THOR’s Hammer

With small unmanned aircraft systems – frequently called drones, becoming more common every day, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Directed Energy Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, has developed a counter-swarm high power weapon that should cause those with nefarious intentions of using drones against United States forces at U.S. military installations at home or overseas to think twice about such actions.

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Tactical High Power Operational Responder developed for airbase defense (Courtesy photo/AFRL Directed Energy Directorate)

AFRL exhibited the technology, called the Tactical High-power Operational Responder (THOR), at the 2019 Air Force Association Air, Space, and Cyber Conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, located just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. and Virginia, September 16-18.

Although AFRL’s THOR is not a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder and lightning, it is a counter-swarm electromagnetic weapon that AFRL developed for airbase defense. The system provides non-kinetic defeat of multiple targets. It operates from ground power and uses energy to disable drones.

«THOR is essentially a high-powered electromagnetic source that we put together to specifically defeat drones», said Stephen Langdon, chief of the High-Powered Microwave Technologies Branch of AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate.

A demonstration system has been built and tested on military test ranges near Kirtland AFB where it has successfully engaged multiple targets. Further testing against a larger set of drone types in swarming configurations is being planned.

THOR stores completely in a 20-foot/6-meter transport container, which can easily be transported in a C-130 Hercules aircraft. The system can be set up within three hours and has a user interface designed to require very little user training. The technology, which cost roughly $15 million to develop, uses high power electromagnetics to counter electronic effect. When a target is identified, the silent weapon discharges with nearly instantaneous impact.

Rather than being used just as harmless hobby systems, drones can also be employed as weapons intended to cause harm at long standoff ranges. As they become more common and technically mature, it is important that there be a safe way to protect air bases against these threats.

With much of the necessary basic research previously completed at AFRL, THOR was rapidly developed and tested in 18 months.

Although there are other drone defensive systems available, including guns, nets and laser systems, THOR looks to extend the engagement range to effect and decrease the engagement time over these other deterrent devices.

Langdon said the THOR team hopes to transfer the technology to a System Program Office soon in order to get it into the hands of U.S. warfighters as soon as possible.

Orion Spacecraft

NASA and Lockheed Martin have finalized a contract for the production and operations of six Orion spacecraft missions and the ability to order up to 12 in total. Orion is NASA’s deep space exploration spaceship that will carry astronauts from Earth to the Moon and bring them safely home. Lockheed Martin has been the prime contractor during the development phase of the Orion program.

Orion is NASA’s deep space exploration spaceship that will carry astronauts from Earth to the Moon and bring them safely home

«This contract clearly shows NASA’s commitment not only to Orion, but also to Artemis and its bold goal of sending humans to the Moon in the next five years», said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. «We are equally committed to Orion and Artemis and producing these vehicles with a focus on cost, schedule and mission success».

The agency’s Orion Production and Operations Contract (OPOC) is an Indefinite-Delivery, Indefinite-Quantity (IDIQ) contact for NASA to issue both cost-plus-incentive fee and firm-fixed-price orders. Initially, NASA has ordered three Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions III-V for $2.7 billion. Then in fiscal year 2022, the agency plans to order three additional Orion spacecraft for Artemis missions VI-VIII for $1.9 billion.

OPOC will realize substantial savings compared to the costs of vehicles built during the Design, Development, Test and Evaluation (DDT&E) phase.

Up to six additional Orion spacecraft may be ordered under the IDIQ contract through Sept. 30, 2030, leveraging spacecraft production cost data from the previous six missions to enable the lowest possible unit prices.

The first spacecraft delivered on this contract, Artemis III, will carry the first woman and the next man to the Moon in 2024, where they will dock with the Gateway and ultimately land on the surface using a lunar landing system. Orion is a critical part of the agency’s Artemis program to build a sustainable presence on the lunar surface and to prepare us to move on to Mars.

Reusable Orion crew modules and systems, use of advanced manufacturing technologies, material and component bulk buys and an accelerated mission cadence all contribute to considerable cost reductions on these production vehicles.

«We have learned a lot about how to design and manufacture a better Orion – such as designing for reusability, using augmented reality and additive manufacturing – and we’re applying this to this next series of vehicles. Driving down cost and manufacturing them more efficiently and faster will be key to making the Artemis program a success», said Mike Hawes, Orion program manager for Lockheed Martin Space. «One must also appreciate how unique Orion is. It’s a spaceship like none other. We’ve designed it to do things no other spacecraft can do, go to places no astronaut has been and take us into a new era of human deep space exploration».

