Production, flight test and deliveries of the AH-64E Apache helicopter continue at the Boeing site in Mesa, Arizona. With 500 AH-64E Apaches in service with the United States Army and defense forces around the world, the «Echo» model provides enhanced performance; joint digital interoperability; situational awareness and survivability with reduced operational and support costs.
First delivered in 2011, the AH-64E Apache has been used in combat operations and peacekeeping efforts. Planned modernization of this multi-role combat helicopter ensures it is ready to fulfill operational requirements globally.
The U.S. Navy commissioned USS Vermont (SSN-792), the 19th Virginia-class attack submarine, today, April 18, 2020.
Although the traditional public commissioning ceremony was cancelled due to public health safety and restrictions of large public gatherings, the U.S. Navy commissioned USS Vermont (SSN-792) administratively and transitioned the ship to normal operations. Meanwhile, the Navy is looking at a future opportunity to commemorate the special event with the ship’s sponsor, crew and commissioning committee.
«This Virginia-class fast-attack submarine will continue the proud naval legacy of the state of Vermont and the ships that have borne her name», said Acting Secretary of the Navy James E. McPherson. «I am confident the crew of this cutting edge platform will carry on this tradition and confront the challenges of today’s complex world with the professionalism and dedication our nation depends on from warriors of the silent service».
Vice Admiral Daryl Caudle, commander, Submarine Forces, said Vermont’s entry to service marks a new phase of American undersea warfare dominance for a global Submarine Force that is ready to deter, defend and defeat threats to our nation, allies, and rules-based international order.
«This warship carries on a proud Vermont legacy in naval warfare and unyielding determination stretching back to the birth of our nation», Caudle said. «To her crew, congratulations on completing the arduous readiness training to enter sea trials and prepare this ship for battle. I am proud to serve with each of you! Stand ready to defend our nation wherever we are threatened – honoring your motto – FREEDOM AND UNITY. May God bless our Submarine Force, the people of Vermont, and our families! From the depths, we strike»!
The ship’s sponsor, Ms. Gloria Valdez, former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Navy (Ships), offered her gratitude to everyone who played a role in delivering USS Vermont (SSN-792) to service. She said she is proud to represent the crew and the first Block IV Virginia-class submarine to enter service.
«I am very proud of the sailors and families of USS Vermont (SSN-792) who worked so hard to bring her to life, and also feel extremely grateful to everyone who played a role preparing her to defend our nation for generations to come», Valdez said. «I look forward to commemorating this special occasion together with the crew in the future».
Vermont’s commanding officer, Commander Charles W. Phillips III, highlighted Vermont’s accomplishments over the past several weeks getting through initial sea trials. The hard work and dedication of the entire team during the past few years was evident in the successful execution of at-sea testing. He said he is especially thankful to the crew and their families, ship sponsor Ms. Valdez, and the USS Vermont (SSN-792) Commissioning Committee, led by Ms. Debra Martin, for all their hard work and support of the crew.
«We recognize just how important the submarine force is during this era of great power competition. As part of the nation’s maritime asymmetric advantage over our competitors, we are ready to perform whatever duty is most needed. The crew is hungry to hone our skills at-sea and become an effective fighting unit, and we will work tirelessly to justify the nation’s confidence in us. Today marks the culmination of six years of dedicated work by the men and women who constructed the nation’s newest and most capable warship. We are all honored to be part of this historic moment», Phillips said. «We are also grateful for the families who have supported our sailors through the long process of bringing this warship to life and dedicated their time with patriotism and selfless devotion».
USS Vermont (SSN-792) is the third U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the «Green Mountain State». The first Vermont was one of nine 74-gun warships authorized by Congress in 1816. The second Vermont, Battleship No. 20, was commissioned in 1907 and first deployed in December of that same year as part of the «Great White Fleet». She was decommissioned June 30, 1920.
USS Vermont (SSN-792) is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; delivery of special operations forces; strike warfare; irregular warfare; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and mine warfare.
