Acceptance Trials

The future USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) successfully completed acceptance trials conducted by the U.S. Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) in the Atlantic Ocean May 24-26 and is in final preparations for delivery.

The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk for the first time. The first-of-class ship – the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years – spent several days conducting builder's sea trails, a comprehensive test of many of the ship's key systems and technologies (U.S. Navy photo by Matt Hildreth courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)
The aircraft carrier Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) pulls into Naval Station Norfolk for the first time. The first-of-class ship – the first new U.S. aircraft carrier design in 40 years – spent several days conducting builder’s sea trails, a comprehensive test of many of the ship’s key systems and technologies (U.S. Navy photo by Matt Hildreth courtesy of Huntington Ingalls Industries/Released)

Acceptance trials are primarily aimed at demonstrating to INSURV the ability of the ship’s crew to conduct operations at sea, and that the ship is constructed in accordance with contract specifications.

«Congratulations to our Navy and industry team for all the great work that has led us to this exciting milestone», said Rear Admiral Brian Antonio, program executive officer for aircraft carriers. «As a result of much dedication and hard work, delivery of CVN-78 is close at hand, and we are looking forward to commissioning the ship into the fleet this summer».”

Prior to the underway period, INSURV conducted a rigorous set of pierside trials, including more than 200 in-port demonstrations and inspections. The three-day at-sea portion of acceptance trials also included more than 500 INSURV demonstrations and inspections of the ship’s hull, mechanical and electrical systems.

The Navy’s Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Conversion and Repair is responsible for ensuring the ship’s readiness for acceptance trials and presenting the ship to INSURV. The ship’s crew is responsible for operating the ship and conducting tests and demonstrations. INSURV oversees and witnesses the execution of the acceptance trials schedule.

The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the lead ship in the Ford class of aircraft carriers, the U.S. Navy’s first new aircraft carrier design in more than 40 years, which will begin the phased replacement of Nimitz-class carriers when the ship is commissioned. The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is designed with significant quality-of-life improvements and reduced maintenance requirements. Several new technologies, such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, Advanced Arresting Gear, and Dual Band Radar have been incorporated into the Ford’s design. These innovations are expected to improve operational availability and capability, and reduce total ownership cost over its 50-year service life by nearly $4 billion compared with Nimitz-class carriers. CVN-78 honors the 38th president of the United States and pays tribute to his lifetime of service to the nation in the U.S. Navy and in the U.S. government.

Construction of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) has been ongoing since 2008, with the island landed in January 2013. The ship was christened in November 2013 by the ship’s sponsor, Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Ford. The ship’s crew conducted a pierside «fast cruise» in March 2017, and builder’s sea trials occurred in April 2017.

 

General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
Propulsion 2 A1B* nuclear reactors, 4 shafts
Length 1,092 feet/333 m
Beam 134 feet/41 m
Flight Deck Width 256 feet/78 m
Flight Deck Square 217,796 feet2/20,234 m2
Displacement approximately 100,000 long tons full load
Speed 30+ knots/34.5+ mph/55.5+ km/h
Crew 4,539 (ship, air wing and staff)
Armament ESSM (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile), RAM (Rolling Airframe Missile), Mk-15 Phalanx CIWS (Close-In Weapon System)
Aircraft 75+

* – Bechtel Plant Machinery, Inc. serves the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program

 

Ships

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) 11-13-2009 11-09-2013
USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) 08-22-2015
USS Enterprise (CVN-80)

 

Experimental Spaceplane

DARPA has selected The Boeing Company to complete advanced design work for the Agency’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, which aims to build and fly the first of an entirely new class of hypersonic aircraft that would bolster national security by providing short-notice, low-cost access to space. The program aims to achieve a capability well out of reach today – launches to low Earth orbit in days, as compared to the months or years of preparation currently needed to get a single satellite on orbit. Success will depend upon significant advances in both technical capabilities and ground operations, but would revolutionize the Nation’s ability to recover from a catastrophic loss of military or commercial satellites, upon which the Nation today is critically dependent.

