High Energy Laser

The U.S. Army awarded Dynetics, Lockheed Martin and its partners a $10 million contract to continue development for the next phase of the High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL TVD) program, a 100-kilowatt class laser weapon system.

Team Dynetics Receives Contract for Next Phase of 100 kW-Class Laser Weapon System for U.S. Army
Team Dynetics Receives Contract for Next Phase of 100 kW-Class Laser Weapon System for U.S. Army

Laser weapons are ideally suited to address high volume, low cost threats because of their inexpensive cost per shot and deep magazine. Team Dynetics HEL TVD system incorporates highly reliable subsystems to withstand the expected rugged operation conditions.

The team recently completed a System Requirements Review and technical baseline update. The next step in the program will be the preliminary design review in January 2019.

«The HEL TVD program will be pivotal for the warfighters while they are protecting our country. Dynetics, Lockheed Martin and our partners are providing a safe and simple high energy laser weapon system that crews can operate for years to come and across various terrains», said Ronnie Chronister, Dynetics vice president of contracts. «We pulled together a cross-industry leading team, which has the expertise and knowledge to understand exactly what is needed. We believe that our solution will be straightforward and will be the type of system that will preferred by the Army».

Dynetics is drawing on the experience of systems engineering, manufacturing, test and vehicle modifications for integration on the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV).

Lockheed Martin provides the laser subsystem, as well as other key subsystems. The spectral beam-combined fiber laser subsystem strongly leverages Lockheed Martin’s experience from ground vehicle integration gained as part of the Army’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) program.

«The proliferation of hostile unmanned aerial systems and rockets, artillery and mortars present an increasing threat to deployed U.S. troops. Laser weapons offer a deep magazine and very low cost per shot making them ideally suited to complement existing kinetic energy weapons to address intense UAS swarms and RAM raids», said Iain McKinnie, Lockheed Martin business development lead for Advanced Laser Solutions and Strategy. «The Army’s HEL TVD program is a critical step toward realizing this potential, culminating in 2022 testing of a mobile 100 kW-class laser weapon system fully integrated with an Army FMTV truck».

Lockheed Martin has more than 40 years of experience developing laser weapon systems. The HEL TVD award leverages technology building blocks from internal research and development projects, including the ATHENA system and ALADIN laser, as well as contract experience gained from programs such as the U.S. Army’s RELI program, the U.S. Air Force LANCE program and the U.S. Navy HELIOS and HEFL programs.

Team Dynetics is one of two remaining contractors competing to build the demonstrator that will be tested in 2022. The winning contractor will be awarded a contract option to finish the design, build and integrate the laser weapon system onto an Army FMTV platform and conduct field testing at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Acceptance Trials

The Navy’s 10th Expeditionary Fast Transport ship, Burlington, successfully completed Acceptance Trials, August 3 after two days of underway evaluation in the Gulf of Mexico.

Official U.S. Navy file photo of USNS Brunswick (T-EPF-6). This ship is in the same class as PCU Burlington (EPF-10)
Official U.S. Navy file photo of USNS Brunswick (T-EPF-6). This ship is in the same class as PCU Burlington (EPF-10)

The ship successfully demonstrated the readiness of its equipment and systems for operations, both dockside and underway, for the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey. The ship returned to the Austal USA shipyard and will now begin preparations for delivery to the Navy later this year.

«Acceptance trials are a major step towards delivering Burlington to the Navy», said Captain Scot Searles, Strategic and Theater Sealift program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «The ship performed very well this week, which is a great reflection of the commitment of our industry and government team to delivering quality ships».

EPFs are versatile, non-combatant vessels designed to operate in shallow-draft ports and waterways, increasing operational flexibility for a wide range of activities including maneuver and sustainment, relief operations in small or damaged ports, flexible logistics support, or as the key enabler for rapid transport.

They are capable of interfacing with roll-on/roll-off discharge facilities, as well as on/off-loading vehicles such as a fully combat-loaded Abrams Main Battle Tank. Each vessel includes a flight deck to support day and night aircraft launch and recovery operations. Burlington will have airline-style seating for 312 embarked forces with fixed berthing for 104. Also, under construction at Austal are future Puerto Rico (EPF-11) and Newport (EPF-12).