The submarine is 377 feet/114.8 m long, has a 34-foot/10.3632-meter beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800+ feet/244+ m and operate at speeds in excess of 25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h submerged. The ship’s construction began in May 2014, and it will provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation’s undersea superiority well into the 21st century. It is the first the first of 10 Virginia-class Block IV submarines. Block IV submarines incorporate design changes focused on reduced total ownership cost. By making smaller-scale design changes, the U.S. Navy will increase the length of time between maintenance stops and increase the number of deployments.
General Dynamics Electric Boat Division and Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. – Newport News Shipbuilding
October 3, 2004
One GE PWR S9G* nuclear reactor, two turbines, one shaft; 40,000 hp/30 MW
377 feet/114.8 m
33 feet/10.0584 m
34 feet/10.3632 m
Approximately 7,800 tons/7,925 metric tons submerged
25+ knots/28+ mph/46.3+ km/h
800+ feet/244+ m
132: 15 officers; 117 enlisted
Armament: Tomahawk missiles
Two 87-in/2.2 m Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching 6 Tomahawk cruise missiles
Armament: MK-48 ADCAP (Advanced Capability) Mod 7 heavyweight torpedoes
4 torpedo tubes
MK-60 CAPTOR (Encapsulated Torpedo) mines, advanced mobile mines and UUVs (Unmanned Underwater Vehicles)
Boeing successfully completed the first flight of the F-15QA fighter, the most advanced version of the jet ever manufactured. Developed for the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF), the jet demonstrated its next-generation capabilities during its 90-minute mission. The flight took off and landed from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis.
«We are very proud of this accomplishment and looking forward with great excitement to the continued successes of this program», said Colonel Ahmed Al Mansoori, commander, QEAF F-15 Wing. «This successful first flight is an important milestone that brings our squadrons one step closer to flying this incredible aircraft over the skies of Qatar».
Boeing’s flight test team, led by Chief Test Pilot Matt Giese, implemented a precise mission checklist to test the multirole aircraft’s capabilities. The aircraft demonstrated its maneuverability during its vertical «Viking» takeoff and by pulling nine Gs, or nine times the force of earth’s gravity, in its subsequent maneuvering in the test airspace. Checks of systems such as avionics and radar were also successful. A test team monitoring the data in real time confirmed the aircraft performed as planned.
«This successful first flight is an important step in providing the QEAF an aircraft with best-in-class range and payload», said Prat Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 program manager. «The advanced F-15QA not only offers game changing capabilities but is also built using advanced manufacturing processes which make the jet more efficient to manufacture. In the field, the F-15 costs half the cost per flight hour of similar fighter aircraft and delivers far more payload at far greater ranges. That’s success for the warfighter».
The U.S. Department of Defense awarded Boeing a $6.2 billion contract in 2017 to manufacture 36 F-15 fighter jets for the QEAF. Boeing will begin delivering aircraft to the customer in 2021. In addition, Boeing was awarded a U.S. Air Force foreign military sale contract in 2019 for F-15QA aircrew and maintenance training for the QEAF.
The F-15QA brings to its operators next-generation technologies such as fly-by-wire flight controls, digital cockpit; modernized sensors, radar, and electronic warfare capabilities; and the world’s fastest mission computer. Increases in reliability, sustainability and maintainability allow defense operators to affordably remain ahead of current and evolving threats.
Through investments in the F-15QA platform and partnership with the U.S. Air Force, Boeing is now preparing to build a domestic variant of the advanced fighter, the F-15EX Eagle. F-15EX became a program of record for the Air Force when the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 was signed on December 30, 2019. In January, the Air Force issued public notifications of its intent to award sole-source a contract to Boeing for eight jets. Future plans call for as many as 144 aircraft.
The Airbus A400M new-generation airlifter ordered by the Luxembourg Armed Forces has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery. The aircraft, known as MSN104, took off from Seville (Spain), where the final assembly line is located, at 16:08 local time (CET) and landed back on site 5 hours later.
The Luxembourg aircraft will be operated by the armed forces of Belgium and Luxembourg within a binational unit based in Belgium. MSN104 is scheduled to be delivered in the second quarter of 2020.
The picture shows the Luxembourg aircraft landing at Seville airport, Spain.