Lockheed Martin and NASA recently announced the completion of the Orion crew and service module being developed for the Artemis I mission, an uncrewed mission to the Moon. Work on the spacecraft for the Artemis II mission, the first crewed flight to the Moon, is well underway at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Navy Lays Keel

The U.S. Navy held a keel-laying and authentication ceremony for the future USS Savannah (LCS-28) at Austal USA’s shipyard Mobile, Alabama, on September 20.

Navy lays keel of future USS Savannah (LCS-28)

The ship’s sponsor, Dianne Isakson, wife of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, authenticated the keel for the 14th Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) during the ceremony.

«We are honored to lay the keel of what will one day be a magnificent combat ship that will defend our great country as our Sailors operate her around the globe», said Captain Mike Taylor, LCS program manager.

While the keel laying traditionally represents the formal start of a ship’s construction, fabrication of the ship begins months in advance. Today, keel laying continues to symbolically recognize the joining of the ship’s components and the ceremonial beginning of the ship.

LCS is a fast, agile, focused-mission platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking and winning against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines and swarming small craft. They are capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control and deterrence.

There are currently four other Independence variant LCSs undergoing construction at Austal USA, with five additional ships in pre-production planning.

 

The Independence Variant of the LCS Class

PRINCIPAL DIMENSIONS
Construction Hull and superstructure – aluminium alloy
Length overall 421 feet/128.3 m
Beam overall 103 feet/31.4 m
Hull draft (maximum) 14.8 feet/4.5 m
PAYLOAD AND CAPACITIES
Complement Core Crew – 40
Mission crew – 36
Berthing 76 in a mix of single, double & quad berthing compartments
Maximum mission load 210 tonnes
Mission Bay Volume 118,403 feet3/11,000 m3
Mission packages Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Surface Warfare (SUW)
Mine Warfare (MIW)
PROPULSION
Main engines 2 × GE LM2500
2 × MTU 20V 8000
Waterjets 4 × Wartsila steerable
Bow thruster Retractable azimuthing
PERFORMANCE
Speed 40 knots/46 mph/74 km/h
Range 3,500 NM/4,028 miles/6,482 km
Operational limitation Survival in Sea State 8
MISSION/LOGISTICS DECK
Deck area >21,527.8 feet2/2,000 m2
Launch and recovery Twin boom extending crane
Loading Side ramp
Internal elevator to hanger
Launch/Recover Watercraft Sea State 4
FLIGHT DECK AND HANGER
Flight deck dimensions 2 × SH-60 or 1 × CH-53 or multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Vertical Take-off and Land Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs/VTUAVs)
Hanger Aircraft stowage & maintenance for 2 × SH-60
Launch/Recover Aircraft Sea State 5
WEAPONS AND SENSORS
Standard 1 × 57-mm gun
4 × 12.7-mm/.50 caliber guns
1 × Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) launcher
3 × weapons modules

 

Independence-class

Ship Laid down Launched Commissioned Homeport
USS Independence (LCS-2) 01-19-2006 04-26-2008 01-16-2010 San Diego, California
USS Coronado (LCS-4) 12-17-2009 01-14-2012 04-05-2014 San Diego, California
USS Jackson (LCS-6) 08-01-2011 12-14-2013 12-05-2015 San Diego, California
USS Montgomery (LCS-8) 06-25-2013 08-06-2014 09-10-2016 San Diego, California
USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) 04-16-2014 02-25-2015 06-10-2017 San Diego, California
USS Omaha (LCS-12) 02-18-2015 11-20-2015 02-03-2018 San Diego, California
USS Manchester (LCS-14) 06-29-2015 05-12-2016 05-26-2018 San Diego, California
USS Tulsa (LCS-16) 01-11-2016 03-16-2017 02-16-2019 San Diego, California
USS Charleston (LCS-18) 06-28-2016 09-14-2017 03-02-2019 San Diego, California
USS Cincinnati (LCS-20) 04-10-2017 05-22-2018
USS Kansas City (LCS-22) 11-15-2017 10-19-2018
USS Oakland (LCS-24) 07-20-2018 07-21-2019 San Diego, California
USS Mobile (LCS-26) 12-14-2018
USS Savannah (LCS-28) 09-20-2018
USS Canberra (LCS-30)
USS Santa Barbara (LCS-32)
USS Augusta (LCS-34)
USS Kingsville (LCS-36)
USS Pierre (LCS-38)

 

Aerial Refueler

Lockheed Martin delivered the first of two KC-130J Super Hercules aerial refuelers to representatives from France’s Armée de l’Air’s 62st Transport Wing at Orléans-Bricy Air Base on 19 September 2019.

