National Security

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy rocket carrying a critical payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) denoted NROL-71 lifted off from Space Launch Complex-6 on January 19 at 11:10 a.m. PST. The mission is in support of our country’s national defense.

United Launch Alliance successfully launches NROL-71 in support of National Security
United Launch Alliance successfully launches NROL-71 in support of National Security

«Congratulations to our team and mission partners for successfully delivering this critical asset to support national security missions», said Gary Wentz, ULA vice president of Government and Commercial Programs, «thank you to the entire team for their perseverance, ongoing dedication and focus on 100% mission success».

The Delta IV Heavy is the nation’s proven heavy lift launch vehicle, delivering high-priority missions for the National Reconnaissance Office, U.S. Air Force and NASA. With its advanced upper stage, the Delta IV Heavy can take more than 14,000 pounds/6,350 kg directly to geosynchronous orbit, as well as a wide variety of complex interplanetary trajectories.

The mission launched aboard a Delta IV Heavy, comprised of three common booster cores each powered by an Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-68A liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine producing a combined total of more than 2.1 million pounds of thrust. The second stage was powered by an AR RL10B-2 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine.

NROL-71 is ULA’s first launch in 2019 and 132nd successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

ULA’s next launch is the WGS-10 mission for the U.S. Air Force on a Delta IV rocket. The launch is scheduled for March 13, 2019 from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, ULA is the world’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 130 satellites to orbit that provide Earth observation capabilities, enable global communications, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, and support life-saving technology.

Weapons Elevator

The U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), closed out 2018 on a high note with the acceptance of the ship’s first Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE), setting the tone for more positive developments in the year ahead.

Chief Machinist's Mate Franklin Pollydore, second from left, from Georgetown, Guyana, goes over safety procedures for the Upper Stage 1 advanced weapons elevator with Sailors from USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN-78) weapons department. The elevator is the first to be delivered to the ship and marks a major milestone for Ford and the entire Ford-class of aircraft carriers. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeff Troutman/Released)
Chief Machinist’s Mate Franklin Pollydore, second from left, from Georgetown, Guyana, goes over safety procedures for the Upper Stage 1 advanced weapons elevator with Sailors from USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN-78) weapons department. The elevator is the first to be delivered to the ship and marks a major milestone for Ford and the entire Ford-class of aircraft carriers. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeff Troutman/Released)

AWE Upper Stage #1 was turned over to the ship on December 21, following testing and certification by engineers at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding, where the ship is currently working through its Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA). The acceptance marks a major milestone for the ship and the Ford-class of aircraft carriers to follow.

USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is the first Ford-class aircraft carrier and is the first new carrier design in over 40 years. Unlike Nimitz-class carrier elevators that utilize cables for movement, the Ford class elevators are commanded via electromagnetic, linear synchronous motors allowing for greater capacities and a faster movement of weapons.

The new design will allow the ship to be able to move up to 24,000 pounds/10,886 kg of ordnance at 150 feet-per-minute/45.7-meter-per-minute. This is in contrast to the 10,500 pounds/4,763 kg at up to 100 feet-per-minute/30.5-meter-per-minute on a Nimitz-class carrier.

«This will allow us to load more aircraft faster, and in the long run, increase our overall sortie generation rates», said Lieutenant Commander Chabonnie Alexander, Ford’s ordnance handling officer.

But aside from the advantages of the new AWE, the new ship design also offered a chance to streamline the overall movement and assembly of weapons to allow for even greater efficiencies. Ford features three upper stage elevators that move ordnance between the main deck and flight deck, and seven lower stage elevators that move ordnance between the main deck and the lower levels of the ship. Ford also features a dedicated weapons handling area between the hangar bay and the flight deck, on the 02 level, that eliminates several horizontal and vertical movements to various staging and build-up locations. This ultimately offers a 75% reduction in distance traveled from magazine to aircraft.

An additional benefit of the ship’s design is a separate utility elevator that can serve as a dedicated elevator to move both ordnance and supplies, and also serve as a means to MEDically EVACuate (MEDEVAC) injured personnel from the flight deck to the hangar bay. This allows the 10 main AWEs and Ford’s three aircraft elevators to be dedicated to their primary missions of ordnance and aircraft movement during real-world operations.