The CH-53K King Stallion aced an air-to-air refueling test this week, successfully demonstrating long-range logistics support capabilities for the U.S. Marine Corps. The 4.5-hour test was accomplished over the Chesapeake Bay with a KC-130J Aerial Refueling (AR) tanker.
«The aircraft went to the tanker this week and it was very successful, proving it is a long-range vertical logistic workhorse», said Colonel Jack Perrin, H-53 heavy lift helicopters (PMA-261) program manager.
According to the CH-53K King Stallion test team, the wake survey test assessed the performance of the aircraft when flying behind the tanker in strong, turbulent air. The aircraft’s crew successfully plugged the drogue, a funnel shaped basket towed behind the KC-130J Hercules. These tests were performed at increasing closure rates to ensure the CH-53K King Stallion can handle the forces on the refueling probe when contacting the drogue during aerial refueling.
«The aircraft was able to meet the desired performance for all engagements», said Perrin. «The ‘K’ is the long-range enabler that we need now and into the future».
The CH-53K King Stallion continues to execute within the reprogrammed CH-53K timeline, moving toward completion of developmental test, leading to initial operational test and evaluation in 2021 and first fleet deployment in 2023-2024.
On January 8th General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA‑ASI) for the first time flew a new MQ-9 Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) to a customer location at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Typically, a new MQ-9 is packed and shipped by GA-ASI for reassembly after delivery. Ferrying the MQ-9 to Holloman saves costs and time in shipping, reducing time for airmen to reassemble the aircraft, making it available for training immediately upon arrival.
A key aspect of delivery was flying the RPA through the National Airspace System (NAS) after originating from GA-ASI’s Flight Operations Center in Palmdale, California. GA-ASI and Holloman air crews worked together to ensure the successful ferry of the aircraft.
«GA-ASI continues to lead the charge towards enabling large unmanned aircraft to fly in the NAS», said David R. Alexander, president, GA-ASI. «Our efforts, along with other partners, are gaining momentum and successfully flying the MQ-9 to our U.S. Air Force customer further demonstrates the safety and efficiency of RPA flight in the broader airspace».
The USAF estimates that ferrying the MQ-9 saved 142 man hours.
«This is the first time that team Holloman has taken delivery of a new MQ-9 by ferry flight», said Colonel Casey Tidgewell, 49th Operations Group commander. «It’s critically important because flying outside of our training area helps normalize RPA flight inside the NAS and provides broader aviation experience for our instructors. I could not be more proud of our operations and maintenance professionals that made this happen».
GA-ASI has flown several RPA flights in the NAS while working with the FAA and other authorities to secure proper approvals. The company continues to work towards a future where its RPA can simply «file and fly» in the NAS just like commercial flights.
Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Ingalls Shipbuilding division officially started fabrication of the Arleigh Burke class (DDG-51) destroyer USS Ted Stevens (DDG-128) on Monday, April 06, 2020. The start of fabrication signifies the first 100 tons of steel have been cut.
«As we begin this important milestone in the construction of another great warship, we look forward to continuing production and carrying on the extraordinary legacy of the U.S. Navy destroyer fleet», Ingalls DDG-51 Program Manager George Nungesser said.
The ship’s name honors former U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who served as a pilot in World War II and later as a senator representing Alaska. At the time he left office in 2009, he was the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in history.
Ingalls has delivered 31 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to the U.S. Navy. Other destroyers currently under construction include USS Delbert D. Black (DDG-119), USS Frank E. Peterson Jr. (DDG-121), USS Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG-123) and USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG-125).
Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are highly capable, multi-mission ships and can conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection, all in support of the United States’ military strategy. The guided missile destroyers are capable of simultaneously fighting air, surface and subsurface battles. The ship contains myriad offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime defense needs well into the 21st century.