The first KC-130J for France’s Armée de l’Air’s 62st Transport Wing takes off from the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Georgia (Photo by Todd R. McQueen)

France will receive a total of four Super Hercules aircraft – two C-130J-30 combat delivery airlifters and two KC-130J aerial refuelers – through a Foreign Military Sale with the U.S. government. The two C-130J-30 airlifters were delivered in 2017 and 2018, and a second KC-130J will deliver in 2020. All of these Super Hercules are operated in conjunction with France’s existing C-130H fleet.

«The KC-130J provides Armée de l’Air crews with a proven solution that delivers much-needed fuel in any environment, at any time», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin. «In choosing to operate both the C-130J-30 and the KC-130J, France has built a diverse airlift fleet that expands both the capabilities and global reach of the French Armed Forces».

France is the 17th country to choose the C-130J for its airlift needs. The C-130J Super Hercules is the most advanced tactical airlifter in operation today, offering superior performance and enhanced capabilities with the range and versatility for every theater of operations and evolving requirements.

As the preeminent tactical aerial refueling tanker, the KC-130J is a battle-tested solution that takes full advantage of the tremendous technological and performance improvements inherent in the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. A true force multiplier, the KC-130J refuels both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft as well as conducts rapid ground refueling.

With this delivery, France joins a global community of KC-130J operators. In 2018, Germany announced the acquisition of a C-130J-30/KC-130J fleet, to be operated in partnership with France – making this first such operator relationship in C-130J history.

 

Fast Facts

Length 97 feet 9 inches/29.61 m
Height 38 feet 10 inches/11.84 m
Wingspan 132 feet 7 inches/40.41 m
Powerplant 4 Rolls-Royce AE 2100D-3 GE-Dowty Aerospace R391 6-blade propellers, all composite
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 164,000 lbs./74,389 kg
Payload (2.5 g)* 50,000 lbs./22,670 kg
Operating Weight Empty 81,000 lbs./36,740 kg
Zero Fuel Weight** 131,000 lbs./59,420 kg
Landing Distance (135,000 lbs./61,235 kg) 3,100 feet/945 m
Range (40,000 lbs./18,144 kg payload) 2,390 NM/2,750 miles/4,425 km
Maximum Cruise Speed 355 KTAS/410 mph/660 km/h

* Higher payload allowable with wing relieving fuel

** Higher zero fuel weight allowable with wing relieving fuel

Built in India

Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) called «Ship Builder to the Nation», is one of India’s leading Defence public sector undertaking shipyards under the Ministry of Defence continuing their service to the nation with «Make in India» programme. They delivered the second Scorpene submarine «KHANDERI» to the Indian Navy at an event held in Mumbai on 19 September 2019. The Acceptance Document was signed by Cmde Rakesh Anand, Chairman & Managing Director, MDL and RAdm B Sivakumar, Chief of Staff Officer (Tech), Western Naval Command in the presence of MDL Directors and Navy personnel at MDL. The submarine would soon be commissioned into the Indian Navy. It is a milestone event for MDL.

Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited delivers second Scorpene submarine «KHANDERI» to Indian Navy

The submarine «KHANDERI» is named after the wide snouted Saw fish, a deadly sea predator of the great Indian Ocean. The first Submarine Khanderi was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 6th December 1968 and decommissioned on 18th October 1989 after more than 20 years of yeoman service to the nation. In true nautical tradition, she will now be «reincarnated» by MDL to guard the vast maritime area of our nation.

Building of the Scorpene was indeed a challenge for MDL, as the complexity of the simplest of tasks increased exponentially due to all work having to be done in the most congested of spaces. This complexity was further aggravated by the stringent tolerances required to be achieved. However, all of these challenges were accepted head-on and successfully overcome by MDL, without any compromise in quality whatsoever.

The technology utilised in the Scorpene has ensured superior features of the submarine.

The Scorpene class of submarines can undertake multifarious tasks typically undertaken by any modern submarine which include anti-surface as well as anti­submarine warfare.

