Squadron 2020

The Defence Forces’ Logistics Command has received a mandate, on 22.10.2018, from Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö to sign a Letter of Intent with Rauma Marine Constructions (RMC), defining the main principles and preconditions for the construction of the Squadron 2020 corvettes.

Squadron 2020 Project Progresses towards Construction Phase
Squadron 2020 Project Progresses towards Construction Phase

The principles and conditions pertaining to the price of the vessels, financing schedule, division of responsibilities between the parties to the agreement and crisis management were negotiated between the RMC and the Defence Forces’ Logistics Command. With the agreement reached, the actual contract for constructing the vessels is scheduled to be concluded in early 2019.

The contract covers the construction of vessels fit for purpose, their machinery, navigation system and other equipment. A battle system and weapons will be procured separately.

The overall value of the Squadron 2020 project is EUR 1.2 billion, and the construction contract is estimated to account for a half of it.

The final round of tenders will take place during this autumn

The preliminary invitation to tender on the combat system of the Squadron 2020 vessels was sent in summer 2017 to three supplier candidates: Atlas Elektronik GmbH in Germany, Lockheed Martin Canada Inc in Canada and Saab AB in Sweden. The combat system to be delivered will consist of weapons, sensors, command and control systems and their integration into the vessels. The aim is to make an agreement on the combat system at the same time as the agreement to construct the vessels is made.

Bluefin Robotics

General Dynamics Mission Systems today released the new Bluefin-9 autonomous Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) at Oceans 2018 in Charleston, South Carolina. The completely reengineered vehicle combines high navigational accuracy, outstanding sonar resolution, and precision manufacturing to deliver defense, commercial and academic customers highly-detailed subsurface data in minutes rather than hours. The two-man portable UUV provides the same data collection capabilities of larger UUVs, and can be deployed and recovered from piers, a Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) or other vessels of opportunity.

General Dynamics Mission Systems Launches Latest Unmanned Underwater Vehicle at Oceans 2018
General Dynamics Mission Systems Launches Latest Unmanned Underwater Vehicle at Oceans 2018

The Bluefin-9 includes a Removable Data Storage Module (RDSM) which stores high-definition images, video and sonar data that can be accessed within minutes of the vehicle’s recovery. It delivers mission endurance of up to eight hours at a speed of three-knots, and can reach speeds of six-knots and dive to 200 meters/656 feet. Because of its modularity, customers can exchange both the RDSM and battery to redeploy the Bluefin-9 in 30 minutes or less. These capabilities align with environmental surveying, water quality measurement, search and recovery, security, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and other tactical missions.

«General Dynamics has invested in the redesigned Bluefin-9 and a broad team of engineering experts has made significant improvements to the design, production quality, modularity and reliability of the entire Bluefin Robotics product family to deliver cost-effective UUVs with more mission capability and range», said Carlo Zaffanella, a vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Mission Systems. «We are proud to introduce this first product of a new generation of UUVs, designed to meet the dynamic operational challenges of our defense and commercial customers».

General Dynamics provides an 18-month product warranty on the Bluefin-9, as well as training for UUV operators.

MMP 5th generation

MBDA has unveiled its new naval offering based on the MMP 5th generation ground combat missile at Euronaval. This decision follows the operational evaluation campaign carried out at the end of the summer by the French armed forces in Djibouti to confirm the reliability and operational performance of the Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP – Medium-Range Missile) system in a hot environment, both from the ground and also from a Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) moving at high speed.

The success of this evaluation allows MBDA to extend the integration perspectives of the MMP system
The success of this evaluation allows MBDA to extend the integration perspectives of the MMP system

A total of nine MMP missiles were fired with all reaching their target. Two of these shots were fired by the maritime force of marines and commandos from a L’Embarcation Commando à Usage Multiple Embarquable (ECUME) RHIB. A first firing from the sea-to-land and the second from sea-to-sea have demonstrated the ease of use of the MMP.

The success of this evaluation allows MBDA to extend the integration perspectives of the MMP system and to propose it on fast attack craft or semi-rigid boats for missions against hostile ships, coastal defenses or armored vehicles, especially in support of a landing of small units or Special Forces.

At Euronaval, the MMP system (firing post and missile) is presented on the Zodiac Milpro booth, installed on a Hurricane type RHIB. On fast patrol boats, the MMP will be fired from a stabilised turret carrying four ready-to-fire ammunitions installed in launchers protecting the missiles from the maritime environment. The turret can be controlled from a dedicated console or from a multifunction console in the ship’s operations center.

Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA, said: «Today’s launch of a family of naval systems based on the MMP missile is aligned with the trajectory we initiated with the French armies at the launch of the MMP program in 2011. By deciding at that time to introduce the most modern technologies of guidance and propulsion together with a multi-effect warhead, we laid the foundations of a family of weapons capable of meeting the most demanding constraints the armed forces may encounter in the field, in terms of tactical effects, in terms of mobility, as well as in environmental terms. The MMP family sees today the advent of naval versions. I have no doubt that the MMP will give birth to other more powerful versions in the near future».

MBDA Introduces Naval Versions of the MMP 5th Generation Missiles System
MBDA Introduces Naval Versions of the MMP 5th Generation Missiles System

Air System Falco

Leonardo has completed series of successful test flights of its Falco EVO Remotely-Piloted Air System (RPAS) in Bulgaria. The flight campaign was to validate a package of upgrades that extends the endurance and operational range of the platform for overland and maritime missions. This includes a Beyond-Line-Of-Sight (BLOS) satellite data-link system and a new propulsion system based on a heavy-fuel engine. As well as extending the flight envelope of the Falco EVO, the new engine was also proven to generate more electricity on-board the platform, granting access to more power-intensive ISR sensors required for complex missions.

Leonardo Successfully Completes First Flight Campaign of Falco EVO with New Engine and Satellite Command Link
Leonardo Successfully Completes First Flight Campaign of Falco EVO with New Engine and Satellite Command Link

Further trials are now planned that will see the Falco EVO flying equipped with Leonardo’s new Gabbiano TS Ultra-Light (UL) surveillance radar (launched at the Paris Air Show in 2017) combined with a high-definition InfraRed (IR) electro-optical system, Automatic Identification System, and a comms relay suite.

The Falco EVO, the longest-endurance model from Leonardo’s Falco RPAS family, is a surveillance and intelligence-gathering platform suited to overland and maritime missions. It can fly for more than 20 hours while carrying a payload of up to 100 kg. The Falco EVO has already been delivered to its launch customer in the Middle East region, while the original Falco RPAS has been chosen by five customers. The Falco EVO is currently engaged in a selection process for a prestigious international client and will shortly be deployed in the Mediterranean for a European surveillance programme.

More than 50 Falco family RPAS are currently engaged on operations around the world. Some customers choose to own and operate Falco family platforms while others, such as the United Nations for its humanitarian MONUSCO mission, have selected Leonardo to deliver a managed service package. Under this kind of arrangement, Leonardo owns and operates the Falco and provides surveillance information directly to the customer. This «managed service» model is expected to be a growth area for Leonardo which is expanding its «drones as a service» offering, including to civilian customers such as police and emergency responders.

Mission Master

At the end of September, and for the first time, Rheinmetall took part in European Land Robot Trial (ELROB) with its unmanned multi-mission «Mission Master» vehicle. At Europe’s largest exhibition for military ground robotics, Rheinmetall’s Mission Master team entered the fray, taking on a number of competing teams.

Rheinmetall’s Mission Master unmanned ground vehicle was first unveiled at this year’s Eurosatory trade show, and has now won a competition of military «Mule» vehicles by scoring over twice as any points as the runner-up (Rheinmetall photo)
Rheinmetall’s Mission Master unmanned ground vehicle was first unveiled at this year’s Eurosatory trade show, and has now won a competition of military «Mule» vehicles by scoring over twice as any points as the runner-up (Rheinmetall photo)

Made by Rheinmetall Canada, the cargo version of this versatile vehicle turned in a particularly compelling performance in the «Mule» category.

In all, six teams took part in this competition category. Mules are essentially automated pack animals – autonomous transport vehicles capable of carrying heavy loads and equipment. They had to handle two scenarios.

The teams each had thirty minutes to cover a 1,400-meter-long route with their mule.

During the first run, Rheinmetall impressed the crowd with an impressive performance. Then, following the second, came the gratifying result; despite competing for the first time, the Rheinmetall Mission Master clearly dominated the contest, scoring 3,151 points, twice as many as the robotic vehicle that took second place (1,547 points), and way ahead of the one that came in third (167 points).

The cargo version of the Mission Master was exhibited to a large group of defence specialists for the first time at Eurosatory 2018. Rheinmetall developed this variant to reduce the combat load carried by troops in the field, contributing to faster movement and greater operational efficiency. Rheinmetall’s new robotic vehicle can operate in hazardous, difficult-to-reach terrain, in turn contributing to the survivability and protection of troops deployed in harm’s way.

