Technical Flight of LUH

Achieving yet another significant milestone, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) conducted a technical flight of indigenous Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) in Bengaluru, on September 6. The helicopter lifted at 1210 hours and was in the air for 15 minutes at HAL facilities. The flawless flight was carried out by HAL test pilots.

The Light Utility Helicopter, the third rotary-wing aircraft developed by India’s HAL, made its first flight on September 6, kicking off flight-testing (HAL photo)
The Light Utility Helicopter, the third rotary-wing aircraft developed by India’s HAL, made its first flight on September 6, kicking off flight-testing (HAL photo)

This event marks an important and significant beginning for prototype testing of LUH. This is the third indigenous helicopter product from the stables of HAL after Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH). Apart from replacement of ageing fleet of Cheetah / Chetak, Light Utility Helicopter is expected to capture a sizeable share both in domestic and international market.

The LUH has a maximum All-Up-Weight (AUW) of 6,944.5 lbs/3,150 kg, fitted with Safran HE Ardiden-1U engine of 750 kW/1,006 hp power, with a range of 217.5 miles/350 km, service ceiling 21,325.5 feet/6,500 m, seating capacity of six passengers plus two pilots.

The helicopter is designed to carry out various utility roles such as reconnaissance, transport, cargo load Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. The helicopter can operate from sea level to high altitudes of Himalayas.

Maiden Flight

The first Airbus A400M new generation airlifter ordered by the Spanish Air Force has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery. The aircraft, known as MSN44, took off from Seville, Spain where the A400M Final Assembly Line is located at 15:25 local time (GMT+1) on 5 September and landed back on site 3 hours and 45 minutes later.

The first Airbus A400M for the Spanish air force made its maiden flight on September 5 as scheduled. Airbus is committed to delivering it in September (Airbus photo)
The first Airbus A400M for the Spanish air force made its maiden flight on September 5 as scheduled. Airbus is committed to delivering it in September (Airbus photo)

Test-Pilot Nacho Lombo, who captained the flight, said after landing: «As always, the aircraft was a pleasure to fly. I am confident that its unique combination of strategic and tactical capabilities will have a transformational effect on the Spanish Air Force’s air mobility operations as it has done in other countries already». The aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks. Photos show MSN44 taking off and during its maiden flight.

 

Specifications

DIMENSIONS
Overall Length 45.10 m/148 feet
Overall Height 14.70 m/48 feet
Wing Span 42.40 m/139 feet
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m/58 feet
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m/12 feet 7 inch-13 feet
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m/13 feet
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3/12,000 feet3
WEIGHTS
Maximum Take Off Weight 141,000 kg/310,850 lbs
Maximum Landing Weight 123,000 kg/271,200 lbs
Internal Fuel Weight 50,500 kg/111,300 lbs
Maximum Payload 37,000 kg/81,600 lbs
ENGINE (×4)
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11,000 shp/8,200 kW
PERFORMANCE
Maximum Operating Altitude 12,200 m/40,000 feet
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
RANGE
Range with Maximum Payload (37,000 kg/81,600 lbs) 1,780 NM/2,050 miles/3,300 km
Range with 30,000 kg/66,000 lbs Payload 2,450 NM/2,796 miles/4,500 km
Range with 20,000 kg/44,000 lbs Payload 3,450 NM/3,977 miles/6,400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4,700 NM/5,406 miles/8,700 km
First Spanish Air Force A400M makes its maiden flight
First Spanish Air Force A400M makes its maiden flight

From linear hydraulic
to rotary hydroelectric

Nineteen Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) recently graduated from Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) operator and maintainer initial training conducted at the test sites in Lakehurst, New Jersey.

Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) use a test-site specific tool to lower the Cable Shock Absorber Thru-Deck Sheave Assembly into place while participating in hands-on maintenance labs as part of a six-week Advanced Arresting Gear training course at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in August (U.S. Navy Photo)
Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) use a test-site specific tool to lower the Cable Shock Absorber Thru-Deck Sheave Assembly into place while participating in hands-on maintenance labs as part of a six-week Advanced Arresting Gear training course at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in August (U.S. Navy Photo)

This is the second six-week course completed by Ford Sailors, with 20 having graduated in April, and additional crew members having completed a senior leadership training course in August 2015.