510 feet/156 m
Beam – Waterline
59 feet/18 m
30.5 feet/9.3 m
Displacement – Full Load
9,217 tons/9,363 metric tons
4 General electric LM 2500-30 gas turbines; 2 shafts; 2 CRP (Contra-Rotating) propellers; 100,000 shaft horsepower/75,000 kW
SPY-1D Phased Array Radar (Lockheed Martin)/AN/SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (Raytheon Company) and Aegis Combat System (Lockheed Martin); SPS-73(V) Navigation; SPS-67(V)3 Surface Search; 3 SPG-62 Illuminator; SQQ-89(V)6 sonar incorporating SQS-53C hull mounted and SQR-19 towed array sonars used with Mark-116 Mod 7 ASW fire control system
SLQ-32(V)3; Mark-53 Mod 0 Decoy System; Mark-234 Decoy System; SLQ-25A Torpedo Decoy; SLQ-39 Surface Decoy; URN-25 TACAN; UPX-29 IFF System; Kollmorgen Mark-46 Mod 1 Electro-Optical Director
2 embarked SH-60 helicopters ASW operations; RAST (Recovery Assist, Secure and Traverse)
An HH-60W Jolly Green II, the Air Force’s new combat search and rescue helicopter, completed a month-long trial of extremes inside the McKinley Climatic Lab April 2.
The Sikorsky test aircraft endured real temperatures ranging from 120 degrees to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit/from 49 degrees to minus 51 degrees Celsius as well as 45 mph/72 km/h winds coupled with heavy rainfall. All of those scenarios were created within the lab’s 55,000-square-foot/5,110-square-meter test chamber.
The goal of these punishing tests was to prove the new aircraft’s sustainability in any operational environment.
«Operating the HH-60W in the extreme conditions was a truly unique experience as a pilot and a tester», said Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Coates, 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron pilot, who also performed most of the testing. «Checking system performance under the stress of heat, cold, heavy wind and rain will give us real-world data regarding the helicopter’s capability to perform the rescue mission worldwide in various environments, which is exactly what the operator needs to make solid employment decisions».
Once the lab technicians created extreme environments, the aircrew would enter the aircraft and perform various test procedures. The crew would execute their preflight checklists and perform tasks to see if the extreme conditions affected any of the avionics, electronics, engine and other systems.
The aircrew performing the procedures were also test subjects themselves. Their own reactions and movements were evaluated in the harsh environments. For example, the cold-weather gear worn by the aircrew is much bulkier than a standard flight suit. One of the evaluations was to ensure the pilots could easily reach all of the aircraft controls in the thicker cold-weather gear.
A significant amount of the test schedule was dedicated to preparing the chamber for extreme conditions. McKinley’s lab professionals create, break-down, and recreate again for each new test environment. Technicians worked continuously to go from a superheated 100-degree desert condition to a below-freezing icebox in only three days.
«McKinley Climatic Laboratory maintains quickness and technical proficiency by retaining our own staff of highly experienced welders, machinists, electricians, instrumentation experts, test assembly personnel and refrigeration operators», said William Higdon, the lab’s technical advisor. «Our main mission is to support the warfighter and to ensure any environment they encounter in the field; their equipment has already been proven in those extremes».
The Jolly Green II created some unique challenges for McKinley Lab personnel. The lab technicians created a system specifically for the HH-60W to remove the aircraft’s exhaust. Thorough exhaust removal is a critical part of maintaining the controlled temperature conditions needed for chamber testing, according to lab technicians working on the test.
The design of the ventilation system meant the aircraft’s blades were removed for the duration of the testing. The lab’s in-house fabrication shop also specially designed brackets for the aircraft’s weapons among other items.
«Successful completion of this test is absolutely shared with the Sikorsky and McKinley teams», said Ben Walker, 413th Flight Test Squadron lead test engineer for the effort and Air Force PALACE Acquire journeyman. «Everyone worked together extremely well and we completed on time and on budget. I am very thankful for this opportunity to perform exciting engineering work, while also supporting the warfighter».
After testing in the climatic lab, the HH-60W will return to Sikorsky’s test facility in West Palm Beach for further evaluation. The HH-60W developmental test program is a joint effort between Sikorsky, the 413th FLTS, the 88th TES and Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center. Test aircraft are primarily split between Duke Field here and Sikorsky’s West Palm Beach facility.
«Testing on the combat rescue helicopter continued amidst the chaos of COVID-19», said Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Dirkes, 413th FLTS operations officer. «While the situation could change at any moment, we have not lost any test schedule thus far. That is a testament to the entire team’s attitude and willingness to work through challenges».
