Protected Combat
Support Vehicle

Second Minister for Defence of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Mr. Ong Ye Kung officiated at a ceremony to mark the commissioning of the Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle (PCSV) at the SAFTI Live Firing Area this afternoon.

Developed by Singapore’s DSTA and ST Kinetics Ltd, the Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle will equip Singapore’s motorized infantry units (S’Pore MoD photo)
Developed by Singapore’s DSTA and ST Kinetics Ltd, the Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle will equip Singapore’s motorized infantry units (S’Pore MoD photo)

Mr. Ong lauded the commissioning of the Belrex PCSV as a significant milestone in the Army’s motorisation efforts and the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF’s) transformation into an integrated third generation fighting force. He said, «The Belrex PCSV is more agile, versatile, offers stronger fire power, better protection, and greater situational awareness. With the Belrex platform, our infantry forces will be more effective, and can better adapt to the changing nature of the modern battlefield». Mr. Ong also noted that the full suite of C4 systems on board allows the Belrex PCSV to be «linked to Army Headquarters and their fighting forces, and further enhance the SAF’s networked and integrated fighting force. The Belrex platform is the proud creation of Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and Singapore Technologies Kinetics (ST Kinetics) Ltd, and demonstrates our indigenous capability». Mr. Ong also underscored the professionalism and unwavering commitment of our servicemen, which has remained key to the successful realisation of this new capability.

The Belrex PCSV provides the SAF’s motorised infantry combat support and combat service support forces with improved firepower, protection and situational awareness, thereby enhancing the SAF’s precision manoeuvre capabilities. It is equipped with a C4 (command, control, communications and computer) suite of systems to facilitate efficient information exchange via the Army Battlefield Internet, and enables the SAF’s motorised infantry forces to fight together in an integrated manner. The introduction of the Belrex PCSV follows that of other platforms such as the Peacekeeper Protected Response Vehicle and Terrex Infantry Carrier Vehicle, as part of the Army’s ongoing Third Generation transformation efforts.

Also present at the ceremony were Chief of Army Major-General Melvyn Ong, senior officers from the SAF, and senior officials from the DSTA.

Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle
Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle


Key Features

Operating of Platform 2
Cabin Up to 8
Length 23.78 feet/7.25 m
Width 8.53 feet/2.60 m
Height 9.02 feet/2.75 m
Weight 44,092.5 lbs/20 tons
Power to Weight Ratio 14.8 hp/ton
Maximum Speed 68 mph/110 km/h
Range 373 miles/600 km
Vertical Step Clearance 15.7 inch/0.40 m
Trench Clearance 37.4 inch/0.95 m
Maximum Front Slope 60%


First launch of Aster

On November 22, at the Salto di Quirra joint armed forces test range, the Italian Navy has successfully conducted from Italian FREMM frigate Carlo Bergamini (F590) the first live firing of an Aster 30 missile with a telemetry head, as part of the qualification programme for the surface-to-air extended self defence system (SAAM ESD, Surface to Air Anti Missile System Extended Self Defence).

Aster 30 missile
Aster 30 missile

With the SAAM ESD system, the firing ship is able to both protect itself (self-defence) and other consort ships.

The firing was completed in full accordance with the established plan. All the launch phases were accomplished according to expectations. The successful firing confirms the excellent team work established and developed in perfect synergy between the Italian Navy and the industry.

This test is one of the most relevant technical/experimental trials that the Italian Navy has carried out within the Salto di Quirra test range, and a very important activity that will support the high-tech national industry, also in the export markets. This event represents also the re-entry into service, after 4 years, of the Sardinian test range, fully compliant with the most updated environmental safety requirements.

The missile system, produced by MBDA, is composed of an AGIS Command and Control System, an active Multi-Function Radar for searching, tracking, detection and missile guidance, together with 2 Sylver A-50 vertical launch firing modules.

The SAAM ESD qualification plan is expected to be completed with a follow-on live firing planned for April 2017, when the anti-air warfare complex will be managed seamlessly integrated with the FREMM’s CMS (Combat Management System).