Many recent graduates expressed excitement about the opportunity to be among the first to work with the Navy’s newest aircraft recovery equipment and the advantages it will bring to the fleet and their daily lives at sea.

«AAG cuts down manning below deck during flight operations; we went from 22 people to three people, and that’s a huge change for us», said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) (ABE) 1st Class Andrew Holcomb. «There’s also less maintenance needed, so we don’t have to take apart as much greasy equipment and walk around the ship in dirty uniforms».

Another crewmember, ABE2 Carlos Rodriguez, said he thinks AAG will be safer for those working directly with it as well as all personnel. He said he will be responsible for upkeep of the system aboard the Ford and valued the in-depth training because «topside, it’s pretty much the same; but below decks, it’s a completely different animal».

While anticipation for the system’s benefits grows, many Sailors with previous experience working on legacy arresting gear (Mk-7) said they were initially intimidated to work with AAG. The new system transitions from linear hydraulic to rotary hydroelectric, plus a friction brake system. A couple weeks into the course, many reported those anxieties were relieved.

«The intent of the training is to provide students with the most shipboard-representative, hands-on, and job-related training possible in order to prepare them for system turnover on board CVN-78», said AAG Training Lead Dan Andreoli.

Andreoli explained the training, which combines classroom instruction with operation and maintenance labs, as well as extensive walk-throughs, at two active test sites, has been in development since late 2013. The CVN-78 PCU crew has been involved, providing valuable input, since early 2015.

«We have a very bright group of Sailors who will be operating and maintaining AAG, and I’m very proud to be a part of ensuring they have the proper foundation of knowledge and skills to safely and effectively operate and maintain the system», Andreoli stated.

Aircraft Launch and Recovery Maintenance Chief (ABEC) Christopher Boone said in addition to the younger Sailors being able to work directly with the system during their time at Lakehurst, building a relationship with Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) engineers and AAG subject matter experts is incredibly important.

The crew had ample opportunity for interaction with a flurry of preparations and tests ongoing at both the Jet Car Track Site and the Runway Arrested Landing Site.

The dedicated training division will soon begin developing formal schoolhouse training for AAG, with efforts to integrate cost-saving Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System (MRTS 3D) simulations.

Remote Mine Hunting

Northrop Grumman Corporation will be participating in the Royal Navy’s Unmanned Warrior exercise where it will demonstrate its unmanned mine hunting capability.

Northrop Grumman to Demonstrate Remote Mine Hunting Capability in Unmanned Warrior Exercise
Northrop Grumman to Demonstrate Remote Mine Hunting Capability in Unmanned Warrior Exercise

The unmanned mine hunting element of Unmanned Warrior will feature Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24B towed mine hunting sensor operated from an Atlas Elektronik UK ARCIMS Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). The AQS-24B, which is a towed mine hunting sensor used by the U.S. Navy, features the world’s only high speed synthetic aperture sonar for mine detection, localisation and classification, and an optical laser line scan sensor for mine identification. The ARCIMS USV is a surface craft 36 feet/11 meters long that will be operated via remote control while towing the AQS-24B through a simulated mine field.

«Securing access and situational awareness in the maritime environment has become increasingly important for many nations», said Andrew Tyler, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Europe. «We look forward to participating in Unmanned Warrior and demonstrating how innovative, state of the art U.K. and U.S. technologies can come together to advance unmanned military capabilities that can potentially benefit both navies as well as those of our allies».

Unmanned Warrior, which takes place at Ministry of Defence (MoD) exercise areas in Scotland and the Western Isles, is part of the biannual Joint Warrior exercise, and is the largest capability demonstration event of its kind. It will feature more than 40 unmanned vehicles, sensors and systems demonstrating, in a challenging environment, key military missions for the Royal Navy in a series of themed activities including mine-hunting, sea surveying, submarine simulation and fleet reconnaissance. The exercise will help inform the Royal Navy’s future capability planning and demonstrate how the systems being showcased deliver maritime situational awareness.

The demonstration of unmanned systems overlaid onto the Joint Warrior exercise scenario will create a challenging environment for the participants and allow the Royal Navy to see first-hand how the systems and sensors could integrate into current and future maritime operations.

Australian Future Frigate

BAE Systems has signed a contract with the Commonwealth Government to further refine its design of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (GCS) for the Royal Australian Navy under the SEA 5000 (Future Frigate) program.