Phantom Express is envisioned as a highly autonomous experimental spaceplane, shown preparing to launch its expendable second stage on the top of the vehicle in this artist’s concept. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is collaborating with Boeing to fund development of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program (Boeing rendering)
Phantom Express is envisioned as a highly autonomous experimental spaceplane, shown preparing to launch its expendable second stage on the top of the vehicle in this artist’s concept. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is collaborating with Boeing to fund development of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program (Boeing rendering)

«The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand», said Jess Sponable, DARPA program manager. «We’re very pleased with Boeing’s progress on the XS-1 through Phase 1 of the program and look forward to continuing our close collaboration in this newly funded progression to Phases 2 and 3 – fabrication and flight».

The XS-1 program envisions a fully reusable unmanned vehicle, roughly the size of a business jet, which would take off vertically like a rocket and fly to hypersonic speeds. The vehicle would be launched with no external boosters, powered solely by self-contained cryogenic propellants. Upon reaching a high suborbital altitude, the booster would release an expendable upper stage able to deploy a 3,000-pound/1,360-kg satellite to polar orbit. The reusable first stage would then bank and return to Earth, landing horizontally like an aircraft, and be prepared for the next flight, potentially within hours.

In its pursuit of aircraft-like operability, reliability, and cost-efficiency, DARPA and Boeing are planning to conduct a flight test demonstration of XS-1 technology, flying 10 times in 10 days, with an additional final flight carrying the upper-stage payload delivery system. If successful, the program could help enable a commercial service in the future that could operate with recurring costs of as little as $5 million or less per launch, including the cost of an expendable upper stage, assuming a recurring flight rate of at least ten flights per year – a small fraction of the cost of launch systems the U.S. military currently uses for similarly sized payloads. (Note that goal is for actual cost, not commercial price, which would be determined in part by market forces.)

To achieve these goals, XS-1 designers plan to take advantage of technologies and support systems that have enhanced the reliability and fast turnaround of military aircraft. For example, easily accessible subsystem components configured as line replaceable units would be used wherever practical to enable quick maintenance and repairs.

The XS-1 Phase 2/3 design also intends to increase efficiencies by integrating numerous state-of-the-art technologies, including some previously developed by DARPA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force. For example, the XS-1 technology demonstrator’s propulsion system is an Aerojet Rocketdyne AR-22 engine, a version of the legacy Space Shuttle main engine (SSME).

Once Phantom Express reaches the edge of space, it would deploy the second stage and return to Earth. It would then land on a runway to be prepared for its next flight by applying operation and maintenance principles similar to modern aircraft (Boeing rendering)
Once Phantom Express reaches the edge of space, it would deploy the second stage and return to Earth. It would then land on a runway to be prepared for its next flight by applying operation and maintenance principles similar to modern aircraft (Boeing rendering)

Other technologies in the XS-1 design include:

  • Advanced, lightweight composite cryogenic propellant tanks to hold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants;
  • Hybrid composite-metallic wings and control surfaces able to withstand the physical stresses of suborbital hypersonic flight and temperatures of more than 2,000º F/1,093º C;
  • Automated flight-termination and other technologies for autonomous flight and operations, including some developed by DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program.

XS-1 Phase 2 includes design, construction, and testing of the technology demonstration vehicle through 2019. It calls for initially firing the vehicle’s engine on the ground 10 times in 10 days to demonstrate propulsion readiness for flight tests.

Phase 3 objectives include 12 to 15 flight tests, currently scheduled for 2020. After multiple shakedown flights to reduce risk, the XS-1 would aim to fly 10 times over 10 consecutive days, at first without payloads and at speeds as fast as Mach 5/3,836 mph/6,174 km/h. Subsequent flights are planned to fly as fast as Mach 10, and deliver a demonstration payload between 900 pounds/408 kg and 3,000 pounds/1,360 kg into low Earth orbit.

Another goal of the program is to encourage the broader commercial launch sector to adopt useful XS-1 approaches, processes, and technologies that facilitate launch on demand and rapid turnaround – important military and commercial needs for the 21st century. Toward that goal, DARPA intends to release selected data from its Phase 2/3 tests and will provide to all interested commercial entities the relevant specs for potential payloads.

«We’re delighted to see this truly futuristic capability coming closer to reality», said Brad Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO), which oversees XS-1. «Demonstration of aircraft-like, on-demand, and routine access to space is important for meeting critical Defense Department needs and could help open the door to a range of next-generation commercial opportunities».

Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) Phase 2/3 Concept Video

Christening in Hamburg

The fourth and final 125 class frigate (F125) for the German Navy was christened «Rheinland-Pfalz» on May 24, 2017, at the Hamburg site of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Following the christening of the first three frigates «Baden-Württemberg», «Nordrhein-Westfalen» and «Sachsen-Anhalt» this is a further important step toward completing the F125 shipbuilding program. Malu Dreyer, premier of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate after which the frigate has been named, performed the christening ceremony in the presence of high-level representatives from government, the German Navy and the companies involved. The frigate «Rheinland-Pfalz» is scheduled to be handed over to the German defense procurement agency BAAINBw in spring 2020. The contract for the F125 program is worth around two billion € in total.

Germany Navy frigate «Rheinland-Pfalz» christened in Hamburg
Germany Navy frigate «Rheinland-Pfalz» christened in Hamburg

State premier Malu Dreyer, who christened the ship, said: «The German Navy has a long tradition of ships named after the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. I would like to combine the christening of the new frigate «Rheinland-Pfalz» with my hopes and wishes that the main challenges facing ‘our’ ship will be peace missions and humanitarian operations».

Doctor Rolf Wirtz, CEO of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems: «With state-of-the-art technology and a multiple-crew strategy, the F125 sets new standards in naval shipbuilding. It is designed to meet the requirements of our Navy in current and future missions, such as fighting piracy or monitoring movements of refugees in the Mediterranean. Following today’s christening ceremony, the 125 class frigate family is now complete».

The ARGE F125 consortium which was awarded the contract to build four F125 class ships for the German Navy in 2007 comprises ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems as the lead company and Fr. Lürssen Werft in Bremen. The pre-fitted bow sections are being manufactured at the Fr. Lürssen Werft shipyards in Bremen and Wolgast. Construction of the stern sections, the joining of the two sections and further fitting out is being carried out at Blohm+Voss Shipyards in Hamburg.

The four 125 class frigates will begin the replacement of the German Navy’s eight (Bremen type) 122 class frigates. The ships were developed specially for current and future deployment scenarios for the German Navy. In addition to the traditional tasks of national and alliance defense, the 125 class frigates are designed for conflict prevention, crisis management and intervention/stabilization operations in the international arena. The ships are capable of remaining at sea for 24 months and thus represent the first realization of the intensive use concept, i.e. significantly increased availability in the deployment region. This capability is supported by a smaller crew and a multiple-crew strategy which permits a complete change of crew during deployment.

 

Technical Data

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

 

Final Contract Trials

The U.S. Navy’s Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) completed Final Contract Trials (FCT) May 19.

Fire Controlman 1st Class Niklaus Pegler, from Monette, Arkansas, conducts an inspection of the multi-function racks aboard Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) during Final Contract Trials (FCT) (U.S. Navy photo by Fire Controlman 1st Class Christopher J. Bright)
Fire Controlman 1st Class Niklaus Pegler, from Monette, Arkansas, conducts an inspection of the multi-function racks aboard Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) during Final Contract Trials (FCT) (U.S. Navy photo by Fire Controlman 1st Class Christopher J. Bright)

Navy regulations require a final demonstration of ships’ capabilities prior to the end of the contractor warranty period to determine if there are any defects, failures or deterioration other than that due to normal wear and tear. The trial, conducted by the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV), is part of a series of post-delivery tests and trials during which the ship and its major systems are exercised, tested and corrected as required.

«As the permanent crew for Jackson, I can’t be more proud of our ship, her systems and my Sailors’ performance during FCT», said Commander Patrick Keller, commanding officer. «Our ship has gone through Full Ship Shock Trials, Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trials events, and now FCT, proving once again that she is ready for the next major evolution».

FCT evaluates the material condition and performance of the ship’s major systems including main propulsion, ship control systems, combat systems, and damage control systems. Special evolutions demonstrated included the firing of the 57-mm gun, maneuvering testing and launch and recovery of the embarked rigid hull inflatable boat.

«We worked hard during FCT, but it was also exciting because this is what we are trained to do», said Mineman 2nd Class Nathan Davis. «We’ve shown just how strong our ship is and how dedicated our crew is».

