Normandie

The Directorate-General of Armaments (DGA) on July 16, 2019 took delivery of «Normandie» (D651), the sixth multi-mission frigate (FREMM) for the French Navy. Versatile warships with exceptional performances in anti-submarine warfare and strike capability that is unique in Europe, the FREMMs are the backbone of the French Navy’s surface fleet.

Normandie (D651), France’s sixth FREMM frigate, was formally handed over to the French Navy on July 16. Like her predecessors, she is primarily intended for anti-submarine warfare, while the following two FREMM will be configured for air-defense (NG photo)

The FREMM program is managed by the Joint Organization for Cooperation on Armament Programs (OCCAR), in cooperation with Italy. It is involved in the modernization of the Navy and the renewal of its frigate component with eight vessels that will form the backbone of the surface fleet.

As project owner for France, the DGA has completed the tests to verify the smooth operation of Normandie (D651) and its compliance with expected performance, in partnership with the Navy and industry. OCCAR authorized the delivery, allowing DGA to hand the ship over to the French Navy.

FREMM, designed and developed by Naval Group, is a stealthy, versatile, enduring and versatile ship with an advanced degree of automation. Her main missions are the control of a zone of maritime operation, on the surface and under the sea, in-depth precision strike with the naval cruise missile (MdCN) that it is the only navy in Europe to operate, and support for projection operations.

She is also capable of operating the Caiman Marine (NFH90), a multi-role shipborne helicopter, with a particularly developed anti-submarine capability. The FREMM-Caiman combination represents a capability jump in the field of anti-submarine warfare. The FREMM is also equipped with the Ecume, the new tactical boat for marine commandos.

The first six frigates are predominantly equipped for anti-submarine warfare missions, while the next two – Alsace (D656) and Aquitaine (D657) – will have air-defense as their primary mission.

The military program law 2019-2025 provides for the delivery to the French navy of these last two frigates in 2021 and 2022.

 

Characteristics

Overall length 142 metres/466 feet
Width 20 metres/65.6 feet
Displacement 6,000 tonnes
Maximum speed 27 knots/31 mph/50 km/h
Implementation 123 persons (among whom 14 dedicated to the helicopter detachment)
Range 45 days

 

Anti-drone system

Indra has revealed the strategy that will protect critical infrastructures, airports, official buildings and public events from the ever-increasing threat that the next generation of drones will bring.

Indra strengthens its ARMS system to counter the next generation of drones

The popularity and, accessibility of these aircraft continues to grow. The systems will also have increasingly advanced range, navigation and loading capabilities.

To counter them «the rapid and constant development of anti-drone systems is necessary, a pace that only few companies in the world like Indra will be able to match», the company explained last week in the specialized event Countering Drones in London, attended by leading European technology, regulatory bodies and end users.

Indra leads this market with the ARMS system, a mature technology that it has already supplied for military use, making Indra one of the leading companies in this field.

Incidents such as those experienced at the Gatwick and Heathrow airports have highlighted the losses in the millions that can be incurred by the mere presence of such aircraft, either by pilot error or with hostile or illicit intent.

For Indra, the strategy to follow to defend any space must be based on three basic principles: adaptation to the specific needs of the environment being protected; integration and combined use of different sensors and countermeasures; and redundant use of sensors in terms of both number and location.

This will be the way to deal with increasingly intelligent and autonomous drones, which can swarm and make coordinated attacks.

To counteract them, there must be surveillance systems capable of detecting and identifying small drones. These systems must cope with different strategies of deception, concealment or even jamming that specialized attackers can develop.

The anti-drone systems must identify their type fast, even the drone model, and classify it as a friendly or enemy model.

They will incorporate highly targeted and effective soft countermeasures, something especially important for their use at airports to avoid interfering with radar and electronic systems, including their own aircraft.

The collaboration of governments, security forces and operators, regulators, system manufacturers and researchers will be essential.

The regulatory framework must clarify who can use an anti-drone system, under what conditions and to what extent. The procedures to be followed in each scenario must be agreed upon depending on the type of threat.

The company paid special attention in its analysis to the case of airports, in which the anti-drone system will have to be integrated with Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Unmanned Aircraft Management (UTM) systems to discriminate the authorized ones from those which may constitute a real threat.