To keep up with the new technologies and radical changes that the AWEs offer, Ford Sailors recently completed newly developed familiarization, operations and maintenance training in Newport News to become better educated on how to work with and maintain the elevators. The crew is now conducting hands-on training where they will validate technical manuals and maintenance requirements cards against the elevator’s actual operation. Their feedback and observations will ultimately inform future Sailors how to properly and safely operate the elevators.

Alexander said Sailors are now training with the elevator which will complement the classroom instruction they have received to this point.

«Getting this elevator turned over to the ship and allowing our Sailors to get hands-on training on the elevator will help in two ways», said Alexander. «One, it will help in the training and understanding of the system itself, and two, to work out any bugs that remain with the system during our PSA».

Though the first elevator has been accepted, work still remains on the remaining 10. Currently, all shipboard installation and testing activities of the AWEs are due to be completed prior to the end of Ford’s PSA, scheduled for July. However, some remaining certification documentation will be performed for five of the 11 elevators after PSA completion.

According to Alexander, while there was sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in having the first elevator turned over, the team working on the elevators can’t rest on this single event.

«We’re all 100 percent invested in this, but there’s still work left to do», Alexander explained. «We’re all one big team with the same goal in mind: to get these systems operational and turned over to the ship».

«I think it was a greater sense of accomplishment to my Sailors that have been working on these systems for the last 4-to-5 years», he said. «To be able to finally push the buttons and watch it operate like it’s designed to do was a great feeling. Once these systems are proven, they are going to pay huge dividends for naval strike capability».

LAV-AT Modernization

The Marine Corps continues to upgrade the turret system for one of its longest-serving fighting vehicles – the Light Armored Vehicle-Anti-Tank (LAV-AT).

Anti-Tank Weapon Systems are mounted on Light Armored Vehicle-Anti-tank variants at Camp Pendleton, California. The LAV Team at Marine Corps Systems Command continues to provide new equipment training to units receiving the Anti-Tank Weapon System upgrade, with the final two training evolutions scheduled for early this year. Full Operational Capability (FOC) for the ATWS is expected at the end of fiscal year 2019 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by CWO4 Michael Lovell)
Anti-Tank Weapon Systems are mounted on Light Armored Vehicle-Anti-tank variants at Camp Pendleton, California. The LAV Team at Marine Corps Systems Command continues to provide new equipment training to units receiving the Anti-Tank Weapon System upgrade, with the final two training evolutions scheduled for early this year. Full Operational Capability (FOC) for the ATWS is expected at the end of fiscal year 2019 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by CWO4 Michael Lovell)

In September 2017, Marine Corps Systems Command’s LAV-AT Modernization Program Team achieved initial operational capability by completing the fielding of its first four Anti-Tank Light Armored Vehicles with the upgraded Anti-Tank Weapon Systems (ATWS) to Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion Marines.

The ATWS fires the tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided – or TOW – missiles. It provides long-range stand-off anti-armor fire support to maneuvering Light Armored Reconnaissance companies and platoons. The ATWS also provides an observational capability in all climates, as well as other environments of limited visibility, thanks to an improved thermal sight system that is similar to the Light Armored Vehicle 25-mm variant fielded in 2007.

«Marines using the new ATWS are immediately noticing the changes, including a new far target location capability, a commander/gunner video sight display, a relocated gunner’s station, and an electric elevation and azimuth drive system, which replaced the previous noisy hydraulic system», said Steve Myers, LAV program manager.

«The ATWS also possesses a built-in test capability, allowing the operators and maintainers to conduct an automated basic systems check of the ATWS», he said.

The LAV-ATM Team continues to provide new equipment training to units receiving the ATWS upgrade, with the final two training evolutions scheduled for early this year. Training consists of a 10-day evolution with three days devoted to the operator and seven days devoted to maintaining the weapon system. Follow-on training can be conducted by the unit using the embedded training mode within the ATWS.

«This vehicle equips anti-tank gunner Marines with a modern capability that helps them maintain readiness and lethality to complete their mission», said Major Christopher Dell, LAV Operations officer.

Full operational capability for the ATWS is expected at the end of fiscal year 2019.