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, sealift ships, support ships, boats, and craft.



Material Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 103 m/337.9 feet
Beam overall 28.5 m/93.5 feet
Hull draft (maximum) 3.83 m/12.57 feet
Area (with tie-downs) 1,863 m2/20,053 feet2
Clear Height 4.75 m/15.6 feet
Turning diameter 26.2 m/86.0 feet
ISO TEU (Twenty Equivalent Units) Stations 6 Interface Panels
Crew 41
Single SR 2
Double SR 6
Quad SR 7
Troop Seats 312
Troop Berths Permanent: 104
Temporary: 46
Galley and Messing 48
Main Engines 4 × MTU 20V8000 M71L Diesel Engines 4 × 9.1 MW
Gear boxes 4 × ZF 60000NR2H Reduction Gears
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila WLD 1400 SR
Average Speed 35 knots/40 mph/65 km/h @ 90% MCR with 635 mt (700 st) payload
Maximum Speed 43 knots/50 mph/80 km/h without payload
Maximum Transit Range 1,200 NM/1,381 miles/2,222 km
Self-Deployment Range 5,600 NM/6,444 miles/10,371 km
Survival Through SS-7
NAVAIR Level 1 Class 2 Certified Flight Deck for one helicopter
Centreline parking area for one helicopter
NAVAIR Level 1 class 4 Type 2 Certified VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment)
Helicopter Control Station
Active Ride Control Transcom Interceptors
Foils: 3.24 m2/34.9 feet2 each, forward on inboard sides of demi-hulls
Vehicle Ramp Articulated Slewing Stern Ramp
Straight aft to 45 Starboard
Telescoping Boom Crane 12.3 mt @ 15 m, 18.2 mt @ 10 m/13.6 Lt @ 49.2 feet, 20.1 Lt @ 32.8 feet



USNS Spearhead (EPF-1), Delivered

USNS Choctaw County (EPF-2), Delivered

USNS Millinocket (EPF-3), Delivered

USNS Fall River (EPF-4), Delivered

USNS Trenton (EPF-5), Delivered

USNS Brunswick (EPF-6), Delivered

USNS Carson City (EPF-7), Delivered

USNS Yuma (EPF-8), Delivered

USNS City of Bismark (EPF-9), Delivered

USNS Burlington (EPF-10), Christened

USNS Puerto Rico (EPF-11), Under construction

USNS Newport (EPF-12), On order

Latvian Black Hawk

According to Defense News, Latvia has been cleared by the U.S. State Department to buy four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, in a move to bolster the NATO nation’s ability to move forces around the alliance’s eastern flank.

A Louisiana National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk is used to assess flooding on June 5, 2015. Latvia wants to purchase four of the Sikorsky-made helicopters (1st Lieutenant Rebekah Malone/Army National Guard)
A Louisiana National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk is used to assess flooding on June 5, 2015. Latvia wants to purchase four of the Sikorsky-made helicopters (1st Lieutenant Rebekah Malone/Army National Guard)

The sale has an estimated price tag of $200 million, which covers the four rotorcraft, 10 engines and associated equipment.

As with all announcements by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the sale must pass through the Senate, at which point negotiations can begin; total quantities and dollar totals often change from the original DSCA announcement and final sale.

«This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally», according to a DSCA statement. «These UH-60 helicopters will allow for interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces in rapid response to a variety of missions, and quick positioning of troops with minimal helicopter assets».

«The sale of these UH-60 helicopters to Latvia will significantly increase its capability to provide troop lift, border security, anti-terrorist, medical evacuation, search and rescue, re-supply/external lift, and combat support in all weather», the statement noted.

The prime contractor for the helicopter is Sikorsky’s location in Stratford, Connecticut; the engines will be produced by General Electric Aviation Company in Lynn, Massachusetts. There are no industrial offsets associated with the potential deal.

LPD Flight II

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) announced on August 03, 2018, that its Ingalls Shipbuilding division has received a $165.5 million, cost-plus-fixed-fee advance procurement contract from the U.S. Navy to provide long-lead-time material and advance construction activities for LPD-30, the first Flight II LPD.

HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division has received a $165.5 million contract to provide long-lead-time material and advance construction activities for LPD-30, the first Flight II LPD (HII rendering)
HII’s Ingalls Shipbuilding division has received a $165.5 million contract to provide long-lead-time material and advance construction activities for LPD-30, the first Flight II LPD (HII rendering)

«This is a significant milestone as we embark toward a new flight of LPDs», said Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. «The Flight II LPDs will be highly capable ships meeting the requirements and needs of our Navy-Marine Corps team. We look forward to delivering this series of affordable LPDs to our nation’s fleet of amphibious ships».

The funds from this contract will be used to purchase long-lead-time material and major equipment, including main engines, diesel generators, deck equipment, shafting, propellers, valves and other systems.

Ingalls has a vendor base of 400 companies in 30 states that will be involved in the LPD Flight II program.

Ingalls has delivered 11 San Antonio-class (LPD-17) ships to the U.S. Navy and has two more ships under construction. The keel for USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) was laid last October, and fabrication has begun on the 13th ship in the class, USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29). Start of fabrication on LPD-30 is scheduled for 2020.

The U.S. Navy’s requirement to replace the retiring LSD-41/49 class of amphibious ships will be met by developing and acquiring the second flight of the current LPD-17 class, beginning with LPD-30. The additional capabilities of LPD Flight II will support new and emerging U.S. Marine Corps and Navy requirements such as the Ship-to-Shore Connector, CH-53K Stallion helicopter and improved troop armory/weapons stowage.

The San Antonio class is a major part of the Navy’s 21st century amphibious assault force. The 684-foot/208-meter-long, 105-foot/32-meter-wide ships are used to embark and land Marines, their equipment and supplies ashore via air cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles, augmented by helicopters or vertical takeoff and landing aircraft such as the MV-22 Osprey.

The ships support a Marine Air Ground Task Force across the spectrum of operations, conducting amphibious and expeditionary missions of sea control and power projection to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions throughout the first half of the 21st century.

Desired stable orbit

Northrop Grumman Corporation announced that NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) has successfully reached its desired stable orbit and begun science operations. The spacecraft was built and operated by Northrop Grumman. The TESS spacecraft instrument is the set of four wide-field cameras designed and built by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and MIT Lincoln Lab. The principal goal of the TESS mission is to use its four wide-field cameras to detect planets around bright host stars in the solar neighborhood so that detailed characterizations of the planets and their atmospheres can be performed through follow-up observations from telescopes on Earth and in space. As the first-ever satellite to perform an exoplanet survey of nearly the entire sky, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to Jupiter-sized, orbiting a wide range of stellar types at various orbital distances.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was designed, manufactured and tested by Northrop Grumman in the company’s Dulles, Virginia, satellite manufacturing facility. The company is also responsible for handling mission operations for the observatory
NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) was designed, manufactured and tested by Northrop Grumman in the company’s Dulles, Virginia, satellite manufacturing facility. The company is also responsible for handling mission operations for the observatory

The TESS spacecraft was designed, manufactured and tested by Northrop Grumman at the company’s satellite manufacturing facility in Dulles. The company is also responsible for handling mission operations for the observatory. TESS was launched April 18, 2018, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. After launch, the observatory went through a series of tests and began preparation for a series of in-space maneuvers, including a lunar gravity assist, to reach its targeted highly-elliptical orbit. This lunar flyby was executed May 17 and the final period-adjustment maneuver was performed May 29.

«The TESS observatory is in excellent condition after completing the journey to its final orbit», said Steve Krein, vice president, science and environmental satellite programs, Northrop Grumman. «TESS is another example of our ability to deliver successful scientific space missions that shape our knowledge of the known universe. We are proud to provide critical mission operations for TESS as it continues a historic journey to identify new planets outside our solar system».

The four TESS cameras developed by MIT project partners are integrated with Northrop Grumman’s LEOStar-2 bus, a flight-proven and flexible satellite platform that accommodates a wide variety of missions. The company has several other satellites in production for upcoming NASA missions including the Earth science ICESat-2 and Landsat-9 satellites and the JPSS-2, -3 and -4 weather spacecraft which use the larger LEOStar-3 bus, as well as the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) LEOStar-2 satellite to be launched later this year.

