Northrop Grumman Corporation, which designed NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope’s (JWST) optics, spacecraft bus, and sunshield for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, has deployed the sunshield subsystem and fully tensioned the five sunshield layers for the first time.
«The first tensioning of the sunshield is a monumental and exciting moment, not only for the program but for the collaborative JWST team», said Scott Willoughby, vice president and program manager, James Webb Space Telescope, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems «The innovative sunshield is an industry first, and will protect Webb’s optics from heat, making it possible to gather images of the formation of the first stars and galaxies more than 13.5 billion years ago».
In space, the sunshield subsystem divides the JWST observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold space-facing side comprised of the optics and scientific instruments. The sunshield subsystem, which includes the structure and mechanisms required for deploying the five-layer subsystem, was designed, manufactured and assembled by Northrop Grumman, with the five membrane layers manufactured by the NeXolve Corporation in Huntsville, Alabama.
The flight membranes will be folded, stowed and tensioned again two additional times for testing. The folding and stowing method is how the membranes will be folded and stowed for launch. The sunshield layers, known for being the size of a tennis court, will protect and prevent the background heat from the Sun, Earth and Moon from interfering with JWST’s infrared sensors.
The sunshield layers, each as thin as a human hair, work together to reduce the temperatures between the hot and cold sides of the observatory by approximately 570 degrees Fahrenheit. Moving from the sun-facing layer to the one closest to the telescope, each successive layer of the sunshield, which is made of Kapton, is cooler than the one below. The sunshield, along with the rest of the spacecraft, will fold origami-style into an Ariane 5 rocket.
The James Webb Space Telescope, the scientific complement to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, will be the premier space observatory of the next decade. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
Soldiers were invited to strap on headgear, grab a rifle and fire rounds at opposing forces coming at them on the battlefield and in the air.
The venue wasn’t Afghanistan or some other faraway place, however. It was inside the cavernous Washington convention center here, earlier this month, where the Association of the U.S. Army had set up its massive annual exposition.
Through special optics, the Soldiers could see their real-world surroundings, such as visitors gawking at military hardware in industry booths. But using the magic of augmented reality, they also saw computer-generated holograms of an OPFOR (an opposing force) that they said looked and sounded just as real as the displays and visitors intermingled among them.
Wearing the goggles, some Soldiers said they found it unsettling to see what looked like a life-size helicopter flying around inside the convention center and shooting Hellfire missiles at them.
Pat Garrity, chief engineer of Dismounted Soldier Training Technologies, U.S. Army Research Laboratory, working out of Orlando, Florida, said that the goal is to get augmented reality into the hands of every Soldier in the maneuver force at an affordable price.
Besides price, he said the equipment has to be light enough and comfortable enough so that Soldiers won’t notice they’re wearing it. For instance, the headgear has to weigh less than two pounds, as required by Program Executive Office Soldier. «We want to have Soldiers as unencumbered as possible, training as they’d fight».
Also, it has to generate images real enough for Soldiers to want to use it, with up to 120-degree field of view, which is the best industry has to offer at this time, he said.
And, so far, the feedback of Soldiers testing this equipment has been overwhelmingly positive, he said, noting that AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition this year, October 9-11, was the first public event for this type of augmented reality, with Soldiers visiting the display allowed to test it out.
Augmented reality technology now allows Soldiers to train indoors, outdoors, day or night, Garrity said. They’re no longer tied to brick and mortar training facilities.
And, if it’s daytime, augmented reality can simulate nighttime, he added. And different types of scenarios can be added: desert, mountains, arctic condition, any types of weapons, and so on.
A couple of years ago this equipment, if it existed, would have cost several hundred thousand dollars per Soldier, said John Baker, managing director of Chosen Realities LLC, a company out of Orlando, Florida selected through a small business innovative research contract to push augmented reality forward in cooperation with scientists from the Army Research Laboratory.
Now, it’s gotten much more affordable at less than $5,000 per Soldier, with much more capability than what could have been available just a short time back, he added.
The key to reducing cost, he said, was to use commercial, off-the-shelf products that included the software algorithms, gaming scenarios, sensors and hardware. However, certain weapons that the Army wanted to use but were unavailable were developed in-house, he added.
One of the biggest challenges, he said, was making the experience believable, representing artificial people and machines moving in real time amongst real people, a process known as «dynamic occlusion». To do that required canceling out other pixels representing what’s really out there so the computer-generated images could then be inserted or removed, he continued. «It’s not easy to do that».