Moreover, the Mission Master can be networked with advanced soldier systems such as Future Soldier – Expanded System, Gladius 2.0 or Argus. In Rheinmetall’s «System Infanterie», the Mission Master serves as a force multiplier for infantry sections or squads equipped with Rheinmetall’s Future Soldier – Expanded System technology. Fully networked with dismounted combat troops, it not only takes a weight not only off the soldiers’ shoulders, it also relieves the pressure on military leaders.

Characterized by extreme flexibility, the Rheinmetall Mission Master can be quickly configured for a multitude of different missions thanks to modular, easy-to-install build-ons. Its mission capabilities include logistics, surveillance, force protection, evacuation of wounded personnel, firefighting and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance. It can also serve as a radio relay station. Speed, scalable autonomy and proven mobility in all types of terrain make the Mission Master a strong and dependable comrade for small combat units.

Slovakian Vydra

With the procurement of Vydra 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in line with the Long Term Defence Development Plan, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) will meet the operational requirements of the Slovak Armed Forces (SVK) to a full extent, whilst taking account of the vehicleʼs required ballistic protection level, firepower, mobility and swimming capability.

The Vydra infantry combat vehicle selected by Slovakia is a variant of the AMV developed by Finland’s Patria, fitted with a Slovakian-produced turret and with minor changes (SME photo)
The Vydra infantry combat vehicle selected by Slovakia is a variant of the AMV developed by Finland’s Patria, fitted with a Slovakian-produced turret and with minor changes (SME photo)

«The capabilities required for the vehicle have been verified and confirmed in several types of trials», said Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Daniel Zmeko. Should there be a requirement to increase the level of ballistic protection on the vehicle, he added, this solution is technically feasible. «If that is the case, our planners reckon with the vehicleʼs limited mobility in clearing water obstacles. This planning assumption is understandable, because today there is no such vehicle whose ballistic protection would be Level 4and above in a required configuration that could swim across water obstacles. The system of enhancing the ballistic protection of vehicles by fitting additional armour is a worldwide trend, one which improves the flexibility of the vehicle in terms of its operational use and saves resources markedly», he said. According to his own words, among the many crucial steps ahead is, above all, the vehicleʼs advanced anti-tank guided weapon system and fully interoperable communications and information system, including the ability to transfer classified information up to NATO Secret.

The aim of NATO defence planning is to harmonise national plans with NATO requirements. This means harmonising the requirements of SVK defence planners for the final shape of the SVK Armyʼs combat segment with NATOʼs requirement for a heavy mechanised brigade. Aligned with the 2030 Long-Term Defence Development Plan, the SVK Armyʼs combat segment is comprised of 7 battalions, i.e. 1 motorised battalion (equipped with 4×4 vehicles), 2 mechanised battalions (equipped with 8×8 IFVs), 3 heavy battalions (equipped with tracked vehicles), and 1 tank battalion.

As part of consultations with the NATO defence capability review team, we explained the order of sequence to achieve the final shape of the SVK Armyʼs combat segment and mechanised brigade according to NATO requirements. As part of Phase 1, 1 artillery unit will be complemented gradually and reequipped with the Zuzana 2 SpGH. The outdated BVP 1 vehicles will be replaced by the Vydra 8×8 IFV fleet. A tank battalion, equipped with the T-72 tanks after a partial upgrade and life extension programme, will have been stood up by 2024, with the acquisition of 4th generation tanks scheduled after 2025. As the BVP 2 fleet will be phased out, new advanced combat tracked vehicles will be fielded after 2024 in line with the Long-Term Defence Development Plan. The structure of the heavy mechanised brigade in terms of NATO requirements and other tasks arising out of NATO and EU commitments will be delivered flexibly, depending on the availability of military assets.

Canadian Frigate

The Government of Canada and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. have identified Lockheed Martin Canada Inc. as the preferred bidder to provide the design and design team for the Royal Canadian Navy’s future Canadian Surface Combatants.

Lockheed Wins Canada’s Frigate Tender
Lockheed Wins Canada’s Frigate Tender

While this represents a significant milestone in the competitive process, more work is required before a contract is awarded.

Lockheed Martin Canada Inc. must now go through the «due diligence process», which includes:

  • negotiations with the company on intellectual property rights;
  • an assessment of combat systems performance;
  • an assessment of the company’s financial capability to deliver the project, together with the verification of various other administrative matters.

Should the preferred bidder not successfully demonstrate to Canada and Irving Shipbuilding Inc. that it meets all of the due diligence requirements, then the next highest ranked compliant bidder will become the preferred bidder. The new preferred bidder will then have to successfully demonstrate that it meets all of the due diligence requirements.