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) recently completed testing of vital combat systems while underway in the Atlantic Ocean.
These tests, conducted during Ford’s Post-Delivery Test and Trials (PDT&T) phase, are designed to stress the ship’s combat system capabilities and demonstrate the successful integration of new technologies, which the crew employs to defend the aircraft carrier.
Commander Ron McCallister, Ford’s combat systems officer, noted the testing was a collaborative effort between Naval Sea Systems Command along with the greater technical community and the ship’s force.
«The tests exercise the combat systems suite as a complete unit and ensure maximum availability to meet combat and self-defense mission requirements», said McCallister. «In the end, the combat systems suite achieves maximum readiness and the Sailors develop more operational and technical competence».
Ford’s first certification of integrated combat systems tested the Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon (ATCRB) and Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF). The tests, conducted over several days, evaluated the ATCRB’s ability to track air and surface contacts and to identify friendly and enemy aircraft using an advanced identification system. IFF is used not only for positive, secure, friend identification, but also to control aircraft.
«We use an interrogator system to challenge aircraft transponders for identification», said Operations Specialist 2nd class Juannietagrace Okeli, from Moss Point, Mississippi. «The interrogator, cooperative engagement capability, and the Ships Self-Defense Systems (SSDS) work together to provide us the combat identification».
Ford also recently completed Sea-Based Developmental Testing (SBDT) of vital combat systems. This was the first full test of the integrated combat system against tactical adversaries. Testing was conducted with Kfir and Hawker Hunter jet aircraft from the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company. Ship’s crew tracked the aircraft, using Ford’s Dual Band Radar (DBR).
«SBDT is a stepping stone towards Ford’s Combat Systems Ship Qualification Trial (CSSQT), and follow-on operational tests by the Navy», said Commander William Buell, Ford’s combat direction center officer. «Our SBDT operations ran very smoothly, which is a good indicator of future success on CSSQT».
As part of the SBDT, Sailors in Ford’s combat systems department conducted an up-load of simulated munitions for operators in the ship’s Combat Direction Center (CDC) to simulate engaging the aircraft.
«It was encouraging to see the results of our collective labor pay off and prove the warfighting capability of the class», said Fire Controlman 2nd class Sam Lantinga, from Grand Rapids, Michigan. «Without these self-defense systems, Gerald R. Ford wouldn’t be able to deliver lethal effects to our nation’s adversaries».
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is underway conducting carrier qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean.
Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia
HMS Audacious (S122), the fourth of seven Astute-class attack submarines being built by BAE Systems for the Royal Navy, set sail from our Barrow-in-Furness site on 6 April 2020.
New ways of working and amended protocols have been introduced at the site, in line with Government guidelines, to enable a small team of employees to provide vital support to the Royal Navy ahead of the boat’s departure, while protecting their health and wellbeing.
The submarine was guided into open water for the first time before setting off on her inaugural journey to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, the home of the UK’s Submarine Service.
Cliff Robson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: «This is an incredibly difficult time for employees, their families and the community but, as is often the case in times of great adversity, it has been truly humbling to see everyone come together to support the Government’s critical defence programmes and help deliver HMS Audacious (S122)».
Ian Booth, Chief Executive of the Submarine Delivery Agency, said: «The departure of HMS Audacious (S122) from Barrow is a key milestone in the Astute Class programme. The delivery of our incredibly complex submarine programmes depends on the extremely skilled submarine workforce and close collaboration with our industrial partners across the supply chain to deliver a first class product for the Royal Navy. I am extremely grateful to everyone involved in the significant efforts to meet this milestone and the key roles they have played in the shadow of these unprecedented circumstances to get HMS Audacious (S122) to sea».
The boat’s departure comes days after the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, thanked the defence industry for its efforts to continue to deliver critical and nationally important defence operations and programmes during the difficult and unprecedented times the country is facing.
The 97 metre/318 feet, 7,400-tonne Astute-class submarines are the most capable submarines ever built for the Royal Navy. The first three submarines, HMS Astute (S119), HMS Ambush (S120) and HMS Artful (S121) are in service, while the final three Astute-class are at various stages of construction at Barrow.