The countermeasures that are used in this environment must be especially precise so as not to affect security or interrupt the service. In the military environment, the same applies to its integrated use with air defense systems.

Indra is one of the few companies in the world that masters all the technologies involved in the development of anti-drone systems. It is one of the leading manufacturers of radar and air defense systems in the world, it also leads the development of electronic defense systems, sensors of all kinds, communications and it develops its own drones. It is also one of the main suppliers of ATM systems, with projects delivered in 160 countries and which has the Indra Air Drone solution for UTM management.

Spanish Piranha

The Council of Ministers has approved the conclusion of a contract for the manufacture of 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles.

Originally launched in 2010 but twice suspended because of insufficient funding, Spain’s VCR 8×8 program was approved July 12; it calls for about 1,000 Piranha 5 armored vehicles in three separate batches at a total cost of over €3.8 billion (SP Army photo)

The object of the contract is the supply of manufacturing of the first production batch of 348 Vehiculos de Combate a Ruedas (8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles, VCR 8×8) in 13 different configurations, including the respective components of mission systems (armament, level of protection, sensors, communications and command and control systems) as well as Logistic Support (AL) products derived from the corresponding Logistic Support Analysis (AAL). The VCR 8×8 is a Mowag Piranha 5 armored vehicle adapted to Spanish Army requirements.

The attack suffered in June 2007 in Lebanon, in which six soldiers died, showed the vulnerability of the vehicles then in use, which motivated defense minister José Antonio Alonso and, later, Carme Chacón to initiate the program to replace the fleet of wheeled armored vehicles.

It was later decided to also replace the vehicles used in peacekeeping operations (BMR) with others that better meet conditions.

Thus, the object of this contract is to renew the fleet of combat vehicles in service with the Spanish Army (BMR, VEC, Lince, RG-31, TOA M-113, VCZ) with a single, modular vehicle based on an open architecture.

These vehicles will provide the capability to protect the Forces that cannot be achieved at present with the Army’s BMR vehicles, which are already obsolete and have fully completed their life cycle.

The contract that has now been authorized has its origins in the decision by the Council of Ministers of November 2, 2007, which approved the ‘Armed Forces Renewal Plan’ that called for procuring a new wheeled armored vehicle to replace the obsolete Blindados Medios sobre Ruedas (Medium Wheeled Armored Vehicle, BMR). However, the program was interrupted due to lack of funding.

The requirement to provide our Armed Forces with an operational vehicle that guaranteed both the efficiency of military operations and the safety of its crew determined the need to resume the program. The Council of Ministers of July 31, 2015, authorized the award of the contract for the development of technologies for a future 8×8 wheel combat vehicle (VCR 8×8) that led to the acquisition that has now been approved.

It is also important to note that by agreement of the Council of Ministers of December 14, 2018, the limits established in article 47 of the General Budget Law were modified to acquire expenditure commitments, in order to enable the Ministry of Defense to reschedule the annuities of the Special Programs of Modernization of the Armed Forces derived from the acquisition of 348 units of 8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles.

The authorized administrative contract is within the legal business excluded from the scope of application of Law 24/2011, of August 1, of public sector contracts in the fields of defense and security under article 7.1.b., according to the declaration of the Ministry of Defense’s defense and essential security interests, dated July 1, 2019, and the estimated value of the contract amounts to € 2,083,275,262.81, distributed in annuities which extend from 2019 to 2030.

Currently, Santa Bárbara Sistemas is the main contractor and the Technical Integration Authority, together with the companies Indra and SAPA as first-level subcontractors, as it is the only option with sufficient industrial capacity to complete the contract.

The development of the program will strengthen the Spanish industrial base by obtaining a national product, integrated and with the design authority in Spain, technologically advanced and world-class, with many export possibilities because it is in high demand in all Armies.

In addition, it will have a significant impact on the economies of Alcalá de Guadaira (Seville), Trubia, (Asturias), Aranjuez (Madrid) and Andoain (Guipúzcoa), towns in which the companies participating in the project have production plants.

In total, it is estimated that the production of the new armored vehicle will generate some 650 direct jobs, and another 1,000 indirect ones.