Garrity said the program is in the science and technology phase until the end of fiscal year 2020, when, he hopes to have it in at technology readiness level 6 state, which will put it into an operational training environment demonstration and on the road to transition to a program of record.
The requirement for augmented reality, he added, comes from U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Combined Arms Center, which points to synthetic training as a future capability requirement needed to allow Soldiers to train in complex environments that are realistic and too dangerous and expensive to replicate in live settings.
Although the technology is currently being configured for dismounted Soldiers, it could conceivably be transferred to ground vehicle and aviation crews at some point in the future, he noted.
On October 26, 2017, KONGSBERG has signed a contract worth 109 MEURO (approx. 1.000 MNOK) with the Ministry of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania to supply a NASAMS air defence system.
Lithuania announced 21 October 2016 an agreement with the Norwegian Ministry of Defence on procurement of NASAMS components; today’s contract includes new additional equipment, training and integrated logistics support package, as well as refurbishment and integration of government supplied components for a complete NASAMS system.
«We are pleased that the Lithuanian Armed Forces has chosen NASAMS. NASAMS, produced by KONGSBERG and Raytheon, is the most sold air defence system in NATO in recent years, and will be the backbone air defence system for many nations in decades to come», says Eirik Lie, President, Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace AS.
KONGSBERG, in partnership with Raytheon, is offering one of the most modern and flexible medium-range air defence systems in the world: NASAMS – Surface Launched AMRAAM System.
Open architecture provides growth potential
Single and multiple engagement capability
Unprecedented fire capability
Beyond visual range capability with active seeker missile
Strategic and high mobility
Low manpower requirements
Network Centric Warfare principles of operation
High survivability against electronic countermeasures
Look down/shoot down capability
High value asset defense, area and army defense, vital point and air base defense
Unlike many international air defense systems either in use or in development, NASAMS is truly a netted and distributed system.
Integration of sensors
The proven, fielded, reliable and highly capable NASAMS system contains a BMC4I (Battle Management, Command, Control, Computers, Communications, and Intelligence) Air Defense capability through the integration of sensors and launchers. It employs the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AIM-120) as the primary weapon. Targets are detected and tracked by a high-resolution, 3D pencil beam radar. Multiple of these radars and the associated Fire Distribution Centres (FDCs) are netted together via radio data links, creating a real-time recognized air picture.
NASAMS can fire on target data provided by external sensors. Advanced emission control features of the radars minimize the risk of revealing the NASAMS unit’s own position. The FDC automatically performs track correlation, identification, jam strobe triangulation, threat evaluation and weapon assignment. The AMRAAM missiles used within NASAMS are identical to those used on fighter aircraft, yielding considerable rationalization returns for the user.
NASAMS in operation
The Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) was the first customer to introduce the NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) program. Because of their success during NATO live flying exercises, NASAMS batteries are taken extremely serious by NATO aircrew. From 2004, NASAMS is earmarked by the Norwegian armed forces to be deployed in support of international crisis management operations.
NASAMS is under continuous development and every new program is adapted to the latest available technology. Currently, NASAMS is in use in 6 different nations.
In 2014, the Royal Thai Army acquired six UH-72A Lakota helicopters from Airbus Group through the US’s foreign military sales programme. After receiving training and in-country support, the Lakotas’ first two years in operation have gone smoothly, an example of hard work and dedicated personnel.
The Royal Thai Army (RTA) is Thailand’s largest military branch. In addition to conventional military undertakings, its airborne arm is responsible for Emergency Medical Services (EMS), evacuation, reconnaissance and utility services. Its rotorcraft fleet comprises a variety of makes, many of which – as in the case of its Vietnam-era Huey helicopters – are in need of replacement.
To this end, the RTA acquired six new Lakota helicopters from Airbus’ North American division, Airbus Helicopters, Inc., in 2014. For the army’s pilots, like Captain Pongsaton, the commander of the RTA who has experience on the older helicopters, the new aircraft offer a distinct advantage. «The Lakota is very easy to fly. We mainly fly utility, transporting equipment to the mountains or jungle, and we need to take off in confined areas. The Lakota’s instruments and autopilot systems help us avoid obstacles».
The RTA’s purchase of the Lakotas came with a unique support set-up: five weeks of training for pilots and maintenance personnel at the division’s headquarters in Grand Prairie, Texas, followed by support in the form of one field service and one logistics representative in Thailand.