BAE Systems signs Future Frigate design contract with Australian Government
BAE Systems signs Future Frigate design contract with Australian Government

BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive, Glynn Phillips, said: «We look forward to demonstrating the adaptability and maturity of the Global Combat Ship design to meet Australia’s requirements for an Anti-Submarine Warship frigate. The Global Combat Ship design is the most modern, adaptable and flexible of all possible options available today, and I am confident that we will be able to demonstrate that it is the best able to meet the requirements of the Royal Australian Navy».

In coming months, a team of BAE Systems’ Australian engineers will be deployed to the UK to join the Company’s established design team. Being embedded into the one of the most advanced warship building teams in the world will allow these engineers to acquire the skills and knowledge required to effectively transfer the technology to Australia.

BAE Systems is using the latest in modern digital planning capability to refine and tailor its designs to the Commonwealth of Australia’s requirements. To assist this process, the Company has revealed that, a 3-dimensional visualisation suite will be delivered to Australia to help improve understanding of the unique features of the ship design. This will enable conversations about design modifications the Royal Australian Navy requires and will help demonstrate how the Global Combat Ship could accommodate the required CEA Technologies’ phased-array radar system.

This is part of the Australian Department of Defence’s Competitive Evaluation Process for the program. The Commonwealth has also entered into similar agreements with Fincantieri and Navantia.

The Global Combat Ship is the most adaptable and flexible design and best suited to meet the operational requirements of the Royal Australian Navy.

BAE Systems is one of the world’s leading designers, builders and systems integrators of naval ships and submarines. BAE Systems Australia has been building, upgrading and maintaining the Royal Australian Navy’s surface fleet for more than 30 years.

BAE Systems is currently supporting and upgrading the Anzac Class Frigates, sustaining the largest ships in the fleet – the Landing Helicopter Docks, as well as the Adelaide Class Frigates, Minehunters and the Hydrographic Fleet.

First Royal Navy OPV

The first complex warship to be built at Glasgow since the last Type 45, HMS Duncan (D37), has successfully completed its journey from BAE Systems shipyard at Govan on the Clyde and is now safely docked at the company’s Scotstoun facility where she will complete final systems installation and testing.

OPV HMS Forth Leaving the SBOH shed at Govan
OPV HMS Forth Leaving the SBOH shed at Govan

HMS Forth, the first of the new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), entered the water for the first time on Saturday 13 August and her arrival at Scotstoun is the latest step in a modernised approach to shipbuilding at Glasgow that uses the latest technologies and processes. The first plate of steel for Forth was delivered to Glasgow in October 2014 and progressed down the production line soon after, with the ship structurally complete just 18 months later.

Vice Admiral Simon Lister, Chief of Materiel (Fleet) for the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, said: «The cutting-edge technology of the Royal Navy’s versatile new Offshore Patrol Vessels will enable these warships to carry out a wide range of tasks, from disaster relief missions to maritime security, all the while protecting the UK’s interests at home and around the globe. Supported by a rising Defence budget, the rollout of HMS Forth reflects the success of the OPV programme, safeguarding the vital capability and skills that will be used in the delivery of the Royal Navy’s Type 26 Frigates».

Iain Stevenson, Managing Director at BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: «For Forth to enter the water less than two years after construction started is hugely significant and sets the tone for the future of modern warship building. She is the first complex warship to benefit from the new technologies and methods that we are introducing to further bolster our ability to be the best supplier to the Royal Navy. Forth has already benefitted from a safer and more efficient build process that enabled much of the work to take place under cover, and as a result she leaves our Govan facility at a much higher rate of completion. We’re building on the proud heritage of British shipbuilding here in Glasgow and looking to the future. Not only does this mean we are creating valuable additions to the Royal Navy’s fleet but we are ensuring that shipbuilding skills and expertise are maintained and developed in the UK».

OPV HMS Forth is lowered from a barge into the Clyde by BAE Systems workers from at the King George V dock
OPV HMS Forth is lowered from a barge into the Clyde by BAE Systems workers from at the King George V dock

The new process to transfer HMS Forth across the Clyde began with a single remote control and 160 wheels driving the 1600 tonne Forth from inside the ship build hall at Govan to the dock side at a careful half a mile per hour. HMS Forth, with a weight comparable to 120 London buses, then made a short journey towards the waiting barge before setting sail for Scotstoun via the King George V dock. She is now safely at Scotstoun with the installation of the complex combat systems already underway, prior to handover to the Royal Navy in the first half of 2017.