Weight 948 lbs/430 kg
Length 16 feet/4.9 m
Diameter 7 inch/180 mm
Altitude 65,617 feet/20,000 m
Range In excess of 65 NM/75 miles/120 km
Maximum speed Mach 4.5
Propulsion Solid propellant, two-stage propulsion


Completing assembly

According to Unian news agency, Ukraine’s state-owned enterprise Antonov, the only Ukrainian designer and manufacturer of cargo and passenger planes, completes the work on the assembly of the first An-132 aircraft.

The first An-132D twin turboprop transport aircraft on the Antonov final assembly line (Antonov photo)
The first An-132D twin turboprop transport aircraft on the Antonov final assembly line (Antonov photo)

Photos have been published on Facebook, confirming that the plane is almost ready: its fuselage has been fully assembled, as well as wings and engines manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Canada have been installed. As UNIAN reported earlier, the aircraft will be rolled out from a hangar in December.

Oleksandr Khokhlov, the director of the An-132 program and deputy chief designer at Antonov, earlier said in an interview with UNIAN that in the framework of the contract with the Arabian KACST, the company plans to send the first aircraft An-132 to the customer, Saudi Arabia, in the first quarter of 2017.

State-owned Antonov is the manufacturer of cargo and passenger aircraft, as well as special purpose aircraft. Among the company’s most recognized projects are the An-32, An-148, An-158, An-74, An-124, An-70 and An-225.

Saudi Arabia has ordered 30 of these aircraft, some of which will be assembled locally (Antonov photo)
Saudi Arabia has ordered 30 of these aircraft, some of which will be assembled locally (Antonov photo)

Indonesian Panther

Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first three of the 11 AS565 MBe Panther helicopters to Indonesia, ahead of contract schedule, at a ceremony at Airbus Helicopters’ headquarters in Marignane, in the presence of representatives from Indonesia’s Ministry of Defence and the Indonesian Navy.

First three of 11 AS565 MBe Panther helicopters handed over to PT Dirgantara Indonesia
First three of 11 AS565 MBe Panther helicopters handed over to PT Dirgantara Indonesia

This follows the contract signature in late 2014 with PT Dirgantara Indonesia for 11 AS565 MBe helicopters. The delivery of the remaining helicopters will run through to 2018.

«We are excited to witness the handover of the first three AS565 MBe helicopters to our partner today», said Janick Blanc, Head of the Panther programme at Airbus Helicopters. «The AS565 MBe has been developed using state-of-the-art processes and this enhanced variant of the Panther will benefit from an increased maximum take-off weight at 9,921 lbs/4,500 kg. This will provide increased mission capabilities, specifically for the Anti-Submarine Warfare missions these rotorcrafts are expected to perform», he added.

Under the agreement, Airbus Helicopters will supply the AS565 MBe helicopters to its Indonesia industrial partner PT Dirgantara Indonesia, who will reassemble and outfit these rotorcraft in-country, acting as the design authority. This will notably cover the installation of the Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) suite which includes a dipping sonar and torpedo launch systems, allowing the Indonesian Navy to carry out its most demanding missions.

This Indonesian MBe Panther programme is the latest of a long-standing relationship between Airbus Helicopters and PT Dirgantara Indonesia, who celebrated their 40 years of strategic partnership earlier this month. The two companies have delivered more than 190 helicopters together, through joint programmes over the last four decades.

«We have been working with Airbus Helicopters on numerous projects for many years by now, and this milestone today further illustrates the commitment both companies have towards this programme», said Budi Santoso, CEO and President of PT Dirgantara Indonesia. «We look forward to receiving these green helicopters in Bandung, as we ready to start the installation of the mission equipment, and the subsequent qualification and certification of our future anti-submarine warfare helicopters», he added.

Recognised as one of the world’s most capable light/medium anti-submarine warfare platforms, the AS565 MBe is equipped with two Safran Arriel 2N engines, which enhance the helicopter’s performance in high and hot conditions, while enabling it to achieve a top speed of 165 knots/190 mph/305 km/h and a range of 485 miles/781 kilometres. It also boasts a new main gearbox, the latest-generation tail rotor and a 4-axis autopilot that reduces crew workload and makes the most demanding missions easier to perform.