«The RTA saw that in-country support was needed because it was the first time they had acquired this type of helicopter», says Chong Eu Chuah, the contractor field service representative (CFSR) from Airbus. «My role is part of Airbus’ support guarantee to ensure a smooth entry into service for the Lakotas in Thailand».
Originally a technician at Airbus Singapore, Chuah trained for a month in Texas along with Chong Siew Fwai, the Contractor Logistics Service Rep (CLSR). They joined a group of six RTA pilots and ten technicians who would complete theory and simulator instruction, as well as flight training on the UH-72A. In all, 18 pilots and 30 technicians trained through the programme. «We got to know our future colleagues well, as well as setting up lines of communication», says Chuah. «By the time the aircraft arrived in-country we were ready to assume our duties».
In Thailand, Chuah’s responsibilities vary from troubleshooting and on-the-job training, to supporting maintenance or supplying technical assistance at one of the RTA’s five bases – Phitsanulok, Lopburi, Roi Et, Bangkok, and Nakkon Si Thammarat. «For troubleshooting, I normally drive to the sites», he says. «If it is too far (Nakhon Si Thammarat is 900 km/559 miles from Lopburi), I travel by commercial airlines. It is a tiring job but we show commitment to our customer».
Speaking for the RTA’s technical staff, one mechanic offered the comment, «The RTA’s missions cannot be carried out if we don’t have perfect maintenance and a great contribution from the US Army and Airbus Helicopters in sending someone who is an expert».
On the logistics side, Chong Siew Fwai set up a warehouse and inventory of Lakota spares, equipment and tools. Based in Bangkok, he handles purchase orders, equipment loans, parts shipments, and consults on nearly all logistics issues that come up with the new Lakotas.
The entry into service was not without a snag. «During the initial entry into service, we faced some avionics problems, possibly due to humidity during the sea journey from the USA coupled with the rainy season in Thailand», says Chuah. However, with time, his help has shifted from problem-solving to supplying hand’s on – or even remote – training. «As the mechanics gain more experience, I do not travel to the sites as often. I can provide instructions, drawings, photos and video through smartphone».
During their two years in operation, the RTA’s Lakotas have seen an availability rate of 100% when the aircraft are not scheduled for maintenance. «We selected the Lakota for use as a utility helicopter», says one pilot, speaking on behalf of his colleagues. «We like the UH-72A because it is large, comfortable and easy to fly. It’s almost too powerful when hovering into a nose wind and very stable with low vibration».
Behind the Lakotas’ success is a team of dedicated people. «Chong Siew Fwai and I stayed on in Grand Prairie after the type course training to meet key personnel at Airbus in the technical support and logistics departments», says Chuah. «It is easier to help someone you know than a total stranger. I believe these are the reasons for the Lakotas’ smooth entry into service».
The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) was fired from the flight deck of the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD-23) during Dawn Blitz 2017 October 22.
The HIMARS is a weapons system made up of the M142, five-ton chassis vehicle and can carry either a launcher pod of six rockets or one MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
It enables Marines to engage targets within minutes after firing and features an advanced targeting system that strikes with an extremely high accuracy rate. The system also features a greater range than traditional artillery, allowing smaller units to cover a larger area.
The demonstration on Anchorage consisted of HIMARS engaging a land-based target with a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System Unitary (GMLRS-U).
«We had two training objectives for today’s shoot», said Army Major Adam Ropelewski, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), lead planner for sea-based expeditionary fires. «The first training objective was demonstrating this capability and, second, we wanted to have good effects on the target. We achieved both objectives. We destroyed the target at 70 kilometers/43.5 miles while at sea.
Developing sea-based fires alternatives such as the HIMARS afloat and proving them to be effective provides an opportunity for our Navy and Marine Corps team to evaluate, refine and improve processes to be ready for the future fight.
«In an environment where we are operating in contested waters, we are finding a way to be able to support the land force with deeper strike capabilities», said Captain AJ Kowaleuski, an artillery officer with I MEF.
This ability provides flexibility while the Navy and Marine Corps are supporting each other in combined operations.
This portion of Dawn Blitz validated the commander’s ability to integrate HIMARS with ships to conduct a sea-based strike.
«What we demonstrated not only was its capability, but we further demonstrated capabilities from the blue-green team and Amphibious Force 3», said Ropelewski. «They performed very well and were able to come together and work hard to make the mission successful».
