12 minehunters

On May 22, 2019, the Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium, composed of Naval Group and ECA Group, was awarded the contract to supply twelve mine-hunting vessels to the Belgian and Dutch navies. Equipped with around 100 drones, constituting approximately ten drone systems (toolboxes), six ships are destined for the Belgian Navy, while the other six will be delivered to the Dutch Navy.

An artist’s impression of the future minehunters jointly ordered for the Belgian and Dutch navies from France’s Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium at a cost of €2 billion. Each navy will operate six ships with UAVs and UUVs (NG image)

The contract, worth nearly two billion euros, will last ten years. After a three-year design phase, Belgium Naval & Robotics will launch the production phase of the ships and drone systems with a first delivery expected in 2024.

The Belgium Naval & Robotics consortium as well as the Naval Group and ECA Group teams are honored by the confidence of the Belgian and Dutch navies and look forward to this upcoming collaboration.

 

An innovative solution for robotic mine warfare

Belgium Naval & Robotics, thanks to Naval Group’s recognized expertise, offers a 2800-ton militarized ship specialized in mine warfare with military characteristics (acoustic and electromagnetic discretion, shock resistance) perfectly adapted to the operational use targeted by the Belgian and Dutch navies. In particular, this vessel incorporates a launch and recovery system for ECA Group’s Inspector 125 Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV). This innovative, robust and reliable system ensures the safety of operators and maneuvers to protect the ship, the USV and its payloads, while offering a high level of mission availability.

The drone systems on board these innovative vessels are the latest generation of drones developed by ECA Group over the past four years. They are integrated into the C2 MCM Umisoft system connected to the Naval Group’s I4drones system to form the mine-warfare mission system integrated into the ship’s combat system.

The solution includes A18-M Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV), T18-M towed sonars and Mine Identification & Destruction Systems (MIDS) composed of SEASCAN and KSTER-C Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV). All these drones can be operated autonomously from the USV Inspector 125. The drone system also includes Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and influence sweeps.

The program provides for the supply of drone systems that can also be projected. Containerized and equipped with handling and communication systems, mine-hunting drone systems can be airlifted and deployed directly from the coast without a ship.

 

A vast cooperation plan with the Belgian industry

Belgium Naval & Robotics will carry out a significant part of the contract in Belgium, in particular the production of certain equipment for the ship and all naval drones. Ship maintenance will be carried out in Zeebrugge in partnership with Flanders Ship Repair (FSR). The maintenance of naval drones will also be carried out in Zeebrugge according to the needs of the customer, who already has maintenance facilities on his naval base.

The cooperation plan already includes 39 Belgian partners and the notification of the contract will make it possible to finalize the last ones and reach some 50 agreements.

The contract should thus generate an average of 350 jobs per year in the three regions of Belgium.

 

A reference on export markets

The Belgian and Dutch navies being a reference in mine warfare within NATO, the choice of our consortium is a major asset for export.

The tripartite mine hunter program at the time had generated sales of self-propelled PAP robots in several dozen navies, as well as the export of mine-hunting vessels.

This new success in Belgium should generate many export trade benefits in the coming years. The drones for these customers will be produced by ECA Group in Belgium. Similarly, Naval Group expects a significant number of additional sales of mine-hunting vessels in the near future.

Low-speed agility

The Bell V-280 Valor recently completed flight demonstrations of its low-speed agility Key Performance Parameter (KPP) in the U.S. Army-led Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR TD) program ahead of schedule. The V-280 Valor has now demonstrated in flight testing that it has the raw control power in pitch, roll, and yaw maneuvers to meet the Army’s Level 1 Handling Qualities requirements, which is the highest performance standard for agility. This flight testing validates Bell’s engineering models and development processes to design, build, and test an air vehicle on an aggressive aircraft development schedule that meets Army performance requirements and delivers revolutionary capabilities to warfighters.