Deliveries to run through to 2018
Deliveries to run through to 2018



Crew 2 pilot + 10 troops
Sling load: 3,527 lbs/1,600 kg
Maximum Takeoff weight (internal or external load) 4,500 kg/9,921 lbs
2 Turbomeca Arriel 2N turboshaft engines, Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC)
Maximum power per engine (OEI 30-second rating) 842 kW/1,129 shp
Fast cruise speed 143 knots/164 mph/264 km/h
Top speed 165 knots/190 mph/305 km/h
Range with optional auxiliary tanks (at RCS 145 knots/167 mph/269 km/h) 422 NM/485 miles/781 km
AS565 MBe will bring increased mission capabilities, specifically for anti-submarine warfare missions
AS565 MBe will bring increased mission capabilities, specifically for anti-submarine warfare missions

Acceptance Trials

Future Independence-class littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) successfully completed its acceptance trials November 18. The trials consisted of a series of in-port and underway demonstrations for the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle «Gabby» Giffords waves to a crowd in front of the littoral combat ship, USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), named for her. Giffords was on the stage as Dr. Jill Biden christened the ship at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. The 419-foot/127.7 м ship was built at the Austal shipyard and is the U.S. Navy's 10th littoral combat ship designed to operate in shallow waters near the coast. It is 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman and only the 13th since 1850 to be named for a living person (Photo courtesy Austal USA/Released)
Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle «Gabby» Giffords waves to a crowd in front of the littoral combat ship, USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), named for her. Giffords was on the stage as Dr. Jill Biden christened the ship at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. The 419-foot/127.7 м ship was built at the Austal shipyard and is the U.S. Navy’s 10th littoral combat ship designed to operate in shallow waters near the coast. It is 16th U.S. naval ship to be named for a woman and only the 13th since 1850 to be named for a living person (Photo courtesy Austal USA/Released)

Acceptance trials are the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the U.S. Navy. During the trials, the Navy conducted comprehensive tests of the LCS intended to demonstrate the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling, and auxiliary systems.

«Another thorough trial by INSURV, and another ship with improved scores and at a lower cost than her predecessor», said LCS Program Manager Captain Tom Anderson. «LCS-10 is an exceptional ship which brings the U.S. Navy operational flexibility at an affordable price».

While underway, the ship successfully performed launch and recovery operations of the 36-foot/11-meter, rigid-hull inflatable boat; surface and air self-defense, detect-to-engage exercises; and demonstrations of the ship’s maneuverability to include a full power run in excess of 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h.

Following delivery and commissioning in Galveston, Texas, LCS-10 will sail to California to be homeported in San Diego with sister ships USS Independence (LCS-2), USS Coronado (LCS-4), USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Montgomery (LCS-8).

Several more Independence variants are under construction at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. Future USS Omaha (LCS-12) and future USS Manchester (LCS-14) are preparing for builders trials in 2017. Future USS Tulsa (LCS-16) is scheduled to be christened in early 2017. Other sister ships, future USS Charleston (LCS-18), future USS Cincinnati (LCS-20), future USS Kansas City (LCS-22), future USS Oakland (LCS-24), and future USS Mobile (LCS-26) are all in varying stages of construction.

The LCS class consists of two variants – the Freedom variant and the 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 the subsequent even-numbered hulls.

Each LCS will be outfitted with a single mission package made up of mission modules containing warfighting systems and support equipment. A dedicated ship crew will combine with aviation assets to deploy manned and unmanned vehicles and sensors in support of mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, or surface warfare missions.