The shoot was a success from the operator’s perspective as well. «We shot a rocket off Anchorage to validate that we, as HIMARS operators, can shoot off an LPD and successfully hit the target», said Lance Corporal Ryan Irving, a HIMARS operator assigned to 5th Battalion, 11th Marines.
Exercises like Dawn Blitz are another way to strengthen and continue the interdependent relationship between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
Irving concluded, «It’s nice to have a force integration, where we can work with the Navy and learn from each other in these situations».
Dawn Blitz is a scenario-driven exercise designed to train and integrate U.S. Navy and Marine Corps units by providing a robust training environment where forces plan and execute an amphibious assault, engage in live-fire events and establish expeditionary advanced bases in a land and maritime threat environment to improve naval amphibious core competencies.
The Department of Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium (DOTC) awarded Lockheed Martin a contract for the technology maturation of Lower Tier Air & Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) prototypes.
DOTC, commissioned by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, is a DoD initiative intended to facilitate collaboration between the government, industry and academia for technology development and prototyping. The funding from DOTC is used for technology development efforts that will further define performance requirements, mature technology and reduce risk for the LTAMDS program.
«Receiving DOTC funding is indicative of the rapid capability need the LTAMDS will fill for the U.S. Army», said Mark Mekker, director of next generation radar systems at Lockheed Martin. «Lockheed Martin is ready to leverage our significant experience, Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology and sensor capabilities in the LTAMDS concept definition phase to accelerate much needed enhanced capability to the warfighter».
Lockheed Martin is using its AESA Radar for Engagement and Surveillance (ARES) prototype investment program to mature technology and capabilities necessary for the future LTAMDS mission. Combined DOTC funding and Lockheed Martin investment will continue to mature technology for the prototype, including AESA and dual-band technology. The prototype will include mature Gallium Nitride (GaN) transmitter technology and advanced signal processing techniques including Lockheed Martin’s proven 360-degree rotational capability.
«Technology is maturing at such a pace that continuing to incrementally upgrade the heritage Patriot MPQ-65 radar system is no longer the most efficient and cost-effective option», said Mekker. «A next generation LTAMDS radar will leverage recent advances in radar technology to provide a cost effective, scalable, long term solution that can address current threats and adapt to emerging and future threats».
Lockheed Martin has developed and produced ground based radar systems for more than 40 years, and our latest open-architecture prototype leverages building blocks from several other successful radar products, including the Q-53, Long Range Discrimination Radar and Space Fence. Lockheed Martin’s low-risk solution is based on decades of development, backed by demonstrable technology and will be the first sensor specifically designed to operate within the Army Integrated Air & Missile Defense (IAMD) framework.
Next year will be called «the year of integration», where the U.S. will work even harder to improve interoperability with all NATO allies as well as with other partners such as Sweden and Finland, said Lieutenant General Ben Hodges.
The commander of U.S. Army Europe said 2017 has been a «year of implementation», meaning initiating rotational armored brigade combat teams and combat aviation brigades, emplacing Army preposition stocks, and standing up an enhanced forward-presence battle group in Poland.
That implementation was a direct result of decisions reached by NATO at the 2016 Warsaw Summit, which was in essence a transition from assuring allies to deterring would-be aggressors, he said.
Hodges and three European allies spoke at a press briefing at the Association of the U.S. Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, October 11.
Besides working on interoperability, Hodges said «we will continue to learn from the massive Zapad exercises» just completed by the Russians in Belarus. «Some things will take us a few months as we continue to study the forensics».
Other lessons already gleaned are that improved intelligence sharing with NATO and other partners helped the alliance to better understand the Zapad exercises.
«It’s the best I’ve seen in years in terms of intelligence sharing», he said. «We were all focused on trying to understand the Zapad exercises. People had their eyes wide open».
Hodges said there are three things that need to be more interoperable among allies in Europe.
First is secure, tactical FM radios at the company and battalion level. At that level, he said, there’s a lot of interdependence. Also, he said, radios at that level must be able to operate effectively inside a «real nasty» cyber or electronic warfare environment that allies «might face in the Baltics or Poland, for example».
Second, the Common Operating Picture, or COP, must be truly «common». No matter who manufactures a device, there must be seamless information sharing among allies, he said. Blue-force tracking is one example of what a COP can share, he said.
Third is digital fires, he said, providing an example of getting into a counter-fire situation, where the radar from one country should still be able to relay the mission digitally to the fire direction center and then onto the guns to do the counter-fire.