TESS is a NASA astrophysics explorer mission led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Dr. George Ricker of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research serves as principal investigator for the mission. Additional partners besides Northrop Grumman include NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

Acceptance trials

On August 1, 2018 Austal celebrated its ninth Independence Class Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) which completed acceptance trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The USS Charleston (LCS-18) will be the third LCS Austal has delivered to the U.S. Navy in 2018.

Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston (LCS-18) during launch at Austal USA's Mobile, Alabama shipyard in September 2017. LCS-16 (Tulsa) alongside (Image: Austal)
Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston (LCS-18) during launch at Austal USA’s Mobile, Alabama shipyard in September 2017. LCS-16 (Tulsa) alongside (Image: Austal)

The completion of acceptance trials is the last major milestone required by the U.S. Navy before the ship is delivered and commissioned into service. The trial involves the execution of intensive and comprehensive tests by the Austal-led industry team to demonstrate to the U.S. Navy the successful operation of the ship’s major systems and equipment.

«Austal USA delivered USS Manchester (LCS-14) to the U.S. Navy at the end of February, USS Tulsa (LCS-16) at the end of April and will deliver USS Charleston (LCS-18) in the next couple of months. Moving these ships out to the fleet in such rapid succession is a huge accomplishment for our Mobile team and a testament to the supply chain supporting the LCS Program», CEO David Singleton said.

«Of the eight Independence-variants LCS Austal has delivered, six are currently homeported at the San Diego Navy Base. These ships are being increasingly utilized by the U.S. Navy in operations and the feedback on their versatility and capability is a fantastic endorsement of our unique Austal design», he said.

«There’s no doubt these small surface combatants are and will continue to make a major difference in the U.S. global force structure as the U.S. Navy continues to grow to a 355-ship fleet», he said.

The LCS program is at a full rate production with several ships currently under construction. USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) is preparing for sea trials. Final assembly is well underway on USS Kansas City (LCS-22) and USS Oakland (LCS-24). Modules for USS Mobile (LCS-26) and USS Savannah (LCS-28) are under construction in the module manufacturing facility and USS Canberra (LCS-30) is in pre-production.


The Independence Variant of the LCS Class

Construction Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 421 feet/128.3 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 06-10-2017 San Diego, California
USS Omaha (LCS-12) 02-18-2015 11-20-2015 02-03-2018 San Diego, California
USS Manchester (LCS-14) 06-29-2015 05-12-2016 05-26-2018 San Diego, California
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016 03-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016 09-14-2017
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) 04-10-2017 05-22-2018
USS Kansas City (LCS-22) 11-15-2017
USS Oakland (LCS-24) 07-20-2018
USS Mobile (LCS-26)
USS Savannah (LCS-28)
USS Canberra (LCS-30)


The Israeli tiger

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has released new details of its next-generation armored vehicle Namer (Tiger), saying it is considered one of the safest vehicles in the world.

The next generation of armored vehicles
The next generation of armored vehicles

The Namer armored vehicle is capable of overcoming almost any obstacle in the field, and thanks to its high-quality armor, is considered one of the safest vehicles in the world. Additionally, it’s able to move on a wide variety of terrain and can target objects from a great distance. This powerful vehicle transports soldiers during operations in enemy territory and expands the capabilities of the IDF Ground Forces.

Terrorist organizations in the Middle East challenge Israel’s existence on a constant basis with bombs, rockets, and underground warfare. The IDF is using the latest technology to combat those who seek to harm Israeli civilians or sovereignty. One of the crucial aspects of creating this technology is ensuring that it is both safe and powerful.

In order to combat enemy forces, combat engineering soldiers use unique Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs). Previously, IDF soldiers used the Puma, a combat engineering vehicle and APC. However, in 2016, the IDF got the advanced Namer armored vehicle, which significantly expanded the army’s operational capabilities.

The 603rd Battalion has been training with the machine and works on fully comprehending everything it’s capable of doing. Lieutenant Koren, the Company’s Deputy Commander in the Battalion said, «We know how important what we’re doing is and so we make sure we train constantly. We prepare for the second we receive an order and need to carry it out in the best possible way».