LCS10 Completes Acceptance Trials with Dolphins in tow


The Independence Variant of the LCS Class

Construction Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 417 feet/127.1 m
Beam overall 103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum) 14.8 feet/4.5 m
Complement Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
Berthing 76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load 210 tonnes
Mission Bay Volume 118,403 feet3/11,000 m3
Mission packages Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Surface Warfare (SUW)
Mine Warfare (MIW)
Main engines 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster Retractable azimuthing
Speed 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Operational limitation Survival in Sea State 8
Deck area >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery Twin boom extending crane
Loading Side ramp
Internal elevator to hanger
Launch/Recover Watercraft Sea State 4
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)
Hanger Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Launch/Recover Aircraft Sea State 5
Standard 1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules



Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Independence (LCS-2) 01-19-2006 04-26-2008 01-16-2010 San Diego, California
USS Coronado (LCS-4) 12-17-2009 01-14-2012 04-05-2014 San Diego, California
USS Jackson (LCS-6) 08-01-2011 12-14-2013 12-05-2015 San Diego, California
USS Montgomery (LCS-8) 06-25-2013 08-06-2014 09-10-2016 San Diego, California
USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) 04-16-2014 02-25-2015
USS Omaha (LCS-12) 02-18-2015 11-20-2015
USS Manchester (LCS-14) 06-29-2015
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20)
USS Kansas City (LCS-22)
USS Oakland (LCS-24)


Chennai joins the Navy

INS Chennai (D65), a P-15A Guided Missile Destroyer, was commissioned into the Indian Navy by the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Shri Manohar Parrikar at an impressive ceremony held at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai on 21 November 16. The event marks the formal induction into the Navy of the third and the last of the three «Kolkata» class destroyers, indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design and constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai. On his arrival, the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri was received by Admiral Sunil Lanba, PVSM, AVSM, ADC, the Chief of the Naval Staff and was presented a Guard of Honour by the ship’s crew. The ceremony was witnessed by a large gathering which included several dignitaries and senior officials from the government and all three services.

INS Chennai (D65), commissioned today into the Indian Navy fleet, is the third and final «Kolkata» class destroyer, designed with Russian assistance by the Indian Navy and built by Mazagon Dock Limited, in Mumbai
INS Chennai (D65), commissioned today into the Indian Navy fleet, is the third and final «Kolkata» class destroyer, designed with Russian assistance by the Indian Navy and built by Mazagon Dock Limited, in Mumbai

Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Sh Manohar Parrikar, whilst addressing the gathering, termed the commissioning of INS Chennai (D65), last of the Project P-15A class Destroyers, as a historic day for the Indian Navy as it adds another milestone in our relentless journey towards achieving self-reliance in battle readiness. The ship represents a significant «coming of age» of our warship building capability and defence preparedness, said the Defence minister. He further stated that the Indian Navy, in addition to providing overall maritime security to our country, also plays a crucial role as the ‘net security provider’ in our adjoining seas. In this regard, Shri Manohar Parrikar also stressed that the Navy’s growth and development must keep pace with the nation’s growth and maritime security needs.

Lauding the role played by the naval designers (DGND) and the ship builders i.e. M/s MDL Mumbai, the Raksha Mantri said «with the induction of INS Chennai (D65), a new benchmark has been achieved for our warship design and construction endeavours, with the sophistication of systems and equipment, and utilisation of advanced ship building techniques».

During his address, Admiral Sunil Lanba, the Navy Chief said that commissioning of INS Chennai (D65) marks another milestone in the Navy’s quest for self-reliance as it signifies completion of the challenging Project P-15A and heralds a new era of advanced warships built indigenously by Indian shipyards. The Admiral also stated that indigenisation of platforms, weapons, sensors and equipment with participation of public as well as private sectors, will continue to remain a focus area of the Indian Navy, in line with the «Make in India» policy enunciated by the Prime Minister. He emphasized that the Roadmap for the Navy’s expansion and growth would continue to remain firmly anchored on Self-reliance and Indigenisation.

The Commanding Officer, Captain CR Praveen Nair, read out the Commissioning Warrant, which was followed by the hoisting of «Colours» (ceremony of hoisting the National Flag and Naval Ensign) which marked the commencement of the ship’s service as a warship of the Navy. The Commissioning event was characterised by closely coordinated sequence of drills and events leading to formal unveiling of the ship’s name plaque by the Chief Guest. On completion of the Commissioning Ceremony, the Hon’ble Raksha Mantri also unveiled a special cover to commemorate the Commissioning of INS Chennai (D65) and completion of the prestigious Project 15A class of stealth destroyers.