Guided Weapon

Thales recently conducted firing trials at Royal Artillery Air Defence Range at Manorbier as part of the Integration testing phase of the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light) (FASGW(L)) programme.

Procured under the Future Anti Surface Guided Weapon (Light), the Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) developed by Thales will arm the Royal Navy’s AW-159 Wildcat helicopter with up to four five-round launchers, giving it considerable anti-ship firepower

The FASGW(L) programme includes testing of all parts of the weapon system including the Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM), the launcher system and all key equipment of the Wildcat helicopter.

The LMM, which the Royal Navy will call Martlet when it enters service in 2020, will provide an enhanced level of protection for both service personnel in the Royal Navy and vital assets at sea, such as the Queen Elisabeth Carrier.

The trials consisted of six LMMs being fired from the Thales-designed launcher system at a small boat target at sea at a distance of 4.5kms. All missiles were test rounds with no warhead, but were fitted with telemetry software enabling data to be gathered to analyse the launcher, the guidance system and missile performance.

The FASGW(L) system accurately guided all missiles to the targets and provided extensive data on the excellent performance of all elements of the ground set-up and inflight performance of the missile.

The successful achievement of the ground firings is a major milestone and key to progressing to future testing including air firing trials later in 2019 and culminating in qualification and verification in 2020.

When it enters service in 2020 LMM will give the Wildcat increased protection capability able to address highly mobile maritime threats such as weaponised speed boats and jet skis.

Thales would like to thank the MOD, The Royal Navy, Leonardo and all Thales personnel in achieving this important milestone.

Thales video of the LMM ground firing trials in March from the same launcher and with the same sensor ball that will be used to fire it from Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters

Upgraded Bradley

Soldiers are slated to fire at targets next year using a platoon of robotic combat vehicles they will control from the back of modified Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

An upgraded Bradley Fighting Vehicle, called a Mission Enabler Technologies-Demonstrator, (left) and a robotic M113 surrogate platform. Soldiers are slated to test two MET-Ds and four RCVs for the first time next year (U.S. Army photo)

The monthlong operational test is scheduled to begin in March at Fort Carson, Colorado, and will provide input to the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center on where to go next with autonomous vehicles.

The upgraded Bradleys, called Mission Enabler Technologies-Demonstrators, or MET-Ds, have cutting-edge features such as a remote turret for the 25-mm main gun, 360-degree situational awareness cameras and enhanced crew stations with touchscreens.

Initial testing will include two MET-Ds and four robotic combat vehicles on M113 surrogate platforms. Each MET-D will have a driver and gunner as well as four Soldiers in its rear, who will conduct platoon-level maneuvers with two surrogate vehicles that fire 7.62-mm machine guns.

«We’ve never had Soldiers operate MET-Ds before», said David Centeno Jr., chief of the center’s Emerging Capabilities Office. «We’re asking them to utilize the vehicles in a way that’s never been done before».

After the tests, the center and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team (NGCV CFT), both part of Army Futures Command, will then use Soldier feedback to improve the vehicles for future test phases.

«You learn a lot», Centeno said at the International Armored Vehicles USA conference on June 26. «You learn how they use it. They may end up using it in ways we never even thought of».

The vehicles are experimental prototypes and are not meant to be fielded, but could influence other programs of record by demonstrating technology derived from ongoing development efforts.

«This technology is not only to remain in the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) portfolio, but also legacy efforts as well», said Major Cory Wallace, robotic combat vehicle lead for the NGCV CFT.

One goal for the autonomous vehicles is to discover how to penetrate an adversary’s anti-access/aerial denial capabilities without putting Soldiers in danger.

The vehicles, Centeno said, will eventually have third-generation forward-looking infrared kits with a target range of at least 14 kilometers/8.7 miles.

«You’re exposing forces to enemy fire, whether that be artillery, direct fire», he said. «So, we have to find ways to penetrate that bubble, attrite their systems and allow for freedom of air and ground maneuver. These platforms buy us some of that, by giving us standoff».

 

PHASE II, III

In late fiscal year 2021, Soldiers will again play a role in Phase II testing as the vehicles conduct company-level maneuvers.