The Namer armored vehicle protects soldiers, while transporting them through complex and dangerous places. «We know where the enemy will hide their weapons and even place rocket launchers. Additionally, our soldiers are experts in underground warfare and we have the means to defeat Israel’s enemies and destroy the terror tunnels», Lieutenant Koren emphasized.

According to Armored Vehicles, the hull is based from the Merkava Mk. IV; thus, making this vehicle heavily armoured due to the amount of protection this 60 tonne vehicle carries. The weapons on this vehicle utilizes the Samson Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS). This type of weapons station can house the M2 Browning machine gun (50 cal./12.7-mm) and also the Mk. 19 belt fed grenade launcher. However, the vehicle can also carry on top weapons which utilize the 7.62-mm machine gun and other variants of this vehicle include a 60-mm mortar system. The Namer is also armed with 12 smoke grenade launchers.

The Namer is powered by a 1200 hp/895 kW turbo-charged engine, the same engine seen on earlier models of the Merkava, namely the Merkava III which has a power to weight ratio of 20 hp/tonne. The vehicle itself is able to carry an additional 9 fully equipped infantry along with the 3 crewman, gunner, driver and RCWS operator. The Namer has a V shaped hull to withstand blasts from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and can also survive in nuclear conditions as it has an NBC protection system installed to combat Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) conditions.

GPS Navigation

The U.S. Army has selected BAE Systems to provide touch screen Computer Display Units (CDU) as an upgrade to the company’s ASN-128 Doppler GPS Navigation System on Black Hawk helicopters. The self-contained, all-weather, day or night navigation system enables Black Hawk pilots to view real-time flight plan data.

U.S. Army Black Hawks to receive upgraded Doppler navigation systems
U.S. Army Black Hawks to receive upgraded Doppler navigation systems

This task order, which was awarded to BAE Systems under a current $226 million indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract, will bring touch-screen navigation system control to UH-60A/L Black Hawks. The Army plans to use the ASN-128 systems through 2035, and the upgrades will support safer operation for pilots by minimizing heads-down tasks.

«We’ve been a supplier for the ASN-128 program since 1978», said Alan Dewar, director of Communications and Navigation Solutions at BAE Systems. «The full touch screen with moving map capability will improve safety for pilots, assisting our customer’s mission success».

The CDUs will be produced at BAE Systems’ facility in Wayne, New Jersey, with circuit card production in Austin, Texas. Additional CDU delivery orders may follow as part of the Army’s upgrade plan. The initial order of 250 CDUs will be delivered in 2019 and 2020.

BAE Systems’ AN/ASN-128 operates on more than 15,000 helicopters in 35 nations. The company’s Doppler Navigation Systems provide accurate, independent, jam-resistant navigation in friendly and hostile environments and in operational situations where interference with GPS is likely. The system automatically selects Doppler navigation in GPS-denied environments.

Transitional ship

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) started fabrication of the 13th LPD-17 San Antonio class ship, USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29), July 30, at its shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The start of fabrication signifies that the first 100 tons of steel have been cut.

A graphic illustration of the future San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)
A graphic illustration of the future San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Raymond D. Diaz III/Released)

«We are excited to commence fabrication on the 13th and final ship of the LPD-17 Flight I class», said Captain Brian Metcalf, LPD-17 class program manager for Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «We continue to benefit from the maturity of this program and look forward to achieving future production milestones as we work to deliver this versatile and capable warship to the fleet».

LPD-29 is named in honor of Navy veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Captain Richard M. McCool, Jr., and will be the first vessel to bear the name. McCool served in defense of the nation for 30 years, spanning three wars. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945 for heroism, after his ship was attacked by kamikaze aircraft and he led efforts to save the ship and rescue injured Sailors.

The principal mission of LPD-17 San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ships is to transport and deploy the necessary combat and support elements of Marine expeditionary units and brigades. The ship will carry approximately 720 troops, have the capability of transporting and debarking air cushion or amphibious assault vehicles, and accommodate virtually every size of Marine Corps helicopter and its tilt-rotor MV-22 Ospreys. These ships will support amphibious assault, special operations and expeditionary warfare missions through the first half of the 21st century.