After FCT, Jackson begins a Post Shakedown Availability (PSA). PSA is the last availability in the ship’s construction period, during which required repairs identified during combat systems ship qualification trials and FCT are made using contractor and program office money.

LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) is a high-speed, agile, shallow draft, mission-focused surface combatant designed for operations in the littoral environment, yet fully capable of open ocean operations. As part of the surface fleet, LCS has the ability to counter and outpace evolving threats independently or within a network of surface combatants. Paired with advanced sonar and mine hunting capabilities, LCS provides a major contribution, as well as a more diverse set of options to commanders, across the spectrum of operations.

Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) personnel man a 11M Ridged Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) during launch and recovery operations aboard the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) during Final Contract Trials (FCT) (U.S. Navy photo by Fire Controlman 1st Class Christopher J. Bright)
Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) personnel man a 11M Ridged Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) during launch and recovery operations aboard the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) during Final Contract Trials (FCT) (U.S. Navy photo by Fire Controlman 1st Class Christopher J. Bright)

 

The Independence Variant of the LCS Class

PRINCIPAL DIMENSIONS
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
PAYLOAD AND CAPACITIES
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)
PROPULSION
Main engines 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster Retractable azimuthing
PERFORMANCE
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
MISSION/LOGISTICS DECK
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 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)
Hanger Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Launch/Recover Aircraft Sea State 5
WEAPONS AND SENSORS
Standard 1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules

 

Independence-class

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 05-12-2016
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) 04-10-2017
USS Kansas City (LCS-22)
USS Oakland (LCS-24)

 

C-RAM Test

The U.S. Army selected Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Highly Adaptable Multi-Mission Radar (HAMMR) to demonstrate its multi-mission capability at the 2017 counter-rocket, artillery and mortar (C-RAM) test at Yuma Proving Ground earlier this year.

HAMMR incorporates an Active Electronically Scanned Array fighter radar mounted on a ground vehicle or towable trailer to provide continuous 360-degree protection against multiple ground and airborne targets – all while operating on-the-move so soldiers on the ground can maintain their operational pace without sacrificing protection
HAMMR incorporates an Active Electronically Scanned Array fighter radar mounted on a ground vehicle or towable trailer to provide continuous 360-degree protection against multiple ground and airborne targets – all while operating on-the-move so soldiers on the ground can maintain their operational pace without sacrificing protection

HAMMR is a multi-mission sensor that provides the warfighter with situational awareness, counter-fire operations, air defense, early warning and airspace management capabilities. During this test, the system successfully detected and identified Groups I and II unmanned aerial systems, providing real-time situational awareness to the operator. HAMMR also validated its ability to connect to the Army’s Forward Area Air Defense command and control system, which enables the communication of information from the system back to the force.

HAMMR incorporates an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) fighter radar mounted on a ground vehicle or towable trailer to provide continuous 360-degree protection against multiple ground and airborne targets – all while operating on-the-move so soldiers on the ground can maintain their operational pace without sacrificing protection. The modular self-contained system includes on-board prime power and cooling, AESA and radar electronics, and operator/maintainer display modules. These modules support multiple packaging concepts, making HAMMR easily adaptable to multiple vehicle types, fixed installations and C2 interfaces.

«HAMMR is the only AESA radar out there today that can support our maneuver forces’ on-the-move multi-mission operation», said Roshan Roeder, vice president, mission solutions, Northrop Grumman. «Since HAMMR shares common hardware with our fighter aircraft radars, our customers realize the cost advantages of high-volume AESA production and benefit from the inherent reliability of this mature, proven technology».

Radar Upgrade

Boeing has completed a series of upgrades that substantially enhance the technological capabilities of Saudi Arabia’s E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

Boeing has supplied extensive radar upgrades for the Saudi Arabian Air Force fleet of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft (Boeing photo)
Boeing has supplied extensive radar upgrades for the Saudi Arabian Air Force fleet of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft (Boeing photo)

Among the enhancements to improve radar capabilities and reduce repair time for the airborne surveillance fleet are systems that increase the original equipment’s radar sensitivity and expand the range for tracking targets.

The upgrades, called the Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP), comprise a new radar computer, a radar control maintenance panel and electrical and mechanical software and hardware.