«Currently, there are 58 in service within the active fleet», said Myers. «The original equipment manufacturer delivered 91 of the 106 contracted kits and is ahead of schedule. Now MCSC’s focus is directed at the Marine Corps Forces Reserve, ensuring they receive the same quality NET and support as their active counterparts».

LAV Anti-Tank Weapon System to reach FOC by end of 2019
LAV Anti-Tank Weapon System to reach FOC by end of 2019

Blackjack program

Airbus Defense and Space Inc. has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a satellite bus in support of the Blackjack program.

Airbus wins DARPA contract to develop small constellation satellite bus for Blackjack program
Airbus wins DARPA contract to develop small constellation satellite bus for Blackjack program

DARPA describes the Blackjack program as an architecture demonstration intending to show the military utility of global low-earth orbit constellations and mesh networks of lower size, weight and cost. DARPA wants to buy commercial satellite buses and pair them with military sensors and payloads. The bus drives each satellite by generating power, controlling attitude, providing propulsion, transmitting spacecraft telemetry, and providing general payload accommodation including mounting locations for the military sensors.

«Airbus has previously co-invested hundreds of millions of dollars in high-rate manufacturing technology and supply chain logistics to build large constellations of small satellites», said Tim Deaver, Director of U.S. Space Programs at Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. «Airbus is committed to growing manufacturing capability in the U.S. and our government customers can leverage this commercial capability to develop low-earth orbit constellations to complement large existing systems».

This contract positions Airbus Defense and Space, Inc., of Herndon, Virginia, and its strategic joint venture partner, OneWeb Satellites, of Exploration Park, Florida, as the ideal service providers for Blackjack.

High production rates and design-to-cost management techniques enable OneWeb Satellites to offer low cost constellation solutions for the U.S. government and current customers. Constellations of inexpensive satellites permit wide scale disaggregated architectures enhancing survivability across many different mission areas.

OneWeb Satellites is pioneering new value propositions in space. They are leading the design and manufacturing of ultra-high performing satellites at high-volumes.

«We have created a game changer with our overall design, supply chain and production system», said Tony Gingiss, CEO, OneWeb Satellites. «Our team is transforming the space industry and we are in the midst of demonstrating we can deliver on our promises».

OneWeb Satellites brings to bear capabilities which dramatically lower the cost and shorten acquisition timelines for customers thanks to a modular design and agile serial production of satellites.

The OneWeb Satellites satellite manufacturing facility in Florida is the latest step in Airbus’ continued and long-standing commitment to growth in U.S. manufacturing, job creation and investment.

This facility, which will ultimately support thousands of jobs and follows the opening of our U.S. Manufacturing Facility for A320 aircraft in Mobile, Alabama, from which we delivered our first aircraft in 2016. An A220 assembly line on the same site in Alabama will break ground in January of 2019.

With our extensive network of U.S. suppliers, Airbus is the largest consumer of U.S. aerospace and defense goods in the world – buying more than any other company or even country. Airbus invested $16.5 billion with U.S. companies in 2017, supporting 275,000 American jobs.

Rafale F4 launched

Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, received the F4-standard development contract for the Rafale combat aircraft on January 14, 2019, during the visit of the Dassault Aviation Mérignac plant by Florence Parly, French Minister of the Armed Forces.

Rafale F4 standard launched
Rafale F4 standard launched

The F4 standard is part of the ongoing process to continuously improve the Rafale in line with technological progress and operating experience feedback. The F4 standard marks a new step coming in the wake of the standards F1 (specific to the first aircraft of the French Navy), F2 (air-to-ground and air-to-air capabilities), F3 and F3R (extended versatility).

In our role as industrial architect, we will be responsible for implementing innovative connectivity solutions to optimize the effectiveness of our aircraft in networked combat (new satellite and intra-patrol links, communication server, software defined radio).

New functions will also be developed to improve the aircraft’s capabilities (upgrades to the radar sensors and front sector optronics, helmet-mounted display capabilities), and new weapons will be integrated: Mica NG air-to-air missile and 1,000-kg/2,205-pound Armement Air-Sol Modulaire (AASM) Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon.