The U.S. Navy awarded the detail design and construction contract for USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) to HII on February 16, 2018. Eleven San Antonio class ships have been delivered, the most recent being USS Portland (LPD-27), which was commissioned April 21, 2018. USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) and USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD-29) will serve as transition ships to LPD-30, the first ship of the LPD-17 Flight II class. LPD Flight II class ships will be the replacement for the U.S. Navy’s aging LSD-41/49 class ships.

As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, and special warfare craft. Currently, the majority of shipbuilding programs managed by PEO Ships are benefiting from serial production efficiencies, which are critical to delivering ships on cost and schedule.


General Characteristics

Builder Huntington Ingalls Industries
Propulsion Four sequentially turbocharged marine Colt-Pielstick Diesels, two shafts, 41,600 shaft horsepower
Length 684 feet/208 m
Beam 105 feet/32 m
Displacement Approximately 24,900 long tons (25,300 metric tons) full load
Draft 23 feet/7 m
Speed In excess of 22 knots/24.2 mph/38.7 km/h
Crew Ship’s Company: 374 Sailors (28 officers, 346 enlisted) and 3 Marines. Embarked Landing Force: 699 (66 officers, 633 enlisted); surge capacity to 800
Armament Two Bushmaster II 30-mm Close in Guns, fore and aft; two Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launchers, fore and aft: ten .50 calibre/12.7-mm machine guns
Aircraft Launch or land two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters or two MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft or up to four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, AH-1 or UH-1 helicopters
Landing/Attack Craft Two LCACs or one LCU; and 14 Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles/Amphibious Assault Vehicles


San Antonio-class

Ship Builder Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS San Antonio (LPD-17) Avondale 07-12-2003 01-14-2006 Norfolk, Virginia
USS New Orleans (LPD-18) Avondale 12-11-2004 03-10-2007 San Diego, California
USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19) Ingalls 11-19-2004 12-15-2007 Norfolk, Virginia
USS Green Bay (LPD-20) Avondale 08-11-2006 01-24-2009 San Diego, California
USS New York (LPD-21) Avondale 12-19-2007 11-07-2009 Norfolk, Virginia
USS San Diego (LPD-22) Ingalls 05-07-2010 05-19-2012 San Diego, California
USS Anchorage (LPD-23) Avondale 02-12-2011 05-04-2013 San Diego, California
USS Arlington (LPD-24) Ingalls 11-23-2010 02-08-2013 Norfolk, Virginia
USS Somerset (LPD-25) Avondale 04-14-2012 05-01-2014 San Diego, California
USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26) Ingalls 11-02-2014 10-08-2016 San Diego, California
USS Portland (LPD-27) Ingalls 02-13-2016 12-14-2017 San Diego, California
USS Fort Lauderdale (LPD-28) Ingalls
USS Richard M. McCool (LPD-29) Ingalls


Maya destroyer

According to the Japan Times, a launching ceremony for an 8,200-ton, 169.9-meter/558-foot warship for the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) was held Monday, July 30, 2018, at a plant in Yokohama’s Isogo Ward as Tokyo keeps steadily bolstering its defense capability against North Korean and Chinese missiles in close cooperation with U.S. military forces.

Japan launches next-generation destroyer carrying latest version of the Aegis anti-missile system
Japan launches next-generation destroyer carrying latest version of the Aegis anti-missile system

The Maya-class Aegis destroyer, which is yet to be furnished with major weapons systems, will be handed over to the MSDF in March 2020.

Defense officials have pinned great hopes on it. When deployed, the destroyer – built on the back of a ¥164.8 billion ($1.5 billion) budget for the ship and its weapon systems – will be one of Japan’s most powerful naval ships, boasting the latest version of the state-of-the-art Aegis combat system, which can be closely linked to the U.S. naval combat network.

Aegis consists of powerful computers, radars and missile-launching systems capable of tracking dozens of targets simultaneously and firing a number of missiles at once.

The ship will boast the latest version of the system, which can fire powerful Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missiles capable of intercepting much faster ballistic missiles – such as those test-fired by North Korea in a steep lofted trajectory into the Sea of Japan last year.