Following her formal induction, INS Chennai (D65) will be placed under the operational and administrative control of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command. In due course, the ship will be assigned to the Western Fleet and would be base-ported at Mumbai.

The ship measures 535 feet/163 m in length, 57 feet/17.4 m in breadth with a displacement of 7,500 tonnes and can rightfully be regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India. The ship is propelled by four powerful Gas Turbines, in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration, capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h. The ship has enhanced stealth features resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) achieved through efficient shaping of hull, full beam superstructure design, plated masts and use of radar transparent materials on exposed decks.

INS Chennai (D65) is packed with contemporary and sophisticated ‘state of the art’ weapons and sensors such as Surface to Surface Missile and Surface to Air Missiles. The ship is fitted with a modern Surveillance Radar which provides target data to the gunnery weapon systems of the ship. The ship’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities are provided by the indigenously developed Rocket Launchers and Torpedo Launchers. The ship is equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions.

A unique feature of this ship is the high level of indigenisation incorporated in the production, accentuating our national objective of «Make in India». Some of the major indigenised equipment/system onboard INS Chennai (D65) include Combat Management System, Rocket Launcher, Torpedo Tube Launcher, Automated Power Management System, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing system, Auxiliary Control System and the Bow Mounted Sonar.

Named after the iconic port city of Chennai, the ship has a complement of about 45 officers and 395 personnel. Enhancement of crew comfort has been a significant feature of INS Chennai (D65), which has been ensured through ergonomically designed accommodation based on «modular» concepts. The ship will be under the command of Captain CR Praveen Nair, a Communication & Electronic Warfare specialist.

With the changing power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region, INS Chennai (D65) will augment the Indian Navy’s mobility, reach and flexibility whilst proudly flying the Indian flag.

INS Chennai (D65) has an overall length of 535 feet/163 m and displacement of over 7,500 tons
INS Chennai (D65) has an overall length of 535 feet/163 m and displacement of over 7,500 tons

Poseidon in Australia

Australia’s first P-8A arrived in the capital city of Canberra November 16, carrying Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, The Honourable Christopher Pyne, Minister for Defence Industry, The Honourable Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and other senior government leaders.

First P-8A Poseidon Arrives in Australia
First P-8A Poseidon Arrives in Australia

«The Poseidon is a cutting-edge surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft which will dominate the skies around our nation’s coastline», Prime Minister Turnbull said. «We just had a demonstration of some of the very impressive capabilities on board this morning. It is a potent and highly versatile aircraft».

This is the first of eight Australian P-8As under contract with Boeing as part of a cooperative program with the U.S. Navy begun in 2009 to collaborate on the aircraft’s development. Four additional Poseidon have been approved and funded by the Australian government. In addition to the U.S. Navy, the Indian Navy flies the P-8I variant and the United Kingdom has confirmed its purchase of nine of the P-8A variant.

The P-8A Poseidon is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad-area, maritime and littoral operations. A derivative of the Next-Generation 737-800, the P-8A combines superior performance and reliability with an advanced mission system that ensures maximum interoperability in the future battle space. The aircraft is militarized with maritime weapons, a modern open mission system architecture, and commercial-like support for affordability.


Technical Specifications

Wing Span 123.6 feet/37.64 m
Height 42.1 feet/12.83 m
Length 129.5 feet/39.47 m
Propulsion 2 × CFM56-7B engines; 27,000 lbs/12,237 kgf/120 kN thrust
Speed 490 knots/564 mph/908 km/h
Range 1,200 NM/1,381 miles/2,222 km with 4 hours on station
Ceiling 41,000 feet/12,496 m
Crew 9
Maximum Take-Off Gross Weight 189,200 lbs/85,820 kg


A400M to Spain

The Spanish Air Force has taken delivery of its first Airbus A400M new generation airlifter – the most advanced aircraft to have been produced in Spain and one which will transform the nation’s air mobility fleet.

