once, providing wide mission flexibility and system efficiency. Additionally, a locking U.S. Air Force pallet compatible cargo rail system reduces both effort and time to load and unload palletized cargo.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Program of Record remains at 200 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion aircraft. The first four of the 200 are scheduled for delivery next year to the USMC. An additional four aircraft are under long lead procurement for parts and materials with delivery scheduled in 2019. USMC initial operating capability is scheduled for 2019. The U.S. Marine Corps intends to stand up eight active duty squadrons, one training squadron, and one reserve squadron to support operational requirements.
This press release contains forward looking statements concerning opportunities for development, production and sale of helicopters. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in government procurement priorities and practices, budget plans, availability of funding and in the type and number of aircraft required; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Israeli and U.S. government leaders joined Lockheed Martin to celebrate the rollout of the first Israeli Air Force F-35A Lightning II, marking a major production milestone for the future of Israel’s national defense.
«Israel is proud to be the first country in the area to receive and operate it», said Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s Minister of Defense. «The F-35 is the best aircraft in the world and the choice of all our military leadership at its highest level. It is clear and obvious to us and to the entire region that the new F-35, the Adir, will create real deterrence and enhance our capabilities for a long time».
Brigadier General Tal Kelman, IAF Chief of Staff said, «As a pilot who has flown more than 30 years in a great variety of aircraft, I had the privilege of flying the F-35 simulator in Fort Worth and it was like holding the future in my hands. The unique combination of split-edge technology, lethality and the amazing man-machine interface will lead the world to the fifth generation».
Joining the Minister at the ceremony, attended by more than 400 guests from government, the military and industry, were the Honorable U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro; Minister Tzachi Hanegbi of Israel’s Office of the Prime Minister; Heidi Grant, Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Air Force for International Affairs; Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, F-35 Program Executive Officer, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and Texas State Congressman Craig Goldman.
«We’re honored to partner with Israel and help strengthen the deep and lasting partnership between our two nations», said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO at the ceremony. «The F-35 will help Israel remain a beacon of strength and stability in the region and support a safe and secure homeland for generations to come».
Israel’s F-35, called Adir – which means «Mighty One» in Hebrew – will be a significant addition to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge in the Middle East region, with its advanced capability to defeat emerging threats, including advanced missiles and heavily-defended airspace. The F-35 combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment support.
Israel’s program of record is 33 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing, or CTOL, aircraft, acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Israel’s contribution to the F-35 program includes Israel Aerospace Industries F-35A wing production; Elbit Systems Ltd. work on the Generation III helmet-mounted display system, which all F-35 pilots fleet-wide will wear; and Elbit Systems-Cyclone F-35 center fuselage composite components production.
Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 11 other countries. Following the U.S. Marine Corps’ July 2015 combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy intend to attain service IOC this year and in 2018, respectively. More than 170 delivered F-35s have flown more than 60,000 flight hours, fleet-wide.
51.4 feet/15.7 m
14.4 feet/4.38 m
35 feet/10.7 m
460 feet2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span
22.5 feet/6.86 m
29,300 lbs/13,290 kg
Internal fuel capacity
18,250 lbs/8,278 kg
18,000 lbs/8,160 kg
70,000 lbs class/31,751 kg
Standard internal weapons load
Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound/907 kg GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket successfully launched the MUOS-5 satellite for the U.S. Navy. The rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, June 24 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. MUOS-5 is the final satellite in the five-satellite constellation, which provides warfighters with significantly improved and assured communications worldwide.
«We are honored to deliver the final satellite in the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) constellation for the U.S. Navy», said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president, Custom Services. «Congratulations to our navy, air force and Lockheed Martin mission partners on yet another successful launch that provides our warfighters with enhanced communications capabilities to safely and effectively conduct their missions around the globe».
MUOS-5, like the four satellites in orbit, will carry two payloads in a single spacecraft. One will provide new Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveforms with greater capabilities, and one that supports the legacy Ultra High Frequency (UHF) communications systems in wide use among U.S. and international militaries and civil aviation.
In the new satellite, however, only the UHF system will be activated. The wideband function will provide the assurance of a spare in case anything happens to one of the other satellites.