«If you can’t do that in a very short amount of time, then you’re never going to be able to strike back at who’s shooting at you», Hodges said.
Dynamic Front is an exercise that will be begin in February at U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, Germany, he said, where several nations using 100 different firing systems will focus on making them interoperable.
The Army is also honing its interoperability with allies during current exercise Swift Response 17-2, taking place October 2-20 in Hohenfels, Germany, and including more than 7,000 participants from Bosnia-Herzegovina, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
U.S. Army Europe-led Exercise Swift Response 17-2 combines the efforts of over 6,000 multinational participants from 12 NATO and European partner nations (Video by Travis Burcham)
SHARING THE LOAD
Hodges said that there are many times that the U.S. must rely on European partners for capabilities that it lacks. He provided some examples.
The Army depends on Romania, the United Kingdom and Germany to provide bridging capability, and their bridges have been used a number of times for river crossings, he said.
Also, the Army doesn’t have much in the way of short-range air defense. Romania is one of the countries providing that, he noted.
The Army is also leasing British heavy equipment transports to move tanks on European highways, he said.
Lieutenant General Leo Beulen, commander, Royal Netherlands Army said that unfortunately, his nation’s defense budget was slashed in 2011 and the army was forced to sell off all of their Leopard main battle tanks to Finland and Canada, «not that we didn’t need them anymore, but because we had to find the money».
With changes in the world since then, the Netherlands needs them badly, he said.
«Now we find cooperation with Germany, where we have a German battalion of Leopard 2 tanks, embedded in a Dutch company that is operating within a Netherlands brigade», he said. «So together with Germany, we could restore the main battle tank capacity».
Another example of where the Netherlands contributes to the collective security, he said, is providing protection with its Patriot air defense system. The Netherlands is one of the few countries in Europe that has them.
Major General Karl Engelbrektson, Swedish Army chief of staff, said there are niche capabilities partners can bring. For instance, Sweden provides other nations with artillery-locating radar, ground-based air defense radar and smart munitions, among others.
He framed cooperation in terms of economics as well as security, particularly after the Russian invasion of Crimea.
Although Sweden is not a member of NATO, «it is not a neutral country», he said. «We are military non-aligned. But, we adhere to NATO’s principles of military business because we believe that we need to do things together. … So, for us it’s logic that we have to deploy troops far from home to be part of securing the world order and the values we live for».
Last month, Sweden hosted an exercise with 20,000 troops from NATO and European partners, he said. During exercises such as this, «we learned that we can learn from each other. For example, there are some tactical things we developed living close to Russia in similar terrain and climate».
Major General Jaroslaw Mika, general commander of the Polish Armed Forces, said his nation has increased its military budget to contribute more to the collective defense of Europe.
Hodges was asked if he’d prefer Army aviation to be permanently stationed in Europe.
«I would prefer to have Army aviation permanently stationed in Europe, as opposed to rotational units», he said. «Rotational aviation is expensive, and I worry that at some point the Army will say ‘I can’t keep this up.’ If European Reassurance Initiative money dries up or we get less of it, it becomes more difficult for the Army to fund».
On the other hand, Hodges said, «I like rotational forces because I can do more with them and they’re here for nine months, like the armored brigade. Their opstempo is three times what it is back at home station, so you get a lot of strategic effect».
Regarding ground forces, Hodges said he’s pleased with U.S. Stryker capability in Europe, in that they can be fitted with the 30-mm cannon, Javelin missiles, and counter-unmanned aerial vehicle systems. Additionally, he said, they can also navigate the highways. Tanks, while essential, have to be transported by rail or heavy equipment transporters, so they’re less visible to the populace, restricted to the training areas.
HMS Medway (P223), the second of five new River Class Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), was officially named on October 20 during a ceremony at BAE Systems’ site at Scotstoun, Glasgow.
Guests watched as Lady Wendy Fallon, HMS Medway’s sponsor and wife of Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon named the 2,000 tonne, 90-metre-long/295-foot-long vessel. In keeping with Royal Navy tradition Lady Fallon pressed the button that released a bottle of Dockyard Gin from the Copper Rivet Distillery in Chatham, Kent, against the ship’s hull.
Iain Stevenson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Naval Ships, said: «Today’s naming ceremony is another proud moment in an exceptionally busy year for our business and the Royal Navy. Following the naming of the first River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel in March this year, our employees had the opportunity to celebrate seeing the first Aircraft Carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), set sail for the first time; the first plate of steel cut for the first Type 26 Global Combat Ship; and the naming of the second Aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales (R09). We look forward to delivering HMS Medway (P223) to the Royal Navy next year».