Lastly, with regard to availability, we are working under a through-life support contract which will become more «top-down» under the authority of the aircraft manufacturer. F4 will include a new Prognosis and Diagnostic Aid System introducing predictive maintenance capabilities. Other maintenance optimization features are scheduled, particularly with solutions based on Big Data and artificial intelligence. Lastly, the Rafale will be equipped with a new engine control unit.

«The F4 standard guarantees that Rafale will remain at world-class level so that our combat air forces can carry out all their missions with optimum efficiency, whether in coalition operations or completely independently, as required by the French nuclear deterrent», stated Eric Trappier. «This new standard also guarantees that Rafale will remain a credible reference on the export market. Lastly, it confirms the continuous improvement approach and helps develop the manufacturers’ skills».

Validation of the F4 standard is planned for 2024, with some functions becoming available as of 2022.

Dassault Aviation and the 500 French firms associated with the Rafale program thank the Ministry of the Armed Forces, the Defense procurement agency (DGA), the French Air Force and the French Navy for their confidence.

 

ABOUT THE RAFALE

The only totally «omnirole» aircraft in the world, able to operate from a land base or an aircraft carrier, capable of carrying 1.5 times its weight in weapons and fuel, the Rafale has been designed to perform the full spectrum of combat aircraft missions:

  • Interception and air-to-air combat using a 30-mm gun, Mica IR/EM missiles and Meteor missiles.
  • Close air support using a 30-mm gun, GBU laser-guided bombs and AASM GPS-guided bombs.
  • Deep strike using Scalp-Storm Shadow cruise missiles.
  • Maritime strike using the Exocet AM39 Block 2 missile and other air-to-surface weapons.
  • Real-time tactical and strategic reconnaissance using the Areos pod.
  • Buddy-buddy in-flight refueling
  • Nuclear deterrence using the Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP-A) missile.

The Rafale entered service with the French Navy in 2004 and with the French Air Force in 2006, gradually replacing the seven types of previous-generation combat aircraft. It has proven itself in external operations in various theatres: Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria. Of the 180 aircraft ordered by France to date, 152 have been delivered. The Rafale fleet currently totals almost 270,000 flight hours, including 40,000 in operations. A total of 96 Rafale aircraft have been ordered by Egypt, Qatar and India.

First Pegasus

The U.S. Air Force has accepted the first Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, setting the stage for the aircraft’s delivery to McConnell Air Force Base (AFB), in Wichita, Kansas, in the coming weeks.

Nick Cenci, Major, USAF Chief of Flight Operations DCMA (Seattle) (left) and Anthony Mariapain, Major, USAF KC-46 Chief Pilot DCMA (Seattle) stand in front of the KC-46A Pegasus at Boeing Field in advance of the U.S. Air Force acceptance of Boeing’s first tanker. Major Cenci and Major Mariapain led flight acceptance testing on the jet (Boeing photo)
Nick Cenci, Major, USAF Chief of Flight Operations DCMA (Seattle) (left) and Anthony Mariapain, Major, USAF KC-46 Chief Pilot DCMA (Seattle) stand in front of the KC-46A Pegasus at Boeing Field in advance of the U.S. Air Force acceptance of Boeing’s first tanker. Major Cenci and Major Mariapain led flight acceptance testing on the jet (Boeing photo)

«The KC-46A is a proven, safe, multi-mission aircraft that will transform aerial refueling and mobility operations for decades to come. We look forward to working with the Air Force, and the Navy, during their initial operational test and evaluation of the KC-46, as we further demonstrate the operational capabilities of this next-generation aircraft across refueling, mobility and combat weapons systems missions», said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. «I want to thank the men and women of the Air Force and across the Boeing tanker team who made this happen».

During extensive flight testing, six Boeing KC-46A Pegasus completed more than 3,800 flight hours and offloaded more than four million pounds of fuel to Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft. The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus has been rigorously tested throughout all aspects of the refueling envelope and in all conditions, including day, night and covert.

With the signing of what’s known as the DD250 paperwork, the delivery activities can proceed. McConnell Air Force Base will receive the first four Boeing KC-46A Pegasus aircraft, all of which are ready for delivery, with four subsequent aircraft destined for Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base, beginning as early as next month.

Boeing is on contract for 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the Air Force. Beyond the first aircraft that was accepted today, nine aircraft are undergoing customer acceptance testing with the remaining aircraft of the contracted amount in production.

