FS Normandie (D651), the sixth European multi-mission frigate (FREMM) of the eight ordered by the French Navy, was admitted to active service by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Christophe Prazuck, on June 3, 2020.
Built in Lorient, the FS Normandie (D651) started her sea trials in February 2019. She was handed over to the French Navy on July 16, 2019, a few weeks after sailing to her home port of Brest.
In mid-December, FS Normandie (D651) left Brest to begin her long-term deployment (DLD). During this deployment, she participated in numerous exercises with the Allied navies: cross exercises and C2X operational preparation by integrating the Carrier Strike Group 10 (CSG 10) of the US 2nd Fleet and participating in Exercise TG20 in Norway involving the NATO forces of the Standing NATO maritime group one (SNMG1).
She also tested the Link 22, the new secure and ruggedized standard for exchanging tactical information between military units. Concluding her long-term cruise in March 2020, FS Normandie joined the carrier strike group for the «Foch 2020 mission».
Admitted today to active service, FS Normandie (D651) has become part of the naval action force. Her name honors the memory of all those who died in June 1944 on the Normandy beaches, sacrificing their lives for the benefit of freedom. Her pennant brings to life the Viking spirit, that of the people who came by drakkar to conquer the Normandy region, and which encourages sailors to go forward together, as a crew.
The Royal Navy’s newest vessel HMS Tamar (P233) has raised the White Ensign from her deck for the first time and takes her place as a Fleet warship.
Uniquely conducting the ceremony on her namesake, the River Tamar, the very distinctive Batch 2 River-class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), bears two rampant red lions either side of her superstructure, representing her close affiliations with both Devon and Cornwall.
Over the past few weeks the Ship has been operating around Plymouth Sound and the South West sea training areas, carrying out her acceptance trials and a series of firsts for the ship and her crew. These has included the first helicopter landing – a Wildcat from Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, her first gunnery exercises, as well as boat drills and emergency exercises, that has put the crew through their paces.
HMS Tamar (P233) also has the distinction for being the ‘Greenest Ship in the Royal Navy’ – fitted with ‘catalytic converters’ which reduce nitrogen-based emissions from her engine exhausts by up to 95 per cent. She weighs in at 2,000 tonnes, has a 6,000 nautical mile/10,186 km range and a flight deck capable of carrying a Merlin helicopter. She also has accommodation for up to 50 Royal Marines Commandos and is considered by her crew as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of Royal Navy vessels.
Lieutenant Commander Michael Hutchinson, Commanding Officer of HMS Tamar (P233) said; «It’s an incredibly proud moment for the ship. We’ve generated really quickly, we’ve done all our training and now we are at the point where we can join the Fleet, and start to get ready for our first deployment later this year».
Affiliated to the Cornish City of Truro, Councillor Bert Biscoe the Mayor Truro has sent his best wishes to the Ship: «On behalf of the community of Truro, the elected members and establishment of Truro City Council, and all those for whom Truro is home and a workplace, may I convey the good wishes and congratulations to the Captain of HMS Tamar (P233) on the auspicious occasion of its commissioning into the Fleet. The River Tamar is the oldest cultural boundary in Europe, and it is fitting that the vessel carries the name of the River which bonds, as a son to his mother, the Duchy of Kernow to the Crown. Long may she patrol and protect us one and all – Tamar bys Vykken»!
Lady Brigitte Peach, the Lady Sponsor of HMS Tamar (P233) also sent a goodwill message on the raising the White Ensign for the first time: «Congratulations to you all on the outstanding achievement of your transition to a Warship proudly bearing the famous White Ensign. From the wonderful moment of her launch just over a year ago, I followed your excellent progress from build acceptance to a fighting platform. Of course, current circumstances have prevented me from being with you at sea and for the memorable moment of the raising of the White Ensign, but I am there with you in spirit and continue to follow your progress with interest. I look forward to joining you when and where circumstances permit, my best wishes for an exciting future. Fair winds and following seas to you all».