With the delivery of INS Khanderi (S22), India further cements its position as a submarine building nation and MDL has lived up to its reputation as one of the India’s leading shipyards with a capacity to meet requirements of the Indian Navy by the «Indian commercial and warship building and ship repairing industry report» released in Mumbai during March, 2018 by CRISIL.

The constructions of third Scorpene at MDL, INS Karanj (S23), was started on 31st January 2018, and is currently undergoing the rigorous phase of sea trials. The fourth Scorpene, INS Vela (S24) was recently launched in May 2019, and is being prepared for sea trials, whilst the remaining two submarines, INS Vagir (S25) and INS Vagsheer (S26), are in various stages of outfitting. The Scorpene project would not have been achieved up to the current progress without the unconditional support and active encouragement of the Department of Defence Production (MoD).

It is also pertinent to mention that the two SSK submarines built by MDL in 1992 and 1994 are still serving Indian Navy, after more than 25 years. This is testimony to our skill and capability of MDL. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited also achieved expertise in submarine refits by successfully executing the medium refit-cum-upgradation of all the four SSK class submarines of the Indian Navy. It is presently carrying out the medium refit and Life Certification of INS Shishumar, the first SSK submarine.

MDL has always been in the forefront of the nation’s progressive indigenous warship building programme. In fact, with the construction of the Leander and Godavari class frigates, Khukri class Corvettes, Missile Boats, Delhi and Kolkata class Destroyers, Shivalik class Stealth Frigates, the SSK submarines and the first Scorpene submarine under its belt, the history of modern-day MDL almost maps the history of indigenous warship building in India.

MDL’s contribution to national security and nation building continues with the P-15B Visakhapatnam class Destroyers and the P-17A class Stealth Frigates.

Recognising the challenges of the future well in time, MDL has completed an extensive modernisation programme, at the end of which, today it is building eight Warships, six Submarines, in its yard, which have four drydocks, three slipways, two Wet Basins and more than sixty thousand square metres of work shop area.

Leveraging the experience, the transfer-of-technology of the Scorpene project, and with its enhanced and upgraded infrastructure, MDL is ready for undertaking construction of future submarines projects.

 

Specifications

Overall length 66 m/216.5 feet
Diameter 6.20 m/20.3 feet
Submerged displacement 1,800 t
Dive depth > 350 m/1,148 feet
Maximum submerged speed > 20 knots/23 mph/37 km/h
Submersion endurance > 3 weeks
Crew 25 to 31 + 14 combat divers
Weapons 6 torpedo launching tubes, 18 heavy weapons

 

First Test Flight

Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler on 19 September 2019.

Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first test flight of the MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aerial refueler September 19. The MQ-25 Stingray test asset, known as T1, completed the autonomous two-hour flight under the direction of Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, where the test program is based (Boeing photo)

The MQ-25 Stingray test asset, known as T1, completed the autonomous two-hour flight under the direction of Boeing test pilots operating from a ground control station at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, Illinois, where the test program is based. The aircraft completed an autonomous taxi and takeoff and then flew a pre-determined route to validate the aircraft’s basic flight functions and operations with the ground control station.

«Seeing MQ-25 Stingray in the sky is a testament to our Boeing and U.S. Navy team working the technology, systems and processes that are helping get MQ-25 Stingray to the carrier», said Boeing MQ-25 Stingray Program Director Dave Bujold. «This aircraft and its flight test program ensure we’re delivering the MQ-25 Stingray to the carrier fleet with the safety, reliability and capability the U.S. Navy needs to conduct its vital mission».

The Boeing-owned test asset is a predecessor to the Engineering Development Model (EDM) aircraft and is being used for early learning and discovery to meet the goals of the U.S. Navy’s accelerated acquisition program. Boeing will produce four EDM MQ-25 Stingray air vehicles for the U.S. Navy under an $805 million contract awarded in August 2018.

The MQ-25 Stingray will provide the U.S. Navy with a much-needed carrier-based unmanned aerial refueling capability. It will allow for better use of the combat strike fighters currently performing the tanking role and will extend the range of the carrier air wing.

«Today’s flight is an exciting and significant milestone for our program and the Navy», said the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation (PMA-268) Program Manager Captain Chad Reed. «The flight of this test asset two years before our first MQ-25 Stingray arrives represents the first big step in a series of early learning opportunities that are helping us progress toward delivery of a game-changing capability for the carrier air wing and strike group commanders».