«This is an exciting and historic day for the Air Force and Boeing, as we hand over the first of many KC-46 tankers», said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg. «I’m proud of the dedication and commitment by our enterprise-wide team, and we’re honored to provide this valuable and capable aircraft to our customer. We look forward to continuing to build and support the KC-46 for the Air Force – and other customers across the globe – for decades to come».

The Boeing KC-46A Pegasus, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in Boeing’s Everett, Washington, facility.

 

General Characteristics

Primary Function Aerial refueling and airlift
Prime Contractor The Boeing Company
Power Plant 2 × Pratt & Whitney 4062
Thrust 62,000 lbs./275.790 kN/28,123 kgf – Thrust per High-Bypass engine (sea-level standard day)
Wingspan 157 feet, 8 inches/48.1 m
Length 165 feet, 6 inches/50.5 m
Height 52 feet, 10 inches/15.9 m
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 415,000 lbs./188,240 kg
Maximum Landing Weight 310,000 lbs./140,614 kg
Fuel Capacity 212,299 lbs./96,297 kg
Maximum Transfer Fuel Load 207,672 lbs./94,198 kg
Maximum Cargo Capacity 65,000 lbs./29,484 kg
Maximum Airspeed 360 KCAS (Knots Calibrated AirSpeed)/0.86 M/414 mph/667 km/h
Service Ceiling 43,100 feet/13,137 m
Maximum Distance 7,299 NM/8,400 miles/13,518 km
Pallet Positions 18 pallet positions
Air Crew 15 permanent seats for aircrew, including aeromedical evacuation aircrew
Passengers 58 total (normal operations); up to 114 total (contingency operations)
Aeromedical Evacuation 58 patients (24 litters/34 ambulatory) with the AE Patient Support Pallet configuration; 6 integral litters carried as part of normal aircraft configuration equipment

 

British air power

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has today revealed that Britain’s combat air power has reached new heights whilst speaking in a brand-new hangar displaying one-hundred years of fighter jets.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson sets sights on next century of British air power as major fighter jet milestones are reached
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson sets sights on next century of British air power as major fighter jet milestones are reached

Speaking at Royal Air Force (RAF) Marham, the Defence Secretary announced the UK now has nine F-35B Lightning II jets ready to be deployed on operations around the world.

The F-35B Lightnings II will form the backbone of the UK’s combat air fleet alongside the Typhoon jets, which the Defence Secretary also announced have now been fitted with a state-of-the-art complex weapons suite to vastly increase its capability.

Under «Project Centurion», worth £425m over the past three years, the Typhoon now has deep strike cruise missile Storm Shadow, air-to-air missile Meteor and the precision attack missile Brimstone at their disposal.

It means the jets have boosted capabilities to intercept airborne missiles and strike ground based targets, seamlessly taking over from the Tornado’s attack role as it nears retirement.

Completed on-time and to budget, the upgrades transform the fleet into a world-leading multi-role combat air platform for decades to come.

Military engineers and personnel have worked together with hundreds of UK workers from British defence firms including BAE Systems, MBDA and Leonardo to reach the milestone.

The Defence Secretary made the announcement in front of four different aircraft, in a brand-new maintenance hangar at RAF Marham, which he opened today along with a state-of-the-art new training centre.

These facilities, along with resurfaced runways and new landing pads to accommodate the jet’s ability to land vertically, are a key part of the £550m being invested in the Norfolk base.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: «As we bid farewell to the RAF’s first century, we are setting our sights on the next 100 years. Our nation is moving into a new era outside the EU, and our huge achievements in air capability make our commitment to a role on the world stage clear to both our allies and our enemies. The incredible F-35 jets are ready for operations, a transformed Typhoon has the power to dominate the skies into the 2040s and we continue to look even further into an ambitious future. The RAF has long shown Britain at its great and global best, and today it lifts our nation to even greater heights».

The year ahead will see the F-35B Lightning II pilots and ground crew continue learning how to operate and maintain the jets in the new centre, which features state-of-the-art simulators, classrooms, and physical aircraft mock-ups.

The facility provides a real-life training environment replicating the challenges that both pilots and crew will face in supporting and operating the F-35B Lightning II.