The Bell V-280 Valor Continues to Deliver Impressive Flight Test Results

«This latest flight milestone proves that the V-280 Valor tiltrotor delivers first-rate handling for pilots during low-speed maneuvers without sacrificing speed, range or payload that the military needs for multi-domain operations. Bell and Team Valor continue to prove that the Army-led JMR TD program has been successful in rapidly maturing new technologies to support accelerated acquisition of the FLRAA», said Ryan Ehinger, V-280 program manager at Bell

For pilots, this achievement provides additional proof that the V-280 will have unprecedented agility on the objective (at the «X») for operational effectiveness. The aircraft’s digital flight controls and performance-driven design increases mission effectiveness by providing a high level of agility, reducing pilot workload, and enhancing flight safety on the objective in all weather conditions and degraded visual environments.

As the JMR TD period of performance winds down, Bell and Team Valor continue to expand the flight envelope and demonstrate new capabilities to prove out the V-280 Valor’s key technologies and reduce the risk for Future Vertical Lift programs.

These milestones continue to demonstrate that the V-280 Valor is ready and that the Future of Vertical Lift is now.

The latest flight statistics include:

  • Forward flight over 300 knots/345 mph/555 km/h true airspeed;
  • Over 110 hours of flight and more than 225 rotor turn hours;
  • >50-degree banked turns;
  • 4,500 feet/1,372 m per minute rate of climb and sustained flight at 11,500 feet/3,505 m altitude;
  • Single flight ferry of over 321.5 NM/370 miles/595.5 km;
  • Demonstrated Level 1 low-speed agility with fly-by-wire controls;
  • In-flight transitions between cruise mode and vertical takeoff and landing.

Bell V-280 Valor – Low-Speed Agility

Anti-Missile System

American troops offload a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launcher from a C-17 Globemaster III at Mihail Kogalniceanu (MK) Air Base, Romania, May 3, 2019.

The US Army earlier this month quietly deployed a THAAD battery to an air base in Romania to provide temporary anti-missile defense coverage while the Aegis Ashore installation in that country undergoes a scheduled upgrade (U.S. Army photo)

The THAAD deployed to Romania from 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command out of Fort Hood, Texas.

The deployment of the THAAD is in support of the NATO Ballistic Missile Defense mission and reinforces the strong and unremitting U.S. commitment to the defense of our NATO allies.

The unit arrived in Romania in April to emplace a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system while NATO’s Aegis Ashore Ballistic Missile Defense site undergoes a long-planned update in the upcoming months.

King Stallion

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company will build 12 production CH-53K King Stallion helicopters under a new $1.13 billion contract from the U.S. Navy. These advanced helicopters are part of the 200 program of record aircraft for the U.S. Marine Corps.

Sikorsky receives contract to build 12 CH-53K Heavy Lift Helicopters

Under the terms of the contract, known as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) Lot 2 and 3, Sikorsky will begin deliveries of 12 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters in 2022, and also provide spares and logistical support. Sikorsky remains committed to continuing to reduce costs over the life of the program. Read the Navy’s announcement.

«I’m proud of the joint government and industry team in achieving this award», said Colonel Jack Perrin, U.S. Marine Corps program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command’s Heavy Lift Helicopters program, PMA-261.

The CH-53K King Stallion is the only sea-based, long range, heavy-lift helicopter in production and will immediately provide three times the lift capability of its predecessor. The CH-53K King Stallion will conduct expeditionary heavy-lift transport of armored vehicles, equipment, and personnel to support distributed operations deep inland from a sea-based center of operations. The new CH-53K King Stallion will have heavy-lift capabilities that exceed all other DoD rotary wing-platforms and it is the only heavy lifter that will remain in production through 2032 and beyond.

«Sikorsky employees and our nationwide supply chain are ready to ramp up CH-53K King Stallion production to support deployment of this modern, safe and reliable aircraft in 2023-2024», said Sikorsky Program Director Bill Falk. «This contract demonstrates the U.S. Marine Corps’ confidence in Sikorsky to expand production of this technologically advanced heavy lift helicopter».

Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, and its suppliers have made significant investments in facilities, machinery, tooling, and workforce training to ramp-up production required for the CH-53K King Stallion program. For example, we have installed more than eight new titanium machining centers, designed and implemented a new final assembly test facility with multi-floor ergonomic work platforms, installed 10-ton cranes, and now have 3D work instructions on the factory floor.

«We have transformed our factory for the future and implemented a model for all future helicopter programs», Falk said. «Additionally, our engineers have implemented the latest technologies such as manufacturing simulation and 3D laser inspection technology. These investments in systems, personnel, and our facilities have elevated Sikorsky’s manufacturing technology and capabilities to meet production requirements of the CH-53K King Stallion for domestic and international customers».

 

King Stallion Progress Update

The all-new CH-53K King Stallion, designed to be intelligent, reliable, low maintenance and survivable in the most difficult conditions, has flown more than 1,400 test hours and has met all the outer reaches of the test envelope. The King Stallion is in the midst of a rigorous test program to ensure militaries can safely move troops and equipment at higher altitudes, quicker and more effectively than ever.

The CH-53K King Stallion, which has proven it can lift more than 36,000 pounds/16,329 kilograms, is the most powerful heavy lift helicopter ever built in the United States. The King Stallion’s technologically advanced design will meet the future warfighting requirements for decades to come, enabling missions like humanitarian aid, troop and equipment transport, CASualty EVACuation (CASEVAC), support of special operations forces, and Combat Search And Rescue (CSAR).

Accomplishments to date include: high altitude, hot temperature, and degraded visual environment flights, maximum weight single-point cargo hook sling load of 36,000 pounds/16,329 kilograms; forward flight speed of over 200 knots/230 mph/370 km/h; 60 degrees angle of bank turns; altitude of 18,500 feet/5,639 m Mean Sea Level (MSL); 12-degree slope landings and takeoffs; external load auto-jettison; and gunfire testing.

 

General Characteristics

Number of Engines 3
Engine Type T408-GE-400
T408 Engine 7,500 shp/5,595 kw
Maximum Gross Weight (Internal Load) 74,000 lbs/33,566 kg
Maximum Gross Weight (External Load) 88,000 lbs/39,916 kg
Cruise Speed 141 knots/162 mph/261 km/h
Range 460 NM/530 miles/852 km
AEO* Service Ceiling 14,380 feet/4,383 m
HIGE** Ceiling (MAGW) 13,630 feet/4,155 m
HOGE*** Ceiling (MAGW) 10,080 feet/3,073 m
Cabin Length 30 feet/9.1 m
Cabin Width 9 feet/2.7 m
Cabin Height 6.5 feet/2.0 m
Cabin Area 264.47 feet2/24.57 m2
Cabin Volume 1,735.36 feet3/49.14 m3

* All Engines Operating

** Hover Ceiling In Ground Effect

*** Hover Ceiling Out of Ground Effect

 

CH-53K Progresses Through Flight Tests, Impressive Feats

Corvette Vessel

According to defense-aerospace.com, launching ceremony of first state of the art 2,300 tons corvette vessel being built for Pakistan Navy was held at M/s Damen Shipyard in Galati, Romania.

The Dutch Damen shipbuilding group has launched the first of two corvettes at its shipyard in Galati, Romania; she is due to enter service by the end of this year, with the second to follow in 2020

Chief of Staff (Personnel), Vice Admiral Abdul Aleem graced the occasion as Chief Guest.

Corvettes are multi-purpose platforms of medium size and tonnage. Subsequent to the signing of contract for construction of two corvettes for Pakistan Navy in 2017, the first ship is expected to join Pakistan Navy Fleet by end of this year and the second would be delivered by mid-2020.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Guest underscored the importance of Corvettes in the maritime domain. He further added that these platforms will act as force multipliers in enhancing Navy’s capability of safeguarding maritime frontiers and would offer more flexibility in the conduct of Pakistan Navy’s initiative of independent Regional Maritime Security Patrols in the Indian Ocean Region.