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: «This year we have already named our second aircraft carrier, two Type 26 frigates and the first in the Offshore Patrol Vessel class. It is a privilege to see yet another ship named for the growing Royal Navy. Named after Kent’s main river, my family has taken a particular interest in HMS Medway (P223) over the course of its construction and this is a proud day for all involved. From counter-terrorism and anti-smuggling to securing the UK’s borders, HMS Medway (P223) will help keep Britain safe».
HMS Medway (P223) will shortly embark on sea trials where she will be put through her paces in the open waters off the coast of Scotland. With a crew of 58 HMS Medway (P223) is expected to enter service with the Royal Navy in 2019.
The U.S. Navy christened the Expeditionary Sea Base future USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (ESB-4) during a 10 a.m. PDT ceremony Saturday, October 21, at General Dynamics NASSCO, San Diego.
The future USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (ESB-4) is the first ship to bear the name of Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Hershel Woodrow Williams, the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient recognized for heroism at the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
Major General Eric M. Smith, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, delivered the ceremony’s principal address. Williams’s daughters, Tracie Jean Ross and Travie Jane Ross, who serve as the ship’s sponsors, broke a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow to formally christen the ship, a time-honored Navy tradition.
«This ship honors a man who dedicated his life to service-heroic service as a Marine and continued service to his fellow veterans», said the Honorable Richard V. Spencer, secretary of the Navy. «This dedication will live on in USNS Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams as the ship is deployed around the world bringing additional capability to our growing fleet. The ceremony on Saturday will also represent the dedication to service demonstrated by the men and women who worked tirelessly to build this ship and their commitment to quality and innovation».
The future USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (ESB-4) is optimized to support a variety of maritime-based missions and designed around four core capabilities: aviation facilities, berthing, equipment staging support and command and control assets. ESBs can be enhanced to meet special operations force missions through increased communications, aviation and unmanned aircraft system support.
Built by General Dynamics NASSCO, the Montford Point-class is comprised of five ships across two variants: expeditionary transfer docks and expeditionary sea bases. USNS Montford Point (ESD-1), USNS John Glenn (ESD-2) and USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3) have been delivered to the fleet. USNS Hershel «Woody» Williams (ESB-4) is planned to join the fleet in 2018, with ESB-5 to follow in 2019.
The platform has an aviation hangar and flight deck that include two operating spots capable of landing Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion equivalent helicopters, accommodations, work spaces and ordnance storage for an embarked force. The platform will also provide enhanced command and control, communications, computers and intelligence capabilities to support embarked force mission planning and execution. The reconfigurable mission deck area can store embarked force equipment including mine sleds and rigid hull inflatable boats.
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is entering an agreement to buy two new weapons, the Barrett M107A1 anti-materiel weapon and the Barrett Multi Role Adaptive Design (MRAD) sniper rifle.
Forty M107A1 and 42 MRAD weapons will be bought, at a cost of NZ$4 million. This cost includes day optics, suppressors and ballistic computer auxiliary equipment to complement a total weapon system.
The 0.50-calibre/12.7-mm semi-automatic M107A1 anti-materiel rifle provides a new capability, giving soldiers the ability to identify and engage effectively vehicle or installation targets with precision to 1,500 m/4,921 feet.
The Barrett MRAD .338 Lapua Magnum has been proven effective to 1500 m/4,921 feet. It replaces the current AW 7.62-mm calibre sniper rifle, effective to 800 m/2,625 feet, which has reached the end of its service life.
This new weapon will increase significantly the range of NZDF snipers, and with the innovation of new tripods will increase their ability to shoot in various positions, from prone to standing.
Both weapons will be used by infantry units within the New Zealand Army and the New Zealand SAS, and will be introduced into service from mid-2018.
Chief of Army Major General Peter Kelly said the new weapons would provide soldiers with the latest technology and ensure they would be equipped for any battlefield environment they might encounter.
The new weapons were chosen after rigorous testing and feedback from qualified operators. The MRAD was selected after six weeks of testing of a number of potential rifles at Waiouru, with more than 10,000 rounds fired in a variety of evaluation activities.
The M107A1 was adopted after a sole-source procurement approach following detailed market research and engagement with industry, as well as with ABCA partners on a suitable anti-materiel weapon solution that meets users’ needs.