Pilots from 617 Squadron, who are already based at RAF Marham, will practice flying the next generation aircraft from four full mission simulators.

Having the F-35s ready for operations on time is a huge landmark in what is the biggest defence project in history, which the UK has been a leading partner in for almost 25 years.

Around 150 UK personnel had been working with the jets in the US before the first batch of aircraft came to the UK last summer.

Not only does the programme offer the UK a game-changing military capability, but with British industry manufacturing 15% of a global orderbook of over 3,000 jets, it supports around 25,000 UK jobs and is projected to be worth around £35bn to the national economy.

The Defence Secretary made the announcement in front of four aircraft, which represent the past and future of British fighter jets.

They included the Tornado, which has been in-service since 1979, making its combat debut in the 1991 Gulf War, and which will be retired later this year.

Its unique capabilities have now been transferred to the Typhoon.

In addition to the Typhoon and F-35B Lightning II, the Tempest concept fighter jet model was also on show.

The model, which represents an example of what the UK’s future capability might look like, was unveiled last Summer at Farnborough International Air Show, when the Defence Secretary launched the nation’s Combat Air Strategy to ensure the UK remains a world-leader in the sector for years to come.

The aim is then for a next-generation capability to have initial operational capability by 2035.

Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier said: «I am proud to confirm that the RAF’s Combat Air capability has taken yet another significant step towards the realisation of our Next Generation Air Force. With its cutting-edge stealth technology, our F-35s are now ready to deploy on operations and, alongside our combat-proven Typhoon, offer a step-change in our ability to employ air power around the world. Furthermore, the successful integration of Stormshadow, Brimstone and Meteor on Typhoon completes and enhances the transition of world-class capabilities from Tornado and allows a stalwart of the RAF’s Combat Air inventory to retire from service. The successful attainment of these milestones and the potential offered by Project TEMPEST will continue to assure the RAF’s ability to protect the nation, defend the United Kingdom’s interests and support the national prosperity agenda now and well into the future».

The RAF has already trialled its Typhoon and F-35B Lightning II Forces’ interoperability.

In a series of operational trials, the evidence clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of both platforms when operating alongside one another.

With its larger payload and increased agility and range, the Typhoon will operate in concert with the stealthy F-35B Lightning II and its next-generation sensors, making the RAF one of the few air forces with the ability to exploit the synergy of 4th and 5th generation combat aircraft and delivering the UK a potent force equipped to counter evolving threats in the global environment.

The UK is a world-leader in the combat air sector, which supports over 18,000 highly skilled jobs with a mix of skills and technologies unique in Europe.

The sector delivers a turnover in excess of £6bn a year and has made up over 80% of defence exports from the UK over the last ten years.

Hyper Velocity

According to Sam LaGrone, the editor of USNI News, last summer USS Dewey (DDG-105) fired 20 Hyper Velocity Projectiles (HVPs) from a standard Mk-45 5-inch/127-mm deck gun in a quiet experiment that’s set to add new utility to the weapon found on almost every U.S. warship.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) transits the Pacific Ocean while underway in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operations (U.S. Navy Photo)
Guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) transits the Pacific Ocean while underway in the U.S. 3rd Fleet area of operations (U.S. Navy Photo)

The test, conducted by the U.S. Navy and the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) as part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 international exercise, was part of a series of studies to prove the U.S. Navy could turn the more than 40-year-old deck gun design into an effective and low-cost weapon against cruise missiles and larger unmanned aerial vehicles.

While the HVP was originally designed to be the projectile for the electromagnetic railgun, the U.S. Navy and the Pentagon see the potential for a new missile defense weapon that can launch a guided round at near-hypersonic speeds.

Currently, the fleet uses a combination of missiles – like the Evolved SeaSsparrow Missile (ESSM), the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) and the Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) – to ward off cruise missile threats. The missiles are effective but also expensive, Bryan Clark with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told USNI News.

In 2016, guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG-87) fired three missiles to ward off two suspected Iranian cruise missiles fired from Houthi rebels in the Red Sea, in what amounted to a multi-million dollar engagement.