Airbus Defence and Space delivers first A400M to Spain
Airbus Defence and Space delivers first A400M to Spain

Today’s contractual handover of the first of 27 aircraft that it has ordered makes Spain the sixth nation to put the A400M into service.

Representatives of the Spanish Air Force and Ministry of Defence formally accepted the aircraft, known as MSN44, from Airbus Defence and Space in a brief ceremony at the A400M Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Seville.

Airbus Defence and Space Head of Military Aircraft, Fernando Alonso, said: «Today is truly a special day for all of us who have been involved with the A400M programme over the years – but particularly for the Seville workforce that has worked so hard to make the aircraft a reality. Every delivery to every customer is of huge importance to us, but being able to hand over the first aircraft to Spain from our final assembly line in Seville is a source of particular pride. I would like to thank all our employees, as well as Organisation conjointe de coopération en matière d’armement (OCCAR) and our Spanish customer for achieving this milestone».

In Spanish service the A400M will replace the ageing C-130 aircraft type, carrying about twice the load over the same distance, or the same load twice as far. In addition, it can serve as a tactical air-to-air tanker for other transport aircraft, including other A400Ms.

Uniquely it is able both to cruise at jet-like speeds and altitudes over intercontinental ranges due to its four extremely powerful engines and advanced aerodynamic design, as well as to operate repeatedly from short and unprepared airstrips close to the scene of military action or humanitarian crisis.

Under an agreement signed in September, 14 aircraft will be delivered at a steady pace between now and 2022, and the remaining 13 are scheduled for delivery from 2025 onwards.

The Spanish A400M fleet will be based at Zaragoza in North East Spain and will represent the heavylift element of a transport force that includes the medium C295 and CN235, and light C212 aircraft – all produced by Airbus Defence and Space. MSN44 will fly to Zaragoza in the coming days.

Altogether more than 1600 employees from Airbus Defence and Space work in Spain for the A400m program, including 1100 working directly at the Seville FAL and nearby Tablada Factory. To date eight nations have ordered 174 aircraft of which 34 have now been delivered.

Aircraft leaves final assembly line at Seville to serve at Zaragoza base



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
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
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11,000 shp/8,200 kW
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 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

Bendable titanium alloy

A bendable titanium alloy suspension system inspired by the hard shells and flexible legs of ironclad beetles could hold the key to protecting future military vehicles from explosive impacts.

New bendable titanium alloy suspension concept
New bendable titanium alloy suspension concept

The alloy is made from the same type of material used in flexible spectacles and allows the suspension to «bounce back» into shape after impact, so that the vehicle can continue its mission. Initial tests of a prototype have proved successful and engineers at BAE Systems in Telford, Shropshire believe that the new suspension system could be made available in the next decade.

Currently, the hulls of combat vehicles and their passengers are protected from blasts such as mines or IEDs, but key operational parts such as the vehicle’s suspension can still be damaged – meaning they must be rescued by other military units. The memory metal alloy was first developed by the United States Naval Ordnance Laboratory in the 1960s, but engineers at BAE Systems believe this is the first time it has been used to build an entire suspension system. Using memory metal also means the spring can be removed entirely from the suspension – strengthening and simplifying the system further.

A prototype of the suspension system has already been constructed and tested by a team of experts and apprentices at BAE Systems as part of their response to a competition placed by the Government’s Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory for an unmanned Highly Robust Ground Platform. The small-scale prototype underwent five increasingly powerful explosive tests, showing significant resilience against the blasts as a result of its highly robust construction.

Now, the Company’s engineers are investigating adapting memory metal suspension for full-size combat vehicles, meaning that bendable titanium alloys could form a part of military operations within the next 10 years.

Marcus Potter, Head of Mobility at BAE Systems Land (UK), said: «This unique use of memory metals could prove a real game-changer for combat vehicles taking part in operations. Being able to adapt to changing situations is hugely important to maintaining effectiveness, and this application of bendable titanium could give armed forces the required flexibility – and survivability – to complete tasks in challenging areas».