«The AWACS’s main mission is to provide real-time situation awareness, and our teams have stayed true to that mission», said Keith Burns, Saudi AWACS programs manager for Boeing. «The modernized software, multiple radar nodes and overall enhanced operation make this is the most significant upgrade to the AWACS radar since it was developed in the 1970s».

Boeing engineers and technicians performed the installation and checkout of the first upgraded aircraft at Boeing Field in Seattle. The remaining aircraft were modified at Alsalam Aerospace Industries in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with support of Boeing engineers, technicians and a test and evaluation team.

The RSIP kit is built by Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems and has been installed on United States, United Kingdom, NATO and French AWACS fleets.

Boeing delivered Saudi Arabia’s AWACS aircraft between June 1986 and September 1987.

For Special Forces

On May 10th, 2017, IMI Systems announced it will attend the «Latrun Week» Exhibition & Conference – The 2nd International Conference for Ground Warfare and Logistics, which brings together high-level IDF officials, defense industry leaders, foreign militaries and academia.

The special forces version of the ACCULAR 122-mm multiple rocket launcher seen here consists of a smaller number of rockets on a lightweight launcher that can be fitted to a Humvee light truck and airlifted by C-130 Hercules (IMI photo)
The special forces version of the ACCULAR 122-mm multiple rocket launcher seen here consists of a smaller number of rockets on a lightweight launcher that can be fitted to a Humvee light truck and airlifted by C-130 Hercules (IMI photo)

During the event, to be held this year on May 16-18 at the Armed Corps Memorial, Latrun, IMI Systems will present for the first time an innovative new rocket system for Special Forces, developed based on the first of its kind ACCULAR precision rocket and designed to assist forces in urban warfare and neutralize targets in ranges up to 21.75 miles/35 km.

Developed at the IMI Systems Givon plant, the new system joins other innovative and precision rockets systems developed and manufactured by the company for ranges from 24.85 miles/40 km to 186.4 miles/300 km, including the Extra rocket for the range of 93.2 miles/150 km and the Predator Hawk rocket for the range of 186.4 miles/300 km.

The new rocket system was developed in response to Special Forces who flown to high-risk locations which are beyond the range of traditional artillery fire support hence usually need to carry out their missions without any significant and sufficient fire assistance.

The ACCULAR 12 is 122-mm caliber rocket is equipped with a 44 lbs/20 kg of penetration or controlled fragmentation warhead suitable for most of the targets in today’s battlefield.

Recently, the Givon plant of IMI Systems also development the C-LYNX – a designated lightweight dedicated launcher capable of carrying up to 8 ACCULAR 12 rockets and can be delivered by a C-130 (Hercules) or similar aircraft. Designed to be used by Special Forces, the system provides accurate and effective fire support to the entire forces’ line of operation.

Equipped with advanced navigation and command & control systems the C-LYNX launcher operates completely autonomous and can provide fire response immediately according to the combat forces requirements. For the first time, the system will be presented at the SOFIC exhibition for Special Forces, to be held this year on May 2017 in the United States.

ACCULAR 122-mm – The most Cost-Effective Accurate Rocket for Neutralizing Targets in the Tactical Battlefield & for ground forces Support. The ACCULAR was designed to support ground forces and neutralize targets in areas where traditional artillery is limited by the accuracy and long range missiles are not cost-effective (too expensive).

This accurate rocket is equipped with advanced warheads, either controlled fragmentation or for penetration, and offers an accuracy of less than 32.8 feet/10 m Circular Error Probable (CEP).

Acceptance Trials

The Navy’s future USS Omaha (LCS-12) successfully conducted its acceptance trials, May 12, after completing a series of graded in-port and underway demonstrations for the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).

An artist rendering of the littoral combat ship USS Omaha (LCS-12). LCS-12 is the fourth Navy vessel to bear the name (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Stan Bailey)
An artist rendering of the littoral combat ship USS Omaha (LCS-12). LCS-12 is the fourth Navy vessel to bear the name (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Stan Bailey)

Acceptance trials are the last significant milestone before delivery of the ship to the U.S. Navy. During the trial, the U.S. Navy conducted comprehensive tests of the USS Omaha (LCS-12) intended to demonstrate the performance of the propulsion plant, ship handling, and auxiliary systems. While underway, Omaha successfully performed launch and recovery operations of the 36-foot/11-meter Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB), completed surface and air self-defense detect-to-engage exercises, and demonstrated the ship’s maneuverability through high-speed steering, crash backs, and four-hour full power run.