This time, experiments are slated to incorporate six MET-Ds and the same four M113 surrogates, in addition to four light and four medium surrogate robotic combat vehicles, which industry will provide.

Before these tests, a light infantry unit plans to experiment with the RCV light surrogate vehicles in Eastern Europe next May.

«The intent of this is to see how an RCV light integrates into a light infantry formation and performs reconnaissance and security tasks as well as supports dismounted infantry operations», Wallace said at the conference.

Soldier testing for Phase III is slated to take place mid-fiscal 2023 with the same number of MET-Ds and M113 surrogate vehicles, but will instead have four medium and four heavy purpose-built RCVs.

«This is the first demonstration which we will be out of the surrogate realm and fielding purpose builts», Wallace said, adding the vehicles will conduct a combined arms breach.

The major said he was impressed with how quickly Soldiers learned to control the RCVs during the Robotic Combined Arms Breach Demonstration in May at the Yakima Training Center in Washington.

«Soldiers have demonstrated an intuitive ability to master controlling RCVs much faster than what we thought», he said. «The feedback from the Soldiers was that after two days they felt comfortable operating the system».

There are still ongoing efforts to offload some tasks in operating RVCs to artificial intelligence in order to reduce the cognitive burden on Soldiers.

«This is not how we’re used to fighting», Centeno said. «We’re asking a lot. We’re putting a lot of sensors, putting a lot of data in the hands of Soldiers. We want to see how that impacts them. We want to see how it degrades or increases their performance».

The family of RCVs include three variants. Army officials envision the light version to be transportable by rotary wing. The medium variant would be able to fit onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft, and the heavy variant would fit onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

Both future and legacy armored platforms, such as the forthcoming Mobile Protected Firepower «light tank», could influence the development of the RCV heavy.

With no human operators inside it, the heavy RCV can provide the lethality associated with armored combat vehicles in a much smaller form. Plainly speaking, without a crew, the RCV heavy requires less armor and can dedicate space and power to support modular mission payloads or hybrid electric drive batteries, Wallace said.

Ultimately, the autonomous vehicles will aim to keep Soldiers safe.

«An RCV reduces risk», Wallace said. «It does so by expanding the geometry of the battlefield so that before the threat makes contact with the first human element, it has to make contact with the robots. That, in turn, gives commanders additional space and time to make decisions».

Wind Tunnel 9

Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Maryland, is on the verge of delivering an unprecedented capability.

Rob Hale, engineering technician, left, Parth Kathrotiya, system engineer, center, and Zack Russo, engineering technician, pose with the Mach 18 nozzle at AEDC Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Maryland. The team at Tunnel 9 recently completed an initial shakeout of the Mach 18 system, and the calibration to bring Mach 18 to full operating capability is set to occur later this year (U.S. Air Force photo by A.J. Spicer)

In late April, the team at Tunnel 9 completed an initial shakeout of the Mach 18 system and, later this year, facility engineers are set to begin a full calibration on Mach 18. If successful, this would allow for testing at Mach Numbers never before realized in an AEDC facility.

«For years, important programs have asked for a validated capability in this Mach range to reduce risk in vehicle designs», said Tunnel 9 Site Director Dan Marren. «With this accomplishment, the team has added something new to the fight and quite possibly cemented continued battlespace dominance by the USA».

 

Early Research

Researchers have been working for decades to achieve a higher Mach capability, and the desire to attain such Mach Numbers dates back to the inception of Tunnel 9.

Tunnel 9, which became operational in 1976, was originally conceptualized to achieve Mach Numbers of 10, 15 and 20.

Initially, Tunnel 9 was only able to deploy Mach 10 and Mach 14 capabilities. It would be some time before the significant leaps in technology needed to eclipse Mach 14 would come around due to a lack of understanding of the physics required to operate at that level.

During the late 1980s and into the 1990s, the National Aerospace Plane Program was seeking data above Mach 14 and, believing the technology was ready, provided some funding to Tunnel 9 to develop Mach 18.

However, the nozzle design methodology and the diagnostics that would be used to examine the physics of the flow were immature. The flow quality of the nozzle was deemed poor, and the design was scrapped.