Following a competitive bid process, Government Services Administration (GSA), in support of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), awarded Polaris Government and Defense a follow-on contract for the Polaris MRZR Alpha, a new light tactical vehicle. Polaris Government and Defense is a division of global powersports leader Polaris Inc. The seven-year contract has a value of up to $109 million and was awarded on May 29, 2020.
«Winning this Lightweight Tactical All Terrain Vehicle (LTATV) award is well-deserved recognition for the dedication of our Polaris Defense team and the performance of our vehicles, but our real victory is the opportunity to continue serving our military customers. They demand – and deserve – the best engineering and technology, and we consider it an honor to leverage our experience as the world’s largest Powersports company to design and build the vehicles our warfighters need», said Scott Wine, chairman and CEO, Polaris.
Polaris is the largest ultralight tactical vehicle provider for the U.S. military, with the MRZR Alpha being Polaris’ 11th military vehicle produced in 12 years. Their light weight and off-road capabilities make them ideal for transport via helicopter and operation in terrain that would otherwise be traversed on foot.
«Polaris has had the privilege of providing vehicles to USSOCOM since 2005 and we take a great deal of pride in delivering and supporting the current LTATV», said Jed Leonard, vice president, Polaris Government and Defense. «The Polaris MRZR Alpha supports USSOCOM’s requirements for durability, performance, payload profile and internal air transportability».
Designed, engineered and produced in Minnesota, the MRZR platform incorporates technology and innovations from across Polaris’ broad product portfolio. The MRZR Alpha represents millions in internal technology research and development investments that keep Polaris in front of the highly competitive off-road vehicle market. Defense engineers leveraged learnings from snowmobile chassis design, redesigned sport RZR changes and off-road race team modifications. Vehicle systems were also designed with near-future innovation in mind, with an architecture ready to accept new technologies and capabilities available within Polaris. Combining new and recently proven technologies, delivers a vehicle that has more power, increased payload, ground clearance and durability.
The MRZR Alpha will be assembled in Roseau, Minnesota, one of Polaris’ manufacturing plants and R&D centers. A key part of its strong North American manufacturing footprint, Roseau is the birthplace of Polaris, where the company has maintained operations for more than 65 years and currently employs nearly 1500 employees.
The MRZR Alpha’s versatility is further enhanced by improved exportable power and increased payload. Polaris first introduced the MRZR platform in 2012 and has continued to enhance the vehicle to meet the mission demands of the U.S. military, and over 40 allied forces worldwide. Since their introduction, MRZRs have been outfitted with Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS), weapons and high-energy laser systems, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) systems, expeditionary command and control systems, autonomy packages, litters for medical and casualty evacuation and communication equipment.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the United States military’s rising demand for Polaris off-road vehicles led to Polaris being the first ATV OEM to produce militarized vehicles for U.S. Special Operations Forces and the United States Army. To better serve its military customers, Polaris established Polaris Defense in 2005. Today, Polaris designs, engineers and produces its MV850 ATV, MRZR and DAGOR military vehicles in the U.S.
The U.S. Navy completed the first captive carry flight test of an Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile – Extended Range (AARGM-ER) missile on an F/A-18 Super Hornet June 1 at the Patuxent River test range.
During the test, the F/A-18 Super Hornet conducted a series of aerial maneuvers in order to evaluate integration and structural characteristics of the AARGM-ER. Test points were completed across a range of flight conditions to demonstrate carriage compatibility of AARGM-ER with the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
«This first flight represents a significant step in the AARGM-ER Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase», said Captain Mitch Commerford, who oversees the Direct and Time Sensitive Strike program office (PMA-242). «Data collected from this testing will inform the planned build-up and overall expansion of flight testing with AARGM-ER».
Testing will continue over the next few years in preparation for initial operational capability in fiscal year 2023, he said.
The extended range variant, which leverages the AARGM program that’s currently in full rate production, has been upgraded with a new rocket motor and warhead. It will provide advanced capability to detect and engage enemy air defense systems.
AARGM-ER is being integrated on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler, and will also be compatible for integration on the F-35A/B/C Lightning II.