«The Navy/industry trials team in Mobile has found their stride and, with stability in the serial production line, are bringing ships to trial with consistently improved performance at decreasing cost», said Captain Tom Anderson, LCS program manager. «Omaha will be an exceptional addition to the rapidly growing in-service fleet».

Following delivery, a post-delivery maintenance availability and crew training and familiarization exercises in Mobile, Alabama, Omaha will sail to California for commissioning. Omaha will be homeported in San Diego with sister ships USS Independence (LCS-2), USS Coronado (LCS-4), USS Jackson (LCS-6), USS Montgomery (LCS-8) and USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10), which departed Mobile earlier this month.

Several more Independence-variant hulls are under construction at Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. USS Manchester (LCS-14) is preparing for builders trial this summer, USS Tulsa (LCS-16) was christened and launched earlier this year, and USS Charleston (LCS-18) is scheduled to be christened and launched this fall. Other sister ships, including USS Cincinnati (LCS-20), USS Kansas City (LCS-22), USS Oakland (LCS-24) and USS Mobile (LCS-26), are in varying stages of construction.

The LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) 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 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.

 

The Independence Variant of the LCS Class

PRINCIPAL DIMENSIONS
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
PAYLOAD AND CAPACITIES
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)
PROPULSION
Main engines 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster Retractable azimuthing
PERFORMANCE
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
MISSION/LOGISTICS DECK
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 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)
Hanger Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Launch/Recover Aircraft Sea State 5
WEAPONS AND SENSORS
Standard 1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules

 

Independence-class

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 05-12-2016
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) 04-10-2017
USS Kansas City (LCS-22)
USS Oakland (LCS-24)

 

At Northern Edge

This year, the distinctly black U-2S Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft from Beale Air Force Base (AFB), California, flew for the first time at Northern Edge here and showcased the unique capabilities it can bring to the joint fight.

A U-2S Dragon Lady aircraft takes off during exercise Northern Edge 17 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 8, 2017. The U-2S participated for the first time in Northern Edge, a joint training exercise focused on interoperability, which hosted about 6,000 service members, 200 fixed-wing aircraft and provided the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard with critical training (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Schultze)
A U-2S Dragon Lady aircraft takes off during exercise Northern Edge 17 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 8, 2017. The U-2S participated for the first time in Northern Edge, a joint training exercise focused on interoperability, which hosted about 6,000 service members, 200 fixed-wing aircraft and provided the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard with critical training (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Schultze)

Northern Edge, which took place from May 1-12, is Alaska’s premier joint training exercise, hosting about 6,000 service members, 200 fixed-wing aircraft and maritime forces represented by every branch of the military. The focus of the exercise is on interoperability and takes place throughout the state and surrounding waterways.

 

Testing Experimental Technology

The two-week exercise was utilized by the 9th Reconnaissance Wing (RW) to test new experimental technology on the U-2S. This technology fully integrated the U-2S with fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft.

«It’s a big stepping stone for us; it’s the first year the U-2 has participated in Northern Edge. The fact that we have forward deployed to Alaska, we’ve taken over 130 personnel from the 9th RW and deployed them out to JBER is an achievement», said Air Force Major Dustin, the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron’s wing tactics office weapons school development branch chief.

The diverse team of airmen and civilians that the 9th RW sent to Northern Edge 17 worked closely to accomplish the mission here.

«The camaraderie with everyone has been great; all of us working together to get the mission done. And, it has gone really smoothly», said Air Force Staff Sergeant David Labarge, a 9th Physiological Support Squadron full pressure suit technician supervisor. «It was very rewarding to be a part of the crew that launched the first jet from here in 30 years».