The identification of the preferred bidder follows a rigorous bid evaluation process. This process has been, and will continue to be, overseen by an independent Fairness Monitor. To date, the Fairness Monitor has submitted a series of interim reports on the Canadian Surface Combatant procurement process, and each of these reports have not identified any fairness deficiencies.

More recently, the Fairness Monitor provided the following statement to Public Services and Procurement Canada: «As the Fairness Monitor for the Canadian Surface Combatant project, we have monitored the evaluation of proposals submitted in response to the Request for Proposals and have identified no fairness deficiencies. It is our opinion that the evaluation of proposals was conducted in a fair manner. Decisions were made objectively and free from personal favouritism or improper influence, and the process encompassed the elements of openness, competitiveness, transparency and compliance with the Request for Proposals».

A contract award is expected this winter, with construction beginning in the early 2020s.

The Canadian Surface Combatant project is the largest, most complex procurement ever undertaken by the Government of Canada. These ships will form the backbone of our Royal Canadian Navy and will be Canada’s major surface component of maritime combat power for decades to come.

The Government of Canada remains committed to being open and transparent at each stage of the procurement process.

Canadian Surface Combatant


Airbus Helicopters continues to progress with the development of its Racer (Rapid And Cost-Efficient Rotorcraft) technology demonstrator, funded by European Union’s H2020 framework through the Clean Sky 2 program, and aiming to provide the best trade-off between speed, cost-efficiency, sustainability and mission performance.

Racer high-speed demonstrator passes preliminary design review milestone
Racer high-speed demonstrator passes preliminary design review milestone

After the validation of the demonstrator’s aerodynamic configuration last year, key subsystems have now successfully passed their Preliminary Design Review (PDR) giving way to the launching of first components manufacture. Final assembly of the prototype is planned to start in Q4 2019.

«I want to thank all of our European partners for the excellence of their work and for their commitment in this fantastic project», said Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research & Innovation at Airbus Helicopters. «The PDR marks a major achievement for the Racer program as it allows to freeze interfaces and 3D definitions of the main subsystems, prior to detailed design and manufacture of key components».

Long-lead items are the first ones to be manufactured. Airbus Helicopters teams already launched production of the lateral drive shaft, one of the Racer’s most innovative components. Among key subsystems, Italy’s Avio Aero, a GE Aviation Business, is launching procurement and manufacturing for the aircraft’s lateral gear boxes housing, while Hamble UK based GE Aviation Integrated Systems is taking care of the wing’s titanium cradle part. Romania’s INCAS/Romaero has already started manufacturing the Racer’s composite side panel and Spain’s Aernnova the tail parts primary structure.

Together with its partners, Airbus Helicopters is currently refining the content of the future Racer flight demonstration in Clean Sky 2 which will begin in 2020 and include about 200 flight hours. The first part will focus on the progressive opening of the flight envelope and on assessing key performance objectives as well as speed, handling qualities, stability and aerodynamics. The second phase will aim at demonstrating the aircraft’s suitability to carry out potential missions where increased speed and efficiency would bring significant added value, such as Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Search & Rescue (SAR) and private transport. This second flight testing phase will also allow to mature low-noise flight procedures, unique to the Racer demonstrator formula.

Tamar is launched

The second of the Navy’s next-generation patrol ships makes her debut at sea next month – as the fourth ship entered the water for the first time.

HMS Tamar (P233) is launched as HMS Medway (P223) gears up for maiden voyage
HMS Tamar (P233) is launched as HMS Medway (P223) gears up for maiden voyage

HMS Tamar (P233) became the latest second-generation River-class ship to be officially launched, lowered into the water at BAE System’s Govan yard, then towed three kilometres downstream to the firm’s Scotstoun facility, where fitting out takes place.

There she joins Ship No.3 in the class, HMS Trent (P224), and No.2, HMS Medway (P223), which are both being fitted out.

Medway is days away from completion. She is due to head down Glasgow’s great artery for her maiden voyage in November.

A mixed Royal Navy-civilian crew will put the 2,000-tonne vessel through her paces off the west coast of Scotland after months of training and preparation.

As well as getting used to a new ship fitted with new equipment, the crew – who are split between Portsmouth (warfare/logistics) and the Clyde (weapons/marine engineers) – have been breathing life into the Medway name, visiting the Scottish Legion in Glasgow and the city’s RNR unit Dalriada, and trying their hand at curling and clay pigeon shooting.

The Borough of Medway will be the ship’s affiliate throughout her lifespan and sailors are due to attend a council meeting early in 2019 when the Freedom of the Borough will be bestowed on the vessel.