T1 received its experimental airworthiness certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in September, verifying that the air vehicle meets the agency’s requirements for safe flight. Testing will continue with T1 to further early learning and discovery that advances major systems and software development.

Boeing MQ-25 Unmanned Aerial Refueler Completes First Test Flight

Prince of Wales

The second of the UK’s new aircraft carriers, HMS Prince of Wales (R09), has sailed for the first time on 19 September 2019.

Britain’s second new carrier sets sail

Eight years after she was laid down – and two after her sister HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) sailed from the very same site – the 65,000-tonne warship left the basin at Rosyth Dockyard on the Forth, ready to begin sea trials.

When she passes beneath the three iconic Forth crossings – lowering her main mast to do so – and strikes out into the North Sea, it means the two largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy will be at sea simultaneously.

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) is currently in the North Atlantic preparing for operational training with UK F-35B Lightning II jets for the first time – paving the way for front-line duties by HMS Prince of Wales (R09) just a few years from now.

At present, the ship’s company – currently 600 strong – are focusing on a successful spell of sea trials, having prepared for months, gradually bringing the many systems, sensors and items of machinery from the galley to the main engines into life.

They are joined for the trials by a team of 320 civilian contractors to monitor how the 280-metre-long/919-foot-long leviathan performs and make any necessary adjustments.

Captain Darren Houston, HMS Prince of Wales’ Commanding Officer, said it had taken a monumental effort by sailors, shipwrights, engineers, electricians, scientists and designers to ready the nation’s most advanced warship for her debut at sea.

«I am immensely proud of the professionalism and determination that my ship’s company have shown in preparing themselves and their ship for this historic day. Whether through working alongside our industrial partners to support the build and commissioning of key systems or training tirelessly to operate the ship and work as a team, the crew have demonstrated unfaltering dedication and resolve in the face of a multitude of challenges. We are looking forward to sea trials and the opportunity to test our new ship before heading to our new home base of Portsmouth to join our sister ship».

Leading Physical Trainer Carl Stubbs joined HMS Prince of Wales (R09) in March 2018 and is delighted to see life buzzing through the ship.

«I am extremely excited to go to sea for the first time having seen the ship come together over the past 18 months from being an empty hull to a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier, complete with a fully-trained crew. We have been busy getting the four on board gyms stocked with equipment ready to keep our sailors fit during contractor sea trials and we will be running a full fitness programme for the crew whilst we are at sea».

Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Jerry Kyd, who took HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) to sea for the first time in the summer of 2017, understands the excitement aboard HMS Prince of Wales (R09) – and realises what her advent means for the UK and Royal Navy.

«I am delighted to see HMS Prince of Wales at sea – well done the Aircraft Carrier Alliance and her ship’s company», said Admiral Kyd. This is a hugely significant event for them but also for the Royal Navy and wider UK Defence. This means that, today, the Royal Navy has two aircraft carriers at sea – a powerful symbol of our government’s commitment to a strong defence and a global navy. I am hugely proud of the national effort, across so many industrial partners, Ministry of Defence and other agencies which has now delivered both of these magnificent ships that will sit at the heart of our defence for decades to come. I look forward to seeing HMS Prince of Wales (R09) arrive in her home port of Portsmouth soon and, in due course, Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II jets flying from her deck».

Following her sea trials HMS Prince of Wales (R09) will sail for her Portsmouth where she is due to be formally commissioned in the presence of her Lady Sponsor, the Duchess of Cornwall, before the end of the year.

 

At a glance

Total displacement 65,000 tonnes
Total length 280 metres/919 feet
Sleeping bunks 1,600
Total range 10,000 nautical miles/11,508 miles/18,520 km

 

Vigor lays keel

Representatives from the U.S. Army and federal and local elected officials joined Vigor employees for a keel laying ceremony on September 17, 2019, celebrating the first milestone in the construction of the Army’s next generation landing craft, the Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) or MSV(L).

Vigor lays keel for the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Landing Craft, Maneuver Support Vessel (Light) at its new Aluminum Fabrication Facility in Vancouver, Washington

The nearly billion dollar contract to build MSV(L) was awarded to Vigor in October, 2017. The new design, developed in partnership with BMT, dramatically improves the capabilities of the current LCM-8 and provides the optimal combination of performance, operational flexibility and life-cycle cost while maintaining the reliability and versatility of the Army’s current craft.