The Chief Guest also lauded the professionalism of M/s DAMEN Shipyards and cooperation in delivering cutting edge technologies to Pakistan Navy in the form of Corvettes.

The launching ceremony was also attended by Chief Naval Overseer (Romania), senior management of M/s DAMEN Shipyards, Gorinchem & Galati and Pakistan Navy officials.

First Flight

The Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter achieved first flight today at Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach, Florida site, an important step toward bringing this all-new aircraft to service members to perform critical search and rescue operations. The aircraft, developed by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company and based on the proven UH-60M Black Hawk, is customized for the U.S. Air Force ‘s rescue mission and will ensure the Air Force fulfills its mission to leave no one behind.

Sikorsky HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter Achieves First Flight

Total flight time was approximately 1.2 hours and included hover control checks, low speed flight, and a pass of the airfield.

«This achievement is yet another vital step toward a low rate initial production decision and getting this much-needed aircraft and its advanced capabilities to the warfighter», said Dana Fiatarone, vice president, Sikorsky Army & Air Force Systems. «We are very pleased with the results of today’s flight and look forward to a productive and informative flight test program».

Today’s flight paves the way for a Milestone C production decision in September 2019, per the original baseline schedule, to which both Sikorsky and the Air Force are committed. A second HH-60W helicopter is expected to enter flight test next week, with a third and fourth aircraft entering flight test this summer. These aircraft will provide critical data over the course of the program which will enable the Air Force to make an informed production decision.

«The HH-60W’s first flight is the culmination of significant development and design advances. We are excited to now move forward to begin full aircraft system qualification via the flight test program», said Greg Hames, director of the Combat Rescue Helicopter program. «Together with the Air Force, our team is motivated and committed to advancing this program and delivering this superior aircraft to our airmen and women».

The HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter is significantly more capable and reliable than its predecessor, the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The aircraft hosts a new fuel system that nearly doubles the capacity of the internal tank on a UH-60M Black Hawk, giving the Air Force crew extended range and more capability to rescue those injured in the battle space. The HH-60W specification drives more capable defensive systems, vulnerability reduction, weapons, cyber-security, environmental, and net-centric requirements than currently held by the HH-60G.

«With the Combat Rescue Helicopter’s successful first flight now behind us, we look forward to completion of Sikorsky’s flight test program, operational testing and production of this aircraft to support the Air Force’s critical rescue mission», said Edward Stanhouse, Chief, U.S. Air Force Helicopter Program Office. «Increased survivability is key and we greatly anticipate the added capabilities this aircraft will provide».

The U.S. Air Force program of record calls for 113 helicopters to replace the Pave Hawks, which perform critical combat search and rescue and personnel recovery operations for all U.S. military services. A total of nine aircraft will be built at Sikorsky’s Stratford, Connecticut, facility during the Engineering & Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase of the program – four EMD aircraft and five System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA).

Joint Threat Emitter

Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a $46 million delivery order for eight Joint Threat Emitter (JTE) Units. This award is a part of the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity JTE Enhanced Delivery Initiative contract awarded by the U.S. Air Force in December 2018.

JTE is a ruggedized system that is easily relocated, reactive to aircrew/aircraft for fast-jet, fixed-wing and rotary-wing defensive measures, and can be rapidly reprogrammed with new threat parameters

JTE is a mobile air defense electronic warfare threat simulator that provides high-fidelity replication of surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery threats for aircrew training.

«JTE is critical to the success of the U.S. military and our international allies», said James Conroy, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR, Northrop Grumman. «The system ensures aircrews are better equipped to identify and effectively counter the most advanced enemy missile and artillery threats».

Awarded by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, this award includes the delivery of eight wide-band variants of the threat emitter unit, as well as retrofit kits for some existing systems. Deliveries are slated for U.S. training ranges across the country and to select international locations. This will mark the second set of JTE systems delivered internationally. All work under this contract will be performed in Buffalo.