This design of the offshore patrol vessel builds on the Royal Navy’s existing River Class ships and variants of this design are already in service in Brazil and Thailand. Engineers at BAE Systems have modified the design to meet the requirements of the Royal Navy in support of UK interests both at home and abroad.

The OPVs will be globally deployable and capable of ocean patrol with a range in excess of 5,000 nautical miles/5,754 miles/9,260 km, equivalent to a journey from Portsmouth to Rio de Janeiro, and a maximum speed of 24 knots/27.6 mph/44.5 km/h.

The manufacturing contract for the first three ships was announced in August 2014 and in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review the UK Government announced its intention to buy a further two offshore patrol vessels to be built in Glasgow. Construction of first of class, HMS Forth, began in October 2014, second of class, HMS Medway, began in June 2015 while HMS Trent began in October 2015. HMS Forth (length – 90.5 m, width – 13 m) is due to be delivered to the Royal Navy in 2017.

Moving OPV HMS Forth across the Clyde in Glasgow
Moving OPV HMS Forth across the Clyde in Glasgow

Ninth NSC

Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division on August 30 received an $88.2 million fixed-price contract from the U.S. Coast Guard to purchase long-lead materials for a ninth National Security Cutter (NSC).

Munro, the sixth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter (NSC) built at Ingalls Shipbuilding, spent three days in the Gulf of Mexico testing all of the ship’s systems (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
Munro, the sixth U.S. Coast Guard National Security Cutter (NSC) built at Ingalls Shipbuilding, spent three days in the Gulf of Mexico testing all of the ship’s systems (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

«NSC 9 will build on the performance record of her predecessors in the Legend class», said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. «Coast Guard leadership has stated these ships help fill a need to bolster front-line operations in the fight against crime, especially drug interdictions. Ingalls is proud and honored to be providing this most advanced fleet of cutters to enable the Coast Guard to perform its daily missions in protecting America’s shores».

The advance procurement funds will be used to purchase major items for NSC 9 (WMSL-758), such as steel, the main propulsion systems, generators, electrical switchboards and major castings.

«This long-lead material contract gives our shipbuilders the ability to immediately start work on the ship in anticipation of the construction contract», said Kari Wilkinson, Ingalls’ vice president of program management. «This advance procurement helps us get started on the next great ship in this program».

Ingalls has delivered the first five NSCs, the flagship of the Coast Guard’s cutter fleet, designed to replace the 12 Hamilton-class High-Endurance Cutters, which entered service during the 1960s. Ingalls’ sixth NSC, USCGC Munro (WMSL-755), is scheduled for acceptance sea trials and delivery in the fourth quarter of 2016. The seventh ship, USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756), is scheduled to launch in the fourth quarter, and the keel for the eighth, USCGC Midgett (WMSL-757), is scheduled to be laid later this year.

NSCs are 418 feet/127 m long with a 54-foot/16-meter beam and displace 4,500 tons/4,572 metric tons with a full load. They have a top speed of 28 knots/32 mph/52 km/h, a range of 12,000 nautical miles/13,809 miles/22,224 km, an endurance of 60 days and a crew of 120.

The Legend-class NSC is capable of meeting all maritime security mission needs required of the High-Endurance Cutter. The cutter includes an aft launch and recovery area for two rigid hull inflatable boats and a flight deck to accommodate a range of manned and unmanned rotary wing aircraft. It is the largest and most technologically advanced class of cutter in the U.S. Coast Guard, with robust capabilities for maritime homeland security, law enforcement, marine safety, environmental protection and national defense missions. This class of cutters plays an important role in enhancing the Coast Guard’s operational readiness, capacity and effectiveness at a time when the demand for their services has never been greater.

 

Facts

Displacement 4,500 long tons/4,572 metric 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

 

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
WMSL-758

 

Munro (NSC 6) Builder’s Sea Trials

 

Trials for Destroyer

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on September 02 the completion of the first round of sea trials for the guided missile destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113). The Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) ship, built at HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division, spent three days in the Gulf of Mexico testing the ship’s main propulsion system and other ship systems.