The U.S. Army awarded Vigor the contract to build its new generation landing craft in the fall of 2017

The event began with a warm welcome from Vigor CEO Frank Foti. Remarks were delivered by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler from Washington’s 3rd Congressional District, Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Mayor of Vancouver, Timothy Goddette, U.S. Army Program Executive Office, Combat Support & Combat Service Support and COL (P) Jered P. Helwig, U.S. Army Chief of Transportation. COL (P) Helwig also gave the dedication honoring the service of SSG Elroy F. Wells.

The design for the MSV(L) was developed in partnership with BMT following a detailed study of the Army’s unique needs and the available design options fulfill those needs

The ceremonial weld marked not only the start of the MSV(L) program but also the beginning of a new era in shipbuilding at Vigor’s recently acquired state-of-the-art all Aluminum Fabrication facility in Vancouver. Vigor expects the site to employ up to 400 workers by 2023 building high performance military craft, workboats and aluminum fast ferries in addition to MSV(L).

It dramatically improves the current LCM-8 and provides the optimal combination of performance, operational flexibility and life-cycle cost while maintaining the reliability and versatility of the Army’s current craft

Once the SSG Elroy F. Wells is completed and testing and refinements have occurred, the schedule calls for four vessels in the Low Rate Production phase, followed by up to 32 vessels once Full Rate Production is underway. Vigor’s MSV(L) team consists of a number of key partners including BMT, Gladding-Hearn and Northrop Grumman.

The contract calls for one prototype vessel, four vessels under low rate production, and up to thirty two additional vessels over ten years for use by Army Mariners in even the most difficult environments

 

DESIGN INNOVATION

  • Innovative tribow monohull form maximizes seakeeping, beached stability and provides speeds in excess of 21 knots/24 mph/39 km/h fully laden
  • Exceptional seakeeping characteristics enhance crew comfort and reduce strain on payload
  • Raised center jet and 4-foot (1.2-meter) draft fully laden enable landings on the shallowest beaches
  • Simplicity of design improves platform availability, maintainability, and life-cycle cost
The landing craft’s tribow monohull is an innovative yet deceptively simple design that provides superior maneuverability and stability in high sea states, through the littorals and within inland waterways in support of land-based operations

 

MISSION EFFECTIVENESS

  • The flexibility to maneuver in many different environments
  • The ability to carry modern equipment into diverse littoral settings, up to and including a main battle tank
  • Greater maneuver options in anti-access, area-denial environments
  • Superior seakeeping and survivability
  • No height constraints on payload
  • Range of 360+ nautical miles/414+ miles/666.7 km
MSV(L) is a natural evolution of the BMT Caimen-90, leveraging more than a decade of extensively-tested performance and adapted by the Vigor-BMT team to meet U.S. Army requirements

 

PRINCIPAL CHARACTERISTICS

Type Landing Craft
Configuration Tribow Monohull
Material Aluminum
Length (Overall) 117’0″ (35.6m)
Beam (Molded) 28’2” (8.6m)
Speed (Laden) 21 knots/24 mph/39 km/h
Speed (Unladen) 30+ knots/34.5+ mph/55.5 km/h
Range 360+ nautical miles/414+ miles/666.7 km
Main Engines (3) @2,600 HP/1,939 kW
Propulsors (3) Waterjets
Other Bi-fold bow ramp
Kedge anchor system
(2) CROWS II mount
Crew 8
Deck Area 1,697 feet sq/157.6 m sq
Max Capacity 82 ton
Anticipated Payloads (1) main battle tank
(2) armored vehicle
Additional design payloads
Deck Features Drive-through capability. Payload tie-down point grid
Prototype named in honor of SSG Elroy F. Wells, an Army watercraft operator killed in action 12.27.70 in Vietnam

Ramjet shell

For years, NATO artillery and missile systems have been at a range disadvantage compared to its future potential adversaries. New ramjet technology, however, has the potential to completely reverse the situation by closing the range gap.

Ramjet-powered artillery could reach as far out as 150 km/93 miles. With guidance, the projectile would be a mix of a missile and an artillery shell. The 155-mm HE-ExR (extreme range), as it is called, is scheduled for its first live-fire tests in 2020 (Photo/illustration: Nammo)

In the summer of 2016, Russia rolled out the latest version of the 9A52-4 Tornado rocket launcher. The «S»-variant now has the ability to fire shells at an enemy 120 kilometers/74.5 miles away, a remarkable improvement on the previous version. But even the previous version could reach targets 70 km/43.5 miles away.