«So if you think about the kinds of threats you might face in the Middle East, the lower-end cruise missiles or a larger Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), now you have a way to shoot them down that doesn’t require you use a $2 million ESSM or $1 million RAM because a hyper velocity projectile – even in the highest-end estimates have it in the $75,000 to $100,000 range, and that’s for the fanciest version of it with an onboard seeker», he said.

An added benefit of using HVP in powder guns is the gun’s high rate of fire and a large magazine capacity.

«You can get 15 rounds a minute for an air defense mission as well as a surface-to-surface mission», Clark said. «That adds significant missile defense capacity when you think that each of those might be replacing an ESSM or a RAM missile. They’re a lot less expensive».

The HVP is also being investigated to use with ground-based 155-mm artillery pieces for the Army and the Marines to provide limited air defense options for forward-deployed troops in austere environments. HVPs could also find a home aboard the U.S. Navy’s Zumwalt-class destroyers as a replacement round for the classes 155-mm Advanced Gun System (AGS).

While officials confirmed to USNI News that the RIMPAC test was unclassified, both the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Office of Naval Research would not acknowledge the test when asked by USNI News. A spokeswoman for OSD referred USNI News to the U.S. Navy.

«I don’t have anything for you», an ONR spokesman told USNI News. HVP manufacturer BAE Systems referred USNI News to the U.S. Navy when contacted.

In 2016, William Roper, who then headed the SCO, said the promise of ONR’s HVP work had been recognized by the U.S. Navy and the Army and changed the way the Pentagon office thought about the evolution of the railgun.

«We now think that we can do pretty revolutionary things with existing powder guns – think howitzers, Paladins, the Navy’s five-inch guns. We’ve shifted emphasis to that», Roper said during a 2016 talk at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. «We have more than a 1,000 powder guns, we have very few railguns».

Bring her to life!

The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the USS Wichita (LCS-13), during a 10 a.m. ceremony Saturday, January 12, at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, near Jacksonville, where the ship will be homeported.

Navy commissioned the USS Wichita (LCS-13)
Navy commissioned the USS Wichita (LCS-13)

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas delivered the commissioning ceremony’s principal address. Kate Lehrer, author and wife of Wichita native Jim Lehrer, the former anchor of «The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour» on PBS, is the ship’s sponsor. The ceremony was highlighted by a time-honored Navy tradition when Mrs. Lehrer gave the first order to «man our ship and bring her to life»!

«This commissioning represents USS Wichita’s entry into the active fleet and is a testament to the increased capabilities made possible by a true partnership between the Department of the Navy and our industrial base», said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. «This ship honors the citizens of Wichita, Kansas for their longstanding support of the Navy and Marine Corps team and I am confident USS Wichita and crew will make our Navy and nation stronger».

The USS Wichita (LCS-13) is the third naval vessel to honor Kansas’s largest city. The first was a heavy cruiser in service from 1939 to 1947. Active during World War II, Wichita supported amphibious landings during Operation Torch in November 1942 in the European Theater. She later participated in the Battles of the Philippine Sea and Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Okinawa in 1944 in the Pacific Theater. Wichita earned 13 battle stars for wartime service. The second USS Wichita (AOR-1) was a first-in-class replenishment oiler in service from 1969 to 1993. During her first three deployments, the ship made numerous trips to replenish ships on «Yankee Station», earning four battle stars for service during the Vietnam War.

The USS Wichita (LCS-13) is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed for operation in near-shore environments as well as the open-ocean. It is designed to defeat asymmetric «anti-access» threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft.

The LCS class consists of two variants, the Freedom variant and the Independence variant, designed and built by two industry teams. The Freedom variant team is led by Lockheed Martin, Marinette, Wisconsin, (for the odd-numbered hulls). The Independence variant team is led by Austal USA, Mobile, Alabama, (for LCS-6 and the subsequent even-numbered hulls).