Around 30 years ago, Marren and current Tunnel 9 Technical Director John Lafferty were beginning their careers at what was then known as Naval Surface Warfare Center Tunnel 9. The young engineers worked with Doctor Wayland Griffith from North Carolina State University, who was a visiting summer professor at Tunnel 9. The trio researched a phenomenon called supercooling, which they believed could be used to relax the need to have the facility heater operate up to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit/2,760 degrees Celsius to achieve higher Mach Numbers.

Marren, Lafferty and Griffith found that the supercooling method worked, though they did not yet have access to the advanced diagnostics needed to verify the flow physics. Although their tests were not completely conclusive, the trio published their conclusions anyway. This data would later become the foundation of the Mach 18 capability, as researchers at NASA read the report and began their own research into the supercooling phenomenon.

As NASA continued to study that process, those at Tunnel 9 moved on to missile defense projects and other sub-Mach 20 priorities.

In the mid-2000’s, higher Mach Number hypersonics once again became a priority. The Office of the Secretary of Defense, or OSD, turned to AEDC to push the boundaries of hypersonic test capabilities.

 

Advancements in technology and equipment

Fortunately for those at AEDC, computer-based Modeling and Simulation and diagnostic technologies had greatly advanced in the more than two decades since the capability was first sought, and many of those at Tunnel 9 who had worked the original request for the National Aerospace Program were still employed at the facility. A team was assembled and a program was designed.

Initial risk reduction efforts began in 2014 and focused on the development of three state-of-the-art efforts: a new material for the nozzle, new laser diagnostics to verify the understanding of the flow physics, and a new nozzle contour based on that understanding. This three-year effort leveraged two Small Business Innovation Research programs and investment funds from AEDC to successfully achieve its goals.

Following this risk reduction effort, Lafferty convinced Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to construct the new capability for $6.5 million. With that, the team at Tunnel 9 set out in 2017 to achieve Mach 18 capability. Their goal was to accomplish this in three years.

Prior to Lafferty proposing the Mach 18 program to the OSD, Lafferty and Tunnel 9 Chief Facility Engineer Nick Fredrick had proposed a low-level technology effort, funded with an approximately $200,000 fallout from the AEDC budget, to investigate and demonstrate the feasibility of all the technologies required for Mach 18. The project received around $3 million in additional funding through the Small Business Innovation Research program. Half of this funding came from the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Commercialization Readiness Program to investigate new throat materials, and the remaining $1.5 million was to be used to develop new advanced laser-based diagnostics to probe non-intrusively into the flowfield.

«Early in the Mach 18 nozzle design process, we at Tunnel 9 quickly realized that the existing technologies used in our facility would be inadequate to develop a Mach 18 capability with the flow quality that we required», Fredrick said. «The work with SBIR allowed us to bring the experts that would eventually work with us to achieve our goals. Their work was critical to the success of the Tunnel 9 Mach 18 capability».

In the years since Marren and Lafferty had first worked with Griffith, what Marren had referred to as «three miracles of science» had occurred. First, materials technology had progressed significantly. To accomplish testing at higher Mach Numbers, the team at Tunnel 9 needed a high-temperature nozzle throat material four times stronger than anything that had previously existed. That material, developed as part of this program, is now available.

The second «miracle» was advancements in diagnostics. Available non-intrusive laser diagnostics had become fast enough and with sufficient signal to noise to verify the understanding of the flow during supercooling. Two efforts converged to provide this understanding. First, Jeff Balla, a researcher at NASA Langley, had completed the research started by Lafferty and Marren more than two decades prior using modern tools and diagnostics. Balla delivered that information to Tunnel 9 personnel that verified the flow density. Second, an SBIR with PlasmaTec was completed that allowed measurements of the flow velocity and temperature. The data from all three of these measurements verified the understanding of the flow physics including its required chemical makeup.

«The recent development of ultra-short pulse-width laser systems has made low-density velocity and temperature measurements possible», said Michael Smith, Tunnel 9 advanced diagnostician and physicist. «These diagnostics provide the verification that the Mach 18 facility is truly providing the flow quality for which it was designed».