Despite not being at sea yet – or having raised the White Ensign – the traditions of the Service remain vitally important to Medway’s ethos, from toasting the birth of Prince Louis to recognising stalwarts of the ship’s company, such as communications expert Leading Engineering Technician Paul Guy.

He’s clocked up 25 years of unblemished service in the Royal Navy – a milestone recognised with a bar to his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

It was presented not only by his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Commander Hugh Harris but also by comedian and Phoenix Nights’ Ted Robbins – aka Peter Kay’s arch rival Den Perry.

«It was fantastic to be presented with this award in recognition of 25 years in the Navy», said Paul. «To have it handed to me by Den Perry however was something else as I am a huge fan of his and he made this really special».

If the sea trials run as planned, HMS Medway (P223) should move to Portsmouth early in the new year.

«We on HMS Medway (P223) are extremely excited for the challenges ahead and the imminent sea trials – and subsequent first entry into Portsmouth», said Lieutenant Commander Harris. «My ship’s company continue to work hard to meet every future milestone and ultimately fulfil all the responsibilities required of her as she comes into service next year».

By then, HMS Forth (P222) – the lead ship in the second generation of River-class vessels – should be back at sea.

Problems with her have kept HMS Forth (P222) in Portsmouth throughout the summer of 2018, but following rectifications by BAE, her crew are expected to move back on board in November with trials resuming in the second half of January.

The final ship in the class, HMS Spey (P226), is due for launch. All five vessels will perform a mixture of fishery protection work and general maritime security duties in home waters – with the ability, like their first batch of Rivers, to conduct overseas patrol missions as well.

Christening of Vermont

The U.S. Navy christened its newest attack submarine, the future USS Vermont (SSN-792), during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony Saturday, October 20, 2018, at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut.

The Navy christened its newest attack submarine, the future USS Vermont (SSN-792)
The Navy christened its newest attack submarine, the future USS Vermont (SSN-792)

The principal speaker was Vermont Governor Phil Scott. Ms. Gloria Valdez, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy (Ships), served as the ship’s sponsor. In a time-honored Navy tradition, she christened the ship by breaking a bottle of sparkling wine across the bow and state, «In the name of the United States, I christen thee».

«The future USS Vermont (SSN-792) honors the contributions and support that the state of Vermont has given to our Navy and Marine Corps team throughout the years», said Secretary of the U.S. Navy Richard V. Spencer. «For decades to come, this boat and the Sailors who will serve on it will stand as a tribute to the patriotic people of Vermont and a testament to the value of the partnership between the Department of the U.S. Navy and our industry teammates».

The future USS Vermont, designated SSN-792, is the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the «Green Mountain State». The first Vermont was one of nine 74-gun warships authorized by Congress in 1816. The ship spent her early life laid up, but was put into service as a store and receiving ship during the Civil War. She continued in that service until struck from the Navy list in 1901. The second Vermont (Battleship No. 20) was laid down in May 1904 and commissioned March 4, 1907. She was a member of The Great White Fleet that conducted a world cruise during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Later she participated in the American occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico. During World War I, she served as an engineering training ship before being converted to carry out her final missions as a troop transport, returning about 5,000 World War I U.S. service members from Europe. She was decommissioned June 30, 1920.

The future USS Vermont (SSN-792) is the 19th Virginia-class attack submarine and the first of ten Virginia-class Block IV submarines. The ship’s construction began in May 2014 and it will deliver in the fall of 2019. USS Vermont (SSN-792) will provide the U.S. Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea superiority well into the 21st century.

Virginia-class submarines are built to operate in the world’s littoral and deep waters while conducting anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces support; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Their inherent stealth, endurance, mobility and firepower directly enable them to support five of the six maritime strategy core capabilities – sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security and deterrence.


General Characteristics

Builder General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
Date Deployed October 3, 2004
Propulsion One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
Length 377 feet/114.8 m
Beam 33 feet/10.0584 m
Hull Diameter 34 feet/10.3632 m
Displacement Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
Speed 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
Diving Depth 800+ feet/244+ m
Crew 132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles Two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes 4 torpedo tubes
Weapons MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)

* – Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories


Nuclear Submarine Lineup


Block IV

Ship Yard Christening Commissioned Homeport
SSN-792 Vermont EB 10-20-18
SSN-793 Oregon EB Under Construction
SSN-794 Montana NNS Under Construction
SSN-795 Hyman G. Rickover EB Under Construction
SSN-796 New Jersey NNS Under Construction
SSN-797 Iowa EB Under Construction
SSN-798 Massachusetts NNS Under Construction
SSN-799 Idaho EB Under Construction
SSN-800 Arkansas NNS On Order
SSN-801 Utah EB On Order