 

Ship Design Specifications

Hull Advanced semiplaning steel monohull
Length Overall 389 feet/118.6 m
Beam Overall 57 feet/17.5 m
Draft 13.5 feet/4.1 m
Full Load Displacement Approximately 3,200 metric tons
Top Speed Greater than 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range at top speed 1,000 NM/1,151 miles/1,852 km
Range at cruise speed 4,000 NM/4,603 miles/7,408 km
Watercraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 4
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Up to Sea State 5
Propulsion Combined diesel and gas turbine with steerable water jet propulsion
Power 85 MW/113,600 horsepower
Hangar Space Two MH-60 Romeo Helicopters
One MH-60 Romeo Helicopter and three Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (VTUAVs)
Core Crew Less than 50
Accommodations for 75 sailors provide higher sailor quality of life than current fleet
Integrated Bridge System Fully digital nautical charts are interfaced to ship sensors to support safe ship operation
Core Self-Defense Suite Includes 3D air search radar
Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) gunfire control system
Rolling-Airframe Missile Launching System
57-mm Main Gun
Mine, Torpedo Detection
Decoy Launching System

 

Freedom-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Freedom (LCS-1) 06-02-2005 09-23-2006 11-08-2008 San Diego, California
USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) 07-11-2009 12-07-2010 09-22-2012 San Diego, California
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) 10-27-2011 12-18-2013 11-21-2015 San Diego, California
USS Detroit (LCS-7) 08-11-2012 10-18-2014 10-22-2016 San Diego, California
USS Little Rock (LCS-9) 06-27-2013 07-18-2015 12-16-2017 San Diego, California
USS Sioux City (LCS-11) 02-19-2014 01-30-2016 11-17-2018 Mayport, Florida
USS Wichita (LCS-13) 02-09-2015 09-17-2016 01-12-2019 Mayport, Florida
USS Billings (LCS-15) 11-02-2015 07-01-2017 Mayport, Florida
USS Indianapolis (LCS-17) 07-18-2016 04-18-2018
USS St. Louis (LCS-19) 05-17-2017 12-15-2018
USS Minneapolis/St. Paul (LCS-21) 02-22-2018
USS Cooperstown (LCS-23) 08-14-2018
USS Marinette LCS-25
USS Nantucket (LCS-27)
USS Beloit (LCS-29)

 

Vietnam War POW

Secretary of the U.S. Navy Richard V. Spencer named a future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer in honor of U.S. Navy Vietnam veteran, Navy Cross recipient, and former U.S. Senator from Alabama, Admiral Jeremiah Denton.

An artist rendering of the future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129) (U.S. Navy photo illustration/Released)
An artist rendering of the future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129) (U.S. Navy photo illustration/Released)

«Admiral Denton’s legacy is an inspiration to all who wear our nation’s uniform», said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. «His heroic actions during a defining period in our history have left an indelible mark on our Navy and Marine Corps team and our nation. His service is a shining example for our Sailors and Marines and this ship will continue his legacy for decades to come».

In 1947, Denton graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served as a test pilot, flight instructor, and squadron leader, and developed operational tactics still in use, such as the Haystack Concept, which calls for the dispersing of carrier fleets to make it more difficult for the enemy to find the fleets on RADAR.

On July 18, 1965, Denton was shot down over North Vietnam and spent nearly eight years as a POW (Prisoner Of War), almost half in isolation. During an interview with a Japanese media outlet, Denton used Morse code to blink «torture», confirming that American POWs were being tortured. He suffered severe harassment, intimidation and ruthless treatment, yet he refused to provide military information or be used by the enemy for propaganda purposes.

In recognition of his extraordinary heroism while a prisoner-of-war, he was awarded the Navy Cross. Denton was released from captivity in 1973, retired from the U.S. Navy in 1977 and in 1980 was elected to the U.S. Senate where he represented Alabama.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conduct a variety of operations from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. The future USS Jeremiah Denton (DDG-129) will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously, and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems designed to support maritime warfare, including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.

The ship will be constructed at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Ingalls shipbuilding division in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The ship will be 509 feet/155 m long, have a beam length of 59 feet/18 m and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 30 knots/34.5 mph/55.5 km/h.

 

Guided Missile Destroyers Lineup

 

Flight III

Ship Yard Launched Commissioned Homeport
DDG-125 Jack H. Lucas HIIIS
DDG-126 Louis H. Wilson, Jr. GDBIW
DDG-128 Ted Stevens HIIIS
DDG-129 Jeremiah Denton HIIIS
DDG-130
DDG-131
DDG-132
DDG-133
DDG-134
DDG-135
DDG-136
DDG-137
DDG-138