Launch and recovery technicians from the 9th Physiological Support Squadron conduct a preflight inspection on a full-pressure suit at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 8, 2017. The U-2S Dragon Lady participated for the first time in exercise Northern Edge, which is a joint exercise that involves over 200 fixed-wing aircraft (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Schultze)
Launch and recovery technicians from the 9th Physiological Support Squadron conduct a preflight inspection on a full-pressure suit at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 8, 2017. The U-2S Dragon Lady participated for the first time in exercise Northern Edge, which is a joint exercise that involves over 200 fixed-wing aircraft (Air Force photo by Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Schultze)

 

Unique Challenges

Operating the U-2 program away from home and in a temporary environment brought about unique challenges in contrast to being back at Beale AFB.

«There are several differences for PSPTS; we are working out of a smaller shop, we only have three Airmen deployed here», Labarge said. «We are also working hand in hand with maintenance closer than we normally do back at Beale».

Those in support of the U-2S spent a total of four weeks at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, including two weeks of preparation and two weeks of active flying during the exercise and for the team the benefits of participating are clear.

«The benefits of coming to Northern Edge are two-fold. It allows us to exercise our ability to forward deploy to other locations. Most importantly, it allows the U-2 to demonstrate new advanced technology that is coming out, such as sensor and communication packages», Dustin said. «This environment will allow the U-2 to advance into the future».

 

Gaining Experience

The experience gained and technology tested at this large joint exercise is indispensable and will help carry the U-2S forward.

«We frequently fly exercises out of Beale, in the future we are looking to take the U-2 to other locations to participate in more exercises after this successful run at Northern Edge», said Air Force Major Brian, the Detachment 2, 53rd Test and Evaluation Group director of operations for U-2 and RQ-4 Global Hawk operational tests.

«By merging test development, operational test and experimental technologies, we are looking at opportunities to advance the U-2 program in both the near term as well as the next 2-5 years», Bain said. «By doing all three of those things, we are encompassing the entire spectrum of the future of the U-2».

Sea Acceptance Trials

In April 2017, the Multi-role Aviation Training Vessel (MATV) MV Sycamore successfully completed Sea Acceptance Trials and is now ready for final handover to the customer, The Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

The Multi-role Aviation Training Vessel MV Sycamore
The Multi-role Aviation Training Vessel MV Sycamore

Contracted in December 2014, Terma has successfully delivered and trialed the helicopter mission control system for the MV Sycamore, in due time.

A primary mission for the MV Sycamore is to conduct operational aviation/helicopter training by and for RAN. Consequently, the MV Sycamore is equipped with a helicopter mission control system from Terma that comprises the SCANTER 6002 Air and Surface Surveillance radar with IFF and the C-Flex Mission System.

The SCANTER 6002 is a combined Air and Surface Surveillance radar providing unique capabilities for advanced navigation, air, and surface surveillance and helicopter control. On the MV Sycamore, the SCANTER 6002 radar is configured with its 12 feet/3.66-meter Dual Beam High Gain antenna and combined with the C-Search Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) system providing for military modes as well as the civilian Mode S. The SCANTER 6002 radar enables the operator to detect a helicopter far from the vessel and follow it all the way until hovering over the helicopter pad.

The C-Flex Mission system is located in the aviation control room from where the operator is presented with the situation awareness based on data from the SCANTER 6002 radar and the IFF. These data are correlated and fused into a layered situation picture with sea chart, track overlay, crisp-clear radar video overlay as well as graphical overlays, routes, heli-approach patterns, etc., allowing for the operator to concentrate on making decisions and commanding the helicopter in the specific operation.

The SCANTER 6002 radar has become a preferred choice for both navigation and surveillance purposes by a large number of navies and coastguards around the world. The SCANTER 6002 is a Solid State X-Band radar providing unique and unmatched small target detection and tracking. The SCANTER 6002 is a member of Terma’s world famous SCANTER radar family with more than 2,700 radars in operation worldwide.

The C-Flex Mission System is derived from Terma’s famous and proven C-Flex Combat Management System supplied fleetwide for the Royal Danish Navy (OPVs and Frigates) and for several other navies, such as the Romanian Navy, Royal Brunei Navy, Royal Thai Navy, etc. Rather than providing Combat Management, the C-Flex Mission System provides a mission-oriented command and control solution enabling commercial-, coastguard- and naval vessels to conduct efficient missions within Search & Rescue, Surveillance, Law Enforcement and Deterrence.