The third miracle was the advancement of nozzle design tools. Working with Ken Tatum and Derik Daniel, AEDC counterparts at Arnold Air Force Base, and John Korte, a subject matter expert in high Mach nozzle design who had recently retired from NASA Langley and now works for Analytical Mechanics Associates, the Tunnel 9 team was able to include this new understanding of the flow physics into the design of a new high Mach Number wind tunnel nozzle contour for the first time.

«This promises to produce the best possible flow quality for any nozzle at these Mach Numbers», Lafferty said.

 

Team’s efforts pay off

Those at Tunnel 9 scoped out the construction of the Mach 18 undertaking that began in 2017.

With the funding and the assistance Tunnel 9 engineers were receiving on nozzle design, the Mach 18 project looked feasible. The OSD pushed for completion and implementation of the capability as quickly as possible.

Eventually, Tunnel 9 would receive $6.5 million in additional funding from the Hypersonic Test Capability Improvement Project, an OSD investment program that aims to improve capabilities for hypersonic weapon systems development, to move the Mach 18 project forward.

The nozzle design and build, the successful incorporation of the new nozzle throat material, and the diagnostic demonstration all occurred within the three-year timeframe and were completed within budget and on-schedule.

The shakeout of the Tunnel 9 capability has occurred in phases. Around two years ago, diagnostic and supercooling checkouts were done by applying to the Tunnel 9 Mach 14 nozzle the pressure and temperature conditions similar to those of Mach 18.

A full checkout of the throat technologies using the Mach 14 nozzle occurred last year.

In April, Tunnel 9 took advantage of an opportunity to accelerate a portion of the Mach 18 calibration. Those at the facility are in the process of repairing one of the four compressor motors used to create a vacuum source and proper pressure ratio required to maintain fully operationally test capability.

While that motor is out for repair, the facility can still perform a subset of conditions. For example, the validation of Mach 18 design condition, the highest part of the simulation envelope for the Mach 18 test capability is possible without the fourth motor.

The Tunnel 9 team performed the initial calibration using the final Mach 18 hardware. To accomplish this, they aligned the facility to ready it for a test, validated the survival and performance of the new throat design, verified the thermodynamic quality of the test medium, and confirmed the facility flow is of a high quality for future acquisition customers.

«To date, there have been four test entries at Tunnel 9 to demonstrate the feasibility of the Mach 18 capability», Fredrick said. «The first three of these tests were performed in the existing Mach 14 nozzle and were used to validate the assumptions that the flow would be condensation-free at the proposed Mach 18 freestream conditions and that the new nozzle throat material can survive and is shape-stable at both Mach 14 and Mach 18 nozzle supply conditions. The most recent test entry validated the new Mach 18 nozzle with the new nozzle throats at the design condition. This validation included measurements of the flow uniformity for comparison to computational fluid dynamics results, measurements of the nozzle freestream velocity and temperature, and measurements to detect condensation. Only one test remains – the calibration of the nozzle at all of the desired test conditions».

The full calibration to bring Mach 18 to full operating capability is set to occur in the fall.

«Mach 18 is a long time coming and will fill a real gap», Lafferty said. «However, I never thought we would have multiple test customers lined up to collect data even before we had finished the shakeout and calibration. It is satisfying to know it will be used once complete».

Barracuda

On July 12 2019, during a ceremony presided over by the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron, Naval Group launched the Suffren, the first of six nuclear submarines of the latest generation in Cherbourg. This event is a key step for the Barracuda program for the benefit of the French Navy.

In the presence of the President of the French Republic, Naval Group launches the Suffren, the latest generation of nuclear submarines (SSN)

Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Naval Group, said: «We are proud to have presented to the President of the French Republic the first submarine of the Barracuda-class, a symbol of our exceptional know-how and our ability to master the most advanced technologies and the most complex products. The construction of the Suffren is a collective success, the result of a strong cooperation with our long-standing partners: the French Navy and the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), but also the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA), TechnicAtome and all the manufacturers of the sector. Now, we are all focused on finalising the Suffren tests at the shipyard, with the start-up of the nuclear boiler room in the coming weeks, but also on producing the complete series. Maintaining our knowledge and adapting to new technologies are among our main priorities».