Ingalls Shipbuilding's 29th Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) sails the Gulf of Mexico during Alpha sea trials (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)
Ingalls Shipbuilding’s 29th Arleigh Burke (DDG-51) destroyer USS John Finn (DDG-113) sails the Gulf of Mexico during Alpha sea trials (Photo by Lance Davis/HII)

«The DDG 51 program has been the backbone of our shipyard for nearly three decades», said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. «Getting DDG-113 underway is a significant milestone in this program, and we are looking forward to continuing our legacy of building these quality, complex ships for our U.S. Navy customer. The outstanding performance of DDG-113 during its initial sea trials – the first Arleigh Burke-class sea trials in nearly six years – is a testament to the outstanding workmanship of our Ingalls shipbuilders in building the ship to the highest quality standards for our sailors and for our nation», Cuccias added.

The alpha trial was the first of three builder’s trials planned for John Finn, Ingalls’ 29th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The U.S. Navy is requiring three sea trials as part of the restart effort on the DDG-51 program. USS John Finn (DDG-113) is the first destroyer built by Ingalls since the company delivered USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) in 2011.

«There’s nothing like taking an Aegis destroyer to sea, and our test and trials, craftsmen and Supervisor of Shipbuilding team really managed this alpha trial well», said George S. Jones, Ingalls’ vice president of operations. «We could really feel the quality of this ship while sailing through the Gulf. These ships are warfighters, and this extra set of trials will ensure the ship will get a lot of at-sea time in preparation for her delivery later this year».

Ingalls has delivered 28 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy. Other destroyers currently under construction at Ingalls include USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114), USS Paul Ignatius (DDG-117), USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119) and USS Frank E. Petersen Jr. (DDG-121).

Construction on USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2017.

«We will immediately get back to work on DDG-113 and get her ready for bravo trials later this year», said George Nungesser, Ingalls’ DDG program manager. «Our shipbuilders know and understand how important these ships are to our country’s defense, and it is something we take seriously. Our sailors deserve that focus».

DDG-113 is named in honor of the Navy’s first Medal of Honor recipient of World War II. Finn received the honor for machine-gunning Japanese warplanes for over two hours during the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, despite being shot in the foot and shoulder and suffering numerous shrapnel wounds. He retired as a lieutenant after 30 years of service and died at age 100 in 2010.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are capable, multi-mission ships and can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States’ military strategy. The guided missile destroyers are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.

 

Ship Characteristics

Length Overall 510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline 59 feet/18 m
Draft 30.5 feet/9.3 m
Displacement – Full Load 9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
Power Plant 4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
Speed in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h
Range 4,400 NM/8,149 km at 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Crew 380 total: 32 Officers, 27 CPO (Chief Petty Officer), 321 OEM
Surveillance SPY-1D Phased Array Radar and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
Electronics/Countermeasures SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
Aircraft 2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
Armament 2 Mark-41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) with 90 Standard, Vertical Launch ASROC (Anti-Submarine Rocket) & Tomahawk ASM (Air-to-Surface Missile)/LAM (Loitering Attack Missile); 5-in (127-mm)/54 (62) Mark-45 gun; 2 (1) CIWS (Close-In Weapon System); 2 Mark-32 triple 324-mm torpedo tubes for Mark-46 or Mark-50 ASW torpedos

 

Guided Missile Destroyers Lineup

Flight IIA: Restart

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-113 John Finn HIIIS 03-28-15
DDG-114 Ralph Johnson HIIIS 12-12-15
DDG-115 Rafael Peralta GDBIW 10-31-15

 

Flight IIA: Technology Insertion

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-116 Thomas Hudner GDBIW
DDG-117 Paul Ignatius HIIIS
DDG-118 Daniel Inouye GDBIW
DDG-119 Delbert D. Black HIIIS
DDG-120 Carl M. Levin GDBIW
DDG-121 Frank E. Peterson Jr. HIIIS
DDG-122 John Basilone GDBIW
DDG-123 Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee HIIIS

 

Flight III

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-124 Harvey C. Barnum, Jr. GDBIW
DDG-125 Jack H. Lucas HIIIS
DDG-126 Louis H. Wilson, Jr. GDBIW

 

John Finn’s Builder’s Trials

 

Built for extremes

When Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were imperiled by the destructive power of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), a variant of the armored Stryker combat vehicle sporting a specially-designed blast-diffusing hull saved countless lives.