On June 12, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met U.S. President Donald Trump and agreed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump has praised the agreement and even declared that North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat.

But Japanese defense officials have remained deeply skeptical, maintaining plans to build two new Maya-class destroyers and even set up Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense systems in Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures.

«We cannot avert our eyes from the harsh fact that several hundred ballistic missiles whose range covers our country still exist in reality», the Defense Ministry said in a letter to the Akita Prefectural Government on July 19.

Japan is building another Maya-class destroyer and also upgrading the Aegis system of two Atago-class destroyers.

In total, Japan will have eight Aegis destroyers with ballistic missile defense capability by 2021, four of which will be capable of launching SM-3 Block IIA missiles.

Japan has decided to build Maya-class Aegis destroyers because in recent years North Korea started test-firing ballistic missiles into the sea around Japan without any advance signs, said retired Vice Adm. Toshiyuki Ito, now a professor of innovation management at KIT Toranomon Graduate School in Tokyo and a former MSDF commandant of the Kure District.

«In the past, the MSDF used to send Aegis destroyers (to monitor missile flights) only after it found some signs», of possible test-firing by North Korea, Ito said. «But the North started repeatedly test-firing missiles without any advance signs. So, the MSDF now needs to regularly deploy two Aegis destroyers», in the sea around Japan.

Additional ships also are necessary because any warship needs to be regularly checked and repaired at a dock for a certain period of time, and crew members need to undergo re-training afterward.

The MSDF currently finds it difficult to send Aegis destroyers on other key missions, such as multinational naval drills and operations to keep Chinese ships in check near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Ito said. The disputed islands are known in China as the Diaoyu.

In public, defense officials often emphasize that the SM-3 Block IIA would be effective in defending Japan from North Korean missiles, in particular those flying at a faster speed in a lofted trajectory. But Ito believes the introduction of the latest Aegis system will also help the Defense Ministry to achieve a more important but less-publicized goal: strengthening the Japan-U.S. military alliance.

The upgraded Aegis system set to be equipped on the Maya-class destroyer can easily be connected to and integrated with U.S. naval missile defense systems.

The Maya-class destroyers are now set to be equipped with Cooperative Engagement Capability, a U.S.-made real-time sensor network system that will allow the Japanese warships to closely share radar and fire-controlling data with the U.S. navy.

The new combat system can even launch SM-6 anti-air missiles, which are said to be able to intercept powerful cruise missiles recently developed by China, Ito said. This chance to significantly strengthen Japan-U.S. deterrence power against China is another potential value of the Maya-class Aegis destroyers, he said.

On Sunday, the English version of the nationalistic, state-run Chinese newspaper the Global Times carried an article criticizing the Maya-class destroyer for «potentially targeting China and threatening other countries», quoting comments from a Chinese expert.

With regards to the threat from North Korea, the SM-3 Block IIA missiles boast more powerful rockets and can fly faster than the earlier SM-3 missiles currently owned by Japan, and they will allow Japan to intercept North Korean missiles at an earlier stage, according to the Defense Ministry.

They would also be useful in intercepting North Korean ballistic missiles flying on a normal trajectory to attack Guam, a key U.S. military base in the Pacific Ocean, Ito said.

Thus, the introduction of the new Aegis system can have «very symbolic meaning» with regards to strengthening Japan-U.S. military cooperation, Ito said, «but I don’t think the Defense Ministry is willing to openly talk about it».

For Japan to intercept a ballistic missile flying toward a U.S. military base overseas, it would need to exercise the right of collective self-defense – the right to attack a country attacking an ally.

In 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revised the government’s long-standing interpretation of the pacifist Constitution and now argues that Japan is allowed to exercise this right if the nation’s «survival» is at stake. But this has been controversial and defending a U.S. military base overseas is still a politically sensitive issue.

Ito doesn’t believe North Korea would likely attack Japan with a ballistic missile flying in a lofted trajectory. It is difficult to control a missile taking such a path, and its warhead could burn up while falling toward the ground at high speed, he said.

When North Korea fired long-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan using a lofted trajectory last year, that was simply because the North doesn’t have a testing area wide enough for long-range ballistic missiles, Ito argued.