The concept of using memory metals for suspension was developed after BAE Systems engineers reviewed a range of innovations in other high technology sectors and considered how they could be applied to combat vehicles.

BAE Systems businesses have a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2000 inventions internationally. The Company has developed some of the world’s most innovative technologies and invests in research and development to generate future products and capabilities.

2nd Test Vehicle

Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), seeks to greatly increase the effectiveness of forward-deployed small-deck ships such as destroyers and frigates by enabling them to serve as mobile launch and recovery sites for specially designed unmanned air systems (UASs). DARPA last year awarded Phase 3 of Tern to a team led by the Northrop Grumman Corporation to build a full-scale technology demonstration system. The program has since made significant advances on numerous fronts, including commencement of wing fabrication and completion of successful engine testing for its test vehicle, and DARPA has tasked Northrop Grumman with building a second test vehicle.

Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), has made significant advances during Phase 3 on numerous fronts, including commencement of wing fabrication and completion of successful engine testing for its test vehicle, and funding of a second test vehicle
Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), has made significant advances during Phase 3 on numerous fronts, including commencement of wing fabrication and completion of successful engine testing for its test vehicle, and funding of a second test vehicle

«DARPA has been thinking about building a second Tern test vehicle for well over a year», said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager. «Adding the second technology demonstrator enhances the robustness of the flight demonstration program and enables military partners to work with us on maturation, including testing different payloads and experimenting with different approaches to operational usage».

Tern envisions a new medium-altitude, long-endurance UAS that could operate from helicopter decks on smaller ships in rough seas or expeditionary settings while achieving efficient long-duration flight. To provide these and other previously unattainable capabilities, the Tern Phase 3 design is a tailsitting, flying-wing aircraft with a twin contra-rotating, nose-mounted propulsion system. The aircraft would lift off like a helicopter and then perform a transition maneuver to orient it for wing-borne flight for the duration of a mission. Upon mission completion, the aircraft would return to base, transition back to a vertical orientation, and land. The system is sized to fit securely inside a ship hangar for maintenance operations and storage.

Tern has accomplished the following technical milestones for its test vehicle in 2016:

  • Wing fabrication: Since Phase 3 work started at the beginning of 2016, Tern has finished fabricating major airframe components and anticipates final assembly in the first quarter of 2017. Once complete, the airframe will house propulsion, sensors, and other commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) systems to make up the full-scale technology demonstration vehicle.
  • Engine tests: In Phases 2 and 3, Tern has successfully tested numerous modifications to an existing General Electric engine to enable it to operate in both vertical and horizontal orientations. This type of engine was chosen because it is mature and powers multiple helicopter platforms currently in use.
  • Software integration: This summer, Tern opened its Software Integration Test Station (SITS), part of the System Integration Lab that supports software development for the program. The test station includes vehicle management system hardware and software, and uses high-fidelity simulation tools to enable rapid testing of aircraft control software in all phases of flight. The SITS is helping ensure the technology demonstration vehicle could fly safely in challenging conditions such as launch, recovery, and transition between horizontal and vertical flight.

Additional tests are about to start. A 1/5th-scale version of the approved vehicle model is in testing in the 80’ × 120’ wind tunnel at the NASA Ames Research Center’s National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex (NFAC). Data collected during this test will be used to better characterize aircraft aerodynamic performance and validate aerodynamic models.

«We’re making substantial progress toward our scheduled flight tests, with much of the hardware already fabricated and software development and integration in full swing», said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, which oversees Tern. «As we keep pressing into uncharted territory – no one has flown a large unmanned tailsitter before – we remain excited about the future capabilities a successful Tern demonstration could enable: organic, persistent, long-range reconnaissance, targeting, and strike support from most Navy ships».

Tern is currently scheduled to start integrated propulsion system testing in the first part of 2017, move to ground-based testing in early 2018, and culminate in a series of at-sea flight tests in late 2018.

DARPA and the Navy have a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to share responsibility for the development and testing of the Tern demonstrator system. The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL) has also expressed interest in Tern’s potential capabilities and is providing support to the program.

Tern Phase 3 Concept Video