Boasting an upgraded chassis and drivetrain along with a variety of mechanical, electrical and digital improvements to enhance its performance, a new variant of the Stryker Combat Vehicle underwent a winter of extreme use at U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center earlier this year (Photo Credit: Mark Schauer, Army Test and Evaluation Command)
Boasting an upgraded chassis and drivetrain along with a variety of mechanical, electrical and digital improvements to enhance its performance, a new variant of the Stryker Combat Vehicle underwent a winter of extreme use at U.S. Army Cold Regions Test Center earlier this year (Photo Credit: Mark Schauer, Army Test and Evaluation Command)

Particularly suited for transporting infantry in urban environments, the Stryker combat vehicle has become popular among Soldiers in the most dangerous and rugged areas overseas. They know the vehicle to be quiet, reliable, and easy to maintain and repair.

The vehicle’s stellar performance is doubtless related to the extensive evaluation it has undergone at Yuma Proving Ground and its three subsidiary test centers since 2002, including a six-month stint in the jungles of Suriname in 2008. Earlier this year, a new variant of the vehicle wrapped up a winter of extreme use at the Army Cold Regions Test Center.

Boasting an upgraded chassis and drivetrain along with a variety of mechanical, electrical and digital improvements to enhance its performance, the latest Stryker variant was subjected to more than 3,000 miles/4,828 km driving across rugged terrain in extreme cold.

«It looks like a regular Stryker, but it isn’t», said Richard Reiser, test officer. «It has a larger engine that significantly increases horsepower and torque. It has a much greater diagnostic capability that integrates subsystems. This gives operators a greater awareness of vehicle health and potentially improves situational awareness during the actual mission in the vehicle».

In the world’s most frigid environments, cold starts can be harrowing even for the most rudimentary vehicles. For a complex system like the Stryker, each component’s ability to function in extreme cold is crucially important and was subjected to keen evaluation in temperatures far below freezing.

«Like automotive trends in general, we have much greater reliance on computer systems in these vehicles», said Reiser. «Those computer systems and subsystems integrated into the hull depend on a great deal of computer software and hardware».

Though a vehicle’s performance characteristics are similar in cold weather once a vehicle is started and sufficiently warmed up, dramatic fluctuations in temperature can degrade performance of any number of a vehicle’s components.

«Stopping distance and acceleration shouldn’t change profoundly in this environment», explained Reiser. «The real issues tend to be related to rapid temperature differentials. Each sub-zero temperature threshold tends to flush out small anomalies».

Testers went to great lengths to test in potential failure conditions. For example, after a long drive on the range the day before a particularly nasty drop in temperature was forecast, the testers used fans connected to long tubes snaking into the engine compartment and other vital areas of the vehicle to blow frigid air onto the components overnight.

«We adjust to capture things and be ready for those colder temperatures on short notice», said Reiser. «It’s a small crew and it’s easy to make adjustments to the mission profile to take advantage».

Throughout the test, the Army evaluators used the same vehicle that had been subjected to punishing hot weather testing the previous summer at Yuma Test Center, Arizona. Personnel travelled to Yuma to take part in the testing and instrumented the vehicle in a configuration that applied to testing in both climates.

«It provides not only continuity in the instrumentation process, but helped our technician get it done quicker while supporting Yuma’s effort as well», said Reiser.

The test was more than just endless driving. The performances of every special feature the vehicle boasts were scrutinized, from its communications suite to the central tire inflation system that adjusts tire pressure as the vehicle is in motion.

«Cross country miles accumulate slowly in this environment», said Reiser. «We didn’t have consistently cold weather, so we were able to move what sub-test activity we were doing based on its environmental relevance. If it is something that’s not so much impacted by extreme cold, we moved that to the less-cold times».

Soldiers from Fort Wainwright’s 25th Infantry Division also assisted in the testing by entering and exiting hatches of the vehicle while attired in the full complement of armor and Arctic battle dress, ensuring that everything in the vehicle could be reached without snagging their bulky gear.

«It was great coordination between the two tests to pick the appropriate miserable day to get the Soldiers to do some limited ingress-egress testing», said Reiser. «When this vehicle is fielded and the Soldiers have the new body armor, we’ll already know it isn’t an issue for ingress and egress».