BAE Systems successfully completed test shots of its Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System (APKWS) laser-guided rockets from a tactical configuration ground-based weapon system for the first time. The proof-of-concept testing demonstrated the flexibility of APKWS rockets to deliver standoff precision strike capabilities for ground forces, providing warfighters with a unique solution for engaging targets with greater range than small arms fire and without the need for air support.
BAE Systems tested the APKWS rockets at the U.S. Army’s Yuma Proving Ground, in collaboration with the U.S. Navy and Arnold Defense, a premier manufacturer of rocket launchers. The team used Arnold’s FLETCHER 2.75-inch/70-mm Weapon System concept – a purpose-built laser-guided rocket launcher for ground vehicles – to fire several successful shots. The ground-launch capability builds on hundreds of successful shots in combat from rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft.
«Our customers see the value in low-cost, precision-strike capabilities that reduce the risk of collateral damage, and they want the flexibility to deliver them from the platform of their choice», said Greg Procopio, director of Precision Guidance and Sensing Solutions at BAE Systems. «Demand is growing for ground-to-ground precision munitions that provide a safe standoff distance for small ground units. We’re working closely with our customer and partners to deliver that capability».
Ground-launched APKWS rockets could provide mounted and dismounted units with a unique way to engage soft and lightly armored targets from a variety of platforms. The low size, weight, and power requirements of ground-launched APKWS rockets make them ideal for tactical lightweight vehicles, remote weapon stations, non-standard tactical vehicles, and stationary platforms, providing warfighters with precision munitions that improve their safety and mission effectiveness.
«We designed FLETCHER specifically as a ground launcher for precision-guided 70-mm rockets», said Jim Hager, president and CEO at Arnold Defense. «FLETCHER-launched APKWS rockets enable our military customers to engage targets from more than just airborne platforms. We envision FLETCHER being used on everything from trucks and tracked vehicles to marine platforms in the future».
APKWS laser-guided rockets are the only U.S. government program of record for precision-guided 70-milimeter rockets. All four U.S. armed forces use APKWS rockets, and it is available to U.S. allies via Foreign Military Sales. FMS activities support more than a dozen partner nations and interest from other nations.
BAE Systems’ long range precision fires solutions use advanced technologies to consistently and effectively hit a variety of targets in complex environments from long distances, resulting in successful land, air and sea missions.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense completed comprehensive near-field range testing on the first AN/SPY-6(V)1 radar array, signaling its readiness to be wrapped, packed and shipped to the U.S. Navy’s future USS Jack H. Lucas, DDG-125. The 14’ by 14’ modular array will deliver unprecedented integrated air and missile defense and air defense capabilities to Flight III guided missile destroyers and seven types of U.S. Navy ships.
«The goal of near-field range testing is to increase integration speed, drive out risk and ensure SPY-6 is primed for installation», said Scott Spence, senior director of Naval Radar Systems. «When SPY-6 radar arrays leave our radar development facility, they are ready to defend the surface fleet».
Before leaving the automated, 30,000 square-foot/2,787 square-meter radar development facility, all SPY-6 arrays undergo extensive testing that includes:
Operational health evaluation of more than 5,000 transmit and receive radiating elements;
Alignment and calibration of nearly 150 subarray channels and 5,000 radar elements;
Collection and validation of over 42,000 «golden database» parameters that allows automatic recalibration of the array during at-sea maintenance;
Collection, analysis and verification of over 300 transmit and receive array beam patterns.
Raytheon Missiles & Defense has invested more than $500 million in infrastructure and capacity enhancements, including advanced automation technology, for SPY-6 since the program’s inception. Additional construction on expanded production areas dedicated to transmit/receive integrated microwave modules and radio frequency heads – key radar components – will be completed this year.
Designed for the DDG 51 Flight III destroyers, SPY-6(V)1 features:
4 array faces – each with 37 RMAs (Radar Modular Assemblies) – providing continuous, 360-degree situational awareness;
Significantly enhanced range and sensitivity compared to the radar it replaces.
SPY-6(V)1 simultaneously defends against:
Anti-surface and anti-air threats;
Jamming/clutter and electronic warfare.