Northrop Grumman’s JTE is the current U.S. Air Force program of record with 30 systems fielded both domestically and internationally. The JTE provides a modern, reactive battlespace war environment, designed to help train military personnel to identify and effectively counter enemy missile or artillery threats.

Modular Pods

The U.S. Army awarded Lockheed Martin a $10.5 million contract to develop a new modular pod for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) rockets. The new pods will replace the depleting inventory of M26 rocket pods and support the increased production of GMLRS rounds.

Lockheed Martin to develop Modular Pods for Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System

The modular pod is designed to allow for reloading of individual rocket tubes as they are expended, whereas the original GMLRS pods are discarded after use. The pod will be able to fire the GMLRS Unitary and Alternative Warhead variants, as well as the developmental Extended-Range GMLRS rockets and future rounds.

«The new pods will be compatible with both the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and MLRS M270 family of launchers», said Gaylia Campbell, vice president of Precision Fires and Combat Maneuver Systems at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. «These new pods will improve reload operations and assure our warfighters have adequate rounds available to them when they are most needed».

The modular pods will be produced at Lockheed Martin’s Precision Fires Center of Excellence in Camden, Ark. Ground testing will begin this fall, with a planned flight test before the end of the calendar year. The first deliveries of the new modular pod are anticipated in the fall of 2021.

For more than 40 years, Lockheed Martin has been the leading designer and manufacturer of long-range, surface-to-surface precision strike solutions, providing highly reliable, combat-proven systems like MLRS, HIMARS, the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and GMLRS to global customers.

Next-Generation GPS

Raytheon Company’s GPS Next-Generation Operational Control System program, known as GPS OCX, completed final qualification testing of the system’s modernized monitor station receivers, which are now ready to be installed around the world starting in August. GPS OCX is the enhanced ground control segment of a U.S. Air Force-led effort to modernize America’s GPS system.

Raytheon to start global installation of GPS OCX modernized monitoring station receivers

«The modernized receivers give GPS OCX the ability to receive and decrypt all GPS III military and civil signals, a critical capability the current system doesn’t have», said Dave Wajsgras, president of Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. «Monitor station receiver installation keeps us on track for full system delivery by our June 2021 contractual deadline».

The modernized receivers will measure and monitor legacy military and civilian signals sent by the current GPS satellite constellation plus the new signals sent by the next-generation GPS III. The receivers will also feed correction models at the master control station, giving U.S. Air Force satellite controllers the information necessary to make key adjustments to maximize accuracy.

Keel Authenticated

The keel for the future USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205), the Navy’s first John Lewis-class fleet replenishment oiler, was ceremonially laid at General Dynamics-National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) May 13.

Future USNS John Lewis (T-AO-205) Keel Authenticated

A keel laying is the ceremonial recognition of the start of a ship’s construction. It is the joining together of a ship’s modular components and the authentication or etching of an honoree’s initials into a ceremonial keel plate. The ship’s namesake, U.S. Representative John Lewis, and the ship’s sponsor, actress Alfre Woodard, etched their initials into the keel plate.

«We’re honored to have Representative Lewis and Ms. Woodard with us today as we lay the foundation for recapitalizing our nation’s critical fuel-replenishment-at-sea capabilities», said Mike Kosar, Support Ships, Boats and Craft program manager, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. «These ships are steadfast, reliable and allow our warships to defend our freedoms for which Representative Lewis has dedicated his life to protecting».

The John Lewis-class ships are based on commercial design standards and will recapitalize the current T-AO 187-class fleet replenishment oilers to provide underway replenishment of fuel to U.S. Navy ships at sea. These ships are part of the Navy’s Combat Logistics Force.

John Lewis will be operated by the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and is the first ship named after the civil rights leader and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. Construction of John Lewis began in September 2018, with delivery planned in late 2020.

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.