In addition to the five satellites, the MUOS contract with an industry team led by Lockheed Martin also includes four large ground stations in Australia, Italy, Hawaii and the eastern U.S.; the WCDMA waveform; the receiving terminals; and the software to manage the systems.
The mission was ULA’s fifth launch in 2016 and 108th launch since the company formed in 2006. MUOS-5 was the seventh mission to be launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 551 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter diameter payload fairing and five solid rocket boosters. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine.
«I am so proud of the team for all their hard work and commitment to 100 percent mission success», Maginnis said. «It is amazing to deliver our second national security payload from the Cape in just two weeks. I know this success is due to our amazing people who make the remarkable look routine».
ULA’s next launch is the Atlas V NROL-61 mission for the National Reconnaissance Office, scheduled for July 28 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the heritage launch systems.
With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 100 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system.
United Launch Alliance’s live broadcast of the Atlas V rocket launching the fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS-5) mission for the U.S. Navy
The Navy recently demonstrated two key capabilities for the Triton Unmanned Air System (UAS) program that will enhance future fleet operations. During a flight test June 2, an MQ-4C Triton and P-8A Poseidon successfully exchanged full motion video for the first time inflight via a Common Data Link (CDL), marking another interoperability step for the program.
The test demonstrated Triton’s ability to track a target with its electro-optical/infrared camera to build situational awareness for a distant P-8 aircrew.
«In an operational environment, this would enable the P-8 aircrew to become familiar with a contact of interest and surrounding vessels well in advance of the aircraft’s arrival in station», said Commander Daniel Papp, Triton integrated program team lead.
The MQ-4C Triton’s ability to perform persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance within a range of 2,000 nautical miles/2,302 miles/3,704 km will allow the P-8A aircraft to focus on their core missions.
Last week also marked the completion of Triton’s first heavy weight flight that will expand Triton’s estimated time on station significantly. Triton operated in the 20,000 foot/6,096 m altitude band in the heavy weight configuration for the first time and completed all test objectives. A second heavy weight flight on June 14 had Triton operating in the 30,000 foot/9,144 m altitude band.
«The heavy weight envelope expansion work will enable Triton to realize its long dwell capability and become the unblinking eye for the fleet», Papp added.
Triton is designed to fly missions of up to 24 hours at altitudes over 10 miles/16 km high, allowing the system to monitor two million square miles of ocean and littoral areas at a time. Since its first flight in 2013, Triton has flown more than 455 flight hours. The U.S. Navy will continue testing Triton at Patuxent River to prepare for its first planned deployment in 2018.
The Navy’s first expeditionary mobile base, USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3) got underway from Naval Station Norfolk to perform airborne countermine deployment training, June 13-16.
Puller’s hybrid crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and civil service mariners (CIVMARs) worked in concert with Sailors attached to the «Blackhawks» of Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 to hone mine elimination capabilities.
«This underway was the first opportunity to merge the Puller’s full mission deck which included small boat operations, countermine sled launches and flight operations», said Lieutenant Commander Matthew Muehlbauer, Puller’s military crew officer-in-charge. «The underway was our first opportunity to simultaneously launch aircraft, small boats and anti-mine sleds».
«We got underway to train in preparation for a future Initial Operational Test and Evaluation», said Bryan Stoots, Puller’s chief mate. «We performed a mock Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) mission, which included deployment of countermine assets from the ship’s AMCM inventory».
The training battery during the four-day underway consisted of deploying and recovering two types of mine countermeasures from the deck of Puller.
One mine countermeasure deployed was a Mark 105 magnetic sled, which creates a magnetic field to destroy mines as it is towed behind a helicopter.
The second type of countermeasure system used during the training battery was the Magnetic Orange Pipe (MOP). This system is a shallow-water mine countermeasure which also uses magnetism to negate mine threats.
The deployment of each countermeasure was broken down into multiple phases. Puller’s deck department Sailors and CIVMARs first launched three Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boats (RHIBs), manned by HM-15 Sailors. These boats were used to guide and maneuver the magnetic sled and MOP. The countermeasure devices were moved into position for towing. The sled was attached to one of HM-15’s MH-53 Sea Dragon helicopters and towed through simulated mine target area.