Designed for amphibious assault ships and Nimitz-class carriers, SPY-6(V)2 – also known as the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (rotator variant) – features:
1 rotating array face – with 9 RMAs – providing continuous, 360-degree situational awareness;
Air traffic control and ship self-defense capabilities.
SPY-6(V)2 simultaneously defends against:
Anti-surface and anti-ship threats;
Jamming/clutter and electronic warfare.
Designed for Ford-class aircraft carriers and FFG(X) guided missile frigates, SPY-6(V)3 – also known as the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (fixed variant) – features:
3 fixed-face array faces – each with 9 RMAs – providing continuous, 360-degree situational awareness;
Air traffic control and ship self-defense capabilities.
SPY-6(V)3 simultaneously defends against:
Anti-surface and anti-ship threats;
Jamming/clutter and electronic warfare.
Designed for DDG-51 Flight IIA destroyers, SPY-6(V)4 features:
4 array faces – each with 24 RMAs – providing continuous, 360-degree situational awareness;
Significantly enhanced range and sensitivity compared to the radar it replaces.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a contract with Airbus for the construction of the third European Service Module (ESM) for Orion, the American crewed spacecraft. The contract is worth around €250 million.
By ordering this additional service module, ESA ensures the necessary continuity in NASA’s Artemis programme. The third European Service Module (Artemis III Mission) will be used to fly astronauts to Earth’s neighbour in space in 2024 – the first to land on the Moon since Apollo 17 following a hiatus of more than 50 years.
«Our know-how and expertise will enable us to continue to facilitate future Moon missions through international partnerships», said Andreas Hammer, Head of Space Exloration at Airbus. «By working together with our customers ESA and NASA as well as our industrial partner Lockheed Martin, we now have a reliable planning basis for the first three lunar missions. This contract is an endorsement of the joint approach combining the best of European and American space technologies».
David Parker, ESA Director of Human and Robotic Exploration, said: «By entering into this agreement, we are again demonstrating that Europe is a strong and reliable partner in Artemis. The European Service Module represents a crucial contribution to this, allowing scientific research, development of key technologies and international cooperation – inspiring missions that expand humankind’s presence beyond Low Earth Orbit».
The first non-crewed Orion test flight with a European Service Module (Artemis I) will fly in 2021. It is as part of the following mission, Artemis II, that the first astronauts will then fly around the Moon and back to Earth.
The ESM will provide propulsion, power, air and water for the astronauts, as well as thermal control of NASA’s new spacecraft.
More than 20,000 parts and components are used in each ESM, from electrical equipment to engines, solar panels, fuel tanks and life support supplies for the astronauts, as well as approximately 12 kilometres/7.5 miles of cables. The first service module was delivered to NASA in November 2018 and has already been mated with the Crew Module. The fully integrated spacecraft already finished the thermal-vacuum testing at NASA’s facility in Ohio, USA, and returned to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA, while the second service module is now being integrated and tested by Airbus in Bremen, with delivery set for the first half of 2021.
During the development and construction of the ESM, Airbus has drawn on its experience as prime contractor for ESA’s Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), which provided the crew on board the International Space Station with regular deliveries of test equipment, spare parts, food, air, water and fuel.
The ESM is cylindrical in shape and about four metres in diameter and height. It has four solar arrays (19 metres/62 feet across when unfurled) that generate enough energy to power two households. The service module’s 8.6 tonnes/18,960 lbs. of fuel can power one main engine and 32 smaller thrusters. The ESM weighs a total of just over 13 tonnes/28,660 lbs. In addition to its function as the main propulsion system for the Orion spacecraft, the ESM will be responsible for orbital manoeuvring and position control. It also provides the crew with the central elements of life support such as water and oxygen, and regulates thermal control while docked to the crew module.
The Airbus A400M new generation airlifter has achieved a new decisive milestone after the certification of its Automatic Low Level Flight capability, offering a unique in its class capability for a military transport aircraft.
The certification campaign, performed in April above the Pyrenees and central France, involved operations down to 500 feet/152 m, including transitions from low level flight to other operations like aerial delivery.