At the same time, the country appears to be investing in other, more untraditional long-range missile systems. The recent accident near Severodvinsk – in what appears to have been a test of a new nuclear-powered cruise missile – is just one indication of this investment, as is the use of conventional cruise missiles in Syria.

NATO has favored a different approach: For decades, the alliance relied on air superiority. That situation is however changing rapidly. As air defense systems like the S-400 proliferate, Russian planners apparently hope to deny their opponents free use of the skies.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley, is one of many experts who now believe the situation has changed fundamentally – and put NATO forces at a disadvantage. When he appeared before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee in April 2016, Milley was asked whether the army was «outranged».

«We don’t like it, we don’t want it, but yes, technically [we are] outranged, outgunned on the ground», Milley said.

With superior range, artillery operators could simply disregard counter-battery fire, Thomas Danbolt, Nammo’s Vice President Large Caliber Ammunition, explains (Photo: Nammo)

 

The importance of range

Range – and especially the ability to hit at a distance where an opponent cannot retaliate – has been a prime concern on the battlefield since the days of the Romans. Sometimes, such an advantage has proven to be a deciding factor.

Roman triumvir Crassus is one who certainly would attest to that. When facing Parthian horse archers at the battle of Carrhae in 53 BC, his legions were wiped out when they could not counter their opponents’ range and mobility advantage.

Later, the English would inflict enormous damage on French forces in the Hundred Years’ war. At Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt, English longbowmen significantly outranged their opponents. The great English victories here would effectively end the primacy of heavily armored knights, as well as adding decades to a conflict where the French held a great advantage in both resources and manpower.

Range also played a part in the U.S. War of Independence. Morgan’s Riflemen (famous for their long-range rifles) played their part in securing victory at important battles like Saratoga.

A computer-rendered illustration of what a future Ramjet missile could look like. Nammo hopes to have missiles ready in a few years – the motor testing is already well underway (Illustration: Nammo)

 

«There’s a race going on»

Longbows are however a thing of the past. But Nammo artillery and munitions expert Thomas Danbolt believes range is still of great importance to contemporary weapons, like artillery.

«Range is important. If you can shoot much farther than your opponent, counter-battery fire can simply be disregarded. Your own artillery will be safe, while at the same time you can strike enemy positions with impunity. I think we should not underestimate the consequences of having a range advantage», says Thomas Danbolt, Nammo’s Vice President Large Caliber Ammunition.

Danbolt thinks major nation-states have seen the importance of this, and are now scrambling to improve their defenses. His colleague, Frank Møller, has been part of designing rocket motors for missiles for decades. He sees a big change in that field as well.

«I think there’s a race going on internationally. Propulsion technology has improved. Cruise missiles are getting longer ranges, better sensors, improved accuracy, and the cost has gone down. But a reaction is coming: armed forces everywhere are scrambling to improve their missile defenses», says Frank Møller, Nammo’s VP of Strategy and Business Development (Aerospace Propulsion).

Nammo has already completed more than 150 motor tests. Testing so far has been very successful, showing ramjet motors can work in real life (Photo: Nammo)

 

150 km artillery range

As demand for longer range options increases, ramjet technology has been advancing steadily. It has now come to a point where it can has several new potential applications – both in missiles and artillery.

Nammo already has a long history of producing high-performing artillery ammunition. Now, it once again wants to be at the forefront, developing a new generation of shells covering all range requirements.

Nammo’s most ambitious project to date has been a Ramjet-powered, guided artillery shell with a range of up to 150 km/93 miles, now the subject of a development partnership with Boeing’s Phantom Works. The new design is expected to see its first live-fire tests in 2020.

«In practice, this is a mix of a missile and an artillery shell. We are talking about a range that is five to eight times greater than conventional artillery. With the guidance system, we believe we can consistently hit an area as small as the center of a football field. And even though the payload is somewhat smaller, the destructive force will likely be greater because of the accuracy», Danbolt says.

The Ramjet shell can be fired from every modern 155-mm L52 artillery gun – a trait it shares with all of Nammo’s other long-range shells.

 

The Ramjet revolution

Ramjets are also very well suited for missiles. In a conventional rocket motor, oxygen accounts for 80 percent of the fuel weight. But a Ramjet instead uses oxygen from the outside air. As a consequence, oxygen can be replaced with fuel, increasing the capacity four or five times. Erland Ørbekk, Nammo’s VP of Technology for Aerospace Propulsion, explains that the advantages are great if a missile can reach high enough speeds.