«Prior to this underway, we developed these capabilities independently», said Muehlbauer. «We tested and qualified the crew to handle small boats and crafts. On the flight deck, we qualified the crew to launch and recover different types of aircraft».
After the designated target area was cleared, the mine countermeasures and the RHIBs were brought back aboard Puller.
«The Puller is designed to support anti-mine countermeasure mission sets», said Muehlbauer. «We are able to embark up to four MH-53 helicopters capable of towing different types of countermine equipment, such as different types of minehunting sleds or mine-finding sonars through the water».
«To support these anti-mine operations we are able to launch and recover small boats and different mine neutralization assets», added Muehlbauer. «This platform can be adapted very quickly to deploy the mine countermeasure assets required based on a particular situation».
Stoots explained his role as chief mate and the CIVMARs’ responsibilities during Puller’s underway.
«The chief mate is similar to an executive officer on a Navy combatant ship», said Stoots. «The position includes being the deck department head, ensuring safe navigation of the ship and leadership in the deck department. As the chief mate, I was responsible for the safety on deck and supervised the entire operation on deck in regards to launching rigid-hull inflatable boats, the mine countermeasure sled and Magnetic Orange Pole».
While Puller’s crew was busy with mine countermeasure training evolutions, there were many critical tasks being performed behind the scenes by Puller’s CIVMARs.
«The main function of the deck department is navigation of the ship», said Stoots. «At all times while we are underway, there is a licensed mate on the bridge. We have a helmsman, lookout, and rover on duty. The helmsman steers the ship and takes direction from the mate. The rover keeps the ship safe and ensures there are no fires, flooding, or injured personnel».
«The lookout is maintaining a proper lookout», continued Stoots. «Other aspects of the deck department include having the boatswain on scene and they manage the deck responsibilities such as operating the cranes, winches, and supervise the movement of cargo and equipment».
There were approximately 40 CIVMARs aboard during the underway.
«I felt like the mine countermeasure training evolution was very successful», said Stoots. «We were uncertain about certain elements of the evolution. This was the first time these types of mine countermeasures were deployed from a ship’s deck while using a ship’s crane to deploy the equipment instead of a ship’s well deck, which is the norm. There was a lot of anticipation to see how the deployment of this equipment would work from Puller and I felt like it went very well».
«The Puller has 100 Sailors in its crew», said Muehlbauer. «The military crew is in charge of the aviation department, mission deck operations, launch and recovery of small boats and any other deployed mission assets, and ship’s force protection. The Sailors also manage C4I (command, control, communications, computers and intelligence), and are capable of providing galley services for approximately 250 military personnel».
«The Puller’s military crew supports the CIVMARs in the deck department with tasks such as line handling, logistic tasks include crane operations, and moving material on and off the ship», added Muehlbauer. «The military crew is made up of four officers and nine chief petty officers. The majority of our junior enlisted Sailors are aviation boatswain’s mates equipment, fuel, handling, information systems technicians, damage controlmen and aviation structural mechanics. To round it out, we have about 30 Sailors who work in the supply department».
«This underway was our first big integrated training event and it went very well», said Muehlbauer. «The training from this underway will lead us into our final testing and evaluation period later this year when we will certify the full capabilities of the Puller and crew».
Puller’s crew is categorized as a hybrid as its members are both active-duty Sailors and CIVMARs. The success of the ship is dependent on a strong working relationship between the two distinctive cultures.
«A successful hybrid crew is definitely a team effort; I like to refer to the crew as ‘Team Puller,’» said Stoots. «We are one ship and one crew, and work together on every aspect of every evolution. The military crew supports the CIVMARs on deck operation, and likewise we support the military crew on operations such as mine countermeasures».
«Early on there were times when we struggled with the crew interactions between the Sailors and CIVMARs», said Muehlbauer. «When the military crew arrived on the Puller, the mariners had already been on board for over a year. So when the military detachment arrived, we were very much the ‘new kids on the block.’ It took a little while to build trust, credibility, and rapport with the mariners».