Vincent Martinot-Lagarde, Director of the Barracuda program at Naval Group, also commented: «To successfully complete this extraordinary project, several thousand women and men worked together, driven by the same values of team spirit and technical excellence. Today, on the occasion of this exceptional ceremony, we are very proud to present our work, which is the result of the extraordinary diversity of our skills».

 

Naval Group’s know-how and technological expertise

The Suffren is the first of the Barracuda-class series, designed to replace the Rubis-class generation. Naval Group is in charge of the construction of this submarines series, including the design and construction of the ship and information systems as well as the manufacturing of the main components of nuclear boiler rooms.

Naval Group is the overall prime contractor of the ship’s architecture (2 500 people) and TechnicAtome is the prime contractor for the nuclear reactor. The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) is in charge of the overall program, with the Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission (CEA) for the nuclear reactor.

French President Emmanuel Macron, center, meets with submarine crew members after the official launch ceremony of the new French nuclear submarine Suffren in Cherbourg, northwestern France, on July 12, 2019 (Ludovic Marin/AFP via Getty Images)

 

With this program, Naval Group irrigates the French industry with more than 10,000 people and 800 companies involved

All the skills within the group are called upon to design and produce the Suffren and the following of the Barracuda series. All Naval Group sites are simultaneously mobilised. Nantes-Indret, Angoulême-Ruelle, Brest and Lorient design and produce different systems and modules. The Ollioules site is responsible for the design and production of the combat system. The entire program is managed from Cherbourg, where the submarines are assembled and tested.

The Toulon site will be in charge of the maintenance of the Suffren and gradually that of the entire series. The in-service support was taken into account from the submarine’s design stage to limit the number and duration of interventions, thus optimising the availability of the Barracuda-class at sea.

 

The Suffren: a technology and capacity leap

The Suffren is one of the stealthiest submarines over the world. This discretion, combined with its advanced detection capabilities, guarantees its acoustic superiority.

For the first time thanks to the Suffren-class submarines, the French Navy will have a deep strike capability with MBDA’s naval cruise missiles (MdCN). The latest generation of SSN also allows the discreet deployment of special forces underwater, in particular thanks to its «divers hatch» and the optional carrying of a dry deck shelter allowing for the deployment of underwater vehicles.

More discreet, manoeuvrable and mobile, the Suffren has the latest generation of systems, including a centralised and more automated driving.

France launches first Barracuda-class nuclear attack sub

 

The technical characteristics of the Suffren-class submarines

Surface displacement 4,700 tonnes
Diving displacement 5,300 tonnes
Length 99 metres/324.8 feet
Diameter 8.8 metres/28.9 feet
Armament naval cruise missiles, F21 heavy-weight wire-guided torpedoes, modernised Exocet SM39 anti-ship missiles
Hybrid propulsion pressurised water reactor derived from the reactors on board the Triomphant-type SSBN and Charles-de-Gaulle aircraft carrier, two propulsion turbines, two turbo generators and two electric motors
Speed 25 knots/29 mph/46 km/h
Crew 65 crew members + commandos
Availability 270 days per year

 

Signals Intelligence

BAE Systems has been awarded funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to integrate Machine-Learning (ML) technology into platforms that decipher radio frequency signals. Its Controllable Hardware Integration for Machine-learning Enabled Real-time Adaptivity (CHIMERA) solution provides a reconfigurable hardware platform for ML algorithm developers to make sense of Radio Frequency (RF) signals in increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum environments.

The solution provides a reconfigurable hardware platform for developers to make sense of radio frequency signals in increasingly crowded electromagnetic spectrum environments

The up to $4.7 million contract, dependent on successful completion of milestones, includes hardware delivery along with integration and demonstration support. CHIMERA’s hardware platform will enable algorithm developers to decipher the ever-growing number of RF signals, providing commercial or military users with greater automated situational awareness of their operating environment. This contract is adjacent to the previously announced award for the development of data-driven ML algorithms under the same DARPA program (Radio Frequency Machine Learning Systems, or RFMLS).

RFMLS requires a robust, adaptable hardware solution with a multitude of control surfaces to enable improved discrimination of signals in the evolving dense spectrum environments of the future.