«In a traditional air breathing motor, you need a compressor, a combustion chamber and a turbine. But in a Ramjet, the oxygen pressure and temperature will be high enough just from reaching a high enough speed (roughly Mach 2.5). A Ramjet missile can have a burn time of up to 300 seconds (5 minutes), and can be throttled up and down, or even turned on and off», Ørbekk says.

What operational advantages can we expect?

«A Ramjet-powered missile will be superior to a conventional missile in all possible ways. Ground-based Ramjet missiles will be able to take out high-altitude targets. And if fired from aircraft, they will be effective against high-speed and highly maneuverable fighter jets at much greater distances than today. We believe they could even be effective against some of the new high-speed missiles being introduced outside NATO. If you have a good enough sensor system on the ground, it will be possible for Ramjet-powered missiles to intercept them».

 

Ready in a few years

Ramjet-powered artillery and missiles could be ready sooner than you think. Nammo has already completed more than 150 successful tests of its ramjet engines. While artillery ramjets could reach up to 150 km/93 miles, some air-to-air missiles could hit targets from an even more impressive 500 km/310 miles distance.

Frank Møller is sure we will see products on the market within a few years.

«Long-range Ramjet artillery will likely be on the market within two to four years. For missiles, it will take a bit longer, but we are confident that the technology is ready. What we are working on now is more focused on the practical applications and technical solutions».

Are you sure of that? Are you sure the technology will work?

«Absolutely. And it will be a momentous change».

Red Hawk

The Air Force’s all-new advanced trainer aircraft, the T-X, has officially been named the T-7A Red Hawk.

The Air Force’s all-new advanced trainer aircraft, the T-X, has officially been named the T-7A Red Hawk

Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan made the announcement during his speech at the 2019 Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, September 16.

Donovan was joined on stage by one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Colonel Charles McGee, who flew more than 400 combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Also seated in the audience were members of the East Coast Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen.

After a short video highlighting the aircraft’s lineage, Donovan said, «ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the newest Red Tail»! A drape was then lifted to reveal a quarter-scale model of a T-7A Red Hawk painted in a distinct, red-tailed color scheme.

«The name Red Hawk honors the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II», Donovan said. «The name is also a tribute to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American fighter aircraft that first flew in 1938 and was flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron, the U.S. Army Air Forces’ first African American fighter squadron».

The Tuskegee Airmen subsequently painted their Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and North American P-51 Mustangs with a red-tailed paint scheme.

The T-7A Red Hawk, manufactured by Boeing, introduces capabilities that prepare pilots for fifth generation fighters, including high-G environment, information and sensor management, high angle of attack flight characteristics, night operations and transferable air-to-air and air-to-ground skills.

«The T-7A will be the staple of a new generation of aircraft», Donovan said. «The Red Hawk offers advanced capabilities for training tomorrow’s pilots on data links, simulated radar, smart weapons, defensive management systems, as well as synthetic training capabilities».

Along with updated technology and performance capabilities, the T-7A will be accompanied by enhanced simulators and the ability to update system software faster and more seamlessly. The plane was also designed with maintainers in mind by utilizing easy-to-reach and open access panels.

The T-7A features twin tails, slats and big leading-edge root extensions that provide deft handling at low speeds, allowing it to fly in a way that better approximates real world demands and is specifically designed to prepare pilots for fifth-generation aircraft. The aircraft’s single engine generates nearly three times more thrust than the dual engines of the T-38C Talon which it is replacing.

«The distance between the T-38 and an F-35 is night and day», said Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein. «But with the T-7A the distance is much, much smaller, and that’s important because it means the pilots trained on it will be that much better, that much faster at a time when we must be able to train to the speed of the threat».

A $9.2 billion contract awarded to Boeing in September 2018 calls for 351 T-7A aircraft, 46 simulators and associated ground equipment to be delivered and installed, replacing Air Education and Training Command’s 57-year-old fleet of T-38C Talons.

The first T-7A aircraft and simulators are scheduled to arrive at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas, in 2023. All undergraduate pilot training bases will eventually transition from the T-38C to the T-7A. Those bases include Columbus Air Force Base (AFB), Mississippi; Laughlin AFB and Sheppard AFB, Texas; and Vance AFB, Oklahoma.