This first certification phase concerns operations with Visual Meteorological Conditions, meaning with crew visibility. There will be a second phase including Instrumental Meteorological Conditions, without visibility, to be certified in Q2 2021.
Inherent to the fighter aircraft world, and as a unique capability for a military transport aircraft, the Automatic Low Level Flights improves the A400M’s terrain masking and survivability, making the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and less susceptible to threats when cruising towards key military operations like aerial delivery, air-to-air refuelling, logistic or other specific special operations.
Lockheed Martin recently delivered the first KC-130J Super Hercules tanker assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 (VMGR-452), the Marine Forces Reserve squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York. A U.S. Marine Corps crew ferried the aircraft from Lockheed Martin’s facility here on May 28 to the aircraft’s new home.
VMGR-452 is the second Marine Reserve squadron to operate KC-130Js and this delivery signifies the recapitalization of the squadron’s existing KC-130T fleet. VMGR-452 – known as the Yankees – has operated Hercules tankers for more than 30 years, flying KC-130s in support of Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
«The KC-130 Hercules tanker has been a pivotal part of Marine Corps aviation operations since 1960, a relationship that began with the KC-130F and R-models, transitioned to the KC-130T and continues now with the KC-130J Super Hercules», said Rod McLean, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin’s Air Mobility & Maritime Missions line of business. «Our C-130 team knows this delivery is significant and represents increased capability for VMGR-452. We are proud to support our Marine aviation partners as they continue to be ‘first to fight’».
KC-130s are operated in support of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) commander by providing tactical in-flight refueling for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and tilt-rotor aircraft; aviation delivered ground refueling of aircraft or tactical vehicles; assault air transport or air-landed or aerial-delivered (parachute) personnel and equipment; pathfinder support, battlefield illumination; tactical aeromedical evacuation; and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel support.
The proven and battle-tested KC-130J builds on the Hercules’ proven tanker refueling system while taking full advantage of the tremendous technological and performance enhancements found only in a Super Hercules. Compared to legacy models, the KC-130J Super Hercules delivers increased speed and fuel efficiency, improved payload/range capabilities, an integrated defensive suite, automated maintenance fault reporting, high-altitude ramp and door hydraulics, and unmatched situational awareness with its digital avionics and dual Head Up Displays.
The KC-130J is one of nine production variants of the C-130J Super Hercules, the current production model of the legendary C-130 Hercules aircraft. With 460+ aircraft delivered, the C‑130J is the airlifter of choice for 20 nations. The global Super Hercules fleet has more than 2 million flight hours of experience supporting almost any mission requirement — anytime, anywhere.
The U.S. Marine Corps has the distinction of operating the largest KC-130J Super Hercules fleet in the world. This delivery continues the U.S. government’s transition to the C-130J as the common platform across Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
With the contract on a system architecture definition study concluded between industry and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw – Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr), the future German-French Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) has reached its next milestone.
Things are now progressing fast with the Main Ground Combat System. After the Framework and Implementing Agreements have been signed by the Defence Ministers of Germany and France, the focus will now be on the contract with the ARGE consortium of industrial partners consisting of Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann (KMW), and Nexter. This launches the system architecture study for MGCS Main Ground Combat System. Nationally selected concepts are being harmonized to develop a common multi-platform system architecture. The first part of the study is to be completed within 20 months. The contract is concluded between the participating ARGE companies and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw – Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) representing both Germany and France.
The contract is equally co-funded by Germany and France. Likewise, the German and French companies will implement equal division of work.
Given the significance of the joint project, a festive signature ceremony would have been most appropriate. However, neither the Framework and Implementing Agreement nor this contract can be signed in person due to the coronavirus situation. Even such a landmark project must now be signed via mail. The industrial companies of Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann and Nexter were the first ones to sign. After that, BAAINBw received the documents for signature. In accordance with the agreement between the two partner nations, only Germany/BAAINBw was to sign as the lead nation of the bilateral project.
Replacement for the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks
The Main Ground Combat System project to be implemented under German lead will replace the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks from the mid-2030s. With this project, Germany and France are sending a strong signal of European defence cooperation.