The multi-month test was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, which Reiser attributes to the flexibility of the rugged, self-contained six-person crew. The drivers, for instance, were from the testing center’s maintenance shop. They were able to troubleshoot and repair problems that cropped up without lengthy downtime at a maintenance shop many miles from the test range.

«We were able to eliminate delay times when we went into maintenance because maintenance was right here», said Reiser. «If we had a vehicle issue, they just changed hats and researched from a different vantage point what they had to do to solve the problem, which was a huge cost savings».

F-35 surges forward

The F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) here recently completed 25 missions comprised of 12 Weapons Delivery Accuracy (WDA) and 13 weapon separation tests as part of a monthlong weapons firing test surge.

Major Douglas Rosenstock fires an AIM-120 AMRAAM from an F-35 Lightning II during a recent weapons test surge at Edwards Air Force Base, California. By the end of the surge the F-35 Integrated Test Team released 30 weapons in 31 days, a first in flight testing (Lockheed Martin photo/Darrin Russel)
Major Douglas Rosenstock fires an AIM-120 AMRAAM from an F-35 Lightning II during a recent weapons test surge at Edwards Air Force Base, California. By the end of the surge the F-35 Integrated Test Team released 30 weapons in 31 days, a first in flight testing (Lockheed Martin photo/Darrin Russel)

Historically, WDAs take place once a month given the myriad of coordination required. The highest number previously accomplished in a month was three in November 2014 during block 2B software testing.

Major Charles Trickey, interim director of operations for the 461st Flight Test Squadron (FTS), flew the final mission of the surge August 17. The mission was completed at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, where F-35 Lightning IIs shot two advanced medium-range, air-to-air missiles at a QF-4 drone.

«Some of these WDAs were particularly challenging events», Trickey said. He said the final mission was actually the fourth attempt to complete this test. «It was really cool to see the satisfaction of the team, and to get that feeling of accomplishment after doing something that challenging».

All told, the F-35 ITF deployed 30 weapons in 31 days, which included 12 WDAs and 13 separations, according to Trickey.

«Thirty separations in 31 days; that’s never been done before in flight test», said Captain Brett Tillman, a flight test engineer with the 461st FTS. «The fact that we could get everything together to do that number of separations in that few days is pretty amazing».

These successful test events – performed using the F-35’s newest block 3F software – demonstrated the accuracy of the aircraft. Five of the test events featured dropping multiple weapons.

The effort for this surge wasn’t limited to the F-35 test team. There were a number of units outside the F-35 ITF that put in extra effort and time to make the surge successful, including Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) airfield and tanker operations, the 416th FTS and the F-35 Joint Program Office.

The F-35 weapons test team was given exclusive use of the Sea Test Range, an instrumented Pacific Ocean test area off the central coast near Point Mugu, California. Tests were also conducted at the U.S. Navy’s China Lake weapons range in California and White Sands missile range.

«The amount of coordination and teamwork from the ITF and the outside organizations to enable this is unprecedented», Tillman said. «The work these team members put in is amazing. It couldn’t have been done without them».

During this surge period, a total of 30 weapons were dropped or fired, including the joint direct attack munition, AIM-120 advanced medium-range, air-to-air missile, GPS-guided 250-pound/113.4-kg small diameter bomb, AIM-9X Sidewinder supersonic, heat-seeking, air-to-air missile and GPS laser-guided munition.

«The WDAs rely on the full capability of the F-35 – multiple sensors, navigation, weapons envelope, mission planning, data links and inter-agency range scheduling – all working in sequence to put steel on target», said Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan, an F-35 program executive officer. «This was a tremendous effort by the F-35 test team. They surged and worked seven days a week for more than a month to expend 30 ordnance and advanced weapons testing. This testing has moved us that much closer to delivering the full F-35 capability to warfighters within the next two years».

The F-35 is a multi-role, next-generation fighter that combines advanced stealth with speed, agility and a 360-degree view of the battlespace. The F-35 will form the backbone of air combat superiority for decades to come and replace legacy tactical fighter fleets with dominant air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities to deter and defeat potential adversaries.

The Marine Corps declared the F-35B combat ready, or Initial Operating Capability (IOC), in July 2015; the Air Force declared F-35A IOC on August 2; and the Navy intends to attain F-35C IOC in 2018. More than 200 F-35s have flown in excess of 66,000 fleet-wide hours, with over 300 F-35 pilots and 3,000 maintainers trained to operate and support this next-generation aircraft.