«The ship’s master and I worked together to lay down initial ground rules for the crew, but most of the real ‘gelling’ for the crew took place on the deck plates», continued Muehlbauer. «The more we placed Sailors and CIVMARs in situations where they had to work together, the better they understand each other’s skillsets and how each does business. This was how we really started to build our team spirit. We put the right people in the right place and it worked very well for us. The formation of a successful hybrid crew for Puller was not dictated from the top, but was more of a grassroots effort which has proven to be very effective».
«Over the course of the last six months, the crew has gotten to the point where the Sailors and CIVMARs are able to predict how each is going to react or think during a variety of situations», said Muehlbauer. «The positive development of our hybrid crew has allowed Puller to maintain its very strict timeline and will ensure we are ready to deploy next year. I believe the Puller brings great capabilities to the Navy. This platform allows the Navy to sustain an expeditionary presence longer and will free up combatant ships to undertake missions which they are better suited for».
The future for USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB-3) includes testing and evaluation. The vessel is also going to spend some time in the shipyard for upgrades and modifications prior to being permanently deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility in 2017.
«The Puller is going to receive an upgrade which will enable Special Operations Forces (SOF) to utilize the ship for operations», concluded Muehlbauer. «The Puller will be able to support maritime interdictions, operations potentially in-country, and different adaptive military packages to perform different types of SOF contingencies throughout the world».
In addition to countermine training evolutions, Puller’s crew performed vertical replenishment training with the Afloat Training Group, practiced flight deck firefighting techniques, and trained to counter the threat of a small boat attack.
The U.S. Navy’s first air-to-ground network-enabled weapon, Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) C-1, has been delivered to the fleet after achieving Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in early June.
Rear Admiral DeWolfe Miller, director of Air Warfare, made the announcement after JSOW-C1 completed operational testing against land and sea targets, adding this capability will provide more lethality and accuracy to the U.S. Navy’s already very capable deployed air wings around the world.
«As our mission’s focus shift, we are providing the warfighter with the first of several net-enabled weapons required to maintain strategic dominance over the Pacific», said Captain Jaime Engdahl, Precision Strike Weapons (PMA-201) program manager. «The JSOW C-1 is critical to the support of the Navy’s strategic vision of integrated warfare capability».
The newest iteration of JSOW is integrated with a Link 16 network radio, enabling the weapon to engage moving targets at sea. The radio allows the launch aircraft or another designated controller to provide real-time target updates to the weapon, reassign it to another target, or to abort the mission. The weapon also uses a terminal InfraRed (IR) seeker and GPS/Inertial Navigation System (INS) for guidance.
«The precision targeting of this weapon and its ability to receive real-time target updates makes it the fleet’s weapon for the fight tonight», said Commander Sam Messer, JSOW program manager. «JSOW C-1 provides the ability to engage our enemies at longer ranges and the flexibility to engage in direct attack even if enemy air defenses deny our aircraft access».
The Raytheon-built weapon will be launched from F/A-18E/F and F-35A/C aircraft.
According to Franz J Marty, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly correspondent, five additional MD 530F Cayuse Warrior light attack helicopters arrived in Kabul on 17 June to boost the Afghan Air Force’s (AAF’s) capability to support Afghan National Army ground operations.
The latest delivery raises the number of such airframes provided by the United States to the AAF from 13 to 18. A further nine aircraft are scheduled for delivery by the end of August 2016, which would increase the number of the AAF’s MD 530Fs to a pre-arranged total of 27.
«These five latest MD 530Fs have the capability to fire rockets or .50 calibre/12.7-mm machine guns, and sighting systems that are not on the previously delivered helicopters», said Lieutenant Colonel Bill Ashford, commander of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron.
While earlier reports indicated that previously fielded MD 530Fs were equipped not only with FN Herstal .50 calibre/12.7-mm heavy machine gun pods but also with seven-tube M260 launchers for 2.75 inch/70-mm rockets, Lieutenant Colonel Ashford said the newly arrived MD 530Fs are the first ones fitted with rockets.
Rocket-firing capabilities are set to be added to the previously delivered 13 MD 530Fs over the course of 2016, according to a report by the US Department of Defense.
There is sometimes some confusion regarding the exact number of MD 530Fs fielded with the AAF, as some of the helicopters already delivered were returned to the United States for weapon upgrades before being re-delivered to Afghanistan.