«CHIMERA brings the flexibility of a software solution to hardware», said Dave Logan, vice president and general manager of Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Systems at BAE Systems. «Machine-learning is on the verge of revolutionizing signals intelligence technology, just as it has in other industries».

In an evolving threat environment, CHIMERA will enable ML software development to adapt the hardware’s RF configuration in real time to optimize mission performance. This capability has never before been available in a hardware solution. The system provides multiple control surfaces for the user, enabling on-the-fly performance trade-offs that can maximize its sensitivity, selectivity, and scalability depending on mission need. The system’s open architecture interfaces allow for third party algorithm development, making the system future-proof and easily upgradable upon deployment.

Other RF functions, including communications, radar, and electronic warfare, also can benefit from this agile hardware platform, which has a reconfigurable array, front-end, full transceiver and digital pre-processing stage. Work on these phases of the program will take place at BAE Systems’ sites in Hudson and Merrimack, New Hampshire, and Dallas, Texas.

Fire Scout

The U.S. Navy declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of the MQ-8C Fire Scout unmanned helicopter June 28 clearing the way for fleet operations and training.

Navair says that the MQ-8C Fire Scout has flown over 1,500 hours in more than 700 sorties to date. Northrop Grumman is under contract to produce 38 MQ-8C aircraft for the U.S. Navy (Navair photo)

The MQ-8 C Fire Scout is a sea-based, vertical lift unmanned system that is designed to provide reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support for ground, air and sea forces.

«This milestone is a culmination of several years of hard work and dedication from our joint government and industry team», said Captain Eric Soderberg, MQ-8C Fire Scout program manager. «We are excited to get this enhanced capability out to the fleet».

The MQ-8C Fire Scout variant is an endurance and payload upgrade to its predecessor, the MQ-8B, offering up to twelve hours on station depending on payload, and incorporates the commercial Bell 407 airframe.

The Northrop Grumman-built Fire Scout complements the manned MH-60 helicopter by extending the range and endurance of ship-based operations. It provides unique situational awareness and precision target support for the U.S. Navy.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout has flown over 1,500 hours with more than 700 sorties to date. Over the next few years, Northrop Grumman will continue MQ-8C Fire Scout production deliveries to the U.S. Navy to complete a total of 38 aircraft.

The MQ-8C Fire Scout will be equipped with an upgraded radar that allows for a larger field of view and a range of digital modes including weather detection, air-to-air targeting and a Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI). It will deploy with Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) in fiscal year 2021 while the MQ-8B conducts operations aboard LCS in 5th and 7th Fleets.

Maiden flight

The first Airbus C295, purchased by the Government of Canada for the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) Fixed Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement (FWSAR) program, has completed its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards delivery by the end of 2019 to begin operational testing by the RCAF. The aircraft, designated CC-295 for the Canadian customer, took off from Seville, Spain, on 4 July at 20:20 local time (GMT+1) and landed back on site one hour and 27 minutes later.

The photo above shows the first RCAF C295 during its maiden flight

 

FWSAR program facts and figures

The contract, awarded in December 2016, includes 16 C295 aircraft and all In-Service Support elements including, training and engineering services, the construction of a new Training Centre in Comox, British Columbia, and maintenance and support services.

The aircraft will be based where search and rescue squadrons are currently located: Comox, British Columbia; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Trenton, Ontario; and Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

Considerable progress has been made since the FWSAR program was announced two and a half years ago: the first aircraft will now begin flight testing; another five aircraft are in various stages of assembly; and seven simulator and training devices are in various testing stages.

In addition, the first RCAF crews will begin training in late summer 2019 at Airbus’ International Training Centre in Seville, Spain.

The FWSAR program is supporting some $2.5 billion (CAD) in Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) to Canada, through high-value, long-term partnerships with Canadian industry.

As of January 2019, 86 percent of key Canadian In-Service Support (ISS) tasks have been performed in-country by Canadian companies in relation to establishing the FWSAR ISS system. Airbus is thus on track in providing high value work to Canadian industry and has demonstrated a successful start to the development and transfer of capability to Canadian enterprises for the support of the FWSAR aircraft.

Beyond direct program participation, Airbus is generating indirect business across Canadian military, aeronautical and space industry including Small and Medium Businesses in support of the ITB program.